“The true meaning of a verse is the one provided by its context.  Most false doctrines and aberrant teachings arise from neglecting this principle.” -Skip Hetizig, How To Study The Bible, Page 73

There are four steps to a solid context study.  Each one plays a vital role in helping us stay aligned with God’s word.

Summarize the immediate context of the passage.

Here we write a few sentences explaining what the surrounding verses are talking about.  A good rule of thumb is to look at the ten verses before the passage and ten verses after the passage.

Summarize the remote context of the passage.

The remote context has a much broader view.  Here you should consider the surrounding chapters of the passage that you are studying.  When the passage is in a smaller book this would include a summary of the book.  If the passage is in a larger book then a good practice is read the paragraph headings in the chapters before and after to get a good understanding of the subjects being addressed.

Ask the six questions of the passage.

The important thing to remember in this step is to ask the question of the passage itself.

Who – Who wrote/received this passage?

What – What type of passage is this?

(Narrative, poetry, prophetic, teaching)

When – When was the passage written?

Where – Where was this written? Where was it received?

Why – Why did the author write this book?

How – How does this passage contribute to that purpose?


Is there any cultural relevance here?

Are there significant cultural practices, phrases, sayings, etc. talked about in this passage? Use a Study Bible, Bible Dictionaries, Bible Handbooks or whatever else you have available to find any cultural notes.