8. The Finished Course
The book of Acts, after telling about Paul's imprisonment at Rome, closes with this statement: "And he lived there for two whole years at his own expense ... teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ openly and unhindered" (Acts 28:30-31). However, it seems certain that after spending these "two whole years" in prison (A.D. 60-62), Paul was released. Paul's release raises an important question. Apparently his plans for journeying to Rome included establishing a Christian group, or church, in that city. (See Lesson 6 and Rom. 1:13-15.) But the New Testament makes no mention of any such group being formed by Paul, similar to those he formed at Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, and other places. Indeed, the indications are that, immediately following his release, Paul departed from Rome on a visit to several other places, as mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. Why was this? What reason or reasons would Paul have for leaving Rome before completing his carefully thought-out plans?
The concluding section of Acts indicates that the Jewish leaders at Rome were strongly opposed to Paul's teaching. Prejudice and rejection can be recognized in their statement, "This sect ... everywhere it is spoken against" (Acts 28:22). Paul knew, therefore, that at his release the doors of the synagogue would be closed against him, and he would be afforded no opportunity for publicly proclaiming the Gospel message. Of course, Paul might have preached in other places—just as he did in Ephesus and elsewhere; but something had taken place in Rome, which brought about a complete change in Paul's plans. This may be explained as follows:
Shortly before Paul's release (approx. A.D. 62), it would appear that Peter arrived at Rome, accompanied by Silvanus (Silas), and Mark. (See Col. 4:10 and I Pet. 5:12-13.) Apparently the Apostolic Council at Jerusalem, becoming deeply concerned about Paul's activities, had urged Peter to undertake an extensive evangelistic campaign. The indications are that Peter first journeyed from Jerusalem to Antioch, and then, after visiting certain sections of Asia Minor, proceeded onward toward Rome.
Here it should be noted that in all his missionary activities, Peter had two special advantages as compared with Paul: (a) Peter had maintained his Jewish affiliations, and was therefore in good standing with most of the synagogues. On the other hand, Paul had aroused the antagonism of the Jewish leaders, so that by this time most of the synagogues were closed against him. (b) Peter carried the official endorsement of the Jerusalem council, and was therefore well received by all Jewish Christians. Many of the Jewish Christians, however, were now regarding Paul with disfavor because of his activities among the Gentiles. Furthermore, it should be recalled that at an earlier period there had been a sharp break between Paul and Peter (See Gal. 2:11-14), and during the succeeding years the gap between the two apostles had widened, so that at the time now being discussed they were no longer on speaking terms.
Thus the two apostles could scarcely work together harmoniously in Rome! It would seem, therefore, that Paul, upon his release decided to leave all Christian activities at Rome in the hands of Peter, while he (Paul) engaged in Christian work elsewhere.
Paul's activities following his release from the Roman imprisonment may be summarized under the following headings:
Paul's "unfinished business"
During Paul's imprisonment at Rome, several problems connected with the various churches arose, and these called for the apostle's personal attention. But Paul was held in close confinement, and could not leave Rome to visit the places concerned. As has already been noted, Paul carried on considerable correspondence with his converts during the period of his imprisonment, but some details could be settled only through personal contact. With Paul's release, these needful visits became possible. A careful study of certain New Testament passages enables us to reconstruct some of Paul's activities, as he sought to complete this "unfinished business."
(1) Visit to Philippi (Read Phil. 2:19-14.) When writing to the Philippians, Paul mentioned that the Epistle was to be carried by Epaphroditus. However, Paul also indicated his intention of sending Timothy to Philippi with an important personal message, at a later date. Then Paul added these significant words: "Shortly, I myself shall come also." It seems quite likely, therefore, that this personal visit to Philippi was Paul's first activity upon his release from Rome.
(2) Return to Troas (Read II Tim. 4:13.) Having completed his "unfinished business" at Philippi, Paul sailed across to Troas—reversing the route followed on his second missionary journey. Apparently this was a very brief visit, for Paul was desirous of pressing forward. However, later he mentions leaving "the cloak ... also the books, and ... the parchments." with Carpus, who seems to have been the apostle's host during this visit to Troas.
(3) On to Colossae (Read Philem. 18-22.) During his Roman imprisonment, Paul sent Onesimus and Tychicus to Colossae, carrying the Epistle to Philemon. The purpose of the Epistle, it will be recalled, was to secure a full pardon for Onesimus, the runaway slave. But Paul also, in this Epistle, made a solemn promise to reimburse Philemon for all losses incurred because of this runaway slave; and Paul would be most desirous of liquidating such a debt. (See Philemon 18-19.) There is a probability also that Paul wanted to make sure that Philemon had fulfilled his part of the agreement, and fully reinstated Onesimus—hence the urgent request to "prepare a guest room for me" (Phil. 22).
(4) New minister at Ephesus (Read I Tim. 1:1-7.) When discussing the Epistle to the Ephesians (see Lesson 7), it was mentioned that there was a lack of Christian leadership at Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla did not possess the necessary qualifications to minister adequately to the church group there. To meet this lack, Paul took his young helper, Timothy, to Ephesus and installed him as the official minister of the church. Note how, later on, Paul wrote, "I urged you ... remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine" (I Tim. 1:3). The Epistle clearly indicates that Timothy had been installed as presiding elder, or minister, of the Christian church at Ephesus.
(5) Brief stay at Corinth (Read II Tim. 4:20.) The Erastus mentioned in this passage was quite active in Paul's missionary campaigns, and his name is coupled with that of Timothy as the "helpers" of Paul. (See Acts 19:22.) Paul's purpose in thus leaving Erastus at Corinth seems fairly clear. It will be recalled that at the time of the "Corinthian controversy," Paul was greatly helped by the activities of a young man named Titus. Through the efforts of Titus the disturbing situation at Corinth was finally brought under control, and in all probability, Titus then remained as minister of the church there. But Paul now needed help elsewhere, and he recognized Titus as the man best qualified to undertake this important piece of work. Consequently, at this time Paul installed Erastus as minister of the church at Corinth, and then took Titus away to the new field of activities.
(6) Mission to Crete (Read Titus 1:4-16.) The important piece of work referred to above was that of organizing the Christian groups on the island of Crete. In all probability Paul, during his earlier activities, had visited Crete, and had made a number of converts—including some Jews. While the New Testament makes no mention of this visit, it seems certain that the Christian groups at Crete were founded by Paul, since it was against the apostle's principles to "build upon another man's foundation." (See Rom. 15:20.) But the New Testament does mention Paul's brief visit to Crete during his memorable voyage to Rome (Acts 27:7-8); and apparently Paul was not satisfied with prevailing conditions among the Cretan Christians at that time (although there was no opportunity then to undertake any reforms). Possibly some correspondence was carried on while Paul was a prisoner at Rome. Certain it is that upon his release Paul saw the necessity of establishing a qualified presiding elder, or minister, at Crete—one capable of administering discipline, and bringing the affairs of the Christian groups into proper order. Paul's selection for this important post was Titus.
Note: In following Paul's "unfinished business," it will be well to check the various points mentioned on a map, for this will indicate the route followed by the apostle on this journey.
In all those activities which have been termed "unfinished business," Paul symbolized divine order. This is a feature that is frequently overlooked. Many important metaphysical meanings have already been recognized in connection with Paul's earlier activities, but it is equally important to note how Paul continually sought to establish order in the churches he founded. When writing to the Corinthians, Paul gave instructions that "all things should be done decently and in order" (I Cor. 14:40); and all through his ministry he insisted upon the orderly working of all church activities. (See I Cor. 11:34; Titus 1:5; I Cor. 16:1.) It will be seen that most of Paul's "unfinished business" also had to do with establishing right order. The following quotation emphasizes the present-day importance of order:
"Order is the first law of the universe. Indeed there could be no universe unless its various parts were kept in perfect harmony. In the sense mind there is disorder, manifest in confusion of thought and action, while in Divine Mind everything is in perfect order. Therefore it is most important, if we are to survive at all, that our thought be put in order and kept in harmony with divine intelligence.
"Even in the small details of life, such as dress, conversation, eating, sleeping, and working, system and order enables one to live a richer and fuller life. But only in divine order can be found the life abundant and eternal. This order is established in our body and affairs when we live up to the higher convictions of our being under the guidance of spiritual understanding" (Mysteries of Genesis 241-242).
Paul's final missionary journey
Having completed his "unfinished business," Paul's next concern was with the remaining portion of his ambitious missionary project. It will be recalled that Paul did not plan a lengthy stay at Rome. In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul expressed his desire to visit Rome; but he also stated that he would then press forward to his main objective, which he named as "Spain" (Rom. 15:24 and 28). Many readers of the Epistle to the Romans immediately conclude that Paul's purpose was to make converts in the country now bearing that name. But in those days the word Spain was often used to indicate the regions at the ends of the earth—and a glance at the map will show that this was a well-chosen figure of speech. In the Old Testament, the word Tarshish is frequently used in much the same way. Thus when Paul wrote about visiting "Spain" he was, in reality, declaring his intention of obeying the command of Jesus Christ, and carrying the Gospel message to the ends of the then-known world. His earlier missionary journeys may be regarded as the start of this work, but this final journey was to mark its completion. (See Matt. 28:19-20.)
The questions then arise: What steps did Paul take to complete the important missionary project referred to above? How did Paul manage to carry the Gospel message to the "ends of the earth"? Unfortunately, only scanty details of Paul's later activities are given in the New Testament. These may be pieced together, and some important facts established. Early church history and traditions also contain many indications of Paul's activities; and when these are combined with the New Testament information referred to above, it becomes possible to make a fairly clear outline of Paul's final missionary journey. (As mentioned earlier in this lesson, it will be well to have a map handy, so that the apostle's itinerary may be traced.)
(1) Journey Along the Coast of North Africa In early christian days. North Africa was the scene of intensive Christian activity, and this continued until the Mohammedan invasion, around A.D.600. Much of this Christian work in North Africa may be traced back to the time of Paul's final missionary journey. Leaving Titus in charge of the Christian work in Crete, Paul probably sailed across the Alexandria, and made that city his first stopping place. Many students at the University of Alexandria had already come under the influence of the John-the-Baptist movement, and these were receptive to the Christian message. Paul then journeyed westward, visiting the cities of Cyrene, Carthage, and other places, and finally reaching the Pillars of Hercules. During this journey many converts were made and church groups established—many of which became quite famous in church history.
(2) Visit to Spain That Spain was actually visited on this journey seems quite possible. Probably Paul crossed the Mediterranean Sea, and landed somewhere in the area now known to us as Gibraltar. Very little is known regarding the beginnings of Christianity in Spain, except that Christian groups were established at quite an early period in the ancient cities of Tarraco and Borcino, in the northeast section; and tradition dates these back to the time of Paul.
(3) Work in Gaul (France) Church history and several very early traditions indicate the probability of an apostolic visit to Lyons and several ancient cities in Gaul. Probably Paul's interest had been aroused, while he was a prisoner in Rome, by the stories brought back by the Roman soldiers regarding the far outposts of the Empire; and Paul saw in Gaul, and other distant places, a challenge to his Christian missionary work.
(4) Visit to Britain While Paul was a prisoner at Rome, the returning Roman soldiers also brought back stories of a strange land, situated westward of Gaul. The Roman soldiers called this land "Albion," because of the white cliffs which could be seen clearly from the northern shores of Gaul; and Paul decided that this must indeed be the "ends of the earth"! Ancient traditions tell of Paul crossing the narrow strait, landing at the Roman fortress at Dover, and then proceeding along the well-constructed "Watling Street" to the city of Londinium (London). Among Paul's converts in London were many Roman soldiers; and one tradition tells how a small temple, built on a hill in the center of the city in honor of a Roman war god, later became a place of Christian worship. It is interesting to note that on that same spot there now stands a Christian church, whose history dates back to very early Christian times; and the church bears the name "St. Paul's Cathedral."
(5) Return to Nicopolis (Read Titus 3:12-15.) Paul now recognized that he could report to his Lord, "Mission accomplished!"—for he had literally carried the Gospel message to "the ends of the earth." So, leaving Britain and Gaul, Paul headed back to the area of his earlier activities, arriving at Nicopolis about A.D. 66. Apparently the strenuous journeys had taken their toll of Paul's physical strength, for in his letter to Titus he states his intention of spending the winter at Nicopolis. (See Titus 3:12.) Nicopolis is situated on the west side of the Macedonian peninsula, with climatic conditions helpful for the restoration of health. However, this brief resting period for Paul was soon interrupted—as will be explained later in this lesson.
The metaphysical meaning of Paul's missionary journeys has already been discussed in earlier lessons, and it has been shown that these activities symbolize carrying the word of Truth to the various centers, or phases, of consciousness. However, Paul's last missionary journey makes a further helpful contribution to this symbology. On this final journey Paul carried the Gospel message to the far ends of the then-known world; and, in a somewhat similar manner, the word of Truth must be carried to what may be termed the outer realms of man's consciousness. Implanting Truth within the various centers, or phases, of consciousness is important; but it is also important for Truth to become manifest in all our thoughts, words, and activities. During recent years the term "social gospel" has become quite familiar; and this indicates, to some extent, what is symbolized by Paul's final missionary journey. The Gospel is no longer regarded as fine-spun theory, but as something to be practically applied. The teachings of Jesus Christ must find expression in all the activities of home, school, and business; for it is in this way that the Gospel is carried to "all nations" (or to all centers, or phases, of consciousness), and to the ends of our world.
Paul's Pastoral Epistles
The term pastoral is frequently used in connection with Paul's Epistles to Timothy and Titus. Originally the word had reference to shepherds and their activities, but later was used in connection with Christian ministers and their congregations. Thus, the Pastoral Epistles are to be recognized as letters from the Chief Shepherd (Paul) to his under-shepherds (Timothy and Titus), and dealing with matters relating to their congregations. These Pastoral Epistles make interesting and helpful reading, especially where recognition is given to their background. Many statements given in these Epistles are frequently quoted, and they have practical application to modern conditions. All this will become apparent as we proceed to a study of these Epistles in chronological order.
I Tim. 1:1-7 and I Tim. 6:11-16
(1) PAUL'S FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY.
Earlier in the lesson, reference was made to the circumstances under which Timothy had been installed as minister of the church at Ephesus. It will be readily recognized that this ministry was no easy task. The church had been in existence for several years, and some of the officials there had assisted Paul in the early struggles toward establishment. However, as already mentioned, things were not going well at Ephesus, and therefore Paul had decided to put Timothy in charge of affairs. But Timothy was a young man, and he found it difficult to secure the full cooperation of the church officials. Some of these officials were much older than Timothy, and apparently they resented Paul's action in placing him at the head of affairs. Timothy therefore wrote an urgent letter to Paul—who was then starting out upon his missionary journey in North Africa—seeking advice regarding this unpleasant situation at Ephesus.
Paul's reply was intended to put fresh heart into Timothy. The apostle urged his young friend to hold fast to "sound doctrine" (I Tim. 1:10), to "wage the good warfare" (I Tim. 1:18), to exercise great care in appointing new church officials, and to maintain Christian discipline (I Tim. 3:1-13). Explicit directions were given regarding church activities, and then Paul urged Timothy to "Command and teach these things. Let no one despise your youth ... Do not neglect the gift you have... Practice these duties ... Take heed to yourself and your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save yourself and your hearers" (I Tim. 4:11-16).
The name Timothy is said to mean "worshiping God, honoring God" (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 658). This indicates that there is something in our consciousness which recognizes and honors God; and, at the same time, this something is also recognized and honored by God. This "something" may be readily identified through a careful study of the New Testament passages relating to Timothy. Paul mentions that "sincere faith ... dwells in you" (II Tim. 1:5). Paul also recognized that Timothy possessed what may be termed executive ability. Hence Timothy was selected by Paul as a trusted messenger to the converts at Philippi (See Phil. 2:22-23); and later on Paul placed Timothy in charge of the church at Ephesus (I Tim. 1:3). However, the indications are that Timothy's faith and ability became somewhat ineffective because of an inherent timidity, or fear. Timothy did well when Paul was close at hand, but when left to work on his own account he was far from successful. Thus we find Paul urging Timothy to "fight the good fight of the faith" (I Tim. 6:12); to "rekindle the gift of God that is within you" (II Tim. 1:6); and then Paul sought to reassure Timothy by reminding him that "God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control" (II Tim. 1:7). Timothy, therefore, may be interpreted in terms of inspiration, and also of warning. Our spiritual and physical powers are to be used to honor God; but we shall be honored by God only as we overcome timidity and "aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness" (I Tim. 6:11).
I Tim. 1:1 (Entire letter)
It will be well now to read the entire First Epistle to Timothy, giving careful attention to each section, as shown in the outline of this Epistle furnished in Appendix "A."
(2) PAUL'S EPISTLE TO TITUS.
Reference has already been made to the circumstances under which Titus became the presiding elder, or minister, of the Christian groups in Crete. Titus was a much stronger type than Timothy, and therefore he took charge of affairs in Crete in a masterly way. There was no necessity for him to call upon Paul for moral support of organizational directions, as did Timothy. Nevertheless, when Paul had occasion to communicate with Titus later on, the apostle included in his Epistle some valuable advice pertaining to the work at Crete.
Titus was a Greek, and was converted by Paul, probably on the first missionary journey. There is a possibility that Titus acted as Paul's personal assistant during the first journey, replacing John Mark, who left the expedition at Perga and returned to Jerusalem. Certain it is that Titus returned with Paul to Antioch, and later played an important part in the proceedings of the first Jerusalem council. (See Gal. 2:1-3 and Acts 15:1-21.) However, Paul selected Timothy as personal assistant for the second missionary journey, since this was the type of work suitable for a younger man. Later, when Paul urgently needed assistance in connection with the "Corinthian controversy," he called upon Titus, and Titus was eminently successful in restoring order in the Corinthian church.
Apparently the Epistle to Titus was written when Paul was heading for Nicopolis, on the last stage of the apostle's final missionary journey. At that time, Paul was well aware of the Roman Emperor's hostile activities, and also the difficult situation which now confronted the Christian church. Therefore, Titus was urged to be on the alert for "marching orders," and to be prepared to join Paul on short notice. Possibly Titus went to Nicopolis, in accord with Paul's instructions; and then, following Paul's arrest, journeyed with the apostle to Rome.
Metaphysically interpreted, Titus represents "a pleasing, agreeable, and honorable attitude of mind ... that accompanies the word of Truth in its restoring work throughout the organism and the consciousness of man" (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 660.) All this is readily recognized when studying the activities of Titus, as recorded in the New Testament. Titus had overcome all timidity, and whatever spiritual and physical' powers he possessed, he used them fully in the service of his Lord. Titus worked under the direction of Paul, but he was also fully aware of his own indwelling Christ; and this enabled him to carry through several important assignments with complete success. It was through the efforts of Titus that order was fully restored among the rebelling Corinthians (see Lesson 5); and when Paul took Titus to Crete, the Christian groups there readily responded to his leadership. Thus, interpreted in the light of present-day needs, Titus symbolizes that spirit in us which responds to every call of Christian duty, puts fear aside, and fully recognizes that "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). The Titus spirit within us enables us to become fully competent "ambassadors for Christ" (II Cor. 5:20), and we unhesitatingly declare:
"I'll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain, or plain, or sea;
I'll say what You want me to say, dear Lord,
I'll be what You want me to be." (Unity Song Selections 256)
Titus 1:1 (Entire letter)
Using the above details as a background, the entire Epistle to Titus should now be carefully read. Use the outline to the Epistle as given in Appendix "B" as a guide.
II Tim. 1:1-7;2:1-7;4:9-18
(3) PAUL'S SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY.
This Epistle is now generally recognized as Paul's final message, and was written during the closing days of the apostle's ministry. As mentioned earlier in the lesson, Paul was arrested, probably at Nicopolis, and then taken to Rome and thrust into a dungeon to await sentence and execution. It is significant, therefore, that this closing message should be addressed to the young man whom Paul lovingly designated as "my son" (II Tim. 2:1).
The Second Epistle to Timothy contains two main ideas, which are expressed in various ways and emphasized throughout the Epistle. First, Paul sought by every means at his command to impart new strength, courage, and endurance to Timothy. Mention has already been made regarding Timothy's apparent inability to cope with difficult situations, especially when he was called upon to act without the assistance of Paul. This second message may be regarded as adding emphasis to what had been written in the First Epistle. However, Paul now recognized that the time of his departure had come, and he sought to prepare Timothy for those strenuous days ahead when the young helper would be called upon to stand alone. Hence the urgent appeal to "be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry" (II Tim. 4:5).
Second, Paul desired that Timothy should come with ail speed to Rome. This request appears twice (II Tim. 4:9 and 21), and may also be read between the lines in several other places in the Epistle. Timothy was also requested to bring with him "the cloak ... the books ... and ... the parchments" (II Tim. 4:13). It is easy to understand why the cloak would be needed in the cold, damp, Roman prison; but we may wonder what was back of the urgent call for the books and parchments. Perhaps the answer is to be found in the brief statement, "Luke alone is with me" (II Tim. 4:11). At that time, Luke had collected considerable material for his projected Gospel, and also for the Book of Acts. It seems possible, therefore, that during this period of imprisonment Paul had been urging Luke to carry through this literary undertaking with all speed, and the books and parchments may have been needed to complete these important records. Thus Paul's final thought was to carry the Gospel message even farther afield than had been possible through his missionary journeys, using the writings of Luke for this purpose.
II Tim 1:1 (Entire letter)
The Second Epistle to Timothy should now be read in its entirety, taking the above information for background, and following the detailed outline of the Epistle given in Appendix "C."
II Tim. 1:1-18 and II Tim. 4:6-22
(4) "I HAVE FINISHED MY COURSE."
Something of great historical importance happened during the period of Paul's final missionary activities. At that time, Nero was the Roman emperor, and he had already begun a persecution of the Christians. Then came the great fire of Rome, when a large section of the city was destroyed (A.D. 64). History attributes the fire to the foolish actions of Nero, but Nero blamed the Christians for the catastrophe. This happening immediately brought about a great change in Roman policy. Heretofore, the Romans had tolerated various religious beliefs among the nations that constituted the empire; but following the fire, a decision was made to stamp out Christianity. The fire, of course, was the excuse for this action; but the real cause was that Rome was beginning to fear Christianity. Already Christians everywhere were proclaiming Jesus Christ as "King of kings"—and the Romans regarded this as a growing threat to the empire. Consequently a bitter persecution was launched against the Christians, and many of them were arrested and put to death.
Among the Christian leaders arrested at that time was Peter, who was then conducting his ministry in Rome, as already mentioned. Paul, who was wintering at Nicopolis, was also arrested and taken to Rome under heavy guard, where he was thrust into prison. This would be around A.D. 67. There seems a possibility that the two apostles were lodged in the same prison at this time. Prior to this, there was considerable disagreement between Peter and Paul, as already intimated; but there is a tradition that during this period of imprisonment the two apostles were brought together, and there was a complete reconciliation. There is a further story which tells how Peter managed to gain temporary freedom, but feeling that an escape in this way might be regarded as a second denial of his Lord, he returned to the prison, and shortly afterward was crucified. An early writer tells how Peter, deeming himself unworthy of the same form of execution as his Lord, begged his executioners to reverse the cross; so Peter was crucified head downward.
An element of mystery surrounds the close of Paul's active career. It seems unlikely that Paul was crucified. His Roman citizenship would have saved him from such an indignity. Possibly, too Paul's Roman citizenship secured for him some sort of formal trial, for he makes reference to his "first defense" (II Tim. 4:16); but this may have been a mere preliminary to his final sentencing. Some early writers state that Paul was executed at Rome, while others indicate that he was taken some distance outside the city, and there beheaded. Some of Paul's own statements suggest other possibilities. When writing to the Corinthians, at an earlier period, Paul declared, "Death is swallowed up in victory" (I Cor. 15:54); and when writing to the Philippians, his prayer was, "that I may know ... the power of his resurrection ... that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:10-11). Many students of the New Testament have wondered if these expressions of Paul's faith were literally fulfilled in his closing days. Again and again the question has been asked: "Did Paul, at that time, in some way attain his freedom?" Such questions are difficult to answer, but one thing is certain: Paul attained immortality through the apostolic work he accomplished in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul belongs to that noble group of whom it was written, "They may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them" (Rev. 14:13). Some of Paul's enduring contributions to Christianity were:
(1) Paul made "disciples of all nations," and carried the Gospel message to the ends of the then-known world. Above all other early leaders, Paul had worldwide vision; he carried the Gospel not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. Matthew wrote the words of Jesus, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19), but Paul carried out this command.
(2) Paul organized and established churches in Asia, Europe, and North Africa, thus making for permanence in the Christian work. Paul also inspired and instructed others to carry forward this Christian work—Timothy, Titus, Luke, and others.
(3) Paul proclaimed and emphasized the universality of the Gospel message. For him, Jesus was not only the Messiah of the Jews, but also the Christ, the Savior of the world.
(4) Paul gave us the major part of our New Testament. Thirteen Epistles were written directly by Paul; and the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts also owe their existence, very largely to the inspiration and materials supplied by Paul. (See Appendix "D")
(5) Paul freed Christianity from ceremonial bondage. It should be recalled that prior to the work of Paul, Christianity functioned entirely within the bounds of Judaism. Even when Christian teaching began to expand into other areas, many of the early leaders sought to force the converts to accept the ceremonialism of the Jews. But Paul took his stand for religious freedom. He wrote, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1). Paul's Epistle to the Galatians has frequently been termed, "Christianity's declaration of independence."
Referring back to Paul's statements regarding knowing "the power of his resurrection," as mentioned above, the following quotation sounds a positive and practical note which will bring this lesson to a close:
"The resurrection is the raising up of the whole man—spirit, soul, and body—into the Christ consciousness of life and wholeness ... Resurrection is accomplished by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit. Every time we rise into the realization of eternal, indwelling life, making union with the Father-Mind, the resurrection of Jesus takes place within us. All thoughts of limitation and inevitable obedience to material law are left to the tomb of materiality ... Today the light of Truth is illumining my mind, and I rise up in the majesty of my divine sonship and proclaim myself to be the child of the Most High, free from all belief in sin, sickness, and death. I affirm: 'In unity with Christ I realize that I am resurrected into the life, light, and power of God.' " (Keep a True Lent 197)
APPENDIX "A": First Epistle to Timothy
Introduction and personal references (I Tim. 1:1-17)
1. Directions regarding Church Organization. (I Tim. 1:18-3:16)
- A personal note (I Tim. 1:18-20)
- Conduct of Public Services (I Tim. 2:1-13)
- Officers of the Church: a. Presiding Elder, or Bishop (I Tim. 3:1-7), b. Deacons (I Tim. 3:8-13), c. Further personal references (I Tim. 3:14-16)
2. Dealing with Internal Problems (I Tim. 4:1-6:10)
- Not to be dismayed by opposition (I Tim.4:1-10)
- Conducting Public Services (I Tim. 4:11-16)
- Maintaining order and discipline—with special reference to "elders," "widows," "slaves" (I Tim. 5:1-24 and I Tim. 6:1-2)
- Teaching instructions (I Tim. 6:3-10)
3. Closing Exhortations to Timothy (I Tim. 6:11-21)
- "Fight the good fight" (I Tim 6:12).
- "Keep the commandment unstained" (I Tim. 6:14).
- "Guard what has been intrusted to you" (I Tim. 6:20).
APPENDIX "B": Epistle to Titus
Salutation, and Blessings. (Tit. 1:1-4)
1. Directions Regarding Organization. (Tit. 1:5-16) (Note similarity to First Timothy.)
- Qualifications for church officials 1:5-9)
- Dealing with unruly members 1:10-16) "Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith."
2. Christian Teaching. (Tit. 2:1-15)
- Special handling of various groups (Tit. 2:1-10) "Show yourself a model ... of good deeds."
- The grace of God, revealed through Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:11-15) "Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority."
3. Christian Conduct. (Tit. 3:1-11)
Submission, obedience, right speech, gentleness, courteousness — "that we might be justified by his grace ... insist on these things ... but avoid stupid controversies."
4. Personal Message to Titus. (Tit. 3:12-15)
"When I send ... come to me at Nicopolis." Greetings and benediction.
APPENDIX "C": Second Epistle to Timothy
Personal Greetings. (II Tim. 1:1-2)
Paul's Charges to Timothy
1. Renew Your Faith and Courage. (II Tim. 1:3-2:7)
- Timothy's inheritance, spiritual gifts (II Tim. 1:3-7)
- Paul's personal example (II Tim. 1:8-14)
- Dealing with opposition (II Tim. 1:15—2:7)
2. Be Well Grounded in Christian Teaching. (II Tim. 2:8-26)
- The faithful sayings (II Tim. 8-13)
- The approved workman (II Tim. 2:14-19)
- The noble vessel (II Tim. 2:20-22)
- What to avoid (II Tim. 2:23-26)
3. Be Prepared for Christian Conflict. (II Tim. 3:1-4:8)
- The approaching times of stress (II Tim. 3:1-9)
- Persecutions in Paul's ministry (II Tim. 3:10-17)
- "Be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry." (II Tim. 4:1-5)
- Paul's impending departure (II Tim. 4:6-8)
4. Final Appeal to Timothy (II Tim. 4:9-22)
- "Come to me soon" (II Tim. 4:9 and 21)
- "Bring the cloak ... books.. . parchments" (IITim.4:13)
- Mention of other helpers (II Tim. 4:19-22)
- Benediction (II Tim. 4:22)
APPENDIX "D": Paul's Epistles Arranged in Chronological Order
First and Second Thessalonians
Written at Corinth, during Paul's second missionary journey, A.D. 50-52.
Written from Antioch, upon Paul's return from his second missionary journey, A.D. 53.
First and Second Corinthians
Written at the close of Paul's third missionary journey. Writing begun at Ephesus, but completed later, near Corinth, A.D. 56.
Epistle to the Romans
Written from Macedonia, in preparation for Paul's projected journey to Rome, A.D. 56.
Epistles of the imprisonment
Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Written during Paul's imprisonment at Rome, A.D. 60-62.
First Epistle to Timothy
Probably written when Paul was about to start upon his final missionary journey, about A.D. 64.
Epistle to Titus
Written toward the close of Paul's final journey when approaching Nicopolis, about A.D. 66.
Second Epistle to Timothy
Written during Paul's final imprisonment at Rome, about A.D. 67. This was Paul's last writing.
Questions for Lesson 8
- It would appear that, following his release from imprisonment at Rome, Paul immediately left the city. Give two possible reasons for the apostle's hurried departure. Be sure to make your answer clear.
- In completing what has been termed his "unfinished business," Paul visited several cities. List these cities in order, and briefly explain (using your own words) what was accomplished at each city. Give Scripture references.
- Explain briefly why Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy. Mention the important position which Timothy held at Ephesus, and also indicate what special advice was given by Paul at that time. Give Scripture references.
- What was the twofold purpose of Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy? What had happened to Paul at that time? What was Timothy instructed to bring with him? Why was this?
- List, and briefly explain, Paul's important contributions to Christianity.
- What is symbolized by the "unfinished business" activities of Paul? Explain briefly why order is important in all activities of life. If possible, give an illustration from your own experience.
- How would you explain the metaphysical meaning of Paul's final missionary journey? In what way does this differ from thesymbology of Paul's earlier missionary journeys?
- What is indicated metaphysically by the name Timothy? As we seek to shape our life and affairs, what attitudes or activities of Timothy may be regarded as (1) an inspiration? and (2) as a warning?
- Metaphysically interpreted, what is represented by Titus? Explain how this metaphysical meaning was exemplified in the life and activities of Titus. What must be our attitude of mind if we are to become "ambassadors for Christ"?
- Scripture states that Paul sought to know "the power of his resurrection" (Phil. 3:10). Explain briefly the meaning of the word resurrection. How and when is this resurrection to be attained? May we also attain this spiritual experience?
Source URL: https://www.truthunity.net/books/herbert-hunt-a-study-of-the-new-testament-2-the-finished-course