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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Before we review the previous lesson I want to welcome everyone to HBS.
Last week we caught our Apostle Paul between the horns of a dilemma or two realities and both choices were desirable. He couldn’t decide if he wanted to remain alive to continue serving the Lord and the Philippian saints or die and then be with the Lord. But then this single-minded and tender-hearted apostle said, “Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful of you (1:24).
Please open your Bible at Philippians 1:25-26.
And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide (remain) and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be made abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
We’ll start by looking at Paul’s remark in 1:26b “…by my coming to you again.”
This statement takes us back to Philippians 1:8 where Paul said “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.”
Paul first visited Philippi during his 2nd missionary journey (circa 51-52 AD). The Apostle Luke recorded this information in the book of Acts. Paul and Silas traveled through Syria and Cilicia (which is now southwestern Turkey) confirming the churches (Acts 15:40-41). They came to Derbe and Lystra and found Timothy waiting for them (Acts 16:1). The three men traveled throughout Phrygia and Galatia. Paul desired to preach the Word in Asia but the Holy Spirit prevented him from doing so (Acts 16:6). They then passed through Mysia to Troas, the island of Samothracia, and then to Neapolis in Macedonia (now northern Greece) where Philippi was located (Acts 16:7-12).
Luke reported when Paul visited Philippi he stayed there “for some days” (Acts 16:12). The Bible doesn’t tell us how long that actually was but we know he developed a sincere love for these people: Even as it is meet (suitable or proper) for me to think this of you all, because I have you (where) in my heart; (Philippians 1:7a).
Now let’s examine verse 1:25.
And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide (remain alive) and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
I’m no Greek scholar, but I’m able to navigate the Greek Lexicon well enough to get the job done. Two Greek words are used for “to know” in the New Testament Ginosko (ghin-oce’-ko), Verb, Strong’s Greek #1097, meaning: to know, recognize, perceive. The English expression “to be acquainted with” conveys the same meaning.
And Eido or Oida ((i’-do), Verb, Strong’s Greek #1492, meaning: be aware, behold, consider; to see with physical eyes. The English expressions “I see what you mean” and “I see what you’re saying” express this meaning.
So, in layman’s terms, Ginosko means knowledge based on facts, i.e. what a person has learned or acquired and Eido or Oida means “seeing or perceiving that becomes knowing.” Regarding spiritual truth, it’s the bridge to mental and spiritual understanding.
Now that I’ve thoroughly confused y’all let’s get a better handle on these words by looking at a couple of biblical examples.
Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: (John 8:55).
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter (John 13:7).
To be clearer Ginosko frequently suggests the commencement or progress in knowledge, while Oida suggests the fullness of knowledge. Equipped with this information we can return to Paul’s statement in 1:25: And having this (what) confidence, I know (Oida) that I shall abide (remain) and continue with you all…
Putting this all together we see Paul turning from his previous state of uncertainty about his future to being confident his work (labor) wasn’t at an end. Said differently verse 1:25 could read “I’m confident the Lord will see me through this dilemma and I will continue to advance the gospel in Rome and then Spain, the Lord permitting.” (Romans 15:24).
I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s no harm in repeating it. In Paul’s day people were rarely sentenced to prison as punishment. Instead, they were placed in a holding cell until their trial or execution. We find evidence of this in the O.T. because the Mosaic Law made no provision for long-term incarceration. We looked briefly at Jacob’s son, Joseph, a few lessons ago. He was imprisoned for two years awaiting trial before Pharaoh because he had been falsely accused of rape (Genesis 39:19-20, 41:1). The prophet Jeremiah is another example. He was accused of treason and imprisoned but was transferred to the temple guardhouse after an appeal to King Zedekiah who sought to protect him (Jeremiah 37:11-16, 37:17-21). Jeremiah was later thrown into a cistern, not to imprison him, but to kill him (Jeremiah 38:1-6).
So, Paul was first imprisoned for two years in Caesarea (the seat of the Judean government - Acts 24:27), while awaiting trial before two Roman governors, Felix and his successor Festus. I suggest y’all read Acts 21-26 to acquaint yourself with Paul’s predicament. To be brief, Festus was stalling; he desired a bribe from Paul and was waiting for that to happen (Acts 24:26), but he also wanted out from under the burden of this trial. As a Roman citizen Paul had the legal right to appeal his case before Caesar. After some discussion Festus agreed to his request (Acts 25:1-12). Once in Rome, Paul was placed under “house arrest for two whole years; chained to a Roman guard” (Acts 28:30) in anticipation of his trial before Nero. Ironically, Paul is finally where he longed to be for many years: For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you… (Romans 15:22-23).
The thing a lot of people miss in all this is Paul had to be “a prisoner of Christ” in Rome in order to preach the gospel of grace to Caesar and his household. It’s highly unlikely Nero would invite him over for dinner upon his arrival in Rome. But because of his Roman citizenship Caesar would hear his side of the story. But did that happen? This trial was not recorded by Luke in the book of Acts, however by piecing together information from Paul’s writings we learn he did meet with Nero and was freed from house arrest. I’ll put up a couple of Bible verse we’ve looked at before first that specifically say Paul would meet with the emperor of Rome:
And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee (Acts 27:22-24).
And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house (in Rome), and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him (Acts 28:30).
Now we'll look at Paul's remarks in 2 Timothy 4:16 where we find evidence Paul faced Caesar in Rome: At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be (what) fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was (what) delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
“First answer” or his first apology (Paul’s not offering an excuse for his conduct, as though he had committed a wrong as we understand the meaning of the word), the word apology here means “a plea;” a defence; an answer to charges brought against him. The word “first” implies Paul either had a second trial or had reason to expect one; otherwise, why use the word “first?” (See Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 4:6-8)
I also direct your attention to the phrase, “and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” This statement may either mean he was delivered from Nero, who is compared to a lion, or he was spared being thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum. This was a mode of punishment and/or entertainment, depending on one’s perspective, not uncommon in Rome under Nero.
We also find our Apostle Paul attributing his deliverance entirely to the Lord, “the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me...” If Paul had the assistance of someone to help prove his innocence he would have mentioned them, don’t you think? Instead, we learn with the exception of the Lord Paul faced Nero alone: “no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”
Finally, there is this confident comment from Paul in Philippians 2:24: “But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come (to you) shortly.” In addition to visiting Philippi, he planned to travel to Colossae, even suggesting that Philemon get “lodging” ready for him: “But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.”
We know Paul was released from prison in Rome around 63 AD because he later wrote a letter to Titus and two letters to Timothy. Second Timothy, his last communication, was written from imprisonment in Rome (2 Timothy 1:8). Paul was arrested and imprisoned in the Mamertine Prison. The Mamertine Prison is an ancient prison located in Rome at the foot of Capitoline Hill overlooking the ruins of the Roman forum. When it was built, this was Rome’s only prison and not a prison like we understand them today. It was more like a dungeon where important state prisoners were lowered into, often prior to their execution. Consisting of two underground cells, it once held a room under the city sewers in the lower chamber. Historical sources have described it as dank and foreboding and inmates rarely stayed here for long periods of time. Today, a sign on the exterior of the building proclaims it was the prison site of Peter and Paul as it is believed the apostles were both incarcerated here prior to their execution.
In 2 Timothy 4:16, we learn Paul did not expect to be acquitted. He believed he’d be tried, convicted, and then sentenced to death and that’s what happened. Paul was martyred in 68 AD under Nero’s reign. Then in 70 AD, around the time of Passover, the Roman general Titus besieged the city of Jerusalem massacring much of its population. They also ransacked and destroyed the Jewish Temple, fulfilling the Lord’s prophetic statement: And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great building? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down (Mark 13:1-2).
Let’s look at Philippians 1:25b: “…for your furtherance and joy of faith…” In saying he’s confident he will remain (abide with them) he meant he’d be there to minister to their spiritual needs or their furtherance and joy (inner happiness which stems from spiritual growth) of faith. Here we are reminded Paul was a man of action; his circumstances could not deter him. Paul speaks of the Philippians’ faith increasing because no true Believer should be satisfied with where they presently are in their spiritual walk. So, Paul’s saying if you think you’ve arrived; think again (Philippians 3:12).
In the Philippian letter we discover this church faced three types of problems: First, they appear to have faced persecution from those outside the church. Paul mentions the persecution they were enduring in Philippians 1:27-30. Second, they were threatened by the possibility of false teaching, similar to that which had infiltrated the other churches (See Philippians 3:1-3, 18-19). Third, they struggled with conflicts between themselves (See Philippians 2:1-3, 4:2). The Philippian Believers understood they were saved by grace but they were inconsistent in extending charity to one another, thus the ongoing need for spiritual growth.
Let’s go to verse 1:26.
“…that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.” Another way of saying this is “That your confidence in Christ Jesus may increase because of my deliverance and by my coming to you again.” Paul believes he’ll be delivered from the “lion” and his future ministry to the Philippians is all but certain. His deliverance from the “lion” and his coming to the Philippians again is to be attributed to the Lord Jesus Christ.
(To be continued)
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