Posted by: SandreS | September 8, 2009

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 2

Paul’s Ministry in Asia

To grasp the significance of Paul’s statement that, “all they which are in Asia are turned away from me” (1:15), we must first understand the meaning of “Asia.”

“Asia” was a Roman province of Bible times that covered the western portion of the Asia Minor peninsula.  The city of Ephesus was its capital. Paul dedicated a significant portion of his ministry to this region:

Asian                                  Acts
Location                          Reference

Mysia                                     16:7
Troas                                     16:8
Ephesus                                18:18-21; 19:1-41
Chios                                      19:15
Assos                                     20:13
Mitylene                               20:14
Samos                                    20:15
Trogyllium                          20:15
Miletus                                  20:15
Coos                                        21:1
Rhodes                                   21:1

… From the first day that I came into Asia … that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears … (Acts 20:18, 31).

A Serious Condition that Was Not Limited to Asia

This ruined condition of the church, the Body of Christ, was not limited to the Roman province of Asia. Paul addresses the Asian problem because this was where the recipient of his letter was. This is the ruins of which Timothy himself was aware. That’s why he starts that statement, “This you know, that all they which are in Asia are turned away from me.” Frankly, this apostasy of the Body of Christ proliferated throughout the Roman Empire.

Paul said, concerning his first trial date of this final Roman imprisonment, that “no man stood with me, but all men forsook me” (II Timothy 4:16). There was not one man in Rome who came and stood with Paul!  This was after some 22 years of ministry in the Roman Empire. It was after writing a glorious letter to the saints at Rome, and after coming to Rome and having taught from his home there for two years.

And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, 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 28:30-31).

What happened to all the Roman saints? They all forsook him!

When folks inquire, as they often will, concerning when the problems of the church began, one need not look to various periods of human church history; one needs only to see the divine record of this apostasy, as recorded in the book of II Timothy. As Paul was in the dark, damp dungeon of Rome’s prison, awaiting his execution, the church the Body of Christ lay in its own prison – a prison of apostasy and ruin!

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

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