First in a series
If you have ever read Paul's epistles (and if you haven't, go here, start reading and don't stop) you know that Paul loves lists. He uses them in practically every epistle. Some of his lists are single words, some are phrases, some are entire verses. Some of Paul's lists are among of the most familiar passages in scripture: "Love is patient, Love is kind...;" the armor of God and the fruit of the Spirit are some examples that jump readily to mind.
But I have noticed as I have studied multiple ones that Paul rarely, if ever, intends for them to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject at hand. For example, there are many more good things one could say about love than one finds in the thirteen verses of I Corinthians 13, although you will be hard pressed to find any text that describes love more beautifully. There are plenty more works of the flesh than one finds in this passage. For most of these lists, we understand this fact.
The problem arises when folks try to make a particular list the final word on the subject. They view the things in the list as exhaustive, the only possible instances that could possibly be addressed. When this happens, they leap to conclusions that Paul never intended for his readers to arrive at. This is a potentially dangerous way to handle the Word of God, and something that we should avoid.
Over the next few days, weeks, whatever, I intend to look at some of Paul's lists I believe are mishandled in this fashion. We will come across a couple where Paul gives us two different lists to describe the same thing. Feel free to comment and ask questions. Hopefully my postings will inspire some good discussion and maybe help you (and me) look at Scripture in a new light.