October 10, 2022: It was in this parking lot in Salida, Colorado that Steve started to speak in Greek phrases as we were assembling our backpacks to leave base camp and hit the trail this past summer. Sam, Steve and Trina‘s youngest son who at the time was a few months away from his freshman year at Wheaton College, knew what was coming in this inspire-meditation-for-the-trail talk. I watched him walk around our circle and try to speed up the process of beginning our journey.
In standard Steve fashion, there was a lot of “sugar to make this medicine go down” to quote Mary Poppins. Using humor and laughter, we all were entering into the thought Steve had for us to begin our hike – in Greek. Steve was explaining what Paul had in mind when he was writing some of his early letters to church plants captured in the New Testament. The Greek word sounds like “pair-of-potatoes”, and it is used by Paul to encourage the church to live well as they “walkabout” their daily lives.
I too have a love for languages and wanted to help in anyway I could for Steve to win this Scripture-meditation-for-the-road one last time before Sam leaves for college. I have a lot of respect for Sam’s dad, and I wanted to do my best to show how not-weird this is! Doesn’t every family like Greek? I said Sam, “It is totally normal for dads to love their kids in a way that they explain to them Greek words! Grace, tell them about Mark chapter 4!”
As if on cue Grace said something to the effect of, “Sam, all families are weird. You may know “pair-of-potatoes” and I know the details around “hupo-cu-A-owe-my-toe”, the Greek phrase the disciples used after Jesus calms the storm around the boat they’re in, proclaiming that even the wind and the waves obey Him.” In essence she was saying in connecting to this weirdness somehow it shows how we are deeply loved by our dads.
I am studying right now alongside of the pastors at our church the book of Philippians as they preach through it. I grabbed my grandfather‘s commentary on his book which he has marked up with pencil all over the place. It is inspiring for me to read what words God has for me through Paul. It is almost surreal sitting here repeatedly by the fireplace in my house still hearing my grandfather‘s voice in my head as if he were reading these actual words that he underlined, reading them directly to me. It is a comfort to hear his voice and the way he spoke still in my head. He has been gone for well over 20 years and I can still hear his strong and gentle and clear and baritone voice the way he spoke.
And there it was on the page, “pair-of-potatoes.”
Not only was Steve not making this up but my grandfather knew this word! I wonder what he would’ve told Sam and me and Jason and Grace and Steve and Trina that day if were in that base camp with us? What would he have said about “pair-of-potatoes”? As he reflecting on the life lived well with others, what would his bullet points been around “walking about”?
In Paul’s very affectionate letter to his friends at the new church plant in Philippi, he encourages them to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel (see pic). Normally he would’ve used the Greek word “pair-of-potatoes” but in this case he uses something different. He encourages them to act like citizens of a different kingdom, the kingdom of God. What is befitting behavior towards one another that would accord with this kingdom? The Greek word means behavior of a citizen. In the same way Philippi was a Roman city very far away from Rome and they were to act like Roman citizens there, we are a long way from the kingdom of God physically but we are to act like it here. See the picture in this post of the pages my grandfather marked up from his commentary that I am now enjoying.
What a deep meaning that Paul has in mind as he conveys these truths to his friends. Yes, I do believe Grace is right that all families are weird and have their idiosyncrasies that are really goofy. In looking at every family being different, it is a joy to see Jason and Steve love their kids well by encouraging them with the greatest Treasure they have, namely, knowing and being known by the Lord God Almighty.
Even in goofy Greek word studies!
Note: blue underlines are mine and pencil are Milton Youngberg’ s, my grandfather. Complete with hashtags before they were a thing! That was his way to say THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT.
FYI – Love me some Strong’s Concordance tool. Bob Van Kampen not only taught me how to use this study tool, he bought me the $50.00 concordance which was a ton back in 1988! He could find pair-of-potatoes” too! “Peripateo” is the Greek work for regulating one’s life and conduct, and it is used in the Greek New Testament 88 times, 7 are found in Ephesians. It has been translated to English in our Bibles 50 times as “walk”, 2x as “behave, etc. May the Spirit cause us to “walk about” in a manner together worthy of the King and his Kingdom.