Once you have completed the interpretation and observation phases of your Bible study it is now time to do some evaluation of what you have and see if there are any principles you can abstract from your study which you can put into practice today.
There are three basic kinds ofpassages to evaluate.
Evaluation of Old Testament passages
When you come to a passage in the Old Testament it is important to ask, “Is this applicable for Christians today?” We know from the New Testament that Christians were no longer expected to keep certain restrictions and prescriptions because of Christ’s work on the cross. A couple of examples that are dealt with specifically in Acts and Paul’s writings include the dietary code of the Pentateuch and circumcision. James and the elders in Jerusalem held a council on these issues and sent out a decree saying that Gentiles were only restricted from eating food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality (Acts 15:28-29).
However much of what was declared a sin in the OT is still a sin for Christians now. Instead of being stoned if we sin and continue in our sins we are simply kicked out of church. Which is to say as unrepentant believers we are to be removed from fellowship with other believers (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).
Passages in the NT containing references to specific local practices
Since Paul wasn’t writing a broad systematic theological treatise we must bear in mind that he is often addressing local practices and customs which we no longer have to deal with.
In these passages you have to look beyond what Paul is addressing and get down to the underlying principle
For instance in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 one of the issues Paul is addressing is women’s head coverings. In most church’s today we don’t deal with that because culturally we don’t require head coverings as a sign of modesty for women anymore.
The underlying principle in this passage is that a believing woman should conduct herself modestly while involved in a church gathering setting, whether in a church service or a small group meeting. So if a pastor feels that some women in the church are behaving immodestly than he could use this passage to address their behavior. Though both men and women are usually adept at maintaining an unspoken dress code in church. Have you ever been to a service where everyone was in a suit and you felt out of place? Or everyone was in shirts and shorts?
Passages which are naturally universal in their applicability
Of course there is much in the Bible that doesn’t need to be contextualized. The book of Proverbs by it’s very nature is universal in its applicability. Also much of James is written very similarly to Proverbs though in prose instead of poetry.
It is important to remember that when you are going through the step of evaluation in your Bible study that you look for the kernel of the passage and see if you are able to contextualize it for your present time and specific cultural situation. This takes a lot of discernment and maturity.
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