Tag Archives: Apostle Paul

“Emulate those whose constant confidence and boast is in Christ Jesus and in nothing else” by D.A. Carson

“In the flow of the chapter, then, Paul makes these points, at least in part, to insist that the Philippian believers emulate those whose constant confidence and boast is in Christ Jesus and in nothing else.

Most who read these pages, I suspect, will not be greatly tempted to boast about their Jewish ancestry and ancient rights of race and religious heritage.

But we may be tempted to brag about still less important things: our wealth, our status, our education, our emotional stability, our families, our political or business successes, our denominational alignments, or even about which version of the Bible we use.

Be careful of people like that.

They tend to regard everyone who is outside their little group as somehow inferior. Somewhere along the way they inadvertently—or even intentionally and maliciously—imagine that faith in Christ Jesus and delight in Him is a little less important than their personal accomplishments.

Instead, look around for those whose constant confidence is Jesus Christ, whose constant boast is Jesus Christ, whose constant delight is Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the center of their worship, the center of their gratitude, the center of their love, the center of their hope.

After that, doubtless we shall sometimes need to argue about relatively peripheral matters. But in the first instance, emulate those whose constant confidence and boast is in Christ Jesus and in nothing else.”

–D.A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 86.

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“Heaven is not heaven without Christ” by Richard Sibbes

Question: Why doth Paul not say, I desire to be in heaven?

Answer: Because heaven is not heaven without Christ. It is better to be in any place with Christ than to be in heaven itself without Him.

All delicacies without Christ are but as a funeral banquet. Where the master of the feast is away, there is nothing but solemnness.

What is all without Christ? I say the joys of heaven are not the joys of heaven without Christ; He is the very heaven of heaven.”

–Richard Sibbes, “Christ Is Best,” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1638/2001), 1: 339.

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“For to me to live is Christ” by John Eadie

“Christ, says the Apostle, shall be magnified in my body by life, ‘for to me to live is Christ.’ Christ and life were one and the same thing to him.

Might not the sentiment be thus expanded? For me to live is Christ:

—the preaching of Christ the business of my life
—the presence of Christ the cheer of my life
—the image of Christ the crown of my life
—the Spirit of Christ the life of my life
—the love of Christ the power of my life
—the will of Christ the law of my life
—and the glory of Christ the end of my life.

Christ was the absorbing element of his life. If he travelled, it was on Christ’s errand; if he suffered, it was in Christ’s service. When he spoke, his theme was Christ; and when he wrote, Christ filled his letters…

And when did the Apostle utter this sentiment? It was not as he rose from the earth, dazzled into blindness by the Redeemer’s glory, and the words of the first commission were ringing in his ears.

It was not in Damascus, while, as the scales fell from his sight, he recognized the Lord’s goodness and power, and his baptism proclaimed his formal admission to the church.

Nor was it in Arabia, where supernatural wisdom so fully unfolded to him the facts and truths which he was uniformly to proclaim. It sprang not from any momentary elation as at Cyprus, where he confounded the sorcerer, and converted the Roman proconsul.

No, the resolution was written at Rome in bonds, and after years of unparalleled toil and suffering. His past career had been signalized by stripes, imprisonment, deaths, shipwreck, and unnumbered perils, but he did not regret them.

He had been ‘in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness,’ but his ardour was unchilled; and let him only be freed, and his life prolonged, and his motto still would be—’For me to live is Christ.’

It did not repent the venerable confessor now, when he was old, infirm, and a prisoner, with a terrible doom suspended over him, that he had done so much, travelled so much, spoken so much, and suffered so much for Christ.

Nor was the statement like a suspicious vow in a scene of danger, which is too often wrung from cowardice, and held up as a bribe to the Great Preserver, but forgotten when the crisis passes, and he who made it laughs at his own timidity.

No. It was no new course the Apostle proposed—it was only a continuation of those previous habits which his bondage had for a season interrupted. Could there be increase to a zeal that had never flagged, or could those labours be multiplied which had filled every moment and called out every energy?

In fine, the saying was no idle boast, like that of Peter at the Last Supper—the flash of a sudden enthusiasm so soon to be drowned in tears. For the apostle had the warrant of a long career to justify his assertion, and who can doubt that he would have verified it, and nobly shown that still, as hitherto, for him to live was Christ?

He sighed not under the burden, as if age needed repose; or sank into self-complacency, as if he had done enough, for the Lord’s commission was still upon him, and the wants of the world were so numerous and pressing, as to claim his last word, and urge his last step.

It was such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ, who placed on record the memorable clause, inscribed also on his heart—’for me to live is Christ.'”

–John Eadie, A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians (ed. W. Young; Second Edition.; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1884), 51–51-52.

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“Profound humility should always be ours” by John Murray

“It would be culpable beyond words to close this preface without making the acknowledgment that is supreme. The epistle to the Romans is God’s Word. Its theme is the gospel of His grace, and the gospel bespeaks the marvels of His condescension and love.

If we are not overwhelmed by the glory of that gospel and ushered into the holy of holies of God’s presence, we have missed the grand purpose of this sacred deposit. And it is only because the God of grace has put treasure in earthen vessels that we men have been given the task and privilege of undertaking exposition.

If any success has attended this effort it is only of the grace of the Holy Spirit by whose inspiration the epistle was written and by whose illumination the church has been led in the interpretation of it.

Profound humility should always be ours. The excellency of the power is of God and not of us and to Him alone be all praise and glory.”

–John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968), 1: xi.

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“Work hard at the passing on of the gospel” by D.A. Carson

“Work hard at the passing on of the gospel. As you know as well as I, there were no chapter breaks or verse breaks when these manuscripts were first written, so the end of chapter 1 runs smoothly into the beginning of chapter 2.

‘You, then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.’

In other words, in the light of the flow from the end of chapter 1, the way you preserve the pattern of sound teaching, the way you guard the gospel, the way you elevate the good news of Jesus Christ is not simply by going in an isolated fashion to a defensive posture but precisely by training a new generation.

In other words, one of the ways you preserve the gospel is precisely by finding another generation to tap them on the shoulder and becoming a mentor to them so they themselves learn the gospel well.

Otherwise, no matter how faithful you are, the most you have done is preserved it while you’re still alive. Which means your vision is small.

So one of the responsibilities, in other words, of any generation of Christian leader is precisely to preserve the pattern of sound teaching, to preserve the gospel, to glory in it, to teach it, to evangelize, to establish believers in it and be willing to suffer for it precisely by mentoring a whole new generation coming along behind who themselves prove to be reliable men who will be able and qualified to teach others.”

–D. A. Carson, “Motivation for Ministry,” in D. A. Carson Sermon Library (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2016), 2 Ti 1:1–2:2.

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“The one doctrine which I have supremely at heart” by Martin Luther

“I myself can hardly believe I was as verbose when I lectured on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, as this volume indicates. But since I recognise as mine all the thoughts which the brethren have taken such pains to set down in it, I am forced to admit that I said as much and perhaps even more.

For the one doctrine which I have supremely at heart, is that of faith in Christ, from Whom, through Whom and unto Whom all my theological thinking flows back and forth day and night.

Not that I find I have grasped anything of a wisdom so high, so broad and so profound, beyond a few meagre rudiments and fragments; and I am ashamed that my poor, uninspired comments on so great an Apostle and chosen instrument of God should be published.

Yet I am compelled to forget my shame and be quite shameless in view of the horrible profanation and abomination which have always raged in the Church of God, and still rage to-day, against this one solid rock which we call the doctrine of justification.

I mean the doctrine that we are redeemed from sin, death and the devil, and made partakers of eternal life, not by ourselves (and certainly not by our works, which are less than ourselves), but by the help of another, the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.”

–Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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“Practice what you preach” by John Calvin

“Now the main thing in a preacher should be that he may speak, not with his mouth merely, but by his life, and procure authority for his doctrine by rectitude of life. Paul, accordingly, procures authority for his exhortation on this ground, that he had, by his life no less than by his mouth, been a leader and a master of virtues.”

–John Calvin, commenting on Philippians 4:9 in Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians, trans. William Pringle (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 122.

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