Putting “ONE” in context
One of the earliest Bible college hermeneutical lessons I learned was that the three most important aspects of biblical interpretation were context, context, and context. To that end, hearing Ephesians in its entirety tonight at Gathering 2018 was a home run.
I have read Ephesians numerous times. I have read all six chapters in one sitting. I have individual verses memorized. I have preached sermons using texts from Ephesians. I have taught Ephesians at Bible college (ironically, as a guest lecturer for Andrew Dyck). But tonight was the first time I’ve listened to a live “performance” of the entire epistle.
Okay, I realize that “performance” is likely the wrong word and you may take issue with it. Perhaps “recitation” would be better. It definitely wasn’t a “reading” of Ephesians. It was a “presentation” of the living Word of God, and it was a powerful experience.
Andrew Dyck recited the entire letter of Ephesians tonight in about 18 minutes.
I wasn’t bored.
I wasn’t sleepy despite a lengthy drive today.
I was engaged.
Watching Andrew speak; observing his body language, his gestures, listening to his tone, and even cringing when his finger pointed at me – all combined helped me hear Ephesians in a unique way.
In the interest of full disclosure, I know Andrew personally. We served together at King Road Church for several years. We had lunch a few weeks ago when he was in Abbotsford. We even broached the subject of memorizing Scripture. Tonight, I likely listened a little more carefully because of our friendship, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way the text challenged me.
How so? Here are some things I heard.
- Prepositions – yes, that’s right, those little words like “in” and “through”…”in Christ Jesus,” “through the gospel”…somehow they “hear” differently voiced audibly than read quietly.
- Themes – in listening for the “ONE” theme, I noticed it appeared several times, and not simply for the first time in chapter 4. There is a challenge in how the gospel is to unite us and bring peace. How will I respond?
- Personal challenge – “Fathers, don’t provoke your children to anger.” Oops, I was upset with my son earlier this afternoon. Please forgive me.
But perhaps most of all, tonight’s “presentation” renewed my inspiration to spend time in Scripture.
When I first took a New Testament Greek class, I was thrilled to dig deeply into the Word of God. Hearing Ephesians tonight inspired me to linger long in a passage, to read, memorize, internalize, reflect, and yes, respond.
I’ve been on an on-again/off-again journey to memorize Philippians. It’s time I buckle down.
Maybe there is someone else who listened tonight who will tackle Galatians, Colossians, Romans, or Matthew?
Anabaptists are known as people with a high view of Scripture. Tonight we participated together in hearing Ephesians. Let’s do it again.
[Leonard serves as the co-lead pastor at King Road Church in Abbotsford, B.C.