About the Book
Book: Letters from Jesus
Author: Chris Palmer
Genre: Religion / Biblical Studies/History & Culture
Release Date: September 10, 2019
“In Revelation 2:2, Jesus tells the church in Ephesus something intimate—Google Street View intimate. He says, ‘I know your works’ (Oida ta erga sou). Four words don’t seem like much, but in the Greek, it packs a punch.… Jesus chooses the Greek word oida, which expresses total, comprehensive knowledge. It is intimate knowledge that comes from being up close and personal. This knowledge isn’t hazy on the details. It doesn’t struggle to remember. It preserves the particulars. In the mind’s eye, everything is sharp and clear, like a well-taken photograph.” —Chris Palmer
Letters from Jesus: Studies from the Seven Churches of Revelation explores Christ’s warnings to the seven most prominent churches in Asia Minor in the book of Revelation. These letters date back to 95 A.D., but they help us make a fascinating discovery about civilization: life hasn’t changed that much over the last two millennia. Author Chris Palmer illustrates the truths contained in the Letters from Jesus using modern, everyday day examples. The host of the popular podcast Greek for the Week, he unpacks Greek words and phrases in these verses from Revelation with humor, joy, and biblical scholarship.
Why study Greek, even just a little bit? As Chris explains, looking at the New Testament in the original language in which it was written can offer us some beautiful insights into God’s Word. “It’s like reading the Bible in high definition,” he says. Also, “studying God’s Word in the original language forces us to approach it with reverence and awe, humbling ourselves to obey what it says, whether it’s something we want to hear or not.”
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About the Author
The Rev. Chris Palmer is the founder and pastor of Light of Today Church in Novi, Michigan, and founder of Chris Palmer Ministries. He is host of the popular podcast, Greek for the Week, seen on several Internet platforms.
More from Chris
As someone who majored in English literature, I have always had an affinity for languages. I took four semesters of Latin in college because of how much this ancient language undergirds English etymology. Similarly, ancient Greek holds an appeal, although I have never studied it. As soon as I heard about Chris Palmer’s “Letters From Jesus”, I requested a review copy, and I am definitely glad that I did. Although I needed to read through this book more quickly in order to post a review, it is best to proceed slowly and take time to absorb the gems of knowledge therein.
Focusing on the first three chapters in the Biblical book of Revelation, “Letters From Jesus” examines the seven churches and how the original Greek language informs the text. This, in turn, enhances our understanding of Jesus’ message to each church and how we can and should apply them to our own lives today. One of many interesting things that I learned while reading was how “the seven spirits of God represent seven functions of the Holy Spirit that make up His fullness”. Palmer hones in on a different area of study for each church, dividing them into sections within the book. The church at Ephesus concentrates on love; Smyrna, endurance; Pergamum, worldview; Thyatira, holiness; Sardis, the Holy Spirit; Philadelphia, Christian living; and Laodicea, faithfulness. Something that stood out to me was that several of these are fruits of the Spirit.
Revelation is a book that speaks of the future and the coming of the Lord’s kingdom here on earth, and while that in itself is enough to make it undoubtedly pertinent, Palmer points out many other facts that demonstrate that God’s Word is truly living and active. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, which was the language of the everyday man, emphasizing that the Gospel was not and is not only for the upper class but rather for ALL people. Indeed, reading Palmer’s analyses is insightful and truly drives home the point that we are in a daily battle against evil and the enemy of our souls. In response to someone wondering where God was when a horrific event occurred, Palmer says that “God puts up with evil so people have a chance to repent and be saved. Until the time of judgment comes, God will be patient and forbearing. Meanwhile, Satan will continue to stir up evil to make the world hateful toward Christ”. This is why it is so important for us as Christians to remain steadfast in our faith and to keep the light of Jesus burning strongly within us. Today’s cultural ethos “will let you keep moving further and further from the Lord without ever saying a word” because the focus is always on you and what is best for you, whereas Jesus will tell us what areas in our lives need to change in order for us to be aligned with His will and to receive His priceless gift of eternal life.
Intended as a weekly devotional, “Letters From Jesus” contains 52 relatively short chapters. Each opens with a Scripture verse followed by the Greek with a few corresponding words highlighted. A personal, contemporary introduction leads into the situation of the church that is being discussed, with bonus information in blue boxes. Then there is both a prayer and an activity for the week, followed by a list of six Scriptures to explore each week. Endnotes are included and are almost exclusively relating to Greek grammar for the word and language lovers among us. I did notice editing errors throughout the book, but although it is not marked as such, my hardcover copy may be an ARC. I hope that the Kindle edition includes hyperlinks to the Scripture passages at the end of the chapters for easier reference. Regardless, I highly recommend this enlightening book, particularly for those interested in Greek and for group studies, but also for intrepid individuals endeavoring to better understand the letters to the seven churches and how they apply to us.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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