I’ve been reading the New Testament in chronological order this year, currently I’m winding things down with the opening of the Revelation seals of DOOM (nothing cheerier to read over a bowl of Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal w/cinnamon and homegrown cherries!). And I’ve found out: things make so much more SENSE!
I’ve never been a big fan of Paul. Yes, I’m stepping aside before the heavenly lightning bolt strikes. He’s just so … wordy. I know I’m wordy as well, but at least I throw in a bit of self-depricating humor here and there, and somehow his “I’m the King of All Sinners” just doesn’t strike my funny bone. But reading about a) the history of the early church, 2) the history of Paul interacting with the early church, iii) seeing the typical process of things fall into place (everyone on board, times get tough, people start to doubt, people are persecuted, people start to doubt, heretics infiltrate trying to take power, people start to doubt), it just makes so much more sense.
Some of his writing is proactive: urging readers on to the end goal. And some of his writing is reactive: correcting muck that’s around. But when I didn’t know about the muck, I thought Paul was just being really micromanaging, perfectionistic, and judgmental (and wordy). When I “walked” with Paul, through not being liked by many early Christians, through being in jail for no real good reason, through being shipwrecked with people who probably were a little on the “savory” side, through house arrest, through seeing the people he worked with and loved go through tough times (sometimes self-inflicted), it just made so much more sense. And the words carried so much more meaning.
Not so much with Revelation, though. John’s coming off a bit manic: boy, he loves, and boy, he pours on the doom. And redemption, I’m sure, but he certainly is Image-Full.