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PAUL, A DETERMINED APOSTLE!

A BIBLE STUDY FOCUSING ON THREE KEY SCRIPTURAL PASSAGES:

ACTS 20:24

2nd TIMOTHY 4:6-8

AND ISAIAH 42:4

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

ACTS 20:24

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."

 

Paul the Apostle was a determined man!

I don't know whether he was that way by nature, or if the Holy Spirit of God just so endowed him at his conversion.

Paul was resolved that he would not be a spiritual "quitter!"

You can almost hear his disgust when he wrote:  "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."  2nd Timothy 4:10

We all remember that the manifold "fruit of the Spirit" includes "faith" or "faithfulness" as well as "longsuffering."  Galatians 5:22-23

Paul was so determined that he often reminded his hearers of is life goal, "to finish his course with joy."

He said to the leaders of the Ephesian Church: "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."  Acts 20:24

"These things" are identified in the precious verse as "bonds and afflictions."

Paul had viciously persecuted the Church of God for years.  Then he was gloriously saved.  Yet, perhaps because of God's unalterable law of "sowing and reaping," the Apostle would himself endure suffering for the reminder of his days ... even as a Preacher of the Word of God!

But Paul is resolved!

All the pressures (the meaning of "thlipsis" or "afflictions") and all the chains and ropes which bound him ("desmon" or "bonds") would not make him quit!

None of those hardships "moved" Paul!  This verb here, "poieo," means to do or to make or to cause or to accomplish or to effect something.  It is as if Paul says that the sufferings of his life and ministry will not "define" him.  They will not discourage him!  They will not hinder him!

Nor will Paul "count" ("echo" meaning "to hold") his own life "dear" ("timios" meaning "precious," or "valuable") to himself!

He would rather die for his faith, his faith in Jesus, than to "quit" on his spiritual journey!

And what could motivate a man to make such drastic statements?

He wanted to "finish" his course with joy!  To "finish" his ministry God entrusted to him when he got saved.  The verb here, "teleioo," means to complete or to make perfect or to make mature or to accomplish or end what one was assigned to do!

The noun "course" (in Greek ... "dromos") means a race track!  Paul is picturing his Christian life as a "race!"  He does not want to be disqualified or to fail to complete the task either!  In fact, he wants to be among the winners, receiving a crown of victory some day!

The noun "joy" ("chara") means gladness, a grace produced gladness!

His "ministry" which he loves so much does not refer to his authority as an Apostle or his duty as a preacher ... but to his "service" ("diakonia") to others!  He's a willing "slave" to other members of the Body of Christ, helping them grow in Grace and in the knowledge of the Word of God!

The verb "received," qualifying Paul's ministry, means "to lay hold of" ... eagerly and gladly!  And Paul here is no doubt thinking of his experience on the Damascus Road because he says he received his ministry "of the Lord Jesus." Jesus was "para" (alongside) Paul when he was called to Preach!

"Testify," a compound verb, means "to bear witness" to the good news of the Gospel!  The Greek word "Gospel" ("euaggelion") literally means good ("eu") "news" or "message" (Greek = "aggelion").

Since salvation, Paul's life-long desire was not to quit!

After all, Jesus didn't!

Am I writing to a discouraged Christian this Monday morning?

Problems heavy?

Discouragement everywhere?

Hurt feelings?

More questions than answers?

Friend, lean on the Holy Spirit of God!

Memorize Acts 20:24.  "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."

Be resolved!

Let none of those things "move" you!

Remember, the Bible has promised:  "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."  Philippians 1:6

We are not in the "quitting" business!

                                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

2 TIMOTHY 4:6-8

"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

 

Early in Paul's ministry he shared with his fellow Christians a "goal."

He so wanted to be faithful to his Lord!

He told the leaders of the Ephesian Church that his yearning was to ... "finish his course with joy."

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."   Acts 20:24.

Our question today is this.  Did Paul accomplish that goal?  Did he "finish" his course, "complete" his work, "joyfully" meeting death?

The Holy Spirit gives us the answer to that inquiry in 2nd Timothy 4:6-8.  Again, let's allow Paul to tell us:  "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

The old Apostle DID "finish his course!"

He did not quit!

He remained faithful!

The verb "offered" (in Greek = "spendo") means "to pour out" a liquid.  It's an allusion to the Old Testament "drink offerings" or "thank offerings" in which a worshipper would "pour out" a perfectly good container of wine ... on the altar ... before the Lord ... in order to say "THANK YOU" Father for Thy goodness and grace!

Paul likens his very life, his blood flowing through his veins, to such an offering! He thinks, "when they sever my head from my body and the blood flows so freely, it will be a "thank offering" to my great God Who saved me from sin and placed me in the ministry."

What consecration!

By the way, that verb "spendo" is set in the passive voice.  Paul certainly would never have killed himself (active voice) ... but when that was done to him (passive voice) ... he would turn it into a worship experience!  He would leave earth ... adoring and thanking His Father in Heaven!

Even the noun "time" is instructive!  It's not "chronos" but "kairos."  Here Paul does not mean time as minutes and hours, but time as an "opportunity" or "privilege!" He views death as an "door" or "window" to further serve God!

Then he calls his death a simple "departure!"  The term "analusis" just means "to loosen" something that has been restrained!  Paul pictures death as a "letting go" of one who had been in prison!  His body, now older and less functional, was beginning to show chronic fatigue.  Death to him would just be a "setting free" of an old body, preparing it to some day be changed into a new body, a glorified body ... like that of Jesus Himself!

That word "departure" also was used of the ancients to describe a soldier who had finished the battle was ready to break camp and go home!

It also was a nautical expression, depicting a ship that was ready to cut loose and sail to the other side of the river!

Glory to God!

When Peter, in 1st Peter 1:15, talked about his death, he used the word "decease." That is spelled "exodos" in Greek!  To Peter death was as  simple as stepping through an "exit" door, leaving earth and being promoted to Heaven!

Truly, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" That's so true for the Believer in Jesus!

Then look what Paul says:  "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."  2nd Timothy 4:7

Both the verb "fought" and its direct object "fight" come from the root word "agon." This is an English word too!  Just add a "y."  Agon ... y!  Agony!  Paul says that he has endured the hard times, the agony, the pain and suffering ... without quitting! Without complaining!  Without hesitation!

He has fought a good fight ... to the very end!

Then the words we need to hear today.  Paul "finished his course!"  Using the same words he previously stated in Acts 20:24, Paul accomplished his life goal!

Acts 20:24 says:  "... so that I might finish my course with joy ...."

2nd Timothy 4:7 says:  "I have finished my course ...." 

Glory to God!

Paul had "kept" or guarded ("tereo") the faith!  He was not among those who departed from God's Word!

He goes on in verse 8 to mention the fact that a "crown" awaits him!  Crown here is "stephanos" and means a reward for victory in battle!

But Paul is not exclusive or proud here in any way.  Such a crown is available for all those who faithfully "love" (Greek = "agapao") the Coming ("epiphaneia") of Jesus! His bright and glorious appearing!

And Who will give those crowns?

The righteous Judge, Jesus!

Paul may be implying that he had been around some "unrighteous" judges lately, Nero for example.

Yes, Paul left this old world trusting the Lord, worshipping Him with all his heart!

He left here, having "finished his course!"

May we do the same!

Friend, don't quit!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

ISAIAH 42:4

"He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

 

It's a character trait!

Christians are saturated with it too!

They are just not easily discouraged!

Or at least, when discouraged, they don't quit!

Believers in Jesus are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, Who exhibits both "faithfulness" and "longsuffering" in perfect measure!

Paul the Apostle was not a quitter!

Nor were the other godly men and women of the New Testament!

And to that great list each of us can add the "giants" of the Faith that we've personally known too!

Christians are obviously endued with "perseverance!"

As I thought about that, about the sheer determination that our fellow brothers and sisters have ... I quite naturally began to think about our Lord!

He certainly was no quitter!

But ... did He ever get discouraged?

Did He ever fail in a task?

Was He ever prone to "quit" a job?

No!

No!

No!

Listen to Isaiah describe our Saviour, the "Servant" of the Lord.

"He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law."   Isaiah 42:4

Look at that!

It just blatantly says of Jesus:  He will not (ever) be discouraged!  He will never fail! He will reach His goal ... worldwide righteousness and peace!

No wonder Paul was so "tough!"

He just couldn't be stopped!

He was, in some small measure, like His Lord!

Of course, that's what the Holy Spirit does inside us Believers!  He "conforms us to the image of God's Son!"  Romans 8:29

See that verb "fail?"

Jesus will never fail?

It's "kahah" in Hebrew and means "to faint" or "to become dim" or "to be darkened" or "to falter."  Once it even means "to restrain!"

It's first Bible use is interesting.  In Genesis 27:1 the King James Bible translates it: "to become dim!"  Speaking of Isaac when he was old, "And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I."  Jesus was never "dimmed" in His determination to serve His Father!

And in Ezekiel 21:7 our word "kahah" is rendered as "faint!"  Look!  "And it shall be, when they say unto thee, Wherefore sighest thou? that thou shalt answer, For the tidings; because it cometh: and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water: behold, it cometh, and shall be brought to pass, saith the Lord GOD."  Jesus never fainted in His Purpose on earth!  That thought gives new meaning to Luke 18:1 --- "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint."

But 1st Samuel 13:3 perhaps gives us the most startling syntax for the word.  "For I (the Lord) have told him (Eli) that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not."  Our dear Lord never was, nor ever shall be, restrained in His Work!

Jesus will not fail!

He will not quit!

No wonder Paul was so determined!

And all the others too!

Next our verse, Isaiah 42:4, says that Jesus will not "be discouraged."  The verb "ratzsatzs" means "crushed or broken or bruised!"

Now of course we know that on the Cross Jesus was bruised physically.  So says Isaiah 53:5.  But as far as His goal of worldwide righteousness ... for a time when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea," the Will and Resolve of Jesus have never been "broken!"

This verb, "discouraged," is translated in the King James Bible in several different ways.  Here they are with their numbers of frequency:  oppressed (6 times), break or broken (7 times), bruised (2 times), crushed (2 times), discouraged (1 time) and struggle together (1 time)!

I really like what one Lexicon gave for a definition here:  "to crack in  pieces!"  Jesus never "cracked!" 

Jesus will just not be disturbed until He has done some things ... even yet in the future!  Things that can be accomplished because of His Victory on the Cross!

What things?

"Till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law."  Isaiah 42:4

Yes, Jesus is coming again!

To earth!

And when He does, "judgment" (a pronouncing of a righteous sentence) shall be executed on this whole earth!  Righteousness will yet prevail!

Not a forced righteousness either!

Not "legislated morality" as the wicked and usually immoral liberals say!

But righteousness that comes from  changed hearts!

The world, all of it ... including the people on the little islands ... will want to hear more and more of God's Law, God's Word!

Just think of that!

A world-wide Bible Conference!

The verb "to wait" means "to hope!"

This verb is a Piel in Hebrew ... this waiting and hoping and longing is intensive!

When Jesus reigns in His future Kingdom ... perhaps the worldwide cable networks of today will no longer be used for vanity and trash and filth ... but for the propagation of the precious Word of God!  Jesus Himself being the Chief Teacher!

I must close!

Here's our verse again.  Think about it throughout the day.  "He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law."

It ought to keep us all faithfully serving Him ... for the rest of our lives!

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

PAUL THE APOSTLE WAS NOT A QUITTER!  THESE THREE VERSES MAY HELP EXPLAIN HIS GREAT DETERMINATION!

 

 

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