Book. Chapter. Verse.
That’s one of the basic concepts I like to teach to Bible readers. To help them think about context, I encourage them to think book -> chapter -> verse.
I’ll admit upfront that’s an oversimplification. But for new readers, it’s a handy way to be reminded of context, because they see it every time they’re given a verse reference. When I read “John 3:16,” I can immediately see that the book is John, the chapter is 3, and the verse is 16. So I teach new Bible readers that, as they seek to interpret a verse, they should first think about the book and the chapter.
For John 3:16, I want to look at the Gospel of John, and it’s structure. That’s a challenge for new readers, but they need to see the idea. I encourage them to think about what a gospel is, why the gospel of John is different from the others, who John was and who he may have been writing to. Questions of that sort.
Then I encourage them to look at chapter 3, and it’s place in the gospel. What’s going on in chapter 3? How does it tie chapter 2 and chapter 4 together (or does it?). Those questions.
Now they can look at the verse itself and consider it’s place in the chapter. How does verse 16 relate to what comes before and what comes after?
That won’t answer all questions about context. But it will get new readers started on the road to exploring the subject and seeing how it moves us from surface-level reading to a deeper understanding of the text. And it’s a concept that they have illustrated right in front of them, every time they look at a scripture reference.