Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Here's a great note from my reading this week:

The first stage in serious Bible study is to consider the larger context within which a passage is found. Unless we can grasp the whole before attempting to dissect the parts, interpretation is doomed from the start. If I say, "Give it all you've got," you would rightly query, "What do you mean by 'it'?" and "How do I do so?" Without a situation to give the command content, it becomes meaningless. In Scripture the context provides the situation behind the text (Osborne, Hermeneutical Spiral, 21).

For instance, I received an email this morning from a lady in our church asking me the following question:
Who are the "great cloud of witnesses" surrounding us and why would it matter if they are there or not in order for us to throw off those things that hinder us? Why does he say SINCE we have the cloud then throw off... In difficult situations where we need to "grit" to do what he wants does the cloud of witnesses help? Are they "cheering" us on?

And here was my reply:
Great question. The context of Hebrews 12:1 comes right after Hebrews chapter 11. Hebrews 11 is called the "fall of faith" because it gives so many Godly men who have lived "by faith" in God in history (Abel, Enoch, Moses, Abraham, etc. etc. etc.). The catch phrase is "by faith..." So that is the "cloud of witnesses" that Hebrews 12:1 refers to. The reason why Hebrews 12:1-2 has "athletic words" is because it is a metaphor for a Greco/Roman athletic competition. The author's point is that we should act as though we're 'running the race of life' and throw off ALL hindrances to Godliness and run the race of life by faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Heb 10:38-39).

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