Other notes on Peter & Paul
Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch, where they see a group of Judaisers that came from Jerusalem. They claimed to have authority of James, and taught that Christians should keep such Jewish Laws of food, circumcision, and other matters. Their teaching was quite persuasive, that Peter, Barnabas, and most of the Jews stopped eating with the Gentiles. In steps Paul, who rebukes Peter for being inconsistent. Jews, such as Paul and Peter, were saved by faith in Christ, and not obedience to the Law. It is useless to go back to something that didn’t and couldn’t save them. If Gentile Christians were wrong on not keeping the Law, Jewish Christians should be wrong for being justified apart from the Law. Since Christ is the justifier, they are all wrong on the deal. The real sin is to go back to keeping the Law after being justified apart from the Law, for the Law cannot bring life – but rather, it only condemns to death all who have broken it. Christ took this punishment for sinners by His death on the Cross. When people turn to Christ, in faith, they are removed from the Law’s power. They are given new life, the life of Christ – being saved by faith and not the Law. If people were justified by the Law, Christ would have no need to have died.
Christians are directed to be regular and persistent in prayer. They must also keep alert when prayer, for they can be easily distracted. They should definitely pray for the servants of God, and that God’s messengers may have opportunities to spread His Message, and that they may do so clearly. Besides praying for others, Christians should be careful in conduct, and make their speaking pleasant. In this way, they will attract those who are unbelievers. Anyway, Tychicus, a man who carried Paul’s letter to Colossae had an additional duty of telling the Church of how Paul was doing in his imprisonment. Onesimus accompanied Tychicus. Onesimus was a slave who had escaped, and then met Paul so he could become a Christian. Paul wanted the Colossians to welcome Onesimus as part of the Church. With Paul in prison were three Jewish Christians – Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus Justus. Three other people with him were Gentiles – Epaphras, Luke, and Demas. Paul then sends greetings to the Church in Laodicea, and then he asks that the Colossian and Laodicean Churches exchange letters so that both may receive additional teaching. In closing this letter, Paul encourages Archippus to do God’s Work faithfully, and reminds the Colossians that he is still imprisoned, and that he needs their prayers.
Paul rejoices at what he heard of Philemon’s strong faith in God (for Paul is still in prison). This faith and love has strengthened the Colossian Church. He prays that Philemon would continue to share these blessings with others. Philemon was the master of Onesimus, and therefore, Paul wanted Philemon to welcome him home and forgive him. Onesimus was as a son to Paul, because he helped him so much in prison. Paul would like to keep Onesimus with him; however, he feels that Onesimus should go back to his master. Onesimus had become useless to Philemon; however, Paul is confident that Onesimus is better and ready to come back. However, that’s Philemon’s decision to welcome him back. Whatever Philemon does, Paul wants him to do it decisively, and not because Paul has forced him to do so. If Onesimus stole or damaged anything in making his escape, Paul wants to pay the cost of it. Paul believes that Philemon would act with generosity, and give him complete freedom. To end the letter, Paul hopes to be released soon and visit Colossae. Meanwhile, he and his group send greetings to Philemon, and to the whole Church in the Colossian letter.
2 Timothy 4
God’s servants must give him an account of their service, and should teach when they have the chance. God’s servants must speak in a manner suited to the circumstances, and things will get worse if people turn away from teachers (but would rather listen to their own theories). Timothy is urged to ensure hardship, and not turn aside from the work God has given him. Paul now faces execution with confidence. He looks beyond death to the full enjoyment of salvation that will be experienced. He says that if he lives, he can still minister and do God’s Will – or if he dies, he can be with Christ. Before he died, Paul would like Timothy to come and visit him. Paul has valuable help and comfort from Luke, but he would like Mark to come with Timothy to visit – and on the way collecting books and warm clothing that Paul left with Carpus. Tychicus would provide help in Ephesus while Timothy would be absent on his way to Rome. Paul warns Timothy to beware of Alexander. After arrest, when the Roman authorities laid charges against him, Paul stood alone. No one wanted to witness in defense for him. However, God didn’t fail him, but gave him the full opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. He was not attacked or silenced because God was with him. He was confident that God would remain with him. Many others could help, and some of the local Christians in Rome visited him occasionally. They join in sending greetings to Timothy, with a final note urging Timothy to come quickly. Paul signs off for the last time in this letter.
On his second missionary journey (which we also see a lot of info in Acts 15-18 about it), Paul entered Europe for the first time when he went to Macedonia. The first churches that he established were in Philippi and Thessalonica. Paul wrote this first letter to the Thessalonian people only a few months after the establishment of the Church. Paul is glad of their development of character and the faith, love, and endurance that can be clearly seen. They have proved themselves to be God’s People. They look forward to the climax of their salvation at the return of Jesus Christ.
Paul admits that he preached so boldly that he endured bodily harm, but he didn’t want praise nor money. Therefore, he gave to them to help them. He worked at tent making to make an income for himself. Otherwise, he did his preaching as he could. He only wanted to bring God glory. The Thessalonians knew they had a Word from God, and that Paul is who he said he is. The Jews were trying to prevent the message of Jesus from reaching the Gentiles, but all the while, they were preparing a big divine judgment unto themselves. Paul faced many difficulties, trials, etc. through trying to preach to the Gentiles, however, he desires to revisit them soon, and talks about how well they have progressed in their faith and love. He seems overjoyed about the love they’ve cultivated.
He talks to them about marriage and work, but they don’t need to be overly dependent on each other, but rather, be ready to help others. Faults must be corrected so that they can continue as a church, and so they don’t have non-Christians criticizing them. After this starts the info about the Return of Christ. Some were worried that those who’ve died would not experience Christ’s Return, and therefore, they want people that are alive to join them, so together, they could meet Christ. Paul said that no one knows when He will return, however, He will come unexpectedly as a thief would. He talks more about what Christ will do once He arrives, and told them to be self-controlled, strong in faith and love, and be confident in their salvation. Having unity with Christ means that they would escape wrath and enjoy Salvation to its fullest. They need to live in a way that is pleasing to God and one that encourages others.
Lastly, he sees minor difficulties have occurred, and Church leaders had the responsibility to solve such problems. Paul reminds the members to respect those who are in leadership and don’t be offended when they need to correct you. All Christians should be helpful, joyful, prayerful, and thankful. God alone can give strength to put this advice into practice, and that God wants His People to constantly progress toward greater holiness. Paul ends it by telling them to read the letter to the Church to full understanding.