On Carpentry and Canons

We have only recent left the stage where the only safe tools for our youngest to touch in the garage/shop are levels and measuring tapes.  I imagine that for years in his father’s carpentry shop Jesus, likewise, was only allowed to assist Joseph by grabbing him the Carpenter’s Rule.

I imagine his little eager fingers grabbing the measuring rods and lines that must have been ubiquitous in their little shop. He probably knew the textures of those important tools well.


Recently while studying the closing of Paul’s letter to the Galatian Church, the image of Jesus holding a carpenter’s rule took on a whole new depth of meaning.

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Galatians 6:14-16. 

Upon digging deeper into the Greek words, one word jumped off the page: the Greek word translated rule in the above Scriptures, kanon. The word refers to a measuring standard, which would have been a rod or a cane used as an accepted standard of measure. Fancy speak for a level, a straight edge, a carpenter’s rule.

Paul uses the gospel and the Cross of Christ as his kanon, his rule of life, his measuring rod. He encourages the Galatian Church then and the modern Church today to accept this as THE rule of all of life. He not only measures the entirety of life against the truths of Christ, the Word of God, but He commands all Christians that Christ is the universal standard.

Interestingly enough, we now refer to the Holy Scriptures as the Canon, the rule and summary of orthodox Christianity.

In light of the depth of the meaning of the word kanon, the images of Christ and his familiarity with an actual kanon from an early age were painted in richer and more transformative hues.

The Creator and Ruler of all creation became a little boy who worked in his daddy’s carpenter’s shop with an actual ruler. His life, death and resurrection would become the standard by which all of the Christian life for every Christian is measured for all time.

The Carpenter’s Rule

As a young apprentice,
Carpenter’s rule in hand,
Could He fully grasp all
That You had planned?

Carpentry needs a standard,
A measure widely accepted.
Yet He, the perfect standard,
Would be universally rejected.

A straight edged rod held
By the only straight soul.
In time, He’d be mangled,
And the crooked made whole.

His life and death now serve
As the Rule of His bride,
Words of the Living Word
To measure every stride.

Standards of the kingdom:
Christ, Canon, and Cross.
Against these we measure
Everything else but dross.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s