The Epistle to the Laodiceans

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*This one’s a question…maybe even a topic of discussion…for my fellow bible nerds out there.*

I’ve read through the Apostle Paul’s Epistles(letters) many times. Seems like each time I do, something new grabs my attention. This afternoon, I finished off Colossians, and right at the end of the book, Paul says something that skipped past me dozens of times:

Colossians 4:16 (NIV) – “After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.”

Wait. What was that? There’s a missing letter?

“…and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.”

THERE’S A MISSING LETTER!

Man, for a moment I thought, “This would make a great story! No one knows what the Lord gave Paul to write about, to the church in Laodicea, so I could make up anything that I want! Who’s gonna know the difference?”

But, since the bible is the indisputable and inspired word of God, trying to add to it–even for entertainment purposes–might not go over well for me. So, I quickly nixed that particular idea. This knowledge did make me wonder however: what in the world did Paul write to that church, and how might its contents effect the world we live in today?

Can you imagine if there were actually 67 books of the bible? How might the addition of one more book truly shape the world? What did Paul say to them? How had they responded to his council? Or, how about this: was that one book so powerful that the enemy worked hard to get rid of it? On the flip side: was that one book deemed unimportant by the Lord, and therefore left out on purpose? Could the Epistle to the Laodiceans have saved them from destruction?

I did a little digging. It seems that some Greek scholars suggested there was no letter written specifically to Laodicea; that in fact the letter to the Ephesians was meant to be a general circular shared among many different churches within that area. Why would Paul then purposely instruct the Colossian church to swap specified letters. He could have simply said, “Get that letter I wrote to the Ephesians, and read it to your church.” That’s not what he said. He gave direct instructions to acquire and read that unique letter originally written to the Laodiceans.

I guess in the end, what really intrigues me about the lost letter is its mystery. It’s sort of like the mythical lost city of Atlantis. What treasures might Paul have stored up in that letter? Will it ever make a reappearance, like the dead sea scrolls, or the shroud of Jesus? Or…is it gone forever; lost for good like miracles performed by the Lord that were not recorded in the bible?

Ultimately, that’s what I love about the word of God. Every time I read with an open heart, he shows me something new and exciting. His word never disappoints.

 

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