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    • July 6, 2016 5:40 PM EDT
      Verses 1-2 tells us the writer and the readers.
      "Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia."
      Paul wrote this book; his authorship of this magnificent letter is virtually unquestioned, even by more "liberal" scholars.
      And what a magnificent letter this is! Galatians has been called the "Declaration of Independence of Christian liberty."
      Martin Luther especially loved this letter; he called Galatians his "Catherine von Bora," because, he said, "I am married to it."
      Leon Morris wrote, "Galatians is a passionate letter, the outpouring of the soul of a preacher on fire for his Lord and deeply committed to bringing his hearers to an understanding of what saving faith is."
      Many Bible scholars believe that Galatians was written in the late 40's or the early 50's; an approximate date of 50 A.D. is often given.
      It seems that Paul wrote this letter BEFORE the Jerusalem Council mentioned in Acts 15, because although he mentions several trips to Jerusalem, he makes NO mention of the council.
      Because the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 dealt with the exact issues Paul writes about, it would seem strange if it had already happened, yet he made no mention of it. If it is true that Galatians was written around 50 A.D., then Paul would have been a Christian for about 15 years, being converted on the road to Damascus around 35 A.D..
      Paul, an apostle...
      The emphasis on Paul's apostolic credentials is IMPORTANT.
      Paul has STRONG words for these Galatians, and they must understand that he writes WITH authority, apostolic authority.
      Every one of us must answer the question, "What will I respect as an authority in my life?" Paul EXPECTED that Christians WOULD respect his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ.
      WUEST tells us, "The word apostle as Paul uses it here does NOT merely refer to one who has a message to announce, but to an APPOINTED representative with an official status who is provided with the credentials of his office."
      SO IT IS OUR DUTY to also respect Paul's authority as an apostle. We do this by regarding this book as the Word of God, and taking it seriously to heart.
      Paul TELLS GALATIA AND US his calling as an apostle was NOT from man, nor was it THROUGH man.
      IN OTHER WORDS, his message, his teachings, DID NOT originate WITH man, and it DID NOT come THROUGH man. ALL that he teaches, all of his learning, all his understanding were personally given to him, taught him by Jesus Christ as he was in the desert wilderness for 3 years.
      It ORIGINATED with God, and came directly from God. His standing as an apostle was NOT based on opinion polls or any human council. It is based on a Divine call, made through both the Father and the Son.
      ROBERTSON explains WHY Paul said this, "The bluntness of Paul's denial is due to the charge … that Paul was not a genuine apostle because HE WAS NOT one of the twelve."
      Paul gives greetings from all the brethren who are with him; but the use of I in the letter (such as in Galatians 1:6) shows that it was not really a "team effort" written by Paul and his coworkers. Paul is writing this letter personally, and sends greetings from his friends as a matter of courtesy.
      WE ALSO NOTICE...This IS NOT written to a SINGLE church in a SINGLE city. For example, 1 Thessalonians is addressed to the CHURCH of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1). But this is addressed to the CHURCHES of Galatia, because Galatia was a REGION, not a city, and there were SEVERAL churches among the cities of Galatia.
      OF GALATIA'S HISTORY...MORRIS tells us , "During the third century B.C. some Celtic peoples (or Gauls) migrated to this area and, after fighting with the people they encountered, they settled into the NORTHERN part of Asia Minor. In due course they came into conflict with the Roman, who defeated them, and from this time they remained under the authority of the Romans as a dependent kingdom. SO, the name 'Galatia' covered the territory settled by the Gauls."
      AND HISTORY tells us there were essentially TWO regions of Galatia, one to the north (including the cities of Pessinus, Ancyra and Tavium) and one to the south (including the cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe). There has been considerable - though mostly unimportant - debate as to if Galatians was written to the northern region of cities or the southern.
      Because there was a HUGE difference between North and South Galatia in respect to language, occupation, nationality, and social organization." The northern region of Galatia was made up of small cities and mostly agricultural development. The southern region of Galatia was full of cities and commerce.
      BUT KNOWING PAUL'S HABIT AND FOCUS AND HIS MISSION FROM THE LORD JESUS, we can know that Paul intended his words to have a WIDE circulation in ALL the regions of Galatia. The letter would be taken to each centre and read there, or several copies would be made and one taken to each church.
      AND ACTS 13:13 through ACTS 14:23 confirms Paul was in SOUTHERN Galatia on his FIRST missionary journey.
      ACTS 16:6 confirms Paul went through NORTHERN Galatia on his SECOND missionary journey.
      ACTS 18:23 confirms Paul went to Galatia a THIRD time.
      So was this letter written to the Christians of the northern region of Galatia or the southern region of Galatia?
      In the end, it does not REALLY MATTER, because this is a letter that has something to say to EVERY Christian.
      Verses 3-5 tells us Paul sends his apostolic greeting.
      "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
      Grace to you and peace...
      This is Paul's familiar greeting, drawing from the traditional greetings in both Greek (grace) and Jewish (peace) cultures. Paul uses the exact phrase of verse three FIVE other times in the New Testament.
      AND WE NOTICE...Grace is always FIRST, peace always SECOND. This is due to the fact that grace is the source of peace. Without grace there is and can be no peace, but when grace is ours, peace must of necessity follow, AMEN?!
      AND DID YOU KNOW...Paul uses the word GRACE 100 times in his writings. Among all the other writers of the New Testament, it is only used 55 times. Paul was truly the apostle of grace.
      Who gave Himself for our sins...
      Paul wished grace and peace unto his readers from both God the Father and God the Son. Now, Paul will briefly expand on the work of God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The first thing he says about Jesus is that He GAVE Himself for our sins.
      Throughout the epistle Paul points the Galatians to the centrality of the cross.
      JESUS GAVE...
      We know from John 3:16 that God the Father so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son. But the Father didn't do the only giving. Jesus gave. Jesus is a loving, giving God, and a loving, giving Saviour.
      Jesus gave Himself.
      What did Jesus give? He gave the greatest thing anyone can give - Himself.
      Of course, there are those who CHOOSE to debate if it was MORE A GIFT for the Father to give the Son (as in John 3:16), or if it was more of a gift for the Son to give Himself.
      Jesus gave the greatest gift He could; He gave himself. There is a sense in which we do not even begin to give until we give ourselves.
      Jesus GAVE Himself for OUR sins. This is why Jesus had to give Himself. Our sins had put us on a road to ruin and destruction. If God did not do something to save us, our sins would destroy us. So out of love, Jesus gave Himself for our sins! The love was always there; but there would never have been the need for Jesus to give Himself if our sins had not placed us in a terrible place.
      The word for in this passage clearly has the idea of SUBSTITUTION. Someone who wrote a letter for someone else could use this word to say he did it for that one. This meaning of the word translated for here is also clear from how it is used in passages like John 11:50 and 2 Corinthians 5:14.
      CALVIN says it well, "These words, 'who gave himself for our sins', are very important. He wanted to tell the Galatians straight out that atonement for sins and perfect righteousness are not to be sought anywhere but in Christ … So glorious is this redemption that it should ravish us with wonder."
      Why did Jesus give Himself for our sins?
      That He might deliver us from this present evil age. In many ways, the Galatians were battling with and sometimes losing against this present evil age. They needed to know that Jesus had come to save them from this present evil age.
      DID YOU KNOW...the particular word for EVIL denotes someone who is NOT content in being corrupt themselves; they also must corrupt OTHERS, and draw them into their SAME destruction.
      The idea behind the word DELIVER is not deliverance FROM the presence of something, but deliverance from the POWER of something.
      We who love Jesus Christ and His word KNOW we will NOT be delivered from the PRESENCE of this present evil age until we go to be with Jesus. But we can be experience deliverance FROM THE POWER of this present evil age RIGHT NOW.
      According to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever...
      The purpose of this saving work is NOT primarily to benefit man (though that is part of the purpose). Instead, it is to GLORIFY God the Father.
      FALSE DOCTRINE was a REAL AND VERY SERIOUS problem in the Galatian churches, and their false doctrines ROBBED God of some of the glory DUE TO HIM. By emphasizing the rightly recognized glory of God and His plan, Paul hopes to put them more on the RIGHT TRACK.
      Verse 6 tells us Paul's amazement.
      "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel."
      Paul seems amazed not so much that they are turning away (this might alarm him, but not amaze him), but that they are turning away so soon.
      Missing here are the expressions of THANKS OR PRAISE that Paul often wrote in the beginning of his letters. Romans 1:8-15, 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, Philippians 1:3-11, Colossians 1:3-8, and 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 are each example of Paul giving thanks and praising the churches in his greeting.
      But NOT here. Paul gets right down to business.
      LIGHTFOOT reminds us the SEVERITY OF THIS..."This is the ONLY instance where Paul omits to express his thanksgiving in addressing any church."
      The Galatians are turning away FROM a Person (from Him who called you) as they turn TO a false idea (to a different gospel). To turn away from the true gospel is always to turn away from the Person of Jesus Christ.
      From Him who called you in the grace of Christ also connects their turning away to a turning away from the PRINCIPLE of grace. However the Galatians were turning, it was AWAY from the grace of God, NOT towards it.
      Verse 7 tells us THREE FACTS about this DIFFERENT gospel brought to the Galatians.
      "Which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ."
      Galatians 1:7 PAUL TELLS US THREE DANGEROUS AND IMPORTANT things about this different gospel.
      FIRST, it is an ILLEGITIMATE gospel (which is not another).
      SECOND, it is NOT good at all but trouble (who trouble you).
      THIRD, it is a DISTORTION of the true gospel (pervert the gospel of Christ).
      Which is not another...
      Paul recognizes that this different gospel is not really another gospel at all. Those who promoted this different gospel perhaps said, "We know our message is different than Paul's message. He has his truth, and we have ours. He has his gospel, and we have ours."
      Paul REJECTS the idea that their message is a legitimate "alternative" gospel in ANY way.
      The word gospel literally means "good news."
      Paul is saying and warning, "There is NO 'good news' in this message. It is ONLY bad news, so it really isn't a 'different good news.' It is bad news. This is not another gospel at all."
      OTHER TRANSLATIONS TRANSLATE, "unto another gospel: Which is not another."
      Actually, the New King James Version translation is much better, because it makes a DISTINCTION between DIFFERENT AND ANOTHER, because there are TWO distinct Greek words used.
      DIFFERENT has the idea of "another of different kind".
      ANOTHER has the idea of "another of the same kind." It is as if
      Paul writes, "They brought you a completely different gospel. They claim it is just an alternative gospel of the same kind, but it isn't at all. It is all together different."
      There are some who trouble you...
      Those who brought this "other gospel" to the Galatians brought them TROUBLE. They didn't advertise their message as trouble, but that is what it was & still is today.
      Some who trouble you means that someone BROUGHT this false gospel to the Galatians.
      False gospels DO NOT just happen.
      People BRING them, and the people who bring them may be sincere, and have a lot of charisma, BUT IT IS STILL A FALSE GOSPEL. IT IS STILL AN ALTERNATIVE GOSPEL. IT IS DANGEROUS AND WRONG.
      LUTHER says, "Note the resourcefulness of the devil. Heretics do not advertise their errors. Murderers, adulterers, thieves disguise themselves. So the devil masquerades all this devices and activities. He puts on white to make himself look like and angel of light."
      To PERVERT the gospel of Christ...
      The "other gospel" was really a perversion or a distortion of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It didn't "start from scratch," making up a new name for God and pretending to have a new Savior. It used the names and ideas FAMILIAR to the Galatian Christians, but it slightly TWISTED GOD'S WORD, JESUS COMMANDS & TEACHING, and this made their message all the more DECEPTIVE, POLLUTED, PERVERTED, DANGEROUS, AND WRONG IN THE EYES OF GOD THE FATHER, JESUS CHRIST, AND PAUL.
      BUT IS IT?
      The gospel of Christ...
      Notice PAUL'S HUMILITY...
      Paul is really NOT contending for the gospel of Paul, though it is his gospel also. But Paul's gospel was only worth defending and fighting for because it was in fact the gospel of Jesus GIVEN TO HIM DIRECTLY.
      THEIR TRUE GOAL, TRUE FOCUS, IS THEY want to pervert the gospel of Christ: Paul plainly says that these people want to DISTORT the good news of Jesus.
      SO THE QUESTION THAT POPS INTO OUR MINDS IS WHY? Why would anyone WANT to pervert the gospel of Christ?
      It is hard for us to understand sometimes, but there is something about the message of the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ that is DEEPLY OFFENSIVE to lost human nature. To understand this, we should first understand what the true gospel OF JESUS CHRIST is.
      Paul states his gospel most succinctly in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: "I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved … For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."
      SO THE QUESTION REMAINS...What is there in that message that would make ANYONE want to PERVERT the gospel of Christ?
      What is there in that that is OFFENSIVE to human nature?
      FIRST, the gospel of Jesus Christ offends OUR PRIDE.
      It tells us we NEED a savior, and that we CANNOT EARN NOR SAVE ourselves. It gives NO CREDIT TO MANKIND for any or all of their good deeds, moral lives AT ALL FOR OUR OWN SALVATION; it WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE ALL THE WORK OF JESUS CHRIST FOR US.
      SECOND, the gospel of Jesus Christ offends OUR WISDOM.
      It saves us by something many consider foolish - God becoming man and dying a humiliating, disgraceful death on our behalf.
      THIRD, the gospel of Jesus Christ offends OUR KNOWLEDGE.
      It tells us to believe something which goes against MANKIND'S CREATED THEORIES, scientific knowledge and personal experience - that a dead man, Jesus Christ, rose from the dead in a glorious new body that would never die again.
      Verses 8-9 tells us A SOLEMN CURSE upon ANY who bring a false gospel.
      "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed."
      But even if we, or an angel from heaven...
      Paul DOES NOT CARE who brings a false gospel. Even if it is himself, or an angel from heaven, it is to be rejected. Any person who spreads a false gospel, THAT DOES NOT PLAGIARIZE THE HOLY BIBLE is worthy only of a particular curse from God (let him be accursed).
      AND BRUCE CLARIFIES AND CONFIRMS THIS SCRIPTURE by saying, "The gospel preached by Paul is not the true gospel because it is Paul who preaches it; it is the true gospel because the risen Christ gave it to Paul to preach."
      Let him be accursed...
      Paul REMINDS US of the solemn curses pronounced by God upon those who break His covenant (Deuteronomy 27).
      SO DANGEROUS AND SO VERY VERY SEROUS IS IT for Paul, it WAS NOT enough to say, "Don't listen to these people." It was more than just not listening to them. Paul soberly thought that they should be cursed!
      So now I say again...
      The curse is repeated for EXTRA emphasis; it is really impossible for Paul to express this idea with any more strength than he does here.
      THERE ARE THOSE WHO READ THIS CHAPTER OF GALATIANS AND SAY...SO MUCH FOR THE GOSPEL OF GRACE...THE GOOD NEWS...SOME SAY, "Where is Paul's love?" He asks for a "double curse" on people - people who spread a false gospel. He doesn't just ask God to curse the message, but to curse the people who spread the message. So, where is Paul's love?
      Paul's love is for souls that are in danger of hell. If a gospel is false, and not "another good news" at all, then it can't save someone.
      GUZIK gives a great visual analogy..."Think of a sinking ship, and the waters fill with people about to drown. Two ships come to rescue people in danger, but one of the rescue ships carries a load of dynamite, and for some reason you know that that ship will explode before it reaches port, and everyone on it will be killed. The most loving thing you could do is help everyone to get on the right rescue ship! Getting on the wrong rescue ship would seal your doom! Paul looks at this false gospel, this perverted gospel, and says, "That is a rescue ship about to sink! It's destination is the Lake of Fire not Heaven. It can't save anyone! I want to do everything right before God to warn people away from the wrong rescue ship!"
      Verse 10 tells us Paul's gospel did NOT come from a desire to please man.
      "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ."
      For do I now persuade men, or God?...
      Paul's idea is not "I want to persuade God to my point of view." The idea is God is his audience. When Paul speaks, he speaks first to God, not to man.
      Or do I seek to please men?
      Paul's FIRST obligation was to please God, NOT to please men. He would NOT fashion and shape his message just to please his audience. He was more concerned about pleasing God and SAVING LOST MANKIND.
      Though it is not specifically said, we sense that Paul is making a contrast between himself and those who brought the different gospel. Apparently, in some way, that different gospel was built around the idea of PLEASING man...preaching and teaching and telling their listeners, their congregations what THEY WANTED TO HEAR...not what they NEEDED TO HEAR.
      MORRIS says it well, "There have always been preachers who have sought popular acclaim above all else, and there are some still. It is part of fallen human nature that even those charged with the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel can fall into the trap of trying to be popular rather than faithful."
      For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ...
      For Paul, it was one or the other. He could NOT direct his ministry towards pleasing men and at the same time direct it to pleasing Jesus Christ. And if his concern is not FIRST to please Jesus Christ, then he is NOT a servant of Christ.
      Servant perhaps is not the best translation here; it may be better translated slave. "It is unfortunate that … our English translations should so consistently fail to give this word its true meaning, thereby encouraging the false conception of Christian 'service' (as something essentially voluntary and part-time) so characteristic of modern religious idealism. The 'bond-servant of Christ' is not free to offer or withhold his 'service'; his life is not his own, but belongs entirely to his Lord."
      Verses 11-12 tell us the Divine source of Paul's gospel.
      "But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ."
      Is not according to man...
      In contrast to the different gospel brought by others, Paul's message was a revelation from God. Paul's message was not a man's attempt to reach up and understand God; it was God's effort to bow down and communicate with man.
      AND PAUL REMINDS...Men may have many marvelous things to teach us, but God's revelation has all things which pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3); now more than ever, the world DOES NOT need the good advice and wisdom of man, it needs a revelation from God.
      Did Paul's message - the message of the Bible - really come from God, or is it a fine achievement of man's spiritual and moral search for God?
      If Paul's gospel, the message of the Bible, really came from God, then it is the most important fact in the world. If it is just a human invention or achievement, then it is the most dangerous lie in the world.
      THEN AND NOW, There isn't any shortage of people who CLAIM that they have a revelation from God. But we have to be careful to not regard a message as being from God if it isn't.
      SO HOW CAN WE KNOW that the Bible is really from God and not man?
      FIRST, we know that the Bible is reliable, accurate and trustworthy as an ancient document. We know this because the text itself is reliable (we know this from the study and comparison of ancient manuscripts).
      We know this because archaeology has consistently confirmed and supported the Biblical record, and has never contradicted the Bible.
      We know the people, places, and events in the Bible are repeatedly verified by archaeology.
      SECOND, we know that the Bible is unique, and special among all books ever written. It is unique in its continuity, being written over 1600 years, over 60 generations, by more than 40 authors, on three different continents, in different circumstances and places, in different times, different moods, in three languages, concerning scores of controversial subjects, but it speaks with ONE UNITED VOICE.
      It is UNIQUE in its circulation, being the most published and popular book ever.
      It is UNIQUE in its translation, being the FIRST book translated, and having been translated into more languages than any other book.
      It is UNIQUE in its survival, having survived the ravages of time, manual transcription, persecution, and criticism.
      It is UNIQUE in its honesty, dealing with the sins and failures of its heroes in a manner quite unknown among ancient literature.
      It is UNIQUE in its influence, having far and away a greater influence on culture and literature than any other book in existence.
      THIRD, the Bible is a book of PREDICTIVE prophecy, literally fulfilled. For example, there are some 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah that were exactly and literally fulfilled by Jesus, such as His birth at Bethlehem, His manner of death and burial, and so forth.
      Another example is that the Bible describes the rise of four successive world empires (Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome) with such accuracy that all critics can do TO TRY AND DISPUTE IT IS TO CLAIM that the passage was actually written after the events happened.
      FOURTH, the Bible is a book that has profoundly CHANGED the lives of millions, irrespective of their race, class, era, sex, locale, age, or social status.
      THERE ARE THOSE WHO LOOK AT ALL THE TANGIBLE EVIDENCE OF IT AND SAY, "It doesn't prove that the Bible came from God." The point is granted; but it does give us a TANGIBLE, UNIQUE REASONS TO TRUST AND BELIEVE that it did.
      THE BIBLE (HIS STORY) WAS written over 1600 years, over 60 generations, by more than 40 authors, on three different continents, in different circumstances and places, in different times, different moods, in three languages, concerning scores of controversial subjects, but it speaks with ONE UNITED VOICE. THE BIBLE DOES NOT CHANGE. THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF THE BIBLE REMAINS THE SAME UNITED VOICE OVER THOUSANDS OF YEARS.
      In the end, believing the Bible is from God is a step of faith. But it is a step of intelligent and informed faith, not a leap of blind faith.
      I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ...
      Paul's own relationship to this gospel was unique. Most everyone hears the gospel from someone else; this is God's "normal" way of communicating the gospel (Romans 10:14-15).
      But Paul was not "normal" in this respect. He received the gospel FIRST in a dramatic, direct revelation when He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus.
      Acts 9:1-9 describes this remarkable incident. The Lord Jesus spoke to Paul directly on the Road to Damascus, and then Paul spent three days without sight, before a Christian named Ananias came to him. It was probably during this time - either on the road or during the three days - when Jesus brought His gospel to Paul. Paul certainly had the gospel right away, because he was both saved and began to immediately preach the message Jesus gave him (Acts 9:20-22).
      Verses 13-24 tells us Paul PROVES that his message did not come from man.
      "For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother. (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.) Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God in me."
      For you have heard...
      Everyone had heard how Paul came to the Lord! Paul's story was familiar to Christians in general and especially to those he had personally ministered to. We can trust that if Paul was among a group a people for a while, preaching the gospel to them, it wouldn't be long until he shared his personal testimony.
      The value of a personal testimony is not restricted to those who have a dramatic conversion story like Paul did. We can see the glory of God's work just as much in those who think they have a "boring" testimony.
      My former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it...
      Paul's credentials as a zealous Jew, persecuting Christians, are beyond doubt. Acts 8:1-3 and 9:1-2 describe Paul's energetic persecution of Christians.
      AND REMEMBER THIS...This shows that Paul was NOT looking for some other truth when he was first confronted with the gospel of Jesus. Unfortunately, many of those who are seeking a "new revelation" will find it - and find DECEPTION NOT TRUTH BUT A REVELATION FROM MEN AND ANGELS OF DARKNESS that draws them away from Jesus Christ (like a young Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church).
      But when it pleased God...
      Paul did not come to Jesus because any man decided that he should. It wasn't at the pleasure of any man, but when it pleased God. Additionally, God did not choose Paul because there was something in Paul that pleased him; God called Paul through His grace, God's unmerited favor.
      We know this call wasn't because of anything Paul did, because he said he was called from my mother's womb. Therefore, God called Paul before Paul did anything to deserve it.
      Before Paul was a Christian, the emphasis was on what he had done: I persecuted … I advanced … (I was) more exceedingly zealous. Once Paul follows Jesus Christ, the emphasis was on what God had done: God, who separated me … called me … reveal His Son in me.
      Martin Luther says it well, "Did God call me on account of my holy life? Or on account of my pharsaical religion? Or on account of my prayers, fastings, and works? Never. Well, then, it is certain God did not call me on account of my blasphemies, persecutions, oppressions. What prompted Him to call me? His grace alone."
      CALVIN says it well too, "He wanted to show that his calling depended on the secret election of God, and that he was ordained an apostle, not because he had fitted himself for undertaking such an office by his own industry or because God had discerned that he was worthy of having it bestowed on him, but because, before he was born, he had been set apart by the secret purpose of God."
      SEPARATED is an important word.
      The Greek word aphorizo is related to the word used as a title for the religious elite in Paul's day, the "separated ones" known as the Pharisees. Before Paul came to Jesus, he was an important Pharisee (Philippians 3:5), but he wasn't really separated to God. Now, through the work of Jesus, he was really separated to God!
      MORRIS reminds us, "The word is akin to that for 'Pharisee', and the Pharisees were in no doubt about it: they held firmly that they were 'separated' to God when they were not."
      To reveal His Son in me...
      In Galatians 1:12, Paul speaks of how Jesus was revealed to him (the revelation of Jesus Christ). But here is something different, and perhaps more glorious: Jesus revealed in Paul. God wants to do more than reveal Jesus TO us; He wants to reveal Jesus IN us.
      That I might preach Him among the Gentiles...
      Does God have a sense of humor?
      OUR TRIUNE GOD selects a man before he is born for the job of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. And that man grows up HATING Gentiles, and believing that the only reason God made Gentiles was so they would fuel the fires of hell.
      Additionally, upon his conversion, Paul did not immediately confer with flesh and blood (even the eminent apostles in Jerusalem) to discover the content of the gospel. He didn't need to, because the gospel was revealed directly to him by Jesus.
      MAKE NO MISTAKE...We shouldn't think that Paul is saying here that it is WRONG to hear of the gospel through others, or that those who do have an inferior salvation. The point is simply that the gospel Paul preached was NOT a gospel of man, and this is settled forever because he did NOT receive it from any man.
      NO...Paul did not travel to what we would call Saudi Arabia. The area known in that day as Arabia in his day extended all the way to the city of Damascus. Paul probably lived in some quiet desert place OUTSIDE of Damascus.
      Then after three years...
      Paul did not learn the gospel from the apostles, because he had been a Christian for THREE YEARS before he even met the apostles Peter and James.
      MORRIS reminds us the UNIQUENESS OF PAUL AND HIS KNOWLEDGE AND MINISTRY... "A new convert, especially one who had been foremost in persecuting the believers, would surely touch base with the leaders of the movement he was now espousing, if only to make sure that he now had a correct understanding of what the Christian movement was teaching. But Paul did not do this."
      Nor was Paul "COMMANDED" to appear before the apostles in some kind of examination. It is indicated when Paul wrote, "to see Peter." The word for to see speaks of someone coming as a tourist. The idea is that Paul was NOT commanded to come to Jerusalem to give an account to Peter or the other disciples, but he came of his own accord, and visited as a "tourist."
      They were hearing only, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith he once tried to destroy." If Paul did not learn the essential content of the gospel from any man, then it is also true that the early Christians were slow in learning just who Paul was in Jesus. All they really knew was that he had been dramatically converted - for which they glorified God. After his conversion, Paul was a "normal Christian" for many years.
      Paul's status as unknown is certainly different from our own habit of puffing up any prominent convert as soon as they come to Jesus. Paul was happy and well served to spend many years in obscurity with Jesus before God raised him up.
      In this whole section, Paul shows there was enough contact between him and the other apostles to show that they were in perfect agreement, but not so much that it would show that Paul got his gospel from them instead of God.
      Paul's whole point in the second part of this chapter is important.
      His gospel was true, and his experience was valid, because it really came from Jesus Christ.
      Does your gospel come from JESUS CHRIST, or have you made it up yourself?
      Does your Christian experience come from JESUS CHRIST, or have you made it up yourself?
      Only what comes from ALMIGHTY GOD THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST can really save us and make a lasting difference in our lives.

    • July 6, 2016 5:36 PM EDT

      Verses 1-2 tells us Paul's LATER trip to Jerusalem.
      "Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain."
      AFTER 14 YEARS...
      In Galatians 1:18-19, Paul described a trip he made to Jerusalem THREE years AFTER Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. Now, he describes a SECOND trip to Jerusalem, 14 YEARS later.
      WE REMEMBER Paul's point from Galatians 1.
      He DEMONSTRATED that his gospel came by a revelation FROM Jesus Christ himself, NOT from man, NOT EVEN from the apostles in Jerusalem.
      TWO VISITS ONLY TO Jerusalem over 14 years shows that Paul did NOT sit at the feet of the disciples of Jesus to learn the gospel, as some, then and now WRONGLY teach.
      Traveling WITH Paul to Jerusalem were BOTH Barnabas (who was well respected among the leadership in Jerusalem according to Acts 4:36-37 and 11:22 and Titus, who was a GENTILE convert.
      Titus was a remarkable man and associate of the apostle Paul.
      In 2 Corinthians 2:13, Paul refers to Titus my brother, and says how he had NO PEACE when Titus was absent.
      2 Corinthians 7:6 says how Paul was COMFORTED … by the coming of Titus.
      2 Corinthians 8:6 shows how Paul TRUSTED Titus to receive a collection from the Corinthians.
      2 Corinthians 8:16 says that Titus had the same EARNEST CARE that filled the heart of Paul.
      In 2 Corinthians 8:23, Paul says If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my PARTNER & FELLOW WORKER concerning you.
      In 2 Corinthians 12:18, Paul speaks again of Titus, and how he SHARES Paul's heart, "Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?"
      In Titus 1:4, Paul calls Titus a TRUE SON in our common faith.
      Paul ABSOLUTELY loved and trusted Titus, and regarded him as a valuable associate.
      And I went up by revelation...
      THIS TELLS US that Paul went to Jerusalem by the EXPRESS DIRECTION of God. He did NOT GO because ANY man called him to come; it was because God TOLD HIM TO GO.
      And communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles...
      This trip to Jerusalem is most likely THE ONE mentioned in Acts 11:27-30, when Paul brought a gift from Christians in other cities to the Christians in Jerusalem, who suffered under famine. When Paul was in Jerusalem at this time, he assured the leaders in Jerusalem that he was obedient to God in his presentation of the gospel to the Gentiles.
      AND WE KNOW, AT THIS TIME, there was a GREAT CONTENTION rising over the place of GENTILES in the church.
      God used Peter to WELCOME Gentiles in the church in Acts 10. But some Christians from a Jewish background said that Gentiles could indeed be saved, ONLY IF THEY made themselves Jews FIRST, and brought themselves under the law of Moses. Their idea was that salvation in Jesus was ONLY for the JEWISH people, and Gentiles had to BECOME JEWS BEFORE THEY COULD BECOME CHRISTIANS.
      Knowing this contention was present, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem wanted to know WHAT PAUL TAUGHT, and when he visited Jerusalem it was the perfect time to tell them, so Paul communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles.
      But privately to those who were of reputation...
      Paul KNEW HE HAD THE TRUE GOSPEL GIVEN HIM DIRECTLY FROM JESUS CHRIST; but he DID NOT KNOW how everyone of reputation in Jerusalem would receive it.
      Perhaps SOME OF THE APOSTLES themselves WERE WRONG on this point, and needed to be corrected! But if there was any confrontation to be done, Paul did it PRIVATELY to those who were of reputation.
      WE NOTICE, PAUL did THE BEST he could TO NOT publicly embarrass those who were of reputation in Jerusalem.
      GUZIK says it well, "What love and sensitivity on Paul's part! It would have been easy for him to say, "I'm right and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong, and I can't wait to get in their face publicly." But he didn't. He knew that being right DID NOT give you the privilege of being RUDE.
      What made Paul fear that he might run, or had run, in vain?
      It probably WAS NOT the fear that he himself WOULD fall away.
      Probably it was the FEAR that an UNNECESSARY conflict with the leaders of the church in Jerusalem leaders MIGHT damage his reputation and ministry in some way.
      Also, the danger was that FALSE TEACHERS- if encouraged in some way by the leaders in Jerusalem - might UNDO Paul's work in planting churches and raising disciples for Jesus, and would make his work in vain.
      Verses 3-5 tells us THE ISSUE over the circumcision of Titus.
      "Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."
      Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was COMPELLED to be circumcised...
      Paul's point is that the leadership in Jerusalem ACCEPTED Titus, a Gentile convert, even though he WAS NOT circumcised in accord with the Mosaic law. This shows that the Jerusalem leadership ACCEPTED Paul's gospel of grace.
      Why would ANYONE compel someone like Titus to be circumcised?
      Why was it even an issue?
      Because circumcision - the cutting away of the male foreskin - was the SIGN OF INITIATION into the Jewish faith and the Mosaic covenant that God commanded of Moses.
      If a Gentile man wanted to become a Jew, he would have to be circumcised AS AN ADULT.
      BECAUSE JEWISH MEN WERE ALWAYS circumcised as babies.
      Since ALL Jewish men were circumcised, and most ALL Gentile men were not, it was an easy way to refer to "those part of the covenant" and to "those outside of the covenant of Moses."
      MARTIN LUTHER says it well, "Paul did not condemn circumcision as if it were a sin to receive it. But he insisted, and the conference upheld him, that circumcision had no bearing upon salvation and was therefore not to be forced upon the Gentiles."
      Yet, the LACK of circumcision in Titus became an issue because of FALSE BRETHREN who attempted to BRING, TO PUT Paul and other Christians INTO BONDAGE.
      AND WE NOTICE...It is significant that Paul calls these men FALSE brethren.
      That's a HEAVY title!
      Of course, they DID NOT think of themselves as FALSE brethren.
      They thought of themselves as TRUE brethren.
      BUT IN GALATIANS 1:6-9, Paul says because they OPPOSED and CONTRADICTED the gospel revealed to Paul by Jesus Christ, they really were FALSE brethren.
      AND WE NOTICE IT IS SIGNIFICANT....that Paul says these men SECRETLY brought in and came in by STEALTH.
      They did NOT come in with name badges that said, "False Brother."
      They did NOT come in with a purpose statement that said, "We have come to spy out your liberty in Jesus, and to bring you into bondage."
      These men probably had the best of intentions, EITHER DECEIVED OR DECEIVING...but they were STILL VERY DANGEROUS men who had to be confronted!
      STOTT wisely adds about SECRETLY BROUGHT IN, "This may mean either that they had no business to be in the church fellowship at all, or that they had gate-crashed the private conference with the apostles."
      IT IS ALSO SIGNIFICANT that Paul himself says these men MIGHT bring us into bondage.
      For Paul, this WAS NOT just an issue between the false brethren and Gentiles. It might be easy for Paul to say, "This DOES NOT affect me. After all, I am a Jew and have been circumcised under the law of Moses. I'll let Titus or other Gentiles deal with this problem, because these false brethren have a problem with them, not me."
      Paul realized that if the message of the gospel was COMPROMISED, it WAS NOT just bondage for the Gentiles, but bondage for EVERYONE who named the name of Jesus.
      In response, we see Paul REMAINED STEADFAST:
      We did NOT YIELD submission EVEN FOR AN HOUR.
      PAUL WAS ADAMANT AND UNMOVED HERE so that the truth of the gospel might continue with you (the Gentile Christians like those in Galatia).
      MARTIN LUTHER expressed the same heart: "Wherefore, God assisting me, my forehead shall be more hard than all men's foreheads. Here I take upon me this title … "I give place to none." Yea, I am glad even with all my heart, in this point to seem rebellious and obstinate. And here I confess that I am and ever will be stout and stern, and will not give one place to any creature."
      AGAIN LUTHER wisely adds, "If they had asked for it on the plea of brotherly love, Paul would NOT have denied them. But because they DEMANDED IT on the ground that it was NECESSARY for salvation, Paul defied them, and prevailed. Titus was not circumcised."
      Verse 6 tells us Paul SUMMARIZES his point: his gospel or apostolic credentials DID NOT depend on any sort of approval or influence from MEN, even influential men.
      "But from those who seemed to be something; whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man; for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me."
      But from those who SEEMED to be something: Paul knew that in his day, there were leaders of HIGH reputation - "FAMOUS" Christians, if you will. But they DID NOT overly impress or intimidate Paul; whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to NO man.
      SO Even though Paul MET with influential and "famous" Christians a few times, they DID NOT give him the gospel he preached. He could say, those who seemed to be something added NOTHING to me. The LEADERS in Jerusalem added NOTHING to the gospel Paul preached or the apostolic authority he possessed that came straight from Jesus Christ himself.
      Paul DID NOT wait for someone else to MAKE HIM a great Christian.
      He knew that it came down to a personal relationship between himself and Jesus.
      MAKE NO MISTAKE...This IS NOT, AND PAUL IS NOT SAYING that he received nothing from others, or that NO ONE else could ever bless him. But that his Christian life WAS NOT BUILT ON what other people did for him.
      STOTT says it well, "Paul's words are neither a denial of, nor a mark of disrespect for, their apostolic authority. He is simply indicating that, although he accepts their office as apostles, he is not overawed by their person as it was being inflated (by the false teachers)."
      Verses 7-10 tells us the leaders of the church in Jerusalem APPROVED Paul's gospel.
      "But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do."
      When they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me...
      The LEADERS of the Jerusalem church (James, the brother of Jesus; Cephas, also known as Peter, and John) ACCEPTED Paul and his ministry to the Gentiles. They APPROVED Paul's ministry, knowing that Paul did not require the Gentiles to come under the Mosaic Law to find favor with God.
      The gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter...
      THIS CONFIRMS TO US...Paul's main ministry was to Gentiles, and Peter's main ministry was to Jews. These distinctions were NOT absolute; each DID minister to the OTHER groups.
      Yet, the distinction is VERY interesting...
      Because Roman Catholics STOUTLY AND WRONGLY CLAIM that the Pope is the successor of Peter - but where is his ministry to the Jews then?
      The ONLY CAUTION from the leaders in Jerusalem was that Paul should remember the poor. In this case, probably the poor saints in Jerusalem, whom Gentile believers should not forget.
      AND WE KNOW...Paul certainly did remember the poor in Jerusalem; he put a lot of effort towards GATHERING a contribution among the Gentile churches for the sake of the saints in Jerusalem.
      Verses 11-13 tells us THE REASON for Paul's PUBLIC REBUKE of the apostle Peter.
      "Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy."
      Peter HAD APPROVED of Paul's gospel and ministry when Paul came to Jerusalem; and God USED Peter himself to welcome Gentiles into Christianity without the precondition of becoming Jews confirmed to us in Acts 11:1-18.
      BUT PETER withdrew and separated himself, FEARING those who were of the circumcision...
      Though Peter had been in agreement with welcoming Gentiles into the church without bringing them under the Law of Moses, when Peter came to Antioch (Paul's home church), it was another story. He refused to associate with Gentile Christians once certain Jewish believers from Jerusalem came.
      These men were Christians of Jewish background - Paul calls them certain men … from James and those who were of the circumcision - and Peter knew they would be "offended" at his fellowship with Gentiles who had not come under the Law of Moses.
      In their eyes, these uncircumcised Gentiles were NOT really Christians at all, so to PLEASE THEM AND AVOID A CONFLICT, Peter treated these Gentile Christians as if they were NOT Christians at all.
      Peter HAD KNOWN that God did not require Gentiles to come under the Law of Moses for salvation.
      PETER LEARNED THIS from the vision God gave him in Acts 10:23.
      PETER LEARNED THIS from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles who believed (apart from being circumcised!) in Acts 10:44-48.
      PETER LEARNED THIS by the agreement of the other leaders of the church in Acts 11:1-18.
      Now, Peter TURNS BACK ON ALL THAT HE HAS KNOWN about the place of Gentiles in the church, and he treats uncircumcised Gentiles as if they are NOT SAVED at all.
      MORRIS wisely points out, "It is perhaps curious that nobody seems to have recalled that Jesus ate 'with publicans and sinners', which can scarcely mean that he conformed to strict Jewish practice."
      TRAPP adds and warns, "Sadly, others will follow Peter's lead. "The sins of teachers are the teachers of sins."
      The matter was SO SERIOUS that Paul boldly withstood Peter to his face, because he was to be blamed. Paul had a public confrontation with Peter over this issue (I said to Peter before the all, Galatians 2:14).
      This was ALSO VERY SERIOUSLY WRONG OF PETER because it involved the issue of eating together.
      BEFORE CERTAIN MEN came from James, Peter WOULD eat with the Gentiles. But once they came, Peter WITHDREW AND SEPARATED himself.
      This separation was probably at the church potluck dinner, which they called "the agape banquet" or the "love feast." They would also remember the Lord's death at this dinner, and take communion together. Therefore, Peter put these Gentile Christians AWAY from the communion table!
      LUTHER strongly adds, "Paul had no small matter in hand, but the chief article of the Christian religion. When this article is endangered, we must not hesitate to resist Peter, or an angel from heaven."
      SOME ASK...WHY did Peter do this, when he KNEW that God welcomed Gentiles into the church without placing them under the Law of Moses?
      Paul says Peter was fearing those who were of the circumcision.
      Peter acted against what he knew was right out of fear.
      It is easy to criticize Peter; but EVERYONE knows what it means to do something you know is wrong.
      EVERYONE KNOWS what it feels like to go against what you know very well is right.
      EVERYONE KNOWS what it feels like when social pressure pushes you towards compromise in some way.
      AND WE KNOW....this is the kind of behavior that DOMINATED Peter's life BEFORE he was transformed by the power of God.
      This is like when Peter told Jesus NOT to go to the cross.
      Peter taking his eyes of Jesus and sinking.
      Peter cutting off the ear of the servant of the High Priest when they came to arrest Jesus.
      We see that the flesh is STILL PRESENT in Peter.
      Salvation and the filling of the Holy Spirit has NOT made Peter PERFECT, as some then and now PREACH, TEACH, AND PROCLAIM.
      The OLD Peter is still there, just SEEN FAR LESS OFTEN.
      We MIGHT BE surprised that Peter, who DID know better, did this; but we are ONLY surprised if we DO NOT believe what God says about the weakness and corruption of our flesh.
      Paul himself knew this struggle, as he describes it in ROMANS 7:18: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find."
      We don't know what it was about these certain men from James that made Peter AFRAID.
      Perhaps they were men of very strong personality.
      Perhaps they were men of great prestige and influence.
      Perhaps they made threats of one kind or another.
      Whatever it was, the desire to cater to these legalistic Jewish Christians was so strong that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
      When these men from James came, EVEN Barnabas treated the Gentile Christians as if they were not Christians at all!
      Barnabas was Paul's trusted friend and associate.
      Barnabas stood beside Paul when he first met the apostles (Acts 9:27).
      Barnabas sought out Paul and brought him to Antioch to help with the ministry there (Acts 11:25).
      Acts 11:24 says of Barnabas, "he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith".
      Yet, Barnabas fails at this critical test also.
      AND ACTS 15:39, tells us it IS POSSIBLE that this incident, by producing a temporary feeling of distrust, may have prepared the way for the dissension between Paul and Barnabas which shortly afterwards led to their separation.
      The rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him...
      THIS TELLS US SOMETHING ELSE, it was bigger than just Peter and Barnabas!
      Peter FIRST made the compromise of acting as if the Gentile Christians were not Christians at all.
      Then Barnabas followed him.
      Then the rest of the Jews at the church in Antioch followed Peter and Barnabas.
      This shows what a HEAVY responsibility it is to be a leader. When we go astray, others will often follow.
      AND LET'S FACE IT...Satan knew that if he could make Peter take the wrong path, so would many others.
      Played the hypocrite … carried away with their hypocrisy...
      How was this hypocrisy?
      DID YOU KNOW...the word "hypocrite", in the original language of the Bible, means "one who puts on a mask," referring to an actor.
      In this case, Peter, Barnabas, and the rest of the Jewish Christians in Antioch KNEW that these Gentile believers were really Christians.
      Yet, because of the pressure from the certain men from James, they acted like THE GENTILE CHRISTIANS were not Christians at all.
      But now Peter refused to eat with Gentile believers!
      When a Jew refused to eat with a Gentile, he did this in obedience to Jewish rituals. Peter had already learned that obedience to Jewish rituals (such as keeping kosher) was not essential for salvation, for either Jews or Gentiles (Acts 10 and 11).
      Peter had STOPPED keeping these Jewish rituals for himself, but now he is acting as if he does keep them, to accommodate the legalism of the certain men from James.
      Peter no longer kept a strict observance of the Law of Moses for himself, but by his actions, he implies that Gentiles believers MUST keep the law - when he himself does not!
      Verse 14a tells us Paul CONFRONTS Peter publicly.
      "But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all."
      At the foundation, this WAS NOT an issue of seating arrangements at the church potluck.
      It WAS NOT about table manners and being a good host.
      It WAS NOT even about being sensitive to another brother's conscience.
      YET...Paul saw the issue for what it was; it was about THE TRUTH OF JESUS CHRIST GOSPEL.
      When THE CERTAIN MEN from James, and Peter, and Barnabas, and the rest of the Jews of the church in Antioch would NOT eat with Gentile Christians, they declared those Gentiles unsaved unbelievers. They said loud and clear, "You can only be right with God if you put yourself under the demands of the Law of Moses. You must be circumcised. You must eat a kosher diet. You must observe the feasts and rituals. You must do nothing that would imply partnership with someone who is not under the Law of Moses. This is THE ONLY WAY to receive the salvation of Jesus." That message made Paul say, I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel.
      I said to Peter before them all...
      GUZIK gives us a great visual analogy...."What a scene this must have been! There they are, at the church of Antioch potluck. The Gentile Christians have just been asked to leave, or are told to sit in their own section away from the "real" Christians. They also wouldn't be allowed to share the same food that the "real" Christians ate. Peter - the honored guest - goes along with all this. Barnabas - the man who led many of the Gentiles to Jesus! - goes along with all this. The rest of the Jews in the church at Antioch go along with all this. But Paul won't stand for it. Because this is a public affront to the Gentile Christians, and because it is a public denial of the truth of the gospel, Paul confronts Peter in a public way."
      It must have been hard, knowing who Peter was.
      Peter was the MOST prominent of all the disciples of Jesus.
      Peter was the SPOKESMAN for the apostles.
      Peter was the most PROMINENT Christian in the WHOLE world at the time.
      It must have been hard, knowing who Paul was.
      This happened BEFORE any of Paul's missionary journeys.
      Before Paul was an apostle of great prominence.
      At this time, Paul was far more famous for who he was BEFORE he was a Christian.
      Paul was BETTER KNOWN as a terrible persecutor of the church - than he was for who he was as a Christian.
      It must have been hard, knowing who was in agreement with Peter.
      FIRST, Paul had the strong, domineering personalities of the certain men from James.
      SECOND, Paul had Barnabas, who was probably his BEST friend.
      THIRDLY, Paul was in the minority on this issue - it was him and all the Gentile Christians against all the Jewish Christians!
      As hard as this was, why did Paul do it?
      Because he knew what was at stake.
      This wasn't a matter of personal conduct, or just personal sin on Peter's part. If that were the case, it is unlikely that Paul would have first used such a public approach.
      This was a matter about the truth of the gospel, proclaiming, "This is how a man is right before God."
      Verse 14b tells us Paul exposes Peter's hypocrisy in appearing to live under the law.
      "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?"
      If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of the Gentiles and not as the Jews: Paul first reminded Peter that he himself did not live under strict obedience to the Law of Moses. "Peter, you eat bacon and ham and lobster. You don't keep a kosher diet. Yet now, before these visitors, these certain men … from James, now you act as if you keep these laws all the time."
      Imagine the scene!...
      They had all been having a good time, until Paul spoils the party. He probably wasn't shouting, but he did speak with firmness in his voice. And as he tells everyone that Peter doesn't live under the Law of Moses, the certain men … from James look amazed. Their jaws drop! "What? Peter, the most prominent of all the apostles, Peter doesn't live under the Law of Moses? Peter eats bacon and lobster? Peter eats with Gentiles?" As for Peter, his face gets red, his heart beats faster, and he just feels sick to his stomach. Everyone else just feels awkward and wishes the whole problem would go away.
      Why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? Perhaps Peter and the others might say, "We're not making them live as Jews." But of course they were; because their message was, "Unless you live as Jews, you aren't saved!"
      Verses 15-16 tells us Paul reminds Peter that they are justified before God by the work of Jesus, not by their keeping of the law.
      "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified."
      Peter, we all grew up as observant Jews. Yet we know very well that we were not considered right before God - justified - by the works of the law that we did. We know that we, even though we grew up as observant Jews, are considered right before God by faith in Jesus Christ."
      Not justified by the works of the law...
      This is Paul's first use of the great word "dikaioo" (justified, declared righteous) in his letter to the Galatians.
      MORRIS adds, "It is a legal concept; the person who is 'justified' is the one who gets the verdict in a court of law. Used in a religious sense it means the getting of a favorable verdict before God on judgment day."
      Even we have believed in Christ Jesus...
      Paul knew that even a strictly observant Jew such as he was could never be considered right before God by what they did under the Law of Moses. Instead, he, and Peter, and every single Christian must have believed in Christ Jesus.
      STOTT adds, "Faith in Jesus Christ', then, is not intellectual conviction only, but personal commitment. The expression in the middle of verse 16 is (literally) 'we have believed into (eis) Christ Jesus.' It is an act of committal, not just assenting to the fact that Jesus lived and died, but running to Him for refuge and calling on Him for mercy."
      STOTT continues, "It would be hard to find a more forceful statement of the doctrine of justification than this. It is insisted upon by the two leading apostles ('we know'), confirmed from their own experience ('we have believed'), and endorsed by the sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament ('by works of the law shall no one be justified'). With this threefold guarantee we should accept the biblical doctrine of justification and not let our natural self-righteousness keep us from faith in Christ."
      That we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law.
      "Peter, we were not justified by being under the Law of Moses, but by faith in Jesus." By refusing fellowship with Gentile Christians, Peter said in his actions that we are - in part ? considered right before God by the works of the law. Paul couldn't stand for this, because it wasn't the truth.
      For by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified...
      Here, Paul emphasizes the point in the STRONGEST way possible. NO flesh - NOT Gentile, NOT Jewish, NOT anyone - will be considered right before God by the works of the law.
      AND REMEMBER WHAT DAVID CONFIRMED IN PSALM 143:2, "For in Your sight no one living in righteous."
      Since this is true, it's plain to see how FOOLISH and WRONG it was for Peter to separate from these Gentile Christians because they had NOT put themselves under the Law of Moses. Because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified, then what difference does it make if a Gentile is circumcised according to the Law of Moses? What difference does it make if a Gentile keeps a kosher table? ALL that matters is their FAITH IN CHRIST, because that is how we are made right before God.
      Verses 17-18 tells us Paul answers the main objection against the truth that we are made right before God by faith in Jesus and not by works of the law.
      "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor."
      Now, Paul deals with an objection that the certain men from James would raise. It's important to remember that Paul made this statement publicly, with the concerned parties right in front of him.
      On one side of the room are the certain men from James, who believed that God would not accept the Gentiles unless they put themselves under the law of Moses. Peter is sitting with these men, and so is Barnabas, who is Paul's best friend.
      In fact, ALL THE JEWISH CHRISTIANS are sitting with these Christians from Jerusalem who DO NOT believe that the Gentiles in the church at Antioch are really saved at all.
      AND REMEMBER...In a real-life setting like this, Paul CAN NOT just speak his mind without answering the objections - spoken or unspoken - of those who disagree with him.
      As the men from Jerusalem saw it, the idea that we are made right before God by faith in Jesus alone wasn't "real" enough. After all, Christians still struggled with sin. How could they have the "accepted by God" issue settled if they still battled sin? In their thinking, this made Christ … a minister of sin, because Jesus' work of making them right with God apparently DID NOT make them right enough!
      WE HERE THIS SAME MINDSET PREACHED IN PULPITS, REVIVALS, AND IN THE MEDIA ALL THE TIME TODAY..."If God justifies bad people, what is the point of being good? Can't we do as we like and live as we please and be saved?"
      Paul's answer is brilliant.
      FIRST, yes, we seek to be justified by Christ, and not by Jesus plus our own works.
      SECOND, yes, we ourselves also are found sinners, that is, we acknowledge that we still sin even though we stand justified by Christ.
      THIRD, but NO, this certainly does not make Jesus the author or approver of sin in our life. He is not a minister of sin.
      For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
      Paul's answer is subtle, but brilliant. If he were to build again a way to God through keeping the Law of Moses, then he would make himself a transgressor.
      Essentially, Paul says "There is more sin in trying to find acceptance before God by our law-keeping than there is sin in everyday life as a Christian."
      These certain men from James thought they had to hang on to the Law - for themselves and for Gentiles - so there WOULD NOT be so much sin. What Paul shows is that by putting themselves under the law again, they are sinning worse than ever!
      In many ways, but perhaps the greatest is that this argument basically looks at Jesus, hanging on the cross, taking the punishment we deserved, bearing the wrath of God for us, and says to Him,
      "That's all very nice Jesus, but it IS NOT enough. Your work on the cross WAS NOT good enough before God until I'm circumcised and eat kosher and keep all the feasts, festivals, rules, rituals, and pomp and circumstance. Jesus you began a great saving work, but we have to finish it for you. Your life, your torture, your blood, you death and Almighty God's grace and mercy gift were NOT good enough. You need some preacher, teacher, priest, some church, some religiosity to COMPLETE the salvation work!" What an insult to the Son of God!
      Of course, this is the great TRAGEDY of legalism.
      In trying to be more right with God, they end up being less right with God. This was exactly the situation of the Pharisees that opposed Jesus so much during His years of earthly ministry. Paul knew this thinking well, having been a Pharisee himself (Acts 23:6).
      Verses 19-20 tells us Paul describes his permanently changed relationship to the law.
      "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
      For I through the law died to the law: Paul makes a bold statement, saying that he has died to the law. If he is dead to the law, then it is impossible for the law to be the way he stands accepted by God.
      It IS NOT the law that is dead.
      The law reflects, in its context, the holy heart and character of God.
      There was nothing wrong with the law.
      It IS NOT the law that died, but Paul died TO the law.
      How did Paul die to the law? I through the law died to the law. The law itself "killed" Paul.
      It showed Paul that he NEVER could live up to the law, and fulfill its holy standard PERFECTLY.
      For a long time before Paul knew Jesus, he thought God would accept him into Heaven first because of his Jewish blood and because of his law-keeping.
      But he came to the point where he really understood the law - understanding it in the way Jesus explained it in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.
      Then Paul realized that the law made him GUILTY before God, NOT JUSTIFIED before God. This sense of guilt before God "killed" Paul, and made him see that keeping the law WAS NOT the answer.
      The problem with the certain men with James was that they were NOT thinking and NOT living as if they were dead to the law. For them, they were still ALIVE under the law, and they believed keeping the law would make them ACCEPTED by God. Not only were they living under the law, but they wanted the Gentiles to live under the law also!
      I through the law died to the law that I might live to God...
      When Paul died to the law, then he could live to God. As long as he still tried to justify himself before God, by all his law-keeping, he was dead. But when he died to the law, then he could live to God.
      I have been crucified with Christ...
      Again, Paul anticipates a question from those who disagree with him. "Paul, when did you die to the law? You like pretty alive to me!" Paul is happy to answer, "I have been crucified with Christ. You want to know when I died to the law? I died to the law when Jesus died on the cross. He died in my place on the cross, so it is like it was me up on the cross. He died, and I died to the law when He died."
      It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me...
      Since we died with Christ on the cross, we have a different life. Our old life, lived under the law, is dead. Now we are alive to Jesus Christ, and Jesus is alive in us (but Christ lives in me).
      Paul realized that on the cross, a "great exchange" occurred.
      Paul GAVE Jesus his old, try-to-be-right-before-God-by-the-law life, and it was crucified on the cross.
      Then Jesus GAVE Paul His life to life - Christ came to live in him.
      So Paul's life IS NOT his own anymore, it belongs to Jesus Christ!
      Paul doesn't own his own life (that life died); he is simply "managing" the new life Jesus gave him.
      And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith...
      Paul can only "manage" the new life Jesus gave him by faith. You can't live the new life Jesus gives on the foundation of law-keeping. You can only live it by faith.
      When Paul says I now live in the flesh, he doesn't mean that he lives a chronically sinful life.
      'FLESH' here means the whole nature of man, inclusive of reason and instincts.
      The point of this verse isn't the flesh, it is faith. Faith is not simply a topic about which Paul preached from time to time.
      The faith Paul lives by is NOT faith in himself, NOT faith in the law, and NOT faith in what he can earn or deserve before God. It is faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ - who loved me and gave Himself for me!
      Before, Paul's relationship with God was founded on what he could do for God - his faith was in HIMSELF.
      Now, the foundation is what Jesus Christ has done for him - his faith is in Jesus.
      And Paul found a marvelous person to put his faith in!
      It is a person who loved him.
      It is a person who demonstrated that love when He gave Himself for Paul.
      What confidence Paul can have in giving his life to, and living His life for, someone who loves him that much!
      When we realize HOW GREAT THE LOVE God has shown for us, it makes everything in the Christian life easier.
      Who loved me...
      Paul can confidently give himself to Jesus because of the love Jesus has demonstrated in the past.
      Loved … gave Himself...
      The PAST TENSE is important.
      William Newell, wonderfully adds, "Speaks to the importance of the past tense in the word loved. "It is this past tense gospel the devil hates … Let a preacher be continually saying, 'God loves you, Christ loves you,' and he and his congregation will by and by be losing sight of both their sinnerhood and of the substitutionary atonement of the cross, where the love of God and of Christ was once for all and supremely set forth."
      LUTHER asks, "Did the Law ever love me? Did the Law ever sacrifice itself for me? Did the Law ever die for me? On the contrary, it accuses me, it frightens me, it drives me crazy. Somebody else saved me from the Law, from sin and death unto eternal life. That Somebody is the Son of God, to whom be praise and glory forever."
      SPURGEON says it well, "Take these blessed words of the apostle, and put them in your mouth, and let them lie there as wafers made with honey, till they melt into your very soul: 'Who loved me, and gave himself for me.'"
      Verse 21 tells us Paul shows WHY the issue of law-righteousness is so important.
      "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
      I do not set aside the grace of God...
      Paul concludes his public confrontation with Peter with strength. For these Jewish Christians from Jerusalem to require for themselves or anyone else to live under the law of Moses to be right with God is to set aside the grace of God - the very thing Paul does not do.
      STOTT says, "They think it noble to try to win their way to God and to heaven. But it is not noble; it is dreadfully ignoble. For, in effect, it is to deny both the nature of God and the mission of Christ. It is to refuse to let God be gracious."
      This is because if righteous comes through the law, then Jesus died in vain, because IF you can be righteous before God by law-keeping, and you DO NOT need the work of Jesus to make you righteous.
      AND REMEMBER...In Jesus' prayer in the garden in Matthew 26:39-42), Jesus asked that if there be any other way to accomplish what stood before Him at the cross, He asked to be spared the cross. But Jesus was not spared the cross, because there is NO OTHER WAY to accomplish what He did.
      This is also the great problem with seeing the grace of God as something that helps us get to heaven, as if we put forth the best we can, and then grace supplies the rest. Never! Grace DOES NOT help, it does IT ALL. All of our righteousness comes from the work of Jesus for us.
      LUTHER says it well, "What awful presumption to imagine that there is any work good enough to pacify God, when to pacify God required the invaluable price of the death and blood of His own and only Son?"
      SOME HAVE ASKED...How did this confrontation end up?
      WHILE we do NOT KNOW the immediate effect, other than to say that Paul obviously made a bold stand for the truth.
      Yet we know that over time, Peter came to his senses and took Paul's words to heart. We know this from Acts 15:6-11, where Peter, in Jerusalem, before James and Paul and Barnabas and the other apostles, proclaimed that Gentiles did not have to come under the Law of Moses to be saved.
      We KNOW that Peter was already in agreement by how Paul states the case in Galatians 2:15-17: We … even we have believed … we might be justified by faith … we seek to be justified by Christ. Paul is calling Peter's attention to something that Peter believes but isn't acting according to. You may believe that Jesus saves you, and you don't save yourself; but are you acting and thinking that you save yourself?
      AND GREATER STILL...We can trust that God used this awkward encounter in Antioch for everyone's good.
      1. It was good FOR Paul, because he stayed true and proclaimed the gospel.
      2. It was good FOR Peter, because he was corrected, and as a result became more firm in the truth than before.
      3. It was good FOR Barnabas, because he came to the correct belief on this matter.
      4. It was good FOR the men who came from James and started the whole mess, because a line was drawn at the true gospel, and they had to decide.
      5. It was good FOR the Jewish believers in Antioch, because they had the truth spelled out clearly before them.
      6. It was good FOR the Gentile believers in Antioch, because their faith and liberty in Jesus was strengthened.
      7. It was good FOR us because the truth still lives today!
      All this good came, but only because Paul was willing to do something totally right, but uncomfortable.
      Peter was willing to do that too, when he admitted he was wrong.
      Peter and Paul were willing to sacrifice their comfort zone for what was right; are we?



    • July 6, 2016 5:34 PM EDT
      Verse 1 tells us Paul confronts their BLURRED vision of Jesus and His work for them.
      "O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?"
      Paul tell us that the Galatians struggled with TWO BASIC questions:
      1. How are we made right before God?
      2. What is our standing before Him?
      Because of some bad teaching by false different and alternative gospels taught by false brethren they answered those questions wrong.
      They thought, "We are made right before God based on what Jesus did for us, and what we do for Him under the Law of Moses."
      In correcting this false teaching, Paul first wrote about his own experiences.
      PAUL SAYS:
      FIRST, Paul came to Jesus by faith alone, not faith plus being under the law in Galatians 1.
      SECOND, then Paul wrote about his experience of confronting the apostle Peter when he slipped up under this same error in Galatians 2.
      Now, after dealing with his experience, the Apostle Paul deals with the experience of the Galatian Christians themselves.
      Just as Paul's experience proved that we stand right before God based on what Jesus did, not based on what do under the law, so will the Galatians' experience prove the same thing.
      O foolish Galatians!
      These are VERY STRONG words and are well deserved.
      Paul is not saying they are morally or mentally deficient (the Greek word "moros" conveys that idea, and was used by Jesus in parables, such as in Matthew 7:26; 25:1-13.
      Instead, Paul uses the Greek word "anoetos", which has the idea of someone who can think but fails to use their power of perception.
      The principles Paul referred to here are things the Galatians ALREADY KNEW, things they had been taught. The knowledge and understanding were there, but they were NOT using them.
      "Bewitched" used here, has the idea that the Galatians are under some type of "spell". Paul does NOT mean this literally, but their thinking is SO clouded and SO unbiblical - that it seems that some kind of spell has been cast over them.
      INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, Barclay translates "bewitched" as "put the evil eye on". The ancient Greeks were accustomed to and afraid of the idea that a spell could be cast upon them by an "evil eye."
      AND DID YOU KNOW, the "evil eye" was thought to work in the way a serpent could hypnotize its prey with its eyes. Once the victim looked into the "evil eye," a spell could be cast. Therefore, the way to overcome the evil eye was simply NOT to look at it. In using this phrasing, and using the word picture of bewitched, Paul is encouraging the Galatians to keep their eyes always, steadfastly, upon Jesus.
      The body of Christ Jesus NEEDS to hear this today.
      Look at how easily the church can be and is bewitched today, Amen!
      Through the centuries, error after error arises, and we are well able to see some of the errors of the past, but many are blind to the errors of today.
      We have renown pastors like Kenneth Copeland, standing in their pulpits saying, "God is the Great I am, and so am I!"
      Creflo Dollar told his congregation, "I am equal to God, and so are each of you gods right now!"
      T.D. Jakes tells his congregation, "I have taken and I possess the keys of the kingdom of God to get and to give wealth in this life."
      Mike Murdock tells his congregation, "I tell God I want a new airplane, and He wants me to be happy, so He gets it for me."
      Paula White tells her congregation, "I command my angels. I command them to surround me, to get me what I need and they must obey me."
      Jessie Duplantis tells his congregation, "Jesus comes to visit me in my office, and asks my advice for how to deal with lost people in my congregation."
      Benny Hinn tells his congregation, "I have the power to heal you. I have the power to curse you. I have and do all that God can do, because I am equal to God."
      The pope said this week, "Jesus failed at the cross to complete the work of salvation, I must finish it."
      As it was in Paul's day, so it is today. We who study Jesus word, who know the glory, the righteousness, the holiness, and the supreme power of our GREAT I AM, are amazed right along with the apostle Paul.
      Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?
      Who has bewitched you that you should not know the truth?
      They have ALL forgotten, "Fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom!"
      It is wonderful to have a soft, tender, humble, thankful heart before God.
      But some peoples' minds are TOO accommodating to wrong, unbiblical ideas, and they do not think things through to see if they really are true or not according to the Bible.
      This is a sign of spiritual immaturity, even as a baby will stick anything into its mouth.
      Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified...
      Paul wonders how the Galatians could have missed the message, because he certainly made it clear enough to them.
      Their vision of Jesus Christ and Him crucified has become cloudy. They no longer see Him and His work on the cross as the center of their Christian lives, now it is Jesus plus what they must do for Him.
      When they left the message of Jesus and Him crucified, they left the message Paul preached to them. Paul's preaching was like setting up posters of Jesus all over town - if you saw anything, you saw Jesus.
      Paul does not mean that they literally saw the crucifixion of Jesus, or even that they had a spiritual vision of it. He means that the truth of Jesus and Him crucified and the greatness of His work for them was clearly laid out for them, so clearly that they could see it. Actually watching the death of Jesus on the cross might mean nothing.
      Because hundreds, if not thousands, saw Jesus dying on the cross, and most of them only mocked Him.
      Verses 2-3 tells us Paul CONFRONTS their departure from the principle of faith in Jesus Christ alone.
      "This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?"
      IN OTHER WORDS...Paul asks the Galatians and us today, "Just tell me this," Paul says. "Did you receive the Holy Spirit through the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"
      Obviously, the Galatians received the Holy Spirit through simple faith. The Holy Spirit is not a "prize" earned through the works of the law.
      Can you imagine?
      Do we see the "seriousness and the danger" of false gospels and false brethren?
      A Gentile is told he must come under the Law of Moses, or God will not bless him, claim him, and save him.
      This means he must be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. So he goes in for the operation, and as soon as the cut is made, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon him! Is this how it works? Of course not! We receive the Holy Spirit by faith, not by coming under the works of the law.
      Some people think that we need to work for the gift of the Holy Spirit, or earn this gift from God.
      The Galatians were deceived into thinking that spiritual growth or maturity could be achieved through the works of the flesh, instead of a continued simple faith and abiding in Jesus and His Word.
      And right here, Paul simply and succinctly lays out one of the fundamental differences between the principle of law and the principle of grace.
      Under law, we are blessed and grow spiritually by earning and deserving.
      Under grace, we are blessed and grow spiritually by believing and receiving.
      God deals with you under the covenant of grace.
      So, why are you trying to deal with Him on the principle of law?
      Do you believe God wants to bless you?
      Which is it: by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
      Are you so foolish?
      This is indeed foolishness. This deception is cultivated by Satan to set our Christian life off-track.
      If he cannot stop us from being saved by faith, then he will attempt to hinder our blessing and growth and maturity by faith.
      And, when the works of the flesh are substituted for faith, self-confidence and pride are the inevitable result.
      Verse 4 tells us, Paul asks a question about the past: Was it all for nothing?
      "Have you suffered so many things in vain; if indeed it was in vain?"
      Apparently, the Galatians had (perhaps when Paul was among them) suffered for the principle of faith (probably at the hands of legalistic Christians). Does their departure from the principle of faith mean that this past suffering was in vain?
      And we KNOW that Paul did suffer persecution in this region.
      Acts 14 makes it clear that Paul and his companions were persecuted vigorously (Paul even being stoned and left for dead) by the Jews when they were among the cities of Galatia.
      Surely some of this persecution spilled over to the Christian congregations Paul left behind in Galatia.
      Paul wonders if all the gifts of the Spirit they had received would amount to no lasting value because now they try to walk by law, not by faith.
      Verse 5 tells us Paul asks them to examine the source of the Spirit's work.
      "Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"
      He who supplies the Spirit to you.
      Who supplies the Holy Spirit?
      Obviously, the Spirit is given as a gift from God.
      Does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
      God supplies the Holy Spirit in response to faith. Miracles are wrought by faith. Yet the Galatians have been deceived into thinking that real spiritual riches lie in pursuing God through a works relationship.
      We notice Paul repeats the phrase from Galatians 3:2, because he wants to emphasize there is a "choice" to be made to the Galatians and to us today.
      Which will it be?
      Do you believe you will be blessed by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
      Will you earn and deserve your blessing from God, or will you believe and receive it?
      Paul is speaking to those who see "lack" of blessing.
      Not from a lack of devotion, not because they have not earned enough; but because they are not putting their faith, their joyful, confident expectation in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
      This speaks to those who are wonderfully blessed.
      For them to be proud is to be blind. They have not earned their blessing, why should they take pride in it? All the more they should look to Jesus, and put their expectation in Him.
      Paul points them to Abraham: an example of those justified and walking by faith.
      Verse 6 tells how Abraham was made righteous before God.
      "Just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
      Among the Galatian Christians, the push towards a works-based relationship with God came from certain Christians who were born as Jews, and who claimed Abraham as their spiritual ancestor. Therefore, Paul uses Abraham as an example of being right before God by faith, not by faith plus works.
      Galatians 3:5 ended with a question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit and see miracles among you by the work of the law, or by faith?
      Paul assumes the answer, being "Of course we received the Holy Spirit and have seen miracles through faith."
      Now Paul will show that it is more than a matter of personal experience; God's work revealed in His Word demonstrates the same truth.
      Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness...
      Paul quotes here from Genesis 15:6. It simply shows that righteousness was accounted to Abraham because he "believed" God. It was NOT because he performed some work, and certainly NOT because he was circumcised, because the covenant of circumcision had not yet been given.
      Genesis 15:1-6 shows that when Abraham put his trust in God, specifically in God's promise to give him children that would eventually bring forth the Messiah, God credited this belief to Abraham's account as righteousness.
      There are essentially two types of righteousness...
      1. Righteousness we accomplish by our "own" efforts.
      2. Righteousness accounted to us by the work of God when we believe.
      Since none of us can be good enough to accomplish perfect righteousness, we must have God's righteousness accounted to us by doing just what Abram did: Abraham believed God.
      And for those who say true grace and true salvation is only found in the New Testament, this quotation from Genesis 15:6 is one of the "clearest" expressions in the Bible of the truth of salvation by grace, through faith alone.
      It is the gospel in the Old Testament, quoted four times in the New Testament (Romans 4:3, Romans 4:9-10, Romans 4:22 and here in Galatians 3:6).
      Romans 4:9-10 makes much of the fact this righteousness was accounted to Abraham before he was circumcised (Genesis 17).
      So "knowing" Bible history and Bible timelines, helps us to "know" the truth, no one could say Abraham was made righteous because of his obedience or fulfillment of religious law or ritual. The Mosiac law and covenant with Moses had not come yet.
      It was faith and faith alone that caused God to account Abraham as righteous.
      Accounted to him for righteousness...
      Abraham's experience shows that God accounts us as righteous, because of what Jesus did for us, as we receive what He did for us by faith.
      If God accounts Abraham as righteous, then that is how Abraham should account himself. That is his standing before God, and God's accounting is not pretending. God does not account to us a pretended righteousness, but a real one in Jesus Christ.
      Believed God...
      It was not that Abraham believed in God (as we usually speak of believing in God).
      Instead, it was that Abraham believed God.
      Is there a difference?
      James 2:19 tells us that those who only believe in God, in the sense that they believe He exists, are only as spiritual as demons!
      Generally speaking, ancient Rabbis did not really admire Abraham's faith. They believed he was so loved by God because he was thought to have "kept the law" hundreds of year before it was given. For these and other reasons, when Paul brought up Abraham, it would have been a complete surprise to his opponents, who believed that Abraham proved their point.
      Verse 7 tells us the "true" sons of Abraham.
      "Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham."
      Paul is making an important point, and he wants everyone of his readers to understand it.
      Only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham...
      Since Abraham was made righteous by faith, and not by works, Abraham is therefore the father of everyone who believes God and is accounted righteous.
      What a rebuke this was to the Jewish Christians who tried to bring Gentile Christians under the law!
      As we studied in Galatians 2, they believed they were superior, because they descended from Abraham, and observed the law. Paul says that the most important link to Abraham is not the link of genetics, not the link of works, but the link of faith.
      This would have been a shocking change of thinking for these particular opponents of Paul.
      1. They deeply believed that they had a standing before God because they were genetically descended from Abraham.
      2. At that time, then and now, some Jewish Rabbis taught that Abraham stood at the gates of Hell, just to make sure that none of his Jewish descendants accidentally slipped by.
      3. In Matthew 3:9, John the Baptist, dealt with this same thinking when he said do not think to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father." For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones."
      Paul is knocking down their blind reliance on genetic relation to Abraham, and showing that what really matters is faith in Jesus Christ alone to save.
      But is it not the same today when people WRONGLY believe and claim God accepts them because they come from a Christian family. God is a Father, not a grandfather; everyone must individually choose him. Every person must have their own faith in God through Jesus Christ alone.
      What a comfort this was to the Gentile Christians who were regarded as "second class Christians" by many! Now they could know that they had a REAL, important link to Abraham, and could consider themselves sons of Abraham.
      Sadly, Christians have taken this glorious truth and misapplied it through the centuries. This has been a verse that many claim in support of REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY- the idea that God is finished with the people of Israel as a nation or a distinct ethnic group, and that the Church spiritually inherits all the promises made to Israel.
      Replacement theology has done tremendous damage in the Church, providing the theological fuel for the fires of horrible persecution of the Jews.
      REMEMBER...Romans 11:25 (hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in) states clearly that God is NOT finished with Israel as a nation or a distinct ethnic group. Even though God has turned the focus of His saving mercies away from Israel on to the Gentiles, He will turn it back again. This simple passage REFUTES those who insist that God is forever done with Israel as Israel, and that the Church is the New Israel and inherits every promise ever made to national and ethnic Israel of the Old Testament.
      We are reminded of the enduring character of the promises made to national and ethnic Israel (such as Genesis 13:15 and Genesis 17:7-8).
      God is not "finished" with Israel, and Israel is not "spiritualized" as the church. While we do see and rejoice in a continuity of God's work throughout all His people through all generations, we still see a distinction between Israel and the Church - a distinction that Paul understands well.
      All who put their faith in Jesus Christ are sons of Abraham; but Abraham has his spiritual sons and his genetic sons, and God has a plan and a place for BOTH.
      But no one can deny that it is far more important to be a spiritual son of Abraham than a genetic son.
      Verses 8-9 tells us this blessing of righteousness by faith is for ALL nations.
      "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham."
      Paul is speaking from the Scriptures. He has already spoken from his personal experience, and from the experience of the Galatian Christians themselves. But this passage is even more important, because it shows how Paul's teaching is correct according to the Bible itself.
      It would have been just fine for Paul's opponents to say, "Experiences are just fine Paul, but show us from the Scriptures."
      Paul refers to the Scriptures virtually as a person, who foresees, preaches, and says. This shows just how strongly Paul regarded the Bible as God's word. Paul believed that when the Scriptures speak, God speaks.
      Foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith...
      Paul observes that even back in Abraham's day it was clear that this blessing of righteousness by faith was intended for every nation, for Gentiles as well as Jews, because God pronounced "that in you all the nations shall be blessed", in Genesis 12:3.
      The intention is to DESTROY the idea that a Gentile must FIRST become a Jew before they can become a Christian. If that were necessary, God would never have said this blessing would extend to every nation, because Gentiles would have had to become part of the Israelite nation to be saved.
      The idea is that the gospel goes out to the nations, not that the nations come and assimilate into Israel.
      Those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham...
      The blessing we receive with believing Abraham is not the blessing of fantastic wealth and power, that SO MANY PROSPERITY PREACHERS FALSELY TEACH, though Abraham was extremely wealthy and powerful. The blessing is something far more precious: the blessing of a right standing with God through faith.
      The most important questions to ask is, "Am I of faith?" Do I believe God even as Abraham did? When God says it, do I believe it? Do I live as if I really believe God is true? Can others see that I am trusting God?
      Verse 10 tells us the Old Testament tells us that the Law of Moses BRINGS A CURSE.
      "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them."
      Paul is addressing those who think that their law-performance can give them a standing before God.
      For as many as are under the works of the law are UNDER THE CURSE...
      The Christians from a Jewish background who believed we should still live UNDER the Law of Moses thought that it was a path TO BLESSING. Paul boldly declares that instead of blessing, living under the works of the law puts them under the curse.
      It is NOT hard to see how these Christians believed that living under law brought blessing. They could read in the Old Testament many passages that supported this thinking.
      Psalm 119:1 says, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD!"
      Psalm 1:1-2 says, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night."
      How does the law bring blessing?
      FIRST, we must understand that the word "law" is used in TWO senses in the Bible.
      1. Sometimes it means "the Law of Moses, with all its commands, which a man must obey to be approved by God."
      2. Sometimes it means "God's Word" in a very general sense.
      Many times when the Old Testament speaks of the law, it speaks of it in the general sense of God's Word to us.
      Psalm 119:97 says, " Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day."
      David means MORE than just the Law of Moses. He means ALL of God's Word.
      Seeing this, we understand how the Bible is filled with praise for the law.
      Secondly, we are blessed when we keep the law because we are living according to the "instruction manual" for life.
      There is an inherent, built-in blessing in living the way God says we should live, in fulfilling the "manufacturer's recommendation."
      When Paul says that as are under the works of the law are under the curse, he DOES NOT mean that the law is bad or the Word of God is wrong. He simply means that God never intended the law to be the way we find our approval before Him.
      GOD KNEW we could NEVER keep the law perfectly from first breath to last breath, and so God instituted the system of atoning sacrifice along with the law. And the entire sacrificial system looked forward to what Jesus would accomplish and fulfill on the cross FOR us.
      To prove his point Scripturally, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them."
      The Old Testament itself shows us that if we do NOT keep ALL things in the law, and actually do them PERFECTLY ALL THE TIME, then we are under a curse.
      The important words are ALL and DO.
      If God would approve you on the basis of the law, you first have to do it.
      Not simply know it, not simply love it, not simply teach it, not simply want it, you must do it.
      Secondly, you have to do it all. Not some. Not just when you are over 18 or 40. Not just more good than bad.
      Deuteronomy 27:26 specifically says that to be justified by the law, you must do it, and do it in all things.
      Paul's point is heavy; it weighs us down with a curse. If you are under the works of the law, the only way you can stand approved and blessed before God by the law is to do it, and to do it all. If you do not, you are cursed.
      "Cursed" is a word that sounds strange in our ears.
      But in the Bible, the idea of being "cursed" is important, and frightening - because we are talking about being cursed by God.
      Not only cursed by our own bad choices.
      Not only cursed by this wicked world.
      Not only cursed by the Devil.
      But especially cursed by God. He is the one Person you do NOT want to be cursed by!
      Verse 11 tells us the Old Testament tells us that a right standing before God comes by faith, not by the law.
      "But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith."
      Paul has already proven this point in the Scriptures by examining the life of Abraham (Galatians 3:5-9).
      Now he brings in another passage from the Old Testament, Habakkuk 2:4, which reminds us that "The just live by faith, not by law."
      The Jews themselves sensed that because none could keep it perfectly, salvation could not come through keeping the law. This is why they placed such emphasis on their descent from Abraham, essentially trusting in Abraham's merits to save them because they sensed that their own merits could not.
      This brief statement from the prophet Habakkuk is one of the MOST important, and most quoted Old Testament statements in the New Testament. Paul uses it here to show that the just live by faith, not by law. Being under the law is not the way to be found just before God, only living by faith is.
      If you are found to be just - approved - before God, you have done it by a life of faith. If your life is all about living under the law, then God does not find you approved.
      Every word in Habakkuk 2:4 is important, and the Lord Jesus quotes it three times in the New Testament just to bring out the fullness of the meaning!
      In Romans 1:17, when Paul quotes this same passage from Habakkuk 2:4, the emphasis is on faith: "The just shall live by faith."
      In Hebrews 10:38, when the writer to the Hebrews quotes this same passage from Habakkuk 2:4, the emphasis is on live: "The just shall live by faith."
      Here in Galatians 3:11, when Paul quotes this passage from Habakkuk 2:4, the emphasis is on just: "The just shall live by faith."
      Verse 12 tells us the Old Testament tells us that approval by God through the law must be earned by actually living in obedience to the law, not just trying.
      Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them."
      Yet the law is not of faith...
      Some might come back to Paul and say, "Look, I will do the best I can under the law and let faith cover the rest. God will look at my performance, my effort, and my good intentions and credit to me as righteousness. The important thing is that I am really trying."
      Paul proves from the Old Testament itself that this simply is not good enough. No; the paths of approval by the law and faith do not run together, because the law is NOT of faith.
      The man who does them shall live by them...
      This quote from Leviticus 18:5 is clear. If you want to live by the law, you must do it. Not try to do it, not intend to do it, and not even want to do it. No, it is only the man who does them who shall live by them.
      It is very easy to comfort ourselves with our GOOD intentions.
      We all mean very well; but if we want to find our place before God by our works under the law, good intentions are NEVER enough. A good effort is not enough. Only actual performance will do.
      70% of Americans believe, "God is too good to send anyone to Hell. Of course, we all go to Heaven when we die."
      Partially true...Almighty God does NOT send ANYONE to Hell. People CHOOSE an eternity in the Lake of Fire when they REJECT THE PRECIOUS GOODNESS OF A LOVING ALMIGHTY GOD...given to ALL mankind by His Son, Jesus Christ.
      This passage from Leviticus 18:5 is another often-quoted principle from the Old Testament.
      Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:29) quoted it in his great prayer for Israel.
      The LORD Himself quoted it through the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 20:11, 13, and 21).
      Paul also quotes it again in Romans 10:5.
      The effect of Paul's use of Scripture in Galatians 3:10-12 is overwhelming.
      1. We understand that we do not actually do the law.
      2. We understand that we do not actually do all the law.
      3. We understand that this put us under a curse.
      Galatians 3:10-12 is the BAD news; now Paul begins to explain the GOOD news.
      Verses 13-14 tells us Jesus redeems us from the curse of the law.
      "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
      Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law...
      Because we did not actually do it, and do it all, the law put us under a curse. But now Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law.
      Redeemed is not just rescuing; it is paying a price to rescue. Jesus BOUGHT us out from under the curse of the law.
      In Jesus, we are NOT cursed anymore! Galatians 3:10-12 left us all under a curse, but we are not cursed any more because Jesus bought us out from under the curse.
      Redemption points to the payment of a price that sets sinners free.
      DID YOU KNOW...
      Redemption came from the practices of ancient warfare.
      After a battle the victors would often capture some of the defeated. Among the defeated, the poorer ones would usually be sold as slaves, but the wealthy and important men, the men who mattered in their own country, would be held to ransom. When the people in their homeland had raised the required price, they would pay it to the victors and the captives would be set free. The process was called "redemption", and the price was called the "ransom".
      Most importantly, Jesus bought us out of defeat, out of slavery, and out of a death sentence to reign as kings and priests with Him forever.
      How did Jesus do it?
      How did He pay a price to rescue us?
      Having become a curse for us means that Jesus became cursed on our behalf; He stood in our place and took the curse we deserved.
      It stops us in our tracks to understand that the price He paid to buy us out from under the curse of the law was the price of Himself.
      It did not just cost Jesus something, even something great - it cost Jesus Himself.
      We know that men cursed Jesus as He hung on the cross; but that compares NOTHING to how He was cursed by God the Father. He made Himself the target of the curse, and set those who believe outside the target.
      For it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree."
      When did Jesus pay this price?
      The principle of Deuteronomy 21:23 shows that Jesus received this curse upon Himself as He hung on the cross, fulfilling the Deuteronomy 21:23 promise of a curse to all who are not only executed but have their naked bodies publicly exposed to shame.
      Deuteronomy 21:23 also says "his body shall not remain overnight on the tree."
      This was a way of tempering even the most severe judgment with mercy. Significantly, Jesus fulfilled this also, being taken down from the cross before night had fully come in John 19:31-33.
      Cursed is everyone...
      The punishment of being hanged on a tree, and left to open exposure, was thought to be so severe that it was reserved only for those for which is was to be declared: "this one is cursed by God." So Jesus not only died in our place; but He took the place as the cursed of God, being hung on a "tree" in open public, naked, shame and degradation.
      That the blessing of Abraham might come...
      Jesus received this curse, which we deserved and He did not, so that we could receive the blessing of Abraham, which He deserved and we did not!
      It would be enough if Jesus simply took away the curse we deserved. But He did far more than that; He also gave a blessing that we did NOT deserve!
      What is the blessing of Abraham?
      It is what Paul already described in Galatians 3:8-9, the blessing of being justified before God by faith, instead of works.
      Who does the blessing of Abraham come to?
      The Gentiles in Christ Jesus.
      Paul does NOT mean that it only comes upon Gentiles, as if Jews were excluded, but that it - quite unexpectedly to some - comes upon the Gentiles ALSO, to those Gentiles in Christ Jesus.
      The phrase "in Christ Jesus" is important.
      The blessing does NOT come because they are Gentiles, any more than the blessing of being right with God comes to Jewish people because they are Jews.
      It comes to ALL, Jew and Gentile alike, who are identified IN Christ Jesus, and not by their own attempts to justify themselves.
      Because this blessing is ours in Jesus, we receive the promise of the Spirit through faith - not through coming back under the law as the principle for living.
      The promise is received, NOT earned.
      Verses 15-18 tells us The unchanging nature of God's covenant with Abraham.
      "Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise."
      But we should NOT miss the FIRST word of Galatians 3:15:
      As difficult and dangerous as Paul's opponents in Galatia were, they were also his brothers. He confronts them and persuades them as brothers.
      In Genesis 22:18, God promised Abraham that in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Paul observes that the singular for seed is used, not the plural. The point is clear: "And to your Seed," who is Christ. God is referring to one specific descendant of Abraham, NOT ALL his descendants in general.
      This covenant and promise was made not only to Abraham, but also to Jesus the Messiah.
      So we can not think that it was over-ruled by the covenant God later established with Israel at Sinai.
      The unchanging nature of God's covenant with Abraham is an important principle.
      1. It was a one-sided covenant (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15)
      2. It was promised forever (Genesis 17:7-8).
      3. There is no "if" in Abraham's covenant (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15); but there are plenty of "ifs" in the covenant of Moses (Deuteronomy 28).
      The Mosaic covenant was a two-sided covenant, with two both parties obligated to uphold it, not a one-sided covenant (Exodus 24:3-8).
      This means that it was a promise of:
      1. A land (Genesis 12:1; 13:7; 15:18-21).
      2. A nation (Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 17:4-6; 22:17).
      3. A blessing (Genesis 12:2-3; 22:18) stands eternally to Abraham and his descendants, though spiritually the promise of a blessing comes to every nation through Jesus, by faith.
      For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise...
      God gave it to Abraham by promise...
      The word "gave" here is the Greek word "kecharistai", which is based on the Greek word "charis" - grace.
      God's giving to Abraham was the free giving of grace. The word is also in the perfect tense, showing that the gift is permanent.
      Through all this, Paul demonstrates again by the Scriptures that the approach to God on the ground of faith (not works or works plus faith) is thoroughly Biblical. In addition, the Law of Moses, even though it came AFTER the covenant with Abraham, it now way overrules it. The approach to God on the ground of faith stands sure, right along with Abraham's covenant.
      Verses 19-21 tells us the law was given because of man's transgression.
      "What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law."
      What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions.
      1. Part of the reason the law was given was to restrain the transgression of men through clearly revealing God's holy standard. God had to give us His standard so we would not destroy ourselves before the Messiah came.
      2. But the law is also added because of transgressions in another way; the law also excites man's innate rebellion through revealing a standard, showing us more clearly our need for salvation in Jesus (Romans 7:5-8).
      Till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made...
      So as the Law was meant to prepare us for the work of the Messiah, it was given till the Seed (Jesus) should come.
      It is NOT that the Law of Moses is revoked when Jesus came.
      Matthew 5:17 says, "Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law, not destroy it."
      Instead, the Law of Moses is not longer our ground of approaching God.
      It was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator...
      According to ancient traditions - true traditions, according to Paul - the Law was delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai by the hands of angels. Angels were the "go-between" or mediator for Moses when he received the Law from God.
      Moses NEEDED a mediator between himself and God, but we do NOT need a mediator between us and Jesus - Jesus IS our mediator. The law was a two-party agreement brought by mediators. Salvation in Jesus by faith is received by a promise.
      A promise depends on one person; a mediated agreement depends on two.
      The weakness of the law compared to the covenant of Abraham is shown because it depends on two parties, not God alone.
      Is the law then against the promises of God?
      Certainly not! The law is not something evil, opposing God's promise. The problem with the law is found in its inability to give strength to those who desire to keep it. If the law could have given life, then it could have brought righteousness.
      But the Law of Moses brings no life; it simply states the command, tells us to keep it, and tells us the consequences if we break the command.
      Verse 22 tells us the picture of our imprisonment under sin.
      "But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."
      Paul paints a picture of imprisonment. The bars of the cell are sin, keeping us confined.
      The Scripture put us in the prison, because it pointed out our sinful condition. So we sit imprisoned by sin, and the law can not help us, because the law put us in the prison!
      Some protest, and say "I am not a prisoner to sin."
      There is a simple way to prove it: stop sinning.
      But if you can NOT stop sinning, or ever have a record of ANY sin, (be it thought, word, action, or deed) then you are imprisoned by the law of God.
      Only faith can break us out of our confinement to sin. The Law of Moses can show us clearly our problem and God's standard, but it can not give us the freedom that only Jesus can give. The freedom is given to those who believe.
      Verses 23-25 tells us the Law of Moses is our tutor, a guardian to bring us to Jesus.
      "But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
      Before we were saved by faith; before we lived our lives by faith, we were kept under guard by the law. Here, Paul uses a different word and a different idea than when he wrote the Scripture has confined all under sin in the previous verse.
      The idea behind confined is imprisonment; the idea behind under guard is protective custody. There is a sense in which we were imprisoned by our own sin under the law; but there is also another sense in which it guarded us in protective custody.
      How does the law protect us?
      1. It protects us by showing us God's heart.
      2. It protects us by showing us the best way to live.
      3. It protects us by showing what should be approved and disapproved among men.
      4. It protects us by providing a foundation for civil law.
      In these ways and more, we were kept under guard by the law.
      The Law of Moses prepares us to come to Jesus by the way it reveals God's character and the way it exposes our sin.
      Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
      The purpose of the Law of Moses is fulfilled when we stop trying to justify ourselves and come to faith in Jesus!
      But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor...
      Once we have come to a relationship of faith, we no longer have to live under our tutor, though we remember the behavior he has taught us. So we respect our tutor, the law; but we do not live under him. We live under Jesus by faith!
      "Tutor" is not a completely accurate translation of the idea of the ancient Greek word "paidagogos".
      The paidagogos did not simply teach a child. More than that, the tutor was the child's guardian, watching over the child and his behavior. The idea is more of a nanny than of a teacher, but since the tutor could discipline the child, the tutor was also the "dean of discipline."
      Verses 26-27 tells us By faith, we find our identity with Jesus Christ.
      "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
      For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus...
      Compared to what was being taught among the Galatians, this was a revolutionary statement.
      In traditional Jewish thinking (carried into Christianity by Jewish Christians), your standing before God was measured by your obedience to the law. To truly be close to God - considered sons of God - you had to be extremely observant of the law, just as the Scribes and Pharisees were in Matthew 23.
      Here, Paul says we can be considered sons of God a completely different way: through faith in Christ Jesus.
      1. The standing is impressive.
      To be among the sons of God means that we have a special relationship with God as a loving, caring Father. It is a place of closeness, a place of affection, a place of special care and attention.
      2. The method is impressive.
      To become a son of God through faith in Christ Jesus means much more than believing that He exists or did certain things. It is to put our trust in Him, both for now and eternity.
      For as many of you as were baptized into Christ...
      Here, using the picture of baptism, Paul illustrates what it means to have faith in Christ Jesus. He does not say we were baptized into water, but baptized into Christ. Just as in water baptism a person is immersed in water, so when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, we are immersed in Jesus.
      How many Christians seem content with just "dipping a bit" into Jesus!
      God wants us to be fully immersed in Jesus; not sprinkled, not just a part of us dipped.
      When a person is immersed in water, you do not even see the person much anymore - you mostly see the water.
      When we live as baptized into Christ, you do not see so much of "me" anymore; you mostly see Jesus.
      It should be stressed that this is the baptism that really saves us: our immersion into Jesus.
      Water baptism does not save. Salvation does NOT depend on water baptism, but we do it to announce publicly that we CHOOSE Jesus.
      If a person has been baptized into Christ, then they should follow through and do what Jesus told them to do: receive baptism as a demonstration of their commitment to Jesus told to us in Matthew 28:19-20.
      Have put on Christ...
      Another way of expressing our immersion in Jesus is to say that we have put on Christ. In the original language, the phrase has the idea of putting on a suit of clothes. So we "clothe ourselves" with Jesus as our identity.
      We are NOT simply associated with Jesus; we are identified IN Him.
      1. If He is a Son of God, so are we.
      2. If He stands righteous before God the Father, so do we.
      3. If He has free access to the throne of God, so do we.
      4. If He has victory over spiritual powers of darkness, so do we.
      We are NOT associated with Jesus; we are IN Jesus.
      Verses 28-29 tells us our EQUAL standing with others who come to God through faith.
      "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
      Paul writes, "In Jesus Christ that line is done away with. When we are in Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Greek."
      There is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
      The dividing line between Jew and Greek is not the only dividing line erased.
      Regarding our standing before God in Jesus, EVERY dividing line is erased! Now that Jesus is our identity, that is more important than any prior identity we possessed. We are all one in Christ Jesus.
      BARCLAY tell us, "At that time, the Rabbis quoted a morning prayer that was popular among many Jews of that day. In that prayer, the Jewish man would thank God that he was not born a Gentile, a slave, or a woman."
      Paul takes EACH of these categories and shows them to be EQUAL in Jesus.
      Paul knew that there was still a difference between Jew and Greek, and his evangelistic approach might differ to each group. There are differences in role and in function, but NONE in standing before God through faith in Jesus.
      You are ALL one in Christ Jesus.
      Since all Christians belong to Jesus the Messiah, all Christians are spiritual descendants of Abraham and heirs of God. This place of high privilege comes according to the promise, not according to law or works. We are connected with the long line of God's people assembled throughout all the ages!
      Paul has reinforced this principle throughout this section by his repeating of the title Christ for Jesus (used 10 times in the last 17 verses). When Paul refers to Jesus as Christ, he emphasizes Jesus' role as the promised Messiah of the Jewish people - and of all the world, as Paul emphasizes.
      This IS the issue...If you are Christ's.
      The issue is NOT "Are you under the law?"
      The issue is NOT "Are you a Jew or a Gentile?"
      The issue is NOT "Are you slave or free?"
      The issue is NOT "Are you a man or a woman?"
      The ONLY issue is if you are Christ's.
      If we are Christ's, then …
      1. We find our place in eternity, because we are sons and daughters of God.
      2. We find our place in society, because we are brothers and sisters in the family of God.
      3. We find our place in history, because we are part of God's plan of the ages, related spiritually to Abraham by our faith in Jesus.
      - In its height, it connects us to God.
      - In its breadth, it connects us with each other in Jesus.
      - In its length in connects us with the long line of God's people throughout all ages.
      STOTT encapsulates GALATIANS 3 well. "It enables me to answer the most basic of all human questions, 'Who am I?' and to say, 'In Christ I am a son of God. In Christ I am united to all the redeemed people of God, past, present, and future. In Christ I discover my identity. In Christ I find my feet. In Christ I come home."

    • July 6, 2016 5:30 PM EDT
      Verses 1-3 tells us an illustration and application comparing a child and slave.
      "Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world."
      The heir, as long as he is a child...
      WE KNOW the word "child" has the idea of a minor. It does NOT suggest a specific age, but someone who is not yet legally recognized as an adult.
      WE KNOW TOO, In both Jewish and Greek cultures, there were definite "coming of age" ceremonies, where a boy stopped being a child and started being a man, with legal rights as an heir.
      In the Roman custom, there was no specific age when the son became a man. It happened when the father thought the boy was ready, when he thought the time was right. When Paul uses the phrase until the time appointed by the father, he shows that he has the Roman "coming of age" custom more in mind than the Jewish custom.
      BOICE tells us, "A Roman child became an adult at the sacred family festival known as the Liberalia, held annually on the seventeenth of March. At this time the child was formally adopted by the father as his acknowledged son and heir and received the toga virilis in place of the toga praetexta which he had previously worn."
      BARCLAY tells us, "There was a Roman custom that on the day a boy or a girl grew up, the boy offered his ball, and the girl her doll, to Apollo to show that they had put away childish things."
      As long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all...
      Think of a wealthy ancient household, with a young boy who is destined to inherit all that his father has. When the boy is just a child, he actually has less day-to-day freedom and authority than a high ranking slave in the household. Yet, he is destined to inherit everything, and the slave is not.
      Even so...
      Now Paul gives the comparison to our own spiritual condition.
      1. We are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).
      2. We are heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29).
      3. The law was our guardian (Galatians 3:24-25), to watch over us when we were still "children." The law's effect on our corrupt nature was to bring us into bondage under the elements of the world.
      Elements of the world...
      Paul uses an interesting phrase here.
      To describe it Paul uses the word "stoicheia".
      A "stocheion" was originally a line of things; for instance, it can mean a file of soldiers. But it came to mean the ABC, and then any elementary knowledge."
      The idea of the "ABC of the universe" is important.
      If there is any "ABC of the universe" (elementary principle) that we must break free from, and that is stressed in pagan religion just as much as Jewish law, it is the principle of cause and effect. Call it karma, call it "you get what you deserve," or whatever, it rules nature and the minds of men. We live under the idea that we get what we deserve; when we are good, we deserve to receive good; when we are bad, we deserve to receive bad.
      SO, Paul tells the Galatians to go beyond this "ABC of the universe" into an understanding of God's grace.
      Grace contradicts this "ABC of the universe," because under grace God does NOT deal with us on the basis of what we deserve.
      Our good can NOT justify us under grace; our bad need NOT condemn us.
      God's blessing and favor is GIVEN on a principle completely apart from the "ABC of the universe." His blessing and favor is given for reasons that are completely IN Him, and have nothing to do with us.
      MAKE NO MISTAKE...The "ABC of the universe" is NOT bad in itself. We do and must use it in life, and God has a proper place for it. But we must NOT base our relationship to God on this principle.
      God does NOT deal with us on the principle of earning and deserving.
      Because this is such an elementary principle, it is so hard for us to shake this kind of thinking. But it is ESSENTIAL if we will walk in grace. When we live on the principle of earning and deserving before God, we live in BONDAGE under the elements of the world.
      False teaching is according to these elemental principles, and not according to Jesus in Colossians 2:8.
      In Jesus, we die to the elemental principles of the world in Colossians 2:20.
      Verses 4-5 tells us the liberation of heirs from their bondage.
      "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."
      But when the fullness of time had come...The idea behind the phrase the fullness of time is "when the time was right." Jesus came at just the right time in God's redemptive plan, when the world was perfectly prepared for God's work.
      The time was also right because the 483 years prophesied by Daniel were drawing to a close in Daniel 9:24-26.
      God sent forth His Son, born of a woman...
      Jesus came not only as God's Son, but also as one born of a woman, born under law. The eternal Son of God in heaven added humanity to His deity and became a man, born of a woman, born under law.
      To redeem those who were under the law...
      Because Jesus is God, He has the power and the resources to redeem us.
      Because Jesus is man, He has the right and the ability to redeem us. He came to purchase us out of the slave market, from our bondage to sin and the elements of the world.
      That we might receive the adoption as sons...
      It would be enough that we are purchased out of the slave market. But God's work for us does NOT end there; we are then elevated to the place of sons and daughters of God by adoption!
      Are we all children of God? Yes and no. Every human being is a child of God in the sense of being His offspring (Acts 17:28-29).
      Genesis tells us ALL mankind was created in His image.
      Yet NOT every human being is a child of God in the sense of this close, adoptive relationship Paul writes of here.
      In this sense, there are children of God and children of the devil, told to us in John 8:44.
      Paul probably has in mind the Roman custom of "adoption", where adopted sons were given absolutely equal privileges in the family and equal status as heirs.
      There is a sense in which this is a totally unnecessary blessing that God has given in the course of salvation, and a demonstration of His true and deep love for us. We can picture someone helping or saving someone, but not going so far as to make them a part of the family - but this is what God has done for us.
      We receive the adoption of sons; we do not recover it.
      In this sense, we gain something in Jesus that is FAR GREATER than what Adam ever possessed. Adam was never adopted as a son of God in the way believers are. So we are mistaken when we think of redemption as merely a restoration of what was lost with Adam. We are granted more in Jesus than Adam ever had.
      Verses 6-7 tells us celebrating our sonship.
      "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
      Because you are sons … "Abba, Father!" It is fitting that those who are in fact sons have the Spirit of the Son in their hearts. This gives us both the right and the ability to cry out "Daddy!" to God our Father, even as Jesus did to His Father.
      We have access to the same intimacy with God the Father that God the Son, Jesus Christ had. Jesus addressed God the Father as "Daddy" when He prayed, Abba, Father as recorded in Mark 14:36.
      We get to call God the Father, the Sovereign Lord of eternity, Daddy! It is possible to address God disrespectfully this way; but we should never deny ourselves the intimacy and affection that it expresses.
      Crying out, "Abba, Father!" We don't whisper "Daddy" as if we were hesitant to speak so affectionately. Instead, we cry it out!
      God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts...
      We know that we are the sons and daughters of God by the witness of the Holy Spirit within us. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:16: "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
      We also can NOT miss the way the truth of the Trinity is woven into the text...God the Father sends God the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of God the Son, into our hearts to give us an assurance that we are the sons and daughters of God.
      The Spirit of His Son...
      The Holy Spirit can be called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, or linked to God the Father. This is because the nature of God is consistent among the persons of the Trinity. Here, the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of His Son because the idea of our sonship is based on Jesus' sonship.
      Our sonship is based on who we are in Jesus, yet there are important distinctions between our sonship and Jesus' sonship.
      Jesus is the only begotten Son (John 3:16) making Him a Son by essential nature.
      We are adopted sons and daughters of God, made children by a legal decree of God.
      Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son...
      Sons are never slaves, and slaves are never sons in their father's house. Jesus illustrated this in the parable of the prodigal son, where the son was determined to return to his father as a slave - but the father refused, and would only receive him as a son.
      And if a son, then an heir...
      There is a beautiful progression. First we are set free from slavery. Then we are declared sons and adopted into God's family. Then, as sons, we are made heirs.
      Heirs inherit something, and what do we inherit? Paul makes it clear: an heir of God through Christ. We inherit God Himself.
      For some, this might seem like a paltry inheritance. But for those who are really in Christ, who really love God, to be an heir of God is the richest inheritance of all.
      Through Christ...
      1. Our release from slavery
      2. Our sonship
      3. The Spirit of Jesus in our hearts.
      4. Our status as heirs of God are all birthrights given to us in Jesus. We receive them through Christ. These are things we should be living in and enjoying every day of our Christian life.
      Verses 8-11 tells us there is a decision to make: A choice between living under the elements of the world or as a son and daughter of God.
      "But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain."
      Then, indeed, when you did not know God...
      The bondage is natural when we did not know God and when we served those things that are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is that you turn again: But why would someone who knows the true God, and has been set free, place themselves under bondage? This is what the Galatians are doing!
      Or rather are known by God...
      Paul makes an important point when he says "or rather are known by God"; it is REALLY FAR MORE important that God knows us (in the sense of an intimate, accepting relationship) than it is that we know God.
      Remember the terrible words of judgment in Matthew 7:21-23: "I never knew you."
      How is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements...
      In turning to LEGALISM=OUR OWN EARN BASED SALVATION, the Galatians were not turning to a new error, but coming back to an old one - the idea of a works relationship with God.
      As Christians, we can place ourselves under the bondage of a works based, "cause and effect" relationship with God - but this is moving backward, not forward. By writing turn again, Paul shows that the Galatians were not turning to a new error, but coming back to an old one - the idea of a works relationship with God.
      Weak and beggarly...
      These elements of the world are weak because they offer NO strength; they are beggarly because they bestow NO riches. All they can do is bring us again into bondage.
      You observe days and months and seasons and years...
      The false teachers among the Galatians DEMANDED the observance of days and months and seasons and years and other such legalistic matters acted as if this would lead them into a higher plane of spirituality. But all these weak and beggarly elements of legalism did was bring them BACK into bondage.
      Paul seems amazed that someone would turn from the liberty of Jesus to this kind of bondage.
      But legalism caters to and recognizes our flesh by putting the focus on what we achieve for God, not on what Jesus did for us.
      The liberty of Jesus gives us status as sons and a rich inheritance, but it WILL NOT cater to our flesh.
      ROBERTSON clarifies this, "Paul does not object to these observances for he kept them himself as a Jew. He objected to Gentiles taking them as a means of salvation."
      I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain...
      Paul's fear is that this attraction to legalism will mean that his work among the Galatians will amount to nothing and end up being in vain.
      Labored is literally "to labor to the point of exhaustion." Paul worked hard among the Galatians, just like he always worked hard (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul never thought that his gospel of free grace meant laziness in serving God.
      In vain...
      At the end of this section, Paul puts A CLEAR CHOICE before the Galatians, and before us. We can have a living, free, relationship with God as a loving Father based on what Jesus did for us and who we are in Him.
      Or we can try to please God by our best efforts of keeping the rules, the rituals, living in bondage as slaves, not sons. Living that way makes the whole gospel in vain.
      i. A good example of this is John Wesley. Before his conversion:
      - He was the son of a clergyman and a clergyman himself.
      - He was orthodox in belief, faithful in morality, and full of good works.
      - He did ministry in prisons, sweatshops, and slums.
      - He gave food, clothing, and education to slum children.
      - He observed both Saturday and Sunday as the Sabbath.
      - He sailed from England to the American colonies as a missionary.
      - He studied his Bible, prayed, fasted, and gave regularly.
      Yet all the time, he was bound in the chains of his own religious efforts, because he trusted in what he could do to make himself right before God instead of trusting in what Jesus had done.
      Later, he came to "trust in Christ, in Christ only for salvation," and came to an inner assurance that he was now forgiven, saved, and a son of God. Looking back on all his religious activity before he was truly saved, he said: "I had even then the faith of a servant, though not that of a son."
      Verse 12 tells us Paul appeals: "Become like me."
      "Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all."
      I urge you to become like me...
      For many of us and Bible commentators then and now, these are strange words from Paul. How could he ever urge them to become like him? Should he only point them to Jesus? In what way should the Galatian Christians become like Paul?
      Paul knew well that he WAS NOT sinlessly perfect. He WAS NOT standing before the Galatian Christians, saying "Look at how perfect I am. Do not worry about following Jesus, just follow me." He simply wanted them to follow him as he followed Jesus.
      Instead, Paul knew the Galatian Christians should imitate his consistency. The Galatians started out with the right understanding of the gospel, because Paul led them into the right understanding. But some of them did NOT STAY there like Paul did, and in that way, they should become like Paul.
      Paul knew the Galatian Christians should imitate his liberty. Paul was free in Jesus, and he wanted them to know the same freedom. In that way, they should become like Paul. Be as I am is an exhortation to the Galatians to become Christians in the same sense as Paul is a Christian, one who is not bound by the Jewish law.
      Can we say to others, "become like me"?
      If we can not, then why not?
      If Christianity is true, should not it be true in my life and your life? "All Christians should be able to say something like this, especially to unbelievers, namely that we are so satisfied with Jesus Christ, with His freedom, joy and salvation, that we want other people to become like us."
      For I became like you...
      Paul can say to the Galatian Christians, "When it comes to legalism, I know where you are at. I used to live my whole life trying to be accepted by God because of what I did. In that regard, I became like you and saw that it was a dead end. Take it from someone who knows where you are coming from."
      AND Paul may have ALSO had in mind the idea that he became as a Gentile when he was among them, according to the philosophy expressed in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. In this thinking, he became "One who lives free from the restrictions imposed by the law. This means he had thrown off his Jewish shackles and come to be like a Gentile; he beseeches his converts not to become like Jews."
      You have not injured me at all...
      Paul has used pretty strong words with the Galatians. It would be easy for them to think he spoke just out of a sense of personal hurt. Paul assures them that this WAS NOT the case at all. Paul wants them to get this right, but for their own sakes, NOT for his.
      We can REALLY feel Paul's heartfelt emotion in these verses.
      As Stott puts it, "In Galatians 1-3 we have been listening to Paul the apostle, Paul the theologian, Paul the defender of the faith; but now we are hearing Paul the man, Paul the pastor, Paul the passionate lover of souls."
      Verses 13-16 tells us Paul appeals: "Remember how you used to respond to me."
      "You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?"
      Apparently, Paul was compelled to travel into the region of Galatia because of some type of physical illness he suffered while on his first missionary journey. The book of Acts does NOT tell us as much about this as we would like to know, but we can piece together a few facts.
      According to Acts 13, Paul came to the region of Galatia - specifically, the city of Pisidian Antioch - from the city of Perga in the region of Pamphylia. We know a few things about Perga - first, it was the place where John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:13), and the trials related to the physical infirmity may have had something to do with it. Second, Perga was in a lowland, marshy area. The Galatian city of Pisidian Antioch was some 3,600 feet higher than Perga. It has been suggested that Paul's physical illness at that time was a type of malaria common to the lowlands of Perga. William Barclay describes this malaria as producing a terrible pain that was like "a red-hot bar thrust through the forehead."
      My trial that was in my flesh you did not despise or reject: Even though Paul was not a great example of strength and power because of his physical infirmity, the Galatians still received him, and they received him honorably. They embraced Paul so generously that they would have plucked out [their] own eyes and given them to Paul if that could somehow meet his need.
      This leads some to believe that Paul's physical infirmity had something to do with his eyes. Noted Greek scholars such as Wuest, Rendall, and Robertson believe that the nuances of the Greek text indicate that Paul's physical infirmity as an eye problem. Galatians 6:11 - where Paul makes reference to large letters written with his own hand - may also support this idea.
      But the real point here is that despite whatever Paul's infirmity was, the Galatians did not despise or reject him. "As physical infirmity and illness were regarded by Jews and Gentiles alike as a symbol of divine displeasure or punishment, there would have been a natural temptation for the Galatians to despise Paul and reject his message." (Fung) This is exactly what the Galatians did not do. Even though Paul seemed weak and afflicted, they embraced him and responded to his message of grace and God's love.
      Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? In light of the great love and honor the Galatians had shown towards Paul, and in light of the great blessing they received from God when they showed such to him, the Galatians should not think that Paul has now become their adversary when he confronts them with the truth. They needed the truth more than they needed to feel good about where they were at.
      Verses 17-18 tells us Paul appeals: "Beware of the affection the legalists show you."
      "They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you."
      They zealously court you, but for no good...
      Paul will admit that the legalists zealously court the Galatians; and legalism often comes wrapped in a cloak of "love." But the end result is for NOTHING good.
      Many cults then and now, use a technique informally known today as "love bombing." They overwhelm a prospective member with attention, support, and affection. But it is NOT really a sincere love for the prospect; it is really just a technique to gain another member. Christians - and legalistic groups among Christians - can WRONGLY use the same technique in some way or another.
      They want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them...
      Paul's legalistic opponents wanted to draw the Galatian Christians away into their own divisive group. They actually wanted to exclude the Galatians from other Christians, and to bring them into the "super-spiritual" group of the legalists.
      The zeal cultivated by legalism is often MORE ZEAL FOR THE GROUP, THE ORGANIZATION, THE RELIGIOSITY itself than for Jesus Christ. Though they name the name of Jesus, in practice the group itself is exalted as the main focus, and usually exalted as the last refuge of the true "super-Christians."
      Exclude is literally "lock you up." For now, the legalists are courting the Galatians, but once they have alienated them from Jesus and from Paul, the legalists will demand that the Galatians serve them. Legalism is almost always associated with some kind of religious bondage.
      It is good to be zealous in a good thing always...
      Paul certainly is NOT against zeal. He WANTS Christians to be zealous in a good thing always. But it is important to make sure that our zeal is in a good thing, because zeal in a bad thing is dangerous and destructive.
      The Galatian Christians were no doubt impressed by the zeal of the legalists. They were so sincere, so passionate about their beliefs. Paul will agree that it is good to be zealous - but only in a good thing always. Zeal in the service of a lie is a dangerous thing!
      AND WE KNOW Paul CERTAINLY knew this well, because before he became a Christian, he had plenty of zeal, even persecuting the church (Acts 7:58-8:4). Later, Paul looked back at that time of great zeal in the service of a lie and deeply regretted it (1 Corinthians 15:9, 1 Timothy 1:15).
      And not only when I am present with you...
      Paul wanted the Galatians to be zealous for JESUS CHRIST, and zealous for what is good when he was absent, not only when he was present among them.
      Verses 19-20 tells us Paul appeals: "I love you like a father, please listen to me."
      "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you."
      My little children...
      Paul rightly considers himself to be a father to the Galatians. Yet this challenge has made him feel as if he must bring them to Jesus all over again (for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you). Paul knew that his work of forming Christ in them was NOT complete until they STAYED in a place of trusting Jesus.
      AND HAVING STUDIED ROMANS, we remember the idea of Christ is formed in you is similar to the idea of Romans 8:29: "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son."
      It would be wrong for Paul to seek to form himself in the Galatians. That is NEVER to be the job of the pastor. He is right to seek to form Christ in them.
      Through this section, Paul masterfully mixes metaphors to give a powerful picture.
      1. Paul likens himself to a "mother" who gave spiritual "birth" to the Galatians (my little children).
      2. Something unnatural has happened - the Galatians are drifting away from Jesus and to the law. So Paul has to labor in birth again, and this is unnatural to have labor pains a second time.
      3. Paul has the labor pains, but Christ is formed in them. Paul will keep laboring until Jesus is formed in them!
      I would like to be present with you now and change my tone...
      Paul wished two things. First, that he could be present with the Galatians. But he also wished that he did not need to speak to them in such strong words, that he could change his tone. But their danger of leaving the true gospel has made such strong words necessary, and has made Paul's doubts necessary to address.
      This section, Galatians 4:12-20, shows us, gives us the PRINCIPLES for the attitude for people in the church toward their pastor.
      1. Their attitude must NOT be determined by his personal appearance or personality.
      2. Their attitude must NOT be determined by their own theological whims.
      3. Their attitude SHOULD be determined by his loyalty to the apostolic message in the Bible.
      This section, Galatians 4:12-20, shows us PRINCIPLES for the attitude for the pastor towards the people in his church.
      1. He must be willing to serve and sacrifice for his people.
      2. He must tell them the truth.
      3. He must love his people deeply, but never for a selfish motive.
      4. He must desire to see more than mere excitement, but zeal for good things of Jesus.
      5. He must desire to form Jesus in them, not himself in them.
      Using the Old Testament, Paul shows that the systems of grace and law CAN NOT EVER exist together as principles in our lives as Jesus loving Christians.
      Verse 21 tells us Paul will appeal to the law to those who claim the law.
      "Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?"
      Tell me, you who desire to be under the law...
      Now Paul writes directly, BOTH to those who PROMOTED legalism and to those who SUCCUMBED to legalism. He writes to those who desire to be under the law, living under law keeping as the basis for their relationship with God.
      Who would ever desire to be under the law?
      Many people.
      There are many advantages to being under the law as your principle of relating to God.
      First, you always have the outward certainty of a list of rules to keep.
      Second, you can compliment yourself because you keep the rules better than others do.
      Third, you can take the credit for your own salvation, because you earned it by keeping the list of rules.
      Under the law, it is what you do for God that makes you right before Him.
      Under the grace of God, it is what God has done for us in Jesus Christ that makes us right before Him.
      Under the law, the focus is on my performance.
      Under the grace of God, the focus is on who Jesus is and what He has done.
      Under the law, we find fig leaves to cover our nakedness.
      Under the grace of God, we receive the covering, won through sacrifice, that God provides.
      Do you not hear the law?
      Paul senses that he HAS NOT made his point yet, so he will now approach the matter with another illustration from the Old Testament.
      Essentially, Paul says "Let's have a Bible study. Open your Bibles to Genesis chapter 16."
      Paul took it for granted that his readers knew the Bible. He explains his point from the story of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah in Genesis 16 without a lot of detail from the story. He assumes that they knew the story.
      It is important that Paul refer back to the Scriptures again and again.
      The legalists among the Galatians presented themselves as the "back to the Bible" bunch.
      Yet Paul will show that they are not handling the Old Testament Scriptures correctly, and he will show that a true understanding of the Law of Moses will support the true gospel he preaches.
      Verses 22-23 tells us The Old Testament shows the CONTRAST between the two sons of Abraham: ISAAC and ISHMAEL.
      "For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise."
      The legalists who troubled the Galatians protested that they were children of Abraham, and therefore blessed. Paul will admit they are children of Abraham, but they forget that Abraham had two sons!
      The one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman...
      Abraham's first son was named Ishmael. He was born not from his wife, but from his wife's servant (the bondwoman), from a misguided surrogate mother scheme to "help God out" when it Abraham's wife Sarah could not become pregnant.
      The first contrast Paul draws between real Christianity and legalism is the contrast between freedom and slavery.
      One son of Abraham was born by a freewoman, and one was born by a bondwoman. Which son of Abraham illustrates your life with God?
      Born according to the flesh...
      Ishmael was Abraham's son, but he was the son according to the flesh and unbelief and trying to make your own way before God.
      It often does NOT look like it, but legalism is living according to the flesh. It denies God's promise and tries to make your own way to God through the law. This is living like a descendant of Abraham - but it is living like Ishmael.
      He of the freewoman through promise...
      Abraham's second son was named Isaac. He was born, miraculously, through Abraham's wife Sarah (the freewoman). Isaac was Abraham's son, and he was the son of God's promise and faith and God's miracle for Abraham.
      The second contrast Paul draws between Christianity and legalism is the contrast between a work done by God's promised miracle and a work done by the flesh.
      Paul asks, then and now, Is our relationship with God based on our own works, or the work of God's promised miracle?
      Verses 24-27 tells us the Old Testament shows the contrast between MOUNT SINAI and MOUNT ZION.
      "Which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar; for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children; but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband."
      Which things are symbolic...
      Paul wants it UNDERSTOOD that he speaks using pictures from the Old Testament. His reference to Hagar and Ishmael were pictures, meant to illustrate his point. Now he will bring in another picture.
      Paul was clearly guided by the Holy Spirit here. For us, we must be careful about reading allegorical or symbolic things into the Scriptures.
      For these are the two covenants...
      In the Bible, a covenant is a "contract" that sets the rules for our relationship with God. Paul brings it right down to the issues confronting the Galatian Christians. The legalists wanted them to relate to God under one set of rules, and Paul wanted them to relate to God under the "rules" presented by the gospel.
      IT IS IMPORTANT AND WORTH reminding ourselves of the extreme relevance of all this.
      Many people today look at the issues Paul is passionate about here and they just yawn. They say, "Paul, you are dealing with theological speculation. I have other problems. My marriage is in trouble. I can not pay my bills. I have a lot of personal problems. You would do me much more good by teaching me about those things than going on and on with your theology about being right with God." But Paul would respond, "The most important thing in your life is being right with God. If that is NOT right, than nothing else really matters. If that is right, God will bless you and teach you about your marriage, your money, and your personal problems. Regarding the solutions to our day-to-day problems, Jesus said seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." in Matthew 6:33.
      The one from Mount Sinai...
      One covenant is associated with Mount Sinai, the place where Moses received the Law in Exodus 19-20.
      1. This covenant gives birth to BONDAGE. Since it is all about what we MUST DO for God to be accepted by Him, it does NOT set us free. It puts us on a perpetual treadmill of having to PROVE ourselves and earn our way before God.
      2. This covenant is associated with Hagar, the "surrogate mother" who gave birth to Ishmael. It is therefore, if used wrongly, a covenant according to THE FLESH in Galatians 4:23.
      3. This covenant corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, that is, EARTHLY Jerusalem which was the capital of religious Judaism. This was the way most Jewish people in Paul's day tried to be right with God - by trusting in their ability to please God by keeping the law.
      Paul emphasizes the point again: this covenant is in bondage!
      But the Jerusalem ABOVE...
      The other covenant is associated with Jerusalem, with Mount Zion - but not the Mount Zion of this earth. Instead, it is associated with the Jerusalem above - God's own New Jerusalem in heaven.
      The third contrast Paul draws between Christianity and legalism is the contrast between heaven and earth.
      Is our relationship with God a matter of heaven coming down to earth, or is it like earth reaching up to heaven?
      The Jerusalem ABOVE IS FREE:
      Paul will now tell us more about the covenant represented by the HEAVENLY Jerusalem.
      This covenant brings freedom - it is free. It is free because it recognizes that Jesus paid the price, and we do NOT have to pay it ourselves.
      Paul is not talking about the Jerusalem in Palestine that was the chief city of the Jewish nation at that time, for that city was not free. It was under the rule of the Romans. But the spiritual or heavenly Jerusalem is not in bondage; it is free.
      Which is the mother of us all...
      This covenant has many children; it is the mother of us all. Every Christian through the centuries belongs to this NEW COVENANT, the covenant of the heavenly Jerusalem.
      And every birth under this covenant is a MIRACLE, like the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah 54:1, "Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Every one is born because of a miracle by God."
      The desolate has many more children...
      The quotation from Isaiah 54:1 also suggests that there will soon be more Christians that Jews - a promise that WAS fulfilled.
      The fourth contrast Paul draws between Christianity and legalism is the contrast between many more and many. The abundance and glory of the New Covenant is shown by the fact that it would soon have more followers than the Old Covenant.
      The "Ishmaels" - Legalism The "Isaacs" - True Christianity
      Slavery and bondage Freedom
      Ishmael: born according to the flesh Isaac: born by God's promised miracle
      Coming from the earthly Jerusalem...Coming from the heavenly Jerusalem
      Many children...Many more children
      Inheriting nothing...Inheriting everything
      Relationship based on law-keeping ...Relationship based on trusting God
      Verses 28-31 tells us Paul applies the contrasts between the TWO SYSTEMS.
      "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free."
      Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise...
      As Christians, we do NOT identify with Ishmael. We DO identify with Isaac, as children OF A PROMISE that was received BY faith.
      But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now...
      Ishmael and his descendants PERSECUTED Isaac and his descendants. So we should not be surprised that the modern day people who follow God in the flesh persecute those who follow God in faith through the promise.
      The fifth contrast Paul draws between Christianity and legalism is the contrast between PERSECUTED AND PERSECUTING.
      The legalists - represented by Ishmael - have ALWAYS persecuted true Christianity, represented by Isaac.
      As we walk in the glory, in the freedom, in the miraculous power of this New Covenant, we SHOULD expect to be mistreated by those who don't.
      There is NO specific mention of Ishmael persecuting Isaac, though Genesis 21:9 says that Ishmael did mock Isaac. Paul may be referring to this mocking, he may be recalling a Jewish tradition, or he may be adding something by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we did NOT know before.
      BOICE says it well, "The persecution Christians face "will not always be by the world but also and indeed more often by their half-brothers - the unbelieving but religious people in the nominal church. This is the lesson of history … Today the greatest enemies of the believing church are found among the members of the unbelieving church, the greatest opposition emanating from pulpits and church hierarchies."
      Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son"...
      The answer to this problem is clear, though NOT easy. We must cast out the bondwoman and her son. Law and grace CAN NOT live together as principles for our Christian life.
      1. Hagar and Sarah could NOT live together in the same house (Genesis 21:8-14). We could argue all day long whose fault it was, but that IS NOT the point.
      The point is that God told Abraham to send Hagar away.
      So also every Christian MUST send away the idea of relating to God on the principle of law, the principle of what we do for Him instead of what He has done for us in Jesus Christ.
      Significantly, Sarah COULD live with Hagar and Ishmael UNTIL the son of promise was born.
      But once Isaac was born, then Hagar and Ishmael had to go.
      In the same way, a person could relate to the law one way BEFORE the promise of the gospel was made clear in Jesus Christ. But now that it has been made clear, there is nothing to do but TO CAST OUT the bondwoman and her son.
      For the son of the bondwoman SHALL NOT be heir with the son of the freewoman...
      Ishmael was not necessarily a bad man, or a cursed man. But neither was he blessed with the promise of inheriting the glorious covenant of God given to Abraham and his descendants. That was the inheritance of one heir - Isaac, the son of the freewoman.
      The sixth contrast Paul draws between Christianity and legalism is the contrast between inheriting all and inheriting nothing.
      While the "Isaacs" of this world may be persecuted, they also have a glorious inheritance that the "Ishmaels" of this world will NEVER know. We are heirs of God through the principle of grace, not works!
      So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free...
      For Paul, one of the great issues in this was freedom. He knew the bondage of trying to earn his own way before God, because he lived that way for decades. Now he knew the freedom of living as a son of God, free in Jesus Christ.

    • July 6, 2016 5:27 PM EDT
      Verse 1 tells us Paul challenges the Galatians to walk in the truth he has presented.
      "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."
      STAND FAST...The fact is that Jesus has made us free. If we live in bondage to a legal relationship with God, it is NOT because God wills it. God PLEADS with us to take His strength and walk in that freedom, and to NOT be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
      Christ Jesus has made us free. We do NOT make ourselves free. Freedom is a GIFT of Jesus, given to us and received by faith. When we struggle to free ourselves, we just become more entangled with a yoke of bondage.
      THE LIBERTY...Today, people live in the headlong pursuit of "freedom," which they think of as doing WHATEVER they want to do, and NEVER denying any desire. This is a FALSE liberty. That is also SUBJECTIVE MORALITY. The liberty is our freedom FROM the tyranny of having to earn our own way to God, the freedom from sin and guilt and condemnation, freedom from the penalty and the power and eventually freedom from the presence of sin.
      Stand fast means that it takes EFFORT to stay in this place of liberty. Someone who is legally made free in Jesus can still live in bondage; they can be deceived into placing themselves back into slavery.
      Certain Jewish teachers of that day spoke of the Law of Moses as a yoke, but they used the term in a favorable light. Paul sees a legal relationship as a yoke, but it is a yoke of bondage. It is related to slavery, not liberty. This yoke of bondage does nothing but entangle us. We try hard to pull God's plow, but the yoke of bondage leaves us tangled, restricted, and frustrated.
      DID YOU KNOW...Jewish teachers ADDED 613 commandments to keep in the Law of Moses. They could NOT keep 10 that God gave Moses, so they added MORE...that is bondage, Amen?!
      Verses 2-4 tells us the DANGER of embracing the law as a way to walk with God.
      "Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace."
      When we embrace THE LAW as our rule of walking with God, we MUST LET GO of Jesus.
      JESUS is no longer our righteousness, we attempt to earn it ourselves. For the Galatians in this context, to receive circumcision - the ritual that testified that a Gentile was coming under the law - meant that he no longer trusted in Jesus as His righteousness, but trusted in himself instead. So Paul could say, Christ will profit you nothing.
      The legalists among the Galatians wanted them to think that they could have BOTH Jesus and a law-relationship with God. Paul tells them that this is NOT an option open to them - the system of grace and the system of law are incompatible.
      How tragic! Jesus, dying on the cross, pouring out His blood, His life, His soul, His agony, His love for us - and it will profit you nothing! Two men died with Jesus; for the one who put his trust in Jesus, it was eternal life. For the one who trusted in himself, it profited him nothing.
      Again, the legalists among the Galatians WANTED them to think they could observe some aspects of the law without coming under the entire law. But when we choose to walk by law, we must walk by the whole law.
      Why must we keep the whole law? Because if we come to God on the basis of our own law keeping, then our law-keeping must be perfect. No amount of obedience makes up for ONE ACT of disobedience.
      Does this mean that the mere act of being circumcised means that someone is under a legal relationship with God, and must keep the whole law for salvation?
      No! Paul is speaking to the Gentile Christians among the Galatians, who were being drawn to circumcision as adults, as evidence that they had come under the Law of Moses as the "first step" to salvation. We will later see that Paul does NOT care one way or another about circumcision (Galatians 5:6). What he detests is the THEOLOGY of circumcision as presented by the legalists.
      You have fallen from grace...
      When we embrace the law as our rule of walking with God, we depart from Jesus and His grace. We are then estranged from Christ, separated from Him and His saving grace.
      The danger of falling from grace is REAL, but it is often misunderstood. Most people think of "falling away" in terms of IMMORAL conduct, but we are NOT SAVED by our conduct. However, we ARE saved by our continuing reliance by faith on the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Someone may fall from grace and be damned without ever falling into grossly immoral conduct.
      BOICE says it well on "you have fallen from grace: "The phrase does not mean that if a Christian sins, he falls from grace and thereby loses his salvation. There is a sense in which to sin is to fall into grace, if one is repentant. But to fall from grace, as seen by this context, is to fall into legalism … Or to put it another way, to choose legalism is to relinquish grace as the principle by which one desires to be related to God."
      Literally, Paul writes, "you have fallen OUT OF grace," which is NOT the same as the colloquial English phrase "you have fallen FROM grace."
      Verses 5-6 tells us the ANSWER of faith to the legalist.
      "For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love."
      Those walking in the Spirit WAIT FOR righteousness by faith; they are not trying to earn it by performing good works. No one is a legalist through the Spirit.
      Those walking in the Spirit know that being circumcised or uncircumcised means NOTHING. What matters is faith working through love, both of which were conspicuously absent in the legalists.
      Each aspect of this verse is precious. It sets us in a place: IN JESUS CHRIST.
      IN OTHER WORDS...NONE is better, circumcised or uncircumcised. You ARE NOT WORSE if you circumcised or uncircumcised. The ONLY HARM is trusting is something that is completely irrelevant!
      FAITH working through love. You have faith? Wonderful; but it must be faith working through love. If your faith does NOT work, it IS NOT real faith. If it does NOT work through love, it is NOT real faith. But your love alone is NOT enough; your love must also have faith; an abiding trust in who Jesus is and what He did for us.
      Verses 7-12 tells us A FINAL confrontation.
      "You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!"
      YOU RAN WELL...Paul remembers their good start in the faith, but he also knows that it is NOT enough to start well - they are still in danger of falling from grace.
      WHO HINDERED YOU...Paul knows that the false teaching comes from a person (who hindered you); but it did NOT come from Jesus (This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you).
      At the root of it all, the Galatians were leaving Jesus to pursue the false and empty teachings of man, in this case legalism.
      A little leaven leavens the whole lump...
      The warning is driven home - the corrupting influence of legalism and other doctrines that diminish Jesus are like leaven in a lump of dough. A little bit soon corrupts the whole lump.
      In the Jewish way of thinking, leaven almost always stood for evil influence. Paul is saying that the legalistic commitment they have right now may be small, but it is so dangerous that it can corrupt everything.
      Wanting to leave the confrontation on a positive note, Paul expresses his confidence in the Galatians (which is really a confidence in the Lord who is able to keep them). Yet, Paul is equally confident that judgment awaits those who lead them astray and away from Jesus (he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is).
      AND WE REMEMBER TOO, Jesus' solemn warning against those who would lead one of these little ones astray (Matthew 18:6-7).
      The judgment is sure, whoever he is. "It does not matter who he is; he may be highly acclaimed in the community where he teaches, but if he is perverting the gospel he is a guilty person and his rank and reputation will not shield him from God's judgment.
      How could anyone accuse Paul of preaching circumcision? Probably because he asked Timothy to be circumcised (Acts 16:1-3). But Paul did NOT have Timothy circumcised so Timothy could be saved or "more saved." He did it so Timothy could more freely evangelize among unsaved Jewish people.
      Legalism CAN NOT handle the offense of the cross. The whole point of Jesus dying on the cross was to say, "You can NOT save yourself. You can not keep God's law perfectly. You will always sin. I must die in your place or you have absolutely no hope at all."
      When we trust in legalism, we believe that we can, at least in part, save ourselves. This takes away the offense of the cross, which should always offend the nature of fallen man. In this sense, the offense of the cross is really the glory of the cross, and legalism takes it away.
      I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! Finally, Paul wishes that those who demanded circumcision among the Gentiles would go all the way themselves, and amputate their genitalia altogether, not merely their foreskins.
      Sacred castration was known to citizens of the ancient world; it was frequently practiced by pagan priests in the cults in the region of Galatia. Paul's idea here is something like this: "If cutting will make you righteous, why NOT do like the pagan priests, go all the way and castrate yourself?"
      In writing this, Paul also wished that these legalists would be cut off from the congregation of the Lord as required by Deuteronomy 23:1: "He who is emasculated by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the assembly of the LORD."
      With such a dramatic conclusion to this point, Paul has made one thing clear: LEGALISM IS A HUGE DESTROYER.
      1. It takes away our liberty and puts us into bondage.
      2. It makes Jesus and His work of no profit to us.
      3. It puts us under obligation to the whole law.
      4. It violates the work of the Spirit of God.
      5. It makes us focus on things that are irrelevant.
      6. It keeps us from running the race Jesus set before us.
      7. It is not from Jesus.
      8. A little bit will infect an entire church.
      9. Those who promote it will face certain judgment, no matter who they are.
      10. Legalism tries to take away some of the glory of the cross.
      In light of how serious all this is, it is NO wonder that Paul says he wishes they would even cut themselves off!
      Verses 13-15 tells us using liberty to love each other
      "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!"
      Paul has made the point over and over again - the Christian life is a life of liberty. Jesus came to set the captives free, not to keep them in bondage or put them in bondage all over again. It is worth asking if people see us as people of freedom and liberty. Often, Christians are seen as people more bound up and hung up than anyone else is.
      The GREAT FEAR of the legalist is that liberty will always be used as an opportunity for the flesh. The idea is that people will just go out and sin as they please, then say to a spineless God, "I'm sorry, please forgive me," and then go on doing whatever they want again. Paul recognizes the danger of this attitude, so he warns against it here.
      How will they use their liberty?"
      Clearly, we can choose to use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh. That option - that danger - is open to us. We can take the glorious freedom Jesus has given us, spin it, and use it as a way to please ourselves at the expense of others. Because the context focuses on the way we treat one another, Paul has in mind using our freedom in a way that tramples on the toes of others.
      It is easy to think liberty is "the right to sin," or "the privilege to do whatever evil my heart wants to do." Instead, this liberty is the Spirit-given desire and ability to do what we should do before God.
      SERVE ONE ANOTHER...This is the antidote for using liberty as an occasion for the flesh. The flesh expects others to conform to us, and does not care much about others. But when we through love serve one another, we conquer the flesh. It is not through an obsessive, contemplative attitude of navel-gazing that we overcome the flesh, but by getting out and serving others.
      This is exactly the pattern set by Jesus. He had more liberty than anyone who ever walked this earth did. Yet He used His liberty to through love serve one another.
      For all the law is fulfilled...
      This attitude of service towards one another fulfills the great commandment (You shall love your neighbor as yourself), and it keeps us from destroying ourselves through strife (beware lest you be consumed by one another!). It is as if Paul addresses the legalists again, and says: "You want to keep the law? Here you have it! Love your neighbor as yourself and you have fulfilled the law in one word."
      What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?
      This simple idea has been twisted into the idea of setting self-love as the foundation for a healthy human personality. Instead the idea is that as we naturally take care of ourselves, we should also take care of others.
      A wonderful test of our spiritual state is simply how we treat other people. No matter what spiritual image or status we may have, God deeply cares about how we treat others. We want to make the measure how much we pray, how much of the Bible we know, how many things we "do not do." But the measure is how we treat our brothers and sisters in Jesus.
      Bite and devour one another sounds like a pack of wild animals! That is how the church can act when it is using its "liberty" as a platform to promote their own selfishness.
      If you want to see some fireworks, put two selfish people together. Selfish people will eventually be consumed by one another.
      Verses 16-18 tells us using liberty to walk in holy living.
      "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."
      Simply put, if we walk in the Spirit (instead of trying to live by the law), we naturally shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Again, the fear of the legalist - that walking in the Spirit gives license to sin, and that only legalism can keep us holy - is just plain wrong.
      How are you progressing in life?
      Also, many people have a distinct walk, and can be identified by the way they walk.
      So, how do you walk?
      What can others tell by your walk? It should be a walk in the Spirit.
      What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?
      FIRST, it means that the Holy Spirit lives in you.
      SECOND, it means to be open and sensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit.
      THIRD, it means to pattern your life after the influence of the Holy Spirit.
      How does the Holy Spirit influence our life?
      1. He reveals His will to us through the message of the Bible.
      2. He influences us through others who walk in the Spirit.
      3. He influences us through an inner direction that we become more sensitive to, and respond to better, as we mature in Jesus.
      How can you tell if someone walks in the Spirit?
      They look a lot like Jesus!
      Jesus told us that the mission of the Holy Spirit would be to promote and speak of Him (John 14:16-17, 14:26, 15:26, 16:13-15).
      When someone walks in the Spirit, they listen to what the Holy Spirit says as He guides us in the path and nature of Jesus.
      And you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh...
      There is no way anyone can fulfill the lust of the flesh as they walk in the Spirit. The two simply CAN NOT go together.
      The Holy Spirit does NOT move in us to gratify our fallen desires and passions, but to teach us about Jesus and to guide us in the path of Jesus.
      This is the key to righteous living - walking in the Spirit, not living under the domination of the law.
      For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: Walking in the Spirit is the key, but it does NOT always come easily.
      Often, it is a battle.
      There is a battle going on inside the Christian, and the battle is between the flesh and the Spirit.
      As Paul writes, these are contrary to one another - they do not get along at all! When the flesh is winning the inside battle, you do not do the things that you wish. You do not live the way you want to; you live under the flesh instead of under the Spirit.
      The fact of this battle should wake us up.
      If you do NOT know you are in a battle, you will always lose.
      Also, the fact of the battle teaches us that effort is required to walk in the Spirit.
      God does NOT just knock us over the head with it; we have to seek it, and block out the things that hinder walking in the Spirit.
      What is THE FLESH in the way Paul uses it here?
      He does NOT mean our flesh and blood bodies.
      Precisely speaking, our flesh is not even that fallen nature, the "old man" that we inherited from Adam, because the old man was crucified with Jesus, and is now dead and gone (Romans 6:6).
      Instead, as Paul uses it here, the flesh is our the INNER MAN that exists apart from the "old man" or the "new man," and which is trained in rebellion by the old nature, the world, and the devil.
      How do we fight against the flesh?
      1. We have to be able to say "No" to the flesh and its sinful desires.
      2. We have to be able to starve the flesh from bad influences.
      3. We have to strengthen ourselves in the Spirit of God, and follow His influence.
      GUZIK gives us a good modern analogy..."It is as if we are a computer, and we have two hard drives in us. One is programmed according to the Spirit, and the other is programmed according to the flesh. In any given situation, it's up to us to decide which "drive" we will access. The resources of the Spirit are there. The resources of the flesh are there - but which will you access?
      Some want to take the "drive" of their flesh and make it as efficient as possible. God never meant your system to run that way. He wants you to run off the "drive" of the Spirit of God.
      In this illustration, the law is like an error message that keeps popping up on your flesh "drive." It does not fix the drive, and it sometimes makes the system crash - but it does tell you something is wrong, and it points you in the right direction.
      Instead, the Spirit "drive" has programming on it that will make your flesh drive better - and one day, when we get to heaven, God will replace that "flesh" drive with a resurrection upgrade.
      The ANTIDOTE to the flesh is NOT found in the law, but in the Spirit - and if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. You do NOT need to be, because you fulfill the will of God through the inner influence of the Holy Spirit, instead of the outer influence of the law of God.
      This effectively "writes" the law of God on our hearts, inside of us. This is the great work of the New Covenant, promised in the Old Testament.
      Jeremiah 31:33, "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
      Verses 19-21 tells us EXAMPLES of the works of the flesh that walking in the Spirit helps us to overcome.
      "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like."
      It is almost as if Paul apologizes for having to make this list, because the works of the flesh SHOULD BE evident. Yet, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul KNOWS it is important to be specific, because we must know specifically how we walk in the flesh. We can NOT see the flesh, but we can see what it does.
      ADULTERY is violating the marriage covenant by sexual immorality. This word is not included in the list of many ancient manuscripts, so many translations (such as the NIV) do not include it. But that does not mean that God gives a free pass on adultery, because even if Paul did not write the word in this list, it is included under the next word, "fornication."
      In any regard, adultery is often excused by those who practice it, but God does not listen to the ways we often seek to justify extra-marital sex. Some say, "My partner does not understand me." Some say, "But we are in love." Some say, "God led us to be with each other." But God does not hear it. Adultery is sin, and those guilty of it should confess their sin and repent of it instead of excusing it. The Holy Spirit never led anyone into adultery.
      FORNICATION is the Greek word porneia, and it speaks of ALL sexual immorality in a broad sense, (meaning, sex outside of marriage, adultery, incest, pedophilia, bisexual, homosexual, lesbianism, transgender, beastiality.) The Holy Spirit never led anyone into fornication.
      Some today do NOT want to get a legal marriage, and say, "We'll just be married before God. That's all that is important." Say what you will about that arrangement, but it is NOT marriage.
      Webster's Dictionary (1828) defines marriage as: "The act of uniting a man and a woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall part them."
      Some will answer, "What if we were on a desert island and there was no one there to marry us and no court to record it?" The answer is simple: When you are on a desert island, God will allow it. But not here where there are people to marry you and courts to record it. Whenever a couple is afraid to follow through with a proper, legal marriage, it shows they do NOT fully trust each other or do NOT fully trust God - yet they want the benefits of marriage without the commitment of marriage.
      UNCLEANNESS is another broad word, referring to sexual impropriety in general. It should be thought of as the opposite of purity. If it is NOT pure before God, then it is uncleanness.
      Many today excuse themselves by saying, "Well, we did this and this and this, but we did NOT go all the way."
      Others say, "My pornography habit is NOT wrong, because I am not actually committing sexual sin with another person." But the word for uncleanness here is general enough to let us know that all of these things are works of the flesh.
      Uncleanness also covers impure speech, or suggestive speaking filled with double meanings. The Holy Spirit never led anyone into uncleanness.
      LEWDNESS (sometimes translated licentiousness) has the idea of "ready to sin at any time." It speaks of someone who flaunts their immorality, throwing off all restraint and having no sense of shame, propriety, or embarrassment.
      Lewdness can be thought of as public and open uncleanness. "A man may be unclean and hide his sin; he does not become licentious until he shocks public decency.
      Barclay wrote of this word lewdness, the Greek word "aselgeia".
      "The great characteristic of aselgeia is this - the bad man usually tries to hide his sin; but the man who has aselgeia in his soul does not care how much he shocks public opinion so long as he can gratify his desires." In many ways aselgeia is the ugliest word in the list of New Testament sins." We live in an incredibly lewd culture, yet the Holy Spirit never led anyone into lewdness.
      IDOLATRY AND SORCERY are religious sins. They are sins of worship, and remind us that it is NOT only tragic to worship the wrong God, or seek the wrong spiritual power - it is sinful as well.
      IDOLATRY is the worship of any god except the LORD God revealed to us by the Bible and in the person of Jesus Christ. When people serve a god of their own opinion, of their own creation, they reject the true and living God - and that is sin.
      Someone might say, "Well, I can believe whatever I want!" and they certainly can. But they can also bear the consequences of their wrong belief. The Holy Spirit never led anyone into idolatry!
      SORCERY is the service and worship of occult, satan, pagan, nature, new age, and spiritual powers apart from the true God. It also has another dimension, revealed by the word for sorcery in the original language Paul uses: pharmakeia, from which we get our word for "pharmacy."
      Morris defines sorcery as "the use of any kind of mind-altering, hallucinogens, drugs, potions, or spells."
      In the ancient world, the taking of drugs (especially mind-altering, inhabitions freeing, hallucinogens) was always associated with the occult, and the Bible's association with drug taking and sorcery points out that drugs open up doors to the occult that are better left closed.
      William Barclay wrote, "this literally means the use of drugs … it came to be very specially connected with the use of drugs for sorcery, of which the ancient world was full."
      The Holy Spirit never led anyone into sorcery or getting high on drugs!
      Hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envies, and murders are each "people" sins.
      They are sins that primarily express themselves in how we treat others. God cares about our sexual and moral purity, and He cares about the purity of our religion and worship. But He also passionately cares about how we treat one another. The fact that Paul uses more words to describe these interpersonal sins shows how important our treatment of each other is to God.
      HATRED is the greek word "EKTHRA". It is an attitude of heart, and it somehow expresses itself in actions such as contentions, outbursts of wrath, or many other works of the flesh. But hatred is the inner motivation for the ill treatment of others.
      Just as love is the inner motivation for the kind and good treatment of others, hatred is an inner motivation. Laws can be passed to punish the evil men do against each other; but no law can answer the problem of hatred, which motivates those acts. But the Holy Spirit never led anyone into hatred!
      CONTENTIONS is the Greek word "ERIS". Most commonly it is translated as strife (as in Romans 13:13 and 1 Corinthians 3:3), and simply speaks of a combative and argumentative spirit. The Holy Spirit never led anyone into contentions!
      JEALOUSIES uses a Greek word "ZELOS" that is sometimes used in a positive sense - as for being zealous for something good. But here, clearly, the connotation is wrong. In this context it means "the desire to have what someone else has, wrong desire for what is not for us. The Holy Spirit never led anyone into jealousies!
      OUTBURSTS OF WRATH translates a Greek word "thumos" which speaks of a sudden flash of anger, not a settled state of anger. It means to lose your temper, being unable to control your anger. The Holy Spirit never led anyone into outbursts of wrath!
      SELFISH AMBITIONS is the Greek word "ERITHEIA", and the word has an interesting history. It started out as a perfectly respectable word meaning "to work for pay." Over time, it began to mean the kind of work that is done for money and for no other reason. Then it was used to describe politicians who campaign for election, not for what service they can give to the government and the people, but only for their own glory and benefit. "It ended up meaning 'selfish ambition', the ambition which has no conception of service and whose only aims are profit and power." It is the heart of a person whose first question is always, "What's in it for me?" To be sure, the Holy Spirit never led anyone into selfish ambitions!
      DISSENSIONS uses the Greek word "DICHOSTASIA" and it literally means "standing apart." Romans 16:17 and 1 Corinthians 3:3translate this word as divisions. "Dissension describes a society … where the members fly apart instead of coming together." The Holy Spirit never led anyone into dissensions!
      HERESIES translates a Greek word "HAIRESIS" which originally simply meant "to choose." Over time, it came to mean someone who divisively expressed their "choices" or opinions.
      We think today of heresies in terms of wrong ideas and teachings; but the emphasis in the word is actually the wrongful dividing over opinions. Heresies can be thought of as hardened dissensions. The Holy Spirit never led anyone into heresies!
      ENVY is the Greek word "PHTHONOS". It does not so much want what someone else has (as in jealousies), but it is bitter just because someone else has something and we do not. The Holy Spirit never led anyone into envy!
      MURDERS uses the Greek word "PHONOS", which is well translated by the English word murders. This is another word (like adultery earlier) that is not in every ancient Greek text, and isn't included in translations such as the NIV. But there is no dispute that murder is a work of the flesh, and that the Holy Spirit never led anyone into murders!
      DRUNKENNESS AND REVELRIES can be thought of as social sins - sins that are often committed in the company of other people. The fact that Paul includes these two sins in his list shows that they were works of the flesh that the Galatian Christians faced and had to be on guard against.
      Romans 13:12-13 lists drunkenness and revelries as part of the Christians past of darkness that now need to be cast off as we walk in the light.
      DRUNKENNESS is clearly described as one of the works of the flesh. While Christians may differ as to if a Christian can drink alcohol at all, we know what the Scriptures precisely FORBID is drunkenness. We must not think that only being "falling down drunk" is a sin; but being IMPAIRED in any way by drink is sin, as well as drinking with the intention of becoming impaired.
      Ephesians 5:18 also describes drunkenness as dissipation, which means "wastefulness." For certain, the Holy Spirit never led anyone into drunkenness!
      REVELRIES, using the Greek word "KOMOS", does not mean simply having a party or a good time. It means unrestrained partying.
      AND THE LIKE...This demonstrates that Paul understands that his list is not exhaustive. These are not the only works of the flesh. It is not as if you can find a work of the flesh not covered here you are free to do it!
      But the flesh also wants to dominate our thinking, not just our actions. Paul put it like this in Romans 8:5-8 "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
      Verse 21-b tells us the DANGER and the DESTINY of those who live in the works of the flesh.
      "Of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
      This shows us that Paul was always instructing Christians in how they should live, and this was not just an occasional emphasis. Paul knew that we are saved by God's grace and Jesus' work alone, not by what we have done, are doing, or promise to do. But he also knew that those who are saved by God's grace have a high moral obligation to fulfill - not to earn salvation, but in gratitude for salvation, and in simple consistency with who we are in Jesus.
      Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God...
      PRACTICE MEANS A DAY TO DAY CONTINUAL PERPETUAL CHOOSING...Paul is NOT referring to the person who is striving to win over the flesh, is fighting to overcome an addiction, a shortcoming, or a sin, but rather someone who KNOWS they are practicing such and not CONCERNED OVER IT AT ALL.
      THOSE WHO DO PRACTICE AND WALK in these works of the flesh is to be in plain rebellion against God, and those in plain rebellion against God will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.
      Because Paul speaks of inheriting the kingdom of God, we understand he means "heaven." Paul says plainly, that those who practice such things will not go to heaven. Neither will they know the wonder and the glory of the kingdom of God on earth.
      Who are the people in danger? Those who practice such things. This means more than someone who has committed adultery, or fornication, or sorcery, or drunkenness, or any of these. This speaks of those who continue on in these sins, ignoring the voice of the Holy Spirit telling them to "stop."
      PRACTICE is the greek verb "PRASSONTES" referring to habitual practice rather than an isolated lapse.
      Will not inherit the kingdom of God...
      The strength and certainty of Paul in this verse is striking. Paul may sound rigid or even harsh here, but he is consistent with the Biblical idea of conversion.
      When we come to Jesus to have our sins forgiven and our soul saved, He also changes our life. It does NOT happen all at once, and the work will never be perfected on this side of eternity, but there will be a real change none the less (1 John 3:5-9).
      SPURGEON says, "The grace that does not change my life will not save my soul." The idea is not that a Christian could never commit these sins, but that they could never stay in these sins.
      Christians also fall and perform the lusts of the flesh.
      David fell horribly into adultery.
      Peter also fell grievously when he denied Christ.
      However great these sins were, they were not committed to spite God, but from weakness.
      When their sins were brought to their attention these men did not obstinately continue in their sin, but repented.
      Verses 22-23 tells us Examples of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT that walking in the Spirit produces in our lives.
      "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."
      The works of the flesh seem overwhelming - both in us and around us. God is good enough, and big enough, to change everything with but the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit can ALWAYS conquer the works of the flesh.
      Fruit has several important characteristics.
      1. Fruit isn't achieved by working, but is birthed by abiding.
      2. Fruit is fragile.
      3. Fruit reproduces itself.
      4. Fruit is attractive.
      5. Fruit nourishes.
      DO YOU NOTICE "FRUIT"...Paul used the plural is describing life after the flesh (works of the flesh), but he uses the singular (fruit, not fruits, of the Spirit).
      In the big picture, the Spirit has ONE WORK to do in all of us. These are NOT the gifts of the Spirit, which are distributed on an individual basis by the will of the Spirit; this is something for every Christian.
      The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE.
      It is fitting that love be the first mentioned, because it encompasses all of the following. It may even be said that the following eight terms are just describing what love in action looks like.
      Love translates the Greek word "AGAPE".
      DID YOU KNOW...there were FOUR distinct words for "love."
      1. EROS was the word for romantic or passionate love.
      2. PHILIA was the word for the love we have for those near and dear to us, be they family or friends.
      3. STORGE is the word for the love that shows itself in affection and care, especially family affection.
      4. AGAPE describes a different kind of love. It is a love more of decision than of the spontaneous heart; as much a matter of the mind than the heart, because it chooses to love the undeserving.
      AGAPE love is a love of the Spirit, because it is a fruit of the Spirit. This is above and beyond natural affection, or the loyalty to blood or family. This is loving people who are not easy to love; loving people you do not like.
      It is also helpful to understand the works of the flesh in the light of this love of the Spirit. Each one of them is a violation or a perversion of this great love.
      1. Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and lewdness are counterfeits of love among people.
      2. Idolatry and sorcery are counterfeits of love to God.
      3. Hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, and murders are all opposites of love.
      4. Drunkenness and revelries are sad attempts to fill the void only love can fill.
      The fruit of the Spirit is … JOY.
      One of the greatest marketing strategies ever employed is to position the kingdom of Satan as the place where the fun is and the kingdom of God as the place of gloom and misery. But the fruit of the Spirit is joy.
      We could say that this is joy of the Spirit, because it is a higher joy than just the thrill of an exciting experience or a wonderful set of circumstances. It is a joy that can abide and remain, even when circumstances seem terrible.
      REMEMBER ACTS 16:25? Paul knew this joy personally; he could sing when manacled in a dark prison dungeon!
      JOY is the Greek word, "EIRENE" It is not the joy that comes from earthly things, still less from triumphing over someone else in competition. It is a joy whose foundation is God.
     the Greek word "CHARA". It means not just freedom from trouble but everything that makes for a man's highest good. Here it means that tranquillity of heart which derives from the all-pervading consciousness that our times are in the hands of God.
      This peace is peace with God, peace with people, and it is a positive peace, filled with blessing and goodness - not simply the absence of fighting.
      PHILIPPIANS 4:7, "This is a peace of God, which surpasses all understanding."
      LONGSUFFERING...means that you can have love, joy, and peace even over a period of time when people and events annoy you. God is not quickly irritated with us (Romans 2:4, 9:22), so we should not be quickly irritated with others.
      KINDNESS AND GOODNESS...These two words are closely connected. About the only difference is that goodness also has with it the idea of generosity.
      FAITHFULNESS...The idea is that the Spirit of God works in us faithfulness both to God and to people.
      MORRIS says it well, "The ability to serve God faithfully through the years and through the temptations of life is not something we achieve by heroic virtue. It comes from the Spirit."
      GENTLENESS...The word has the idea of being teachable, not having a superior attitude, not demanding one's rights. It is not timidity or passiveness.
      SELF-CONTROL...The world knows something of self-control, but almost always for a selfish reason. It knows the self-disciple and denial someone will go through for themselves, but the self-control of the Spirit will also work on behalf of others.
      Against such there is no law...
      Paul speaks with both irony and understatement. There is certainly no law against love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But more so, if a person has this fruit of the Spirit, they do not need the Law. They fulfill it already!
      Verses 24-26 tells us KEEPING in step with the Spirit.
      "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."
      God has a place for our flesh, with all its passions and desires. He wants us to nail it to His cross, so that it may be under control and the sentence of death.
     an important word. Paul could have simply chosen the word "killed," but he used the word crucified because it speaks of many things.
      1. It reminds us of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
      2. It reminds us that we are called to take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).
      3. It reminds us that the death of the flesh is often painful.
      4. It reminds us that our flesh must be dealt with decisively.
      Paul specifically says those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh. This was not, and is not, the sovereign, "unilateral" work of God. It is something that the believer does, being directed and empowered by the Spirit of God.
      IN JESUS CHRIST, you can live above the passions and desires of your flesh. The resources are there in Jesus. Look to Him. See your life in Him. If you are one of those who are Christ's, then you belong to Him - not to this world, not to yourself, and not to your passions and desires.
      If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit...
      We can better understand what Paul says here if we understand that the Greek words for walk are different in Galatians 5:16 and 5:25.
      The first (peripateo) is the normal word for walking, used there as a picture of the "walk of life."
      The second (stoicheo) means "to walk in line with" or "to be in line with." Paul here is saying, "Keep in step with the Spirit."
      Let us not become conceited...
      Paul concludes this section of walking in the Spirit with this warning, knowing that some will become conceited in their own walk in the Spirit.
      What a masterful stroke of Satan this can be! Finally, a child of God is walking in the Spirit - then he tempts them to be conceited about it. Soon, they are sure they almost always sure they are right and everyone else is wrong. It often happens gradually, so Paul warns, "do not become conceited."
      To be conceited, to be sure that we are always right (even if that means that other people are always wrong!) is a perennial temptation to believers … It is easy to assume that because we are Christ's we will always say and do the right thing.
      Paul is warning his readers that believers can be too confident that they are right in what they are contemplating."
      PROVOKING one another...
      When we are conceited - always sure we are right, always confident in our opinions and perceptions - it definitely provokes other people. It will rub them the wrong way and be the source of many conflicts.
      ENVYING one another...
      When we are conceited, we also are open to the sin of envy. If we know someone is more right, or more successful than we are, we resent it and envy them.
      GALATIANS 5 encouraged the Galatians, and we who love Jesus Christ to constantly search and examine ourselves.
      We often think that our problems and difficulties are all outside of ourselves.
      We think that we would be fine if everyone just treated us right and if circumstances just got better.
      But that ignores the tenor of this whole chapter.
      The problems are in us, and need to be dealt with by the Spirit of God.
      "Lord, deliver me from that evil man, myself."
      With that kind of reality check, we can see a new world, and a new life - and not one other person, one other circumstance has to change! All we must do is yield to the Spirit of God, and begin to truly walk in the Spirit.

    • July 6, 2016 5:24 PM EDT
      Verse 1 tells us RESTORING those overtaken in sin.
      "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."
      Paul KNOWS AND UNDERSTANDS AND POINTS OUT that there may and will be those among the Christians in Galatia who have been overtaken in a trespass. Paul does not seem to exclude the overtaken one from the brethren, yet they should NEVER STAY in the place of being overtaken.
      Paul's wording here speaks of NOT a determined, hardened, sinner. And by hardened sinner, Paul means those who DELIBERATELY, AND PREMEDITATIVELY plan and repetitively seek to sin and continue in sin without a thought.
      The overtaken ones NEED to be restored. They are NOT to be ignored. They are NOT to be excused. They are NOT to be destroyed. The goal is always restoration.
      This job of restoration is often neglected in the church. We have a tendency to either pretend the sin never happened, or we tend to react too harshly towards the one who has sinned. The balance between these two extremes can only be negotiated by the spiritual. It should be normal to do what God says here, but it is not. It is all too easy to respond to someone's sin with gossip, harsh judgment, ignoring it, or undiscerning approval.
      Restoration must always be done in a spirit of gentleness, with full understanding of our own weakness and corruption. Those doing the restoring must guard against the temptation of pride, as well as the same temptation the overtaken one struggled with.
      Verses 2-5 tells us bearing each other's burdens and bearing our own load.
      "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load."
      When Paul brings up the idea of the one overtaken in any trespass, it paints the picture of a person sagging under a heavy load. Now, he expands the idea to ENCOURAGE every Christian to bear one another's burdens.
      AND WE NOTICE, PAUL'S FOCUS is NOT on "expect others to bear your burdens." That is self-focused, and always leads to pride, frustration, discouragement, and depression. Instead, God always directs us to be others-focused, and says, "bear one another's burdens."
      This is a SIMPLE command to obey. Look for a brother or a sister with a burden, and help them with it. It is NOT complicated, and it does NOT take a huge program or infrastructure to do it. Just look for a burden to bear and bear it!
      As we bear one another's burdens, we are fulfilling the simple law of Christ.
      John 13:34-35 says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
      Paul has battled the legalists among the Galatian Christians. Here, he strikes another hit. Paul essentially says, "Do you want to fulfill the law? Great. Here is your law to fulfill. Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."
      If anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
      What will keep us from bearing one another's burdens and fulfilling the law of Christ?
      PRIDE...which is when anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing. It is often pride that keeps us from ministering to one another as we should.
      PRIDE is self-focus.
      Pride does not necessarily say, "I am better than you are." Pride simply says "I am more important than you are, so I deserve more of my own attention and love than you do." Instead, Biblical humility REMINDS us, "I am nothing but you are something. Let me care about your burdens and needs."
      People, out of pride, will refuse to receive help when someone else reaches out to help bear their burden.
      It is important to understand that Paul writes to every Christian when he says, "when he is nothing." In the sense Paul uses the idea here, it is not that some Christians are something, and others are nothing, and the problem is that the nothings think they are one of the somethings.
      Instead, Paul writes with the same idea behind Philippians 2:3b-4: "In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. If I esteem you above me, and you esteem me above you, a marvelous thing happens."
      Paul reminds us and the Galatian Christians...there are few things more self-deceptive than pride.
      To be proud is to be blind.
      1. Blind to the freely given favor and gifts of God.
      2. Blind to our sin and depravity.
      3. Blind to the good in others.
      4. Blind to the foolishness of self-centeredness.
      This helps explain PRIDE...which is the GREATEST deception of the GREATEST of deceivers - Satan himself.
      If there was anyone who thought himself to be something when he is nothing, it was Satan both before and after his fall. And if there is anyone who deceives himself, surely it is Satan - who works on and on against God in the self-delusion that he may one day triumph.
      Instead of deceiving ourselves, we must take a careful and a sober examination of OUR WORKS before God. If we do not, and if we carry on under our self-deception, then we may think our works are approved before God, when really they are not.
      We want to have our work approved before God, so that our rejoicing on the day of reward can be for our own work (himself alone), and not in the work of another.
      There is another aspect to rejoicing in himself. It means having joy at your own walk with the Lord, instead of feeling spiritual because some around you perhaps are overtaken in any trespass.
      Then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another has special relevance to those who preach and teach God's Word. It shows us that we can not and should not evaluate ourselves simply on what others think or say about us, whether it is good or bad.
      In the beginning and the end of things, ONLY what we do for Jesus and what Jesus thinks of us as Christians is what matters and what is eternal.
      Too many today, stand in their pulpits and blaspheme and prostitute Jesus word and His commands, and His promises by twisting, changing, and perverting The Bible to tell people what they WANT to hear, so that they will BE LIKED, they will be FAMOUS, and they NEED people to look to them for all things, instead of seeking Jesus, praying to Jesus, studying His Word and then TRUSTING our Jesus for our daily lives, needs, hurts, cares, worries and fears.
      Prosperity and faith healing preachers in the pulpit tell the lost, hurting, and hopeless, God wants you to have whatever you want...that is a lie!
      They say, God wants you to have your BEST life now in this life...that is a lie.
      They say, You can ALL be healed miraculously if I touch you and if your faith in my words and touch are believed...that is a lie.
      They say, We are ALL God's children...that is a lie.
      They say, We all go to Heaven...that is a lie.
      They say, You can learn and command the Gifts of The Holy Spirit, if you attend my teaching seminars...that is a lie.
      They say, You are like God, you are equal to Jesus, you are a God and you command your angels to do your bidding...that is a lie.
      They say, you know you are spirit-filled, holy ghost anointed, if you begin to laugh uncontrollably, bark like a dog, fall out in the aisles, run the aisles flapping your arms, waving flags to summon angels and the Holy Spirit, or begin to babble unknown gibberish, or you begin to shake, quake, and vibrate, or being slain in the Holy Spirit into the church...that is all a lie.
      They say, Jesus BEGAN the saving work on the cross, but mankind must complete it....that is a lie.
      PAUL WARNS...For each one shall bear his own load.
      The Bible speaks of a day when our works will be examined before the Lord. This is the judgment seat of Christ described in Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10. On that day, each Christian will be judged for what they have done FOR JESUS and HIS ETERNAL KINGDOM.
      Verses 6-10 tells us doing good to others in the household of faith.
      "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."
      What does Paul mean by share in all good things?
      The idea is focused on financial support, but NOT limited to it. Offering a shoulder, a listening ear, share what you have, willing to pray, to instruct, to point people to our Jesus is sharing ALL good things.
      This is a basic, though sometimes neglected spiritual principle.
      Those who feed and bless you spiritually should be supported by you financially.
      Paul repeated this principle in several other places.
      1 Corinthians 9:11, "If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?"
      1 Corinthians 9:14, "Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel."
      1 Timothy 5:17, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine."
      Luke 16:11, "If you trust them with your spiritual health, you should also trust them to steward the gifts of God's people."
      Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap...
      For those who are hesitant to share in all good things with those who teach them, Paul reminds them of God's principle of sowing and reaping. Their giving (to share in all good things with him who teaches) is not like throwing away money; it is like planting seeds, and whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
      Paul point is that God's people should NOT share in all good things with him who teaches ANYTHING CONTRARY TO THE GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL.
      For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
      If we want to reap to the Spirit, we should not hesitate to sow to the Spirit with whatever resources God has given us.
      A farmer reaps the same as he has sown. If he plants wheat, wheat comes up. In the same way, if we sow to the flesh, sow to those who tell us what we want to hear, instead of what Jesus teaches us, warns us, and commands us...then the lies of the flesh will increase in size and strength.
      The farmer also reaps more if he has sown more, and the relationship between what he sows and what he reaps is exponential. A farmer can plant one apple seed and receive hundreds of apples over time.
      The principle of whatever a man sows, that he will also reap has application beyond giving and supporting good or bad teachers and ministers.
      It has a general application in life; what we get out is often what we put in.
      Yet, Paul is NOT promoting some law of spiritual "karma" that ensures we will get good when we do good, or always get bad when we do bad.
      If there were such an absolute spiritual law, it would surely **** us all. Instead, Paul simply relates the principle of sowing and reaping to the way we manage our resources before the Lord.
      He uses the same picture in 1 Corinthians 9:11 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-10.
      PAUL WARNS...We may fool ourselves by expecting much when we sow little, but we cannot fool God, and the results of our poor sowing will be evident.
      And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart...
      As we wisely manage our resources before God under the principle of sowing and reaping, we need PATIENCE.
      It is easy, but dangerous, to lose heart. In the ancient world, this phrase translated "lose heart" was used for the kind of fear and weariness a woman experiences during labor but before delivery. It describes a time when the work is hard and painful, but also unfinished and unrewarded. It's easy to lose heart when we feel like that, but that is exactly when we must hang on and not grow weary while doing good.
      As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith: Not losing heart, we seek to do good with our resources, and to do good to all - but especially to those who are of God's family and faithful, humble, and steadfast to the preaching and teaching of JESUS word.
      When Paul writes as we have opportunity and let us do good, he clearly includes himself in what he writes. He speaks to himself here as much as to the Galatians. Because of the danger brought in by the legalists, Paul's work among them had not yet really been rewarded, so he needed to remember not to lose heart either.
      Verse 11 tells us Introduction to Paul's personal postscript.
      "See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!"
      Paul's custom, typical in the ancient world, was to dictate his letters to a secretary. But he would often personally write a short portion at the end, both to authenticate the letter and to add a personal touch.
      Other examples of this kind of postscript from Paul are:
      1 Corinthians 16:21-24 (The salutation with my own hand - Paul)
      Colossians 4:18 (This salutation by my own hand - Paul).
      One reason Paul may have done this was prove that he really wrote the letter.
      2 Thessalonians 3:17: The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write.
      Paul points out that he wrote his postscript with large letters. Many speculate this was because he had poor eyesight and could not read or write small print.
      Verses 12-13 tells us A final word regarding the motives of the legalists among the Galatians.
      "As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh."
      Paul refers here to the legalistic Christians among the Galatians, and writes frankly about their motive: to make a good showing in the flesh. They worked to bring the Galatian Christians from a Gentile background under circumcision because it would be a good showing for them - but a good showing in the flesh.
      The legalists pretended to be motivated out of concern for the ones they tried to bring under the law.
      But Paul clearly SAW through this deception, and saw their motive was really selfish, simply desiring the honor and glory for themselves, their own fame, their own profit, so it was ALL a good showing in the flesh. They wanted the Galatians to become circumcised so they could wear the submission of these Gentiles as a badge of achievement. Even as David had boasted in the two hundred foreskins of the Philistines he had killed, so these legalists wanted the allegiance of these Gentiles primarily as a trophy.
      Compel is an important word.
      There was nothing wrong with a Gentile being circumcised. There was everything wrong in compelling a Gentile to be circumcised, saying they could not be right with God, take the 1st step of salvation, without coming under the law of Moses.
      Only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ:
      Beyond their own glory, their other motive was to avoid persecution for the cross of Christ. If these legalists had said "We are saved only by the work of the cross of Christ, not by our obedience under the law," they would have been persecuted. Probably the persecution would have come from other legalistic Christians, or from those still in Judaism. Their unwillingness to stand in the face of this pressure made them stand for false doctrines.
      MORRIS gives us further insight to this day and time. "There is also another way to consider this. By aligning Christianity with Judaism through emphasizing circumcision and the law of Moses, men could escape persecution from the Romans. "To advocate circumcision was to align the new movement with Judaism, a religion that had official Roman sanction, and therefore one that avoided persecution. The preachers Paul was opposing may have included the cross in their proclamation, but by adding the necessity of circumcision they avoided persecution."
      It is a worthy question for us: What sin or deception are we trapped in because we do not want to suffer persecution for the cross of Christ?
      Do we loudly sing praises, pray, and read the Bible while in the privacy of our homes or in church, but once we walk into the world, do we hide our light, or worse, do as Peter did, deny our Jesus?
      The original readers of the letter to the Hebrews were in the same kind of place (Hebrews 12:3-4). Through Paul's letter, to the Hebrews encourages them to make a stand for the finished work of Jesus Christ, and shows the superiority of Jesus' work to the old institution of Judaism.
      Verses 14-15 Paul writes about his motives.
      "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation."
      Paul's heart cares NOTHING for the glory that came from fame. He cared NOTHING for the glory that came from riches. He cared NOTHING for the glory that came from status and power among men.
      Paul ONLY cared about the glory of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
      AND REMEMBER THIS...For people who knew what crucifixion was all about, had seen it, the words "cross" and "glory" just did NOT go together. They were direct opposites, because there was NOT a more humiliating, shameful way to be executed than the cross. It seemed much more logical to glory in your good showing in the flesh, instead of the cross. But Paul thinks and writes with a heavenly logic that surpasses anything of this earth.
      Paul's implied contrast between his motive and the motives of the legalists reminds us, then and now:
      1. All legalism, all attempts to gain righteousness or favor from God on the basis of our good works is an essential rejection of Jesus' work on the cross.
      2. No one can trust in our own works, our own performance under the law, and at the same time glory … in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
      By whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world:
      In Galatians 5:24, Paul wrote about having crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Now, with the flesh on the cross, he also puts the world on the cross, and considers himself dead to the world. The world can NOT have any influence over Paul if it is dead, and Paul can NOT respond to any influence from it if he is dead to the world.
      The world, in the sense Paul means it here, is not the global earth; nor is it the mass of humanity (which God Himself loves, John 3:16). Instead, it is the community of sinful humanity that is united in rebellion against God.
      There is nothing more worldly than trying to make a good showing in the flesh. When we live for the glory that comes from fame, from riches, from status, or from power among men we are very alive to the world and the world is very alive to us.
      Paul and the world could agree together on one thing: they did NOT like each other. The world is crucified unto me,' means that I condemn the world. 'I am crucified unto the world,' means that the world in turn condemns me.
      SPURGEON says it well, "To live to serve men is one thing, to live to bless them is another; and this we will do, God helping us, making sacrifices for their good. But to fear men, to ask their leave to think, to ask their instructions as to what we shall speak, and how we shall say it - that is a baseness we can not brook. By the grace of God, we have not so degraded ourselves, and never shall."
      Without doubt, Paul knew Christians had a moral standard to live by. But what really matters is not what we do in keeping the law, especially in its ceremonies, but what God has done in us - making us a new creation.
      For the legalists among the Galatian Christians, circumcision was a big issue, because it was the initiation to living under the Mosaic Law. Even though it was important to the legalists, Paul knew that it did NOT matter at all (avails nothing). If you were circumcised, but not a new creation, you did not belong to Jesus. If you were uncircumcised, but were a new creation, you did belong to Jesus.
      We do NOT make ourselves a new creation; God does it in us.
      At the root of salvation in Jesus Christ, Christianity is something God does in us, not something we do for God. This can simply define the difference between the systems of grace and law.
      Verse 16 tells us a blessing on those who walk in God's truth.
      "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God."
      And as many as walk according to this rule.
      The Greek word for " to this rule" is "kanon", which refers to the surveyor's line by which a direction is taken." There is a rule for the Christian life, revealed by God's Word. We just do not make it up as we go along. We are to measure ourselves according to this rule.
      Peace and mercy be upon them...
      Just as Paul was willing to pronounce a curse on those who taught false doctrines (Galatians 1:8-9), he is also willing to give a blessing to those who walk according to this rule. These are those who are the true Israel of God, the descendants of Abraham according to faith.
      Verses 17-18 gives us Paul's last words to the Galatians.
      "From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."
      I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus...
      Paul writes as someone who has suffered for Jesus, and who bears those marks on his body. Having suffered so, he can say from now on let no one trouble me, in the sense that it is fruitless for anyone to try, because he has already endured the worst.
      In 2 Corinthians 11:23-25, Paul describes his physical suffering for Jesus' sake. What he endured was plenty enough to leave scars, marks of the Lord Jesus.
      Some think "let no one trouble me" is Paul's way to say to the Christians of Galatia, "Do not be a trouble to me by continuing to play around with these false doctrines and false teachers- I have suffered enough already."
      The marks of the Lord Jesus...
      Some religiosities, wrongly and absurdly teach and believe in mysticism, and believe that Paul speaks here of a phenomenon known as the stigmata. These are said to be marks on the body similar to wounds of Jesus, such as wounds in the hands, feet, side, or head as a result of an intense mystical identification with Jesus. Such a view reads too much into the simple words of the text, and often they are used to justify an unhealthy mysticism.
      The marks of the Lord Jesus are not wounds similar to Jesus' wounds; they are marks that identify - or even "brand" - Paul as a follower of Jesus. In the ancient world, slaves were branded with the name of their master. "Often a master branded his slaves with a mark that showed them to be his. Most likely what Paul means is that the scars of the things he had suffered for Christ are the brands which show him to be Christ's slave.
      The practice of branding was also known in military life... "Instances are recorded of soldiers branding themselves with the name of their general in token of their absolute devotion to his cause." (Rendall) Paul says that his marks are his "brands" of allegiance.
      Paul can wish nothing greater for the Galatians than that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. If this is so, they will walk in a grace relationship with God, instead of the legal, performance-based relationship that endangered them so - an appropriate end for the letter and prayer for all our lives.
      Barclay, says it well, "After the storm and stress and intensity of the letter comes the peace of the benediction. Paul has argued and rebuked and cajoled but his last word is GRACE, for him the only word that really mattered."

    • July 6, 2016 5:14 AM EDT
    • 1 TIMOTHY 1
      Verse 1 tells us the identity of the author, Paul.
      "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope."
      Paul, in his self-description, emphasized his credentials (apostle) and authority (by the commandment of God). He did this both as a personal encouragement to Timothy and so the letter could be used as a letter of reference before any erring Ephesian Christians.
      "Apostles in the restrictest sense, refers to the 12 original disciples, excluding Judas and including Matthias, and Paul who were apostles of Jesus Christ. These men were chosen and commissioned by Jesus Christ himself, told to us in Luke 6:13 & Acts 9:15. They were called so because: they were witnesses of His words, deeds, and especially His resurrection, told to us in Acts 1:21-22). The Bible tells us that Paul qualified as an Apostle of Jesus Christ because he met the risen Christ first on the road to Damascus, and on three other occasions, told to us in (Acts 18:9-10, Acts 22:17-18, and Acts 23:11). The other "apostles" such as, Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25), Andronicus and Junius (Romans 16:7) and James, Jesus half brother (Galatians 1:9) all bore the "title" apostle, though they were NOT among the twelve. They were what 2 Corinthians 8:23 calls, "messengers/apostles" of the churches."
      Apparently, 1 Timothy was written by Paul to Timothy sometime after his release from Roman imprisonment as described at the end of Acts, and written from Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3).
      AND WE KNOW, after Paul's release (hoped for in Philemon 22 and Philippians 1:25-26 and 2:24), Paul returned to the city of Ephesus. There he discovered that during his absence Ephesus had become a storm center of false teaching (a sad fulfillment of the prediction he had made to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29-30.
      Paul probably dealt with the leaders of the heresy within the church of Ephesus personally, but soon found it necessary to leave for Macedonia. He then left Timothy in charge of affairs at Ephesus, as his own personal representative. He knew that Timothy had a tough job to carry out, so he hoped that this letter would both equip and encourage him in the task.
      The Pastoral Epistles of Paul, are called so, because they were the ONLY personal letters Paul wrote to individual persons, the rest of the Epistles were written to churches. These letters were written to Timothy and Titus.
      Our Savior...Our hope
      Did you know, at that very time, the title Savior was used in the worship of the Roman Emperor. People called, and were forced to call Caesar Nero "savior." Paul made the identity of THE REAL Savior clear.
      Verse 2 tells us the identity of the recipient, Timothy.
      "To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord."
      Paul could consider Timothy a true son in the faith because he probably led him and his mother to the Lord on Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 14:8-20 and 16:1).
      Timothy was a resident of Lystra, a city in the province of Galatia (Acts 16:1-3). He was the son of a Greek father (Acts 16:2) and a Jewish mother named Eunice (2 Timothy 2:5). From his youth he was taught in the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).
      Grace, mercy, and peace...
      This is a familiar greeting of Paul in his letters to congregations. Here, he also applied it to individuals. God grants His grace, mercy, and peace not only to churches, but also to the individuals who make up the churches.
      Yet, do you notice the difference. When Paul wrote to churches, he just greeted them with grace and peace. To both Timothy and Titus he added mercy to the greeting.
      Verses 3-4 tells us Paul says STAY in Ephesus and STAY with the Scriptures.
      "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia; remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith."
      Though Paul KNEW Timothy had a tough job, Paul wanted him to REMAIN in Ephesus and continue the work. Paul urged Timothy to do this when he left Ephesus.
      Paul told Timothy to remain in Ephesus because it seemed that Timothy wanted to give up and run away. Everyone in ministry deals with this some times; for some it is a constant affliction. There was probably both external pressure and internal pressure for him to leave.
      THIS SHOWS US THAT GOD WILL ALLOW us to be in difficult situations. We must set our minds to meet the challenge, or we will surely give up.
      DAVID GUZIK gives a great example. "Many years ago a famous Arctic explorer put this ad in a London newspaper: "Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success." Thousands of men responded to the appeal because they were WILLING to embrace a difficult job when called to do so by a GREAT AND TRUSTED leader.
      That you may charge some that they teach NO OTHER DOCTRINE:
      Paul left Timothy with an important job to do, making it all the more important that he remain in Ephesus. The job was to make sure that correct doctrine was taught in Ephesus.
      Paul left the Ephesian Christians with a particular set of teachings (which he had received from Jesus and the Old Testament). He was concerned that Timothy did everything he could to make sure the Ephesians continue in that doctrine.
      Paul did this because doctrine is vitally important to God.
      Today, what one believes - that is, their doctrine - is staggeringly unimportant to most people. This spirit of the modern age has also heavily influenced Christians. We live in a day where Pilate's question What is truth? (John 18:38) is answered today, "Whatever it means to you." But truth is important to God, and should be important to us.
      That you may charge some:
      Paul's concern was not primarily that Timothy himself would begin to teach wrong doctrine. His concern was that Timothy, because of his youth (1 Timothy 4:2) , his natural timidity (2 Timothy 1:7) , would allow others who were older, respected, and iconic in the church to spread these other doctrines. Timothy had to stand firm against difficult people and charge some that they teach no other doctrine. No wonder he felt like leaving Ephesus.
      Timothy WAS NOT to present the option of correct doctrine to these some in Ephesus. He was to COMMAND it like a military officer.
      Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies:
      It seems that the GREAT DANGER of these teachings (fables and endless genealogies) was that they were silly distractions. Timothy had to remain in Ephesus so that he could command others to ignore these speculative and silly distractions.
      It WAS NOT, AS SOME TEACH, that there was an elaborate anti-Jesus theology rising in Ephesus. It was more that they tended to get carried away by emphasizing the wrong things. Paul wanted to prevent the corruption that comes when people grant authority to fables and endless genealogies instead of TRUE doctrine. Silly distractions are also dangerous, because they take the place of godly edification which is in faith.
      Paul refers to the Gnostic-type theories of "emanations" from God. Perhaps they were connected with Jewish-type legalism that sought righteousness by virtue of one's ancestry. Or perhaps he had in mind doctrinal systems based on mystic readings of Old Testament genealogies.
      AND WE KNOW, Ancient Jewish writings have been discovered, which delve into the most complex genealogies, connecting them with WILD speculations about spiritual mysteries. A consuming interest in these kinds of things will crowd out godly edification which is in faith.
      Cause disputes rather than godly edification:
      The eventual fruit of these man-made diversions is evident. Though they may be popular and fascinating in the short term, in the long run they do NOT build up the body of Christ in faith.
      Verses 5-7 tells us the PURPOSE of the commandment.
      "Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm."
      The purpose of the law is found in its inward work upon the heart, not in mere outward observance. Without this understanding, it is easy to become shallow legalists, who are only concerned with how things look on the outside.
      Love from a pure heart:
      This suggests the idea that the problem in Ephesus was along Jewish-type legalistic lines. They misunderstood the commandment and the law.
      If spending time in God's word is NOT producing love from a pure heart, a good conscience, or sincere faith in us, something is wrong. Legalism may make us twist God's word, so that instead of showing love we are harsh and judgmental; instead of having a good conscience we always feel condemned knowing we do NOT measure up; and instead of sincere faith we practically trust in our own ability to please God.
      Idle talk:
      This has in mind vain speculations, MEANINGLESS BABBLE about the Scriptures, which may have analytical and entertainment value but were NEVER meant to be our spiritual diet.
      An example of this is the constant meaningless idle babble by Bible criticis and commentators who debate about whether God covered Adam and Eve's nakedness with "aprons" or "animal skins". What does it matter? The point is that Almighty God himself PROVIDED cover for their nakedness and atonement for their great sin, by the shedding of animal blood.
      JOHN MACARTHUR says, "False teachers are NOT to be taken lightly but are to be COMMANDED TO cease their IDLE MEANINGLESS BABBLE AND FALSE TEACHINGS. Paul began the confrontation and expulsion of Hymenaeus and Alexander, the ringleaders of it in the church of Ephesus. Paul also told Titus, in Titus 1:11, "that false doctrines and false teachers of strange doctrines, their mouths must be silenced."
      Understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm:
      The problem people in Ephesus did not even understand the implications of their own babble, meaningless, mystical, and strange teaching.
      Verses 8-11 tells us Paul's condemnation of legalists is NOT a condemnation of the law itself.
      "But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust."
      The purpose of the law is to show us our sin, not to lead us to righteousness (as in Galatians 3:24-25). It was NOT made for the righteous person (who walks by faith according to Galatians 3:11) but for the lawless and insubordinate, to show them their sin.
      THEN AND NOW, there was SUBJECTIVE MORALITY present. Subjective morality says, you have your beliefs, needs, rules, and laws, and I have mine. I will do and say and obey what pleases me.
      The idea is NOT that the law has nothing to say to the righteous person, but that it especially speaks to the ungodly.
      For the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners:
      In Paul's mind sound doctrine and right conduct are vitally connected. These sinful actions are contrary to sound doctrine.
      Many people will condemn anyone with standards - especially higher standards - as being a legalist. Having standards and keeping them does not make us legalists and obedience does NOT make us legalists. We are legalists when we think what we do is what makes us right before God.
      If there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine:
      The implication is that in Ephesus, the church existed in a culture marked by these sins here listed and the those teaching false doctrine in some way allowed or promoted this sinful lifestyle.
      The apparently sinful environment of Ephesus shows us another reason why it was important for Timothy to remain in Ephesus. He should remain there because it was a difficult place to serve God and further the kingdom. He had to break up the fallow ground there, instead of running to an easier place to plow.
      How many times have we seen those who seek to minister for Jesus and think that is all they are required to do. Show up, preach the word, and then all will be sweetness and light. The church membership will be instantly convicted, repent, be saved and then the minister has only to spend his week preparing his next Bible study or sermon. When in fact, they run up against members in the church and in the community who challenge them, dispute them, mock them, ignore them, cause drama, are divisive, are deaf to their message and cause the pastor headaches and he starts thinking, maybe Jesus does not want me to reach out, to minister.
      PAUL is telling Timothy and us...ministering and leading a church is back-breaking, long, hot and sweaty time spent breaking up hard as brick ground, so that the soil is then ready to receive the word of God.
      According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God:
      Though the law can NOT bring righteousness, the glorious gospel of the blessed God can - a gospel that, in the words of Paul, was committed to his trust. He sensed his responsibility to preserve and guard the gospel with his very life.
      Verses 12-14 tells us WHY was Paul entrusted with the gospel?
      "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."
      Paul was entrusted with the gospel because Jesus enabled Paul, and Paul thanked Jesus for that enabling. Paul was enabled for this ministry because he was counted … faithful for the ministry. Faithfulness made Paul "usable" by God.
      We often see our Christian service as a matter of volunteering. Yet as Christians, in regard to Jesus and His church, we are NOT volunteers. We are SLAVES. We are duty bound servants of Jesus, and faithfulness is expected of such servants.
      AND CONTRARY TO THEOLOGICAL HYPERBOLE...You do NOT have to be smart to be faithful; you do NOT have to be talented or gifted. Faithfulness is something very down-to-earth, and every one of us can be faithful in the sphere God has given us.
      Many people wait to be faithful. We tell ourselves, "I'll be faithful when I'm in such and such a position." That's nonsense. We should be faithful right where we are at - our faithfulness is shown in the small things FIRST.
      Putting me into the ministry:
      Ministry simply means "service." In the original language of the New Testament, there is nothing "high" or "spiritual" about the word. It just means to work hard and serve. Yet for this former blasphemer and persecutor of God's people, this was a great honor.
      Although I was formerly:
      Paul's past did NOT disqualify him from serving God. God's mercy and grace were ENOUGH to cover his past and enable him to serve God. We should never feel that our past makes us unable to be used by God.
      With these words, Paul gave Timothy another reason to remain in Ephesus. It is likely that Timothy wanted to leave Ephesus and his ministry there because he felt unworthy or incapable of the work. These words from Paul assured Timothy, "If there is anyone unworthy of disqualified, it should be me. Yet God found a way to use me, and He will use you also as you remain in Ephesus."
      Because I did it ignorantly in unbelief:
      Ignorance and unbelief NEVER excuse our sin, but they DO INVITE God's mercy, because sin in ignorance and unbelief makes one less guilty than the believer who sins knowingly.
      Yet it was not Paul's ignorance that saved him; it was the exceeding abundant grace of God (God's unmerited favor).
      Verse 15 tells us Paul summarizes his personal experience of the gospel.
      "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."
      This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance:
      This unusual phrase introduces a statement of SPECIAL importance. Paul used this phrase 5 times - ALL in the Pastoral Epistles.
      Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners:
      Jesus came to save sinners, not those living under the illusion of their own righteousness. It is the sick who need a physician (Mark 2:17).
      Since Jesus came into the world to save sinners, this is the first necessary qualification for being a child of God - being a sinner. Sinners are not disqualified from coming to God, because Jesus came to save them.
      We also see the great danger in taking the terms sin and sinner out of our vocabulary. Many preachers deliberately do this today, because they do NOT want to offend anyone from the pulpit. But if Jesus came to save sinners, should NOT we identify who those sinners are? How else will they come to salvation?
      Of whom I am chief:
      Paul's claim to be the chief of sinners was NOT an expression of some super-pious false humility. He genuinely felt his sins made him more accountable before God than others.
      Paul felt - rightly so - his sins were worse because he was responsible for the death, imprisonment, and suffering of Christians, whom he persecuted before his life was changed by Jesus (Acts 8:3; 9:1-2, 1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13, Philippians 3:6).
      In Acts 26:11, Paul explained to Agrippa what might have been his WORST sin: "And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities."
      SPURGEON says, "He compelled others to blaspheme Jesus. "This, indeed, was a very horrible part of Saul's sinfulness. To destroy their bodies was bad enough, but to destroy their souls too-to compel them to blaspheme, to speak evil of that name which they confessed to be their joy and their hope, surely that was the worst form that even persecution could assume. He forced them under torture to abjure the Christ whom their hearts loved. As it were he was not content to kill them, but he must **** them too."
      Verse 16 tells us Paul saved as a pattern of mercy to others.
      "However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life."
      However, for this reason I obtained mercy:
      A man as bad as Paul obtained mercy. This means that the door is open to others who are not as bad sinners as Paul was.
      As a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him:
      Paul explains another reason why God loves to save sinners. They become a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him. God wants others to see what He can do by working in us.
      This truth - the doctrine - that changed Paul's life was the truth he commanded Timothy to guard earlier in the chapter.
      Verse 17 tells us Paul's praise to the God who saved him.
      "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."
      Paul could not think of how bad he was, and how great the salvation of God was, and how great the love of God was, without simply breaking into spontaneous praise.
      The King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise:
      Paul KNEW God to be the King eternal, ruling and reigning in complete power and glory.
      Paul KNEW God to be immortal, existing before anything else existed, and being the Creator of all things.
      Paul KNEW God to be invisible, not completely knowable by us; we can NOT completely figure out God, or know all His secrets.
      Paul KNEW God alone is wise, that He is God - and we are not. We think our plans and insights are so important, but only God really knows and understands all things.
      Be honor and glory forever and ever:
      Knowing all this about God, Paul could NOT stop praising Him. If we ever have trouble worshipping God, it is because we do NOT know Him very well.
      This description of God gave Timothy still another reason to remain in Ephesus. He could and should stay there when he considered the greatness of the God who he served. This great God is worthy of His service and can empower his service in Ephesus.
      Verse 18 tells us The charge to fight the good fight.
      "This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare."
      This charge I commit to you:
      Again, the Greek word for "charge (parangelia)" is the same as in 1 Timothy 1:3; it is a military word, referring to an order from a commanding officer.
      At the same time the words son Timothy express a note of fatherly love. Paul is serious, but full of love.
      According to the prophecies:
      Paul wanted Timothy to consider what the Holy Spirit had said to him through others in the past, and receive the courage to remain in Ephesus from those.
      Apparently, God had spoken to Timothy through others through the gift of prophecy and the words were an encouragement for Timothy to stay strong in the difficulty right in front of him. It may have been a description of Timothy's future ministry; it may have been a warning against being timid in his work for God. Whatever it was, God wanted Timothy to draw strength from it in his present difficulty.
      We must also be on guard against the "extravagant" prophecy; the one that declares that this person or that is going to have "the most powerful ministry the world has seen" or such. These prophecies are extremely manipulative, because they are awkward to speak against.
      Today, in some circles, it is NOT unusual to hear someone being declared as greater than Paul, Peter, Moses, or Elijah; declarations like "You will be a prophet like unto Daniel and receive an anointing ten times greater than any of your associates" are obviously extravagant, manipulative (because few will speak against it), and not of God.
      Tom Stipe, in the foreword to Counterfeit Revival, speaks powerfully about this phenomenon, having been a leader in it before seeing how wrong it is:
      After only a couple of years, the prophets seemed to be speaking to just about everyone on just about everything. Hundreds of … members received the 'gift' of prophecy and began plying their trade among both leaders and parishioners. People began carrying around little notebooks filled with predictions that had been delivered to them by the prophets and seers. They flocked to the prophecy conferences that had begun to spring up everywhere. The notebook crowd would rush forward in hopes of being selected to receive more prophecies to add to their prophetic diaries …
      Not long after 'prophecy du jour' became the primary source of direction, a trail of devastated believers began to line up outside our pastoral counseling offices. Young people promised teen success and stardom through prophecy were left picking up the pieces of their shattered hopes because God had apparently gone back on His promises. Leaders were deluged by angry church members who had received prophecies about the great ministries they would have but had been frustrated by local church leaders who failed to recognize and 'facilitate' their 'new anointing.'
      After a steady diet of the prophetic, some people were rapidly becoming biblically illiterate, choosing a 'dial-a-prophet' style of Christian living rather than studying God's Word. Many were left to continually live from one prophetic 'fix' to the next, their hope always in danger of failing because God's voice was so specific in pronouncement, yet so elusive in fulfillment. Possessing a prophet's phone number was like having a storehouse of treasured guidance. Little clutched notebooks replaced Bibles as the preferred reading material during church services."
      That by them you may wage the good warfare:
      WE NOTICE PAUL'S focus is not the prophetic word Timothy heard in the past. The focus is on battle right in front of him now, where he must wage the good warfare - that is, "fight the good fight."
      Paul gave Timothy the truth. Forewarned is forearmed. Timothy had a job in front of him, and it was going to be a battle. It was NOT going to be easy, or comfortable, or carefree. He had to approach the job Paul left him to do in Ephesus as a soldier approaches battle.
      This gave Timothy still another reason to remain in Ephesus. He should sense a responsibility to stay when he felt like leaving because he was like a soldier in a battle, who could NOT desert his post.
      Verse 19 tells us the tools for the warfare: faith and a good conscience.
      "Having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck."
      Faith and a good conscience:
      These TWO THINGS are essential when battling for the Lord. They protect against the spiritual attacks of doubt and condemnation.
      Timothy had to have the faith that God was in control, and would guide him as Timothy continued to seek him.
      He had to have a good conscience, because his enemies would be attacking him, and if Timothy had NOT conducted himself rightly, they would have good reason to attack. A good conscience is NOT just a conscience that approves us, but one that approves us because we have been doing what is right - it is connected with good conduct.
      Which some having rejected:
      Some have rejected these weapons; specifically, Paul speaks of rejecting the faith; those who reject what Jesus and the apostles taught are headed for ruin (shipwreck).
      Verse 20 tells us Two people that rejected the tools for warfare.
      "Of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme."
      Of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander:
      We know nothing of Hymenaeus and Alexander other than what Paul said of them here, and again in 2 Timothy 2:17, when he adds the name of another false teacher, Philetus. As well, 2 Timothy 4:14-15 where the name Alexander is mentioned again. Paul apparently disciplined them for their disobedience to God in heresy, in conduct, or in both. He put them out of the church, sent them back into the world, into Satan's realm, to punish them and to teach them NOT to blaspheme God, His Word, or twist and pervert The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
      We see that Paul was not afraid to point out opponents of the truth by name, as he said to do in Romans 16:17. This was not a contradiction of Jesus' command not to judge (Matthew 7:1-5).
      While Christians are not to judge one another's motives, we are certainly expected to be honest about each other's conduct.
      Whom I delivered to Satan:
      From other New Testament passages we can surmise that he did this by putting them outside the church, into the world, which is the devil's domain. The punishment was a removal of protection, not an infliction of evil.
      The Lord protects us from many attacks from Satan (Job 1:10; Luke 22:31-32), and much of this protection comes to us in what we receive as we gather together as Christians.
      JOHN MACARTHUR in his commentary of 1 Timothy says, "To BLASPHEME, was not ONLY to take God's name in vain, but TO SLANDER THE LORD, to willingly and knowing PERVERT THE BIBLE, AND it was to SPEAK FALSE DOCTRINES."
      In this, Paul gave Timothy one more reason to remain in Ephesus. He should do it because not everyone else does. We can not simply act as if every Christian does what God wants them to and stays faithful to the gospel. The fact that some do not should give us more incentive to not give up.
      In this we see SIX DIFFERENT REASONS why we should follow the pattern of Paul's command to Timothy to remain in Ephesus and not give up in difficult times.
      We should "Remain in Ephesus" …
      1. Because they need the truth (1 Timothy 1:3-7).
      2. Because you minister in a hard place (1 Timothy 1:8-11).
      3. Because God uses unworthy people (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
      4. Because you serve a great God (1 Timothy 1:17).
      5. Because you are in a battle and cannot surrender (1 Timothy 1:18).
      6. Because not everyone else does (1 Timothy 1:19-20).

    • July 6, 2016 5:12 AM EDT
    • 1 TIMOTHY 2
      Verse 1 tells us Pray for all men.
      "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men."
      First of all...does NOT refer to TIME; it refers to IMPORTANCE. What comes next is of FIRST importance in the heart and mind of Paul. Paul's broader context following is the public worship of Christians, so this begins a series of instructions for those meetings.
      Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks...These terms describe the wide categories of our communication with God.
     simply asking for something. Prayer should NEVER be all asking, but it should ask in bold confidence from God's Word.
     a broad word, referring to ALL communication with the Lord.
      INTERCESSIONS...refer to the requests we make on behalf of others. As we pray, there should be time when the needs of OTHERS find a place in our prayer before God's throne.
      GIVING OF an essential part of our walk with God. Those who LACK a basic sense of gratitude in their lives LACK a basic Christian virtue.
      ALL MEN...This tells us whom we are to pray for with these various means of prayer. The idea is that all men, means ALL PEOPLE, MALE AND FEMALE need prayer. You have never met someone that you can not or should not pray for.
      Most Christians find it easy to pray for their family, friends, and loved ones, but it should not end there. We should also pray for our enemies and for those with whom we have conflict. We should pray for those who annoy us, and for those who seem to be against us. Each of these fall into the category of ALL men.
      TO PRAY FOR ALL MEN...also means to pray evangelistically. We should pray for our friends who need to know Jesus, for our coworkers, and for others we have regular contact with.
      TO PRAY...also means to pray for your pastors, to pray for your church, and to pray for other ministries you know and love.
      GIVING OF THANKS be made for all men...We can find something to thank God for regarding all men. Even those who persecute us and are against us have a place in the over-arching plan of God.
      Verse 2 tells us to pray for those in authority.
      "For kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence."
      For kings and all who are in authority...
      DID YOU KNOW...Early Christians were often accused of undermining the state because they claimed a higher Lord other than Caesar. Yet they would point out that they supported the state by being good citizens and by praying FOR the emperor, not TO him.
      We should give thanks for those who are in authority, because God has ordained government in society to keep order told to us in Romans 13:1-7.
      That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence...We should pray for a government and rulers that would simply leave us alone and let us live as Christians.
      Christians are to look for NO special favors from the government. Our goal is a LEVEL playing field, unrestricted by state intervention.
      DID YOU KNOW...At the time Paul wrote this, Christianity was NOT an illegal religion YET in the Roman Empire and it was still considered a branch of Judaism. It was even more reasonable to believe that the Roman government might just leave Christians alone to live their faith.
      Verses 3-4 tells us the GOAL OF PRAYER for all men: That they would be saved.
      "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
      Prayer for those in authority should ALWAYS have an evangelical purpose. Our real goal is that they would come under the authority of Jesus, and make decisions allowing the gospel to have free course and be glorified.
      Who desires all men to be saved...On a human level, we can certainly say that God DESIRES all men to be saved. There is no one in such high authority that they do NOT need salvation in Jesus.
      However, from a divine perspective, we understand there is a sense in which we can not say that God desires all men to be saved - otherwise, either all men would automatically be saved, or God would not have left an element of human response in the gospel.
      God's desire for all men to be saved is conditioned by His desire to have a genuine response from human beings. He will NOT fulfill His desire to save all men at the expense of making people robots that worship Him from simply being programmed to do so. God imbued mankind with freewill choice. God wants to be CHOSEN.
      Who desires all men to be saved...Because this is true (as seen from a human perspective), therefore the gospel must be presented to all without reservation. Any idea of limiting evangelism to the elect is absurd.
      All men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth...Salvation is clearly associated with coming to the knowledge of the truth. One can NOT be saved apart from at least some BASIC understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done to save us.
      Verses 5-7 tells us HOW all men must be saved.
      "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle; I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying; a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth."
      ONE God and ONE Mediator...Through ONE Mediator, and ONE alone: The Man Christ Jesus. There is NO OTHER valid, nor acceptable way to God that does NOT come through Jesus.
      This statement of Paul simply echoes what Jesus said in John 14:6: "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
      It is also SIMPLY logical.
      IF Jesus was at least a good and honest man, then He told the truth when He said that He was the only way to God.
      IF Jesus did NOT tell the truth at this IMPORTANT point, then it is difficult to regard Jesus as even a good or honest man, much less a prophet from God.
      IF Jesus was wrong then Jesus was either a liar or a lunatic.
      In the modern world most people think that MANY ROADS OR ANY AND ALL road leads to God, if followed sincerely or with a good heart. The Bible argues against this idea.
      REMEMBER LUKE 18:9-14 --- The Pharisee and the tax collector each came to God sincerely, but one was accepted and one was not.
      REMEMBER LUKE 18:18-23 --- The rich young ruler came to Jesus sincerely, but was rejected because he did not give up everything to follow Jesus.
      REMEMBER Leviticus 10:1-3 --- the story of Nadab and Abihu - and God's judgment upon them - makes it clear that we can not come to God any way we please, and that sincerity is not enough.
      REMEMBER Proverbs 14:12 --- is instructive: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
      DAVID GUZIK says it well, "Many people THINK that God would be unfair or narrow minded to have ONLY ONE WAY to salvation; but the thought needs to be turned over. To say that God is unfair for this, one would have to look at Jesus dying on the cross - the spotless Son of God, came from heaven and lived humbly and died in horrific agony, both physical and spiritual - to look at Jesus on the cross and say, "Thanks God; I appreciate the gesture, but that is NOT enough. You are going to have to do a little more than that, because that is only one way and if You are fair You will make several ways."
      The Man Christ Jesus...This reminds us that Jesus is still human, even as He is enthroned in heaven right now. His humanity was NOT merely a temporary phase. When the Eternal Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, added humanity to His deity, He added it FOREVER - not only for 33 years.
      Jesus is still FULLY God and FULLY man, but His humanity is glorified and resurrected. It is the pattern of the humanity that we will experience in heaven.
      Who gave Himself...Jesus GAVE Himself.
      You can give your time without giving yourself.
      You can give your money without giving yourself.
      You can give your opinion without giving yourself.
      You can even give your life without giving yourself.
      Jesus wants us to give ourselves, just as He gave Himself.
      Who gave Himself a ransom...
      Jesus gave Himself as a hostage, as a payment for our sins. He put Himself in our place and received the punishment and wrath from God the Father that we deserved. This is the basic message of the gospel.
      A ransom for all...There is enough in the work of Jesus on the cross for EVERYONE. No one will be turned away because Jesus ran out of love or forgiveness at the cross for them.
      For which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle...
      This was the message Paul preached. The message was of salvation only through Jesus, and Jesus crucified, as in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2.
      A teacher of the Gentiles...
      Paul began his ministry with an equal emphasis to BOTH Jew and Gentile (Acts 13), but because of continued REJECTION by Jews, Paul began to emphasize his ministry to the Gentiles.
      Verse 8 tells us the role of men in leading prayer when the church gathers.
      "I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."
      That the men pray everywhere...
      This has the idea of "in EVERY church," and "in EVERY place." Paul's focus is on what THE CHURCH does when it comes together for meetings.
      The idea that we should pray constantly and that prayer should be a normal part of our life wherever we go is good and valid; but it is NOT what Paul means here.
      That the men...
      Makes it clear Paul assumed men, THE HEAD SHEPHERD OF HIS FLOCK, would ALWAYS take the lead WITHIN THE CHURCH DURING SERMONS, AND meetings of the congregation. Since the lifting up of hands was a common posture of prayer in ancient cultures, this text speaks of men leading public prayer IN THE CHURCH - men representing the congregation IN THE CHURCH before God's throne.
      Lifting up holy hands...
      Hands that are lifted up must be holy - hands that are set apart unto God, and not given over to evil.
      Without wrath and doubting...
      Such prayers must be without wrath (praying "angry" prayers) and without doubting (praying without faith). When we pray angry, or pray without faith, we can do FAR MORE HARM than good - especially when the prayer is public, MEANING BEFORE THE CHURCH BODY.
      Verses 9-10 tells us Women should emphasize spiritual preparation and beauty more than physical preparation and beauty.
      "In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works."
      In like manner also...
      The word also refers back to the statement that the men pray everywhere in 1 Timothy 2:8. Paul thought the principle of 1 Timothy 2:8 should apply in various church congregations, and so should the principle in 1 Timothy 2:9.
      That the women adorn themselves in modest apparel...
      This is how Christian women are supposed to dress, especially at their Christian church meetings. The words propriety and moderation help explain what modest apparel is.
      Propriety asks, "Is it appropriate for the occasion? Is it over-dressed or under-dressed? Is it going to call inappropriate attention to myself?"
      Moderation asks, "Is it moderate? Is it just too much - or far too little?" Moderation looks for a middle ground.
      The braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing Paul mentions were adornments that went against the principles of propriety and moderation in that culture.
      How you dress reflects your heart. If a man dresses in a casual manner, it says something about his attitude. Likewise, if a woman dresses in an immodest manner, it says something about her heart.
      We should ALWAYS strive to wear our best. We should always take the time to be clean and neat, contrary to teachings and the outrageous apparel worn and seen in the pulpit and in the congregation today, as in Paul's day, that was/is at times, like a NEON BILLBOARD saying "Look at me!" Neat and clean and respectful is FAR more important to Jesus, than wearing the latest fads, hands loaded wth gold and diamonds, and hair styles and clothing that makes a person stand out in the church, when our focus should always be on Jesus Word and praising and honoring Him, Amen?
      But … with good works...
      The most important adornment is good works. If a woman is dressed in propriety and moderation, with good works, she is perfectly dressed. Good works make a Christian woman FAR more beautiful than good jewelry and towering hair styles, and flashy clothing ever can.
      Verses 11-12 tells us Women are to show submission, and yield to the authority of the men God has appointed to lead in the church.
      "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence."
      Let a woman learn in silence...
      This unfortunate translation has led some to believe that it is forbidden for women to even speak in church. Paul uses the same word translated silence in 1 Timothy 2:2, and it is translated PEACEABLE there. The idea is speak peace, without contention instead of total silence.
      In other places in the New Testament, even in the writings of Paul, women are specifically mentioned as praying and speaking in the church (1 Corinthians 11:5). To learn in silence has the idea of women receiving the teaching of the men God has chosen to lead in the church, with submission instead of contention.
      Submission is the principle; to learn in silence describes the application of the principle.
      CLARKE gives us some incite into the times of Paul, "Some have said the reason for this is because in these ancient cultures (as well as some present-day cultures), men and women sat in separate sections. The thought is that women interrupted the church service by shouting questions and comments to their husbands during the service. It was lawful for men in public assemblies to ask questions, or even interrupt the speaker when there was any matter in his speech which they did not understand; but this liberty was not granted to women."
      TO GIVE US A MODERN DAY PARALLEL, that helps us to understand what Paul and Timothy were dealing with in the church of Ephesus.
      When I was growing up and watching National news alerts by the President, the news media was all there, but they were respectfully silent during the announcements, and when given permission to ask questions, it was a raised hand, and it was waiting your turn, to be called and recognized.
      TODAY, a NATIONAL PRESS CONFERENCE, just as many church services are at best a circus and at worst a madhouse of rudeness, disrespect, bravado, and howling over each other to be seen and heard.
      That is what Paul and Timothy dealt with in the church of Ephesus. The women and children who were segregated behind a shielding screen far away from the Head Pastor and his podium, while their husbands and the male elders, and male deacons had front row seats. Now the men were allowed to interrupt and ask questions or demand clarification on a whim, and it was their duty and responsibility as God's chosen head of house, to then go home and tell their wives and their children what was taught, what he learned, and for him then to answer any questions his wife and children had. Some of the men then, were failing to do so.
      And just as today, we have pastors twisting and distorting, if not outright changing God's Word to suit their own preconceived ideologies, and it was into this legalism, Paul and Timothy had to face and deal with all the time.
      Legalist husbands could and had divorced their wives for making a meal they did not like, or in modern times, for burning the toast.
      So the women hearing the gospel by Paul, but being dismissed by their husbands who refused to teach them, explain to them the scripture, then began to shout out their own unanswered questions directed to their husbands during the church services.
      It was a madhouse.
      Paul demanded peace and submission when in the church and before Almighty God. And he regularly chastised the men, the elders, the heads of house for not doing their duty before God as well with their families.
      JOHN MACARTHUR says, "The women who joined in the chaotic self–expression which Paul has been condemning not only added to the confusion but should not have been speaking in the first place. In God’s order for the church, women should subject themselves, just as the Law also says. The principle was first taught in the Old Testament and is reaffirmed in the New Testament in reflection of that principle, no women were permitted to speak out or shout questions at the Jewish synagogues.
      The implication is present in this statement that certain women were out of order in asking questions in the church service. If they desired to learn, the church was no place for them to express their questions in a disruptive way. Paul also implies, of course, that Christian husbands should be well taught in the Word. Many women are tempted to go beyond their biblical roles because of frustration with Christian men, often including their own husbands, who do not responsibly fulfill the leadership assignments God has given them. But God has established the proper order and relationship of male–female roles in the church, and they are not to be transgressed. For a woman to take on a man’s role because he has neglected it merely compounds the problem. God often has led women to do work in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, that men have refused to do, but He does not lead them to accomplish that work through roles He has restricted to men."
      PAUL is not, as some wrongly teach, saying women's silence is a broad inclusive brush within the public nor in the church. Paul did not mean total silence and submission for the times in informal church meetings, gatherings, study groups, seminars, and Bible studies where it was/is entirely proper for men and women to share equally in exchanging questions and insights. But when the church comes together as a body to worship God, to hear and learn His Word, His standards are clear: the role of leadership is reserved for men."
      With all submission...
      The word for submission here literally means, "To be under in rank." It has to do with respecting an acknowledged order of authority. It certainly does not mean that men are more spiritual than women or that women are inferior to men.
      I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man...
      Paul's meaning seems clear. Women are not to have the role of teaching, preaching, or being the LEAD/HEAD authority IN the church during sermons, prayers, etc.
      Not all speaking or teaching by a woman is a violation of God's order of authority in the church. Whatever speaking or teaching is done by a woman must be done in submission and with permission and approval of the men God has appointed to lead the church.
      In John MacArthur's church, you will notice that He INVITES and has women come give their testimony, share their outreaches, and what they are doing within the church and in the mission field. The women play a VITAL role in the Grace To You church, but when they gather the full body of the church for the sermon, you notice the choir loft is emptied from behind him. The assistant and associate pastors, elders, and ministers of music leave the stage, and the musicians leave too. It is JUST John MacArthur standing behind a large podium, with the open Bible on it being the centerpiece...the focus.
      There are NO distractions. There is no one jumping up and shouting Amen!, Preach it! Or having running commentary during the hearing and studying of God's Word. There is no one falling out in the aisles, screaming, barking, vibrating, even the children in attendance are quiet and respectful. What you DO SEE is lots of OPEN BIBLES, pages turning, and people taking notes.
      This is what Jesus told Paul he wanted HIS CHURCH to behave like. This is submission to and respect for Jesus and His Word, Amen?!
      1 Corinthians 11:1-12 emphasizes the same principle. Women are to always act under authority in the congregation, demonstrated in Corinthian culture by the wearing of a head covering. Therefore a woman in the Corinthian church could only pray or prophesy if she demonstrated that she was under the leadership of the church, and she demonstrated this by wearing a head covering and by acting consistently with that principle.
      I do not permit...
      The strength of Paul's wording here makes it challenging to obey this command in today's society. Since the 1970's, our culture has rejected the idea that there may be different roles for men and women in the home, in the professional world, or in the church. In this text (among others), the Holy Spirit clearly says there is a difference in roles.
      But the cultural challenge must be seen in its true context - not just a struggle between men and women, but as a struggle with the issue of authority in general. Since the 1960's, there has been a massive change in the way we see and accept authority.
      - Citizens do not have the same respect for government's authority.
      - Students do not have the same respect for teacher's authority.
      - Women do not have the same respect for men's authority.
      - Children do not have the same respect for parental authority.
      - Employees do not have the same respect for their employer's authority.
      - People do not have the same respect for the police's authority.
      - Christians no longer have the same respect for church authority.
      - Christians no longer respect Sola Scriptura of God's Word either.
      SADLY, There are not many who would say that these changes have been good. Generally, people do not feel safer and there is less confidence in the culture. Television and other entertainment get worse and worse. In fact, our society is presently in, and rushing towards, complete anarchy - the state where no authority is accepted, and the only thing that matters is SUBJECTIVE MORALITY...meaning doing only what one wants to do.
      As the Bible says, "Men doing what is right in their own eyes."
      It is fair to describe our present moral state as one of anarchy. There is no moral authority in our culture. When it comes to morality, the only thing that matters is what one wants to do. And in a civil sense, many neighborhoods in our nation are given over to anarchy. The government's authority is not accepted in gang-infested portions of our cities. The only thing that matters is what one wants to do.
      We must see the broader attack on authority as a direct Satanic strategy to destroy our society and millions of individual lives. He is accomplishing this with two main attacks.
      FIRST, the corruption of authority.
      SECOND, the rejection of authority.
      This idea of authority and submission to authority are so important to God that they are part of His very being.
      The First Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Father.
      The Second Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Son.
      Inherent in those titles is a relationship of authority and submission to authority.
      The Father exercises authority over the Son, and the Son submits to the Father's authority - and this is in the very nature and being of God.
      Our failure to exercise Biblical authority, and our failure to submit to Biblical authority, is not just wrong and sad - it sins against the very nature of God.
      1 Samuel 15:23 speaks to this same principle: "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft."
      I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man...
      Paul's focus here is the public worship of the church IN THE CHURCH. God has established a clear chain of authority in both the home and in the church, and in those spheres, God has ordained that men are the "head" - that is, that they have the place of authority and responsibility.
      Our culture, having rejected the idea in a difference in role between men and women, now rejects the idea of any difference between men and women. The driving trends in our culture point towards men who are more like women, and women who are more like men. Styles, clothes, perfumes, and all the rest promote this thought.
      The Bible is just as specific that there is no general submission of women unto men commanded in society; ONLY in the spheres of the home and in the church. God has NOT commanded in His word that men have exclusive authority in the areas of politics, business, education, and so on.
      It also does not mean that every woman in the church is under the authority of every man in the church. Instead it means that those who lead the church - pastors and ruling elders - must be men, and the women (and other men and the general congregation of the church) must respect their authority and work with and under their counsel and authority...because JESUS holds THESE MEN responsible for HIS CHURCH.
      The failure of men to lead in the home and in the church, and to lead in the way Jesus would lead, has been a chief cause of the rejection of male authority.
      Some feel this recognition and submission to authority is an unbearable burden.
      They WRONGLY feel that it means, "I have to say that I am inferior, that I am nothing, and I have to recognize this other person as being superior."
      Yet inferiority or superiority has NOTHING to do with this.
      We remember the relationship between God the Father and God the Son - they are completely EQUAL in their being, but have different ROLES when it comes to authority.
      Some may say that the church can NOT work (or can NOT work well) unless we go along with the times and put women into positions of HEADSHIP AND LEADERSHIP of spiritual and doctrinal authority in the church ABOVE men. From the standpoint of what works in our culture, they may be right. Yet from the standpoint of pleasing God by doing what He says in His word, they are wrong.
      Verses 13-14 tells us REASONS for God's recognition of male authority in the church.
      "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."
      For Adam was formed first...
      The FIRST reason for male authority in the church is order of creation. Adam (man) was created first, and given original authority on earth and over the earth and all its creation.
      The FIRST command God gave to the human race is found in Genesis 2:16-17: "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
      This command was NOT given to woman at all. At the time that command was given, Eve was NOT yet created from Adam.
      Therefore, Adam received his command and his authority from God, and Eve received her command and authority from Adam.
      The woman being deceived...
      The SECOND REASON is the difference in the sin of Adam and Eve, as connected to their difference in authority.
      Both Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, and Eve clearly sinned first.
      Yet, the Bible NEVER blames Eve for the fall of the human race, but always blames Adam (through one man sin entered the world, Romans 5:12).
      Adam is RESPONSIBLE because there was a DIFFERENCE of authority.
      Adam had an authority Eve did not have; therefore he also had a responsibility Eve did not have. Adam failed in his responsibility in a far more significant way than Eve did.
      As well, Eve was deceived, and Adam was not deceived.
      IN OTHER WORDS, Eve was tricked; but Adam sinned KNOWING exactly what he was doing when he rebelled.
      This means that though Adam's sin was worse, Eve's ability to be more readily deceived made her MORE dangerous in a place of authority.
      Generally speaking, it may be observed that women seem to be more spiritually sensitive than men - but this can be true for good or evil.
      Significantly, these reasons are NOT dependent upon culture. Those who say "Paul was a sexist man in a sexist culture," and discount these words, are simply not reading what the Holy Spirit says in the Scriptures here.
      Verse 15 tells us being a Christian woman in light of Eve's curse.
      "Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control."
      Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing...
      DID YOU KNOW...
      Many people regard this as one of the most difficult passages in the whole Bible. On the surface, it could be taken to mean that if a woman continues in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control, that God will bless her with survival in childbirth - which was no small promise in the ancient world.
      Yet this interpretation leaves many difficult questions, does it not?
      Is this an absolute promise?
      What about godly women who have died in childbirth?
      What about sinful women who have survived childbirth?
      Does NOT this seem like just a reward for good works, and not according to God's grace and mercy?
      Saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self control...
      Some approach this passage saying saved refers to gaining eternal life.
      Yet this interpretation is even more difficult.
      Are women saved eternally by giving birth to children - but only if they continue with godly virtues?
      What about women who can't have children?
      Are they denied salvation?
      She will be saved in childbearing...
      A better way to approach this passage is based on the grammar in the original Greek language. In the original, it says she will be saved in the childbirth. This has the sense, "Even though women were deceived, and fell into transgression starting with Eve, women can be saved by the Messiah - whom a woman brought into the world."
      PAUL means and gives us the idea here is that even though the "woman race" did something bad in the garden by being deceived and falling into transgression, the "woman race" also did something FAR greater, in being used by God to bring the saving Messiah into the world.
      PAUL'S summary to Timothy is this: Do NOT blame women for the fall of the human race; the Bible does NOT. Instead, thank women for bringing the Messiah to us.
      Faith, love, and holiness, with self-control...
      Most of all, we should note these positives. They are all qualities God wants to be evident in women, and that women have effectively nurtured in their children through generations.

    • July 6, 2016 5:10 AM EDT
    • 1 TIMOTHY 3
      Verse 1 tells us an introduction the good work of spiritual leadership.
      "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work."
      This is a faithful saying...Paul has just written that women are not to hold positions of doctrinal and head authority in the church; but he does not want to leave the impression that just ANY man is qualified. No man is qualified to be a spiritual leader in the church just because of his gender.
      If a man desires the position of a bishop...
      The office Paul described is that of BISHOP. Our religious culture has given us a particular idea of what a bishop is; but the word bishop in New Testament Greek [episkopos] literally means "over" (epi) "watcher" (skopos) - AN OVERSEER.
      In Acts 20:17, we learn there were many bishops - that is, overseers - in one church in one city. Undoubtedly, these were men who had oversight over the many house-churches that met throughout the city. The idea of a "regional bishop" DOES NOT come from the Bible.
      Based on what bishop means, a bishop is someone with oversight in the church, a leader. Such a person may also sometimes be called an elder (presbuteros) or a pastor (poimen, which means "shepherd"), as in Acts 20:17, 28.
      White adds: "Having given elementary directions concerning the scope of public prayer, and the ministers thereof, Paul now takes up the matter of Church organization." Yet this organization of the church is greatly limited. There is no advice or guidance on structure or exactly how the offices of bishop or deacon or anything else relate to each other. In the New Testament design, there seems to be some flexibility on structure and an emphasis rather on the character of leaders."
      He desires a good work...
      The idea is NOT, "Good for you, you want to have a place of spiritual leadership," even though that can be a godly desire. The idea is more like this: "This is a good, noble, honorable work. Timothy, you need to look for good, noble, honorable men."
      He desires a good work...
      Spiritual leadership in the church is NOT all about titles and honor and glory; it's about work.
      REMEMBER MARK 9:35, "Jesus said: If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."
      SPURGEON says it well, What is the use of a lazy minister? He is no good either to the world, to the Church, or to himself. He is a dishonor to the noblest profession that can be bestowed upon the sons of men."
      Verse 2 tells us the qualifications for bishops.
      "A bishop then must be …"
      God has specific qualifications for leaders in the church. Leaders are NOT to be chosen at random, NOR just because they volunteer, NOR because they aspire to the position, NOR even because they are "natural leaders." Instead they should be chosen primarily on how they match the qualifications listed here.
      AND WE NOTICE SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE...The qualifications for leadership have NOTHING to do with giftedness. God does not say, "Go out and get the most gifted men."
      REMEMBER 1 CORINTHIANS 12:11...God may easily and instantly create gifts in a man, "because gifts are given by the Holy Spirit as He wills."
      1. Going to seminary does NOT make one qualified for spiritual leadership.
      2. Being a good talker does NOT make one qualified for spiritual leadership.
      3. Natural or spiritual gifts in themselves do NOT qualify one for spiritual leadership.
      4. What one gives in money or volunteer time does NOT qualify them for spiritual leadership.
      What DOES QUALIFY a man for spiritual leadership is godly character - and godly character established according to these clear criteria.
      Then must be...
      However, this is NOT a rigid list which demands PERFECTION in all areas; they are both goals to reach for and general criteria for selection. One looks at this list and asks:
      "Does the man in question desire all these things with his whole heart?"
      "Does that desire show itself in his life?"
      "Are there others available who better fulfill the requirements of this list?"
      Must be...
      As well, these qualifications are valuable for EVERY person - not only those who aspire to leadership. They are clear indicators of godly character and spiritual maturity and they can give a true measure of a man.
      Verses 2b-7 tells us a list of qualifications for leaders in the church.
      "Blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
      BLAMELESS....This word literally means, "Nothing to take hold upon." There must be NOTHING in his life that others can take hold of and attack the church.
      This is a broad term for a man who lives a righteous life that can be seen as righteous. No one can stand up and rightfully accuse the man of grievous sin.
      The idea here is of "A one-woman man." It is not that a leader must be married (if so, then both Jesus and Paul could not be spiritual leaders in our churches). Nor is the idea that leader could never remarry if his wife had passed away or was Biblically divorced. The idea is that of love and affection and heart is given to one woman, and that being his lawful and wedded wife.
      This means that the Biblical leader is not a playboy, an adulterer, a flirt, and does not show romantic or sexual interest in other women, including the depictions or images of women in pornography.
      The idea is of someone who is NOT given to extremes. They are reliable and trustworthy, and you do NOT have to worry about wide swings of vision, mood, or action.
      This describes the person who is able to think clearly and with clarity. They have humor, but are not constantly joking, not know how to deal with serious subjects in a serious way.
      The idea is "orderly." It is the same word translated modest in 1 Timothy 2:9. "Orderly, perhaps dignified in the best sense of the term."
      They are willing and able to open up their home to both friends and strangers.
      ABLE TO TEACH...
      Skilled enough in the Bible to teach, either in a public or one-on-one setting.
      The idea is of not being addicted to wine or intoxicating drink. This verse, in itself, does not prohibit godly leadership from drinking alcoholic beverages, but it clearly discourages it.
      NOT VIOLENT...
      This is a man who is not given to violence either publicly nor privately; a man who can let God fight his cause.
      CALVIN says it well, "I repeat that the man who will not bear poverty patiently and willingly will inevitably become the victim of mean and sordid covetousness."
      The kind of man who takes Jesus as his example, not the latest action hero.
      The kind of person who is not always fighting over something or other.
      This is a more encompassing thought than merely greedy for money. The covetous man is never satisfied with anything, always demanding something more or different. A man who is constantly dissatisfied is not fit for leadership among God's people.
      The godly leader demonstrates his leadership ability FIRST in his own home; Paul recognized that it is in the home where our Christianity is first demonstrated.
      It is true that a child may rebel from even a good home; but is the rebellion because of the parents or in spite of their job as parents? This is the question that must be asked.
      NOT A NOVICE...
      New converts should not be given leadership too quickly. The leader should be well past the novice stage in their spiritual development.
      When someone FIRST comes to Jesus, it is NOT good to put them into a place of leadership until they have been allowed to grow long enough to put down some deep roots.
      CALVIN says it well, "Novices are not only bold and impetuous, but are puffed up with foolish self-confidence, as though they could fly beyond the clouds. Promoting a novice too quickly gives occasion to the great sin - pride, in imitation of the Devil himself."
      These characteristics must be evident to all, even unbelievers to see. The potential leader must be a good Christian outside the walls of the church.
      Verse 8a tells us DEACONS, the practical servants of the church.
      "Likewise deacons must be …"
      An example of the appointment of deacons is in Acts 6:1-6, where the apostles saw the need for those to distribute the daily assistance to the widows among the church, yet did not have the time to distribute the aid themselves. They chose men to act essentially as deacons in that church.
      Deacons qualifications are much the same as those for "bishops"; practical service (especially when recognized by an office) is leadership also.
      It is a MISTAKE to see one office as more prestigious than the other, though bishops have more responsibility before God. Each is more a matter of calling than status.
      Verses 8b-12 tells us qualifications for deacons.
      "Reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well."
      REVERENT...Showing proper respect towards both God and man.
      NOT DOUBLE-TONGUED...A man who speaks the truth the first time, with no intent to deceive.
      HOLDING THE MYSTERY OF THE FAITH...Those who can adhere to proper doctrine, out of sincere conviction.
      FIRST TO BE PROVED...A man demonstrates his fitness for office in the church by his conduct. Deacons and bishops are more recognized than appointed.
      LIKEWISE THEIR WIVES....It is difficult to know if Paul here referred here to female deacons (such as Phoebe, in Romans 16:1), or the wives of male deacons. The original wording will permit either possibility.
      AS WELL...speaking of a male deacon's wife, it is ALSO appropriate because a man's leadership in the home can be evaluated, in part, by his wife's conduct. Is she reverent, not [one of the] slanderers, temperate, and faithful in all things?
      NOT SLANDERERS....Literally, not devils. This may be properly enough translated slanderers, backbiters, tale-bearers, for all these are of their father, the devil, and his lusts they will do.
      Verse 13 tells us a promise for deacons.
      "For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."
      For those who have served well as deacons...
      God remembers their faithful service, even in tasks which some would consider menial. There is little doubt that you will see more deacons with a great reward than bishops or pastors.
      Verses 14-15 tells us Paul's reason for writing Timothy.
      "These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
      These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly...
      Paul desired to speak these things to Timothy personally, but knowing he might not be able, he made certain that he said it in a letter.
      How you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God...
      Paul's purpose for writing was to give Timothy, as a leader, practical information on how to run things in the Ephesian church.
      The house of God...
      The church must be, very consciously, the place where God is. This makes a church more attractive than anything else.
      The Church is God's house because …
      - He is the Architect.
      - He is the Builder.
      - He provides for it.
      - He is honored there and He rules there.
      The church of the living God...
      In the ancient Greek language, "church" was a non-religious word for a group of people called together for a purpose. The living God has called His people together for His purpose.
      The pillar and ground of truth...
      The pillar and ground (foundation) of the church is TRUTH.
      Tragically, many churches today sell truth short and are therefore left weak pillars and shaky ground.
      CALVIN says it well, "The Church is the pillar of the truth because by its ministry the truth is preserved and spread … Paul will not acknowledge the Church except where God's truth is exalted and plain."
      It is NOT that the church is the foundation for the truth as some religiosities falsely teach that Paul means, but that the church HOLDS UP GOD'S TRUTH, SOLA SCRIPTURA, so the world can see it.
      SPURGEON says it well, "When the Church stands boldly out, and preaches the Word, it is the pillar of the truth; when it is hidden in the Roman catacombs, and cannot proclaim the Savior's name to the world, still there lives the truth deep in the hearts of believers, and they are then the ground of the truth."
      Verse 16 tells us An early hymn to express the foundation of Christian truth.
      "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory."
      SPUREON says, "When he says 'without controversy,' I suppose he means that there ought to be no controversy about these facts. Observe that the comprehensive summary of the gospel here given is contained in six little sentences, which run with such regularity of measure in the original Greek, that some have supposed them to be an ancient hymn; and it is possible that they may have been used as such in the early church."
      God was manifested in the flesh...
      This is the essence of the incarnation; that God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, added to His deity humanity - and was thus manifested in the flesh.
      Justified in the Spirit...
      We can say that Jesus was justified by the Spirit not in the sense that He was once sinful but made righteous, but in the sense that He was declared to be, by the Holy Spirit, what He always was - completely justified before the Father.
      This declaration was made at His baptism (Matthew 3:16), and at His resurrection (1 Peter 3:18; Acts 2:32-33).
      Seen by angels...
      The ministry of Jesus, both on earth and through the Church, is of great interest to angelic beings. There were many instances when Jesus was seen by angels (Mark 1:13; Luke 22:41-43), and especially at the resurrection (Matthew 28:2-7).
      SPURGEON adds, "The Godhead was seen in Christ by angels, as they had never seen it before. They had beheld the attribute of justice, they had seen the attribute of power, they had marked the attribute of wisdom, and seen the Prerogative of sovereignty; but never had angels seen love, and condescension, and tenderness, and pity, in God as they saw these things resplendent in the person and the life of Christ."
      Preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world...
      Paul himself did his best to fulfill these statements. He was busy preaching Jesus among the Gentiles and bringing the world to belief.
      Received up in glory...
      This reminds us of Jesus' ascension (Luke 24:51).
      His finished work on our behalf (Hebrews 1:3).
      His present intercession for us (1 John 2:1).
      SPURGEON says it wonderfully, "Jesus Christ was so received because His work is finished. He would never have gone into his glory if He had not finished all his toil. He would have accepted no reward had He not fully earned it."
      Received up in glory...
      AND WE REMEMBER JOHN 20:24-29, "Jesus ascended into heaven in a resurrection body; yet it was a body that still retained the marks of His great work of love for us. It still had the nail prints in His hands and feet, the wound in his side, all marks of His suffering on our behalf."
      Paul's description of Jesus after the passage speaking of Christian character reminds us of the key to our own character transformation - beholding Jesus.
      It is just as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:18: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."
      Jesus is the PERFECT FULFILLMENT of these descriptions of Christian character. We trust that Jesus will transform our life according to the same character, as we put our focus on Him. We sometimes want religion to build this character in us; but it can not. Only a true relationship with Jesus and reading His Word is what really does it.

    • July 6, 2016 5:07 AM EDT
    • 1 TIMOTHY 4
      Verse 1 tells us a WARNING from the Holy Spirit HIMSELF.
      "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."
      POWERFULLY Paul ESPECIALLY marked this as a revelation from the Holy Spirit; either as a spontaneous word given as he wrote or quoting from a previous prophecy. Paul knew certain dangers would mark the latter times.
      - The danger of apostasy (some will depart).
      - The danger of deception (deceiving spirits).
      - The danger of false teaching (doctrines of demons).
      It has been more than 1900 years since Paul wrote to Timothy about the latter times, but he did NOT misunderstand HIS time or OUR OWN TODAY. History is NOT, and has NOT, been rushing towards a distant brink that would end this current order; even in apostolic times, history had reached that brink - and has run parallel to it since. As it turns out, the latter times describe a broad era, NOT a couple of years DURING OR JUST AFTER PAUL'S LIFE WAS FINISHED AS SOME WRONGLY TEACH.
      Some WILL DEPART from the faith: Because of the danger of the latter times, if Timothy were to remain a faithful minister to God's people, he must keep a dead reckoning on the truth - the faith. If this were lost, NOT much else really mattered.
      A June 1997 article in U.S. News and World Report described a Virginia pastor who "Would rather preach on 'Bosnia, justice, or world peace' than on Bible stories or personal salvation." This is an example of a man who departed from the faith and followed his own direction.
      The faith...
      This describes the essential teachings of the Christian faith. When some … depart from the faith, they are ABANDONING the essential teachings of Christianity.
      WE KNOW THE BIBLE uses the phrase "the faith" in this way many places: Acts 6:7 and 14:22, Colossians 1:23, 1 Timothy 1:19, and Jude 1:3.
      Deceiving spirits...
      This refers to demonic spirits (angelic beings who have rebelled against God), who seek to deceive men and women and to entice them away from the truth.
      Some lies are so powerful that they have an evident spiritual dynamic behind them. These are lies crafted and marketed by deceiving spirits.
      Doctrines of demons...
      This speaks of the specific teachings of these deceiving spirits. Demons are theology majors, and have systems of doctrine.
      DID YOU KNOW...We find the first DEMONIC DOCTRINE in Genesis 3.
      There Satan, speaking through a serpent, taught Eve: "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God" (Genesis 3:4-5). Since then, every demonic doctrine has found its way back to this root: the idea that we CAN BE GODS, and OPERATE INDEPENDENTLY FROM GOD.
      Deceiving spirits … doctrines of demons...
      These have been around since man FIRST WALKED the Garden of Eden. But we should expect that more and more people in the church would depart from the faith in the latter times and accept these false teachings.
      It is hard to say if there is more false teaching today, or if it is merely a case of modern technology being able to spread the lie better. But the old saying is certainly true today: a lie travels express, the truth goes on foot - and more people within the church are following these doctrines of demons.
      JOHN MACARTHUR adds, "Such deviations from the true faith are nothing new. Among the many examples of apostasy in the Old Testament was King Amaziah of Judah. II Chronicles 25:2 says, "he did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart." Which means his religion, was ONLY external behavior, in his heart he did NOT know God. Soon he was lured away into idolatry. II Chronicles 25:14 tells the tragic story: "Now it cam about after Amaziah came from slaughtering the Edomites that he brought the gods of the sons of Seir, set them up as his gods, bowed down before them, and burned incense to them." At the close of his life, II Chronicles 25:27 tell us his epitaph read, "Amaziah turned away from following The Lord."
      JOHN MACARTHUR adds, "The New Testament also has its share of apostates, men like Judas Iscariot (John 6:70-71) and Demas (2 Timothy 4:10). The church of Ephesus had seen Hymenaeus and Alexander depart from the faith (1 Timothy 1:18-20). The Bible clearly tells us it is those "fallen angels", those demonic beings, who energie all false doctrines and false apostate religions. Like their evil master, Satan, their deception is effective because they disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)."
      When men are worshipping, praying to, bowing down to idols in their churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and wearing idols, keeping idols in their cars, homes, and businesses, they are REALLY worshipping the demons behind the idols.
      Remember Leviticus 17:7 says, "They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons with which they play the harlot."
      Deuteronomy 32:17 laments, "Israel sacrificed to demons who were not God."
      Psalm 106:36-37, shows the depravity of such worship. "
      1 Corinthians 10:20, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons."Israel served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and daughters to the demons."
      We should NOT be shocked at the falling away, the departing of some Christians from the faith, because The Holy Spirit Himself prophesied it was happening in Ephesus and it would happen in end times...the latter days. But we are NOT to be silent, tolerant, or ignoring or avoiding such false teachers and false teachings and doctrines of demons...we are to SPEAK OUT AGAINST IT AND TELL THE DECEIVED AND THE DECEIVING THE TRUTH.
      Verses 2-3 tells us the NATURE OF THEIR DEPARTURE from the faith and embrace of the doctrines of demons.
      "Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth."
      Speaking lies in hypocrisy...
      This describes those who depart from the faith. This certainly means those who willingly embrace falsehood to justify their sin or pride; but it also refers to those who claim to be teaching the Bible, while just using it as a prop for their own ideas.
      Having their own conscience seared...
      Their conscience, which at one time would have convicted them of their departure from the truth, now does NOT reply at all. It is as if the nerve endings of their conscience have been burnt over and are dead to feeling.
      Paul here refers to the ancient practice of branding a criminal on the forehead with a distinguishing mark. For these, it was not their forehead that was branded with a hot iron, but their conscience instead.
      Paul knew what it was to have a dead, burned conscience. Before he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he felt completely justified in his persecution of Christians and hatred of Jesus and hatred of Gentiles. He could feel justified because his conscience was seared and needed a wake-up call - which the Lord graciously provided.
      Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods...
      This describes the LEGALISTIC teaching of those who have departed from the faith. They taught that it was by following this list of man-made rules that one was justified in God's sight - that you would be more holy to God if you did NOT marry, and if you did NOT eat certain foods.
      LET'S FACE IT...There have always been those in the church who regard themselves as more spiritual than God Himself, and have a stricter set of rules for living than God does.
      In the early centuries, there were monks who went out to desolate desert places to show how spiritual they were by torturing themselves. One never ate cooked food. Another stood all night leaning on a sharp rock so that it was impossible for him to sleep. Another neglected his own body and allowed it to become so dirty that bugs dropped dead from his body. They did this because they THOUGHT it would win favor with God and show everyone how spiritual they were.
      We often think that if we sacrifice something for God (such as the right to marry or to eat certain foods), then He owes us something. This is legalism at its worst; trying to manipulate God into giving us something. The idea is that we can make God indebted to us, make Him our servant and make ourselves His master.
      In this those that teach this, believe this, follow this...FULFILL the original doctrine of demons - that we should be gods.
      Countless millions through the centuries have sought to sacrifice something, and make God owe them blessing, or forgiveness, or mercy, or whatever. That is the religion of self-flagellation; it is not the relationship with Jesus Christ described in the New Testament: being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).
      Forbidding to marry...
      TRAPP says it powerfully, "They hold that it is far better for a priest to keep many whores and young boys than to have a wife."
      Verses 4-5 tells us a refutation of the legalism that marks those who have departed from the faith by The Holy Spirit himself.
      "For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."
      For every creature of God is good...
      Regarding what we eat, we can eat ALL things. We receive things rightly when we receive them with thanksgiving, with an abiding sense of gratitude towards God. We receive the blessings of food, shelter, and comfort as GIFTS FROM JESUS, and NOT AS OUR RIGHTS.
      Nothing is to be refused...
      We are not limited by any kind of diet; what we eat does not make us more righteous before God (though what we eat and how much we eat may affect our health).
      This issue was settled ONCE AND FOR ALL when God spoke to Peter in Acts 10:9-16.
      It is sanctified by the word of God and prayer: Paul here has in mind prayer before a meal. Notice that the emphasis is not on asking God to bless the food; but on thanking God for the blessing of providing food to eat.
      The word of God sanctifies food in the sense that God gave two general commands to mankind to eat the good things of the earth.
      GENESIS 1:29, tells us God placed in the earth all we need to stay healthy and whole. "And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food."
      GENESIS 9:3 tells us "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs."
      It is good and proper for us to pray before eating a meal but it should not be done in a ritualistic, superstitious way. Nor should it be done to show others how spiritual we are - which is imitating the prayer practices of the Pharisees (Matthew 6:5).
      Verse 6 tells us HOW TO TELL you are fulfilling your call.
      "If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed."
      Notice that the pastor's job is primarily instruction of the brethren; but "instruction" should be understood in a broad sense, not only as classroom-style teaching.
      Jesus instructed His disciples, but with life and practice as well as words.
      Nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed...
      But, if Timothy will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, he must remain anchored in God's word, carefully following the good doctrine.
      Verses 7-10 tells us keeping your priorities straight.
      "But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe."
      Reject profane and old wives' fables...
      The priority must be on God's Word, NOT on the words of man. Paul cautioned Timothy to keep focused on the Word, NOT on things that come from man. The greatest effort must be put into God's Word, NOT man's word.
      Reject profane and old wives' fables...
      This is the negative aspect of the command. In the positive aspect, the priority must be kept on eternal things, NOT temporal things.
      Exercise yourself toward godliness...
      Ancient Greek and Roman culture put a high value on physical exercise. Paul tells Timothy that the same work and commitment that others put towards physical exercise should be put toward the pursuit of godliness.
      The word "godliness" comes from the old English word Godlikeness; it means to have the character and attitude of God. This was a worthy goal, much more worthy that the potential attainments of physical exercise.
      Bodily exercise profits a little in that it has some value. Or, the idea can be translated bodily exercise is good for a while, while exercising unto godliness is good for all eternity.
      Spiritual development and physical development share some similarities. With each, growth only comes with exertion and proper feeding.
      Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is...
      Paul here explains the value of godliness, both in its temporal and its eternal sense. Godliness makes the life that now is better, and we should not hesitate to believe it and to tell people this.
      Though godliness does not make this life the most comfortable, or richest, or most pleasurable, or easiest in the life that now is, it undeniably makes it the best, the most contented, and the most fulfilling life one can live in this world.
      And of that which is to come...
      At the same time, godliness is the only guarantee of a profitable life which is to come. There are many pleasures or achievements in this world that do not even pretend to offer anything for the life which is to come.
      Only godliness is the path to eternal life and happiness.
      1. Sin and vice offer NOTHING for the life to come.
      2. Genealogies and pedigrees offer NOTHING for the life to come.
      3. Worldly success and wealth offer NOTHING for the life to come.
      4. Personal fame or beauty offer NOTHING for the life to come.
      5. Achievements in learning or the arts offer NOTHING for the life to come.
      We trust in the living God...
      This is to be the great motto of the Christian life. Even as David challenged Goliath in the name of the living God (1 Samuel 17:26 and 36), so our trust in the living God empowers us to accomplish great things for His glory.
      SPURGEON says it well, "But our God, in whom we trust, is a God with a great, warm, loving heart, a thinking God, an active God, a working, personal God, who comes into the midst, of this world, and does not leave it to go on by itself. Although he is a stranger in the world, even as his people also are strangers and foreigners by reason of the revolt that men have made against their liege Lord and Sovereign, yet it is still his world, and he is still in it."
      The Savior of all men...
      This emphasizes the idea that the priority must be kept on the message of Jesus Christ. It is NOT that all men are saved in an universalist sense; but that there is only ONE Savior for ALL men. It is NOT as if Christians have one Savior and others might have another savior.
      But notice Paul's point...
      Especially of those who believe. Jesus' work is adequate to save all, but only effective in saving those who come to Him by faith.
      Verses 11-16 tells us Personal instructions.
      "These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."
      These things command...
      This has the note of authority. Timothy was NOT to enter the pulpit with speculations and opinions and theories of men. He was to fearlessly bring God's Word before God's people and let the chips fall where they may.
      Let no one despise your youth...
      Because Timothy was young, he was vulnerable to the errors of youth which bring the often justified criticism of those older. To address this, Paul called him to live a life so that was so godly that no one could despise his youth.
      The word youth in the ancient Greek was "Used of grown-up military age, extending to the 40th year". It seems that Timothy was about 30 years old at this time; but Paul was around 70, so youth is a RELATIVE thing.
      Be an example by what you say (word), what you do (conduct), in love, in attitude (spirit), in faith (in the sense of faithfulness), and in purity.
      These are the criteria by which to assess a pastor. If he is smart, if he is funny, if he is cool, if he dresses sharp, if he is popular, or if he is any number of other things matter little. You must look for a pastor who is an example in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
      Reading … exhortation … doctrine...
      These are the things that Timothy MUST give attention to these things - each of these things are centered on God's Word. He must give attention to these things in both his private life and in his public ministry.
      Do not neglect the gift that is in you...
      Timothy was warned to not neglect the gift that God has given. This shows that there was definitely the possibility that gifts and abilities in him could be wasted for eternity. As with the parable of the talents, we should not bury what abilities God has given us.
      Gift is "charismatos" in the ancient Greek of the New Testament, and it refers to the varying spiritual gifts given to Timothy and to all believers. Do not neglect the gift has the idea that Timothy has been given supernatural gifts by God, and should trust that God will do great things through him - learning to listen for, listen to, recall The Word and then follow the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit.
      With the laying on of hands...
      Paul may have in mind Timothy's ordination service, when church leaders laid hands on him and recognized God's call on his life to ministry. This was an event apparently accompanied by prophecy.
      IRONSIDE tells us of that time, "It is evident that the elders of the church at Lystra and Derbe had met together with the apostle Paul when Timothy was about to launch out into full-time service and had laid their hands on him, commending him to God in prayer."
      Meditate on these things...
      Paul called Timothy to meditation on God's Word and the work of God in his life. This is not emptying our minds (the goal of Eastern meditation), but filling our minds with God's Word.
      Give yourself entirely to them...
      Timothy was encouraged to give it his all, to put forth a maximum effort, and by doing so, his progress would be evident to all. Often, progress is not evident because we do not give ourselves entirely to the pursuit of God and His will.
      Often we fall short of all we can be for God because we are passive in our Christian life; we simply do not give ourselves entirely. Jesus warned against this passive attitude in the parable of the talents, where the servant who did nothing was severely rebuked.
      Paul could say, in 1 Corinthians 15:10: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Paul knew spiritual growth did NOT just happen; it is the gift of God, but bestowed on those who actively pursue it.
      As Alan Redpath observed, you might have a saved soul but a wasted life - but no believer should ever be content with such a place.
      Take heed...
      Timothy, and every pastor, must examine constantly the TWO GREAT AREAS of concern - one's life and one's doctrine. Failing to do this would mean peril for both Timothy himself and for those in his congregation.
      Without giving heed to his life, Timothy might suffer shipwreck (as in 1 Timothy 1:19).
      Without giving heed to his doctrine, Timothy might lead others astray or leave them short of God's salvation.
      Those who hear Timothy as a pastor should be hearing doctrine. Timothy's primary call was NOT to entertain, amuse, or even help with practical things - it was to present Biblical doctrine, and to give heed to that doctrine.
      Save both yourself and those who hear you:
      SPURGEON says, "Years ago Hamburgh was nearly half of it burned down, and among the incidents that happened, there was this one. A large house had connected with it a yard in which there was a great black dog, and this black dog in the middle of the night barked and howled most furiously. It was only by his barking that the family were awakened just in time to escape from the flames, and their lives were spared; but the poor dog was chained to his kennel, and though he barked and thus saved the lives of others, he was burned himself. Oh! Do not you who work for God in this church perish in that fashion. Do not permit your sins to enchain you, so that while you warn others you become lost yourselves."


    • July 6, 2016 5:05 AM EDT
    • 1 TIMOTHY 5
      Verse 1 tells us How to treat THE MEN in the church.
      "Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers."
      Paul directed Timothy that older men are generally not to be rebuked. A young pastor such as Timothy must shepherd them faithfully, but with due respect for the years of the older men.
      Any godly person will show a deference to those who are aged.
      REMEMBER LEVITICUS 19:32 "You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD."
      PROVERBS 16:31, "The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness."
      There is another reason to exhort rather than rebuke an older man - he may simply not receive a rebuke.
      The ancient Greek verb for "rebuke" is not the normal word for "rebuke" in the New Testament. This is the ONLY place this word is used, and it means literally "to strike at." Timothy was told not to lash out at older men, but to treat them with respect - as he would treat the younger men with respect as brothers.
      BUT REMEMBER, contrary to many false teachings then and now, the command is NOT that Timothy must never rebuke older men, but that he was NOT to "strike at" people with an overly harsh rebuke.
      Apart from this particularly severe word, in general "rebuke" is an important duty of a pastor. It is the simple, clear, presentation that someone is wrong, either in their conduct or thinking. Its main goal is not encouragement as much as to clearly confront someone with their wrong behavior or thinking.
      In another letter to a pastor, in TITUS 2:15, Paul made the importance of rebuking clear: "Rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you."
      In 1 Timothy 5:20 - this very chapter - Timothy is told there are times when not only an elder should be rebuked, but times when he should be rebuked publicly. Therefore, in this verse Timothy was not told to never rebuke, but to never rebuke too harshly.
      The problem is that many people amass all their defensive ability at a rebuke - if not at the time, then later, after having time to think and listen to their pride. Some become experts at criticizing the one who brought the rebuke, and consider their HURT feelings MORE important than the TRUTH of the rebuke.
      SPURGEON says it well, "A sensible friend who will unsparingly criticize you from week to week will be a far greater blessing to you than a thousand undiscriminating admirers if you have sense enough to bear his treatment, and grace enough to be thankful for it."
      Exhortation is encouragement to do what needs to be done; it has the manner of an encouraging coach, helping the athlete to achieve their best.
      Younger men...
      These were to be treated as brothers; that is, as partners and friends in the work of the gospel, but without the same deference due to older men.
      Verse 2 tells us how to treat WOMEN in the church.
      "Older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity."
      These were to be treated as mothers, with the respect and honor due their age. A young pastor must accept - and appreciate - some amount of mothering from some of the older women in the church, and it is proper to give them honor as such.
      These younger women were to be treated as sisters; Timothy, as any godly man, was to always make certain his conduct towards younger women was always pure and above reproach. A godly man is not flirtatious or provocative, and does not use double entendre' (witty words that can be taken in a flirtatious or provocative way).
      Verse 3 tells us the general principle: help THE NEEDY who are truly in need.
      "Honor widows who are really widows."
      In the days the New Testament was written, there was NO social assistance system from the government. In that day there was ONE especially vulnerable class - ELDERLY WIDOWS, who were without means of support from husbands or grown children, and without means to adequately support themselves. These are those who are REALLY NEEDY widows.
      The principles revealed here are extremely relevant today, when many look to the church as a place where the poor and needy should be able to come for financial help.
      DAVID GUZIK says it well, "Any pastor can give you many, many stories about strangers who call the church and ask for some kind of assistance - and any pastor can tell you how hard it is to deal with such situations with love, but without getting ripped off. The writer has had several experiences with the kind of man who call you from a hotel with the big, sad story, pleading for money in the name of Christian love. Upon arrival, the man's room was a mess, his TV turned to filth, phone book open to the Yellow Pages section of churches because he had been calling all around town for pastors to tell his sad story too. When asked to describe his favorite Bible verse, the man was dumbfounded. Upon many other occasions when helping those who are in need, the needy are asked to have their home church pastor call with a word of thanks - and it never happens."
      Those who were really widows were to receive honor - which in this context means financial support, yet given in a dignified and honorable way.
      Verses 4-6 tells us how to tell those who are REALLY widows.
      "But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives."
      If any widow has children...
      Those who should be legitimately helped by the church should NOT have family who can assist them. If they DO have family to assist them, it is the responsibility of THE FAMILY to do it.
      Let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents reminds us of the ongoing responsibility God believes and commands adult children to have towards their parents and grandparents.
      WHITE says it well, "We may add that Jesus Himself gave an example of providing for one's own, when He provided a home for His mother with the beloved disciple."
      Trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day...
      Those who should be legitimately helped by the church should SERVE the church in SOME way. In this case, the widows would be given the job of praying for the church.
      But she who lives in pleasure...
      Those who should be legitimately helped by the church must have godly lives. It is appropriate to say, "You're not living a godly life, so you won't receive financial assistance from the church." It does not indicate grossly criminal pleasures; but simply means one who indulges herself in good eating and drinking, pampering her body at the expense of her mind."
      Is dead while she lives...
      The life lived for MERE PERSONAL pleasure and ease is no life at all. It is a living death, whether lived by a young widow or anyone else.
      THEN AND NOW...PAUL COUNSELS TIMOTHY...Many who come to the church for assistance are in need because they have lived their lives for the pleasures of alcohol, drugs, or whatever; now they are in need and they want the church to help. It's legitimate to say, "No."
      Verses 7-8 tells us WHERE provision should come from.
      "And these things command, that they may be blameless. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
      A good pastor WILL teach these things, so all will KNOW what God expects of them.
      If anyone does NOT provide for his own...
      God's normal way of providing for the needy is NOT through the church, but through OUR OWN hard work.
      He has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever...
      In the strongest terms, Paul emphasized the responsibility of a man to provide for his family - to do ALL he could to support them.
      This is the MINIMUM required of a Christian man; if he does NOT do even this, his conduct is worse than an unbeliever's is.
      This is why when someone is out of work, we can pray with SUCH confidence, knowing it is God's will for them to provide for the needs of their family through work.
      Verses 9-10 tells us helping OLDER widows.
      "Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work."
      Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number...
      The idea is that if someone is under sixty, they could still support themselves or get remarried. They did NOT need to be added to the support list of the church.
      Well reported for GOOD works…
      IF she has diligently followed every good work: Those widows who WERE accepted into the support of the church must not only be true widows, but they must also have godly character. They were called to a job, NOT merely to a handout.
      When Paul says that they she should have brought up children, he has in mind both the raising of one's own children, and the receiving of abandoned infants (which were all too common in the ancient world).
      Verses 11-16 tells us helping YOUNGER widows.
      "But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some have already turned aside after Satan. If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows."
      As a general rule, YOUNGER WIDOWS were not to be added to the support roll of the church, because they generally could provide for themselves and could remarry.
      They desire to marry, having condemnation...
      CONTRARY TO MANY FALSE TEACHINGS AND COMMENTARIES...Paul IS NOT condemning young widows for wanting to get married, only observing that many unmarried women are so hungry for marriage and companionship that they DO NOT conduct themselves in a godly way in regard to relationships.
      IN OTHER WORDS...Many people get into a bad romance or spoil a friendship, because they are desperately needy for relationship. It's a common occurrence that Paul warns against.
      ADAM CLARKE says it well, "One doesn't have to be a young widow to fulfill the description of they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. Those who spend much time talking about other people's lives need to get a life of their own. "It is no sin in any case to marry, bear children, and take care of a family; but it is a sin in every case to be idle persons, gadders about, tattlers, busybodies, sifting out and detailing family secrets."
      ONCE AGAIN, CONTRARY TO MANY TEACHINGS...Paul is NOT condemning any young widow's desire for romantic companionship; but he insists that it be pursued and expressed in the PURITY that befits ALL believers.
      If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them...
      Paul concluded with a principle he has alluded to THREE times in this section (1 Timothy 5:4, 5, and 8).
      The FIRST responsibility for support is at THE HOME; the church is to support the truly destitute who are godly.
      Verses 17-18 tells us Elders are to be honored according to principles from Scripture.
      "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."
      The word here is to be understood in a broad sense of those in leadership. The focus is made on elders who RULE and elders who TEACH. Not necessarily will every elder who rules will also be an elder who teaches.
      Be counted worthy of double honor...
      IF an elder (such as a pastor) does rule well and does labor in word and doctrine (clearly speaking of hard work!), that one is worthy of double honor.
      In this context, DOUBLE HONOR means financial support.
      Paul has already stated that certain widows are worthy of honor (1 Timothy 5:1), speaking of financial support. He then goes on to say Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
      Some, THEN AND NOW, think the church should NOT support staff, and that the paid ministry is an abomination - they say that the church instead should be using the money to support the needy. This is an attractive way of thinking; but it IS NOT Biblical. If the needy (that is, the truly needy) are worthy of honor, then those who rule and teach GOD'S WORD AND GOD'S TRUTH in the church are worthy of double honor.
      For the Scripture says: The principle that those who serve God's people should be paid (when possible, of course) is supported by Scripture: Deuteronomy 25:4, and Luke 10:7 (significantly, Paul quotes Luke and calls it Scripture).
      Verses 19-20 tells us how to treat A LEADER ACCUSED OF SIN.
      "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear."
      In these verses, Paul hit the balance between believing and acting on every bit of gossip that comes along about a leader in the church, and ignoring serious sin in a leader's life. Either extreme is wrong.
      BARCLAY says it well, "Nothing does more harm than when some people are treated as if they could do no wrong and others as if they could do no right."
      Do NOT receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses...
      Any accusation against a leader should NOT be automatically received. The accusation should be carefully verified by two or three witnesses - not just two or three others who also HEARD the gossip. Timothy CAN NOT allow false accusations about church leaders to circulate.
      There is an old story about a pastor who was trying to defend himself against false accusations, gossip, and criticism. He said, "There's a story going about that I told my wife not to go to a certain church that has wild meetings. They say my wife went anyway, and I dragged her out of the church by her hair, and hurt her so badly she had to go to the hospital. First of all, I never told her to stay away from that church. Second, I did not drag her out by her hair. Third, she never had to go to the hospital. Lastly, I've never been married so I don't have a wife."
      Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest may fear...
      However, if leaders ARE in sin, it must be addressed forthrightly - with public rebuke.
      To promote a fear of sin among the leadership and the entire church.
      Many churches, THEN AND NOW, have had great trouble because sin in the leadership was NOT, AND IS NOT forthrightly dealt with. It's important that everyone understand that leadership in the church does NOT shield one from accountability, it makes one even MORE accountable in the eyes of Jesus Christ for His church.
      AND DID YOU KNOW...In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic church protected its corrupt bishops against accusation by demanding that 72 witnesses be brought forth to confirm any accusation against a bishop before it would be considered or addressed.
      Verses 21 tells us Do not be prejudiced or show partiality.
      "I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality."
      I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels: This STRONG statement reflects the seriousness of the job of leaders in the church; they serve an eternal God and must please Him FIRST in everything they do.
      The elect angels are identical with 'the angels which kept their own principality' in Jude 6, 'that did not sin', in 2 Peter 2:4).
      Observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality...
      Prejudice and partiality are GRAVE SINS before God.
      In the New Testament, the emphasis is on partiality according to class (James 2:1-9); but partiality according to race and gender is also included (Galatians 3:26-29) and regarded as sins.
      Verse 22 tells us be careful about approving the ministry of another person.
      "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure."
      Lay hands on anyone...
      CONTRARY TO FALSE GOSPELS AND TEACHINGS OF THESE SCRIPTURES...This is used in the sense of ordination. Paul cautioned Timothy to let a man prove himself before he was recognized in ministry. There should not be a rush; time must season a man and his ministry.
      PAUL ALSO REFERS TO do not lay hands on anyone hastily has to do with receiving repentant people back into the fellowship of the church. It seems that in some early church circles, those who had fallen into scandalous sin had to be received back into the church with the laying on of hands and prayer by church leaders. If so, Paul is saying, "Don't go too fast. Let them demonstrate their repentance first."
      Lay hands on...
      Since ordination simply recognizes God's calling, it is all the more reason to not be in a hurry - time should be given to allow those gifts and callings to demonstrate themselves.
      It is NOT uncommon for a young man in the ministry to be a bit impatient; he wants to do great things for the Lord, and is anxious for pastors and elders to lay hands on them in recognition of God's work in them.
      Yet, there is danger if anyone waits to give themselves fully to serving the Lord until they are recognized with a title or the laying on of hands. This means they are more concerned with image (how it appears to others) than with substance (what they can really be doing for the Lord right now).
      Keep yourself pure...
      This connects to an important idea. If Timothy was called to observe and assess the lives of others, it was important that he pay even more attention to his own life.
      Nor share in other people's sins...
      We all have enough sin of our own; we do not need to add to it by partaking in the sins of others. There are many ways we can do this.
      1. We can share in the sins of others by setting a bad example before them.
      2. We can share in the sins of others by approving of them or ignoring them.
      3. We can share in the sins of others by joining a church that is spreading dangerous FALSE TEACHINGS, FALSE GOSPELS, AND DIFFERENT DOCTRINES AND TEACHINGS.
      Verse 23 tells us Paul's medical advice to Timothy.
      "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities."
      Use a little wine for your stomach's sake...
      Water in the ancient world was often impure and Timothy probably had problems from the impure water. Since the fermentation process would eliminate some of the harmful things in the water, it would be better for him to drink a little wine rather than JUST water all the time.
      Use a little wine...
      Timothy was probably abstaining from alcohol for the sake of setting a good example. However, this abstinence was hurting his health - wine was safer to drink than water. So Paul is telling Timothy that it is NOT wise to sacrifice his health for the sake of this abstinence - he will do more good for the Lord by taking care of his body in this circumstance.
      Your frequent infirmities...
      Timothy was the victim of frequent infirmities; yet Paul did not simply command a healing on apostolic authority, or even send him a handkerchief with healing power (Acts 19:11-12). This demonstrates that Paul did NOT have miraculous powers at his own command, but only at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Apparently, there was NO such prompting in Timothy's case.
      If it is God's will for all to be healed right now, then Paul (and the Holy Spirit who inspired him) here led Timothy into sin - calling him to look to a natural remedy instead of a divine healing. God uses natural remedies and the work of doctors in healing, as well as the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit - they DO NOT contradict one another.
      Verses 24-25 tells us the difficulty in looking at a man's sin and his good works.
      "Some men's sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden."
      It is easy to see the struggles and sins some have; but with some others, the sins are hidden.
      We ALL have areas of our lives God is dealing with; and sometimes the area is something clearly evident to others. But sometimes it is not evident; some people are regarded as holy just because they are good at hiding their sin!
      Otherwise cannot be hidden...
      PAUL REMINDS TIMOTHY AND US....Good works are always eventually revealed; but sins are sometimes hidden, and will be evident only at the judgment. These words are meant to be a caution to Timothy in his appointing of leaders. Sometimes what one sees on the outside IS NOT really an accurate picture, so we need to take it slow, WATCH AND WAIT, TEST THE SPIRITS, AND THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT WHICH SHOW US TO HAVE THE LORD JESUS LIVING AND WORKING AND GROWING US UP...WILL BECOME MORE CONSISTENT DAY BY we ARE TO wait on God for discernment.


    • July 6, 2016 5:02 AM EDT
    • 1 TIMOTHY 6
      Verse 1 tells us a word to SLAVES in general.
      "Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed."
      Paul called upon slaves to count their own masters worthy of all honor - to be good, respectful workers for their masters. He did this NOT out of a general approval of the institution of slavery, but so that God would be glorified (so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed).
      As are under the yoke...
      These same principles apply to our occupations today. When we work hard and honor our employers, it glorifies God. But when we are bad workers and disrespectful to our supervisors, it brings shame on the name of Jesus Christ.
      Colossians 3:22-24 gives the sense of this, "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ."
      No matter who we work for, we really work for the Lord - and we should give the Lord both honor and a hard day of work.
      So that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed...
      People will judge Christianity - who God is (the name of God) and what the Bible teaches (and His doctrine) based on how WE conduct yourself as an employee.
      Each Christian should ask if they are leading people to Jesus by how they work, or if they are leading people away from Jesus by their bad work and testimony at their job.
      Verse 2 tells us a special word to slaves with Christian masters.
      "And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things."
      And those who have believing masters...
      Perhaps it was easy for a slave to say, "My master does NOT know Jesus. That's why he expects me to work so hard." But if the master were a Christian, or became a Christian, the slave might think, "My brother should NOT expect me to work so hard now; he will show me Christian love, and perhaps favor me above the other slaves, because I am a Christian also."
      Let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them...
      We can almost imagine a slave saying, "My master is my brother! We are equal before the Lord. He has no right to tell me what to do." This attitude ignores the fact that God calls us into many relationships where submission is commanded - in the home, in the church, in the workplace. Our equality in Jesus doesn't eliminate God's order of authority.
      But rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved...
      Upon this principle, Christian slaves with Christian masters were not free to despise their masters for expecting them to work, and to work hard. Rather, the slave should be even more dedicated to work because he served a brother.
      We should NEVER expect SPECIAL treatment because our boss or supervisor is a Christian. Instead, that should motivate us to work all the harder, because we can then be a blessing to another brother.
      Teach and exhort these things...
      This teaching was especially important in the ancient world, where slaves might be treated very differently from master to master, and where there was sometimes intense racism and hatred between slaves and masters.
      Christianity arose in a social setting where slavery was commonplace. There were some 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire. Some slaves held privileged positions; other slaves were treated with great abuse.
      Paul and others in the New Testament did NOT call for a violent revolution against the institution of slavery (which would have failed miserably). Yet through the gospel, they did effectively destroy the foundations of slavery - racism, greed, class hatred - and made a civilization without slavery possible.
      The church itself was a place where slavery was destroyed. It was not uncommon for a master and a slave to go to church together, where the slave would be an elder in the church, and the master was expected to submit to the slave's spiritual leadership! Such radical thinking was an offense to many, but glorified God and eventually destroyed slavery.
      Verses 3-5 tells us a WARNING against those who MISUSE God's word.
      "If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself."
      If ANYONE teaches otherwise...
      In drawing to the close of the letter, Paul referred again to a theme he mentioned in the first chapter - that Timothy must be ON GUARD AGAINST those who would MISUSE the word of God.
      Teaches otherwise in this context may mean replacing the plain teaching of God's word with a focus on prophecies and visions and strange spiritual experiences people claim. This was a GREAT DANGER that Paul warned Timothy against.
      And does not consent to wholesome words...
      Paul warned Timothy against the argumentative heretic, who has left the word of God to promote his own ideas - who does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. He warned Timothy against those who seemed to treat the Word of God more as a play thing instead of as a precious gift.
      You do NOT have to be an ACTIVE opponent of God's word to be an ENEMY of it. If we fail to give the Bible its rightful place in our life and in our preaching, we OPPOSE God's word.
      Even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ...
      This might seem like an unnecessary warning against an obvious danger. Yet the warning WAS necessary, because those who misuse God's truth do NOT advertise themselves that way. They often claim to honor God's word while in fact misusing it.
      There are SIX different ways that people do not consent to the truth of God's Word.
      1. Some DENY God's Word.
      2. Some IGNORE God's Word.
      3. Some EXPLAIN AWAY God's Word.
      4. Some TWIST God's Word using it as a toy to be played with in debate and disputes.
      5. One can be surrounded by God's truth; one can even memorize the Bible, and not have it effect the life for eternity.
      6. Curiosity or interest in God's Word WITHOUT submission to it is a grave danger.
      In our day - a time when we are overwhelmed with useless information - it is easy to regard the Bible as useless information or as a source of answers to trivia questions, but not as a book with truth that confronts and transforms my life. Bible study is not trivial pursuit; to treat the Bible as a book of useless information is to misuse it.
      He is proud, knowing nothing...
      This describes those who misuse God's Word. Yet, as all the proud, they do NOT see or admit to their lack of knowledge. And, like most proud people, they are able to convince others that they are experts in God's truth, when they actually misuse it.
      To not allow God's Word to speak for itself - to put your own "spin" on it as modern politicians and public relations people do - is the WORST KIND OF PRIDE. It shows someone has more confidence in their own wisdom and opinions than in the straightforward truth of God. Surely, these proud people are those knowing nothing.
      JOHN MACARTHUR says, "It is nothing but pride that could make me think that my stories, my anecdotes, my opinions, my humor, could be more important for you to hear than the plain Word of God."
      Obsessed with disputes and arguments...
      Those who misuse God's Word may be expert debaters on their current doctrinal hobby-horse; but their desire to constantly debate some aspect of doctrine shows their unwillingness to humbly receive the truth.
      Paul IS NOT speaking about people who inquire or question in a GENUINE desire to learn; but those who ask questions or start discussion mainly to show others how smart they are.
      Envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions...
      This is THE FRUIT of the disputes and arguments of those who misuse God's truth. Their presence in a church body is the source of all kinds of division and discontent; though they may appear to be experts on the Bible, they actually do DAMAGE to God's church. Therefore, Paul warned Timothy, "From such withdraw yourself."
      Timothy should expect that such men would:
      1. Envy him and his office (without admitting to it).
      2. That they would create strife among the Christians.
      3. That they would promote reviling of Timothy and other leaders in the church.
      4. That they would be the source of evil suspicions - always suspecting Timothy and other leaders in the church of evil motives and plots.
      WE NEED this warning too, because such dangerous people are not as obvious as one might think.
      Who suppose that godliness is a means of gain...
      This is ANOTHER CHARACTERISTIC of those who misuse God's truth. Their interest in the things of God is not entirely for God's glory, but motivated MORE BY THEIR MORALLY CORRUPT TEMPORAL DESIRES FOR PERSONAL ICONICS, ADORATION, WEALTH, AND COMFORT.
      Very commonly, Christianity is presented today on the basis of what you will gain by following Jesus: personal success and happiness, a stronger family, a more secure life, health, wealth, and fame. These things may be true to some degree, but we must never market the gospel as a product that will fix every life problem.
      When the gospel is marketed this way, it makes followers of Jesus who are completely unprepared for tough times. After all, if the "Jesus product" is NOT working, why not try another brand? Also, this sales approach takes the focus off Jesus Himself, and puts the focus on what He will give us. Many have their hearts set on the blessings, not the One who blesses us.
      While not ignoring the blessings of following Jesus Christ, we must proclaim the need to follow Jesus because He is God, and we owe Him everything as our Creator. What is right before God, and what glorifies Him, is more important than whatever benefit we may gain.
      We need to see Christians who are more concerned with what glorifies God than with what benefits me.
      From such withdraw yourself...
      Timothy is told to deliberately NOT associate with those who receive or present the gospel with this kind of marketing approach.
      CALVIN says it well, "He does not only forbid Timothy from imitating them, but tells him to avoid them as harmful pests. Although they do not openly oppose the Gospel, but make a profession of it, yet their company is infectious. Besides, if the crowd sees us to be familiar with these men, there is a danger that they will use our friendship to insinuate themselves into its favour. We should therefore take great pains to make everyone understand that we are quite different from them, and have nothing at all in common with them."
      Verse 6 Tells us the TRUE GAIN of godliness.
      "Now godliness with contentment is great gain."
      Paul told Timothy that those who misuse God's Word WRONGLY think godliness is a means of material gain. Knowing his statement might be misunderstood, he followed up with an explanation.
      Now godliness with contentment is great gain...
      It is true that godliness is great gain; but only when accompanied by contentment.
      BARCLAY tells us, "The word here used for contentment is "autarkeia". By it they meant a complete self-sufficiency. They meant a frame of mind which was completely independent of all outward things, and which carried the secret of happiness within itself. Contentment never comes from the possession of external things."
      With contentment...
      When one does not live by "the itch for more," and one's life is NOT dominated by shopping for and acquiring material things, we can have the kind of contentment in God and in His will for our lives.
      AND WE KNOW...this is a slippery area in the Christian life. It is very easy to come up with reasons - excuses, that is - why these sins of greed and materialism DO NOT apply to us.
      1. But whenever we think getting something material, or getting more of it, will answer our life's needs, we LACK this contentment.
      2. Whenever we are deeply grieved at material loss, we LACK this contentment.
      3. Whenever we get an inordinate pleasure from buying or having some material thing, we LACK this contentment.
      Godliness with contentment is great gain...
      Paul KNEW this kind of contentment first hand; here is his testimony in Philippians 4:11-13: "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
      It is true that material possessions in and of themselves do NOT corrupt us; Paul could abound in material things and still keep it all in proper perspective. But too many use this truth to excuse their own materialism and carnal lack of contentment.
      Contentment is essential, and difficult for many reasons:
      1. We can only find contentment when our hearts are rooted in eternal things; and contentment is essential because it shows we are living with an eternal perspective, not only trying to feather an earthly nest.
      2. It is hard to be content, because our consumer culture feeds our lack of contentment, by rewarding us when we are discontent, and with advertising that tries to make us feel discontent without a product.
      3. It is hard to be content, because we almost always desire far more than we need.
      Godliness with contentment is GREAT gain...
      ROMANS 12:2 tells us, "Godliness really can bring almost unbelievable contentment; but before it can, we must be transformed by the renewing of your mind" To start putting material things in their proper priority next to spiritual things.
      It is easy for many Christians to say they have this contentment; but whether they have it or not is often more truthfully known by their spending and shopping habits.
      How much of a place does shopping and buying have in your life?
      How does material loss affect your happiness?
      How happy do you get from having some material thing?
      When we live and act without contentment, we are trying to fill needs in our lives.
      1. A NEED to be "somebody".
      2. A NEED to feel secure or cared for.
      3. A NEED to have excitement and newness in our lives.
      MOST PEOPLE TRY to fulfill these needs with material things, but they can only really be met by a spiritual relationship with the God who made us.
      Verses 7-8 tell us THE HEART of contentment.
      "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content."
      We brought nothing into this world...
      A baby is born not only penniless, but without even a pocket to put pennies in. Just as certainly, we can carry nothing out - the things which make a man rich in this world mean NOTHING in the world to come.
      It is certain we can carry nothing out...
      A heart of contentment begins with seeing our material possessions and resources in an eternal perspective.
      It has been wisely observed that a hearse is never followed by a moving trailer. Every thing one might take with them to the world beyond is left behind. Gold is a precious commodity on earth; in heaven God uses it to pave the streets.
      Jesus once told a parable that has troubled some people. In Luke 16:1-14, He spoke of a dishonest manager, who was about to be called to account. Knowing he will be fired, he began to settle accounts with his master's debtors at terms favorable to the debtors, so they would treat him kindly when the master fired him. The master ended up complimenting the manager for his shrewd tactics (presumably before he fired him). The manager was praiseworthy for two reasons.
      FIRST, he knew he would be called to account for his life and he took it seriously.
      SECONDLY, he took advantage of his present position to arrange a comfortable future. We can use our material resources right now for eternal good - even though we can not bring them with us.
      We can carry nothing out - but we can SEND AHEAD eternal blessing and reward through wise use of our resources right now.
      Having food and clothing...
      After an eternal perspective, a heart of contentment must have a humble heart - a heart that can be content with simple things.
      We most all become jaded over the years, and our over-stimulated culture is effective at producing this in us. Things that used to satisfy us are no longer good enough. The constant hunger for more and more, for more and better, for new and improved, all work AGAINST real contentment.
      Verses 9-10 tells us THE FOLLY of the greedy heart.
      "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
      Those who desire to be rich...
      Significantly, the desire for riches is far more dangerous than the riches themselves - and it is NOT only the poor who desire to be rich, it is the rich who want more riches.
      Poor does NOT mean godly and rich ungodly; nor is it true the other way around. There were many remarkably godly men in the Bible who were almost unbelievably rich, such as Abraham, David, and Solomon.
      But the godly rich have the heart like the KING DAVID in Psalm 62:10: "If riches increase, do not set your heart on them."
      Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare...
      This desire for riches tempts our heart away from eternal riches, and ensnares us in a trap few can escape - always dreaming of riches, and always setting one's heart on them.
      The desire to be rich can really only be satisfied in Jesus Christ, and satisfied with spiritual riches rather than material ones. Everything else falls short.
      The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil...
      The love of money can motivate any evil on this earth. There is no sin that cannot be committed for the sake of money.
      Pierced themselves through with many sorrows...
      This is the fate of those who live in the love of money. They are not satisfied. We sometimes want the opportunity to find out if riches can satisfy, but we should trust the Word of God and the experience of many.
      Verses 11-16 tells us TRUE RICHES: serving a Great King.
      "But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen."
      But you, O man of God...
      Timothy was commanded to be different from those who lived for riches and material wealth. He was to flee the proud arguments of those who misuse God's Word and who suppose that we should follow God just for what we can get out of it.
      Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness...
      Instead of pride and riches, Timothy was to make these things his pursuit. These are things which are often not valued in our present age, but are VERY VALUABLE to God.
      This challenge to leave some things and follow hard after some other things is NOT just directed to Timothy, but to EVERYONE who would be a man [or woman] of God - as opposed to being a man or woman of this world.
      Fight the good fight of faith...
      Going God's way - AGAINST the flow of this world - WILL NOT be easy. Therefore, Timothy had to have a soldier's determination.
      God calls us to be fighters, but to fight the good fight of faith - a fight where some may lose a battle here and there, but they will carry on the fight with great determination until the war is over - when we lay hold on eternal life.
      Timothy was drafted into this war...
      To which WE ARE also called. But Timothy also volunteered: And have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. Timothy had to consider both so as to set his thinking right for the fight. God had called him, and he had also freely chosen.
      In the sight of God who gives life to all things...
      Since Paul called Timothy to a difficult battle, it was good for him to know that the orders were given under this great God. Timothy had an obligation to serve the Creator who gave him life.
      The denial of God as Creator has done WIDE damage in our culture. Some of the biggest damage has come from the simple fact that many people NO LONGER BELIEVE they have a Creator they must honor and be accountable to.
      Christ Jesus...
      This is who gave Timothy the difficult command. Jesus Himself knew what it was to fulfill a difficult command, because He witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate and did it in several ways.
      1. MATTHEW 27:11....Jesus admitted the truth about Himself, agreeing with Pilate's statement that Jesus was the King of the Jews.
      2. JOHN 19:11...Jesus testified to Pilate about the sovereignty of God, saying You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given to you from above. Jesus let Pilate know that God was in charge, not Pilate.
      3. MATTHEW 27:14....Jesus was silent about specific accusations, refusing to defend Himself, but leaving His life in the will of God the Father.
      In each of these ways, Jesus made a good confession before Pontius Pilate; so when Timothy is told to live up to the good confession he made (1 Timothy 6:12), he is simply being told to do what Jesus did.
      Until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing...
      This was how long Timothy was supposed to fight the good fight. There is always danger that a good effort will simply not last long enough, and end in defeat.
      He who is...
      Knowing who Jesus is...equipped Timothy to fight the good fight. History is filled with example of armies that have been led to spectacular victories because the men knew and loved their leaders. Therefore, here Paul described Jesus to Timothy.
      1. He is the blessed and only Potentate - the One who alone has all power and strength, who rules over the universe from an occupied throne in heaven.
      2. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords; the majesty of man fades in comparison to the glory of Jesus. The richest, smartest, most influential persons on earth are midgets next to King Jesus.
      3. He alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see: He is holy. Jesus is not merely a super-man, He is the God-man; truly immortal without beginning or end; with a glory which if fully revealed would strike any human dead.
      4. To whom be honor and everlasting power: Knowing who this Jesus is should bring forth a response - not primarily, "what can He do for me?" but a response of simple and profound worship - declaring honor and everlasting power towards this great God. Amen!
      5. To whom be honor and everlasting power: Paul praised the glory and honor of the exalted, enthroned Lord Jesus Christ. He is a unique man (who alone has immortality) and a glorified man (unapproachable light).
      Verses 17-19 tells us a FINAL WORD to the rich.
      "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
      Rich in this present age...
      This phrase puts it all in perspective. These ones may be rich now, but they must use their riches responsibly if they will be rich in the age to come.
      Not to be haughty...
      Pride is a constant danger with riches. It is very easy to believe that we are more because we have more than another man has.
      Nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God...
      God knows our tendency to trust in riches instead of in Him. He guards us against this danger because He wants us to trust in that which is most certain - in Him and not in uncertain riches.
      Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give...
      Being a giver, and doing good with our resources is what guards our heart from materialism and trusting in uncertain riches.
      Many think the MAIN REASON for giving unto the Lord is because the church needs money. No. The most important reason to give is because you need to be a giver. It is God's way of guarding you against greed and trust in uncertain riches. God will provide for His work even if you do not give; but what will happen to you?
      If you do not give of your material things to the Lord's work, how will you be storing up for [yourself] a good foundation for the time to come? How will you lay hold on eternal life? Will there not be some - perhaps many - who do not enter heaven because they heart was really far more comfortable here on earth with its material rewards?
      Lay hold on eternal life...
      Paul's idea is to Timothy, "Leave the pursuit of money aside and be content with your work as a minister of the gospel. Your hand is not big enough to lay hold of two things. Therefore, since you can only have one, see that it is the vital thing. Lay hold on eternal life."
      Verses 20-21 tells us a FINAL charge.
      "O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge; by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen."
      O Timothy! Paul repeats a theme often used, challenging Timothy to distinguish between what comes from God (that which was committed to your trust), and what comes from man (vain babblings); and to guard against becoming enamored with what comes from man.
      Paul had confidence in Timothy and he did trust him. Yet Paul also knew how great the power of seduction is, and how high the stakes are - so he warned, and warned, and warned again.
      Guard what was committed to your trust...
      The gospel is a trust committed to pastors like Timothy; but also to all believers. And when that trust is broken, some have strayed concerning the faith. We must do all that we can to keep this trust.

    • July 6, 2016 4:59 AM EDT
    • 2 TIMOTHY 1
      Verse 1 tells us this is ANOTHER letter from Paul.
      "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus."
      Paul's introduction here is like his other letters, with an up-front recognition that he is an apostle according to the will of God, not according to the ambition or whim of man.
      Paul had a role to play in God's plan for reaching the world for Jesus Christ, and his role was apostle - a unique ambassador from God to the world. Just as Paul had his role to play, we all have our role to play.
      Some of us could write, "pastor by the will of God" or "evangelist by the will of God" or "pray-er by the will of God" or "encourager by the will of God" or "supporter by the will of God." We all have our role to play, and God wants us to walk in it!
      The words according to the promise of life are unique in Paul's greetings; since Paul is imprisoned again in Rome, and facing execution (2 Timothy 4:6), this promise is all the more precious to him.
      After Paul was released from the Roman imprisonment mentioned at the end of the book of Acts, he enjoyed a FEW more years of liberty until he was re-arrested, and imprisoned in Rome again.
      DID YOU KNOW...You can go to Rome today and see the place where they say Paul was imprisoned. It is really just a cold dungeon, a cave in the ground, with bare walls and a little hole in the ceiling where food was dropped down. No windows, just a cold, little cell that would have been especially uncomfortable in winter.
      Paul writes this letter from his SECOND Roman imprisonment, and he will be condemned and executed in Rome at the command of Nero SHORTLY. Paul SENSES this ahead of time; therefore 2 Timothy is NOT only the last letter we have from Paul, there is a note of urgency and passion we might expect from a man who knows he is on death row!
      Verses 2-5 tells us A greeting and a happy remembrance.
      "To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also."
      Paul is thinking much about his spiritual family - about Timothy, a beloved son; and about his true forefathers, those Jews before Paul's time that genuinely followed God with a pure heart, not in the self-righteousness of the Pharisees.
      Grace, mercy, and peace...
      DID YOU KNOW...This verse along with 1 Timothy 1:2 and Titus 1:4 shows that ministers need MORE mercy than other believers do. After all, in the beginning to his letters to churches in general, Paul only says grace and peace in his greeting (Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:2). But when he starts writing THE PASTORS - Timothy and Titus - he is compelled to say grace, mercy, and peace to him!
      SPURGEON says it well, "Did you ever notice this one thing about Christian ministers, that they need even more mercy than other people? Although everybody needs mercy, ministers need it more than anybody else; and so we do, for if we are not faithful, we shall be greater sinners even than our hearers, and it needs much grace for us always to be faithful, and much mercy will be required to cover our shortcomings. So I shall take those three things to myself: 'Grace, mercy, and peace.' You may have the two, 'Grace and peace,' but I need mercy more than any of you; so I take it from my Lord's loving hand, and I will trust, and not be afraid, despite all my shortcomings, and feebleness, and blunders, and mistakes, in the course of my whole ministry."
      Timothy was on Paul's "prayer list." Paul made it a regular practice to pray with a list and to at least mention in prayer those who were precious to him.
      Prayers night and day also shows us how much Paul prayed...
      Whenever it was night or whenever it was day! Of course, one might say this was easy for Paul, since he was in prison; but such prayer is never easy.
      Yet, we admire Paul for having a heart to do the most for the Lord that he can where ever he is. So he can NO LONGER preach? He can pray, and that he WILL do.
      Perhaps the tears Paul remembered were the tears Timothy shed at his LAST parting with Paul.
      What made Paul really happy? To remember the faith of faithful men like Timothy, who were loving and serving the Lord.
      Which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice: Timothy's genuine faith was due, in NO small measure, to his godly upbringing and the influence of his grandmother and mother.
      AND WE KNOW, FROM ACTS 14...
      Timothy and his family came from the ancient city of Lystra, where Paul visited on his first missionary journey. When Paul and Barnabas were there, God used Paul to miraculously heal a crippled man - and the people of the city began to praise Paul and Barnabas as Greek gods from Olympus, and started to sacrifice a bull to them! Paul barely restrained them from doing so, and soon enemies of the gospel had turned the crowd against Paul, so they cast Paul out of the city and stoned him. But God miraculously preserved Paul's life, and he carried on.
      AND WE KNOW...FROM ACTS 16...
      On Paul's SECOND missionary journey, he came again to Lystra - and there met a young man who had come to Jesus, and was devoted to serving the Lord. This young man was Timothy, and he is described as having a mother who believed, but his father was Greek.
      So, Timothy's mother and grandmother were believers, but his father was NOT (at least not at first).
      AND DID YOU KNOW...In the Roman world, fathers had absolute authority over the family, and since Timothy's father was NOT a Christian, his home situation was less than ideal (though not necessarily terrible). But his mother and grandmother either led him to Jesus or grounded him in the faith! God wants to use parents and grandparents to pass on an eternal legacy to their children and grandchildren!
      When Paul left Lystra, he took Timothy with him - and this began a mentor-learner relationship that touched the whole world.
      I am persuaded is in you also...
      It was NOT enough that this genuine faith was in Timothy's grandmother and mother; it had to be in Timothy also. Our children, once of age to be accountable before God, must have THEIR OWN CHOSEN relationship with Jesus Christ. Mom and dad's relationship with God will NOT then bring eternal life.
      The phrase genuine faith could be literally translated, "unhypocritical faith" - that is, faith that is not an act. It was for real. Is your faith in God just an act, or is it for real? The whole book of James is about having a real faith.
      Verse 6 tells us Paul's reminder to Timothy: Boldness matters, so be bold and stir up the gift of God which is in you.
      "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands."
      Timothy was gifted, valuable man for the kingdom of God; but he seems to have had a timid streak in him, which required Paul to often encourage him to be strong and bold.
      JOHN MACARTHUR reminds, "These passages suggest Timothy was a man who tended to be timid, and who did NOT like to confront people or want to alienate others with a strong stand on the issues. If we were to meet Timothy, we would probably be impressed by his great warmth and love, but it would be a love that tended to be a little "squishy" - love that might accommodate what is wrong and harmful just so no one's feelings were hurt.
      On the other hand, we get the feeling Paul was a man of deep love, but also a man who never shied away from confrontation - anyone who would publicly rebuke the Apostle Peter was a man who could confront! (Galatians 2:11-21). Timothy already has a shepherd's tender heart for the sheep; Paul wants to develop within him the boldness necessary to really lead and protect the flock.
      Going through 1 and 2 Timothy, you will find no less than 25 different places where Paul encourages Timothy to BE BOLD, to NOT SHY AWAY from confrontation, to stand up where he needs to stand up and be strong. This was something that Timothy, being the kind of person he was, needed to hear!"
      WE NEED TO REMEMBER...People are at all different places.
      For some, the last thing they need to hear is, "You've got to be more bold!" because they are already obnoxious.
      But many others come from the place where they need to hear, "Stir up the gift of God which is in you; be bold, get going, go for it!" Timothy was of this second type.
      GUZIK adds, "Some who appear bold really are just full of bluster; they use a confrontational, in-your-face attitude to mask a lot of pain and insecurity. They need to become really bold and secure in the Lord, instead of full of bluster."
      Timothy can't be passive, and just let it all happen; he needs to be bold and to stir up the gift of God which is in you. God may have gifted a person, but just because someone has certain gifts does not mean that they are being used for His glory and Kingdom. Many gifts need to be stirred up!
      AND THESE VERSES ALSO STATE FIRMLY...This reminds us that God does not work His gifts through us as if we were robots as some teach. False teachings and false doctrines that wrongly teach we are expected to repeat a mantra, or babblings, or mutterings...attend conferences, schools, and classes to be taught the gifts and heart of Jesus.
      SADLY, some are waiting passively for God to use them; but God is waiting for them TO SEEK HIS FACE, HIS WILL, AND HIS PROMISES!
      Stir up has the idea of stirring up JESUS PROMISES AND A DESIRE TO KNOW HIS WORD AND KEEP it burning bright and strong; a fire left to itself will always burn out, but God wants us to keep HIS GIFT TO US...HIS PRECIOUS SON, JESUS CHRIST LIVING WITHIN US TO KEEP OUR HEARTS AND MINDS burning strong for Him.
      AND DID YOU KNOW, "The Greek anazopureo (stir up) means either 'to kindle afresh' or 'to keep in full flame'."
      CONTRARY TO SOME WRONG INTERPRETATIONS, There is no necessary suggestion, therefore, that Timothy had LOST his early fire, although undoubtedly, but like EVERY Christian, he needed an incentive to keep the fire burning at full flame.
      Verse 7 tells us WHY we should be bold.
      "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
      Paul sees the timidity that is in Timothy; Timothy knows the fear he sometimes feels. God wants Timothy to know that this fear is NOT from the Lord; God has NOT given us a spirit of fear.
      We all face situations where we feel timid and afraid; for some, speaking in front of others makes them fear; others are afraid of confrontation, others of being made to look foolish, others are afraid of rejection. We all deal with fear.
      THE FIRST STEP in dealing with such fears, doubts, and worries is to understand that they are NOT from God! To be able to say, "This is NOT God making me feel like this! God has NOT given me this!" Perhaps it is from your personality, perhaps a weakness of the flesh, perhaps a demonic attack - but it is NOT from God.
      THE SECOND STEP in dealing with such fears is understanding what God has given us: a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
      When we are doing His work, proclaiming His word, representing His kingdom, we have all His power backing us. We are safe in His hands.
      God has given us a spirit of love: This tells us a lot about the power He has given us. Many think of power in terms of how much we can control others; but Jesus' power is expressed in how much we can love and serve others. Remember Jesus, on the night before the cross, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands - what did He do with all that power? He humbly washed His disciples' feet! (John 13:1-11)
      God has given us a sound mind: The Greek word here has the idea of a calm, self-controlled mind, in contrast to the panic and confusion that rushes in on us when we are in a fearful situation.
      We do NOT need to accept what God has not given us (a spirit of fear), and we need to humbly receive and walk in what He has given us (a spirit … of power and of love and of a sound mind).
      Boldness matters; without it, we can NOT fulfill God's purpose for our lives. God's purpose for you is more than making money, being entertained, and being comfortable; it is for you to use the gifts He has given you to touch His people and help a needy world.
      Fear and timidity will keep you from using the gifts God has given you to touch His people and a needy world. God wants you to take His power, His love, and His calm thinking and overcome fear that comes from Satan, mankind, and the lost world to be used of Him with all the gifts He has given you.
      Verse 8 tells us using the boldness God gives, do not be ashamed of the imprisoned apostle.
      "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God."
      Paul has just told Timothy about the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind, with courage, that is the birthright of every believer in Jesus Christ - now, Paul will tell Timothy how to let what God has given him guide his thinking.
      If Timothy will take the courage God will give, he will not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. We often fail to understand that it was NOT easy to follow a crucified Master.
      SADLY today, we have sanitized Jesus, and disinfected the cross, making it all "safe." But in the day Paul wrote this, it would seem strange indeed to follow a crucified man and call him "savior."
      Think of Jesus' teaching; if you want to be great, be the servant of all; be like a child, like a slave, like the younger, like the last instead of the first. This is a testimony some would be ashamed of!
      Paul knew that the plan of God in Jesus Christ seemed foolish to many; but he also knew it was the living, active, power of God to save souls and transform lives. Paul would not be ashamed of it, and neither should Timothy - or we!
      If Timothy will take the courage God will give, he will not be ashamed of Paul (nor of me His prisoner) - it was NOT easy to support an imprisoned apostle.
      Nor of me His prisoner...
      YOU NOTICE...Paul sees himself NOT as the prisoner of Rome, but as a prisoner of God. Paul can see God as the Lord of every circumstance, and if he is free, he is the Lord's free man, if he is imprisoned, he is the Lord's prisoner.
      But share with me...
      It is NOT enough that Paul tells Timothy to NOT be ashamed of him and his chains; he invites Timothy to share in it all!
      How can we share … in the sufferings?
      We share in the same way Paul spoke of in Romans 12:15: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." We can identify with our suffering brethren across the world through prayer, through a heart of concern, and through wise action.
      Was Paul really suffering according to the power of God?
      The power of God is always there, but it is not always there to remove the difficulty. Sometimes it is there to see us through the difficulty.
      In one sense, TO THE LOST WORLD, it SEEMS absurd for Paul to talk about the power of God - the power of Rome might seem a lot more real! But God's power has been vindicated by history; the Roman Empire is gone, but the gospel of Jesus Christ lives on.
      Verses 9-10 tells us The message Timothy is not be ashamed of: God's plan of salvation.
      "Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,"
      Saved us and called us...
      We come to God as a response to His call in our lives. We did not initiate the search; we do not "find" God, He finds us; so we must respond to His call when we sense it.
      Why did God call us?
      Not according to our works, but according to His own purpose. It was NOT anything great we were, or anything great we had done, but because it fit in with His purpose - because GOD WANTED TO.
      Grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began...
      God directed His gracious work towards us when we only existed as a fact in God's knowledge. Just as a couple lovingly plans for a baby before the baby is born, so God planned for us.
      AND CONSIDER THIS...I'm glad God did it BEFORE the foundation of the world, because if He would have waited until I started living my life, He would have never done it!
      Before time began also reminds us that time is something God created to give order and arrangement to our present world; time is NOT essential to God's existence. He existed before time was created, and will remain when time is ended - and we live on in eternity with Him.
      God's purpose and grace were revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ: He fulfilled the eternal plan of God; Jesus truly shows us what God and His plan are all about.
      That's why we can never know Jesus too much; if you would know as much as you can about the invisible God in the heavens, God has revealed Himself to us all in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals Him. Become a Ph.D. in the study of Jesus!
      What Jesus did...He abolished death.
      Death is NOT death anymore. In regard to believers, Death does not take anything from the Christian; it graduates them to glory!
      The Christian has no place for "RIP" on his tombstone; "Rest In Peace" does not adequately describe our eternal fate. Why not the letters "CAD"? "Christ Abolished Death" would let everyone know that we are more alive than ever, enjoying the eternal glory of our Lord.
      What Jesus did...
      He brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. The understanding of the after-life was murky at best in the Old Testament; but Jesus let us know more about heaven - and hell - than anyone else could. He created them!
      Jesus brought the truth about our immortal state to life through His own resurrection; He showed us what our own immortal bodies would be like, and assured us that we would in fact have them. We will not be angels with wings sitting on clouds strumming harps, nor will we who love Jesus be spirits....lights without bodies...we will have an immortal body just as the resurrected Jesus did and does. Jesus touched and was touched. He wore clothing. He ate. He drank. He was viewable. He was the perfected immortal body...and so shall we one sweet day.
      God's plan of salvation began for us in eternity past, before time began; it continued with the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, and came to us when He saved us and called us, continues as we live our holy calling, and will one day show itself in immortality - eternal life!
      When we consider the greatness of this message, no wonder Paul calls it the gospel - Good News!
      It is good news that God thought of you and loved you before you even existed; good news that Jesus came to perfectly show us God, good news that He called us and saved us, good news that He gives us a holy calling, and good news that He shows us and gives us eternal life.
      No wonder Paul was willing to go to jail - even die - rather than be silent about this great message!
      Verses 11-12 tells us The boldness God gives will enable Paul to stand strong for the Lord in the midst of his present distress.
      "To which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."
      We can almost sense Paul growing in strength as he pens these words; he understands again that it is a privilege to suffer for such a great gospel - so far from being ashamed, he is honored!
      Flashing through his mind are the sermons he has preached (a preacher), the churches he has led (an apostle), and the diverse nations he has brought to Jesus Christ (a teacher of the Gentiles) - and as he considers each one, surely he must say, "Thank you Jesus!"
      How could Paul be so bold? So honored by something others might be ashamed of?
      FIRST....because I know whom I have believed. Paul KNEW the God he was serving.
      We must KNOW what we believe; but it is even more important to know whom we believe. When we know how great God is; when God and His glory becomes the great fact of our lives, then we have real boldness.
      SPURGEON says it well, "'Know thyself,' said the heathen philosopher; that is well, but that knowledge may only lead a man to hell. 'Know Christ,' says the Christian philosopher, 'know him, and then you shall know yourself,' and this shall certainly lead you to heaven, for the knowledge of Christ Jesus is saving knowledge."
      SECOND...Paul could be so bold, because he was persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Paul gave Jesus his life, and knew Jesus was fully able to keep it!
      What was it that Paul committed to Him?
      Surely, he first has in mind his life. Paul knew he could not keep his own life; he knew that only God could keep it. God was able; Paul was not. Knowing this made Paul full of boldness, but it was NOT boldness in self, but in God!
      But it was NOT only his life that Paul had committed to God. Paul had committed everything to Jesus - his life, his body, his character and reputation, his life's work, everything that was precious. What do you need to commit to Him? Everything that is precious!
      That Day...
      What day? You know what day - the day Paul would see Jesus; either by Jesus coming for Paul or by Paul going to Jesus. They lived in such awareness of that day, they did not even need to identify it. That Day was enough.
      How precious is that Day to you? It probably depends on how much you have committed to Him!
      Verses 13-14 tells us Faithfulness matters, so hold fast the truth.
      "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us."
      Paul now calls Timothy to HOLD FAST the pattern of sound words - Timothy, and all godly ministers, are called to be faithful to the truth in The Bible....just Jesus Christ and His word alone.
      Hold fast suggests someone or something will TRY to take the truth from us; that unless we hold on in faithfulness, it will be snatched from us.
      It takes a special man or woman to truly hold fast; it takes someone who is not tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, nor by fickled feelings and emotions of the moment...but to HOLD FAST TO THE PROMISES OF GOD, confirmed for us in Ephesians 4:14.
      THIS IS AN IMPORTANT measure for any pastor, evangelist, teacher, professor? Do they hold fast the pattern of sound words? The primary measures should NOT be, "they are really funny" or "they are really exciting" or "they are never boring" or even "they have a real heart for the lost" because some, claiming a heart for the lost, have abandoned the gospel. The true measure is to ask, "Does he hold fast the pattern of sound words? Do they speak, teach, claim, and follow Sola Scriptura? Do they give us what The Bible teaches, shows, commands, promises, and convicts?"
      The pattern of sound words suggests that true teaching, according to God's truth, has a certain "pattern" to it - a pattern that can be detected by the discerning heart.
      Which you have heard from me...
      The sound words Timothy was to hold fast came to him from a man - Paul the apostle. God uses human instruments to communicate His eternal truth.
      Timothy's faithfulness has to be tempered with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Some people take God's word and consider it only an intellectual matter, and leave out faith and love.
      Faith and love describe how the truth is to be held. We hold it in faith, truly believing it and putting our lives on it; and we hold it in love, not in proud arrogance or self-seeking superiority.
      If we think we are being faithful to the truth, but are NOT showing faith and love in your life, we may be nothing more than a Pharisee. They were a group in Jesus' day that was very committed to holding certain teachings, but had no fruit of faith and love flowing in their lives.
      Timothy had something committed to him - Paul calls it that good thing, no doubt meaning the gospel and the truth of God - and he needed to have faithfulness to keep that good thing.
      God has committed many good things to us; will we be faithful and keep them? Keep has more than just the idea of holding on to something; it also means to guard it and to use it wisely.
      What good things has God committed to you? His Word? A family? Time? Gifts and talents? An education? Are you being faithful with those things?
      We live in a time where faithfulness is only expected so long as it serves our own interests. When it stops being in our immediate advantage to be faithful, many people feel just fine about giving up their responsibility. But this is not honoring to God.
      Being faithful to God means having the heart that will DO what is right even when it seems to be crazy to do so. But he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change (Psalm 15:4).
      When is the last time you were faithful to something when it cost you to be faithful?
      God is faithful with what we commit to Him (2 Timothy 1:12). Will we be faithful with what He has committed to us?
      The last phrase of 2 Timothy 1:14 gives us the key to faithfulness: keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. God requires a faithfulness from us that is greater than we can fulfill by our own resources. Unless we are walking in the Spirit and filled with the Holy Spirit, we cannot keep faithful to what we must keep faithful to.
      Verse 15 tells us an example of UNFAITHFUL men.
      "This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes."
      Phygellus and Hermogenes stand as examples of those who did NOT hold fast. Apparently, these were "fair-weather friends" of Paul, who did NOT faithfully continue on with him when times got tough.
      These two men were among all those in Asia; when you read Asia in the New Testament, it does NOT mean the Far Eastern continent as it does today; it means the Roman province of Asia, which today would mostly be Turkey.
      We do NOT know much about these two men; this is the only place they are mentioned in the Bible. What a terrible thing to have your name recorded in God's holy word as an example of unfaithfulness!
      If we had to be described in one sentence, what would it be? Would it be the verdict of a traitor, or an unfaithful person, or of a faithful man or woman?
      We do know that Paul did NOT have much use for men who "abandoned ship" on him. From Acts 15:26-41, we learn that Paul got into a sharp contention with Barnabas over a man named John Mark - who had deserted Paul in a needful time before, but now wanted to continue on with him.
      We should NOT think that Phygellus and Hermogenes simply woke up one day with the burning desire to be unfaithful; probably, it happened just like it happens with MANY - they just found it in their own interest to cut Paul loose and go their own way. Many times, it seems to make sense to "do your own thing" and be unfaithful.
      All those in Asia had turned away from me...
      Think of it - the great apostle Paul, at the end of his days and a fantastic missionary career, almost ALL alone. He is NOT praised by the world, or even regarded much among other Christians. If there was Christian radio back then, no one would want to interview Paul. If there were Christian magazines back then, Paul would not have been on the cover. Paul would have had a hard time finding a publisher for the books he had written! For many Christians of that day, Paul seemed TOO extreme, TOO committed, NOT flashy, NOT handsome, or NOT famous enough.
      But Paul is TREMENDOUSLY famous in heaven, and has all the friendship in heaven a man could ever want. Why are we surprised when people forsake us, betray us, turn away from us and let us down? Are we greater than Paul? Are we greater than Jesus?
      Just make sure that if people are turning away from you, you are walking in the footsteps of Jesus and Paul, and not in the footsteps of the obnoxious...the man-pleasers, the showboats, the iconic and lost, the new way, and the new world.
      Verses 16-18 tells us An example of a FAITHFUL man.
      "The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day; and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus."
      Onesiphorus was cut from a different cloth than Phygellus and Hermogenes; he stuck WITH Paul through thick and thin. Paul prays for mercy on Onesiphorus and his whole household!
      INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH...We do NOT know much about Onesiphorus, other than that his home town was where Timothy was right then, because at the end of the letter, Paul asks Timothy to greet Onesiphorus' household.
      What did Onesiphorus do that was so special to Paul?
      1. He often refreshed me: When is the last time you refreshed another Christian?
      2. Was not ashamed of my chain: When Paul was in prison, he found out who his true friends were. Onesiphorus was one of those who stuck by him.
      3. He sought me out very zealously and found me: There were many prisons in Rome, and Onesiphorus just could NOT pick up the phone and start calling prisons! It was real work for Onesiphorus to be faithful to Paul, but he did it. If we are only faithful when it comes easily, we are NOT very faithful.
      Paul has a special prayer for Onesiphorus...
      That he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day. If a faithful servant like Onesiphoris needed such a prayer, how much more the rest of us!
      You know very well...
      Apparently, Onesiphorus' service was so faithful, so outstanding, that it was famous - Paul could simply tell Timothy, "You know for yourself how well he served."
      AND DID YOU KNOW...Onesiphorus lived up to the meaning of his name, which means "help-bringer."
      Onesiphorus stands as a tremendous example; when all others had forsaken Paul, he loved Paul and ministered to him. Whom would God have you be an Onesiphorus to? Whom would God have you diligently seek out, not be ashamed of, and refresh?


    • July 6, 2016 4:56 AM EDT
    • 2 TIMOTHY 2
      Verse 1 tells us Be STRONG in grace.
      "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
      BE STRONG...This was an important encouragement. Paul knew that Timothy would NEED strength and endurance to fulfill the calling God gave him.
      Again, this is one of the TWENTY FIVE times Paul encouraged Timothy to be strong and endure in his work in Ephesus. It seems that Timothy was naturally timid and easily discouraged so he needed to be told often, "Be strong."
      God is always there to give us strength.
      ISAIAH 40:29-30, "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might, He increases strength … those that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength."
      However, we MUST RECEIVE this strength, therefore Paul had to encourage Timothy to be strong.
      EPHESIANS 6:10-11 reminds us God makes the resource of His strength available to us.
      Yet STRENGTH does NOT come as we sit back passively and suppose that God will simply pour it into us. He brings His strength to us as we seek Him and rely on Him instead of our own strength.
      Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus...
      Paul told Timothy a specific way to be strong - that is, to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. This strength in grace is essential for a strong Christian life.
      Grace here has its simplest theological meaning, as the divine help, the unmerited gift of assistance that comes from God. Resting in the grace - the unmerited favor of God towards us that is in Christ Jesus - gives a confidence and boldness we could NEVER have when thinking we are on probation or thinking God has NOT made up His mind about us yet.
      There is nothing that can makes us as strong as saying, "I am a child of God in Jesus Christ" and "I have the love and favor of God even though I do NOT deserve it." That is the strength that comes by grace.
      REMEMBER 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10, Paul knew what it was like to receive the strength of God's grace. "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
      He could encourage Timothy like this from his own life experience.
      Verse 2 tells us Spread the word among faithful men.
      "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
      Paul reminded Timothy of the body of truth that he had heard from the Apostle in the presence of many others. Certainly, Timothy heard many Bible studies from Paul, and shared much time with the Apostle in personal discipleship.
      God gave ministry to Timothy, not for him to keep, but for him to pass on to others. An essential part of his work as a pastor was to pour into others what God had committed to him.
      One may say that everything that a pastor does in his ministry he should train others to do. There are no duties of a pastor so holy or so secret that he should keep them all to himself. He should always seek to spread ministry about to others, and to train others to do the work of the ministry.
      Timothy was NOT to teach others his own particular ideas or theories, but simple Apostolic doctrine and example (the things that you have heard from me). What was poured into him by Paul, he was responsible to pour into others.
      The job of training leaders is simply part of a pastor's job description. He should NOT only train leaders when the need for a leader is obvious; nor should he only train leaders for the needs of his congregation alone. He should train leaders for the Kingdom of God in general, whether they are used in ministry at the particular pastor's congregation or not.
      When Timothy looked for those whom he could pour Apostolic doctrine and practice into, he was to look for the quality of FAITHFULNESS. He did NOT need to find smart men, popular men, strong men, easy men, perfect men, or good-looking men; Paul told him to look for faithful men.
      Through the history of Christianity, some have held to the idea of apostolic succession. This is the idea that you can know who a true minister of the gospel is because Peter ordained someone to succeed him, and that one ordained someone to succeed him, and the next one ordained someone to succeed him, so forth and so on down the line.
      However, this verse reveals THE REAL TRUTH AND THE REAL apostolic succession - the succession of faithful men, who take the teachings of the apostles who study, preach, and teach ONLY THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE HOLY BIBLE and pass those truths on.
      This job of training leaders was so important that it could not be restricted to Timothy alone. Those whom he had trained must also be given the job to teach others also.
      Verses 3-4 tells us PERSEVERE for God with a soldier's attitude.
      "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier."
      You therefore MUST: This was not a suggestion from Paul to Timothy; must carries the sense of a requirement or a command. There was something that Timothy HAD to do, and Paul would tell him to do it.
      ENDURE hardship as a GOOD solider...
      Timothy must take the attitude of soldier who EXPECTS to endure hardship for their cause. No real solider - or at least no good solider - ever gave up simply because some hardship came to them.
      In the same way, if a believer is NOT willing to EVER endure hardship, they will NEVER accomplish much for Jesus Christ. They will give up as soon as something hard is required of them; they cannot fulfill Jesus' call.
      JESUS tells us, in MATTHEW 16:24, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
      No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life...
      Timothy must take the attitude of a solider, who willingly detaches himself from the things of civilian life.
      A solider learns that he has to give up many things.
      Some of them are BAD things (pride, independence, self-will).
      Some of them are GOOD things (his home, his family).
      Nevertheless, if a soldier is NOT willing to give up these things, he is NOT a soldier at all.
      The things that might entangle a soldier might be good or bad for a civilian.
      The soldier can NOT ask if something is good or bad for those who are NOT soldiers; he MUST give up anything that gets in the way of being a good soldier or serving his commanding officer.
      A faithful soldier does NOT have the right to do anything that will entangle them and make them less effective as a soldier.
      That he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier...
      If Timothy did not endure hardship and if he did not put away the things that entangled him in the affairs of this life, he would not be pleasing to his Commanding Officer.
      Jesus Christ is the commander of ALL heaven's armies.
      REMEMBER...In Joshua 5, Jesus appeared to Joshua as Commander of the army of the LORD (Joshua 5:14). He is our Commanding Officer, and we owe total obedience to Him as such.
      It is likely that Paul was chained to a soldier even as he wrote this. He saw how these soldiers acted, and how they obeyed their commanding officers. Paul knew that this is how a Christian must act towards their Lord.
      Verse 5 tells us persevere for God with an ATHLETE'S attitude.
      "And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."
      Paul often drew upon the world of athletics for illustrations of the Christian life, mentioning track and field (1 Corinthians 9:12), boxing (1 Corinthians 9:26), and wrestling (Ephesians 6:12).
      He is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules...
      The point is clear. An athlete can NOT make up the rules as he pleases; he must compete according to the rules if he wants to receive the crown.
      It is possible to fall into the mistake of thinking that we can make up our own rules for our Christian life. For some people, their special arrangement goes something like this: "I know this is sin, but God understands, so I'll just keep going in this sin." This goes against the attitude of an athlete who must compete according to the rules.
      Verse 6 tells us Persevere for God with the attitude of a FARMER.
      "The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops."
      In calling Timothy to have the attitude of a farmer, Paul emphasized the fact that farmers are hard-working. In the same way, all who serve the Lord should be hard-working.
      Unlike the soldier and the athlete, there is NOTHING glamorous about the work a farmer does. It is often tedious, boring, and unexciting. The nation's best farmer really is NOT a celebrity. But he must work hard just the same.
      God has no place for lazy ministers. If you will not work hard, get out of the ministry. If you will only work hard if you are in the limelight, then let God change your heart.
      Hard-working: Paul knew the value of hard work.
      1 CORINTHIANS 15:10, Paul could say, comparing himself with the other apostles, "I labored more abundantly than they all."
      Paul was NOT just called, he was NOT just blessed, he was NOT just anointed; Paul also worked hard. And his ministry would have been far less than it was if he had not worked hard.
      Some people EXPECT something for nothing. But wise people know that you often get out of things according to the measure you put into them. If you are putting forth little effort in your Christian walk, you should expect little result.
      Yet at the same time, Paul knew that all the work he did was the gift of God's grace in him.
      1 CORINTHIANS 15:10 "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Paul knew the balance of working hard, yet always knowing it is all of grace.
      Must be the first to partake of the crops...
      When Timothy had spiritual food to give to the congregation, he must eat of it first. If he is NOT being fed from the Word of God, he can NOT really feed others.
      An effective pastor or teacher will get MORE out of the message than the audience does, and his time of preparation to teach God's word will also be a time of warm fellowship with God.
      Partake of the crops...
      Like a good farmer, any godly pastor will work hard and he will patiently await the harvest - which really comes at the end of the age, not at the end of the meeting.
      Verse 7 tells us Looking to the Lord for understanding.
      "Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things."
      Consider what I say...
      Paul has just explained THREE illustrations of the Christian life - a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. Each of these THREE occupations need great perseverance to succeed.
      1. The solider who stops fighting before the battle is finished will NEVER see victory.
      2. The athlete who stops running before the race is over will NEVER win the race.
      3. The farmer who stops working before the harvest is complete will NEVER see the fruit of his crops.
      May the Lord GIVE you understanding in all things: Timothy was here instructed to see the importance of perseverance, and to receive understanding from the Lord in all these things.
      God is faithful give us understanding in all these things, and He will be faithful to give us the grace to be strong. God gives this and we must receive it.
      Verse 8 tells us The content of Paul's gospel.
      "Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel."
      REMEMBER: Paul did not give this warning because it was something Timothy might easily forget. He said it because Timothy needed to be reminded to keep this in the forefront of his message.
      Jesus Christ, of the seed of David:
      Timothy needed to keep the fact that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel - the seed of David - in the forefront of his preaching.
      God's plan of rescue through Jesus Christ did not begin when the baby was born in Bethlehem. All of history looked forward to what Jesus would do to save us.
      Who was raised from the dead:
      This is the great fact, the great credential of the authenticity of Jesus Christ - His resurrection from the dead.
      Remember that Jesus was the FIRST ONE ever resurrected.
      Others, such as Jesus' friend Lazarus, had been resuscitated, but only Jesus had been resurrected - raised to a new order of life, with a new body, which though based on the old, was still new and fitted for the glories of eternal life.
      Jesus' resurrection was the proof that though it looked like He died on the cross like a common criminal, He actually died as a sinless man out of love and self-sacrifice to bear the guilt of our sin. Jesus' death on the cross was the payment but the resurrection was the receipt, showing that the payment was received as perfect before God the Father.
      Of the seed of David:
      This statement means that Jesus was fully man; raised from the dead means Jesus was fully God. For Paul, it was essential that Timothy remember and teach the truth about who Jesus was.
      According to my gospel:
      Of course, the gospel belonged to Paul in the sense that he preached it; but it also belonged to him in the sense that he believed it. It was his gospel and it should also be the gospel of each individual Christian.
      Remember what the word gospel means: "good news." For Paul, the best news was not about more money, more love, more status, or more stuff. The good news was about a real relationship with God through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
      Verse 9 tells us The consequences of Paul's gospel.
      "For which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained."
      For which I suffer:
      This gospel did NOT bring Paul a life of glamour and ease. It brought him a life full of adventure and challenge, and a life also marked by suffering.
      DID YOU KNOW...
      It was around this time that a terrible fire destroyed much of Rome, a fire that was reportedly set by the emperor Nero as the first step of his own peculiar urban renewal program. The fire destroyed vast neighborhoods of the poor, and when they rioted, Nero blamed the Christians. He then arrested many of them - perhaps including Paul.
      One of the most spectacular sights in Israel is the ancient city of Bet Shein - a spectacular city that is, piece by piece, being uncovered and restored by archaeologists. If you ever visit, you can see the coliseum there - the oval stadium, complete with chambers and rooms for lions and other wild animals - animals that were almost certainly set upon Christians for the entertainment of the mob. For me, to walk on floor of that stadium - on the ground that had almost surely received the blood of Christians - was something sacred, and reminded me of the extreme price many have had to pay. Does any small price we must pay seem like much in comparison?
      Any true follower of Jesus Christ will be willing to suffer with Him. Those who are determined to never suffer for Jesus may admire Him from a distance, but they do not genuinely follow Him.
      To the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained: Paul's wrist was shackled at the very moment he wrote this. Nevertheless, he understood that they could chain him but they could never chain the word of God.
      The Bible has been attacked more than any other book through history. It has been burned, banned, mocked, twisted, and ignored - but the word of God still stands forever.
      ISAIAH 40:8 reminds us, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."
      The Word of God is NOT chained. No government, no religious authorities, no skeptics, no scientists, no philosophers, or no book burners have ever been able to stop the work of the Word of God. Yet, if there is any sense in which the Word is bound, it is bound when it is abandoned by its very friends. When pulpits sound more like self-help books than those who proclaim God's word; when Scripture is used sparingly like a spice in a message, instead of being the core of it, pastors themselves put a chain around the Bible.
      Verse 10 tells us Why Paul endures the consequences of the gospel.
      "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."
      Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect:
      We might have expected Paul to say he endures all things for the sake of God. Yet Paul knew that his love for God could reliably be measured by his love for God's people.
      That they may obtain the salvation:
      Paul's life was not spent merely in getting people rescued in Jesus, but also in seeing them grow and become complete in their relationship with Him.
      Eternal glory:
      The idea of eternal glory is hard for us to comprehend. The Bible tells us there is a glory that belongs to the people of God in eternity that is greater than any earthly glory. Eternal glory is worth much more than earthly glory.
      Verses 11-13 tells us Paul describes his gospel with a faithful saying.
      "This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him if we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself."
      This is a faithful saying:
      We know what it is like to have a worship song on our mind, one that expressing our heart. Here Paul quoted an early Christian hymn known among the Christians of his day.
      For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him:
      The song begins with a promise of resurrection to those who have died with Jesus.
      The Bible speaks of dying with Jesus in TWO ways:
      1. THE FIRST is common to all Christians, and is illustrated by baptism (Romans 6:3-5). Each of us can have a life-after-death experience with Jesus, seeing our old life ended with Jesus on the cross, and have our new life beginning with His being raised from the dead.
      2. The SECOND way the Bible speaks of dying with Jesus is, of course, in the sense of martyrdom - of paying the ultimate price for following Jesus. This is probably Paul's idea here; he is saying, "If we die with Him, we aren't dead - we live with Him." More significantly, Paul wrote this awaiting his own execution by the Roman government.
      If we endure, we shall also reign with Him:
      The song assures the faithful believer of eternal reward. This principle assures us that our present difficulty or trial is worth enduring. The reward is greater than what one might gain from quitting. We will reign with Him!
      The Bible says that we will rule and reign with Jesus Christ. This future destiny explains much of the difficulty described in this passage. We understand that God is training us to rule and reign beside Him in the world to come.
      If we deny Him, He also will deny us:
      The song warns those who deny Jesus that they themselves will be denied. By doctrine or manner of living, one may deny who Jesus is, deny what He has done for us, or deny what He commands us to do.
      Jesus said it plainly: "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven." in Matthew 10:33.
      If we are faithless, He remains faithful:
      We cannot deny Jesus and we must keep our allegiance to Him. Yet if one does fall away, it doesn't change who God is - He remains faithful.
      It is a terrible thing when people who name the name of Jesus show themselves unfaithful; many have been turned off from Jesus because of the hypocrisy of those who take His name. But all the faithlessness of man doesn't disprove the faithfulness of God.
      But the Christian can stand faithful as God empowers them. Even if one has been wavering, they still have time - as the Spirit of God calls to them even now - to turn back to the faithful God. We can be like the prodigal son, who came to his senses, saw his faithfulness, and came home to his father who had been faithful to him the whole time.
      When one Christian in the days of the ancient Roman Empire was commanded to give money to the building of a pagan temple, he refused; and though he was old, they stripped him practically naked, and cut him all over his body with knives and spears. They started to feel sorry for him, so they said, "Just give one dollar to the building of the temple." But he still would not. "Just burn one grain of incense to this pagan god," they asked - but he would not. So he was smeared with honey, and while his wounds were still bleeding, they set bees and wasps upon him until he was stung to death. He could die; but he could not deny his Lord. The Lord can give you the same strength to live for Him, even as this man died for Him.
      Verse 14 tells us Keep focused; don't be distracted by unprofitable things.
      "Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers."
      Remind them of these things:
      After reminding Timothy of the essential points of the gospel, Paul adds that Timothy must always remind his hearers of these things. Timothy's job as a pastor was to keep his congregation always FOCUSED ON the gospel.
      The church is constantly tempted to get its focus off of the message that really matters, and is tempted to become an entertainment center, a social service agency, a mutual admiration society, or any number of other things. But this temptation must be resisted, and the church should constantly remember these things.
      1. The things of 2 Timothy 2:8: Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel.
      2. The things of 2 Timothy 2:11-13: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful, He cannot deny Himself.
      Not to strive about words to no profit:
      At the same time, there were things that Timothy must not focus on. The church must stand for the truth, but it must not become a debating society.
      To the ruin of the hearers:
      This shows that it is a serious matter and there is much to lose. If we take the focus off the message of God, and put the focus on human opinions and endless debates, it will result in the RUIN of the hearers.
      The Bible says, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Yet if people do not hear the word of God, then ruin comes by hearing the opinions and speculations and entertainment of man.
      Verse 15 tells Keep focused; pay attention to your own life and ministry.
      "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
      Be diligent:
      Paul often had to exhort Timothy to courage and action. Earlier in the chapter (2 Timothy 2:3-5), Paul encouraged him to hard work and endurance for the service of the Lord.
      To present yourself approved to God:
      Timothy's goal was not to present himself approved to people, but to God. He was NOT to regard the job of being a pastor as a popularity contest but instead as a call to faithfulness to God.
      To present yourself approved to God:
      Timothy was NOT to worry so much about presenting other people approved to God (though there was a place for this in his pastoral ministry). His first concern had to be to present himself approved to God.
      A worker who does NOT need to be ashamed:
      "It is embarrassing to do a job poorly and then to have your work examined. The Bible warns us that the work of each Christian will be examined at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Therefore we have another motivation to work diligently for the Lord, so we will not be ashamed when our work is examined."
      Rightly dividing the word of truth:
      This was to be a focus of Timothy's hard work. He was to work hard so he could rightly divide the word of God.
      Timothy, as a faithful pastor, was to be RIGHTLY DIVIDING God's Word. That is, he had to KNOW what it said and did NOT say, and how it was to be understood and how it was not to be understood. It wasn't enough for Timothy to know some Bible stories and verses and sprinkle them through his sermons as illustrations. His teaching was to be a "right dividing" of the Word of God, correctly teaching his congregation.
      SPURGEON says it well, "Swords are meant to cut and hack, and wound, and kill with, and the word of truth is for pricking men in the heart and killing their sins. The word of God is not committed to God's ministers to amuse men with its glitter, nor to charm them with the jewels in its hilt, but to conquer their souls for Jesus."
      RIGHTLY DIVIDING has several ideas associated with the ancient term.
      1. Rightly handle the Word of God, as one would rightly handle a sword.
      2. Plow straight with the Word of God, properly presenting the essential doctrines.
      3. Properly dissect and arrange the Word of God, as a priest would dissect and arrange and animal for sacrifice.
      4. Allot to each their portion, as someone distributing food at a table.
      AND YOU NOTICE...Rightly dividing means there is such a thing as WRONGLY dividing; not everyone cuts it straight. We must understand that Biblical truth is not just an issue left up to everyone's interpretation. There is a right way and a wrong way to understand the Bible, and a pastor especially must work hard to master the right interpretation.
      For example, many people love to say when the Bible is quoted, "Well, that's just your interpretation." Their idea is, "You interpret the Bible your way, I interpret it my way, and another person interprets it their way. We can never really know what it means, so do not judge me with your Bible verse."
      When someone tells me, "That's just your interpretation," I think in response: "It's true that it is my interpretation, but it is not just my interpretation, it is the correct interpretation, and we need to pay attention to what the Bible says correctly interpreted."
      MACARTHUR says it well, "This is an important point: The Bible does not mean just what anyone wants it to mean. There may be many people trying to twist the Scriptures to their own ends, but they are wrongly dividing the word of truth. We can not just pick the interpretation that seems most comfortable to us, and claim it as true - it must be rightly dividing the word of truth, and it must be consistent with what the Bible says in the specific passage and with the entire message of the Scriptures.
      For example, a correct interpretation of Matthew 7:1 (Judge not, that you be not judged) is not the idea of "You have no right to judge my behavior or any one else's behavior." If this were the case, then Jesus repeatedly broke His own commandment, because He often told people their behavior was wrong in the sight of God. The correct understanding of Matthew 7:1 is easily seen by reading Matthew 7:2: For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Jesus was saying "Don't judge anyone by a standard you are not willing to be judged by. God will hold you to the same standard you hold others to." This clearly does not forbid judging someone else's life, but it does prohibit doing it unfairly or hypocritically, or living with a judgmental attitude.
      The point is clear: There is a right way and a wrong way to divide the Matthew 7:1, which is one verse in the word of truth. Every Christian, but pastors especially, must work hard to be rightly dividing the word of truth. Though perfection in understanding God's word is impossible, and should never be assumed, we should still work hard at it."
      Verses 16-18 tells us The price of not keeping focus: The faith of some is overthrown.
      "But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some."
      But shun profane and vain babblings:
      This refers to anything that takes the focus off of the gospel and God's Word. These babblings are profane because they are unholy in contrast to the holiness of God's Word. They are vain, because even though people like to hear them, they do NOT have lasting value.
      Man's opinions, man's teachings, man's opinion polls, man's stories, man's programs, are all profane and vain babblings compared to the simple Word of God. When these things become the focus of the message from the pulpit, it will increase to more ungodliness.
      Their message will spread like cancer:
      The message of profane and vain babblings may spread quickly and be popular. They are like a cancer that spreads fast and captures an audience.
      Hymenaeus and Philetus:
      Hymenaeus is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20 as a man whom Paul delivered to Satan that [he] may learn not to blaspheme. This is the only place where we hear of Philetus, and here Paul tells us of their error.
      They were of this sort - that is, they had a message full of profane and vain babblings, and apparently the message was somewhat popular, because it spread quickly.
      They had strayed concerning the truth:
      Apparently, they started out correctly, and then strayed from that correct position.
      They were saying that the resurrection is already past:
      It seems they were teaching that we were already in God's millennial kingdom, or that there was no resurrection to come - it had already occurred.
      They did overthrow the faith of some:
      Though the only false doctrine Paul mentioned regarding these two is that they taught that the resurrection is already past, the effect was to overthrow the faith of some. Undoubtedly, this was not their only error; and a fundamental error in such an area often leads to many more strange beliefs, until one has abandoned Jesus and His truth all together.
      Many today accept and honor teachers who are way off in one area or another; and they justify it by saying, "I eat the meat and spit out the bones." This kind of thinking will certainly overthrow the faith of some, because some will certainly choke to spiritual death on the bones you say you spit out.
      Notice Paul said, they overthrow the faith of some. We should NOT require that everyone be led astray by a teacher before we avoid them; even if some are having their faith overthrown, it is bad enough.
      Verse 19 tells us The reward of focus: The solid foundation of God.
      "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
      Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands:
      In the preceding passage, Paul sounded as if he were under severe attack and might not stand against the rising tide of deception and wickedness. But here, he makes it clear, both to himself and to us that the kingdom of God can NOT be shaken.
      Though men like Hymenaeus and Philetus made dangerous attacks against the church and their message spread like cancer, and even though the faith of some might be overthrown, nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands.
      God has a plan, God has a purpose, God has a strategy, and it is not going to fail. It does NOT matter how many fall away, how many reject the truth, how many go their own way after profane and vain babblings - Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands.
      It seems that Paul drew these allusions from Numbers 16, in reference to the rebellion of Korah.
      1. The Lord knows those who are His: "The words are taken from Numbers 16:5, 'In the morning the Lord will show who are His.'
      2. Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity: "The language is perhaps another echo of the story of Korah (Numbers 16:26-27). But Isaiah 52:11 is nearer in sentiment.
      The Lord knows those who are His:
      This is the FIRST inscription on THE SEAL. If Hymenaeus and Philetus continue their destructive ministry, the Lord knows those who are His. If profane and vain babblings sweep through the church like cancer, the Lord knows those who are His. If the faith of some is overthrown, the Lord knows those who are His.
      We don't always know those who are His. We can know for ourselves, for as Romans 8:16 says, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." But with others, we can NOT always know those who are His.
      God does not sit in heaven, wondering and worrying if you are saved or not. He does not hope or wonder if you will make it to the end. HE KNOWS. The Lord knows those who are His.
      Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity:
      This is THE SECOND inscription on the foundation of God. It is true that God knows those who are His; and He calls those who are His to leave their sin behind.
      Some might say, "I belong to the Lord, I know I am His. I am going to heaven. It does NOT matter so much how I live." Yet, such a son has forgotten that there are two inscriptions on the foundation of God. There are two - and those who are His will have the desires and the actions to depart from iniquity.
      If someone does not have the desire or the actions to depart from iniquity, it is fair to ask if they really belong to Jesus or if they have just deceived themselves.
      The solid foundation of God stands:
      It is NOT going to change; therefore, we can keep our focus on it. It is hard to focus on something that often changes, so God gave us a solid foundation in His Word to keep our focus on.
      SPURGEON says it well, "The first seal marked it for the Lord, the second secured its removal from the common stones around it. First comes election, and sanctification follows. I want every professing Christian to have that double mark, and so to be Christ's man, known of all to be such by coming out from the unclean, and being separated unto the Lord."
      Verses 20-21 tells us the Vessels of honor and dishonor.
      "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work."
      But in a great house:
      Paul just used the picture of God's building (the solid foundation of God stands). Now he thinks of that building as a great house that has a variety of vessels in it - bowls, plates, vases, and other such things.
      The church of God is indeed a great house.
      1. It is a great house because of who it belongs to. The house of our great God is certainly a great house.
      2. It is a great house because it is planned and designed on a great scale. It has the most brilliant Architect and houses a great multitude of the greatest people to ever walk the earth.
      3. It is a great house because of the great cost it took to build it. This is a mansion far more valuable than any real estate on earth, built by the great work of Jesus on the cross.
      4. It is a great house because of its importance. This house and what happens in it is at the center of God's plan of the ages. The business of this house is more important than any of the trivia most of the world is interested it.
      Vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay:
      Some of these vessels are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. Some are used on occasions of great honor (the gold and silver vessels), and some are used for dishonor - such as a garbage bin or an trash heap.
      Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter:
      The latter things are the things of dishonor mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:20. If we cleanse ourselves from dishonorable things, God will regard us as vessels of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master.
      If anyone cleanses himself:
      Paul spoke about a cleansing that is NOT just something God does for us as we sit passively. This is a self-cleansing for service that goes beyond a general cleansing for sin.
      There is a main aspect of cleansing which comes to us as we trust in Jesus and His work on our behalf. This work of cleansing is really God's work in us and not our work. This is the sense of 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
      But there is another aspect of cleansing which God looks for us to do with the participation of our own will and effort. Not that it is our work apart from God, but it is a work that awaits our will and effort: If anyone cleanses himself. This aspect of cleansing is mostly connected with usefulness for service, and closeness to God.
      Sanctified and useful:
      Sanctified means set apart, just as much as there are certain bowls and plates that we use more than others, or are set aside to some honorable purpose, so some people are more sanctified and useful to God than others. They are more prepared for every good work than others.
      We must never think that some Christians are better than others, or that some have passed into a place where they are super-spiritual. However, we must also realize that some Christians are more able to be used by God than others, because they have cleansed themselves, and made themselves more usable to God.
      Prepared for every good work:
      We must not think of being usable primarily in the sense of serving in the church. God wants to use His people for every good work, including those at the workplace, the school, in the home, in the community. This happens as one will cleanse himself and set yourself aside to God as a vessel for honor.
      There is a large sense in which it is left to us how we want to be used by God. We have the potential to be used as a vessel of honor or as a vessel of dishonor. According to this picture, we could be a gold platter in the house of God, beautifully displaying the fruit of the Spirit. Or we could be an ashtray or a garbage can in God's house.
      Your conduct - clean or unclean; set apart to God or not set apart to God; useful to Jesus or not useful to Jesus - really matters. It greatly effects how God can use you and will use you to touch the lives of others.
      Verses 22-23 tells us How to cleanse yourself.
      "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife."
      Flee also youthful lusts:
      This is the first aspect of cleansing that Paul mentioned to Timothy. Youthful lusts describes the sort of desires and temptations that are especially prominent when someone is an adolescent or young adult. Sexual temptation, illicit pleasure of the flesh, and a longing for fame and glory often mark one's youth.
      The command is simple: Flee also youthful lusts. Do NOT entertain them. Do NOT challenge them. Do NOT try and endure them. The idea of "I will just test myself on this one to see if I can stand against it" has made many fall into sin.
      If you cannot flee also youthful lusts, there is a real limit to how much God can use you, a limit to how useful to the Master you will be. You can NOT really say "yes" to God until you can say "no" to some other things.
      But pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace:
      Cleansing can never be a matter of just avoiding bad things. It must also be the pursuit of good things. Therefore there are both things that we must flee from and things we must pursue.
      Pursue … peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart:
      To be cleansed, we must do everything we can to be right in our personal relationships with others. Cleansing needs to extend to how we treat others.
      Sometimes relationships are not right with others, but we have done all we can do to set it right. We must take great care that we do all we can do. As Paul wrote in Romans 12:18: "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."
      Bad relationships really hinder our service to the Lord. We must do what we can to set things right if we want to be used of God as much as we can be.
      But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes:
      Walking clean also means staying clear of endless disputes and arguments. These distracting interests can limit how much God can use us.
      Verses 24-26 tells us The kind of attitude God can use: The gentle servant.
      "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."
      A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all:
      The great men of our world are not usually thought of as servants nor as gentle. Yet in the kingdom of God, greatness is marked by being a servant of the Lord and by being gentle to all.
      A servant of the Lord must:
      When Paul wrote to Timothy about a servant of the Lord, he told him about some of the basic characteristics of a godly pastor.
      1. Timothy must not quarrel but be gentle to all. It was not his job as a pastor to pick fights and to look for conflict. Some men only feel energized and motivated if they have an argument; Timothy (and every pastor) should be of a different sort.
      2. Timothy must be able to teach. With the great emphasis Paul placed on God's Word, a pastor who is not able to teach is like a surgeon who can't use a scalpel.
      3. Timothy must be patient. God's work often takes time. Sometimes we can see why it takes so much time, sometimes we can't - but God is not in a hurry, and wants us to learn how to patiently trust Him.
      4. Timothy must be in humility correcting those who are in opposition: The gentleness and patience Timothy must have does not mean he is to never confront those who need to be confronted; but he must do it in humility.
      In humility correcting those who are in opposition:
      Paul specifically told Timothy how to correct these opposing ones.
      If God perhaps will grant them repentance:
      They need to repent, and this repentance will never happen apart from a work of God in their heart.
      If God perhaps will grant them repentance:
      The idea is not, "Maybe God will or maybe God won't grant them repentance." The idea is more, "It's remarkable thing to see this work of God, and I won't presume upon it happening."
      So that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses:
      Anyone who fights against God is deceived, and must come to their senses; repentance flows as someone comes to the truth in this way.
      And escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him:
      Those who are in opposition to God's work, whether they know it or not, are bound in a demonic deception, and are doing the devil's work. They need to escape the snare of the devil, and God is ready to set them free.
      Taken captive by him to do his will:
      Paul spoke of those who serve the devil and those who serve God. There is a choice for every person, every Christian, who they will decide to serve.
      To be a servant of the Lord - a vessel of honor for Him - we must be empty, clean, and available. If we refuse to empty ourselves, clean ourselves, and make ourselves available to the Lord, we will find ourselves captive to the devil in one sense or another.

    • July 6, 2016 4:54 AM EDT
    • 2 TIMOTHY 3
      Verse 1 Paul tells Timothy and us, PERILOUS TIMES IN THE LAST DAYS means that JESUS discernment OF His Word is VERY IMPORTANT.
      "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:"
      The word translated "perilous" has the idea of troubles, difficulty, and stressful situations. This sort of atmosphere WILL mark the last days.
      The word "PERILOUS" was used in classical Greek both of dangerous wild animals and of the raging sea. Its only other New Testament occurrence is in the story of the two Gaderene demoniacs who were as savage and untamed as wild beasts and whom Matthew describes as ''so fierce that no one could pass that way." in Matthew 8:28.
      CALVIN says it well, "The characteristics Paul will describe speak not of bad times, but of bad people. "We should note what the hardness or danger of this time is in Paul's view to be, not war, not famine or diseases, nor any of the other calamities or ills that befall the body, but the wicked and depraved ways of men and corruption of Christianity."
      In the last days...
      This is a broad term in the New Testament, broad enough to where one could say that the last days began with the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17). The days of the Messiah mark the last days; yet the term is especially appropriate to the season immediately BEFORE the Rapture, what Paul calls the "catching away of the church" to meet Jesus in the clouds and 7 years later at the 2nd coming of Jesus when He DOES step down on the earth, precisely at Mount Zion, also known as the Mount Of Olives and the consummation of all things.
      Though some think that any attention paid to the last days or Biblical prophecy is frivolous, we should be able to discern when the last days are; or at least when world conditions are like the Bible described they would be in the last days.
      SPURGEON, says it well of uninterested, deceived and deceiving Christians in the last days, "There are sanguine brethren who are looking forward to everything growing better and better and better, until, at last, this present age ripens into a millennium. They will not be able to sustain their hopes, for Scripture gives them no solid basis to rest upon.... Apart from the second Advent of our Lord, the world is more likely to sink into a pandemonium than to rise into a millennium."
      AND REMEMBER...In Matthew 16:1-4, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day because they did not or would not understand the meaning of their times: "Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times."
      It is possible that Jesus would have the same rebuke for some Christians today who are unaware, uncaring, deceived or deceiving others of the last days and the soon return of Jesus Christ.
      Verses 2-5 tells us A description of the HUMAN condition in the last days.
      "For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
      Men will be lovers of themselves...
      This is certainly characteristic of our present age, when men and women are encouraged to love themselves. People are told to love themselves unconditionally and that such self love is the foundation for a healthy human personality.
      We do NOT need to be encouraged to love ourselves; we naturally have such a love. Neither should we be taught to hate ourselves, but as Paul said in Romans 12:3: "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith."
      We must see ourselves as we really are - both the bad of what we are in the flesh and the glory of what we are in Jesus Christ.
      BARCLAY says it well, "It is no accident that the FIRST of these PERILOUS & DEPRAVED qualities will be a life that is centred in SELF.
      The adjective used is "philautos", which means self-loving. Love of self is the basic sin, from with all others flow. The moment a man makes his own will the centre of life, divine and human relationships are destroyed, obedience to God and charity to men both become impossible. The essence of Christianity is not the enthronement but the obliteration of self.
      HIEBERT adds, "'Lovers of self' aptly heads the list since it is the essence of all sin and the root from which all the other characteristics spring. The word is literally 'self-lovers' and points to the fact that the center of gravity of the natural man is self rather than God."
      Men will be … lovers of money...
      The love of money is nothing new, but today people have the ability to pursue our love of money like never before.
      FOR EXAMPLE...In recent years newspapers featured a story about a woman named Brenda Blackman, who enjoyed some measure of success teaching a course titled How to Marry Money. The course attempts to show men and women how to marry rich, and costs $39 per person. In the course Blackman offered helpful hints, such as how to search through your prospective mate's checkbooks to study their deposits and then assess their income levels. She built her student's confidence by leading them in a chant several times through the lecture: "I want to be rich! I deserve to be rich! I am rich! I was born to be rich!" In one class, Blackman was asked by a woman if it was all right to settle for a man whose income was about $100,000 a year. "No way," she replied. What if he was perfect in every other way? "If he was in his peak earning years and he was maxed out at $100,000 - forget it," Blackman advised. When someone asked her about the place of love in such relationships, Blackman said that finding a mate with that much money is the hard part; learning to love that person is easy by comparison. "How could you not love someone who is doing all these wonderful things for you?" she said. Blackman was single as she taught these courses.
      Men will be … boasters, proud, blasphemers...
      Boasting, pride, and blasphemy are nothing new; but today, they seem far more prominent than ever.
      Boasting, pride, and blasphemy each act as if I am the most important person. Each of them say, "You do NOT matter and God does NOT matter. All that matters is me."
      Today boasting, pride, and blasphemy are apparent everywhere, especially among the celebrities that our cultures idolizes. Many people today become wealthy by calculated boasting, pride, and blasphemy.
      Men will be … disobedient to parents...
      Since the mid 1960s there has been a frightening breakdown in the authority once assumed by a child towards their parents.
      FOR EXAMPLE...Several years ago a judge in Orlando Florida ruled that an 11-year-old boy had the right to seek a "divorce" from his parents so that he could be adopted by a foster family. But though there are few legal divorces from parents by children, it is far more common that young people simply disregard their parents.
      ANOTHER EXAMPLE...In the 1990s, a 13 year-old Los Angeles area graffiti vandal was quoted in the Los Angeles Times: "It's like a family to belong to a crew. They watch your back, you watch theirs. You kick it everyday with them.... You get friendship, love, supplies, everything." He also says: "I'll tag anything … Now I don't care. Well, sort of. I wouldn't like no one to write on my stuff. I do it to get known, to get up, regardless if people feel that I'm causing damage to property. I'd say the damage I've done is quite a bit. During the day I carry a screwdriver or a knife for protection. But at night I carry a gun. I have three guns. I hide them. My mom took a.38 from me. I'm getting it back." When asked about once when he got caught, he said: "My parents sort of talked to me about it. Of course they told me, 'Don't do it again.' But I'm not gonna listen, and they don't have to know about it."
      Men will be … unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving...
      Ever since Adam, humankind has been marked by these things to one degree or another. Here, Paul said these things will be especially prevalent in the last days.
      1. UNLOVING (translated without natural affection in the KJV) literally means, "without family love." Paul said that the end times would be marked by an attitude of growing disregard of normal family love and obligation.
      Men will be … SLANDERERS...
      Men have always told hurtful lies about other men; but today, in media and in politics, slander has been elevated to both big business and big money.
      In politics, candidates routinely and knowingly distort their opponent's positions, just to make their competition look bad - and they do NOT feel bad at all about the lying if it helps them get elected. In media, editors and news directors serve as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to innocents who are wrongly suspected - and usually refuse to apologize when they are proven to be wrong.
      Men will be … without SELF-CONTROL...
      The story of no self-control can be written across almost everything today - sex, drugs, alcohol, food, work. Whatever we do, we often do it out of control.
      FOR EXAMPLE...In the 1990s the Los Angeles Times published an article about Michelle, who was a successful writer and editor. She feared the day her husband might discover her secret stash of credit cards, her secret post office box or the other tricks she used to hide how much money she spent shopping for herself. "I make as much money as my husband … If I want a $500 suit from Ann Taylor, I deserve it and don't want to be hassled about it. So the easiest thing to do is lie," she explained. Last year, when her husband forced her to destroy one of her credit cards, Michelle went out and got a new one without telling him. "I do live in fear. If he discovers this new VISA, he'll kill me."
      A school teacher explained more: "Men just don't understand that shopping is our drug of choice," she joked, even while admitting that some months her salary goes exclusively to paying the minimum balance on her credit cards. "Walking through the door of South Coast Plaza is like walking though the gates of heaven. God made car trunks for women to hide shopping bags in."
      A young professional named Mary explained: "Shopping is my recreation. It's my way of pampering myself. When you walk into [a mall] and you see all the stores, it's like something takes over and you get caught up in it."
      Men will be … BRUTAL...
      Cruelty and brutality are nothing new in the world; but Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the last days would be marked by a particular brutality.
      A newspaper article described how an Oxnard man was accused of murdering his roommate after the two disagreed over the brand of beer the man had brought home. The accused man brought home Natural Light, and the murdered man wanted him to bring home Michelob. As he poured the Natural Light down the kitchen sink, he was stabbed to death.
      We like to think of ourselves as more advanced than previous generations; but surely more people have been murdered in our century than ever before; these are violent, brutal times.
      Men will be … DESPISERS OF GOOD...
      There just seem to be too many examples of this in modern society to pick out examples. For one example, there was a time when most people thought letting people live was good and killing them was generally a bad thing. Today, we live in a culture when the simple good of life is now despised and attacked, through abortion, greed, killing someone for their shoes, bludgeoning an old lady for her social security check, through the glorifying of violence and murder in ALL medias, and through euthanasia.
      DID YOU KNOW...On March 6, 1996, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the United States Constitution gives every American the right to kill someone else. Essentially, the court said that if you think someone might want to die - even if they have never said so - you can kill them and no law can stop you. You can kill someone if you are a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist, a family member, or a "significant other" to a person you think wants to die. From the Judge's ruling: "When patients are no longer able to pursue liberty or happiness and do not wish to pursue life," they can be killed. The Federal Judge directly tied his decision to the right to abortion on demand. The reasoning seems to be that if the state must allow us to kill humans in the womb, it must also allow them to kill them later.
      Men will be … traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...
      ALL of these characteristics are all about one thing: SELF.
      Men are traitors because of self, they are headstrong because of self, they are haughty because of self, and they are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God because of self.
      This attitude marks our current age. For example, think of national advertising slogans from the late 1990s:
      - Nothing is taboo.
      - Break all the rules.
      - To know no boundaries.
      - Relax: No rules here.
      - Peel off inhibitions. Find your own road.
      - We are all hedonists and want to do what feels good. That's what makes us human.
      - Living without boundaries.
      - Just do it.
      The message is the same RIGHT NOW:
      You make your own rules.
      You answer to no one.
      You are the one that matters.
      Your universe revolves around you.
      BUT AS CHRISTIANS...We do NOT have to choose between pleasure and God. Serving God is the ultimate pleasure; Psalm 16:11 says, "At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
      But we do have to choose between the love of pleasure and the love of God.
      Living for God will give you many pleasures, but they only come as you love God first and refuse to love the pleasures themselves.
      Having a form of godliness but denying its power...
      In our self-obsessed world, people feel very free to have a "salad bar" religion - they pick and choose what they want. They feel free to be very "spiritual," but sense no obligation to be Biblical.
      In the late 1990s it was reported that the Reverend John Canning delivered the eulogy after Leo and Hazel Gleese were slain, telling mourners that he had been so close to the couple that he could call them Mom and Dad. On Friday, six weeks later, Canning was led off to jail in handcuffs, charged with beating and strangling the 90-year-old couple. Police say the Gleeses were killed in their home January 2 after they discovered Canning had abused the power of attorney they gave him and was stealing their savings. "It's the most despicable thing I've ever heard of," said Phil Ramer, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent. "Of all people in the world you should be able to trust, it's your pastor. They couldn't do it in this case, and he wound up killing them." The pastor was a suspect from the start because he waited a day to report he found the couple dead in their home. "When it takes somebody a day to report two dead bodies, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to say who the suspect is," Ramer said. The minister passed the time before reporting the deaths by spending a day at the beach and dining out with friends.
      A 63-year-old married woman writes to Dear Abby to justify her adultery. She writes: "He's also married. We meet once a week at a motel for three hours of heaven. My husband knows nothing about this, and neither does my lover's wife. Sex with my husband is even better now, and it's not as though I am denying my husband anything. I teach a class at church every week, but for some reason, I feel no guilt."
      When we talk about the power of godliness, we often mean it in the sense of "power to give me what I want." But this is exactly opposite of what Paul meant here. The power of godliness that men will despise in the last days is the power it should have to guide their lives; power in the sense of rightful authority - and many, many, today deny that God has the power to tell them what to do through His Word.
      From such people turn away!...
      The command to turn away from people described by the characteristics in this list is especially difficult in our present day.
      People who do the things on this list are not only common today but they are often also our cultural heroes. The simple responsibility of Christians is to turn away not only these attitudes, but also from the people who do these things.
      Many think it is enough if they themselves are not like this, and give little heed to the company they keep. But if we spend time with people like this - either personally or by allowing them to entertain us - they will influence on us.
      As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33: "Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
      From such turn away also means that Paul knew those marked by the spirit of the last days were present in Timothy's own day too. However, we should expect that they would be even more numerous and have increased power in the last days shortly before the return of Jesus.
      Verses 6-7 tells us The strategy of THE CORRUPT in the last days.
      "For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
      Those who creep into households...
      Paul knew that the dangers were in the world in his day and would be FAR FAR WORSE in the last days before the return of Jesus. However, he seemed especially concerned that these would creep into households. It is one thing to have such evil present in the world; it is another thing to allow it into your home.
      Make captives of gullible women...
      Those marked by the last days depravity Paul mentioned in the previous verses want to take others captive, and it can do this among the gullible, those who will believe or pay attention to most anything if it is packaged the right way.
      One should know if they are indeed one of these captives that Paul mentioned, bound by the influence of this end times rejection of God and celebration of self.
      There is one effective way to know: walk away from any kind of worldly influence and see if there are chains that make your escape difficult. Take a week off from letting anything marked by the spirit of the last days into your household - and see if chains bind you back to those things.
      Led away by various lusts...
      Obviously, the spirit of the last days finds its appeal to us by exciting various lusts within us. It appeals to the desire to be excited sexually, or romantically, or to have our desires for comfort or wealth or status satisfied ABOVE ALL ELSE.
      Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth...
      The spirit of the last days has a certain intelligence about it; the high priests of the spirit of the last days know how to make things work and how to lead us away by various lusts. But for all their skill, for all of their marketing brilliance and knowledge, they never come to truth.
      Indeed, the spirit of the last days has a problem with the idea of "true truth" altogether, because it believes that we each are the center of our own universe and we each create our own truth.
      According to the spirit of the last days there is no truth outside of ourselves, so we can learn and learn and learn, but we will never come to God's eternal truth.
      CLARKE says it well, "There are many professors and self-proclaimed preachers of Christianity still who answer the above description. They hear, repeatedly hear, it may be, good sermons; but, as they seldom meditate on what they hear, they derive little profit from the ordinances of God. They have no more grace now than they had several years ago, though hearing all the while, and perhaps not wickedly departing from the Lord. They do not meditate, they do not think, they do not reduce what they hear to practice; therefore, even under the preaching of an apostle, they could not become wise to salvation."
      Verses 8-9 tells us an example of this sort of corrupt human condition: Jannes and Jambres, who resisted Moses.
      "Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was."
      Jannes and Jambres...
      Though they were not named for us in the Exodus account, these two men are the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses before Pharaoh (Exodus 7:8-13, 7:19-23, 8:5-7, and 8:16-19).
      Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses...
      These were able to work real miracles - not mere parlor tricks - but by the power of darkness and not the power of God. When Moses cast down his rod and it turned into a serpent, Jannes and Jambres could do the same. When he turned water into blood, they could do the same. When Moses brought forth a plague of frogs, Jannes and Jambres could do the same. Yet eventually they could not match God miracle-for-miracle, and their occult powers were shown to be inferior to God's power.
      The ability to do miracles by the power of darkness and the willingness to receive them as authentic will characterize the end times told to us in Revelation 13:13-15 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9..
      Some of us are amazed by ANY spiritual power that is real, without carefully thinking that real power may have a DEMONIC SOURCE instead of a Godly source. And even if a psychic or new age power seems to feel right, we must not be seduced by it "because demonic powers can come masquerading as angels of light", told to us in 2 Corinthians 11:15.
      Resisted Moses...
      The resistance of truth by Jannes and Jambres was shown by their ability to cooperate with demonic powers to do miracles. In the last days, men will also resist the truth and they WILL COOPERATE, SEEK OUT, FOLLOW AND OBEY DEMONICS posing as angels of light.
      Even as Jannes and Jambres were eventually put to shame (though for a while they matched Moses "miracle for miracle") and were eventually compelled to give reluctant glory to God, so also will the evil men of the last days. Even as Jannes and Jambres' power had limits, so does Satan's power, even in the last days - God is still in control.
      This is the message of great hope in the midst of this great darkness - the spirit of the last days has an answer to it in Jesus Christ.
      The spirit of the last days is not stronger than the power of Jesus.
      The glorious truth is that we do NOT have to be bound by the spirit of our times.
      We do NOT have to be slaves to self and have our universe revolve around something as puny as our selves.
      There is hope, triumphant hope, in Jesus.
      Verses 10-12 tells us Persecution and following Jesus.
      "But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
      But you...
      Paul has just described the kind of people that will threaten the earth in the last days and which Timothy must contend with in his own day. But you showed that Paul drew a clear dividing line between Timothy and those ruled by the spirit of the last days.
      You have carefully followed...
      This is what made Timothy DIFFERENT from the spirit of his age. He had carefully followed Paul's doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions.
      CAREFULLY FOLLOWED means that Paul did not merely teach Timothy these things in an academic sense; Timothy learned these things by carefully following Paul's example. The best kind of Christianity is not only taught, it is also caught by seeing it lived out in other people.
      It all began with Timothy catching Paul's doctrine. The reason Paul lived the way he lived was because he believed certain things. What we believe will determine how we live.
      Timothy caught Paul's manner of life...
      There was just a certain way that Paul lived, and Timothy was around him enough to learn it and follow it.
      Timothy CAUGHT Paul's purpose...
      Paul's life had a purpose. It was not without direction. He was going somewhere, and that purpose had been established by God. Timothy saw that in Paul, he caught it, and he wanted to live his life that way.
      Timothy caught Paul's faith, longsuffering, and love...
      TIMOTHY could SEE in Paul that he had a faith not everyone had, and Timothy wanted to catch it.
      Paul was longsuffering - that is, patient with the little irritations of people and life in a special way, and he had a love that made him stand out.
      Remember all of these flowed forth from the doctrine - the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ - Paul held on to and Timothy carefully followed.
      Perseverance, persecutions, afflictions...
      Timothy also caught these from Paul. We might think that the person who lives their life with the right doctrine, with the right manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, and love would be loved and accepted by everyone - but they are not.
      In fact, some level of persecution is certain for people who carefully follow this kind of life: Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
      In our own day, Christians are being persecuted all over the world - in China, in the Muslim world, even in Russia, where a strong anti-missionary law was just passed. And we in the USA are facing it more and more each day.
      Christians are persecuted for the same reason Jesus was persecuted...
      JOHN 3:19 reminds, "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
      Which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra...
      Paul reminded Timothy of the specific occasions of persecution which he endured.
      1. At Antioch, where Paul was kicked out of the city for preaching the gospel (Acts 13:50).
      2. At Iconium, where Paul was almost executed by stoning (Acts 14:5).
      3. At Lystra, where they actually did stone Paul and leave him for dead (Acts 14:19).
      And out of them all the Lord delivered me...
      Paul remembered this as he sat in prison and waited for execution. He knew that God was completely able to deliver him again, or that He might not. Paul seemed at complete peace, leaving it in the Lord's hands. Persecution was not going to stop Paul from following hard after Jesus Christ.
      Persecution must not stop Christians today. We may not face SERIOUS violent or even economic persecution in our culture; but there is a great deal of social persecution Christians must deal with.
      1 Peter 4:4 describes the mind-set of many of those who socially persecute Christians: "They think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you."
      Does anyone think you are strange?
      If we are NOT willing to have others think us strange; if we are NOT willing to be rejected by some for the sake of Jesus Christ; if we are NOT willing to be an outcast before some people, then we can NEVER be true followers of Jesus Christ.
      Verses 13-15 tells us the course of evil men and the course of the godly.
      "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
      But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse...
      Evil men refers to the obvious, open enemies of Jesus; impostors refers to those who "look" fine, and many think of as fine, but they are actually destructive forces among Jesus' followers.
      These TWO KINDS of people (evil men and impostors) will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. Paul gave us insight into how many people are EFFECTIVE deceivers among God's people - they themselves are being deceived.
      Motives are important, but we can sometimes place too much importance on them. Much harm has been done by people who were sincerely deceived and who tried to do wrong things out of wonderful motives - and because others look at their wonderful hearts, they accept their dangerous deceptions. We can NOT always go only by motives in others; we must measure them also by the truth.
      But you...
      This is the second but you in this passage. Timothy was supposed to swim against the current and to continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of.
      That from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures...
      Timothy's mother taught him the Scriptures even when he was a child. Because of that Timothy was made wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
      Timothy learned this STARTING in childhood.
      Wise for salvation...
      One can be wise in many different things - wise for cars, wise for money, wise for health, wise for cooking, wise for computers - but are we also wise for salvation? This is the MOST important wisdom one can EVER have.
      This wisdom comes from the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation. In and of itself, the Bible does NOT save us - but it is only through the Bible that we can receive God's truth about Jesus, and put faith unto wise salvation in JESUS CHRIST AND IN JESUS CHRIST ALONE.
      Verses 16-17 tells us The GREATNESS of Holy Scripture.
      "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
      ALL Scripture is GIVEN by inspiration of God...
      Here, Paul told us the source of Scripture. It comes from God (literally, it is God-breathed), and in its autographs it displays His perfection, being inerrant and absolutely reliable.
      CLARKE says it well, "False doctrine, false teachers, and false gospels cannot prevail long where the sacred Scriptures are read and studied. Error prevails only where the book of God is withheld from the people. The religion that fears the Bible is not the religion of God."
      FOR EXAMPLE...In 2005 the London Times reported that a new "teaching document" issued by the Roman Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland warns that Catholics should not take the Bible literally - that it's not infallible. "We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision," they say in the booklet, The Gift of Scripture. So what sorts of things aren't accurate? Creation, for one. Genesis, they note, has two different, and sometimes conflicting, creation stories and cannot be considered "historical." Rather, the bishops say, it simply contains "historical traces."
      By inspiration of God...
      There is a HUGE dividing line in our world today between those who believe that the Bible is a book from God, given through men; or if it is it just a great book from men.
      No one can deny the greatness of the Bible; it is completely unique among all books ever written.
      The Bible is unique in its continuity...
      THE BIBLE was written over 1600 years, over 60 generations, by more than 40 authors, on three different continents, in different circumstances and places, in different times, different moods, in three languages, concerning scores of controversial subjects, but it speaks with ONE UNITED VOICE.
      The Bible is UNIQUE in its circulation: It is the MOST published and MOST popular book ever written - far and away; any thing else is a distant, distant, second.
      The Bible is UNIQUE in its translation: It was the FIRST book translated, and has been translated into MORE languages than any other book in existence.
      The Bible is UNIQUE in its survival: It has survived THE RAVAGES of time, manual transcription, persecution, and criticism.
      The Bible is UNIQUE in its honesty: It deals with the sins and failures of its heroes in a manner quite unknown among ancient literature.
      The Bible is UNIQUE in its influence: The Bible has had, far and away, a greater influence on culture and literature than ANY other book in the existence.
      By inspiration of God...
      One may easily argue that the Bible is a unique book, but it does NOT prove that it is inspired by God. For greater evidence, one can look to the phenomenon of fulfilled prophecy.
      2 PETER 1:19, Peter wrote about how we can KNOW the Scriptures are really from God and he spoke about his own certainty because he saw Jesus miraculously transfigured before his own eyes and he heard a voice from heaven say, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Yet, Peter said that we even have something more certain than a voice from heaven in knowing the Bible is from God: "We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place."
      God's ability to precisely predict future events in the Bible is His own way of building proof for the Bible right into the text. It proves that it was authored by Someone who not only can SEE the future, but Who can also SHAPE the future.
      FOR EXAMPLE...there are at least 332 distinct Old Testament predictions regarding the Messiah which Jesus fulfilled perfectly (such as His birth in Bethlehem, His emergence from Egypt, His healing of the sick, His death on the cross, and so forth). Collectively, the combination of this evidence together is absolutely overwhelming.
      WANT MORE AMAZEMENT...Professor Peter Stoner has calculated that the probability of any one man fulfilling eight of these prophesies is one in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (10 to the 17th power); that many silver dollars would cover the state of Texas two feet deep. Stoner says that if you consider 48 of the prophecies, the odds become one in 10 to the 157th power.
      By inspiration of God...
      One may agree that the original writings from Paul and other Bible writers was inspired by God. Yet we also need reason to BELIEVE that the copies of those original writings are REMARKABLY ACCURATE REPRODUCTIONS.
      DID YOU KNOW...This is a matter which can be decided by science and research, and though some errors have been made in copying the Scriptures through the centuries, today we have a New Testament where not more than one-one thousandth of the text is in question - and not one significant doctrine is in question. The numbers for the Old Testament are even more impressive.
      There is something else we can say about the Bible...
      It is true. And though the Bible is not a science text-book, when it does speak on matters of science as science (not in figures of speech or poetic hyperbole), it is true.
      And is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness...
      The Bible is good for us and it profits us something.
      1. The Bible gives us doctrine (it tells us a truth that means more than our opinions).
      2. The Bible gives us reproof and correction (it tells us when we are wrong in our thinking or conduct).
      3. The Bible gives us instruction in righteousness (it tells us how to live rightly before God and men).
      This all means something else very simple...
      We CAN understand the Bible. If the Bible could not be understood, there would be nothing profitable about it.
      It is profitable when we understand it literally.
      But when we take the Bible literally, we also understand that it means that we take it as true according to its literary context.
      When the Bible speaks as POETRY, it will use figures of speech that may not be literally true. One example is when David said, All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears in Psalm 6:6. Obviously, he spoke in poetic metaphor and he did not actually float his bed with tears.
      When The Bible speaks as HISTORY, it is historically true.
      When The Bible speaks in PROPHECY, it is prophetically true.
      That the man of God may be complete...
      When we come to the Bible and let God speak to us, it changes us - it makes us complete and transforms us.
      One way the Bible transforms us is through our understanding.
      Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." When we let the Bible guide our thinking, our minds are renewed and transformed, so we begin to actually think like God thinks.
      But there is another level by which the Bible transforms us:
      By a spiritual work, a spiritual blessing which God works in us as we come to the Bible and let Him speak to us. This is a spiritual work that goes beyond our intellectual understanding. With great spiritual power beyond our intellect:
      1. The Bible gives us eternal life (1 Peter 1:23).
      2. The Bible spiritually cleanses us (Ephesians 5:26).
      3. The Bible gives us power against demonic spirits (Ephesians 6:17).
      4. The Bible brings spiritual power to heal our bodies (Matthew 8:16).
      5. The Bible brings us spiritual strength (Psalm 119:28).
      6. The Bible has the power to spiritually build faith in us (Romans 10:17).
      Because of this spiritual level on which the Word of God operates, we do NOT have to understand it ALL to have it be effectively working in our lives.
      Many people get discouraged because they feel they do NOT get much when they read the Bible on their own and so they give up. We must work to understand the Bible the best we can, and read it thoughtfully and carefully, but it benefits us spiritually even when we do NOT understand it all intellectually.
      A critic once wrote a letter to a magazine saying, "Over the years, I suppose I've gone to church more than 1,000 times, and I can't remember the specific content of even one sermon over those many years. What good was it to go to church 1,000 times?" The next week, someone wrote back: "Over the past many years, I have eaten more than 1,000 meals prepared by my wife. I cannot remember the specific menu of any of those meals. But they nourished me along the way, and without them, I would be a much different man!"
      The Bible will do its spiritual work in us, if we will let it.
      Paul began the chapter warning Timothy about dangerous times. Some Christians are swept away by these perilous times and some others go into hiding. Neither option is right for us. We are to stand strong and stand on the Word of God.

    • July 6, 2016 4:52 AM EDT
    • 2 TIMOTHY 4
      Verse 1 tells us A solemn CHARGE to Timothy.
      "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom."
      CHARGE translates a strong word from Biblical Greek (diamarturomai), also often translated TESTIFIED (such as in Acts 8:25). The idea is that Paul gave a solemn testimony to Timothy, testimony that Timothy must heed if he would be a godly pastor.
      DID YOU KNOW...The verb "diamartyromai" has legal connections and can mean 'testify under oath' in a court of law, or to 'adjure' a witness to do so.
      Before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead...
      Paul here described the members of the court where Paul gave his testimony, thereby making it more important.
      AND THINK ABOUT THIS....As Paul sat in his cold, damp prison cell, he understood there was a spiritual reality present that went beyond the walls of his cell. Spiritually, through this letter, he gave solemn testimony to his young friend and associate and he did it in the presence of the God who will judge us all.
      At His appearing and His kingdom...
      THIS SHOWS US ABSOLUTELY THAT Paul still believed in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He had been in ministry for more than 30 years and his earliest letters (such as 1 and 2 Thessalonians) mentioned the return of Jesus. Now, so many years and experiences later, he still believed it with all his heart.
      Verse 2 tells us The testimony: Preach the word!
      "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching."
      Paul's emphasis on the word of God has been constant. There are some 36 references to the true gospel in this letter and some 17 references to false teachings.
      This CONSTANT emphasis makes Paul's point clear to Timothy AND TO US:
      1. Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord (2 Timothy 1:8)
      2. Hold fast the pattern of sound words (2 Timothy 1:13)
      3. The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2)
      4. Rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
      5. A servant of the Lord must be … able to teach (2 Timothy 2:24)
      6. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16)
      Preach the word! As a pastor, Timothy was not required to merely know the word or like the word or approve of the word; he was required to preach the word. The word of God must be preached by Timothy; it was to be the content of his message.
      PAUL IS ONCE AGAIN REMINDING US...Not everyone who opens a Bible and starts talking is preaching the word. Many well-intentioned preachers are actually preaching themselves instead of the word. If the focus is on the funny stories or the touching life experiences of the preacher, he IS preaching himself.
      Be ready in season and out of season...
      This tells us when the pastor should be ready to preach the word.
      He should be ready always.
      He should preach it when it is easy and preach it when it is hard.
      He should preach it when the fruit is evident and preach it when the fruit seems invisible.
      He should just preach it.
      There was once a Church of England clergyman who was gloriously saved. When Jesus changed his life he started preaching the gospel to his whole parish and they all got saved. Then he started preaching in neighboring parishes, and the clergymen of those parishes were offended. They asked the bishop to make the man stop. When the bishop confronted him he said, "I hear you are always preaching and you don't seem to be doing anything else." The changed man answered, "Well bishop, I only preach during two seasons of the year." The bishop said, "I'm glad to know that; what seasons are they?" He replied, "In season and out of season!"
      Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching...
      In his preaching Timothy was to bring the Word of God to bear on the lives of his people. He was NOT to treat the word as if it were filled with interesting ideas or fascinating theories. He was to HOLD UP the Word of God against the lives of his people and let God do His work.
      Verses 3-4 tells us The NEED for the true preaching of the word.
      "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
      They will not endure sound doctrine...
      Timothy needed to keep focused on the Word of God because man, by his natural instinct, does NOT want God's revelation. He would rather hear what he wants to hear - something to scratch his itching ears.
      This also shows that if we do want to hear God's word, God is doing something wonderful in us. Left to ourselves, we would rather do it our way, but God changes our heart in wonderful ways, giving us a desire for His word.
      They will heap up for themselves teachers...
      This reminds us that the MOST SECULAR AND RELIGIOSITY popular teachers are NOT necessarily the most faithful teachers. We should NOT assume a teacher is scratching itching ears just because he is popular, but neither should we assume that he is faithful to God's Word just because he is popular.
      And be turned aside to fables...
      Once people leave the Word of God they often then embrace fantastic fantasies. When a man rejects God's truth, it is NOT that he believes in nothing; he will believe in anything.
      MOHAMMED created a fable, a fantasy, in that he twisted God's truth about Ishmael, and said that in truth ABRAHAM left Sarah, and fled with Hagar and Ishmael to FOUND THE TRUE COVENANT, with the TRUE AND ONLY FIRST born son Ishmael and that ISHMAEL and his descendants ARE ALLAH'S true chosen and ISAAC is the pretender and the abandoned of ALLAH.
      MANY OTHER RELIGIOSITIES believe that JESUS is only a gentle prophet and teacher, but NOT the Son of Almighty God, and that their religiosities MUST COMPLETE THE WORK OF SALVATION, that Jesus failed to do.
      AS WELL...To believe that the universe came about by chance is to believe a fable. This description of the evolution of the universe in a Los Angeles Times article is an example of one of these fables:
      In the beginning, there was light - but also quarks and electrons. The Big Bang spewed out energy that condensed into radiation and particles. The quarks joined into protons and careened wildly about in a hot, dense, glowing goop as opaque as a star.
      Time (300,000 years or so) passed. Space expanded. Matter cooled. The electrons and protons, electrically irresistible to each other, merged into neutral hydrogen, and from this marriage, the first atoms were born. Space between atoms became as transparent as crystal - pretty much the way it looks today.
      The rest, as they say, is history. Atoms merged to form dust clouds, which grew into stars and galaxies and clusters. Stars used up their nuclear fuel, collapsed and exploded in recurring cycles, fusing elements in the process.
      Occasionally, a stable planet condensed around a second-generations star, where carbon-based life forms grew into, among other things, cosmologists, the better to contemplate it all. (From a sidebar to a science article in the Los Angeles Times, titled "The Big Bang and What Followed It")
      PAUL SAYS AND WARNS that it IS possible for many church goers to turn aside from the truth and to believe many fables:
      1. The fable that you must earn your way before God
      2. The fable that God only loves you when you are good
      3. The fable that you should walk around thinking of yourself as better than others because you are a Christian.
      4. The fable that all mankind are called Children of God.
      5. The fable that all mankind goes to Heaven when they die.
      6. The fable that hell and the lake of fire are not real.
      7. The fable that Jesus Christ is NOT the only way to God, but that there are MANY paths to God and Heaven.
      8. The fable that any man created religiosity can save anyone.
      9. The fable that Jesus Christ is not Almighty God in the flesh.
      10. The fable that we command The Holy Spirit.
      11. The fable that we can summon and command God's angels.
      12. The fable that we CAN teach and learn the Gifts of the Spirit.
      Verse 5 tells us The testimony restated: Fulfill your ministry.
      "But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
      This is a word of contrast against the people mentioned in the previous sentence. Though others turned aside to fables, Timothy was to be even more dedicated to doing what God wanted him to do. Their presence was to make him more dedicated, not more discouraged.
      Be watchful in all things...
      Timothy could not fulfill his ministry unless he kept careful attention, being watchful in all things. Every good shepherd has his eyes open.
      Endure afflictions...
      Ministry is just like life - there are afflictions to be borne with. For some this is a disturbing thought because they thought that the ministry would be one beautiful spiritual experience after another. There are plenty of wonderful blessings in serving God but there are also afflictions to be endured.
      Do the work of an evangelist...
      This implies that Timothy was NOT particularly gifted as an evangelist but he still had to faithfully do that work as a preacher of God's Word.
      Fulfill your ministry...
      Paul gave a similar command to Archippus (Colossians 4:17), and he knew what it was to fulfill his own ministry in some sense (Acts 12:25).
      There may be many reasons why someone's ministry goes unfulfilled and each must be earnestly battled:
      1. Fear
      2. Unbelief
      3. The cares of the world
      4. The fear of man
      5. Criticism and discouragement
      6. Besetting sin
      Verses 6-7 tells us Paul's triumphant confidence.
      "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
      I am already being poured out as a drink offering...
      A drink offering brought wine before the Lord and poured it out at His altar. It was a way to give wine to God as a sacrifice, just as an animal might be given as a sacrifice.
      AND WE KNOW...
      The idea of a drink offering is first presented in Genesis 35:14, where Jacob poured out a drink offering before the Lord as a sacrifice.
      In the Mosaic Law, drink offerings could be a part of sacrifice to the Lord (Exodus 29:40-41 and Leviticus 23:13).
      DID YOU KNOW...
      There was also a Roman idea here. Every Roman meal ended with a small sacrificial ritual to the gods - a cup of wine was taken and poured out before the gods. In this sense Paul said "The day is done, the meal is just about over, and I'm being poured out unto God."
      Poured out has the idea of a complete giving, with no reservation. The liquid is completely emptied from the cup, and totally given to God.
      So Paul was already being poured out.
      His head was not on the executioner's block yet, but his heart was there. He was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. He considers himself as on the eve of being sacrificed, and looks upon his blood as the libation which was poured on the sacrificial offering. He could not have spoken thus positively had not the sentence of death been already passed upon him.
      The time of my departure is at hand...
      Paul NOW KNEW that he was in the airport and his flight to heaven was ready to depart. He waited for his boarding call.
      Paul's exhortation to Timothy is therefore even more meaningful because he knew he was passing from the scene and Timothy must carry the torch. God's workmen pass on, but God's work continues.
      I have finished the race...
      Throughout his ministry Paul used the picture of the race and the Christian being an athlete running that race (Philippians 3:12-14, Acts 20:24, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1).
      Now Paul KNEW his race was just about finished.
      Verse 8 tells us Paul's crown of righteousness.
      "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."
      Paul KNEW there was a crown waiting for him in heaven, and he was ready to receive it. He was certain of it.
      DID YOU KNOW...
      There are TWO main words for crown in the New Testament.
      One refers to a ROYAL crown and the other to the VICTOR'S crown (the stephanos). Here Paul referred to the victor's crown - the crown that was essentially a trophy, recognizing that one had competed according to the rules and had won the victory.
      AND WE REMEMBER...Before Paul was a Christian, AS SAUL, he supervised the execution of the first martyr and then began to kill as many other Christians as he could. But now at the end of his life he was ready to receive a crown - a stephanos. It is likely that he remembered the name of the first martyr, who died at Paul's own hands: Stephanos (Stephen).
      In that day winners in the world of sports received a crown of olive or ivy leaves that soon withered and died. But the crown for God's people lasts forever (1 Corinthians 9:25, 1 Peter 5:4).
      We are promised the crown of life if we will endure temptation (James 1:12).
      Some people wonder if we will walk around heaven with crowns on, and everyone will notice who has the bigger and better crowns. But in Revelation 4:10, the elders surrounding the throne of God take their crowns and cast them before Jesus - giving any trophy they have received right back to Jesus.
      Which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day...
      Paul envisioned an awards ceremony where he would receive the crown that waited for him. Paul was about to be condemned and executed by an earthly court, but he was also going to be rewarded by a heavenly Lord.
      Some feel that Paul was too focused on rewards and that it is NOT proper for Christians to think much about the reward they will receive in heaven. Yet God has NO problem motivating us with heavenly reward. It will be worth it. We must hang in there now. We will be rewarded.
      Some Christians worry unnecessarily about their crown:
      1. What if I don't get a crown?
      2. What if my crown is really small?
      3. What if the Lord is disappointed in me?
      THESE CONCERNS AND WORRIES AND THOUGHTS DO NOT COME FROM OUR JESUS...We should ignore all these speculations and simply be busy serving and glorifying God and our crown will take care of itself.
      Also to all who have loved His appearing...
      This promise is for us - if we will set our focus on heaven and on the Jesus who both walked the earth and now reigns in heaven, who is waiting to receive us.
      Verses 9-13 tells us The FINAL solitude of the great apostle.
      "Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica; Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come; and the books, especially the parchments."
      Paul was a man of God but he was NOT superhuman. He needed and wanted companionship. Paul was lonely in his last hours.
      For Demas has forsaken me...
      Paul remembers those who have forsaken him. Some (like Demas) left him because they had loved this present world (literally, "the now age"). Others left him out of necessity (like Crescens and Titus). Some other left because Paul sent them (like Tychicus).
      Demas was mentioned in Paul's earlier letters as a fellow worker but later he went astray (Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 24). His previous faithfulness made it all more painful for Paul.
      Only Luke is with me...
      The disciple Luke, who had traveled with Paul on many of his missionary journeys, remained with Paul. Everyone else was gone. This was a significant contrast to Paul's first Roman imprisonment ten years before, where he received MANY visitors (Acts 28:30-31).
      Get Mark and bring him with you...
      This is evidence of a restoration of trust in Mark from Paul. Paul had wanted nothing to do with him in Acts 15:36-40.
      Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas...
      This tells us that it is likely that Paul was arrested at Troas, resulting in this second imprisonment at Rome. In those days the arresting soldiers had claim to any extra garments in the possession of the one arrested. It may be that Paul was forewarned of the arrest and therefore committed his few books and this cloak - an outer garment - to the care of an honest man named Carpus.
      This cloak left in Troas shows us:
      1. Paul gave up everything to serve Jesus (all he had at the end of his life was a cloak and a few books).
      2. Paul was almost completely forsaken by his friends (he apparently had no friends to lend or obtain a cloak for him in Rome).
      3. Paul had a very independent mind (he would not beg for a cloak).
      4. Paul did not care much for how he was dressed (he could have asked for more or for different articles of clothing).
      5. Paul was an ordinary man with ordinary needs.
      And the books, especially the parchments...
      Paul stayed a scholar to the end and wanted his books. He especially wanted the parchments, which were portions of the Old Testament.
      Verses 14-15 tells us a warning to beware of Alexander the coppersmith.
      "Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words."
      Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm...
      In 1 Timothy 1:20 Paul mentioned Alexander as someone who whose faith had suffered shipwreck. Now Paul warned Timothy about this same man. Paul simply wrote that Alexander did me much harm - but that he would also oppose Timothy (You also must beware of him).
      It would have been wrong of Timothy to respond to this by saying to Paul, "Paul, Alexander has always been nice to me. He has his faults, but don't we all?" Instead, we can be sure that Timothy respected Paul's judgment - and took his counsel to beware of Alexander.
      Did me much harm...
      The implication of this phrase is that he "informed many things against me." Perhaps Alexander was a traitor, an informer who betrayed Paul to the Roman government and was responsible for his current imprisonment. Perhaps the thought of he has greatly resisted our words meant that Alexander was a witness against Paul at his first defense.
      BARCLAY tells us of Paul's day, "Informers were one of the great curses of Rome at this time. And it may well be that Alexander was a renegade Christian, who went to the magistrates with false information against Paul, seeking to ruin him in the most dishonourable way."
      May the Lord repay him according to his works...
      Alexander's judgment would be simple. It is a terrible thing to be judged according to one's works.
      Verses 16-18 tells us God's faithfulness to Paul at his first defense.
      "At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!"
      Paul was all alone, but Jesus stood by him and Paul served God faithfully during his first defense.
      The words "May it not be charged against them" show that Paul was not bitter that all forsook him. This is powerful evidence of a great work of grace and spiritual maturity.
      Paul's first defense may have been his first imprisonment in Rome (spoken of at the end of Acts), or it could have been a first hearing under his current imprisonment.
      And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion...
      God had delivered Paul before so he had no doubt about God's power or goodness.
      To Him be glory forever and ever...
      This reflects an unreasonable optimism and joy. Paul faced his last moments of this life and he was, by many accounts, penniless, friendless, possessionless, cold, without adequate clothing, and destined for a soon death. Yet, especially knowing the heavenly reward waiting for him, he would not trade his place with anyone.
      Verses 19-21 tells us Paul's closing greetings to his friends in contact with Timothy, and from Christians in Rome.
      "Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick. Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren."
      Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus...
      In his parting words, Paul's heart was for the people he knew. He thought about others and not himself. Paul knew the nature of Jesus and was an others-centered person just as Jesus was.
      Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick...
      Paul was a man used by God to perform remarkable miracles of healing (such as in Acts 14:8-10 and 19:11-20), yet he left Trophimus sick. This shows that even the Apostle Paul did NOT have miraculous healing powers to use at his own will. He could only give a gift of healing if God it was God's will and timing.
      Do your utmost to come before winter...
      This has much heart and emotion behind it. As an old man, Paul dearly wanted to see his young associate before he laid down his life for his Lord. We do NOT know if Paul ever saw Timothy again, but we can be sure Timothy did his utmost to come before winter.
      Paul's imprisonment in the Mamertine prison (a bleak building still standing in Rome, built 100 years before Paul's imprisonment for political enemies of Rome) lasted until he was beheaded under Nero outside Rome's Ostian Gate at a place called "Three Fountains."
      AND AMAZINGLY ENOUGH...An absurd RELIGIOSITY legend was eventually spun that said that when Paul was beheaded, his severed head bounced three times and at each place it hit the ground a fountain sprung up - one hot, one warm, and the third cold - thus the place was called "Three Fountains."
      AND WE KNOW...Paul was martyred in the aftermath of the great fires that swept Rome in A.D. 64 - which Nero, in some manner, tried to blame on Christians. But remember, Paul was a Roman citizen and could not be legally crucified.
      Verse 22 tells us The last words from the pen of Paul.
      "The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen."
      The last words of Paul reflect a man who simply loved Jesus and had received His grace. This simplicity, and all the power that went with it, marked the entire ministry of Paul.
      Paul invited Timothy to affirm all this by an agreeing "Amen." Paul had fulfilled his ministry and was ready to receive his reward, and he wanted Timothy to do the same.