It matters in everyday life. If we are not aware of our context—whether at home, work, or out and about—we may misinterpret signs, statements, or subtle hints to our embarrassment or our detriment.
Context also matters in Scripture, lest we misinterpret God’s Holy Word. Explore the Bible aims to help you study and teach the text of the Bible in its context, so we provide an introduction to the book or books we are studying. If you are reading a letter, it helps to know who wrote it, right?
Also, as we study book by book, each session will focus on chapters and sections of those Bible books. These passages have a context too, based on what the author wrote both before and after a given text. So each session has an “Understand the Context” section. We don’t want to read a word in isolation and try to understand its meaning; we read words in sentences, sentences in paragraphs, and paragraphs strung together. There is a reason it is difficult to stop reading a fiction book in the middle of a chapter, because the story is going somewhere and we are drawn toward its turning points and its conclusion.
We also consider one more aspect of context—yours. “In My Context” helps groups using Explore the Bible to apply the teaching of the text right to our very lives, keeping in mind how unique those can be. As individuals, by nature we are different with distinct circumstances and histories. This means Scripture will likely address our lives in individual ways (though we can and should still learn from each other). But we are also in groups, and one group will be different from another. A church on one side of town has a different context from one on the other side of town, or even the one right next door.
Here’s the point: When God speaks—and He has spoken in His Word—He speaks with His Word in its context to you in your context. The Bible is for you as an individual, for you (plural) as a group, and for you (plural) as a church.
So study the text in its context, learn, grow thereby, and live out God’s truth—obey the text in your context.