One of the easiest ways for a false teaching to gain traction is to quote a scripture out of context or make up an entire context that isn’t even there. Yet, we rarely teach kids and teens how to use context to help them understand the scriptures better.
Teaching kids about context is something a parent can easily do at home with even upper elementary aged kids. Train your children to never accept one Bible verse as “proof” of anything. Often a verse is only a piece of a much larger puzzle God puts together over numerous verses, chapters and even books of the Bible.
Encourage your children to look at least at the few verses before and after a verse they are given. Some Bibles have an almost paragraph format to the chapters now. Encourage older kids and teens to read the entire “paragraph” or even the entire chapter. Really difficult passages to understand may require reading the chapter before and after the chapter in which the original verse is contained.
Practice with your child thinking about what information those extra verses add to the original verse. Does it tell us more about what was happening when the verse was said? Does knowing what was happening add additional meaning or change their understanding of the original verse a little? What was the purpose of the entire chapter and not just that one verse? Does what your child was told that verse “proved” fit in with the meaning of the entire chapter?
The other danger with context is something that has cropped up in the last few decades. it is an attempt to totally discount entire, very clearly written scriptures under the guise of some made up context not included in the verse, chapter or even book. You may have even heard someone say, “Of God didn’t mean that for us. It was because thus and so weird thing was happening in that city.” Where they get their information from is never quite clear as it definitely is never in those scriptures or any nearby scripture. Teach your children to not let things quite possibly entirely made up by someone, trick them into disobeying a very clear scripture. Remind them Satan is the father of lies, so be wary of anything not backed up by the Bible.
Taking a little extra time to teach your kids about the Bible and context can protect them from being tricked by false teachings – whether the motives of the teacher or pure or not. It’s just another tool you can give your kids to help make it easier for them to stay on God’s path.