It is important to understand that the whole of Scripture belongs to all people. It was given to all the people groups at any time. The Old Testament is specifically addressed to the people of Israel and the New Testament to the early church, but all believers are now part of the household of God. The Old and New Testament are both God-breathed Scripture that forms one cohesive whole. With that being said, it is also important to not only see how the Jews and early church would have placed the scriptures into their contexts but also how the church collectively has handled the scriptures through time according to their location and time. As a believer, I am a child of God within the family of God. Our family is large and has a long past. In essence, the mail (message) that God sent was to all believers.
No matter the time period a believer is studying in the Word, the Scriptures were first given to people living in specific times and places. Their situations, culture, and numerous other variables are not always comparable to those believers of another time and location. Historical context uses the “occasion and purpose of each book” (Fee & Stuart, p 27) as a solid starting ground for Scriptural study. God initially revealed Himself to certain people in certain places at certain times, and it was written down from their perspective to specific audiences for a particular purpose. This sets up the original recipients as having the claim that the scripture is their mail.
We also have a claim on the scriptures as our mail. As Ken Schenck notes, “Words are incredibly flexible things – they can mean many different things in many different situations” (p. 1). This helps to create the timelessness of the Christian Scriptures. There is also the Spirit that flows through the Word that makes it living and eternal. It was the Word of God to those in the past, but it is also the Word of God to us still today. Again, Joel Green states, “There is only one people of God.” In this sense, we are not that far away from many of the situations of the Scripture. I may not know physical persecution as many in the scriptures felt but in another part of the globe somebody does. Yet, as a pastor, I can relate to Paul’s disappointment in John Mark’s and Demus’ defection. Scripture has a way of speaking to our current situation. We don’t have to worry about making scripture relevant, it is always relevant.
Long, Joel. Seized By Truth. Nashville, TN. Abingdon Press. 2007
Stuart, Douglas and Fee, Gordon Fee. How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 2003
Schenck, Kenneth. Brief Guide to Biblical Interpretation. Marion, IN. Triangle Publishing. 2009