— The Lord’s Day —

Week 3: Sunday

Pondering Jesus’ victorious Word

εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

“Since many have undertaken to compile
a narrative of the events (πραγμάτων, pragmaton)
that have been fulfilled (πεπληροφορημένων, peplerophoremenon) among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down (παρέδοσαν, paredosan) to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus,
so that you may realize (ἐπιγνῷς, epignos)
the certainty of the teachings (κατηχήθης, katechethes)
you have received.”

θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

Admittedly, when one hears the word prologue in the context of the Gospels, many naturally – and properly – recall the Johannine Text: 1:1-18. The verses that open the Gospel according to Saint Luke (1:1-4), like the verses that open the Gospel according to Saint John, do form a necessary ‘first word (pro-logos)’ as the Church begins a sequential proclamation of the Lucan Text on these Sundays in the Season known as “Time through the Year (Ordinary Time).” Today’s study will focus on ‘fulfilled events handed down to realize the certainty of the teachings.’

Saint Luke begins this 4 verse prologue by speaking of “events (πραγμάτων, pragmaton)” “that have been fulfilled (πεπληροφορημένων, peplerophoremenon).” “Events” is the English translation of the Greek πρᾶγμα (pragma). πρᾶγμα (pragma), while not offering an earth-shattering insight to the meaning of a relatively common English word event, it does highlight life’s events in ‘all their facets and dimensions.’ Applied here to the Person and Life of Jesus, πρᾶγμα (pragma) demands embracing reality in its wholeness, not selected episodes that appeal to one’s sensibilities or likes. πρᾶγμα (pragma) is a ‘whole-package’ approach to life that invites continuous examination and reflection in such a way that one may omit nothing from life. It is precisely “the events” - the totality of the life of Jesus - that Luke records as being fulfilled (πληροφορέω, plērophoreō). πληροφορέω (plērophoreō), translated here “have been fulfilled,” is a verb that is formed from two Greek words meaning ‘complete’ and ‘to carry/to wear/to carry a burden.’ The sense of the Greek compound is that the action πληροφορέω (plērophoreō) is an all-encompassing action involving the whole person living life in all its facets. In antiquity, πληροφορέω (plērophoreō) meant a ‘complete wearing of clothes’ in a somewhat idiomatic way that expressed all of life being kept as close to you as your clothes. Later use of the verb πληροφορέω (plērophoreō) included elements of ‘protection,’ ‘assurance’ and ‘confidence’ that would permit one to have sufficient evidence to persuade or convince another of truth. The point here is that while “have been fulfilled” is not an erroneous translation, it does seem to lack the ‘punch’ that πληροφορέω (plērophoreō) in the biblical era expressed. One could argue that translating πληροφορέω (plērophoreō) as “have been fulfilled” conveys a sense of neutrality, a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ attitude whereas πληροφορέω (plērophoreō) is a bit more challenging and active. For Luke, “the events that have been fulfilled” is ‘everything of Jesus presented in a way to convince and assure you’ of the presentation’s truth.

So, what do one do with ‘everything of Jesus presented in a way to convince and assure?’ You hand it down or hand it on, of course! The Greek verb παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi) is an important word as both a verb and noun in the New Testament meaning “to deliver, to hand-down, to hand-on (it is the basis of the word Tradition, which will be studied at a later date).” παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi) is not an inconsequential or passive action of delivery. Think of mail delivery. The letter carrier places mail in an approved box at one’s home or place of business and assumes at some point, someone will retrieve the mail and do something with it. παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi), however, expresses action that engages both the deliverer and the deliveree. Using the same example of mail delivery, παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi) expresses the fact that the letter carrier has something specific for you. You are required to receive and sign for the delivery … and sometimes, the deliverer gets to see your response to the received letter or package. For Luke, the ‘delivery’ of ‘everything of Jesus presented in a way to convince and assure’ is, once again, not a neutral, take-it-or-leave-it event. This is truth and the truth presented in such a way specifically for each person that it has a real affect and effect in one’s life. The delivery, in this case a Person, demands ‘Yes, I accept delivery’ or ‘No, I refuse delivery.’ Either way, with παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi) there is no politically correct or comfortable middle ground of picking and choosing.

This leads to Saint Luke’s self-stated purpose for the Narrative that is about to follow: “that you may realize (ἐπιγνῷς, epignos) the certainty (ἀσφάλειαν) of the teachings (κατηχήθης, katechethes) you have received.” “That you may realize” is the English translation of the Greek verb ἐπιγινώσκω (epiginōskō). ἐπιγινώσκω (epiginōskō) is a form of the important biblical verb γινώσκω (ginosko). While this family of Greek verbs is often translated into English by various words ‘to know’ or ‘to realize,’ it is important here to distinguish between ‘types of knowning.’ γινώσκω (ginosko) is certainly about ‘knowing,’ but ‘knowing’ in a way that is experiential. γινώσκω (ginosko) expresses events that touch a person at his or her core, life-defining or life-changing events. γινώσκω (ginosko) is knowledge akin to the ‘wow moments’ of life when connections are made or deep insights flood a person’s entire life. γινώσκω (ginosko) is not amassing individual, isolated factual data and regurgitating them upon request. Knowledge that is grounded in γινώσκω (ginosko) is life altering. For Luke, this experiential knowledge that changes a person is firm, confident and able to form a basis for living life (ἀσφάλειαν, asphaleian) because for Luke, the life-altering event is the Person Jesus, handed-on to each person to live life confidently in Him.

Luke’s ‘first-word (prologue)’ to all who are Theophilus (friend of God) is more than preliminary information. Like the famous Johannine Prologue, the Lucan Prologue expresses the life-changing event of Jesus Christ delivered to each person. While there is much more to consider about this Prologue (which hopefully will be posted throughout the week), the present task is to answer, “Do I accept delivery of the Person Jesus into my life - AND - am I willing to make the changes such delivery entails?”