Monday, 12 October 2015
And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches,…
2 Corinthians 8:18
Again Paul writes in the epistolary aorist style, stating that “we have sent” even though he is still writing the letter. When they receive the letter, they will also have with them “the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches.” It is rather unusual that the brother is not named. Paul seems to rejoice over giving credit, right in his letters, for those who are willing to work for the sake of the gospel.
Scholars debate who this person is and the majority of them turn to Luke as the most likely. Others have suggested Titus’ brother, Silas, Barnabas, Mark, and Epaenetus. Some of those have been adamantly excluded by other scholars. In reasoning why Luke is the correct choice, long notes of explanation are given. None of these names can be ascertained with certainty and some of them make dubious connections.
One reason for selecting Luke is the phrase “in the gospel.” As he was the author of one of the four gospels, the connection is made that he is being spoken of. But it is also generally understood that at this point, the term “gospel” did not refer to the written accounts we now call the “four gospels.” Instead, it was a term speaking of the general plan of salvation spoken by those who spread it.
Vincent’s Word Studies gives an impressive possibility for who is being referred to. They base it on “a supposed play upon the word praise, epainos; Epaenetus meaning praiseworthy.” Paul makes use of the same type of wordplay in the book of Philemon where Onesimus is called “profitable” which is exactly what his name means. This is seen in Philemon 1:10, 11 –
“I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.”
Whoever it was that Paul sent along with Titus, he was a proper choice because of his praise “in the gospel” which permeated all the churches.
Life application: There are various mysteries in the Bible which can only be speculated on, but these also can help us to stretch our minds and possibly make other conclusions that may never have been made. It is good to not be overly zealous in defending that which cannot be defended, but there is nothing wrong with doing our best to try to explain these hidden mysteries.
Lord God, I know that I will stand before You in judgment some day. It is my goal to be prepared for that day. I can only think that a Christian life that is lived without wanting to know Your word more and more each day is a life which has wasted what is of the highest value. We can’t know Your heart without knowing Your word. We can’t grasp who Jesus truly is without it either. And we can’t know You if we don’t know these things. Grant me a heart to place Your word where it truly belongs – high on my list of daily duties. Help me to know Your superior word. Amen.