A couple years ago, I was working on my senior thesis with Dr. Ruhupatty, and he gave me a piece of advice when it comes to research: “Read the abstract, the introduction, and the conclusion first. Then, if it seems especially relevant to your work, go deeper.”
That was the gist, anyways.
So last night I thought, what if I try that with the Bible? What if I read the first part and the last part (I’m not aware of any abstract) to see if I can get the boiled-down message of the Bible?
I read much less than what could probably be called the introduction; I read Genesis 1:1. Then I read much less than what could be called the conclusion; I read Revelation 22:21. Only the first and the last verses. But it was surprisingly clear.
Genesis 1:1 reads:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Revelation 22:21 reads:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
The great thing about focusing on just one or two verses is that you can go deep more quickly. So I started looking up the words. I realized the word for “God” in Genesis is ‘Elōhîm, that the word for “grace” in Revelation is “cháris”, meaning “A favor done without expectation of return; absolute freeness of the loving-kindness of God to man; finding its only motive in the bounty and freeheartedness of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor.” Also, the word “Amen” can mean, as we are probably familiar, “so be it”, but it originally meant something close to “truth” or “certainty”.
So, I might replace a few words in the translation to make it go like this: “In the beginning, ‘Elōhîm created the heavens and the earth… The cháris of the Lord Jesus be with all. Certainly.”
‘Elōhîm created everything, and Jesus certainly has cháris for us.
So what is the Gospel? What do all the verses between the first and the last get at?
I think it’s this:
‘Elōhîm and Jesus are the same; the One that created us, and everything else, has cháris for us.
I think that’s good no matter who you are.