Friday, November 20, 2015

Crossing the Scriptures


Let’s look at the New Testament. These 27 books can be divided as 5 NT History books (the 4 Gospels about Christ and the Acts of the Apostles) and 22 Epistles (letters written by Paul, James, Peter, John and Jude).
Why are there 4 Gospel accounts and is there a reason for their differences? Four witnesses give us a deeper understanding of the events as well as individual perspectives. Different viewpoints would be expected. I especially liked learning how parallel accounts reveal specific key links to the alphabetic verses. For example: Matthew matches up to the 18th Hebrew letter (tzaddi) which is the root for righteous or righteousness. Compare Matthew 5:6 (Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled) to Luke 6:21 (Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled). In 6 other comparisons between Matthew and Luke you find the same thing (Mt. 5:10 – Luke 6:22, Mt. 6:33 – Luke 12:31, Mt. 10:40 – Luke 9:48, Mt. 13:17 – Luke 10:24, Mt. 23:35 – Luke 11:50, and Mt. 23:29 – Luke 11:47). The Gospel of Mark matches up to the 19th Hebrew letter (quph) which starts the word for swift. In comparing Mark’s accounts of the casting out of the demon, five thousand fed, healings at Gennesaret, the boy healed of being deaf and mute and the question asked of Jesus of how to inherit eternal life with the accounts in Matthew and Luke of the same events, Mark’s accounts always include running. Luke’s accounts include wisdom: Mt. 10:19, Mark 13:11 and Luke 21:12 all quote Jesus telling the disciples not to worry about what to say, but only Luke mentions wisdom. Luke also emphasizes friends: compare the same stories in Matthew about the Centurion’s servant, the lost sheep, the warning of hellfire and being hated for Christ’s sake – in every instance Luke inserts the word friends. (There are other examples with the word see in Luke, and by the way, “friends” and “see” start with the same Hebrew letter, the 20th letter, resh) If God designed the Bible then I expect to find the theme continuing in the book of John, i.e. the 21st Hebrew letter (shin) better be pretty prevalent. Guess what? It is. To send (shalach), peace (shalom), name (shem), hear / obey (shama) and keep / watch (shamar) are overly abundant and the really amazing thing is that the New Testament was written in Greek, but the Hebrew pattern remains. (This is a sampling of the unique perspectives in this Bible study book: Crossing the Scriptures.)
The 22 epistles are, to me, like discovering important personal documents. (What if you found your great-grandparents’ love letters to one another? Wouldn’t you be interested?) Before you read one of these short books I recommend that you first find out what was happening in the author’s life and in the church that he’s writing to. Of course these letters are meant for us today, too, but understanding first century culture and customs will clarify things. Go online and read Bible scholar commentaries. I have found that each verse can be like a treasure chest that as soon as you open it (begin to study it) it overflows with treasure. Most Bibles have footnotes and commentaries that should never be overlooked.
Jesus lived. He died for our sins then rose from the dead to conquer death and live eternally. Every time I look at someone I must remember that Jesus died for that person, too. That tends to change my outlook quite a bit.