Tag Archives: Apostle Paul

Titus 3

Not doing, Yes doing

I found the following scripture an interesting Möbius loop.

He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life. These things I have told you are all true. I want you to insist on them so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time. These things are good and beneficial for everyone.Titus 3:5-8

Notice what I highlighted.

We were not saved because of the good things we did. But we are now ordered to be careful to do good deeds all the time.

The difference is the reason. It isn’t about us. It is about others. Even our salvation is about others. We could not do it, someone other than us, Jesus, had to do the good deed for us. Now we are free as a result of his good deed to do good deeds for others too.

Father, may I do good deeds all the time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For everyone. Jan

2 Timothy 1

The Manual

Years ago there was a TV show named The Greatest American Hero. The premise was that a school teacher, named Ralph Hinkley, was given a “super-power” suit by some aliens. Well, he promptly lost the manual. So, he does good, but albeit he is a tad bumbling since he doesn’t really know all that his new suit can do.

In reading about Timothy I see that he has put on his new God-suit and is doing all sorts of good. But unlike Ralph Hinkley, Timothy has the manual.

Follow the pattern of true teachings that you heard from me in faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus. Protect the truth that you were given; protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. – 2 Timothy 1:13-14

He has a “pattern”, a set of directions, that guide his actions. This pattern of instruction is so important, like the manual given to Ralph, that he is told to protect it. In fact he is told twice in the same sentence to protect it.

If it is that important, perhaps I need to do some more digging into what that particular “pattern of teaching” really looks like.

Father, please help me to learn and protect the pattern of true teachings that you allow to be revealed to me. May I not carelessly lose them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Time to put on the “magic jammies”. (A line from the show) Jan

Romans 2

Revealed Truth

Ouch! Paul pulls no punches in this second chapter of Romans. He started out in chapter one by praising the Roman Christians, and then spoke about how sinful the world is. Now he lowers the boom on the Roman Christians.

You may be saying, “What terrible people you have been talking about!” But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too? Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin? – Romans 2:1-4

I have to wonder, does he know about something specific, or is he simply laying out a foundation for more later?

As further chapters will reveal, that is exactly what he is doing – establishing groundwork for a discussion.

But, what about the Romans reading this letter. Would they have known nothing of Jewish laws and customs that Paul would write to them as if they were wholly ignorant?

In his Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus mentioned that in about 40AD 8,000 Roman Jews had sided with someone in a lawsuit. Since women and children were not permitted to take part in a lawsuit, that would mean that there were upwards of 40,000 Jews living in Rome around the time Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. From inscriptions on ancient tombstones in the Jewish catacombs it can be determined that there were at least 12 different synagogues in and around the city of Rome. So it is not like there was no knowledge or awareness of Jewish laws and customs among the Roman Christians. Further, statistical probability would indicate that not all of the new converts were of non-Jewish origin.

From this evidence it is clear that there certainly should have been knowledge of Jewish laws among the Roman believers.

I think the following verse supports my thought that Jews were part of the Roman church.

If you are a Jew, you are relying on God’s law for your special relationship with him. You boast that all is well between yourself and God. – Romans 2:17

Paul is clearly working on ensuring that the foundation of the Roman Christians’ belief system is one that conforms to what he understands to be the truth as revealed to him personally by the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, I solemnly assure you that the Good News of salvation which I preach is not based on mere human reasoning or logic. For my message came by a direct revelation from Jesus Christ himself. No one else taught me. – Galatians 1:11-12

Therefore, since Paul knew exactly what it was to be a Christ-follower, he wanted to ensure that these converts, that he had no personal involvement with, would receive the truth as it was revealed to him; not as Jewish converts would have them believe.

For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the Jewish ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people. – Romans 2:28-29

The truth is that an inward change, a change of heart produced by God’s Holy Spirit is the mark of being a believer.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Paul’s tenacity. It is because of his determination to ensure the complete truth was shared that we know what it really means to believe in your son Jesus. In his name, Amen.

Shalom, Jan

Romans 1

Miracle Grow

The first chapter of Romans is such an interesting chapter of the bible. Paul is writing to a church of non-Jewish believers that he personally had not started. He was somewhat pleasantly surprised to learn of their existence. He writes about hearing of their faith, praying for them, being proud of them. Then he writes the following:

One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can share a spiritual blessing with you that will help you grow strong in the Lord. – Romans 1:10-11

Miracle_Grow

I find it fascinating that he assumes, no he knows, that he possesses some spiritual blessing, some spiritual gift as other translations state, that they have not already received. This gift, when delivered will help them “grow strong in the Lord”.

I’m definitely curious as to what this miracle grow that Paul has to deliver is all about. What about you?

Well, hopefully as I continue reading in the book of Romans it will come into clearer focus.

Father, thank you for spreading your gifts among your people as you see fit. Please help us to willingly share them so that we can help others grow strong in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Do you have a delivery to make? Jan