We’re blessed to live in a time when information is readily available. Spend just ten minutes on Instagram, and you’ll find more Bible study material than you can reasonably consume.
With so much information, it’s more important than ever to be discerning in our study of the Bible. We should know how to recognize biblically accurate materials and how to choose resources based on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
One of our favorite ways to practice Biblical discernment is to dive into the historical and cultural contexts of the Bible. Not only is this a fascinating study that enriches our understanding of God and the Holy Spirit but it also helps us guard our hearts against misinformation.
Here are some ways you can learn to identify Biblical context on your own:
1) Learn Biblical History
The world during biblical times and the world today are two very different places. You’ll notice this when reading through both the Old and New Testaments. Pay attention to the differences in careers, lifestyle, food, travel, and home life.
Some verses might require some digging before you can understand the historical nuance. And oftentimes, verses that seem confusing, random, or boring could have a ton of significance to another time in history. History and culture really help to illuminate our understanding of scripture.
To help understand the historical background of the Old and New Testaments, you can read from contemporary historians of the time, like Josephus. Or, check out modern resources like The Holman Bible Atlas and The Archaeological Study Bible.
2) Dive Into Greek and Hebrew Culture
And Abraham begot Isaac and Isaac begot Jacob and Jacob begot Judah. . .
Is getting through your Old Testament Bible reading plan a sluggish process for you? There’s no shame in that—we’ve been known to skip a few chapters of Numbers ourselves. But we promise that understanding the cultural context will change how you see the Bible.
For example, the story of Ruth is powerful on its own. But when we understand the historical context behind things like gleaning and land laws, we learn so much more about the significance of her story.
Books like Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes and modern commentaries can help us better understand cultural context.
3) Look for Symbolism that Crosses from the Old to the New Testament
One of the most powerful symbols in the Bible is the curtain (or veil) leading to the Holy of Holies. It was the most sacred room in the tabernacle—where the Hebrews kept the ark of the covenant. Only the high priest could enter through the curtain to visit the holiest place—and only after he’d prayed and washed thoroughly.
The moment Jesus breathed His last on the cross, the Bible says the curtain was torn (Mark 15:38). Because of Jesus’s sacrifice, the veil that separated humanity from God was no longer needed. We now have direct access to God anytime, anywhere. As Children of God, it’s within our blood rights to walk right up to the Holy of Holies—knowing the sacrifice has been made for us.
There are hundreds of symbols in the Old Testament that translate over to the New Testament and proclaim the Gospel. See how many you can find!
Our Christian Clothing Picks to Keep Your Bible Study Cozy
Fuzzy socks, a hot water bottle, fireside coffee, and your Bible in your lap. We’re ready to dive into symbolism, cultural context, and historical context with you—and we’ve got just the Christian clothing outfits to keep you comfy.
Christian Hoodies — With Bible-Sized Pockets
What if you carried your Bible around with your cell phone? Do you think you’d pick up your Bible more often? Our Christian hoodies help remind you to spend time in the Word, and they include big pockets for Bible study on-the-go. Envelop yourself in a warm hug while reading your favorite scriptures and diving deep into a new commentary.
Christian Clothing Sets — Bible Study to Work to the Gym and Home
It can be hard to start a new Bible study routine. One of the best ways to create new habits in your life is to make it easy on yourself. For instance, choose an outfit that does it all. Our Christian clothing sets are designed to go from Bible study to the grocery store to the gym and back again. Now you can focus on the tasks at hand—and not on how many times you’ll have to change to get through the day’s activities.
Christian T-Shirts — A Conversation Starter About Biblical Context
Many of our Christian t-shirts contain a simple scripture verse or faith-based phrase. You can take your new knowledge of Biblical context to the next level through conversations with friends and family who want to know more about your Christian t-shirt. In fact, you can make your Christian t-shirt the first step of your journey to study and understand Biblical context!
Creating a Bible Study Routine Is One of the Most Important Things You’ll Ever Do — But Biblical Context Will Make Your Time With God So Much Richer
Creating a Bible study routine is one of the most important things you can do in your life. Whether you’re still in high school or ready to retire, it’s never too early or too late to meet Jesus in the morning or evening (or both!).
But if you want to take your Bible study to the next level, learning Biblical context will deepen and enrich your relationship with Christ. It will also ensure that you’re not led astray by popular teachings that don’t line up with scripture.
Remember, even if you don’t have every theology book, commentary, or resource, the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to meet you where you’re at and bring the Bible to life for you.