Some of my favorite passages for sure…
Author’s Note: Interested readers can find all previous volumes of this series here.
Happy Sunday, everyone, and thanks for joining our Bible study. Today we showcase the Divinely inspired, eternal wisdom of Paul. He was born a Jewish-Roman citizen in Tarsus (modern-day Turkey), and aside from Jesus, is most responsible for the explosive growth of early Christianity. Paul is credited with writing 13 of the 27 books that comprise the New Testament, all in the form of letters to his brethren. Since many of his verses have been incorporated into secular use, it is likely that people quote Paul without even knowing they are quoting the Bible.
For background on how Paul was miraculously transformed from his Jewish roots to the most significant Christian evangelist, refer to last week’s Vol. 60.
Today, my inspiration for showcasing Paul’s brilliance stems from readers’ positive feedback about “Jesus’s greatest hits” in Vol. 56. Similarly, now I am challenged with choosing Paul’s “greatest” in a quick Bible study with space limitations. Therefore, if I missed your favorite, please share it in the comment section for the benefit of others.
Furthermore, quoting my suggestion from Vol. 56, “Do not passively read today’s study. Instead, imagine Paul saying these words to you. Then, pray about and reread the verses that most penetrate your soul and touch your heart.”
Now let’s review verses so rich, deep, meaningful, and beautifully written that they rival the world’s greatest poetry, doubling as self-help and self-improvement advice. Beginning with the wedding verse:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Wow! I could end this study right here because God is Love, and Jesus tells us to “love one another,” but notice how God and Jesus are not mentioned as the root of love. This passage is so familiar and secular sounding that we tend to gloss over its holy magnificence.
However, in Roman’s — the New Testament book preceding 1 Corinthians – Paul writes how suffering does not separate but binds us to the love of God:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Next is a powerful verse encapsulating the foundational message of Christianity:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
The following verse is worth pondering as among the best ever written, explaining life’s ups and downs from the perspective of God who sees our past, present, and future:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
For the record, I could write a “Paul’s greatest hits” piece using only Romans. (And, that applies to several of his New Testament books.) If interested, click here for a compilation of Romans’ most popular verses, but for this study here are my last three selections:
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).
How about injecting the following shots of Paul’s wisdom into your daily life?:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
“For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
And Paul’s warning about money stands the test of time:
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1-Timothy 6:9-11).
The book of Ephesians is also overflowing with famous, inspiring verses. Check them out here, but for now, a small sampling of life-changing guidance:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).
And THAT is why Paul is Christ’s greatest messenger. Paul’s advice will never go out of style:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).
We conclude with my favorite Paul passage known as “The Armor of God” found in Ephesians 6:10-18. Below are the first three verses, but please read and pray about the entire passage because I believe Paul summarizes where we currently stand as a nation and the world’s situation at large:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Amen, and thanks be to Jesus for his servant, St. Paul!