The apostle Paul experienced betrayal throughout the course of his ministry—and I am sure you and I will too. Such is normal in the life of the believer according to the Bible. So don’t be surprised when it happens to you. Sage believers will counsel you that God uses wounded followers of His in the mightiest of ways.
How do you handle betrayal? How do you overcome the negative emotions associated with it? Have you learned the secret of turning your enemy’s dislike into a holy motive of not only growing internally from the hurt, but learning how that hurt can be channeled to propel you forward in your calling?
Let us survey Paul’s second letter to Timothy this week with this in mind. Read on, my friend.
In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul shares many of the lamentations he experienced in his life as he pursued the course of his calling to make disciples. As we will see from our overview of this epistle, real disciple-making is never accomplished apart from the trials of persecution and one aspect of persecution is betrayal. Another way of looking at this, however, is this: one does not know if he or she is a loyal follower of Christ (a legitimate, mature follower of Christ) until he responds faithfully to these kinds of trials and tribulations.
We often fail to recognize that persecution and betrayal are necessary in the life of a Christ-follower.
Persecution, however, is the ultimate test of our mettle. A weak-kneed believer will fail under this test. It is only when there is a cost to our faith—when God allows us to be tested—that we learn our true level of spiritual maturity, our level of faithfulness.
As we will see, Paul had some fair-weather followers; their betraying tendencies were a common occurrence in his life. In the life of Peter, too, there was an element in his thinking that Jesus had betrayed him when things didn’t turn out the way he thought they would. Were these feelings what motivated his response to deny Christ? Later on, after growing in his faith, he responded differently to similar trials.
Such pivotal responses to persecution and betrayal remain so today. I want you to note this emphasis and make application of this topic as we now survey the epistle of 2 Timothy. Keep this theme in mind as we water ski across the top of this insightful New Testament (NT) epistle.
II. 2 TIMOTHY 1
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy” (1:1–4).
This is the last epistle Paul wrote (A.D. 67) before his own martyrdom, and it is filled with intense emotion. The setting is this: Paul is writing to Timothy, who is his disciple, who is now pastoring the church in Ephesus. More closely, the church had been overrun by false teachers (cf. 1 Timothy). As Paul writes, Timothy’s mettle is being tested through persecution and so he writes him in ways most appropriate to best help him through the matters that are pressing him:
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 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 granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (1:5–14).
Timothy was faltering as a pastor in light of the problems manifested by Hymenaeus and Alexander (cf. 1 Timothy 1:20). These problems (from a human perspective) were borne from within the church he was leading, but from a spiritual perspective (cf. Ephesians 6:12), Satan himself was propagating the turmoil. This pattern remains similar today; most believers who are actively attempting to fulfill their calling in Christ will find “church” folk to be their greatest problem. That has certainly been my experience and most likely yours too. Paul references having to deal with jealous believers in Philippians 1:15–18. In that you have won political office, and are deemed a leader of our great nation, you too will face jealous believers and, hopefully, deal with them in ways pleasing to God (which is not easy).
Notice from the 2 Timothy 1 passage quoted above how Paul responded and exhorted his disciple: He instructed Timothy to kindle afresh his spiritual gifts (of teaching, preaching, and evangelism) and be like Paul himself. Why this advice? Often, past criticisms serve to paralyze one’s future progress; Paul here is saying that just the opposite should be true: Timothy, like me, you should not be ashamed (1:12). In essence he is saying, “keep moving forward to achieve your calling.” In a pragmatic sense, it is your and my continual, industrious fulfillment of our calling that best silences our critics.
Paul charges us not to be timid (1:7) in the midst of trials, persecution and betrayal—and he uses himself as an example. He is acting as a model for Timothy—himself not being ashamed of the gospel, even though he suffers greatly for proclaiming it. Paul is saying to his understudy, you, and me:
Our calling is clear, our audience is one, our gospel is lucid, and our confidence in God’s sovereignty is irrefutable.
Herein is the strong inference of this passage. If Christ had called him, no other man could put Him asunder. This was true in Paul’s life and the same was true for Timothy. The application for you as a public servant is obvious—especially as folks take you to task prior to an election.
Hymenaeus and Alexander, two heretics, who had taken over the leadership of the Ephesian church as mentioned previously, had largely caused Timothy’s woes. One might say they were in the church but as unbelievers, not of the church. This is an important distinction to make as to people who hurt you; not all are actually true believers who betray or hurt you in some way, but some are, motivated by jealousy or who knows what. As will be seen in the remainder of this study, Paul experienced many other relationships with believers where his friends broke in the wrong direction, deserting him and/or else becoming ashamed of the gospel (cf. Romans 1:16). Note this as 2 Timothy 1 continues:
“You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me—the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day— and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus” (1:15–18).
Paul first mentions Phygelus and Hermogenes in 2 Timothy (previously mentioned Hymenaeus and Alexander are found in 1 Timothy). They are the first of at least three additional sets of folks in 2 Timothy who had abandoned and betrayed him in ministry.
Phygelus and Hermogenes turned out to be fair-weather friends. Nothing more is known about these two promising Christian leaders, who were evidently close to Paul but jumped ship when there later arose a personal cost of some sort. Acutely aware and learned from what had happened previously with Phygelus and Hermogenes, in this passage Paul bespeaks and models a contrasting attitude to Timothy. In the large context, Paul’s mention here, and message to Timothy is this: In times of trial, persecution, and betrayal, a strong disciple will not abandon the ship! He will refuse to equivocate, vacillate, or compromise on biblically clear matters, and he will not hesitate to speak the truth when necessary. Implicit in the passage is that Paul did not want Timothy to go the way of Phygelus and Hermogenes in response to the pressures he was facing in leadership. There was no room in Paul’s mind for weak-kneed believers.
III. 2 TIMOTHY 2
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2:1–2).
Note the cause-and-effect relationship here at the start of this second chapter: How does one remain strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2:1)? How does a betrayed believer stand strong in persecution?
In stark contrast to deserting the cause of Christ as was the case with those previously mentioned, Paul instructs Timothy to keep entrusting the gospel to faithful men. Not only Timothy, but every fellow believer has 2 Timothy 2:2 laid to his or her charge. It is the antidote to slipping away, losing the cause.
This passage is another way of expressing the Great Commission found in the four NT Gospels. Notice that every believer needs to be making disciples: entrusting the message of the cross he or she has been given to another who will be able to teach yet others. This is the primary biblical methodology for the expansion of God’s Kingdom. Four generations of disciple-making are in view in this one passage. Keeping the main thing the main thing is what Paul is saying—even in light of the circumstances:
“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2:3).
Keep in mind the context of this passage: Those who are not being discipled and subsequently do not disciple others are in a weaker position when it comes to enduring, i.e., suffering hardship that is a necessary by-product of faithfulness to the Word of God. Paul now adds other counter measurement in order to combat Timothy’s temptation to abandon the cause:
“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned” (2:4–8).
Why have I chosen to amplify this theme of “How to Handle Betrayal” when conducting a general survey of this epistle? Notice the bookend statements in the above portion of the passage (verses 3 and 9): there exists a common theme from start to finish pertaining to how one endures suffering hardship of this sort. My point again, such is normative for the follower of Christ, not optional, in a biblically steeped understanding of Christianity.
The increasing problem in America evangelicalism is a self-centered religiosity sold from the vast majority of its pulpits that does not preach this aspect of our faith.
Incorrect Evangelical emphases, including the prosperity gospel, self-help sermons only, and a hyper-charismatic focus on miracles that lead believers toward a self-centered way of thinking, lead to greater abandonment of the faith rather than the mindset of suffering hardship. Herein Paul is training Timothy to think right in and about times of trials. (By the way, Paul consistently talks more about slaying self [cf. Romans 6:2–6; Galatians 2:20] than gratifying self.)
Paul repeatedly states that suffering hardship, which includes trials, persecution, and betrayal, is typical of authentic Christianity. This is important for Christians to understand so they know how to respond to trials and, perhaps more important, know to expect them. This is necessary for maturing in the faith. Because, as with a spiritually immature Peter, many if not most Christians do not understand this vital concept and balk at persecution. They protest, “This is not what I signed up for! I thought Christianity was supposed to prosper me, give me my best life now, and make me feel “spiritual”— not cost me! Suffer hardship? What is that? I’m outta here!”
Further, now note the three metaphors Paul uses in 2 Timothy 2 to describe and characterize solid, mature-thinking believers: the soldier, the athlete and the farmer. In context, Paul is illustrating that strong believers need to be undistracted as is characteristic of soldiers (in this case by worldly, selfish pursuits); to be obedient as is characteristic of athletes (in this case to God’s Word and man’s civil laws); and to be hardworking as is characteristic of farmers (in this case to the end goal of making disciples). Being undistracted, obedient, and hardworking are all requisites, fundamental disciplines that are necessary for anyone who wants to make a difference that is pleasing to God over the course of his lifetime. All three are set in contrast, opposite qualities of individuals who are not interested in suffering hardship.
Paul now segues into revealing his motives for ministry as is evidenced in and by the following passage. What is it that motivates Paul to persevere when suffering hardship? He does so for the sake of the chosen and their salvation:
“For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself ” (2:10–13).
As ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), you and I have a deep-seated reason for persevering when suffering for doing what is right, even when the environment is so hostile as to suggest we should somehow bow out. It is the salvation and maturation of the saints—making disciples—that Paul states compels him to live with an eternally based internal strength.
There is no greater motivation, cause, or purpose than to clearly understand one’s marching orders in Christ coupled with His biblical identity.
These internal, theological truths should lead to personal endurance while in office. Sound orthodoxy leads to sound orthopraxy.
Trials, persecution, and betrayal are sometimes meant by God to identify and separate the tares that are present amongst the wheat of the body of Christ (cf. 1 John 2:19). What summarily follows is along these lines: Paul distinguishes between genuine versus disingenuous “followers of Christ.”
“Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’ Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2:14–26).
Much could be commented on from this portion of the epistle. Suffice to mention here, in regard to our theme of betrayal is this: Philitus (vs. 17) was yet another person who betrayed Paul in ministry. The list grows.
IV. 2 TIMOTHY 3
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these” (3:1–5).
The power and focus of Christianity lie in the cross of Christ. It is the salvific Jesus—who died on the cross as a substitutionary atonement for sin—that affords us justification before a holy and righteous God. Whenever an individual or organization changes this message, for instance viewing Jesus as a mere sociological change agent (Liberation Theology) or as a mere human role-model for one to emulate in character (The Fellowship1), they have changed the essence of the gospel. In so doing they manifest exactly what Paul warns of in this passage: holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.
Jesus is much more than a model moral code for living. He alone and He only is the way to Heaven!
Contextually, the point is this: trials, persecution, and betrayal may be from pretenders who really do not believe the way you do! Those who bring hurt into your life may not be saved. Paul’s advice relative to people who fall into this category is to avoid such men as these (3:5).
“For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also. Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (3:6–12).
Again, here is this clear promise from Scripture: persecution is normative (3:12). I am in agreement with commentators who hold verse 12 to be related to verse 5: those who hold to a form of godliness (v. 5) will not nearly as much be characterized by persecution (v. 12).2 Why? Because Jesus and Paul and other biblical writers repeatedly associate genuine godliness with persecution in the following passages:
A. JESUS IN MATTHEW 10:22–23
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.”
B. JESUS IN LUKE 21:12
“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake.”
C. JESUS IN JOHN 15:20
“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you;”
D. PAUL IN ACTS 14:22
“Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’”
E. PAUL IN 1 THESSALONIANS 3:4
“For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.”
All of these various passages serve to associate genuine godliness with persecution. Having gone elsewhere to underscore this point, let’s turn our attention back to 2 Timothy 3.
Paul’s contrast of verse 5 with verse 12 in 2 Timothy 3 (of those who hold to a form of godliness and who have denied its power) continues on in the passages that follow verse 12. Note this below. What he is about to say in verses 13–17 is that genuine godliness coupled with the sacred writings (Scripture) has power! This power is seen manifest in others’ salvation.
“But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (3:13–15).
Paul is not talking about some kind of powerless social, exemplary Jesus here, i.e., a form of godliness: he is speaking about the salvific Jesus revealed in the sacred writings, the Scriptures— wherein is the power—the Gospel to transform lives! What’s the point relative to our theme: Don’t be so concerned about persecution, trials, and betrayal by the powerless, the imposters.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (3:16–17).
The ability to discern evil men who are imposters, who are powerless, who do not hold to the sacred writings is further delineated in the following passage listed above: Scripture will always be the final arbiter of truth for the genuine believer. Here then is an additional means by which to weigh the validity of your persecutors: what is their view of Scripture? Is it authoritative?
V. 2 TIMOTHY 4
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (4:1–5).
Again, standing for truth and refuting error is normative for the believer. But it will beckon hardship which one need endure. Train yourself to expect this.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (4:6).
Paul’s personal martyrdom was near. The Greek language he uses is picturesque, likening himself to a ship losing its tether, slipping from the dock.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (4:7).
Again, normative to mature believers is the battle for truth and the refuting of error.
“In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (4:8–9).
Paul knew of his coming reward from the Savior whom he had so faithfully served. Demas, on the other hand, is another defector. Why did he defect? The things of the world were a higher priority in his heart.
In the Philemon epistle (written by Paul earlier on), one learns that Paul called Demas a “fellow worker.” In Colossians 4:12–14 (approximately five years earlier) Paul signifies that he was a close associate. So for Paul to use the word deserted (enkataleipo) in 2 Timothy 4:10 indicates a pendulum swing in Demas’ heart. The word means “utter abandonment.” Paul said Demas loved the present world more. In your heart are you like Paul or Demas? Time, persecution, and trials will tell.
As seen in this study, Paul encountered many setbacks during his ministry. If we too are intent on the Gospel, the Great Commission and the pursuit of making disciples, should we also anticipate that all our friendships will turn out great? No.
The Envious Ministers
In Paul’s imprisonment, some other believers used the opportunity to discount him. Paul’s response was to say that if Christ was proclaimed, no matter their motives, he’d rejoice.
Coworkers in the Great Commission, they had a sharp disagreement later in ministry and went separate ways.
Alexander & Hymenaeus
1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 4:14
These two men were heretics who stole the Church that Paul spent three years laboring to plant in Ephesus.
Phygelus and Hermogenes
2 Timothy 1:15
Nothing much is known about these two promising Christian leaders, who were evidently close to Paul but jumped ship when there later arose a personal cost of some sort (cf. 2 Timothy 1:16).
2 Timothy 2:17
Paired with Hymenaeus in this passage (the heretic mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20), Philetus too, had left sound doctrine.
2 Timothy 4:10
Demas too need be added to the list of betrayers in ministry; he was a fair-weather follower. He saw where Paul’s life was headed, and he did not want to risk persecution and imprisonment with him.
The next opponent and persecutor Paul lists here in 2 Timothy 4 was Alexander the coppersmith. This most likely is the same Alexander (of Alexander and Hymenaeus fame) previously mentioned at the start of this study (from 1 Timothy 1:20). He was never a disciple like Demas. Alexander could have been similar in trade to Demetrius the silversmith (Acts 19:24) who greatly resented the apostle because of his impact on his business. Whatever the case, Paul’s preaching altered Alexander’s career trajectory and as a result he responded in kind by harming Paul back (how, specifically, the text does not say):
“Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching” (2 Timothy 4:10–15).
Notable is Paul’s response to such a man: He states the Lord will repay him according to his deeds (cf. Romans 12:19). As difficult as this is, vengeance is not a biblically appropriate action for any human in response to harm.
Vengeance is God’s business alone, wherein His adjudication is more accurately compensatory.
This is a very real thing that God does— just give Him time and allow Him the space to do it! He protects His under-shepherds.
“At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them” (4:16).
As if Phygelus, Hermogenes, and Demas were not sufficient personal illustrations of betrayal in 2 Timothy Paul summarily states that in a general sense no one supported me, but all deserted me. When Paul is in Roman court, he had no friend to stand with him: they all deserted him! How awful! Had Onesiphorus or Luke been there, they would have surely stood with him, but Paul often went through persecution with no friends, no encouragement! Stop and think about that—and just how remarkable a man he was! It is in these lonely times that intimacy and inner strength in and with Christ are forged in one’s life. In Philippians, also written from imprisonment, Paul states, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings …” (3:10).
Spiritual maturity and intimacy with Christ are accomplished in persecution, betrayal, and abandonment, wherein Christ is one’s sole hope and resource.
In this sense, betrayal is a very good thing. Nothing will build your core strength quite like Christ does! His economy for accomplishing maturity and strength in our lives is often different than ours. So count it all joy ( James 1)!
Philippians 2:20–21 is another sobering passage along these same lines wherein Paul states, “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests.” One would think that he would have had a band of men around him near the end of his life and ministry! But he did not.
Fellow soldiers, soul mates whose love for Christ transcends all forms of self interest are rare.
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen”3 (2 Timothy 4:17–18).
In spite of his oft-dire physical condition and the herein recorded too-often emotional abandonments of those whom he’d earlier deemed loyal, such circumstances never affected his spirit!
Paul had a pliable heart, but very thick skin by the time he wrote 2 Timothy—at the zenith of his life and ministry. He possessed an intimacy with Christ and a resounding faith that totally transcended, eclipsed and governed the emotions of his earthly condition! He ruled his spirit—not the other way around! Void from this epistle is any sense of bitterness or resentment. Romans 8:35–39 reveals the visceral thinking of this wonderful man and provides an apt capstone to this book survey:
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Do you possess this same biblically informed response to betrayal?
1. The Fellowships’ 2005 IRS 990 Statement of Organization’s Primary Exempt Purpose, Part III: “… modeling the principles of Jesus … under the thoughts of Jesus.”
2. Knight III, George W. The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids: Eerdmann’s, 1992) p. 442.
3. New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition. Used by permission.