Monday, July 20, 2009


The Apostle Paul wrote 13 epistles. Some might say fewer, but my point will hold. Just bear with me. In these 13 epistles, we have created 86 chapter divisions. In these 86 chapters, there are 448 imperative verbs. This averages out to 5.2 imperative verbs per chapter in all of the Apostle Paul.

By the way, what I'm doing here is very unscholarly. So, don't go showing this to your pastor who has a bunch of letters in front of his name, thinking that you will impress him.

Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus has 40 imperative verbs. 39 of these 40 are found in Eph 4.25-6.17. That is about two chapters of material if you average out chapter length, etc. So, to end Ephesians, Paul averages over 19 imperative verbs per chapter. This is, without competition, the highest concentration of imperative verbs in the whole Bible!

So, how does Paul have warrant to command them to live so poignantly? Is he just being a good x-Pharisee and stacking up the rules? What's his deal? How can he call people to such precision in living? I thought that was legalism or something?

Here's why I think Paul can do this under the inspiration of the Spirit:

Paul can so directly and powerfully call the people in Ephesus to live a certain way because he has already spent three chapters directly and flagrantly describing grace [1.3-14, 2.1-10, 2.11-22, 3.8-12, 3.14-21]. These people already know that Paul's exhortations are about the good works which God prepared beforehand for them to walk in [2.10]. Paul's commanding them to walk [2.2, 2.10, 4.1, 4.17, 5.2, 5.8, 5.17] so specifically is because they understand mercy so blatantly [2.4-10].

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