No, not that kind of intimacy, though if you do it right, yes, it'll tend to lead there if you're married. I'm talking about the closeness and love that is consistently displayed in Paul's epistles.
No kidding; we tend to think that we moderns understand what Paul was getting at because, after all, Paul was born in the Greek area of Tarsus, and we have learned our logic from Aristotle, right? OK, scotch that, because most of us never really learned our logic. Maybe we'd better recheck our assumptions; do we really understand Paul, or are we simply using his Greekness to impose our own worldview on Paul?
My take is that most of the sermons that I've heard about the epistles concentrate....mostly on what we'd call "dry doctrine" today, and not on the incredible relationship that Paul has with the churches. Examples? Sure. What about the lists of people to greet and the end of each epistle? What about....the persistent use of "you"?
Or, more directly, look at 1 Thess. 5:12; we are told to "know" them which labor among us--"eidenai" in the Greek, also used for knowing God. Now it's translated "recognize" in the NKJ, "respect" in the NIV, but the root word is still to "know." And how would we properly recognize or respect those who work among us if....we did not know them? Being from the Greek, it's of course not the word we remember from Genesis, but......yes, I have to wonder if Paul is pointing here to some very close relationships existed in these early churches.
So, dear brother, do you know your pastor? Ever had him and his family over for dinner? Played golf with him? Greet him while he's running? Gotten to understand his struggles and weaknesses?
Are you in a church where that is possible, or has the pastor allowed his flock to grow to where....the sheep do not know the shepherd's voice any more? How are you ministering to your own flock? Do they know their shepherd? Do your precious ewe know her shepherd's voice?
And now you see how listening to Paul can benefit you in more ways than spiritually. Listen closely; there is doctrine there, but it's buried in a flood of Paul's affection for those he serves.
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