Posted by: SandreS | September 11, 2009

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts On II Timothy), Part 5

Our Apostle’s Last Word (Part 2)

A.E. Knoch:

[Paul] has the highest titles which a servant of Christ can obtain in this era. He has a triple crown, far more magnificent than that of the Roman pontiff today. He was a Herald, an Apostle and a Teacher of the nations. His parish was the world, including every nation on the inhabited earth. In time, his ministry extends throughout this era, for he did not only speak, but made his message immortal by his pen. He was the first to herald the abolition of death and to bring to light life and incorruption. None of the apostles before him had such a message. None had the scope of his, either in space or time. His teaching far transcends that of any other either before or after him …

What was his earthly reward? Did they build him a vast cathedral, such as was later erected to honor Peter in Rome? Did they seat him on a jeweled throne with a glittering crown upon his head? Did they come to adore and kiss him as they now kiss “Saint” Peter’s brazen toe? Far from all this! When our Lord was crucified, His disciples left Him and fled. So also, when Paul was imprisoned, most of his followers forsook him and were ashamed to have anything to do with him. Indeed, he was so cut off from his erstwhile friends that it was hard to find him, even by those who were not ashamed of him (II Timothy 1:17).

Why was Paul suffering these shameful indignities? Because he was God’s ambassador to a rebellious world. Because, as the herald and apostle and teacher of the nations he was faithful to the evangel [“gospel”] committed to him. Because he made God’s purpose known, and the grace which is ours in Christ Jesus through His crucifixion and burial and ascension and glorification. Because he taught the abolition of death and the vivification of all in his evangel. Because this shameful treatment of God’s most highly honored and supremely blest [sic] of all the servants of Christ is essential as a background for the revelation of His transcendent grace, not only to mankind, but to all His creatures in the celestial spheres as well, not only now, but in the eons that impend.

Paul himself knew this; therefore he insists that he is not ashamed (II Timothy 1:12). However, he was not concerned so much about himself as about the evangel which had been committed to him. What would become of it after he was gone? Timothy, indeed, was left, and a few others; but the great bulk of those whom he had reached seem to have forsaken him. Moreover, there were forces at work which turned the saints from him and his teaching. Phygellus and Hermogenes were but samples of the many in the province of Asia, where he had reached such numbers, and to whom he had sent his grandest epistles. Yet he was not ashamed, because he knew Whom he had believed, and was persuaded that He is able to guard what was committed to him for that day (II Timothy 1:12).

One of the greatest miracles of the so-called “Christian centuries” is the continual persistence or revival of Pauline truth. It was almost eclipsed before Paul himself was taken from the scene. We seldom read of it in ecclesiastical histories, as it made little impression on the times. There were feeble flickers among the Waldensians in Switzerland, and the Hussites in Bohemia; Luther and his helpers recovered a little in Germany; Wycliffe and Darby in England made some advance; but in almost every case there was no clear-cut severance from the Circumcision Scriptures, and these dominated and darkened the light. …

… [T]he great mass of those who are saved in this administration neither know nor appreciate the favor which fashions their fate. Nay, most of them actively disown it and denounce those who seek to reveal it to them. They are saved by a grace which they detest, for it takes away from them the robe of their own righteousness.[1]

(to be continued)

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

[1] A.E. Knoch, The Problem of Evil, pp. 270ff, Concordant Publishing Concern, 2008.


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