Tuesday, 15 May 2018
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 2 Timothy 4:17
Paul had just stated that during his first defense, “no one stood with me.” Now he qualifies that. Nobody was there to physically be present with him, but he knew that the Lord was there. As he says, “the Lord stood with me.” The idea of standing speaks of the presentation of his defense, where the accused would stand and speak. Though nobody else rose to stand and speak with him or for him, the Lord was there. This was a promise given by Jesus to His disciples –
“But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11
Paul certainly knew these words of the Lord, and he trusted it was so. What was given to him were the words of the Holy Spirit which were being relayed through him. Thus, Paul next says, “and strengthened me.” The word used is the root of our modern word “dynamo.” Paul was imparted the ability to withstand the trail, and he was empowered to see it through to the glory of God. This was “so that the message might be preached fully through me.”
The word chosen here in this case signifies God’s power to bring the believer to maximum potential. As Paul spoke also to unbelievers, it was a word sufficient to relay to them the fullness of what is needed to know and accept the gospel for salvation. The Lord personally used Paul as His mouthpiece to accomplish this, and the purpose was “that all the Gentiles might hear.”
There were Jews there testifying against Paul. They knew his message, and they had decided against the truth of the gospel. But Paul, being the apostle to the Gentiles, was ready at all times to not only try to convince his brothers according to the flesh (meaning the Jews), but also the Gentiles. He spoke to the highest ruling council in the Roman empire words of life and words of salvation. All heard, and all had the choice to accept or reject what they heard. Paul simply acted as the messenger of this gospel message.
Finally, he notes, “Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” Here we have a theme coming from Scripture itself, and one which Timothy would have been well aware of. Daniel was delivered from the mouth of the lions because of his faithfulness before God. Further, David wrote these words in the 22nd Psalm, a messianic psalm –
“Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me.” Psalm 22:20, 21
The word “deliver” in verse 20 of the Greek translation of the psalm is used by Paul, and then the words “out (the) mouth of (the) lion,” are the exact words used in verse 21. Scholars have sought to identify who “the lion” is that Paul refers to. Some say it is Satan, some Emperor Nero before whom he stood, while others say that it was the amphitheater where Paul stood before Nero, thus being inclusive of all who sat during his trial.
However, it seems unlikely that he is setting a defined limit of reference. Rather, he is speaking of all of them, and all other times he was faced with possible doom. In other words, the singular is given as an all-encompassing statement that God had delivered him from the lion of opposition in any and all forms by which he attacks.
Life application: Mark 13:11 is cited above. Please understand the context of the words, and know that though we are Christians, it does not necessarily follow through that the words of Jesus there apply to us. He was speaking of his disciples who were going to face troubles and trials, and who would need the words appropriate to those instances. Today, we have the word of God in its fullness. It is breathed out, and it is what we are to use. The Holy Spirit has spoken, and now we are to use what He has transmitted through His chosen apostles, to make our defense before God.
Lord God, Your word is complete, and with it we have all we need to stand in defense of Your will for us. Help us to remember to use this precious gift from You as we speak to others about what Christ Jesus has done, and about the saving message which is found there for all of the world’s people. It is Your word, and it is sufficient. Thank You that we possess this marvelous treasure! Amen.