Aldersgate United Methodist Church


Monday, October 11, 2021



Brett A. Todd


MEMORIES AND STORIES CAN BE SHORTENED AND EVEN LOST FOREVER.  Just as memory stories and letters in the Bible can be added to, so can they be shortened, removed, and even lost forever.


As we mentioned previously, Matthew and Luke used Mark to write their Gospels, and in the process, they added a lot to the story told by Mark.  However, there were times when these two Gospels shortened Mark’s stories. One example of Matthew and Luke doing just this is in the story of “The Cleansing of the Temple.”  Mark uses close to 90 English words (Mark 11:15-17), whereas Matthew (21:12-13) uses 60, and Luke (19:45-46) uses less than 40 words.  This is a significant reduction to Mark’s story.


Not only did Matthew and Luke shorten Mark’s story of “The Cleansing of the Temple,” but they also removed the author of Mark’s comment, “and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple.” (Mark 11:16) probably because they thought such a feat was impossible.  Remember, the Temple yard consists of over 30 acres and there were 13 entries (gates) in which people were coming and going.  How is one man going to stop people from coming and going, as well as carry on their religious duties?  It would be an impossible feat and so both Matthew and Luke opted out from including Mark’s words, in verse 16, from their own Gospels. As you see, not only do Matthew and Luke lengthen the stories of Mark, but in some cases, they shorten them for various reasons.


Some are surprised when they discover that not only did the Apostle Paul write two letters to the Corinthians, but he wrote three.  Yes, you read correctly, Paul wrote three letters and not just two to the Corinthians.  


How do we know this?  Paul mentioned this third letter in 2 Corinthians 7:8.  This is what he said, “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it, for I see that I grieved you with that letter, though only briefly).”  Scholars believe this letter that grieved them was the third letter. But where is this third letter?  We don’t know.  It got lost and probably forever.


It should not surprise us at all if a letter of Paul’s got lost in the shuffle of life.  My guess is, Paul wrote several letters of which we have no account.  It happens all the time, even in modern history.  We know there was once a classic by William Shakespeare called, “Cardenio,” but it is lost forever. How about Ernest Hemingway’s World War I novel?  Yes, it too is lost forever.  Stories and letters get lost and many times lost forever.  Who knows, maybe down the road someone will find one of these lost letters.  The chances of this ever happening are quite slim to nil, but possible. 


In our next study, we will look at one Bible story that was lost and hundreds of years later found again: ONCE LOST BUT NOW FOUND.

Pastor's Bible Study

In this new online weekly Bible study, you will perhaps hear things you have never heard before.  In other words, this study is not for the faint-hearted, it will be an in-depth study of the Bible that will challenge many of your preconceived ideas about the Bible.  If you are interested, please sign up. I hope this new study will open up opportunities for in-person, video, or ZOOM discussion groups.


Most of our time will be spent in the New Testament of the Bible, although we will take a few detours to learn more about the Hebrew Scriptures and even the Dead Sea Scrolls. So, if you are interested in learning more about the Bible, please join us.  The study articles will be by email only to those who sign up.  You may opt to be included or dropped at any time during the series.


Pastor Brett Todd

On this page, we will have the previous week's study.
To have the current Bible study emailed to you directly or to comment on it, you can send your name and email address through the Contact Us page of this website.