“my manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in jerusalem, is known by all the jews. they have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion i have lived as a pharisee. [acts 26:4-5]


when i was in college, i took a required class called ‘introduction to biblical studies’ my professor, dr. johann kim, told us that there were three rules to understanding scripture, he asked us to get out our pens and write them down:


“the first rule” he said in his thick korean accent, “is ‘context.’”

“rule two”, he continued, “context.”

“rule three” (you guessed it:) “context.”


whether he was right about “context, context, context” being the most important key to understanding scripture or not, context is often important to understanding gospell narrative. paul doesn’t expect his hearers to understand the culture and traditions of jerusalem, but paul needs them to understand where he is coming from in order to make his case, to show the darkness he was walking in, how committed he was to his former way of life before he was shown the light of Christ.  when we give our own testimonies, we often start with our background, our ‘manner of life from my youth’.   we will see as paul continues to speak how he speaks of his sin and salvation, what he is proclaiming is the gospel, and he is telling his story–how he was brought from darkness to light!


but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  [1 peter 2:9]


let us not neglect the power of context and story when we testify to how the gospel has worked in our own lives–we may think that our story is boring or lame or lacking in drama, but God has ordained your salvation story so that you might point to Jesus and proclaim the salvation that he bought for you–it is amazing grace!


amazing grace! how sweet the sound,

  /that saved a wretch; like me!

/i once was lost, but now am found,

 / was blind, but now i see. [amazing grace/newton]


~ ce