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No Library is Big Enough

2018-09-03T02:10:49+00:00By |6 Comments

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25 ESV). “… I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books” (Message Bible). It would be very rare to hear a teaching or a sermon on that text! So what’s up, preacher?

Alcove in a libraryJohn had already told his readers that he only covered selected events in his gospel. “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book” (John 20:30). Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the “synoptic gospels” because they describe mainly the same events, while John only wrote of seven incidents that are in common with other gospels (Dake).

The expression “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” is what is known as the figure of hyperbole, or in everyday English, exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. This has been a legitimate usage of language ever since writing began. Since I live in the driest state on the driest continent in the world, I could say “the ground is dry,” and that would be factually correct. In order to emphasize the low moisture level of the dirt I could say “the ground is thirsty,” and that is hyperbole. The ground cannot drink, so I am emphasizing that the ground is really, really dry, and is pleading for a drink, and you get the picture immediately.

Some may contend that the statement is relative to the libraries of the time when John wrote his gospel. According to the Greek geographer Strabo, the library at Alexandria in Egypt contained 700,000 volumes, and that would still be overflowing with books if every word and action of Jesus were recorded. I carry in my wallet a complete copy of all 1,245 pages of a printing of the King James Version on a 2-inch square of microfilm! Nowadays it takes only 7MB of disk space for the King James Version text, so I could fit many copies on a SD card! However, John’s statement is obviously a figure of speech for it implied an impossibility; it is not to be taken literally.

Let’s get to the call to action. What does this verse teach you and me? Why is it there in the Bible? Since the Bible shows our loving God to be a God of abundance in everything he does, we already have more than enough written material to become a child of God, and then to have our every need met! The constant theme of Jesus was “Believe that I am who I say I am, or believe the works you see me do” (John 10:37-38).

To those who haven’t made their peace with God and continue to sin, the Bible says “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20-21).

Every time they look out the window and see the wonder of the natural world, they are without excuse. Even though they know there is a God, “they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him,” their thinking became futile, useless. The evidence is overwhelming both in the written Bible and in God’s second Bible, nature, so there is no need to have a bigger Bible in extent. As the old hymn says, “What more can He say than to you He has said…?” (How Firm a Foundation, 1787).

So why is John 21:25 in your Bible? Because God put it there to show that you are indeed without excuse and you need to eat the meal set before you! “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4).

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6 Comments

  1. Irene Baroni June 28, 2016 at 6:28 am - Reply

    Amazing. The world cannot contain the books that would be written about all the signs Jesus did, and the heavens cannot contain God. We need more room for all of this abundance!

  2. Craige Banios June 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    Dear Peter and Vivien,
    Thank you again for exposing pertinent truth and pointing out the point. And I am glad to know the full song/hymn “Standing on the Promises” now with some history. It makes “our” songs and hymns we sing in fellowship more powerful! Love from Ohio, Craige and Nancy

    • Peter & Vivien June 26, 2016 at 10:49 am - Reply

      Thanks, folk, and love back from the depth of winter (55F) in South Australia! Peter & Vivien.

  3. Maxine June 11, 2016 at 5:38 am - Reply

    Standing in the presence of God, my spirit clothed by God, the words of God feed me and I am filled. Thank you Peter.

  4. Debby Raabel June 10, 2016 at 12:34 am - Reply

    Over these many years, it’s always quite thrilling that often when your newsletter hits our e-mail box, the topic is exactly what I’ve been studying. I’ve been doing a word search on the Hebrew word for Covenant. I won’t write all the definitions here, but the Strong’s #s (I always search the prime roots and all #s referred to in the definition #1285, from 1262, (like 1254), 1250, 1305. One recurring “theme” in the Heb. word Covenant is “to feed”, “to eat”, “(give) meat”. In addition, of course, to our English understanding of the word in OT and NT. I thought it very interesting what you wrote in this article and your latest book on eating God’s Word, ‘Exploring God’s Amazing Word’. Right in the Heb. definition of the word COVENANT there’s implication of feeding on God’s Word! As we’ve discussed before no “coincidences”, just unity of the those “IN HIM”. We thank God for you and Vivien and your ministry!

    • Peter & Vivien June 21, 2016 at 11:23 am - Reply

      Thanks, Debby and Kris. The Word is so all-compassing on our every need that it is no wonder Jesus said devouring it is the only way we’ll truly live the abundant life.

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