don't miss the point

everything has its context. a mistake made by many is to take one verse of scripture and claim it, teach it, and /or apply it without any regard to what came before it or what comes after it. when we simply take a verse out of context and start to apply or understand it, we may unintentionally distort the meaning.

an example used by many a preacher is the account of a man who wants to hear from god and decides to simply open his bible and do what it says. he closes his eyes, opens his bible and looks down. his eyes land right on the verse: “judas went and hung himself.”  he tries it again and finds the words: “go, and do likewise.”  he tries one more time and lands on the text: “what you must do, do quickly.

steven f. deaton writes:

When studying the Bible, the words must be kept in context.

For instance,when the New Testament says to “work with
your hands” does it mean a man must literally use his hands
in his job–ditch digging, carpentry,plumbing, etc.? If a man is an accountant, bank president,
is he sinning?
The answer is no. The context reveals that a contrast is being made
between stealing for a living and working for a living (Ephesians 4:28).
Also, in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12, Paul is telling men to stick to their own
business, set a good example for others and be self-sufficient.

it is with these things in mind that greg koukl has written the following essay, “never read a bible verse”.

in the article he writes:

If there was one bit of wisdom, one rule of thumb, one single skill I could impart, one useful tip I could leave that would serve you well the rest of your life, what would it be? What is the single most important practical skill I’ve ever learned as a Christian?

Here it is: Never read a Bible verse. That’s right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph at least…

a basic rule of all communication[is] meaning always flows from the top down, from the larger units to the smaller units, not the other way around. The key to the meaning of any verse comes from the paragraph, not just from the individual words.

i encourage you to read the whole thing and see how it transforms (for the better) you bible study and application of the word of god!

(hat tip to justin taylor)