4. Always keep Scripture in the correct context. This means that the text should be allowed to say what the text says. One should never force their interpretation on the text. By this I mean you should never say this text means this to me. Always strive to know what the text says and not what you want it to say.
This one is very crucial in being able to apply Scripture to our situations and life. Anyone can go in and jerk Scripture out of context and make it say anything they want it to. For example, “There is no God” is found in Scripture. Also, we see where it says, “greet Rufus.” Now, out of context as these are now can cause much confusion.
There is no God is found in Psalm 14 and 53. It says, “The fool says in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.” It says the fool and the corrupt say there is no God. But out of context, someone can use this to say Scripture says there is no God. The command to greet Rufus is found in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans where he is giving his personal greetings (Rom. 16). It is not a command for us to do but a greeting from Paul to people.
As the late Howard Hendricks, a great professor from Dallas Theological Seminary would say observe the text. Don’t just see the text but observe it through thoughtful, prayerful, repeated, purposeful, patient, meditative, and with the whole Bible in view. Just take your time and study it deeply on your own. Look at the text and see what it is saying. Read before and after the section, you are in. If it is in the New Testament, look and see if it has any Old Testament quotes or allusions. If so check them out. If it is the OT then check the surrounding context. Look and see if it is connected to other areas in the OT. For example, the books of 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, and 1&2 Chronicles can fill in much detail about the others and even the prophetic literature. Examine the text and dig deep.
When one does this, they will allow for the text to speak for itself. They will not force their view on the text. They will be doing what is the best interpreter of Scripture: Scripture. When you observe and study the context and compare Scripture to Scripture, you will more than likely come out with the intended meaning. Also, you will have a better understanding of the text and a better method of applying the text to situations and life.