Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Way

Reading through Acts I keep noticing the way the term the Way is used. So I took a brief  look at the Greek: ὁδὸν (hodon) or hodos which gets translated as way, road, journey or path.

Acts 9:2 (NIV)
and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Acts 19:9 (NIV)
But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

Acts 19:23 (NIV)
[ The Riot in Ephesus ] About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.

Acts 24:14 (NIV)
However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,

Acts 24:22 (NIV)
Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.”

It seems the Way is used by Luke in Acts in a similar way we use the word Christianity today. Try substituting the terms in the above verses. Does it fit? I find it interesting that the term Christianity doesn't show up at all in the New Testament books. The term Christian was used 3 times to refer to those who followed Christ.

So where did Luke, and I assume other followers, come up with this term to describe this movement or shared journey down this new path?
John 14:4-6 (NIV) comes to mind first
You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I think these other verses also apply:

Matthew 22:16 (NIV)
They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.

Matthew 3:3 (NIV)
This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”

If Luke wrote Acts today, do you think he would have used the term 'the Way' in these verses or would he have used 'Christianity'? Or would he have used a different term?

There is something about The Way that I find attractive and fitting for this new path or journey that Jesus came to show us.

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Greg Gamble said...

Jon, you've hit on one my of favorite themes. Our fellowship took this theme as a pillar of light as it were, to light our journey, and it led us right back to the Old Test to find Jesus way in the N.T.
As a bunch of christian teenagers who found ourselves together in the early 70's, we decided to search out what Jesus meant by "I am the Way.
I had heard somewhere an intriguing rhyme that went something like this.
The NT is in the OT concealed and the OT is in the NT revealed.
This seemed to back up Jesus and NT writers constant reference to the OT as the logic for how to live by faith and no longer under the curse of the Law.
We saw that even the OT followers of Yahweh who walked by faith and obedience were not living legalistic, religious lives like many NT saints, who are not under the law. We came to see that walking with God in the OT and the NT has always been about living a narrow way as a response to a revelation of God. OT saints were looking forward to the coming Christ, and it changed the way they live their daily lives, while we NT saints live the narrow way because we are responding to Jesus Christ living within us, and among us.
In 2007 Eugene Peterson wrote a wonderful series of books (5) and book 3 is a treatise on Jesus as the Way, and your post fits right into that perfectly.
Here is the Amazon link.
Thanks for a great summary, it was well written, given how hard it seems for Jesus followers to misunderstand Him in His own words.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Greg. For this post I was first going to find a picture of a path, maybe a path walking through a forest. Then I remembered this picture my wife took of the light we saw at the end of a tunnel as we were on a road trip. You mentioning the reference to a pillar of light that guides our journey resonates as well. Thanks for the comment, and the book suggestion too.