I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
Understanding the context of particular, individual Bible verses can sometimes be difficult to understand. They can be taken out of context to satisfy the point that a person is making, or to help a person who is in despair. Is this, I ask you, the way that the Bible should be read and understood? Let me say that this question is not in saying that there is a right or wrong to the question, just one that gets one to question. Let me take a couple different perspectives on this and see the benefits.
Baby steps! That is what we are told when we learn something new. When solving a problem we are told to break the problem down into smaller problems. These are valid solutions and would agree that this holds a great deal of truth to each of these. When it comes to memorization of the Bible, we are told that memorizing Bible verses will help us to have these particular verses at hand on a day to day basis, or when witnessing to another person. I recently started back up again with memorizing verses such as the one above. Different from previous times of learning to memorize Bible verses, this experience has taken me down a different path. Starting to memorize this verse led me to break down the context of this verse and wanting to know that context in full detail. Doing so has helped me to gain more of an understanding of the use of that verse and grasping the context for easier memorization. Context I believe has been the key to this type of memorization.
I started above to start to talk about context when learning a particular memory verse. In the past I would find it difficult to memorize a verse simply because I did not understand the context or the meaning of the verse. Sure it related to me and was an inspiration to certain areas of my life. But, what did it mean at the time that it was written? How would that meaning relate to me today? That is where the context matters. Knowing the context that led to that verse being included in the Bible for all of these years has meaning behind it for all that read and/or share the Bible.
When I think of how to share my life with others, I always end up trying to understand what it is that I would share with others. Would sharing a memory verse that I have from the Bible make that a difference during that time of witnessing? I have concluded that it would not. I have also concluded that it would not because I can not explain the meaning of the verse I am sharinfg with someone if I myself do not know the meaning. Memorizing a Bible verse has a great deal of significance in building faith, and can lead to a more knowledgable piece by piece of the Bible. Yet, if you take away sermons, other books, talking with other fellow Christians, what would those pieces be in understanding the context of the Bible? What relevance does the context of that book in the Bible that has the chapter with the verse in it have on today?
These have been questions that I have had since beginning to start to memorize verses again from the Bible. I have concluded that without knowing the context that surrounds the verse will not allow me to fully grasp what it is that I am trying to memorize. This verse above is a good example. If I was to memorize this verse without knowing the context that leads up to the verse, I would not be fully understanding of the verse and the meaning it has to my life and the lives of those who God will bring into my life.
With that said, let me give you the context of this verse.
Galatians 2:20 – The Context
Paul – formerly known as Saul – was with those is Galatia. Saul was the leader of those who gave there daily lives to persecuting Christians. God transformed Saul and led to the changing of Saul becoming a Christian and having a powerful testimony to share with others. When he became a Christian and accepted Christ as the Son of God, he was given the name of Paul. Paul was one of the apostles to Jesus. He was with Jesus when Jesus started his ministry and was there after Jesus was persecuted and killed. Another of the apostles of Jesus was Peter. The two of them went there separate ways after Jesus was crucified. In the beginning of Galatians the opening begins with an introduction to Paul being led to Galatia. The first chapter was devoted towards Paul sharing with those there that they have led astray from the gospel and have found another gospel to worship. I found myself wondering what it is that would have led them astray? Then I realized I can look all around me today and see the same thing happening. The second chapter started the context that surrounds this verse. Paul confronts Peter about how Peter is leading his life and living his live. These men were eager to share everything about Jesus and being there king while He was here on earth. Now that He was no longer in the flesh, was there any reason to lead a different life? This is what Paul was confronting Peter about. Peter was distancing himself from the Gentiles – those who did not know the laws of the religion. He would do this when he was in the presence of others that were not Gentiles. He wanted to not be seen as one who communicated with them nor one who was trying to share the gospel of Jesus with them. Paul did not understand what the reasoning is behind this. So when he confronted Peter, he shared with him what it was that he went through and had been going through to continue to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each and every day when Paul would go somewhere, anyone and everyone would at first be afraid of him because of his past. It was not until he was in their presence that they realized that he had indeed changed. This is where I can understand the beginning of this verse where he says that he has been crucified with Christ. Most anywhere that Christ would go to, there would always be those who were weary of Him and what we was proclaiming/teaching.
Adding onto the paragraph above I can see where Paul is sharing with Peter that he feels that it is no longer he who lives in the body but Christ instead. If each and every place that Paul went were afraid of him, and then felt a peace about him after meeting him, this must have been a feeling of peace for him as well. This peace could not have been from how he felt previously about the Christian believer. No, it was the peace that Christ said would be there when he left and was raised to Heaven. He – Jesus – promised to leave the Holy Spirit with anyone who believed in Jesus. This was the leading of Paul to believe that it was Christ that was sharing this peace with those who were afraid of Paul when he would enter a town.
This reading of the chapter 2 gave me the context of what led to this verse. The meaning made it clearer for me to relate how this verse gives context to my life. Without this context, I do not believe I would fully be grasping the reason for this verse that I am wanting to memorize. Having the context gives me more confidence that if there is a time that God uses me to share the Gospel with another person, the sharing of this verse at the right time would be clearer because of the context behind it.
Memory of the Bible is without a doubt the way to understanding our relationship with God, and the love that God has for each of us. Memorization of verses can be a small step in knowing about this love and how to love God in return. Understanding the context behind the verse is what can put all of the pieces together that will give a solid footprint that will last forever in your heart, mind, and possibly with another person that you share it with. This is what I have come to realize in my latest journey in memorization of the Bible. God bless you!