Yesterday I learned a cool new Greek word: epipotheo.  I came across it while I was studying Philippians 1:8.  In the Bible, the sixteenth chapter of Acts tells the story of how Paul the church planter started a new church in the ancient European city of Philippi.  After some pretty wild experiences there, he moved on.  But he and the new Philippian Christians went through so much together in such a short time that they built some really close bonds with each other.  That intimacy remained strong over the years, and considering they didn’t even have email back then, they did an amazing job of keeping in touch.  Apparently the Philippian church subscribed to Paul’s monthly missionary newsletter or something, because they always seemed to know where he was and what was going on with him, and they always knew where to mail a hefty check to help support him whenever he was in trouble.

Anyway, about 11 years after planting the church in Philippi, Paul wrote them a heartfelt letter expressing his gratitude to God for them.  His letter is preserved in the Bible as the Book of Philippians.  Toward the beginning of the letter, in Philippians 1:8, he writes: “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

As I was studying this verse yesterday, I found that the Greek word translated “long for” is epipotheo.  It’s not a complex word.  It simply means to crave, desire, yearn for, long for.  It’s when you want something or someone so desperately it hurts.  You can feel it through your whole being.  Paul writes to the church in Philippi that he desperately desires to be with them.  He misses them so much he can physically feel it in his gut.

And then comes the coolest part: he says he epipotheos them “with the affection of Christ Jesus.”  Think about the connection here.  His affection for the Philippians was so strong that he craved to be with them.  They filled his thoughts.  He calls this kind of affection “the affection of Christ Jesus.”

In other words, this is how Jesus feels about us!  Anyone who ever went to church as a little kid learned to sing “Jesus Loves Me,” so it’s not a new idea, but there’s a difference between knowing something and actually realizing it–as in, “Hey, this is actually true–and it applies personally to me.”  Just as Paul longed for the Philippians with great affection, Jesus longs for each one of us with great affection.  Jesus wants to be with us and spend time with us and be in a mutual friendship with each one of us.  It’s very personal.  He longs for you and He longs for me with great affection.  He desires us.  He craves us.  He longs for us so desperately He can feel it in His gut.

That’s pretty amazing.  Jesus epipotheos us… even if that’s not exactly how they teach us to sing it as children.

Published in: on December 18, 2007 at 8:42 am  Leave a Comment  

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