1st May 2023

Time well spent

This study is an introduction to a series of studies on the books of the New Testament.

The Elder, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever… 2 John: 1-2 (NKJV) 

2 John – all verses – takes about 1 minute, 16 seconds to read. I have just spent 1 minute, 16 seconds of my life doing just that and it has then taken me longer to make a cup of tea. 2 John and 3 John are the shortest books in the New Testament. In contrast, the gospel of Luke, as the longest book in the New Testament, takes about 2 hours, 30 minutes to read. That’s roughly the equivalent of watching the film ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

Some may prefer to read the Bible by focusing on a single verse, or a few verses, at a time and mining them for a deeper meaning. A lectionary is based on this approach and can lead to some new insights on a passage of scripture. The original Greek can be examined for nuances of meaning. Different translations might expand understanding. Commentaries might reveal links to other scriptures that we had not thought of. But by reading scripture a complete book at a time, we are reading the text as the writer intended it to be read. We can get immersed in the story the author is telling. The ultimate inspiration for all scripture comes from God, through His Holy Spirit, but he has chosen to use human beings – each of them embedded in their own cultural and historical environments – to write the separate texts. 

We can read Paul’s preserved letters to the Corinthian church and separate out some basic principles that might apply to all Christians, in all places, and at any time in history. We might stray into using the letters to create a set of rules that we expect people to live by. But when the books are read as a whole, a picture emerges of a diverse Christian community living in very difficult times, lovingly guided and reprimanded by someone who had met with Christ and wanted those he cared for to have the same relationship that he had. Paul’s loving leadership took time out to write long, encouraging letters to those he was tasked with caring for. He answered their questions but then led them along a path that revealed the bigger picture.

There is value in making a cup of tea, and in watching Lord of the Rings or many other films or television programmes. We wouldn’t have to give these up to make time in our lives to read a complete book of the Bible. 2 John could be read while boiling the kettle to make that cup of tea. 

Father, thank you for the gift of scripture. We ask for the wisdom to read it with the understanding that comes from your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Study by Maggie Mitchell


About the writer:
Maggie Mitchell attends the Northampton congregation of Grace Communion International and is Chair of the Pastoral Council

Local congregation:
GCI Northampton
Ecton Village Hall
78A High Street

Local congregational contact:
Maggie Mitchell
Email:  maggie.mitchell@btinternet.com

Word of Life contact: