Rule Seven: Find, if you can, what gave rise to the lesson under consideration.
This can generally be done by observing the context and circumstances connected with it, and will go far to elucidate the end aimed at, and everything pertaining to it. (see Gal. 1:6-10)
6* I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7* which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8* But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9* As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10* For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Rule Eight: Consider, carefully, all the surrounding circumstances. This includes the time, the place, the people, their special conditions and positions.
See Luke 15 here
We have three parables here, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. All three, especially the last one have been sadly, and often ruinously perverted. We will not go into all of the false doctrine taught by twisting these verses, but note verses ONE & TWO. What gave rise to and what was intended to be accomplished by the lesson here?
1* Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. 2* Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So He told them this parable, saying,
THIS IS THE CAUSE OF THE THREE PARABLES. Jesus is the speaker. The Pharisees and scribes are the persons addressed. The end to be accomplished is the answer and exposure of their complaint. The character and condition of the complainers SHOULD BE OBSERVED. Their character is abundantly apparent – They would not associate with sinners — especially they would not eat with them; and they would judge, or measure Jesus by themselves. Therefore, he does not tell them, as he did some others, that he had come “to seek and to save the lost.” They were not prepared to appreciate the mission of the Messiah. It would have had no weight with them. He considered their peculiar condition, and defended himself by exposing their inconsistency.
They knew what it was to be shepherds, and that when a sheep went astray, they would go and search for it until they found it. They would not cease; and when they found it, they rejoiced.
Some who were listening to him were women. Women are always loosing things! (Just kidding) Every woman there KNEW what she would do if she lost a piece of money. She would drop EVERYTHING until she found it, and then she would rejoice. This struck them squarely in the face.
Some of them were fathers, and all of them knew of prodigal sons; how gladly the prodigal was received when he returned, and how they all scorned one, like the elder brother, who was not willing to receive him, and join in the rejoicing. How overwhelming they must have felt this. Therefore, Jesus would make them SEE and FEEL concern for the lost Gentile world. In condemning Jesus they were condemning themselves because they ALL DID EXACTLY what Jesus was doing, the fathers, the shepherds, the women, and all who lived before them.
All the parables of Jesus are founded on matters of fact, and serve, in the same way, to illustrate important truths and principles. We will talk more about parables later.