Do people read anymore? Sometimes we bemoan the lack of literacy, at least as we hear of it. But to answer your question: Yes, people do read, and they read lots. And what are they reading? Now, that could be the problem. There is lots of reading going on that is not edifying, that does not help you grow as a human being made in God’s image. We should change that.
When I was in junior high I read lots just for fun. I usually read about two 300-page books a week. It was fiction. When I was in high school, at some point I met with the librarian and asked her to point me to the classics. She did, and I read lots of those books such as “War and Peace,” “Crime and Punishment,” and “A Tale of Two Cities.” It was fiction, but it was serious writing.
I subscribed to a well-known news magazine for several decades, and for a long time the last article was written by a certain woman. I didn’t always agree with her, but I always wanted to know what she was writing because she wrote it well. One time she lamented that current writers were not educated as she had been, and sometimes she used biblical imagery or language. That was part of her education.
When I was still a pastor of a congregation there was one older man who said on occasion that you didn’t really need to be so educated to understand the Bible--you just needed to read it. I like that. Most people who read the Bible, regardless of their background, are going to eventually meet in their understanding of God, His plan for this world, and their part in it. So that brings us to our verse which is Ephesians 3:4.
Young’s Literal Translation says: “in regard to which ye are able, reading [it], to understand my knowledge in the secret of the Christ.” Most of the versions get the general meaning across well, but most of them also are not completely literal. That’s ok, because they want it to be easily readable. Young is close. A very literal translation of the original Greek would go something like this: “toward this, you reading ones are able to understand my insight in the mystery of Christ.”
You can quickly observe that this verse is not the whole sentence. The verse refers to what has gone before, and the sentence continues for three more verses. But we really only need this part today.
The verse is obviously referencing people who read the Bible. For them whatever the author is writing about is true. And he is writing about something called a secret or a mystery which was previously not known but had now become known through his writing. God the Holy Spirit had revealed it to him and inspired him to write it.
The Apostle Paul was given the bulk of the revelation regarding the Church. The Church was unknown in the Old Testament, but it began in the New as God’s program while setting aside for a time that in the Old. People sometimes comment on how varied churches are and wonder why. Simply reading the Bible with an open heart and acting on the basis of what we find there would solve lots of the confusion.
How are we to come into an understanding of this new reality in the Church? Paul says by reading. You may not catch it via the various kinds of media today, but you can certainly grab onto it by reading what Paul wrote. And he is talking about the core reality in the church, as he goes on to explain, that two very different groups of people, Jews and Gentiles have the same inheritance in Christ through the gospel. That’s amazing! For all the talk of tolerance today we may never have been so splintered in politics, in religion, in ethnicity, and in every other area of thought. But in Christ through the gospel the groups come together.
So we could ask whether you are reading? I have followed authors into many adventures all around the world through reading. But my best reading is in the Bible where are revealed mysteries such as the one above; it’s available only there and does me eternal good.
Just a bit over half way through Psalm 119, the psalmist said, “O how I have loved Thy law! All the day it (is) my meditation.” And for him that made all the difference.