« ForrigeFortsæt »
John xiv. 2. Piety fits for both worlds ; labour here, life above. It honours both worlds; it is worth living for, even in the world, to be good and do good ; it is worth dying for, “ to be with Christ."
THE PRISONER'S ANXIETY.-V. 2530. Paul looked a long way, saw a great deal, and felt much in that prison-dwelling. He gazed across the Adriatic to the Churches of Greece, at Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, to Ephesus, Colosse and Galatia. He saw many faces ; Lydia, the jailer, the elders with whom he had prayed at Miletus. He felt much; “ the care of all the Churches
came upon him like a burden daily. What was he anxious about? Whether they remembered him or not? Whether they were growing rich or not? No. He was anxious about their Christian godliness, ver. 27. They were citizens of heaven. Jesus Christ was their King. His Gospel was their law. He wanted them_to speak and act accordingly. An Englishman in India, China, Canada, anywhere, should never disgrace his name: neither should a Christian. But some of whom he
thought were perhaps as badly off as he was himself. News had reached him that some of the Christians at Philippi were so, ver. 30. They had seen him cast into prison: now their sons, brothers, fathers were suffering n the same way. Paul, the prisoner, writes about and to these prisoners. He tells them what he thinks: to suffer for Christ is the greatest honour, ver. 29. The bravest officer is put in command of the forlorn hope. The most trustworthy regiment is put in front of the battle. Jesus puts His best servants to suffer for Him. Begin with being brave. By the trials of youth, Jesus is seeing what kind of soldiers you will make. Do not murmur at hardship : 66 count it all honour"
when it falls to your lot. Jesus is putting His trust upon you.
QUESTIONS.—How had Paul's imprisonment fallen out for the furtherance of the Gospel ? What is meant by his bonds being made manifest? What troubled him in his ministry? How did he extract comfort from it? What is meant by “in a strait betwixt two"? What was his chief anxiety about his distant converts ? How did he comfort those amongst them who were persecuted ?
DECEMBER 20.-_"ONESIMUS, WHOM I HAVE BEGOTTEN IN MY BONDS.'
For repetition, verses 18, 19.
INTRODUCTION.-In our last Lesson loved him. When or where we do not We saw what were Paul's feelings during know, but he had been a fellowhis imprisonment, and how his work labourer with the Apostle; perhaps was blessed in the city of Rome. Our
while Paul was busy for two years at present Lesson has to do with an incident in that work. In the Epistle to Philemon,
Ephesus, (Acts xix. 10,) Philemon went the Apostle narrates the circumstance
out to Colosse and other places on himself, in which he was
He had the so much
missionary excursions. interested that he wrote this short letter
marks of a true Christian, love and with his own hand, (ver. 19,) an un
faith, ver. 5. He was particularly common occurrence as he generally hospitable and loving to his brethren employed some one to write for him, in Christ, ver. 7. This beautiful Rom. xvi. 22. The story is about a Christian character had sprung up run-away slave called Onesimus.
from his conversion, and for this,
under God, he was indebted to St. THE MASTER OF THE SLAVE.—V. 1 Paul, ver. 19. So much for the ma --7. Where did he live? Apparently then for his household : Apphia is the at Colosse, a city not far from Ephesus, name of a lady; she, probably, was Col. iv. 9. What kind of a man was Philemon's wife. Archippus was a he? It is gh to say that Paul relative, for he is saluted with the
family, perhaps a son; and he, too, is
the love could not show a Christian, a Christian who had been itself in service. Not so in relation called to endure “hardness” and op- to Philemon; the brother Onesimus position, for Paul calls him a fellow- would do good service in the flesh, soldier, see also 2 Tim. ü. 3. The in- whilst he showed his fidelity to the fluence of such a family would be great, Lord. Such were Paul's arguments, and hence we learn that a portion of grounded upon the conversion of the Colossian believers were wont to Onesimus. Others more tender were assemble in the dwelling of Philemon founded upon
his own relationship to for worship and edification. There Philemon. He will not as an Apostle was a church in his house.
command, (ver. 9,) he will entreat as a
friend; once vigorous, now aged; THE SLAVE.-His name was Onesimus, once free, now bound. He appeals to and as there are several references to a delicate sense of honour, ver. 13, 14: it in the letter, we must remember its Paul might have kept Onesimus at meaning, “ a profitable man,” How Rome and written to Philemon and had he come to Rome? He had run told him; but Philemon might then away, and before doing so, had robbed have said, “I cannot help myself, his master, ver. 18. Rome, like Lon- Paul has compelled me to let him don, was the hiding-place of vagabonds have my run-away." Paul will not of all sorts. How was his conversion compel, but trusts Philemon's free brought about ? Perhaps Paul oc- affection. Then as to the wrong casionally got away from his “hired which Onesimus might have done, see house," and with his soldier-guard, with what independence the Apostle visited the lower quarters of the city, writes, ver. 18, 19. But all that and there met with the run-away. It Philemon held dearest, his soul-life is more probable, however, that and future life, he owed to the Apostle! Onesimus, who would be familiar with Hitherto he has only asked for the the name of Paul in the house of his slave to be received again; but at the master, and perhaps with Paul him- close of appeals so tender, he hints at self, having heard of the strange something more, ver. 21, “thou wilt preaching prisoner at the Prætorium, also do more than I say.” What could went there out of curiosity, or from that be ? Make Onesimus free. The a purer motive, a desire to get right letter concludes with salutations, from and be right for the rest of his life. which we learn who were Paul's There the grace of God found him; he companions at Rome, and with the was converted under Paul's preaching, expression of a hope that he would and therefore the Apostle calls the yet be set at liberty. slave his son, ver. 10. Upon his conversion he gave himself up to serve REFLECTIONS.—1. True religion has a the Apostle, as an attendant on his beneficial effect on character and position comfort and co-worker in the Gospel ; of every kind.-Note this in the persons and made himself so valuable that mentioned in this Epistle. Paul would fain have kept him. But 2. Philemon.–Probably a rich man; the Apostle would not violate the but the grace of God has implanted rights of a master over his slave, as within his heart a sense of duty and then existing, so sends Onesimus back a sensitiveness of affection to which again,
the Apostle confidently appeals. THE APOSTLE'S REQUEST FOR THE 3. Paul.-What deep affection to a SLAVE. — Paul asks that Onesimus poor slave in the once proud Pharisee! may be received back again, thou What high principle in dealing with therefore receive him ; without anger, Philemon's legal rights ! What tenwithout punishment. He reminds derness in appealing to his love! Philemon that the unprofitable had 4. Onesimus.—The “unprofitable” become profitable.
Onesimus becomes “profitable." He will go Onesimus at last. The slave's position, back to slavery and perhaps punishtoo, was changed; he was now a fellow. ment, rather than let an old sin appear believer, ver. 16. The converted slave without repentance and restitution. was brother to the Apostle, but he 5. The Apostle's friends, ver. 23, 24.
- Christian love makes self-denying friendship.
What kind of a household was his? What is the meaning of “Onesimus”? What had been the slave's history? Why did Paul send him back again? What did Paul request on his behalf? Did he not hint at something more? what? What arguments did he employ? Who were his companions in Rome?
QUESTIONS.—What is the peculiar interest of the present Lesson? What had been the former connection between Paul and Philemon ?
DECEMBER 27.- -A LAST LOOK AT THE APOSTLE.
2 Timothy iv. 6—22.
For repetition, verses 6, 7.
INTRODUCTION. Some years have
advocates, barristers, witnesses and elapsed since the events of our last Lesson.
prisoners. The people had access to Being set at liberty, the Apostle appears to have left Rome for Macedonia, Phil.
the rest of the nave and the galleries.
St. Paul's words, all the Gentiles, imply ii. 24 ; and Asia Minor, Philemon 22. Perhaps then he returned through Rome
that on this occasion these spaces to Spain, thence to Ephesus again. He
were crowded. If the trial had been was again arrested towards the close of before Nero in person, this would have Nero's
reign, and suffered martyrdom in been mentioned. No man stood with me, A.D. 68. The teacher should consult
-no advocate to speak for him ; no Conybeare and Howson's work for the
attorney to put his case into legal arguments upon which these conclusions
form ; no patron or friend to testify to rest, or Smith's “Bible Dictionary.” In
his character or entreat a mitigation of the treatment of the present Lesson, the
his sentence. Fear, not malice, kept order of fact is followed rather than the order of the verses. The first appearance
all away. Strange vigour touched his before his judges must have precedence,
soul, the Lord. strengthened me. ver. 16, 17; personal references to friends Compare Rom. iv. 20; Ephes. vi. 10. and foes next, ver. 94-15; then farewell A mere defence passed into a long and messages, ver. 19-22; and then literally powerful address on the Gospel of the last look :” Paul's attitude of Christ. Allthe Gentiles,—who crowded soul in the certain prospect of martyr- the court-house, heard. The assessors dom.
advised an acquittal on the first count: THE FIRST DEFENCE.—V. 16, 17. the magistrate pronounced it, and Paul “ Christian” had become a hated name was delivered out of the mouth of the in Rome since Paul was a prisoner in lion,—from the power of Nero; from the Prætorium. The city had suffered death by the wild-beasts ; from Satan, from a great conflagration, the blame who triumphs over fearful and unof which had been thrown upon the faithful souls, 1 Peter v. 8. Christians, though it had probably been FRIENDS AND FOES.–V.9–15. The kindled by Nero. Large numbers of Apostle appears to have been hopeful them had been burnt, others had been that his second trial might not occur thrown to the lions. The charge for some time. He longs for sympathy of arson was probably the first of many and support, and who can afford these laid against the Apostle, and the so well as his “ own son in the faith”? excitement in the city being still very Timothy is busy as an itinerant bishop great, the court-house was very crowded. in the provinces of Asia Minor, and This building was very like a church in Paul requests him to make speedy and its arrangements, consisting of a nave definite arrangements to join him in and two side aisles, with galleries above Rome. Demasishonourably mentioned, them. At one end of the nave, a space Col. iv. 14; Philemon 24. He loved was railed off for persons immediately this present world : ease, safety, concerned in the trial: the magistrate, pleasure, rather than Christ's cross and his assessors or legal advisers ; crown. Mark furnishes a pleasing
contrast to Demas: he accompanied ings? He knows his danger: his Paul and Barnabas on their first death is all but come. His life throughmissionary journey, Acts xii. 25; but out has been poured out for Christ's departed from them, apparently through work; it has now come to the last few fear of the hardships of their work, drops. But death is for him only a Acts xv. 38; and on that account Paul “ departure.”. He dies “a good soldier declined to have him a second time as of Jesus Christ,” 2 Tim. iv. 7. A their companion, Acts xv. 39. Yet he long life and a hard one has been his ; was with Paul during his first imprison- but he has got to the last few yards ment, Col. iv. 10; and now Paul desires of the course and is near the goal: to have him again. So the timid young “I have finished my course."
The man had grown into the hardy soldier. standard-bearerfalleth, butthestandard Paul had allowed his fellow-labourers
is in his grasp.
The faith put into to depart to different scenes of toil, for his heart on the way to Damascus is he loved the Church's welfare more still safe within that casket. What than his own comfort. Only Luke is remains but the crown ? Jesus is left; the “ beloved physician
“not unrighteous to forget such steadfast friend; with Paul on his “work of faith, and labour of love." second journey, (Acts xvi. 10;) on his So the dying hero knows that “absent third, (xx. 6;) at Jerusalem, (xxi. 15;) from the body,” he will “be present during the captivity at Cæsarea, (xxiii. with the Lord” and that “at that 23—xxvii. 1;) during the first im- day,” the day of the Lord's final prisonment at Rome, (xxviii. 16;) and coming, there will be for him, “ Come, still with the Apostle. Three things thou blessed of My Father: he will the Apostle desires Timothy to bring : have a crown. He did not long wait what? The cloke, - a long, thick, for it, being martyred by the axe in sleeveless garment. Paul's imprison, the summer of A.D. 68. ment now was apparently severe, and he looked forward to the winter, ver.
REFLECTIONS. -1. The Christian has 21. The books would be written
power over circumstances most adverse. on papyrus; the parchments are, by
-Consider Paul. Jesus strengthens. some, supposed to have been legal
2. Demas; Mark; Luke. A good documents which might be required on
beginning with a melancholy close ; the second trial. The Alexander here
a life marked with early weakness, mentioned is probably the same as the
recovered to a worthy finish; a life person mentioned i Tim. i. 20, whom
steadfast throughout. Paul had excommunicated from the
3. “ This present world.”. -Ease, Church. Malice, therefore, would have
safety, pleasure, are only for the much to do with his present opposition
present. Beware of the current that to the Apostle.
carried Demas away. FAREWELL GREETINGS.-V. 19–22.
4. Remember the crown, even from These are interesting because they show
the beginning of the race. that after Paul's trial, the timid disciples had found heart again, and were gathering round the Apostle with
QUESTIONS.—What events have transpired
since our last Lesson ? How had the Church renewed affection.
at Rome fared during this time? What would THE LAST LOOK.-V. 6—8. The
probably be the mode of Paul's trial? What record of the trial; the work of the made his position peculiarly painful? Whence co-labourers; the messages of love,
did he obtain power ? What form did his
defence take? What was the issue? What do all finished. We have the Apostle by
you know of Demas, Mark, Luke, Alexander ? himself. The winter will never come What articles did Paul want? why? How to him. Timothy and Mark will never does it appear that the timid Christians had see him again. Ere the summer passes,
once more gathered round the Apostle? What
makes the expressions in ver. 6–8 very history says not how, he will have
solemn ? What metaphors are employed in become a martyr. What are his feel- them?
J. ROCHE, PRINTER, 25, HOXTON-SQUARE, LONDON.