July 21 | Waking with The Word | Ephesians 1 Punctuation
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1: 3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Ephesians 1: 13-14
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Today we won't be considering the words on the page but rather something that is just as crucial to our understanding of the words on the page, the punctuation. You'll notice I've listed the whole chapter in four sections, this is because I wanted to take away the distraction of the verse markers. Don't get me wrong, I love the chapter and verse system in the Bible, without it it would be very difficult to navigate the scriptures quickly. The only danger is that, to often, we let the verse markers dictate how we read the Bible. The markers are there for navigation purposes only and should not dictate how we read and interpret the Bible. Think of them as mile markers on a highway; If you've ever been stranded along the freeway then you know one of the first things the tow truck wants to know is what is the highway number and what mile marker you're at, this tells him the vicinity of your location. Verse markers are just that, because the Bible is a huge book we have the markers there for reference and not for understanding of the text they mark, Let me say that again, markers are for reference and should not determine when we stop the sentence that is being written. The Bible may be the only book we read like this. If you stop in the dead middle of someone's sentence you are, for sure, going to misunderstand what they are saying. When we read or speak we always allow people to come to a logical stopping point before we can process what they have said. In chapter 1 there are 14 verses but as you can see there are only 4 sentences. Paul is notorious for long sentences and I believe is one reason that his writings are so often misinterpreted. If you remove a statement from an entire sentence and let it stand alone without the context it is surrounded by then misunderstanding is almost a certainty. Don't be guilty of letting the markers dictate what the scripture says, at the very least, read till there is a period, which indicates that the statement is completed.
Now, if the Verse markers are comparable to mile markers, which do not in any way affect how you drive but are only for reference, then we can compare punctuation to the traffic signs and signals that very much affect how you drive. Oh sure, you can ignore traffic signs and signals but you are headed for a accident before long and if you ignore the traffic signals in the Bible you are headed for a misinterpretation before long. Now i'm no expert on punctuation and any one who is and reads these devotions would agree but in the Word of God I do try to abide by the "traffic signals" of punctuation. Each punctuation having its own particular meaning and letting us know whether to stop, slow down, yield or to continue. We'll start with the most obvious, the period[.], it indicates a full stop and that the current stream of words is completed. When reading the Bible at the very least read to the completion of the current sentence before trying to understand and ponder what has been said. Then we have the comma[,] this means a quick pause. Imagine yourself speaking the words on the page; The comma is a brief pause, sometime to insert a description, in the speech. Then we have a semicolon[;] It is a slightly longer pause and indicates the the two ideas on either side of it are so closely related that the following shouldn't stand alone but is dependent on the first. The Colon[:] is an even longer pause and indicates that the words proceeding it serves as an example or illustration to the words preceding it. For me, the pauses associated with each punctuation play a larger role in helping me read the text appropriately than the function of the punctuation. It is important to note that the function of punctuation in the KJV is more associated with the rhythm and cadence of how the scripture is to be read than with the dictation of modern punctuation. The big take away here is, don't let verse markers determine where you stop and slow down and understand what is being said, rather the punctuation. Imagine your travelling down the freeway and the person in front of you is slamming on the brakes every time he reaches a mile marker, we would call the traffic police on that person. Now, imagine that same person when he got to a red light just blew right threw without ever slowing down and he ignored all the yield signs and caution signs in the steep corners, that man will hurt himself and anyone who gets around him. When we let mile markers dictate how we interpret the scripture instead of what was placed there for that very purpose, we become like the man we just spoke of.
Some might say, is that small little mark really that important? Well I'll leave you with what our savior said:
Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Jesus was concerned with the smallest details of the law, the jot or tittle; Smallest marks of the Hebrew and Greek languages. He was concerned with them the same way we are concerned with the signs and signals that determines what traffic should do. If someone steals a stop sign and you fly through an intersection unknowingly, you stand a great chance of hurting you and the people you collide with. Every jot, every tittle, every period, every comma, every colon, every semicolon has its place and shouldn't be trifled with. Let's move through our Bibles with attention to the details and dictations of punctuation.
According to the riches of His Glory!!