Their reasoning must have been, "This is the precious gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! No amount of effort or expense would be wasted. Let's make it beautiful."
And beautiful falls short in describing these manuscripts! They dyed the finest parchment purple and carefully sewed them together into quires of four sheets which, when folded, made sixteen pages. Several of these quires they tied together to form a codex, the ancient equivalent of a book. Scribes then copied the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, using gold and silver ink.
In one particularly beautiful manuscript, the words of Jesus and angels appear in crimson or gold; words quoted from the Old Testament and quotations of the disciples are blue; the words of the Pharisees, of Judas Iscariot, and of the devil are black; and all the other words are vermillion. This masterpiece resides in the National Library of Paris.
We find the beauty and craftsmanship of such manuscripts impressive, but these products of parchment and pen are not nearly as beautiful witnesses to the gospel as the epistles Paul describes in Second Corinthians chapter 3, verse 3: "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
When people see what we do, can they discern the gold and silver letters of the imperishable gospel imprinted on our hearts? Can they see the calligraphy of the Holy Spirit in the attitudes we display: our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control? Can they recognize the divine hand as it transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ? We can make it so by God's grace.
Our place is not in a museum or a national library, but in the houses and on the streets of town, instantly available to anyone who wants to stop and read. No amount of effort or expense is wasted to make our lives beautiful to those who would read Christ in us. God has made us His workmanship, His masterpiece (Eph. 2:10).
Copyright ?2005 Steve Singleton, All rights reserved.
Steve Singleton has written and edited several books and numerous articles on subjects of interest to Bible students. He has taught Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses Bible college, university, and adult education programs. He has taught seminars and workshops in 11 states and the Caribbean.
Go to his DeeperStudy.org for Bible study resources, no matter what your level of expertise. Explore "The Shallows," plumb "The Depths," or use the well-organized "Study Links" for original sources in English translation. Sign up for Steve's free "DeeperStudy Newsletter."