Whether reading a novel, a history book, or scripture, there are times the author embeds a sneaky phrase that often is a linchpin to understanding the work as a whole.
The apostle Paul is probably one of the best examples of this. Very seldom are there wasted words or phrases in his letters. I am not certain that means he chooses one word over another, thus we give import to a certain word that may not warrant it. However, he writes with purpose and instruction, with very little space devoted to pleasantries.
In what appears to be his first letter, Galatians, from word one he is teaching and instructing. That should call us to immediate attention when we read the letter. In fact, to some extent, he outlines what he plans to talk about in chapter 1, verses 1-5, and then never looks back.
A sneaky phrase that sits within these verses is, “according to the will of our God and Father…” This phrase is pregnant with meaning. It tells us that Paul’s apostleship is no accident, that unmerited favor is no accident, that the absence of enmity with God is no accident, that Christ’s sacrifice is no accident, that our deliverance from the influence of this present evil age is no accident. Everything issues from the will of God.
Of course looking at the vast expanse of God’s will raises certain questions, but that will be another post. What is important is that Paul is setting the stage, in what appears to be his very first “official” communiqué, for the bedrock of an entire belief system – the will of God.
Often I read scripture unaware that the umbrella of God’s will is hanging over my head and shadows every page and chapter. I read segments without regard for the whole. I see a puzzle piece without ever looking at the picture on the puzzle box. Therefore, I suspect I miss a great deal of the power and influence of the word of God.
Being a student of scripture is no easy task. Being influenced by scripture is challenging. Knowing the intent of God’s magnificent will for mankind and this man is daunting.
I plan to be more attuned to sneaky phrases from now on. Often they hold the key to the door of understanding.