For the last few bulletin articles we’ve looked at the importance of reading Christian books to help us understand the Bible. This week I want to look at how we need help because the Bible was written by different human authors.
The New Testament alone was written by at least eight authors: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter and Jude. The Old Testament had many more. Yet we know that all authors have their own style and that sometimes they even have their own meaning for different words. For example the word ‘bill’ could be something you pay, try to bring into law, run from (if you’re a criminal) or even eat with (if you’re a bird). To know what is meant requires knowledge of the context. This could include understanding who is talking about the ‘bill’.
In the Bible some of the same words are used by different authors to mean very different things. For example God’s ‘call’ in Matthew’s gospel means invited by God to become a Christian. We see this in the parable of the Wedding Banquet where God is pictured as a King who ‘calls’ people to come to his feast: ‘And he sent out his slaves to call (kaleo) those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come’ (Matthew 22:3; NAS). This call of God is clearly not an effective call because the people refuse to come. The parable ends: ‘For many are called, but few are chosen’ (Matthew 22:14; NAS).
Whereas when Paul speaks about the ‘call’ of God it is always an effective ‘call’: ‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Romans 8:29-30).’ If you’re called by God, you are definitely saved because you are also glorified. When Paul says ‘call’ he means ‘saved’, not ‘invited’.
Now if you didn’t read other books, you might be able to figure this out on your own. But it is more likely that you just wouldn’t clearly understand what it means to be ‘called’ by God.
Do you read other books because you know your Bible is written by many authors and you need help to understand their differences?