Caveats & Suggestions

Random thoughts for reading and meditating on Who We Are(and Are Not)in Paul's letters to the churches that you may find useful (or not) …

A few caveats:

  • Characteristics are presented as bulleted points (sometimes in summary form, sometimes verbatim) containing key words and phrases from the scripture reference sufficient to capture the defining characteristic that was communicated.
  • Most characteristics are drawn from the NASB, and occasionally the ESV and NIV.
  • If you find yourself raising an eyebrow, study the characteristic out for yourself. However, when doing so, please consider the full context in which Paul made the statement.
  • If you find I’ve left out or seriously misquoted something, please let me know. Email is below and always welcome.

A few suggestions:

  • You are, of course, quite free, to read this completely from an individual, personal mindset, but I will be bold in suggesting that in doing so you will find it far less rich.
  • As already mentioned, Paul was not writing first and foremost about you and I as individuals, but to parts of a larger body that was and is the church. If true, then individual application always follows—and never precedes—firstmaking application to the collective corporate community,and thento the individual member’s response as part of the community, andonly after thisto you in your personal life today. This can be a challenge for those of us steeped in a tradition of reading scripture first from an individual perspective, particularly if we’re in the habit of making immediate application to our personal circumstances.
  • Another common tendency is to begin with a familiar or traditional individual application and try to wrap a corporate application around it. This would be a mistake because, as suggested, that’s not how it was written.
  • For both of these, it can be helpful to momentarily set aside traditional individual presumptions in order to first fully appreciate the corporate implication, and then discern the individual application as one’s personal response to what Paul has said of Christ’s body as a whole.

Finally … as you read, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart. This is not a head-game. It is, after all, God's living word. (Jn. 16:13)