Getting the transformative power of the Scriptures into our lives depends in large measure in getting into them, listening to them when read and preached upon, studying them, calling them to mind, trusting their testimonies. Urging people to open their Bibles regularly is part of the pastor’s task. No other books can replace the primacy of Scripture.
But we need other books to grow in understanding and devotion, and some books motivate us to spend more time in God’s Word. N. T. Wright’s book Paul for Everyone does just that—pushes us to read Scripture—and more. It pushes us specifically to read for ourselves Paul’s remarkable imprisonment letters—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon—while helping us get through them, section by section, with helpful commentary and his own contemporary translation of the letters. The commentary on each book can stand alone, so the book can be read (as I read it) at varying intervals, and kept by the bedside to check out, say, how a Sunday sermon does justice (or not!) to a particular passage.
N. T. Wright, a retired Anglican bishop, is also among the world’s leading New Testament scholars. But he’s a man of the church, not just the academy, so the joy of a heralding angel percolates through the book from the very first sentence which reads: “On the very first occasion when someone stood up in public to tell people about Jesus, he made it very clear: this message is for everyone.” What God had done and was doing in Jesus for the first disciples “he was beginning to do for the whole world: new life, forgiveness, new hope and power were opening up like spring flowers after a long winter.” This new life is at the heart of the four short letters Paul wrote while imprisoned. Wright says, “Paul has worked out a wonderful, many-coloured picture of what Jesus achieved, of God’s worldwide plan, and how it works out in the lives of ordinary people.” And Wright helps us see how it can work out in our lives, too.
Te book is inexpensive and available through many online sellers.