THE BIBLE MESSAGE: COHESIVE and OVERARCHING
BY: JOHN R. GAVAZZONI
OCTOBER 18, 2015
There is support for the belief that God not only inspired the content of the canon of scripture, but also watched over and guided its structural arrangement. Many more instances can be referenced, but I have chosen to highlight only the following:
1) There is a beautiful thread running through the tapestry of the New Testament that once seen, can help keep the student of scripture at least objectively on the right path of interpretation. That thread begins with John's gospel gathering together the essential messages of the synoptic gospels, heralding that “...the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” From those gospels, section of the New Testament, we move quite fluidly to the next obvious structural section, The Book of Acts.
2) There, the narrative proceeds to show that Word as having the character of the one flesh of Jesus (His fully formed Humanity) expanding itself to become what has been called, “the Greater Christ of the New Testament,” i.e., His many persons-member-ized body, the summoned forth community with which in union with His very Person, He shares His faith. This can be seen in the Book of Acts in the parallel description of the nature of the Word's growth. We're told that upon the name of the Lord Jesus being magnified, “so mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed.” But we're also informed that integrally so, “the number of disciples was multiplied,” “and much people was added unto the Lord.” (quotations from the KJV).
This indicates clearly that the Word of God is not the presentation of mere abstract ideals, but the summarizing and actualizing of God's desire, pleasure, purpose, and will as the True Human, our Lord Jesus, multiplied to become the Christ of many members. He is what God has to say, in Himself, individually, and in, and as, the many added to Him. The Word of God most essentially grows and prevails, not by mere exegetical excellence but by being made flesh. The Word grew: the disciples multiplied greatly. So the thread, already from the John's gospel summary through the Book of Acts, shows itself as beautiful indeed.
3) But let's go on: The next structural section of the New Testament is the section containing the epistles. Here we pick up the thread again, for according to Paul, Jesus Christ's sent-forth emissary, that singular Word in the Gospel of John, disseminated Itself to become many little words, as the Word grew in and as the many disciples, each one a facet of the larger diamond, had become “living epistles, known and read of all men.” Wow. From that all-inclusive singular Word, many epistles have been gathered together. I love it! Mankind needs mostly to read the Word out-formed in and as human beings.
So let's recap: From the singular Word has grown an enlarged Word in the form of multiplied believers. And up to the point of the epistles, that Word has become living epistles. But we're not done yet, because we have one more section of the New Testament, which like the Book of Acts, is a one-book section. That, of course, is 4) The Book of Revelation. Well, wouldn't you know, there we have highlighted very dramatically the final stage of the Word's growth: “The Lamb's Book of Life.” From one Word all the way to a Book (or scroll). God will open up that book composed of living epistles “holding forth the Word of Life.”
No one, of their own private design, sat down and said, “let's arrange the New Testament this way.” It was the superintending of the Holy Spirit that created that marvelous structure. We see it also in this very obvious outline: In the gospels we see manifestation; in the Book of Acts, dissemination; in the epistles, explanation; and in the Book of Revelation, we see consummation. Also it could be explained this way: In the gospels, we see God in Christ; in the Book of Acts, we see God in Christ in the Spirit; in the epistles we see God in Christ, in the Spirit, in the called-out community; and in the Book of Revelation, we see God in Christ, in the Spirit, in the called-out community, in glory.
That superintending inspiration of the Holy Spirit can be seen also in the breathtaking, over-arching theme from Genesis to revelation in at least the following way: The Bible opens, shortly moving to a scene of a man and a woman in a garden, and out from that garden flowed a river that divided into four rivers. Out of that Garden of Delight (Eden), setting aside the disturbance of sin upon that idyllic scene for the moment, and for the purpose of catching the over-arching theme, we find that river that became four rivers, jumping way ahead, showing up as “rivers of living water.” flowing out of the innermost being of those who believed in Jesus, according to the Lord, Himself. Jumping ahead again, we find that same river now converging into the river that flows through the New Jerusalem, with the Tree of Life in the midst of the street of it, and on every side, AND LOOK, there's the man and the woman again, only grown into having become Christ, the Bridegroom, and His summoned-forth community, as His bride:
"And I John saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
Fellow student of our canonical Bible, please don't miss the forest for the trees. See the grand picture.