God has purposely recorded His revelation in an historical setting, so that we can understand what He meant when He said what He said. To correctly interpret scripture, and arrive at its true meaning, we must first understand the historical context. This is gonna take some study and research on our part. In this day when we have tremendous study Bibles and wonderful commentaries, there is no need for us to be ignorant in these areas. If we are willing to do the research, to put forth the time and the effort, we will be richly rewarded.
It seems when many of us approach the Bible, we become misty eyed and all mystical seeking deeper meanings that aren’t there, tying ourselves in knots, and making the whole thing way too complicated. I’ve been there, especially in my early days of bible research, seeking deeper meanings, and missing the obvious. Though the Bible in many ways is still unlike any other book, the same rules of interpretation still apply, as they would when you read other books. Rules of grammar. Rules of tenses, and moods, and the acknowledgment of the historical context. 1. Who was writing? 2. To whom was he writing? 3. What was the spiritual state of those who were being addressed? 4. The historical setting? The time and circumstances of the writing? 5. And last of all what is the message from this book for us?
The final point is usually the first point in our approaching the Bible, which would explain why we come up with the wrong interpretation, because we are already reading ourselves into the text, and looking at scripture through the lens of our own time. Before we can do this however, the other steps must be patiently taken first! If we are willing to do the work and the research first, we will be greatly reward in scriptures final application.
Let me recommend some study bibles for you, the ESV study bible is a great tool, and so is the Reformation study Bible put out by Ligonier ministries, The Macarthur Study Bible is also very good, and so is the faithlife study Bible. Very often a good study Bible will be your lifeline. May I suggest if you are feeling overwhelmed with the size of the Bible to read one book at a time. To pick one book from the Bible, say the book of Johns gospel. Read the introduction and all the notes to it, and slowly work your way through it verse by verse, chapter by chapter. Once you have completed this, it will give you a much better handle on the scriptures. Once you have done this, pick another book in the Bible, there are 66 of them altogether, we are spoiled for choice. You wont regret it, and it will be time well spent, if you do!