I’m pretty sure the only reason Amos 1 and 2 aren’t a single chapter is to keep the chapters short enough to read in under two minutes. Remember the formula from the first chapter? “For three transgressions of Nation X and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they did Terrible Thing Y, so I will send fire upon the wall of Nation X and it will consume her citadels, garnish as necessary with additional judgments?” In this chapter it continues. However, it only runs through one foreign nation (Moab) before turning to Israel and Judah. Yes, that’s right. For all the attention God gives the heathens abroad for the abuse they’ve heaped on his people, now he’s turning his attention to his people’s own biggest abusers: themselves.
I just checked, and the three parables in this chapter haven’t changed since we last read them. The woman still lights a lamp and sweeps the house in search of her missing coin; it’s still the younger brother rather than the older who demands his early inheritance; there are still the same number of sheep. If anything was true that we previously said about these parables, it continues to be true even now. But we haven’t yet examined the context in which Jesus tells these parables. Where does he tell them? Who does he tell them to? Let’s step outside the parables and find some answers.
Paul concludes his letter to the Corinthian church with his plans to visit them, words of encouragement, and personal commendations. Amidst Paul’s parting words, a few verses stood out to me, so I wanted to hit ’em real quick in succession.
For better or worse, I have a bias for certain passages, and the first part of 1 Corinthians 15 is one of them. And honestly, approaching my favorite passages can be intimidating. I want to provide a good introduction for those unfamiliar with the passage, supply helpful information to expand others’ understanding of the passage, and show those for whom it might not be a favorite passage why I’m so fond of it. I want to do right by the passage. But my own expectations can be crippling, and here I am searching for pages on Pascal’s Wager when I should be digging into today’s chapter. I can’t cover everything in a single blog post. It’s not gonna be perfect, but let’s get to it.
Back around 2004, whenever I was home from college, a friend and I started going to a home church from time to time. It was a much-needed shot in the arm, as I was going through some rough times back then and needed something fresh and personal. They practiced spiritual gifts there; in particular, I remember them praying in tongues. But I don’t remember anyone interpreting, so I remained clueless as to the meaning of the in-tongues-speakers’ mouth-noises.
The bulk of this chapter details the proper use of spiritual gifts, and its instructions are relatively uncontroversial. But near the end, just when you think we’re going to get through this one without any major issues, Paul drops this bomb on us: “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church” (14:34-35). Why’d you have to open up that can of worms, Paul? Come on!
1 Corinthians 13, Paul’s description of love, is one of the best-known passages in the Bible. I first got wise to it in early high school. and since then it’s been a regular point of visitation in my Bible reading. For me, it’s surprisingly easy to forget the importance of love in my day-to-day life, but entirely too often I turn on that cruise control and coast through my days. But love isn’t a switch you can flip.