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I would say, first, that, in order to have a sound basis for understanding if a teaching of Jesus remains applicable today, one should make an effort to understand what that teaching meant to His original listeners, taking into consideration such elements as differences in language, time, culture, geography, setting, and situation. In my opinion, an interpretation of any teaching that would not have been recognized or understood by His original hearers (based on commonalities between their situation and our situation today) is likely incorrect. My next thought would be that, if a teaching of Jesus is based on, or is elaborating on, a teaching or principle that is also found in the Old Testament, then it is likely meant to have applicability to Christians in all eras. Also, although a passage can have varying applications, it can (in my opinion) have only one correct interpretation. That interpretation then serves as a basis for judging whether the passage can be correctly applied to a specific situation. (To me, one example of attempting to interpret Jesus' words without due regard for context would be His statement in John 14:13-14 that, if anything was asked in His name, He would do it. He was speaking to the apostles with specific reference to equipping them with what they would need for their mission of evangelization following His forthcoming return to the Father, rather than making an unconditional promise to provide his followers with whatever they might request at any time.) Finally, one should always seek the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit in understanding and interpreting Jesus' words and teachings correctly, since Jesus Himself indicated in John 14:26 that that would be the Spirit's role. We should always be open to revising our thoughts or changing an interpretation if the Spirit convicts us in that regard, and available evidence supports the change.
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