And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
kata prothesis: according to His purpose.
I read over this passage this morning as I chew on Romans.
For those of you new to this concept, in college I learned a form of Bible study which literally tears every verse apart. I have nicknamed it 'chewing.' We had to diagram the entire book of Philemon. Since then, I have a newfound appreciation for reading portions of Scripture 1 or 2 verses at a time and really studying it as opposed to speed-reading through 6 chapters and walking away thinking, "Uh, what did I just read?"
At any rate, I was looking through the Greek words in this text and found something highly interesting. The word for purpose in Romans 8:28 is prothesis (not to be confused with prosthesis- a medical term). The definition threw me. Prothesis, in Greek, is the word for the shewbread used in the Levitical temple.
That threw a wrench in my morning. Can you imagine reading that verse, "...to them that are the called according to His shewbread?" I was inclined to believe that there was a bigger meaning or something I was missing. So, a study in Romans, led to a study on shewbread.
In Sunday school, we are studying Leviticus. The teacher encouraged us to find Christ on every page. This could apply to any part of the Old Testament that addresses the Tabernacle or the sacrificial system.
The shewbread is put on display before the Lord. The loaves set on a table before od. It was continually there. Now you may think, "What on earth is the purpose of placing bread on a table?" It represents Christ's sacrifice. The loaves are continually before the Holy One, as is Christ. On the Sabbath, the loaves are replaced, a portion is sprinkled with frankincense and offered to God. As was Christ (but only once, mind you).
So what does that have to do with 'purpose.' Well, simply put, the 'purpose' in Romand 8:28 is salvation. Sometimes we like to put our own meaning on that purpose. We like to tweek the interpretation to make us feel warm and fuzzy. But His purpose is salvation, plain and simple. It is not to give a nice, cozy, cushy life, it is to work in your life, salvation. That may mean some hard times, but you can rest assured that those hard time will work for your benefit (for good) kata prothesis.