Reading someone else's mail

I want to share some of the basic principles everyone needs to consider when reading the Bible

There are some simple practices that aide in understanding and applying scripture to your life. There are many intimidating and fancy words for these practices. In reality, however, the approach and process is simple.


The New Testament is made up of several types of writings. We know the Gospels. There are also a lot of letters that were written to various churches.

While today you might get into trouble for reading another persons mail (or email), there are a lot of the books of the Bible where you are doing just that. You are reading a letter written by one of the apostles to another person or church. Knowing this gives us the process we should use to understand and apply it to our lives.

3 things that should be considered

1. The Sender

  • Who is the person that wrote it?

  • What role did they play?

  • What culture did they come from?

  • What is their background?

2. The Message

  • Why was it written?

  • What is the point that the sender was trying to convey?

  • What question was the sender trying to answer?

3. The Receiver

  • Who was it written to?

  • What was taking place when they received it?

  • What role does the person (or church) have within society?

  • What was life like at the time?

  • What is their background?

Why it matters?

Almost all of the letters Paul wrote were in response to specific situations. Romans maybe the only exception as it may have been to make initial contact with the church in Rome.

Every letter that we read we only have one side, the senders. We need to reconstruct the life situation in order to get the context to apply this to our lives. We need to know as much as possible about all 3 items listed above to understand, interpret, and apply this to our lives.

Failing to do this we will naturally tend to interpret based on our own current experiences rather than getting to the intended meaning.

What Books Are in the Epistles
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