It also may be helpful to determine the reason for a particular command or practice. If the reason for the command is limited to that specific cultural situation, then the command itself may also be limited in application. For example, when Paul said in Romans 15 that the Gentile churches had a duty to contribute to the needs of the church in Jerusalem, the reason for this command was given: "if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things" (Rom 15:27). That believers have a duty to share materially with those who have blessed them spiritually is a reason which crosses all cultural boundaries.
Roy Zuck15 presents several guidelines for determining which biblical examples, commands, and practices apply today:
- Some situations, commands, or principles are repeatable, continuous, or not revoked, and/or pertain to moral and theological subjects, and/or are repeated elsewhere in Scripture, and therefore are permanent and transferable to us.
- Some situations, commands, or principles pertain to an individual's specific nonrepeatable circumstances, and/or nonmoral or nontheological subjects, and/or have been revoked, and are therefore not transferable to today.
- Some situations or commands pertain to cultural settings that are only partially similar to ours and in which only the principles are transferable.
- Some situations or commands pertain to cultural settings with no similarities but in which the principles are transferable.