I love to break things down to their simplest terms. I really like and have often used Paul’s words in Corinthians:
God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn't send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words. 1 Corinthians 1:17 (MSG)
- For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 1 Corinthians 1:17 (NASB)
Paul’s words in the 2nd chapter of I Corinthians add to the words “not in cleverness of speech” “lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.”
- It is easy to get caught up in flowery rhetoric/fancy words. “With the coming, widespread use of the English language, in the 1300s A.D. forward, there was a reason for the Bible to be translated into the common language of the people, so they could continue to read/hear the Word and the Gospel in a tongue they could understand, accept and say “Amen” to. The versio vulgate, “commonly used translation,” also known as the Latin Vulgate became popular because it used the vulgar, that is to say, the common language of the people, so they could read/hear the Word of God for themselves.” (Delbert Rankin, Iowa)
Paul was an educated man.
- And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (KJV)
Educated, but called to work with the likes of Peter and John. Notice how they were characterized as ignorant and unlearned. Paul could have and at times did get into the depths of the plan and purpose of God.
- "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today." Acts 22:3 (NASB)
This is striking to me, as I think about it. Peter, the one along with John who was characterized as unlearned and ignorant, is the one that accused Paul of preaching things hard to understand:
- Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 (KJV)
- Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:15-16 (NASB)
USE SIMPLE TERMS
I am a simple man: ninth grade education with an Associates Degree in Accounting. (I did get a GED) I try to break things down and present them in their simplest terms as I preach because, most of the time that is the way it breaks down in my head/heart. I use the KJV because that is what I have studied for years. All of my memory work is in that language. I also use the NASB because it is considered to be of a higher standard as translations go. I also at times use the MESSAGE. I have found that, at times, it brings out some things in their simplest form. Care should also be taken, for at times it does go a tad wild. Some of you on the other have chosen the NIV or some other translation. You then can compare and have an understanding mind.
There are, as Peter said, some things that are hard to understand and are easily distorted; care must be taken. We all come from different backgrounds sociologically, economically, as well as educationally. That doesn’t mean that we cannot all learn from each other about God’s plan of redemption. I know that some of the things you will read in this work are not the way you have perhaps understood them; but I do ask you to study these ideas for yourself.
EXPLAIN IT AND GIVE SOME EVIDENCE
Many well meaning people in our lives, who we love very much, may not have presented to us the truth as it is presented in the Bible, so that does not mean that we will not love them or respect them. They did the best they could, as do we, at that point of their life with what they understood. What we must allow is to “let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” Romans 3:4 (NASB) At least give me a fair hearing with an open mind and heart. It just might be that God has something he wants you to know that he is bringing to your attention through me.
As a young man in high school I was introduced to many scientific principles which were broken down to their simplest terms. The text book explored electricity and biology using terms my young mind could grasp. I was fascinated. The ideas presented were explained and evidence was given to prove the thesis. The principles laid out in the early church were simply presented. Ideas were explained and evidence was provided. Jesus used stories (parables) to make his points in his day; simple stories. I hope as you read this commentary it will prod you as I look for the simple principles laid out in the Bible. From the beginning, mankind has sought to complicate what God has said, and wound up missing the point entirely.
- And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ ."4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. Acts 17:2-4 (NASB)
As we follow verse 4 in the KJV,it is not as clearly understood as I would like for it to be. The MESSAGE puts it this way:
- But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Corinthains 11:3 (KJV)
Some, were coming along in Paul’s day who presented a different gospel than he had preached; even a different Christ than he had witnessed on the Road to Damascus. (With the background steeped in Greek philosophy of the newly converted Christians, this can be understood. The mind is always trying to understand new teaching with old training. Often this leads to a bad mix.) Paul could not understand why the Corinthian brethren had put up with those big-shot apostles.
- It seems that if someone shows up preaching quite another Jesus than we preached—different spirit, different message—you put up with him quite nicely. 5 But if you put up with these big-shot "apostles," why can't you put up with simple me? I'm as good as they are. 6 It's true that I don't have their voice, haven't mastered that smooth eloquence that impresses you so much. But when I do open my mouth, I at least know what I'm talking about. We haven't kept anything back. We let you in on everything. 2 Corinthians 11:4-6 (MSG)
As did Paul, I ask you to put up with “simple me”. The things I have presented here encompass the work of some fifty-five years of study and development. In many ways I am the same person I am when I started this journey. I still have many questions and I still look for the common sense in a subject. I still expect the subject matter to be able to be understood in its simplest form. In addition to all that I still desire to share that understanding to anyone who will listen. I dearly desire that you find this to be consistent:
It is very important to me to accomplish what Peter hoped to do for “those who obtained like precious faith”. 2 Peter 1:1. He wanted to “stir up their minds by way of remembrance”. That is a noble task I think. Most of you have done at least some Bible reading. My goal is to remind you of the words of the prophets and the words of our Lord spoken to us by the apostles; those words which you previously read; and to help you to, as Paul reminded the Philippians, “think on these things”. Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
- I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Acts 20:27 (NASB)
So then what am I trying to say; if you haven’t already caught it? God allows us to help one another to understand his plan. We can grow in our associations with one another. I hope through it all we are each one drawn closer to God because of this journey. In this work I will try to “explain and give evidence” as Paul did for the Thessalonians in Acts 17:3.
- My dear friends, this is now the second time I've written to you, both letters reminders to hold your minds in a state of undistracted attention. 2 Keep in mind what the holy prophets said, and the command of our Master and Savior that was passed on by your apostles. 2 Peter 3:1-2 (MSG)