Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, blah blah blah…
Grace and peace to you in His name, blah blah blah…
(I swear to Elohim, Phil, if you put the words “blah blah blah” in the letter… again… I will send you to be scribe to Barnabas. And, he talks even more than I do.)
(I don’t care what you put, Phil. Just church it up.)
To Peter, head of the Jerusalem Church,
It’s been a while since I’ve written, and I’m sorry. You know, there was a shipwreck… some jail time… I got chased out of a couple of towns with people throwing rocks at me… the usual. Well, it’s the usual for those of us on the “front lines”. Out here in Goyim Land. I don’t know what kind of stuff you guys are getting up to in Jerusalem. Probably getting yelled at by the Sanhedrin, still. Not as bad as an attempted stoning, to be sure, but still pretty stressful.
(Phil, clean that up so it doesn’t sound quite so passive-aggressive. I just thought about it, and it sounds like I’m engaging in the Persecution Olympics. Like, I’m way more persecuted than them.)
(Of course, I am ACTUALLY more persecuted than them. But, it’s probably bad manners to wave it around at them. “Suffer persecutions gladly”, and all that. They’ll probably just get jealous.)
(Phil, stop writing all this down. Just write down the important parts, please.)
Thanks for all the sympathy letters about the attempted stoning, by the way. It really helps with the prison time, and the shipwrecks, and everything, to know that you guys are pulling for me in the Capital. But, could you maybe talk to James about his sense of humor? I can’t decide if the message inside his card – “At least now you know how it feels!” – is “funny, but not appropriate” or “appropriate, but not funny.” Either way, kindly tell him to make like a foreskin and CUT IT OUT!
(Yes, Phil, I know that it would be more appropriate to say “CUT IT OFF!”, but they know what I mean. We’re all Jewish here… well, you’re not, are you? Not that there’s anything wrong with being goy, you’re just missing out on some good Jewish humor here. A uniquely Jewish experience…)
(Yeah, Phil, circumcision sucks. But, God ordered it, and you don’t argue with a guy who uses floods and FIRE FROM THE HEAVENS to make His point.)
By the way, Cephas, old buddy, old pal: I heard from a little bird that James is writing a letter to the churches of his own. From what I heard, he calls it a “Paul Buster”. Just tell him that I can’t wait to read it, and to go easy on me!
(Phil, get me a copy of that letter as quickly as possible. I need to know what that smug little punk is saying about me.)
To the point of the letter: I need your advice. I wrote a letter to the Phillipians not long ago. They were kind of worried about me after the whole jail-shipwreck-stoning phase of my career, and so I wrote something to ease their minds. Here’s what I wrote, word for word.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Sounds good, right? A bit of gratitude, a bit of encouragement. I mean, Phil and I worked on the wording for a LONG TIME, and we felt really comfortable with it when we sent it.
Here’s the problem: SOMEONE (whose name might or might not be PHILOMENUS) messed up the spelling on ONE WORD. And now, the Phillipians have gotten the whole thing wrong. See how I said, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength”? Well, Phil misspelled the word “this”, and instead wrote “things”.
So now, I’ve got this entire church running around like cheerleaders shouting, “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST, WHO STRENGTHENS ME!” Not terrible theology… but, they’re skipping the whole prison-shipwreck-stoning bit.
In other words, the entire point of the passage.
Thank YHWH that no one else is going to read that letter, otherwise the Church would never learn the whole “be content in all circumstances” thing. They’d just be a bunch of cheerleaders, spouting off some self-affirming nonsense with absolutely no context.
Again, thank God no one else will ever read it.
(Phil, please make sure that you just mailed out the one copy. To Phillipi.)
(What do you mean, you thought I wanted it mailed to all the churches? IT’S RIGHT THERE IN THE TITLE, PHIL! LETTER TO THE CHURCH AT PHILLIPI!)
Minor correction, my good friend, Cephas. Apparently, that might have spread further than I thought. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure it gets corrected in another letter. It won’t be a problem for long.
I mean, it’s not like anyone’s going to read this in the future, or take it literally.
Paul, formerly Saul
(Phil, pack your bags. You’re going to Barnabas.)