What is the Bible by Rob Bell: Part 19 The Verse that blows the roof off the joint
What is the Bible?
Part 19: The Verse That Blows The Roof Off The Joint
Fasten your seat belts, friends.
It’s written in the first chapter of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians
..he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which God purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment-to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Bring unity to all things?
First, then, a little Greek for those of you keeping score at home.
The phrase all things is the word pas in Greek, and it translates literally…all things. (I’m guessing you thought it was going to be something subtle or profound, instead, it’s exactly what it appears to be…)
A little recap: according to Paul in this passage, God is doing something-something involving all things-through Christ because it brings God pleasure.
God is a pleasure seeker.
That’s what all this is according to-
God enjoys this, whatever it is.
Now, to the whatever.
The phrase used to describe what God is up to in Christ is translated here as
to bring unity
in other translations it’s
to sum up
to gather up
to bring to a head.
The word in Greek is anakephalaiossathai. Let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the sheer volume of this word. If you use this word you are not messing around. This is the only place it occurs in the Bible, and you can crush your friends in Scrabble with it.
Ana means again,
Kephale means head,
so to anakephalaiossathai is to bring things back together under one head.
(The word also has connections in the ancient world to math, describing what happens when you sum up several numbers.)
Two points about this word:
Sometimes, as you saw, this word is translated recapitulate. Another word for recapitulate is retell. There’s a story that’s been told a certain way, from a certain perspective, through a certain lens-but then you retell it, you recapitulate it, you tell it a different way.
When you retell a story, you don’t remove the nasty bits or the unfortunate events, you include them. But in retelling things, they appear in a new light. They are what they are, and yet when they’re retold, they take on new meaning and weight.
Remember when you went camping and it rained the whole time and you were soaking wet and then the car got a flat tire and those raccoons got into your food…?(Insert a similar story here) When you tell that story years later at a dinner party you tell it with a smile on your face with great flourish until everyone around the table is laughing.
It’s a great story about THE WORST CAMPING TRIP EVER. Were you laughing at the time your tent ripped and filled with water? Were you smiling when you realized you had no dry clothes left? Were you enjoying that walk to the convenience store in the downpour while you were doing it?
It was miserable.
And yet, when you retell the story years later, you include all those details because they all add up to making it a great story.
In fact, you accentuate the nasty bits. It wasn’t just a sprinkle, it was a massive downpour involving cats and dogs. Your little sister didn’t just get a stomach ache from the Little Debbie cakes she got at the gas station that she ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you tell us how she heaved chunks all night long in the tent that was about to rip.
What were once the worst parts of the story, in your retelling, become the best bits.
Now, back to the verse.
According to Paul, God is retelling…everything. Its disunited, fractured, broken, parts are laying scattered all over the place, and it brings God pleasure to bring it all back together in unity. In Christ.
All of it?
All of history?
All of everything every human has ever done?
Why does Paul use this intentionally expansive word pas? Why does he include heaven and earth?
Why didn’t he put some boundaries on it?
Why didn’t he say religious things…or Christian things…or redeemed things…?
Why is it so blatantly inclusive?
Why is he so clear that nothing is left out of this
anakephalaiossathai-ing that God is up to in the world that brings God so much pleasure?
With those questions in mind, notice what Peter says in Acts chapter 3
until the time comes for God to restore all things
and what Paul writes in Colossians chapter 1
God was pleased…
(There’s that pleasure word again)
through Jesus to reconcile to himself all things
(There’s that pas word again)
whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
And here’s Jesus in Matthew chapter 19
truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things…
What is this?
What are they talking about?
Restoring, reconciling, renewing, anakephalaiossathai-ing-
they’re consistent and persistent in their claims that what God is up to in the world involves putting everything back together as it should be.
Your broken heart?
According to Paul, this is what brings God pleasure.
This is what God is up to in the world.
This is what God is now doing.
Next – What is the Bible?
Part 20: Questions, Questions
Source: Rob Bell on Twitter: @realrobbell or Tumblr: http://robbellcom.tumblr.com/