Writing Tips from Paul and Joshua

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By Lana Christian

From conception to conclusion, every step of writing takes us out of our comfort zone. As faith-based writers, we also strive for excellence that pleases God.

Collectively, that takes strength and courage.

Scriptures for both abound. While they certainly can help us weather our challenges, they also contain writing tips.

STRENGTH: Paul on word order and word choice

Much of the New Testament exists because of the Apostle Paul. He wrote in several languages, including Greek (example: his letter to the Philippians in eastern Greece). Greek is a very precise language, and Paul was a master of intentionality in his writing. So what can we mine from his word order and word choice?

Many people can recite Philippians 4:13. But I had an epiphany when I read the verse in Interlinear Greek:

“All things I am strong for in the [One] strengthening me.”Contrast that with the well-known English translation, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The Greek word order shines the spotlight on God.

Strength is not “I do, and God helps.” It’s “God does it.” Strength isn’t me doing what’s needful for me. Strength is God enabling me to do what matters to Him.

Second, Paul word choice for “strong” is ultra-proactive: ischuó. It embodies “getting into the fray” and actively engaging resistance. It’s confrontive.

Those are fighting words. Overcoming words.

Being strong is rolling up our sleeves for God’s purposes—to achieve what He defines as success.

Now for the last half of Philippians 4:13. Again, Paul’s word choice is stunning. The verb tense for “strengthening” denotes ongoing activity. It’s also an intensified construction (endynamóō) that describes shared power and ability. (Our English words “dynamite” and “dynamic” hail from dynamóō.) What a visual! God keeps sharing His “dynamite” in whatever measure we need to strengthen us for accomplishing His task at hand.

COURAGE: Joshua on repetition

When Moses passed the mantle of leadership to Joshua, the patriarch told his successor to “be strong and courageous” in taking the land God had promised the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:7).

Did Joshua need a nudge? I think so.

God Himself commissioned Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:23, reiterating Moses’ words to be strong and courageous. But God didn’t stop there. He added the promise, “I will be with you.”

Joshua records that God told him three more times to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9)—and expanded twice more on “I will be with you” (Joshua 1:5, 9).

Why would God repeat Himself so many times? (And do the same with every core Bible message?)

Two reasons. Remembrance and reassurance.

Repetition is a staple of training content. Repetition is the payload that carries truth from the head to the heart. Only then can we apply truth’s lessons.

God wanted Joshua—and us—to know with full confidence that He would give us as much courage as we need to face life’s challenges, just as He would give us as much strength as we need to persist and prevail.

POWER: Paul on passive voice

Praise God that His power is the source of our strength and courage!

Paul wrote, “Be empowered in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10, BLB). Paul’s intentional—and correct—use of passive voice emphasizes it’s not up to us to be strong. Only when God shares His “dynamite” power do we become strong.


Scriptures show us the power of intentional word choice. At the same time, they charge us to continue in courage and strength. Sometimes family issues, health challenges, or other upheavals may temporarily halt our writing progress. Writer’s block or agents’ rejections may temporarily eclipse our passion for our message. But our assignment remains the same. Keep writing—and do it in strength and courage.

@LanaCwrites shares tips for writing with strength and courage. #ACFWBlogs, #writing, #ChristianFiction, #writingcommunity, #writetips, #BiblicalFiction Click To Tweet

Lana Christian has a dual writing career in medicine and ministry. She won numerous APEX awards for the former. She was a double finalist in ACFW’s 2019 First Impressions contest and winner in her genre. She’s seeking representation for her biblical/historical fiction series. Visit her at www.lanachristian.com.


Comments 7

  1. God, if you perhaps could send
    some courage, I’d be glad
    to have it aid me on the mend
    in a life that has gone mad.
    Include some strength and power, too,
    for I am now sore depleted,
    and what I have been going through
    has me feeling quite defeated.
    Lord, I do not want to die;
    I think I’ve more to give,
    but I feel the dun wings drawing nigh;
    oh, God, please let me live
    to see some minor victories
    even if taken on my knees.

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