I have spent several years in discussions with people who have a varying degree of knowledge regarding the scripture. On the ends of the spectrum of biblical knowledge I have known many who can recite Bible verses like it was a second language. The vast difference is how contextually accurate those quotations of scripture are. The reason we must have a proper and reasonable understanding of the context of scripture is that many people, for their own selfish reasons, can twist parts of scripture to suit themselves.
The Bible tells us to “study to show ourselves approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). There is a call in the lives of Christians to know what we believe and why. This way we can be sure that we aren’t led away from the faith by our itching ears (2 Tim 4:4). On a more personal level, in the past I have been led away by some very convincing doctrines that were not biblically exegeted and had I had a proper understanding of the scripture in it’s right context I would have not so easily been fooled.
In today’s world, with the cornucopia of choices that most Western Christians have in churches, there is no telling the type of spiritual environment we could walk into. Without a good understanding of context in scripture we may very well be deceived.
It’s also important for us to recognize that many of the letters of the New Testament were written to a specific group of believers during a specific period of time. Some of the references that the authors make, don’t make sense in our culture and context, while others are universal. For example, there may be a verse that was addressing an issue in a specific church such as head coverings, that wouldn’t apply to our culture today, and other things such as the order of service, that do. If we don’t know the historical context, we may very well create a doctrine that was never meant to be adhered to.
It is not a suggestion to believers to have reasonable scriptural knowledge, it is a mandate in obedience and preservation of the Word of Truth. We will all be held accountable for what we do with our time, talents and treasure and as a Westernized Christian, we are without excuse to know and understand the scripture.