A TALE OF TWO PRIORITIES (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

A TALE OF TWO PRIORITIES Article by Abidan Paul Shah

 

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on September 17, 2016)

a-tale-of-two-priorities“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” – Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)

We are living in an age similar to the one Dickens described in his novel. On the one hand, we are the prosperous citizens of the Information Age, rolling in the luxuries of the knowledge boom. On the other hand, we are the penniless inmates of the Ignorance Asylum, rotting in the filth of foolish decisions. We are constantly looking down at our gadgets for tips and tricks when we should be looking up to the One who holds all truth. We are searching Google for answers when we should be seeking the Bible for wisdom. We are chatting on Facebook with strangers few states away when we should be talking face-to-face with loved ones a few steps away. We are giving our children all that we never had when we should be giving them all that they really need. We are talking about changing the world while we are chafing at the miseries of those down the street. We are content with wearing wristbands when we should be wearing work gloves. We are holding up signs of love and equality on the sidewalks when we have hate and intolerance hidden inside.

(Wow! Not sure where all those rhymes came from! Dickens would dig it if he could! J)

The point of this article is not to demonstrate my rhyming skills, which seem to have vanished as randomly as they came to me…Neither am I trying to advocate some kind of a primitive lifestyle, away from all the distractions of the Internet or social media. We’ve driven too far down the technology ramp to backup. All I am proposing is that we return to the two priorities Jesus gave when someone asked Him “Which is the great commandment in the law?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Please don’t misunderstand those words. Jesus was not suggesting that we stick God and people on the top of our already crazy busy life. That would never work. Sooner or later we would push both of them off or supersede them with the mundane or the urgent. Instead, imagine your life as a circle with God as its center and everything flowing out of Him. He is no longer just someone we glance at once or twice a week but our entire life becomes an outworking of His love and truth. In the process we not only love Him with everything we have but His love radiates through us to those around us. Our friends and family feel it and so do our enemies. We begin to make wise decisions that are motivated by God’s love rather than our impulse or others’ incitement.

In short, a God centered life brings to us the best of times in spite of the worst of times.

DAILY DEVOTIONS FROM THE ORIGINAL GREEK – 1 John 1:1 by Abidan Paul Shah

Daily Devotions from the Original Greek – 1 John 1:1 by Abidan Paul Shah

Papyrus 9, P. Oxy 402, 3rd century, 1 John, 4,11–12,14–17 - recto

Papyrus 9, P. Oxy 402, 3rd century, 1 John, 4,11–12,14–17 – recto

 Through the years many people have approached me with the desire to study the Bible in the original languages. Not that they don’t trust the Bible in their English translations, they just have a hunger for more. The pattern is quite familiar – They ask me for resources. I provide them with the best tools. They wade into the murky waters of Grammar, Syntax, and Critical Issues of the biblical text. Some go farther than others but inevitably they all turn to familiar shores, never to venture again. It is truly unfortunate… Hence, these “Daily Devotions from the Original Greek.” They are in no way exhaustive exegetical commentaries. They’re simply my personal devotions based on the original languages. Hopefully, they will inspire some to cast anchor and sail into uncharted waters. My prayer is that you won’t despair when the winds howl or the waves threaten to overturn the boat. οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ ἡ θάλασσα ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ. (Matt. 8:27)

Text:

1 John 1:1 – Ὃ ἦν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς-

Parsing[1]:

Ὃ = What (pronoun relative nominative neuter singular from ὅς)

ἦν = was (verb indicative imperfect active 3rd person singular from εἰμί)

ἀπ᾽ = from (preposition genitive from ἀπό)

ἀρχῆς, = the beginning (noun genitive feminine singular common from ἀρχή)

ὃ = whom (pronoun relative accusative neuter singular from ὅς)

ἀκηκόαμεν, = we have heard (verb indicative perfect active 1st person plural from ἀκούω)

ὃ = whom (pronoun relative accusative neuter singular from ὅς)

ἑωράκαμεν = we have seen (verb indicative perfect active 1st person plural from ὁράω)

τοῖς definite article dative masculine plural from ὁ)

ὀφθαλμοῖς = eyes (noun dative masculine plural common from ὀφθαλμός)

ἡμῶν, = our (pronoun personal genitive plural from ἐγώ)

ὃ = whom (pronoun relative accusative neuter singular from ὅς)

ἐθεασάμεθα = we have witnessed (verb indicative aorist middle 1st person plural from θεάομαι)

καὶ = and (conjunction coordinating from καί)

αἱ definite article nominative feminine plural from ὁ)

χεῖρες = hands (noun nominative feminine plural common from χείρ)

ἡμῶν = our (pronoun personal genitive plural from ἐγώ)

ἐψηλάφησαν = have touched (verb indicative aorist active 3rd person plural from ψηλαφάω)

περὶ = with regard to (preposition genitive from περί)

τοῦ = the (definite article genitive masculine singular from ὁ)

λόγου = Word (noun genitive masculine singular common from λόγος)

τῆς definite article genitive feminine singular from ὁ)

ζωῆς = of Life (noun genitive feminine singular common from ζωή)

My Translation:

1 John 1:1 – What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have witnessed and our hands have touched, with regard to the Word of Life.

Some Devotional Thoughts:

John begins his letter by spotlighting Jesus Christ. What an awesome way to begin a letter! What if we began every conversation with Christ? Won’t that keep our communication on the right path? Won’t that resolve most of our miscommunications in life? This does not mean that we have to verbally say His name or deliberately interject His name before we say anything else. What it does mean is that we need to have Christ at the forefront of our minds and hearts before we interact with any person – friend or foe. This will help guide our conversation in a God directed, empowered, and pleasing way.

What is also interesting to me is that John brings out the divine and human elements of the person of Christ. First, Christ is no mere man. He was from the beginning, which means He always was. In other words, He is God. Second, Christ is no mere distant deity. He came into this world. Men, women, boys, and girls had the opportunity to hear Him, see Him, witness His power and glory, and touch Him. Christ is God come beside us – touchable, vulnerable, and examinable.

Finally, the title that John attributes to Jesus is so majestic and yet simple – Word of Life. We know both the words “word” and “life.” Word = we use them all day long. They are uncountable. They may be petty or profound. Life = we exist and we experience. It is physical existence and yet more – emotional and mental subsistence. To say “Christ is the Word of Life” means Christ is the author, sustainer, meaning, and goal of life. Wow! Is Christ that central to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual existence? Why not ask Him to be?

[1] The parsing is taken from Bible Works 10

%d bloggers like this: