Part of the Rightly Understanding God’s Word series by Craig S. Keener.
Editor’s Note: Craig Keener originally intended for this portion of his course on biblical interpretation to appear at the end of Chapter 1: Context (Spring 2003), and before Chapter 2: Learning Context (Summer 2003). However, Pneuma Review editors did not receive it in time to publish it in the print edition of the journal. It is our pleasure to include this revision, twelve years later, to complete this excellent series in its new digital format.
February 24, 2015
Objections to Context
I should deal here with one objection to context that arises in some circles. Some people quote Scripture out of context and then claim they are right because they have special authority or a special revelation from God. But they should be honest in claiming that this is a special revelation rather than the Scripture. All revelations must be judged (1 Cor 14:29; 1 Thess 5:20-21), and God gave us a Bible in part so we could test other revelations. No one has the right to short-circuit hearers’ rights to evaluate their claims from Scripture by claiming a revelation about Scripture’s meaning which the hearers cannot evaluate by studying it for themselves. Otherwise anyone could claim that Scripture means anything! Any view can be supported based on proof-texts out of context; any theology can make its reasoning sound consistent; Jehovah’s Witnesses do this all the time. We dare not base our faith on other people’s study of the Bible rather than on the Bible itself.
We should be very careful what we claim the Bible teaches.