The Apostle Paul includes lots of lists in his epistles.
I thought this week, “After 50 years of reading the Apostle Paul, I have never counted the number of lists that he has in his letters. I should count them because I know this question has been on the minds of all the readers of Interruptions.”
With many questions in the world today, I decided that I could at least answer this question for all of you. Readers of this blog should give me credit for my efforts!!!
I started counting, got to 23, and gave up. Sorry!
However, I did make notes on a few of the lists:
- Ephesians 3 is my favorite list. Paul prays for all believers to – be strengthened with power, that Christ would dwell with us through faith, be rooted and grounded in love, have strength to comprehend, know the love of Christ, be filled to the fullness of God, and believe in a God who can do abundantly more than we ask or think.
- 1 Corinthians 13 is the most popular list describing love – patient, kind, does not envy, not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
- Ephesians 6 gives a helpful list of spiritual weapons –the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shod your feet with the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.
- Romans 1 includes a list that will soon be illegal to read in Canada or in states like Minnesota – dishonorable passions, women exchanging natural relations, men likewise giving up natural relationships, committing shameless acts, and receiving in themselves the due penalty.
- 12, 12, 4, 4 – an easy-to-remember formula for the gifts of the Spirit – Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. Yes, I know that 1 Peter 4 isn’t written by Paul, but I included it to complete Paul’s lists of the Spirit’s gifts.
- Years ago, I memorized Galatians 5 and the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Note that Paul uses the singular “fruit” and not the plural “fruits.” You can’t pick and choose – you must take them all!
- In 2 Timothy 3, Paul’s end times list accurately describes the culture today – lovers of self, lovers of money, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, no self-control, brutal, not loving good … lovers of self rather than of God.
In the lists of Paul, there isn’t one theme or word common to all. The lists are situational as Paul writes them according to the needs of his readers.
Being a self-appointed expert on Paul’s lists, I thought, “Why can’t I write my own list according to the situations of the readers of Interruptions?”
So I did!
Here is the OGV (Old Guy Version) list – pray often, know God’s will, read the Bible, avoid progressive theology, pray for revival, disciple another, atheists are nincompoops, worship often, be equitable, love justice, share the good news, walk in the power of the Spirit, promote Biblical gender, be generous, and read Interruptions daily.
One final list from Philippians 2:
Paul describes the should-be attitude of all believers when he writes, “Make my joy complete by having the same mind, the same love, being in one mind, doing nothing from selfish ambition, but count others better than yourselves.”