Scripture Notes.



Philippians 3:10.

The meaning of "being made conformable unto His death" is clearly seen from the context. Strictly speaking, the commencement of verse 10 is connected with "Christ Jesus my Lord" in verse 8, the words between being in some sort a parenthesis. The apostle says, "Yea doubtless, and I count" (not only counted in the past, but still do count) "all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." And then, after setting before us that he had suffered the loss of all things for the sake of a glorified Christ, and that now he desired only to have Christ as his gain, in contrast with those things which had constituted his gain as a Jew in the flesh, and "to be found in Him," etc., he proceeds, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death." Verse 9 goes on to the future, in accordance with the truth of the epistle in which salvation is always looked upon as completed at the coming of the Lord; whereas verse 10 gives us the apostle's desires in view of His path through this world. First then it is, "That I may know Him" - know Him, that is, in the place where He now is; and this knowledge will ever increase with growing intimacy, and thus is never attained, that is to say, perfectly attained. We know Christ now, but we desire to know Him more fully; and thus it is still all our aim, with Paul, to know Him. Next, "And the power of His resurrection." By death with Christ we are detached from this scene; by being raised with Him we are carried up into the sphere where He now is. (Compare Col. 3:1-3.) The power of His resurrection is that which draws us up, in virtue of having Him as our life in resurrection, into our new place before God; so that our minds are on things above, and not on things of the earth; for we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God. "The fellowship of His sufferings" is the next thing, as a necessary consequence; for when we live in the power of the life which we have in Christ risen, we must suffer in our measure in passing through this world, as Christ suffered. But these sufferings of Christ went on to, and included, death; for as suffering from the hands of man, He died a martyr. (Compare Heb. 12:3-4.) Hence it is that the apostle adds, "Being made conformable to His death;" for he had been made willing to die, like his Master, a martyr's death, in view of the glorious prospect of resurrection from among the dead. This is the only sense in which being made conformable to the death of Christ is found; and only those therefore who have been put to death, as Stephen was for example, in the character of witnesses for Christ, have been permitted to enjoy this privilege and blessedness.


2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:17.

The two very similar expressions - "prepared unto every good work," and "throughly furnished unto all good works" (or, unto every good work) - are, in their combination, very instructive. In the first we have the essential qualification for being serviceable for the Master's use. If a man "purge himself out from among" the vessels to dishonour, then he shall be a vessel to honour, ready to the Master's hand; for he is sanctified, apart from all that would defile  - and be a dishonour to the Lord's name, and, as such, meet for whatever service the Master may require. In the second expression our attention is directed not so much to the state, as to the equipment, for service. Paul thus exhorts Timothy in the midst of the evils and errors that had sprung up, and that would increase, in the midst of professing Christianity, the great house, to continue in the things he had learned, and had been assured of, knowing that they were inspired communications which he had received from the apostles. He also reminds Timothy that he had from a child known the written word of God (in this case the Old Testament Scriptures) which was able to make him wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. This led him to state the character of all Scripture - that it was inspired, and was profitable for doctrine (teaching), for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, "throughly furnished unto every good work." The meaning of "perfect" and "throughly furnished" will aid us to apprehend the force of the apostle's statement. The word perfect, then, only found in this place, might be rendered "complete," "suitable," or "exactly fitted;" while "throughly furnished" - only used twice - might be given as "fully equipped." The first of the passages, therefore, points out rather what is the personal state requisite for service, whereas the second teaches that divine knowledge, and divine knowledge gained from the Scriptures, is also needed to furnish or equip us for every good work. This should ever be borne in mind; and we see a perfect illustration of it in the temptation of our blessed Lord. Absolutely holy, He did not encounter Satan with His holiness, but with the word of God. So also in Ephesians 6, after all the armour, expressive of state of soul, is given, there is added the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. If, therefore, we desire to be used of the Lord we should seek first to be separate from evil, and, moreover, to have acquaintance with His mind as revealed in the word of God, our own hearts and consciences being already under its power. We shall then be both "prepared" and "throughly furnished" unto every good work.


2 Timothy 4:10.

Three times Demas is mentioned by the apostle. In Colossians he writes, "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you." (Col. 4:14.) In Philemon he terms him, in company with Marcus, Aristarchus, and Lucas, as a "fellow-labourer;" and in 2 Timothy he has to say, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (age). Nothing can be more sad than this closing notice of one who had been identified with such a vessel of testimony as the apostle Paul. The final break with Paul might have been sudden, but we may be sure that he had been long before in a backslidden state of soul. The very way, indeed, in which he is mentioned in Colossians, after Luke, the beloved physician, would seem to indicate that Paul was not ignorant of his condition. An open failure is always preceded by a gradual decline of spiritual life and energy. It is thus the Lord deals with His people. If they have grown cold, and are turned aside in heart from His ways, He permits them sooner or later to be tested, that their state may be discovered. This was the case with Demas. His heart had long been upon the present age, and the captivity of Paul and the consequent "afflictions of the gospel" were but the occasion of its manifestation. A time of persecution is always a time of searching, and Demas could no longer conceal his condition, and he therefore forsook the apostle - the Lord's prisoner - and followed his heart into the world. He might have been a real Christian, not merely a professor, but, lacking courage, he lost the opportunity of fidelity to the testimony at such a solemn crisis, and surrendered himself to the influences of the age, all of which were antagonistic to the truth, and to the devoted servant to whom the truth had been committed.

The "age," as distinguished from the world, has generally a moral signification, and is expressive of the sum of the influences that are at work around us in the world at any given moment; and it is precisely these influences that constitute the danger of God's people, and to which so many, like Demas, succumb, and "make shipwreck" of their testimony. It is on this very account that the apostle writes, "Be not conformed to this age." (Romans 12.) E. D.