Through the Bible, November 21

Reading: No scheduled reading

Thoughts and Reflections: We have scheduled yet another day with no planned Bible reading to provide the opportunity for any who need it to catch up on their Bible reading. Otherwise, below are some thoughts for your consideration for today from this week’s readings.

  1. Besides Jerusalem, we know more about the church at Ephesus than any other. In addition to Paul’s lengthy stay in the city on the third missionary journey, this letter written to them during his imprisonment, and the apostle’s meeting with the Ephesian elders as the last journey was winding down, two other significant connections are found in the New Testament. When Paul writes his letters to Timothy (which we’ll read next week), the young preacher is at Ephesus. And finally, in the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor found in Revelation 2-3, the first of these is addressed to the church at Ephesus.
  2. The city of Philippi enjoyed the distinction of being a Roman Colony. Though it was typical for the Romans to allow the various peoples and nationalities to continue with their native ways and customs, certain places were designated as colonies. They were considered a little “Rome away from Rome.” Roman laws and customs were followed and Roman citizen was enjoyed by many of its citizens. This serves as a fitting backdrop for Paul’s assertion to the Philippian Christians that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Php. 3:20).
  3. Of great interest is Paul’s handling of the issue of slavery as it surfaces in the matter of Philemon and Onesimus. Paul’s approach is not direct. He does not launch into a diatribe on the evils of slavery. Instead, Paul encourages Philemon to be motivated by Christian love. He even refuses to exercise apostolic authority and command Philemon on what to do. Surely Paul’s approach can be applied effectively in any number of circumstances of Christian living.

Devotional Thought:

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

To start with, think about how important the Bible is. We’re talking about the very revealed will of God, the divinely inspired word of God, the words of eternal life. This would be hard to overemphasize.

Next consider that the Bible is not an effort to tell everything that happened during biblical history, nor is it all that could have been delivered. Some things God has chosen not to reveal. He has kept them secret (Deut. 29:29). What is more, even the Gospels do not record everything that Jesus did nor every word He spoke (see John 20:30-31).

That all leads us to the conclusion that the things that recorded in Scripture carry significant “weight”, or at least they should.

Now, consider that in Paul’s letter to Philippi he mentions two women by name, Euodia and Syntyche (Php. 4:2). That in itself is not unusual, but the reason he mentions them is important. These two women weren’t getting along. Paul doesn’t try to delve into their rift and sort it all out. What he does do is encourage them to “agree in the Lord.” He even calls on one whom he refers to as “true companion”—some interpret this as being this person’s name, Syzygos— to step in and help these ladies to be reconciled (v. 3).

Here’s the point, our relationships are that important to God. We may tend to pass them off as little concern. We may be satisfied to allow a damaged or even broken relationship to just go on as is. Paul would not have it. He knew it had the potential to undermine and even eventually destroy the unity of the church.

No assigning blame; no airing dirty laundry; no gathering supporters to one side or the other. Just restore the relationship. The unity of the church is far more important than any personal vindication.

What relationships in your life are in need of repair? What relationships, damaged or broken, are threatening the blessed unity of the body of Christ?

It’s time to agree in the Lord!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *