Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Ephesians 3:2-3

Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 

Sometimes, many times, I am most grateful for the Message bible and Eugene Peterson's fresh interpretation of God's Holy Word.  It takes what SHOULD be a simple message, made somewhat convoluted by other interpretations (like the NIV, for instance) and makes it just that, simple.  Here it is from the Message:
I take it that you're familiar with the part I was given in God's plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.
 Verses 2-13 seem to be parenthetical.  Paul really is the master at this type of writing.  What humors me about this little passage is the phrase "as I have already written briefly."  I would argue that Paul knows how to write on anything "briefly."  His idea of "brief" and my idea of "brief" are two different things.  Chances are, if he was writing books today, he wouldn't have much of a following.  People today would probably say things like, "he's too wordy;" "it takes him too long to get to the point;" "he's too hard to follow."  Although all that may be accurate, the truth is, he is brilliant and altogether humble.  Qualities that don't always mesh together in an individual.

Very few people in scripture can claim to hold the trophy on legalistic righteousness (Philippians 3:6) and then turn around and write a flaming manifesto on the need for God's grace (Galatians) like the apostle Paul.  I've known more than a few people in my life who do not like Paul and have a hard time appreciating his writings.  Not me.  I think his life is fascinating and his writings challenge me.

One of the most intriguing things about Paul is how, at first glance, he comes off as hard-nosed and black and white about everything.  Upon further study of Paul's life and motives and personality, however, you find a man who is not hard-nosed at all.  On the contrary!  He is very tender to those around him and so in love with the One who saved him that day on the road to Damascus that it causes him to speak out relentlessly about God's love and grace.  It's Paul's tenacious personality along with his brilliant intellect that makes him a force to be reckoned with.  And this would be true no matter the group of people that might have laid claim to his loyalties.  It is his humble attitude, humility taught him by the same One who humbles each of us, that allows him and moves him to challenge each one of us to be more than we are right now.  To reach higher and live better and love more fully as we take each breath of life given us by the One who created us.  That's what I hear the Apostle saying to me.

All of that to say, these two verses are not as complicated as they sound.  Paul is simply being conversational.  When you read verses 2-13 like they were in parenthesis, you read it with a bit more understanding.  As he has explained throughout this letter, several times, because he is not "brief," his commission is to the Gentiles and this commission is from God himself.  It's a reminder.  Thank you Mr. Peterson for your simple and fresh approach to God's word.

Reaching higher, living better, loving more fully,


Anonymous said...

I just got through reading the Book of Acts and had to laugh when Paul was speaking one night and the guy that was sitting in the window fell asleep as Paul talked on and on...fell out of the window and died. Paul threw himself on him ... and brought him back.

I've sat through a few sermons like that. ;-)

Loving you and your blog


Kerry said...

Exactly! Thanks for that! If I would have thought of that illustration, I would have included it in this post! Love you too!