I could swear my dad had marked up this chapter more. He’s certainly talked to me about it enough, speculating as to whether the three men whom Abraham encounters are in fact the Trinity, investigating the notion that this may be a pre-incarnate Christophany, pointing out some detail of the original Hebrew that I cannot at this moment recall. But my dad, whose Bible I use, has only written a single marginal note on this whole chapter. It’s three words, which you may be able to see in the photo above: “Hospitality – 1) Inconvenient 2) Costly.”
Where we last left our heroes, Paul was giving Timothy directions concerning leadership and good practices within the church body, and today he continues in that vein. Chapter five concludes with various instructions on respecting elders, dealing with sin, laying on hands, and how to deal with gastrointestinal health problems. Most of it’s fairly uncontroversial, though when Paul prescribes a little wine for Timothy’s stomach ailments, there’s been some debate on just how diluted the “wine” of the Greco-Roman world was, and some might think that public rebuke for an elder’s persistent sinning seems a little harsh. But let’s set aside the trivial controversies of the ending verses and rewind to that thorniest of topics: widow issues.
Well, this is embarrassing. In today’s chapter, Paul continues to talk about charity and financial support for the poor within the church, and on my first pass through the text, I didn’t even notice him quoting from the old testament. It’s in a different type setting and everything, Jackson! Come on! And on my second pass, I noticed it and wondered, “Where is that from? Maybe Isaiah?” Then I looked it up, and it’s from Psalm 112. I read Psalm 112 exactly three months and two days ago. And while I might not be expected to know which psalm Paul was quoting, I should at least have recognized it as a psalm. Truly, I am like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror, for once I have looked at myself and gone away, I have immediately forgotten what kind of person I was.
My preferred Bible translation is the NASB, but I have to admit it’s not without its drawbacks. It presents a more literal translation wherever possible and reflects the original languages more closely than the NIV. But as a result, I find some passages to be not immediately accessible, and it takes some time and effort just to figure out what’s going on. Like, oh say, this chapter.