THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTEXT
Digging for the hidden truths in parables Home
We have all read the parable of the pounds (in other places “talents”) and we think, “I should use my talents better. Maybe I should sing at church today, or maybe I should help more at church. And no doubt, an important principle exists in this parable, but is that what this parable is really about? There are some “unusual” scriptures in this parable that don’t fit that concept.
Some ministers give their “text” for the day but the context surrounding a scripture is what is important when you do Bible study. Context can give eye opening understanding of the Bible. It’s like forensics, sometimes the small details speak loud truths. Now let’s read the parable. After we read it, let’s look at the small details and see what they tell us.
THE PARABLE OF THE POUNDS
“And as they heard these things, he (Jesus) added and spoke a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou take up that thou lay not down, and reap that thou didst not sow. And he said unto him, Out of your own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knew that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gave not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” Luke 19:11
Context is the “back story” that goes with a scripture. First of all, this parable was directed at specific people. Note the words “But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” Ask the question, who was this directed to? The scribes, Pharisees and Priests were searching for opportunity to kill Christ. Could this parable have been addressed to them?
It was Passover season, the city of Jerusalem was in tumult. Not only because it was that season but because the news of Lazarus’s resurrection had reached Jerusalem. This miracle hit home. How could it be denied any longer that Jesus Christ was the Messiah? Many were ready to crown Him King by force. When Christ rode into Jerusalem on the colt, people saw that He fulfilled the prophesy of the coming Messiah, the city threw branches of palms down in His honor.
John:12:12 says, “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, They took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.”
But, as already noted, there were some there who did not want “this man to reign over us.” They were the Priests mainly but also the scribes and the Pharisees. These scoundrels had a plan to kill Christ and in the end, when they accomplished their foul plot, they became agitated at something Pilate did. They did not want Christ to be called a King. But, Pilate had placed a sign above Christ’s head that said “King of the Jews.” These evil men went to Pilate and asked him to change the sign to say “He said he was King of the Jews.” But Pilate refused. Now, in context, are these not the men in the parable who did not want Christ to reign over them? The parable says, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” This parable is directed at the rulers of Jerusalem.
Keep in mind that these Scribes, Pharisees and Priests were supposed to be the servants of God. But, when God came walking down the road, they did not recognize Him. They had been given much but they had not used it wisely. Just like the parable said. And their glory and offices were taken away and given to another. Who was it given to? In 70 a.d., the Romans came in and wiped the Temple Mount clean and removed the Priesthood and everything pertaining to it and all that they once had was given to the Church.
Only a little while after He tells this parable, Christ stopped to weep over Jerusalem and He predicted the coming Roman destruction of the Temple Mount. He said, “Not one stone will be left upon another.” A lot of people think this happens in the end time, but it has already happened.
Historically, the Romans melted down the gold of the temple and it ran down into the rocks and the Romans literally dug out the rocks to retrieve it and not one stone was left on top of another, as prophesied. In fact, they built a pagan temple complex to Jupiter on the former Temple Mount. "To him that hath, more will be given and to him that hath not, even that which he hath will be taken away. “That is the rest of the story.” So now you see why context is so important. Without it we can never really understand the Bible in the way that it is meant to be understood. This is only one example of using context, now if you want to understand the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man, see how context opens up the understanding of that mysterious parable!
The Hidden Meaning Behind the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man