Paul's letter to the Laodiceans

Faith & Inspiration
by Andrée Seu Peterson

Posted on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, at 3:08 pm

“And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16, ESV).

When I noticed this verse earlier today I suddenly desperately needed to have Paul’s letter to the Laodiceans.

Do not check your Bibles. This is not a trick question, like the pastor’s joke in which he asks his congregation to turn to Hezekiah 6:14. No, there really was a “letter to the Laodiceans.” Who knows, there may have been a 1 Laodiceans and a 2 Laodiceans, like the two letters to the Corinthians.

Speaking of which, did you know that Paul had written another letter to the Corinthians that is lost to history? Yes, in the epistle you and I call “1 Corinthians,” the apostle made a reference to a previous correspondence to that church:

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people …” (1 Corinthians 5:9, ESV).

If we only had that letter in our hands, maybe issues regarding human sexuality would be even clearer.

There are pages and pages of lists in the Bible, and you can fairly put yourself to sleep reading the names of the returnees from Babylon in Ezra 2. Meanwhile, one well-worded verse inserted somewhere in Scripture could have cleared up the perennial debate about infant vs. believers’ baptism.

Peter repeated himself in Acts 10, regaling us twice with the incident about Cornelius. Paul topped that wordiness with three passes over his Damascus road experience: Acts 9, 22, and 26. Couldn’t God have used this precious real estate to explain exactly what “666” is, or to identify more precisely the “mark of the beast,” or to settle the premil/postmil/amil debate once and for all?

I would like a more cogent clarification of the respective place of faith and works than the ones Romans and James afford. I’d also like an amplified treatment of predestination to help us harmonize it with the many passages that urge us to choose to believe. Most of all, I tend to agree with the rich man in Luke 16 who argues that if God were to adopt a policy of sending angels or dead relatives to appear to people on earth, many more would get saved.

Nevertheless, God has done as He has done and the canon of Scripture He has blessed us with is perfectly sufficient and “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV). And: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness …” (2 Peter 1:3, ESV).

Looks like I will have to do without the much-lamented letter to the Laodiceans. But I will not lie and tell you I’m not dying to know what it said.

Andrée Seu Peterson’s Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, regularly $12.95, is now available from WORLD for only $5.95.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her commentary has been compiled into three books including Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides in Philadelphia, Penn.

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