At The Feet Of The Apostles

How old were you, Papias, when you
sat the feet of the aged Apostle John
when he was talking about how he
laid on the breast of our beloved
Savior so many years ago?  What
did you hear about the fishing on
the Sea of Galilee, and the rivalry
between his brother and himself
with Peter over which of them was
the greatest?  When did it first enter
into your mind that you would gather
the stories of the ones who traveled
with the Apostles whom you did not
get to know yourself, and when did
you collect the conversations and
insights you gained into books for the
benefit of other brethren who did not
have the chance to talk with those
who were eyewitnesses of the Savior
and of the Apostles themselves?  How
I wish that I could read those books
that you wrote, for I do not have the
heart to tell you, Papias, that after you
were gone your books would largely
be lost and you would only be known
in tiny fragments kept alive by later
historians.   Nor do I have the heart to
tell you that the Millennium, which you
spoke about as being from the earliest
ages of Christianity, would be laughed to
scorn by those who would become
entrenched in the world system that you
and John saw as inimical to the genuine
Christianity that you preached and
practiced.  But someday, God willing,
after the resurrection I will sit and listen
to you talk about the people you knew back
then just as you sat and listened to them
yourself in those bygone days of old.

***

I must admit that my lengthy writing about the Apostolic Fathers has not generally put me into a poetic mood [1].  Nevertheless, there is something poetic about Papias.  For one, he is an obscure figure but an important one, someone who has been little regarded by many generations of Christians but an important second-generation witness to the goings on of the Apostles.  He lived a fairly long time and made it his job to get to know as much about the Apostles from their companions, so in an age before it became common for people to write memoirs about the famous people that they knew or before social media made it easy to snap photos and say something like #blessed #apostolicjourneys or something of that nature, one had to sit and have a conversation in order to pass along that kind of story, and Papias became known as someone who enjoyed listening to these travel stories from others.

Now, I must admit for myself that a part of the reason why Papias is such a poetic person as far as I am concerned is because I see him as being like me.  For I too am someone who has known people who knew famous and influential people within the faith, and I too have enjoyed listening to stories that provided me with a nuanced and somewhat critical view of matters that many other people take for granted.  Human beings (myself included) are complex beings full of surprises and listening to stories is a good way to feel as if we know people better.  Not only that, but the stories we enjoy listening to and that we enjoy telling shape us a great deal and let others know what we view as particularly important.  No doubt Papias was shaped by the stories he heard of the early Apostles and of the difficulties they faced in preaching the way of God and the Gospel of the Kingdom to the people of the time.  And no doubt as he grew older and shared the stories he had heard that there were many people who enjoyed sitting at his feet and listening to the stories he had heard before.

And that is a scene I can imagine happening in the Millennium after the resurrection of the blessed.  Assuming that I am able to make it into that glorious company, I can imagine that it would be deeply enjoyable to sit at the feet of Papias and other believers from the past [2] and listen to their stories.  Perhaps someone will want to listen to me tell my own stories, and we can share in the way that we walked according to God’s ways with others who traveled the same road that we did.  I happen to think that one of the more enjoyable ways that we will be able to spend time in the world to come is to get a better understanding of the lives lived by believers throughout history.  Perhaps we will be able to travel through their memories and see things as they did.  Perhaps we will be a fly on the wall and watch history as if we were in a movie or a realistic simulation, but however it is that we will be able to hear and to experience the stories of others, I trust that it will be deeply enjoyable for us all in sharing our experiences with those who appreciate such things and have a deep understanding of how it was like to live as we do.   For now, the best we can manage this task is to imagine it, and so from time to time I think it is worthwhile to let one’s poetic imagination run a bit wild and seek to understand in at least some way what it was like for people in the past to live when they did and enjoy a personal acquaintance with people who helped make history.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/03/07/an-introduction-to-the-apostolic-fathers-series

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/04/13/polycarp-of-smyrna-the-unsung-hero-of-the-apostolic-fathers/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/05/02/the-shepherd-of-hermas-and-its-view-of-women/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/04/25/the-epistle-of-1-clement-and-the-prelude-to-papal-claims-of-authority/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/04/18/two-conversations-concerning-the-relationship-between-obedience-and-divine-favor/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church of God, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to At The Feet Of The Apostles

  1. Pingback: An Introduction To The Apostolic Fathers Series | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Interview Questions For A Martyr | Edge Induced Cohesion

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