Looking from this perspective makes a difference in how we read the New Testament. The people believed Jesus’ casting out the demon from the girl. There were many exorcists in the ancient world. Therefore, it was nothing new since the exorcists employed magic spells or pain compliance techniques to expel demons. [Bible Background Commentary NEW TESTAMENT-Front Matter – How to Use This Commentary-A Cultural Commentary] The difference between Jesus and the exorcists is seen in the power that Jesus worked these deliverances. Jesus moved in Divine authority and power while the exorcists moved in dark magic. Jesus drove the demons out “by His word.” The audience of Jesus’ deliverance ministry were amazed by this. This reminds me of Moses when he was before Pharaoh. Exodus 7:8-12. The wise men, sorcerers and magicians changed their rods through enchantments to become serpents, Moses’ rod swallowed up their rods. Aaron’s rod was more powerful than any enchantments.
Knowing this type of information is critical to a correct revelation of God’s Word. This may seem tedious to the Student of the Word. It is important if we are to get a complete understanding of the author’s intent of the writing. Understanding the setting of the biblical writers does not deny that biblical passages are valid for all time. They are not valid for all circumstances. Different passages address different circumstances. We need to understand the circumstances which caused the writer to mention certain things. Then we need to interpret those passages in light of the setting.
The reason I am using this Bible Background Commentary is for the purpose of reading the text in its right setting. We cannot allow ourselves to interpret something in a way that is wrong. The Holy Spirit will guide us and direct us in our studies of the Bible. This will cause us to not read more into the text that what is written. This means reading the passage within its original context.
I suggest reading a helpful book by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1981). I purchased this book for one of my classes when I was attending Liberty University Online. It is a very helpful book for its small size. I suggest you visit Amazon.com to purchase this book.
You and I need to have a reverential approach to the Bible. We need to be prayerful and attentive to understanding this valuable book. It is a revelation of who the Father is, and how He sent His only begotten Son to save us. Jesus reconciled us to the Father through His death, burial and resurrection. We are blessed to live in a country where we can walk around with our Bible under our arms. There will come a time when we will not be so free. Learn your Bible. Learn the verses. There is life, joy and peace in knowing the Word of God for yourself.