Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Top Ten Chapters

What are the ten best chapters in the Bible? No doubt that is a subjective question. It's also a question to which there is definitely no wrong answer, and probably no right answer, either, since "all scripture is God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16).

Nevertheless, when this question was raised to me I decided to take a stab at it. Since I could first read and write, I have always loved lists of items, particularly ordered lists or rankings. More recently, I have developed a love for the Bible. A list of my favorite ten Bible chapters meshes these two loves together.

Before I give my list, I would like to present a similar list posted by a friend of mine. I would also like to make a few disclaimers. First of all, this list is my personal opinion. I do not claim that these are God's favorite ten chapters, or that they should be your favorite ten chapters. I also reserve the right to change this list at any time in the future as God reveals more to me in the Bible.

Finally, because I am halfway through a New Testament reading schedule, this list only includes chapters between Matthew 1 and 2 Corinthians 8. I will continue updating or expanding as I finish the New Testament and perhaps even return to add Old Testament chapters. But for now, these are the chapters I feel most comfortable with, so these are the chapters I would like to rank.

Without further ado, the top ten...

1. Romans 8. I once memorized this chapter, so it has a special place in my heart. But objectively speaking, this chapter is loaded with juicy verses about freedom in the Spirit by Christ's indwelling and our inheritance as children of God. Some examples:
- Romans 8:2 - "The law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death."
- Romans 8:11 - "And if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who indwells you."
- Romans 8:16 - "The Spirit himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God."
- Romans 8:28 - "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose."
- Romans 8:31 - "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us."

2. John 1. This chapter takes us from eternity past to eternity future, showing us God as the Word before creation (verse 1), Christ's incarnation (verse 14), Christ as the Lamb of God for our redemption (verse 29), the pouring out of the Spirit (verse 32), the transformation of the believers into stones for God's building (verse 42), and the final consummation of the building in which Christ unites heaven and earth, God and man (verse 51). Verse 51 is a fulfillment of Jacob's dream at Bethel (which means house of God) in Genesis 28. John 1 also includes a key verse about regeneration:
- John 1:12 - "But as many as received him, to them he gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe into his name."

3. 1 Corinthians 15. This chapter is a whirlwind of amazing verses about resurrection, starting with the preaching of the gospel of resurrection and finishing with the application to our corrupted flesh of Christ's victory in resurrection. We also find out at the end of the chapter that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. Here's a juicy tidbit:
- 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 - "And when this corruptible will put on incorruption and this mortal will put on immortality, then the word which is written will come to pass, 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

4. 2 Corinthians 3. Short but sweet, we learn in this chapter that we are living letters of Christ inscribed by the Spirit (v. 3) and that we are mirrors beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord (v. 18). In between, we learn that turning our heart to the Lord removes the veil separating us from the Lord (v. 16), that the Lord is the Spirit (v. 17), that the Spirit gives life (v. 6), and that this life is transforming us (v. 18).

5. John 15. John 14-16 are a breathtaking trio of chapters in which Jesus is speaking intimately with his disciples. I only had room for one on the list, so I chose John 15, in which Jesus talks about the analogy of the vine and the branches. He is the vine and we are the branches, whose purpose is to bear fruit. Interestingly, the topics of love (mentioned 10 times) and separation from the world play a prominent role in this chapter.

6. John 4. The blog's namesake verse comes from this chapter, so it just had to be on the list. Of the many stories in the first part of John, the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 is my favorite. Read more about it in this post. A couple key verses from the story:
- John 4:14 - "But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall by no means thirst forever, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life."
- John 4:24 - "God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truthfulness."
- John 4:34 - "Jesus said to them, my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."
In this chapter, Jesus also talks about reaping from the ripe harvest and heals a dying boy.

7. 1 Corinthians 14.
Paul speaks strongly in this chapter about prophesying, which is not merely to foretell the future, but to speak on behalf of God. He particularly contrasts prophesying with speaking in tongues. He tells us that we can all prophesy (v. 31) and that prophesying builds up the church (v. 4) and encourages men (v. 3). Verse 26 tells us that when the believers come together, each one has something to give, and verse 14 shows us that a good way to respond to others' giving is to say "the Amen."

8. Acts 9. This chapter, which speaks of Saul's conversion, is my favorite chapter in Acts, given the context of the rest of the New Testament. Saul was an approving witness of Stephen's martyrdom in Acts 7 and the primary persecutor of the believers in Acts 8. Yet, the next fourteen books after Acts are written by the same man, who became Paul, a wise master builder of the church (1 Cor. 3:10). Acts 9 is the bridge between these two realities, which makes it a key chapter for me. Saul particularly sees the matter of the church being the Body of Christ. He thought he was persecuting humans, but the Lord asked him, "Why are you persecuting me?"

9. 1 Corinthians 3. This chapter will probably get axed later, so I won't say too much. It speaks of the church being God's cultivated land and God's building. I love verse 6: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth."

10. Romans 5. Ditto 1 Cor. 3. This chapters drives home the point that just as sin entered through one man (Adam), grace entered through one man (Jesus Christ). Verse 10 shows us two sides of his grace toward us (redemption through his death and salvation through his life).

3 comments:

p.limanjaya said...

Amen! I really enjoyed your top ten chapters, the Bible is SO RICH!

Danielle said...

Wow! That's awesome to consider your personal top 10 chapters of the Bible! But I agree with your disclaimer that these will probably change because the word is living and always speaking to us according to our present need and situation! :)

newjerusalem12 said...

Leon, great chapters. I agree that the choice is personal and that it may change with future revelation. I don't disagree with any of your choices. Colossians says that we let the word DWELL in us RICHLY. Since the word is living, it can dwell in us, and since it is extremely rich it can dwell in us richly. Praise Him.
I'd like to link to your blog. If OK, please let me know at newjerusalem12.wordpress.com.
Don

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