This week a group of guys started a ten-week study of the book of Colossians. After an overview, we read the book. All four chapters. Out loud. We took turns. It took us less that 20 minutes.
A whole book of the Bible read out loud in less than 20 minutes.
We talked about it, looking for ideas that were repeated, phrases that were repeated. We looked for things that came up more than once, more than a few times.
One person noticed, for example, that every time Paul says “Jesus Christ”, he also provides a characteristic or a role or a relationship. Other people identified other patterns, other repetitions.
Then we talked about how people often speak in response to some question, some problem, some situation. We thought about the questions that this letter might be answering.
It was a great conversation. There were some moments of silence, left hanging long enough for a new person to talk.
There were many times when someone would look at chapter one and then at chapter three to respond. Because we had all just heard all of the letter, we were able to follow him and understand the importance of the thread being followed.
Over and over we looked at the text in front of us rather than other books or what some interpreter has said. we were firmly grounded in the flow of this letter, of the fabric of all that Paul wrote to this one church.
Next week we’ll start back through the letter looking at a few verses, a few sentences, at a time. And that kind of reading is important. But any of us who have written letters know that we want some to read the whole letter, not just a couple phrases.
And to think it only took 20 minutes.