Miles Coverdale was born in 1488, received the Bachelor of Canon Law degree at Cambridge University in 1531, and his Doctor's degree from Tubingen and Cambridge a few years later. He began translating the Bible into English and he had a great deal to do with the preservation and ultimate translation of the Word of God. His labors were taken over by William Tyndale and their various editions continued up until (and even beyond) the translation and publication of the King James Bible in 1611.
Miles Coverdale wrote this statement which has enabled many to correctly understand the Scriptures. It reads:
It shall greatly help you to understand Scriptures
If thou mark not only what is spoken or written,
But of whom, and to whom, with what words, at what time.
Where, to what intent, with what circumstances,
Considering what goeth before and what followeth after.
The Bible is a progressively revealed book. It is the Book of God's revelation of Himself to mankind ... first to mankind in general, then to the chosen nation of Israel, and lastly to "the church, which is His Body." Because of these various entities we cannot take all of the Bible as TO US. We cannot take what God gave to Israel, as a nation, and make it to us today. What was revealed to one group at one time, cannot necessarily be interpreted to another group at another time. For instance, what the earthly Christ told the disciples to do in the Gospels was not what the risen Christ in glory told Paul to do in his epistles. The message of the twelve was to Israel, and concerned the kingdom of heaven and their Messiah; whereas the message of Paul had nothing to do with Israel, but concerned "the church, which is His Body."
We know that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness," and that the O.T. Scriptures are written for our example and learning. What we cannot do is take all that is written "for us," and make it "to us," who are members of the Body of Christ. To do so is to end up in hopeless confusion. Therefore we ask the questions which Miles Coverdale set forth in his method of study whereby we can discern the interpretation, the application, or the implication.
This is in obedience to the admonition given to us, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).