Reading Ephesians in one sitting
This coming Sunday, my church will be starting a sermon series on the book of Ephesians. One of the things I love to do (and I think is important to do) before starting to work through a book of the bible, is to read it all the way through from start to finish.
At my church over the years, I have hosted “epic readings” of large books like Romans, Ecclesiastes, Revelation and the Gospel of Luke. And every time I begin to study a new book in a bible study group, the first session is dedicated to reading through the book (if that is practical to do so).
Doing this has always been so rewarding and helpful. Like looking at a map before starting a road trip, it helps give you the big picture of a biblical text before you get stuck into it verse by verse.
It also helps you see thematic threads and the flow of the argument, which means when you come up to a confusing or challenging part of the text, you can use your general knowledge of the entire book to put it in perspective and hopefully interpret it more accurately.
Finally, it helps you “hear” the voice of the author of the text. Remember, the original author probably never contemplated that 2,000 years later we would be dissecting their letter like a frog, analysing every single word individually and writing theses on the meaning of the word “head”. What they did expect though, is that their audience would read the book out loud, all the way through, in one sitting. As Paul instructed in his letter to the Christians in Colossi…
After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.Colossians 4:16
Think of it like a movie that you might buy from JB HiFi (not that anyone really does that any more!). A DVD is often broken up into chapters, but imagine how silly it would be to watch one chapter and then stop the movie, with the intention of just watching one more chapter a week later! Even if you were a cinema studies student who was keen to study each scene and analyse each camera shot, you would still naturally start by watching the whole movie, from start to finish.
So, before you study a book of the bible, either through a church sermon series, a bible study group or in your own personal devotions, try reading through the entire book in one sitting. Even better, read it out loud with a few friends. A small book like Ephesians takes less than half an hour. A big book like Luke’s gospel might take a bit over 2 hours. But really, if we’re willing to watch a film that goes for nearly 3 hours, surely we can rise to the challenge of giving God’s Word the same effort.
I guarantee, if you do, the text will open up insights to you and you will hear both the voice of the text’s author and the God that inspired them, like never before.
If you have a spare 25 minutes, feel free to listen to my reading of the book of Ephesians, and stay tuned for more info about an epic reading of The Book of Job that I am currently working on.
Read the book yourself at: BibleGateway.com
The sermon series on Ephesians from my church, Bundoora Presbyterian can be found (from Sunday 10th May 2020) here: https://bpc.org.au/audio/
The Bible Project have made a helpful video giving an overview of Ephesians: