For over a year, I’ve been reading through the whole of the bible. I use no study tools but the brief notes at the bottom of the ESV. Treating the bible like a novel has often been unpleasant. I had hoped to study Acts over a year ago when I finished studying Luke but felt directed by God to read through the whole bible instead. I don’t know what he was trying to teach me. A year later, with all its ups and downs, I’m not sure it’s been worth it. (Don’t worry, I often think God’s leading isn’t worth it. But God has a different value system and vision than I do. I doubt he’s ever been wrong.)
So now I’m in the epistles. Aside from Hebrews, I’d say the format has been pretty much the same over and over again. It may sound blasphemous but at best I think of these letters as bad sermons. I can appreciate their format and design but a lot of it comes across as blabbing. If I wanted to sit in lectures, I’d go back to college. Today, a distinct difference between the epistles and gospels stood out to me.
The epistles are very deductive. You can see the writers construct arguments based on principles and derive new theologies from those arguments. Certainly, Paul had a deep understanding of Jesus’ theology. Not a perfect understanding but a deep one. In contrast, the gospels are much more inductive. Jesus tells a lot of stories and often doesn’t directly answer the questions he’s asked. The reader is left wondering. Paul left no room for wonder though he often described the mysterious of the faith. In software lingo, we’d say the epistles are more “meta”. They speak about the theology. The gospels are the theology.
And after the epistles, comes Revelation. That’ll be a trip. Hope it’s a good one…