One of the three books we are reading in my hermeneutics class is Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible. I am enjoying the book and even based a recent Sunday School lesson off some of its material.
The recent reading teaches not to ignore the surrounding context of a passage. Revelation 3:20 is used as an example of a favorite Scripture verse often used outside of its context. You might then, “For whom does Jesus stand at the door and knock?”
The passage reads, “Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me” (HCSB). The authors then ask if you know its context. The following simple, straightforward explanation of the passage is given in context.
Revelation 3:20 is commonly used to describe Jesus’ promise to anyone who might accept him as Savior and Lord; that is, it is seen as an evangelistic promise: “If you will open the door of your heart, Christ promises to enter.” But in context, Revelation 3:20 is a promise from the risen Christ to a congregation of “lukewarm” Christians. He assures these disobedient believers that he is ready and waiting to renew fellowship with them (standing at the door knocking) if they will repent (open the door). This verse applies directly to Christians living out of fellowship with Christ. As a believer, have you ever strayed so far from Christ that you wondered if he would ever take you back? Revelation 3:20 promises that he loves you and is waiting to restore you if you will repent.1
Be encouraged to keep Scripture in its proper context in your reading, interpretation, and application. Your devotions will thank you!
Grace and peace,
- Duvall, J. Scott; Hays, J. Daniel (2012-09-04). Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (p. 154). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. ↩