Saturday, 27 June 2015
You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 2 Corinthians 3:2
In response to the rhetorical questions of the previous verse, Paul now gives a very heartwarming description of the true state of things. Instead of a written letter of commendation which is carried in the hand, he tells them that their church is “our epistle written on our hearts.” Whereas a written letter can be forged, lost, or simply discarded, the writing upon the heart is true, permanent, and is always present for all to see.
Paul uses the same terminology in Romans concerning the Law of Moses and the inner law. One was written and recorded by Moses on tablets of stone, the other on the heart. The one on the heart is actually more permanent and more effectual than the other –
“…for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” Romans 2:14-16
Likewise, the testimony of the founding of the church, the caring for the brethren, the love shared between the believers, etc, are all an epistle which is written on the heart, “known and read by all men.” It is a permanent epistle in the heart of all who see it. The fact that a church exists demonstrates that it is there because of a definite purpose. A written letter could never provide such sure evidence.
The terms “known and read” are a play on words from the Greek words ginōskomenē and anaginōskomenē. A similar word play was found in 2 Corinthians 1:13 which said –
“For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end…”
With the church standing as a unit and growing in Christ any can read and understand its status, more surely than if it were an epistle written on paper.
Life application: When others look at the church you attend, how will they perceive it? Is it one which stands on the word of God? Are the principles of the faith firmly fixed in the minds and hearts of the people? Do the congregants show love toward one another? It matters far less what the church website or brochure says than what the personal, human perceptions of the church actually read. Be sure that when others see your church, they see a true and godly epistle, written on the hearts of all.
Heavenly Father, it matters much less what the church website says about the church than what the church shows about itself. Brochures handed out concerning the fellowship can never replace the impression that a personal visit displays. Lord God, I would pray that the church I attend always shows the greatest respect for, and adherence to, Your word; that our doctrine would be pure and undefiled; and that true love of You and the brotherhood would be evident to all. I know that this is much more important that a flashy light show, great music, and free coffee at the door. Let us represent You in spirit and in truth. Amen.