(Of Bible terminology and contextual examples)
We all know that a key is used to lock or unlock something. For example; through diligent study of the Bible, it and Christ’s example unlocks the way to true Christianity. (See “Christianity” & “True Christianity” for more.) Once the key is used to unlock something, the contents are then open, or exposed. It is the same when we read a book. The book reveals a story flow of what the overall book is about, with various examples and differing contexts that thread through it to bring us to a conclusion or a climax in the end. Many parts of the story are exposed as we continue to read. The Bible is a book of books and has many chapters with its many differing contexts to reveal an overall theme of what God is doing, especially through the creation of mankind.
Have you ever been convinced you understand something you have read in the Bible and then later come to find out, upon finding another clue or key, that you didn’t understand it properly at all? You may have just innocently missed a key or keys of understanding! (Some fictional stories intentionally leave these ‘keys” out until later on in the book, to enhance the suspense of the story or theme, but God gave us a clue in the very first Chapter of the Bible. Gen.1:26-28)
The Bible has many keys in its many contexts that link its books, which we can study to get a better understand of certain subjects, which can also be considered contextual examples of revealing hidden mysteries. (Eph.3:9)
Most avid readers have at least an idea what this pertains to, but some may still wonder what this even means and how it relates in just about any type of reading. We humans can miss important keys in understanding, (which can also apply in various other areas of life) but especially in something we have read or are reading. We can think we are familiar with its meaning, while missing something in the context that may reveal something else.
Many times a narrative is read without paying attention to the contextual examples that are imbedded there; thus MISSING KEYS important to properly understanding it. Some of those “KEYS” may even be innocently overlooked or perhaps ignored as irrelevant; therefore a wrong idea can begin to be formed. This is especially true when reading the Bible and its many changes in context that can lead the reader into more understanding; opening up a broader view or bigger picture. This article is about the seemingly missing keys of understanding, (not actually missing at all) which can be in these contextual examples that are sometimes overlooked or ignored, without proper research or study.
Many miss these keys of understanding prophecy and the truth of the Gospel, then form their own opinion, leading to wrong doctrines being formed.
Let me establish or elaborate on the meaning and intent of this particular point of “contextual examples”, as we get further into this article, for those less informed. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition is simply this: “Of or depending on context” and of course, this relates back to the word context. The word “context” has more meaning, with this as one definition: “The part of a statement or text that surrounds a particular word or passage and makes clear its meaning”. Sometimes these “Missing keys” are right there in the context (as I previously stated) but passed over or not recognized in a quick reading to get some story flow. They have to be sought out for the best possibly understanding of what is recorded for us.
When we read something in the Bible, it generally is set in various contexts to do exactly that; reveal what it is talking about with its various subjects. However in certain instances and at various times, especially in the Bible, (which we need to watch for these keys of understanding when studying something) the context itself can shift from one subject (or context) to another, revealing more truth from the same passage and not be readily noticed. To find these nuggets of truth requires diligence and study, along with prayer and help of the Holy Spirit.
I hope that this is made a little clearer in this article and can then be applied to many other circumstances we may come across in our studies. Many times the contextual examples are not paid close enough attention to and we can therefore miss these keys, which then get us off track in understanding what the scriptures can reveal, or teach us. These missing keys have contributed to the many differing doctrines in religions that all seem to be using the same passages of Scripture for their teaching. Many times opinions of false understanding are read into scripture that are not really there. (added in that are not really there) God foresaw this happening and gave this command not to do that. (Deut.4:2 & 12:32) Let us focus on one example of missing keys of understanding.
Terminology of the keeping of time
For the remainder of this article, let us take the simple example of darkness and light, night and day, evening and morning and the comparative terms found in the Bible. The very first thing that the Bible student should learn in this area of study is this difference between the way of the world today and God’s way of counting time for a day. (Missing keys) Even though the Bible has some terminology (being written for man to learn from) that does relate to our world and its usage today, God’s ways are not the same as man’s ideas that we today have grown up in.
(Isa 55:8-9 says; "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” NKJV)
For example; Man (under the influence of Satan-2Cor.4:4 & Rev.12:9) and his quest to rule over others in various empires through time, (which started just after the flood, as far as the Bible relates it) had eventually designed the days to begin in the dark of night. (12:01 am) The Roman Empire began, years before Christ was born, to devise their calendar and ways of marking time. The majority of the world use this method today. But what did God tell us about His method, right in the beginning? We read in Gen.1:5, the first use of night and day. “So the evening and the morning were the first day.’ (NKJV unless otherwise noted)
Each day thereafter, we see it is “evening and morning” that comprises a day. However, we must study the Bible’s various uses to understand just how the context may use the term “evening”—because this does not always refer to the same time of a day. The “evening”, in the context of a day recorded in Genesis one, always refers to sunset, the beginning of the day. Biblical days began at sunset, with the day light portion being last. “The evening and the morning was the sixth day.” (Gen.1:31)
Christ used the terminology of a full day in this analogy, found in John 11:9-10, saying; Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? (Daylight portion intended) If anyone walks in the day, (morning, according to Gen.1) he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, (evening—dark) he stumbles, because the light is not in him." However, the Bible can also use the same terminology we use today, in certain instances, calling evening the last part of a day. The instances are revealed by the existing context; or the contextual examples of scripture. These can become missing keys to understand the timing of certain passages of scripture, if we do not look for them.
Take for example; things dealing with Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. What time of day was He placed in the tomb? Is there what some would term missing keys in understanding these events properly? Let us look at what the Bible reveals on these things, considering what the context of those events reveal. (See the “Passover” study for more.)
Matt 27:57 “Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus” As you study through this, in the four gospel accounts; it becomes clear that “evening” here is referring to the late afternoon of the daytime, close to sunset that would end the day and begin another one. (See accounts in Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42 for further details) So in this case we can see the timing is just prior to sunset—not after. Luke’s account shows; (V.54) “That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.” It stands to reason, based on what Christ gave as the only sign that He was the True Messiah, (Luke 11:29) these contextual examples or, for some as missing keys, must be paid close attention to in order to understand this as it is biblically revealed.
There are many more examples in scripture, but it is clear from what we have seen in this article that the “evening and the morning” (in Gen.1) is one biblical day, with the setting of the sun marking the beginning and end of the day. Numerous examples throughout the Bible reveal this fact. However, there are several passages that use the term “evening” as it pertains to the waning hours or even minutes of a day also. (See Luke 24:29) Let us look at one last example of scripture that reveal this; John 20:19 “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."
Christ had been in the grave for three full days and nights, being put in the tomb in the late evening on Wednesday and rising in the later afternoon or evening of the Sabbath. Mary Magdalene and other women went to the tomb early Sunday morning and He had already risen, (Matt 28:1 “Now after the Sabbath, (Weekly) as the first day of the week began to dawn”—(just before sunrise)—but in order to fulfill the wave sheaf offering, He had not gone to the Father to be accepted. (Lev.23:10-14—John 20:17)
These details are revealed by these (seemingly) missing keys and their contextual examples, when properly studied out, in their various passages.
Now, these examples explained here can also be used for a better understanding of various other passages throughout the Bible, as more truth will inevitably be learned by them.
(Written by the editor for TCOGMSO)