With his bent back and short-sighted squint, Paul looked every inch the scholar that he was. Simmering with impatience, he was pacing the length of the dingy room, oblivious to the irritated glare of his guard.
At last the latch lifted and a young man rushed in, breathless and apologetic.
‘Tychicus! At last! Where have you been? Well, never mind. I want you to take some dictation – a letter to carry with you to Ephesus. Sit down, get your pen. Do you have ink mixed? Good.
Paul, Apostle of Jesus Christ. Greetings...’
Tychicus bent over the scroll. Paul dictated with rapid words. The guard sat in the corner and dozed.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Almighty God, be praised for his love to us.
No, scratch that last bit.
Be praised for the blessings he has given us.
No, not strong enough. I have it!
Be praised for giving us every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Yes, that’s better. Are you keeping up, Tychicus?’
Tychicus grunted, his pen flying. Paul waited, damming his ideas with difficulty, until his secretary was ready. Released, his words spilled out in an unruly torrent of praise. Tychicus mopped the sweat droplets from his forehead, terrified they would smudge the ink.
‘…our sins are forgiven through his grace.
Our sins are forgiven because of his grace which he poured out on us.
No no no.
… forgiven in accordance with his grace which he lavished upon us with all wisdom and understanding.
That’s it. No, don’t write ‘that’s it’!’
With an imperceptible sigh, Tychicus reached again for the erasing-stone.
‘…I pray that you may understand your hope, your inheritance, and his power for you.
No, stop Tychicus, that’s no good at all. Let me think…
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be opened… so that you may know the hope he’s called you to… the riches of his inheritance…
… the riches of his glorious inheritance… and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is like…’
‘You can’t do that!’
Paul paused in mid-word, astonished. Even the guard opened a sleepy eye at this interruption.
‘I can’t do what?’
‘You can’t say God’s power is incomparable and then compare it to something!’
‘He’s got a point,’ the soldier observed, blanching as Paul turned a steely eye upon him.
There was a shocked pause. Suddenly Paul laughed.
‘Yes, I can! I can compare it to itself. Take this down…
That power is like the power God used when he raised Christ from the dead!’
Deflated, the two men allowed Paul to dictate without interruption for several productive minutes.
‘I kneel before the Father, for whom the whole Christian family is named, and pray that you may understand his love.
Oh no, here we go again. Ummm…
…pray that you may have the power to understand his love…
No, try this…
…pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with Spirit-given inner power… to grasp God’s love.
No, that’s hopeless…’ He paced the room with frenzied feet.
‘…to grasp the...er hugeness of God’s love…
‘Abundance?’ suggested Tychicus.
‘Giganticness?’ the soldier interjected helpfully.
Paul stood in the middle of the room, locked in thought, flitting away their suggestions like flies. He seemed to be wrestling with himself internally. Suddenly he flung his arms wide, knocking several scrolls off the wall recess, and startling a passer-by with his shout.
‘…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ!’
He paused to allow Tychicus to catch up.
‘…and to know this love that is beyond knowledge!’
He nodded in satisfaction.
‘Another paradox,’ murmured the soldier.
Paul smiled. ‘Yes, it is, isn’t it? The sentence stands…
…and to know this love that is beyond knowledge… so that you may be… may be…
…may be filled to the brim with all the fullness of God!’
He stopped, panting slightly. Tychicus opened his mouth to comment, but thought better of it and returned to his writing. The soldier looked openly incredulous.
‘And may glory for ever go to him who, by his power, is able to do…’
He turned a triumphant gaze on the doubtful pair,
‘…immeasurably more than anything we can imagine!’
‘All right, Tychicus, we’ll take a break there.’
Inspired by Ephesians 1 – 3. My own paraphrase, loosely based on the New International Version.
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