7 Reasons to Study the Cultural Backgrounds of the Bible

Posted by on 09/06/2017 in: ,


1. Understand the audience: Grasping the original audience’s perspective helps us understand the setting to which the inspired authors communicated their message.

2. Understand how the text communicates: A text is ideas linked by threads of writing. Each phrase and each word communicates by the ideas and thoughts that they will trigger in the reader or hearer.

3. Biblical writers made assumptions: Biblical writers normally could take for granted that their audiences shared their language and culture; some matters, therefore, they assumed rather than stated. Think about what happens when later audiences from different cultures read the text without the same un-stated understandings as the original audience.

4. Understand the differences: We can see the differences between [ancient people] and us. To better understand how they would have interpreted what was being shared to them.

5. Understand what issues were being addressed: When we hear the message in its authentic, original cultural setting we can reapply it afresh for our own different setting most fully, because we understand what issues were really being addressed.

6. Prevent imposing your own culture: If we know nothing of the ancient world, we will be inclined to impose our own culture and worldview on the Biblical text. This will always be detrimental to our understanding.

7. Fill in the gaps: As each person hears or reads the text, the message takes for granted underlying gaps that need to be filled with meaning by the audience. It is theologically essential that we fill [the gaps] appropriately.


This blog was adapted from the NKJV Cultural Background Study Bible! You can see it on sale in our store here.

Enjoy the NIV more than the NKJV? See the NIV version of the Cultural Background Study Bible by clicking here.


  • oscar chanda says:

    am well inspired for this 7 reasons of knowing cultuer background.thank you.be blessed

  • CGourdy says:

    Thank you. Never thought about studying the culture of Biblical text. Awesome.

  • Darin says:

    I feel these gathered 7 reasons and probably more will be the key to understanding the bible without a western mindset

  • Dennis Schaefer says:

    As a born again believer I am doing my best to do just this. One way is I am receiving emails on the Messianic studies. It is helping me to understand the Hebrew nation. God bless us all.

  • CLS says:

    I can not but agree that cultural consideration of the time of writing can be helpful in bringing the intent of the writer to the mind of the reader. However, at the same time, with respect to the Bible, it was written by God to be applied to all generations and all cultures for all times. It is so important that we put effort into understanding what God has given us; but ultimately, it is our prayerful pleas and the leading of the Holy Spirit that will bring understanding. Many Blessings!

  • Wamuyu says:

    It is always a great step to not only read the Bible but to want to understand it better by studying the culture in which the Word was given.

    My concern is the fact that the NIV has a number of verses missing. In this case the reader may study amiss.

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