Category Archives: Daily Devotional Guide

May 26 Receiving Christ’s Word (Thaddaeus)

The twelve apostles included “Thaddaeus” (Matt. 10:3).

✧✧✧

If you love Christ, you will receive His Word and obey it.

Radio signals are fascinating. At any given moment every room in your house is filled with voices, music, and numerous other sounds; yet you can’t hear them unless your radio is tuned to their frequency. That’s a modern parallel to a spiritual truth Jesus taught in John 14:21: “He who has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.” In effect Jesus was saying, “I reveal Myself to those who love Me—those whose spiritual receivers are tuned to My frequency. They receive My Word and obey it.”

In the Biblical record Thaddaeus is a man of few words. His question in John 14:22 is the only thing he ever said that is recorded in Scripture. It was prompted by his perplexity over Jesus’ statement in verse 21 to disclose Himself only to those who love Him. Thaddaeus asked, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

Thaddaeus didn’t understand Christ’s statement because it wasn’t consistent with his concept of the Messiah. Like the other disciples, he expected Jesus imminently to vanquish Roman oppression, free God’s people, and establish an earthly kingdom wherein He would sit on the throne of David, reigning as Lord and Savior. How could He do that without revealing who He was to everyone?

In verse 23 Jesus responds by reiterating that only those who love Him will be able to perceive Him, and they are the ones within whom He and the Father would dwell.

That brief conversation between the Lord and Thaddaeus addresses the very heart of Christianity. It isn’t those who say they love God who are true believers, but those who receive Christ and obey His Word. As Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (v. 23).

Does obedience to the Word characterize your life? I pray it does. Remember, your obedience to Christ is the measure of your love for Him.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His Word, by which the Spirit instructs you and empowers you to live an obedient life.

For Further Study: Read John 8:31–47. ✧ To whom was Jesus speaking? ✧ Why were they seeking to kill Him? ✧ How did Jesus characterize the Devil?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 159). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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MAY 26 MAN’S VIEW OF THIS WORLD

Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

If you have ever given much thought to this present world in which we live, you have some idea of the power of interpretation. The world is a stable fact, quite unchanged by the passing of years, but how different is modern man’s view of the world from the view our fathers held.

The world is for all of us not only what it is; it is what we believe it to be, and a tremendous load of weal or woe rides on the soundness of our interpretation!

In the earlier days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men conceded this world to be a battleground. Man, so our fathers held, had to choose sides. He could not be neutral—for him it must be life or death, heaven or hell!

In our day, the interpretation has changed completely. We are not here to fight, but to frolic! We are not in a hostile foreign land; we are at home! It now becomes the bounden duty of every Christian to reexamine his spiritual philosophy in the light of the Bible. So much depends on this that we cannot afford to be careless about it!

Lord, with Joshua I say to You today, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

May 26, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Evidence of Reconciliation

if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. (1:23)

One of the most sobering truths in the Bible is that not all who profess to be Christians are in fact saved. Our Lord warned, “ ‘Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” ’ ” (Matt. 7:22–23).

Of all the marks of a genuine Christian presented in Scripture, none is more significant than the one Paul mentions here. People give evidence of being truly reconciled when they continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast. The Bible repeatedly testifies that those who are truly reconciled will continue in the faith. In the parable of the soils, Jesus described those represented by the rocky soil as “ ‘those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away’ ” (Luke 8:13). By falling away they gave evidence that they were never truly saved. In John 8:31, “Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.’ ” Speaking of apostates, the apostle John writes in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.”

After hearing some difficult and challenging teaching from Him, many of Jesus’ so-called disciples “withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore” (John 6:66). By so doing, they gave evidence that they had never truly been His disciples. Perseverance is the hallmark of the true saint. (I discuss the issue further in my books The Gospel According to Jesus [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988] and Saved Without a Doubt [Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1992].)

Lest there be any confusion about what they were to continue in, Paul specifies the content of their faith as the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. The Colossians are to hold fast to the apostolic gospel they had heard; the gospel that had been proclaimed throughout the world; the gospel of which Paul was a minister, commissioned to preach. Those who, like the Colossian errorists, preach any other gospel stand cursed before God (Gal. 1:8).

Perhaps no passage stresses the vital importance of reconciliation more than 2 Corinthians 5:17–21:

If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In that powerful text we can discern five truths about reconciliation. First, reconciliation transforms men: “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (v. 17). Second, it appeases God’s wrath: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (v. 21). Third, it comes through Christ: “All these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ” (v. 18). Fourth, it is available to all who believe: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (v. 19). Finally, every believer has been given the ministry of proclaiming the message of reconciliation: God “gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18), and “He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (v. 19).

God sends His people forth as ambassadors into a fallen, lost world, bearing unbelievably good news. People everywhere are hopelessly lost and doomed, cut off from God by sin. But God has provided the means of reconciliation through the death of His Son. Our mission is to plead with people to receive that reconciliation, before it is too late. Paul’s attitude, expressed in verse 20, should mark every Christian: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”[1]


23 Paul does not presuppose, however, that the Colossians’ final spiritual standing before God is a given. The “if [indeed]” (ei ge) with which v. 23 begins interjects a degree of contingency and a note of conditionality. Even if Paul can presently rejoice in the good order and stability of the Colossians’ faith (1:4–5; 2:5), he does not assume that they cannot deviate or be diverted from “the hope held out in the gospel” (cf. 1:28; 4:12). Indeed, a purpose for which Paul wrote Colossians was to warn the congregation of the negative spiritual consequences of supplementing or abandoning their received faith. Paul clearly believed that God would empower and enable the Colossians to stand firm in the gospel (1:11). In Paul’s theological understanding, however, divine provision does not preclude human responsibility. As Moule, 73, puts it, “Christ does for us what we could not do for ourselves; but we must do, for our part, what he will not do for us.”

Paul encourages the Colossians to “continue” (remain or stay) in the faith. The precise connotation of “faith” in this verse is debatable. Is it the Colossians’ personal faith to which Paul is referring (so NIV)? Is it the basic beliefs to which the Colossians and other believers hold? Or is it a both/and rather than an either/or? While I am inclined to construe “faith” here primarily as initial and continual trust in God through Christ (1:4; 2:5, 12), as intimated in the NIV, it would be both unwise and unnecessary to dichotomize the act of faith from the facts of faith. In any event, Paul, like Jesus, regarded the saving faith as the continuing faith (cf. Mt 24:13). Assurance of salvation and perseverance in salvation go hand in hand. Spiritual fidelity and eternal security were closer partners for Paul and his Master than some theologians in the (ultra-) Reformed tradition have acknowledged.

Paul depicts how the Colossians should continue in faith by means of three reinforcing images. First of all, the Colossians are to be firmly established or founded like a well-built edifice. The perfect passive participle tethemeliōmenos (“having been established,” GK 2530) intimates that another is assisting and enabling their spiritual construction. If Paul does not intend a divine passive here, then Epaphras through his direct ministry and/or conceivably even Paul himself through his indirect ministry could be in view. Additionally, the Colossians’ faith is to be “firm” or steadfast. The meaning of the root word on which the adjective hedraios (GK 1612) is built is “to sit.” Paul is encouraging the church “to remain firmly seated on the gospel as … a skillful rider on a spirited horse” (Dunn, 111). Furthermore and finally, Paul cautions the congregation “not [to be] moved away from the hope of the gospel that [they had] heard” (NASB). The term metakinoumenos (“being moved away,” GK 3560) is a present passive participle. At this point we may well encounter the first, if subtle, indication that there are those who would lead the Colossians away from “the hope of the gospel” (cf. 2:4, 8). Christian hope, the eager expectation that God will consummate all things in Christ, is part and parcel of the gospel.

Regarding the gospel, three things are said. First, it is the gospel the Colossians had heard in the past (cf. 1:5–6). Hearing the gospel is vital. Indeed, “faith comes from hearing the message” (Ro 10:17). Moreover the gospel, Paul propounds, was preached “to every creature under heaven.” The universal scope of the gospel spoken of in 1:6 (cf. 1:20) is underscored here. Precisely who preached this gospel and where it was proclaimed do not concern Paul at this point. Paul’s confidence in the going forth of the gospel enables him to speak of the historical future as a theological past. Or as Bruce, 79, remarks: “Paul may be engaging here in prophetic prolepsis.” Regardless, Paul describes himself as a “servant” or minister (diakonos, GK 1356) of the good news (cf. Eph 3:7). Paul viewed himself as a servant of God (2 Co 6:4), the new covenant (2 Co 3:6), and the church (Col 1:25). He did not regard himself, however, as the only one suitable to serve. On the contrary, he acknowledged and appreciated such people as Phoebe (Ro 16:1), Apollos (1 Co 3:5), Tychicus (Col 4:7; cf. Eph 6:21), and Epaphras (Col 1:7) as fellow servants of the model servant, Christ (Ro 15:8; Php 2:7). For Paul, as with Jesus, spiritual success was based on sacrificial service, not on ecclesial standing or social status (cf. esp. Mk 10:43b–45).[2]


faith and hope for sinners (v. 23). Perseverance proves faith’s genuine character and is the fruit of reconciliation: ‘… if you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel’ (v. 23). This fruit is brought to maturity through the use of the means of grace. Men cannot add anything to the power of the blood of Jesus Christ by human effort, but God expects believers to exercise faith and embrace the hope that is found in the gospel. Christians are expected to continue believing in Christ Jesus all the days of their earthly life and to die in the hope of eternal life. There was an attempt in the assembly at Colosse to devalue Christ and deny the true way of salvation, so here Paul sounds a warning against backsliding. Christ is all-sufficient for their needs, and the pre-eminent Saviour (Heb. 7:25). False doctrine will come and winds of change will blow, but they (the Colossians) must remain true to Christ and his gospel. Christ is glorified when his redeemed and reconciled people persevere to the end.[3]


1:23 / Lest his readers entertain any idea that their status in Christ can be treated with indifference, Paul emphatically reminds them of an important condition that needs to be kept in mind: if you continue in your faith, established and firm. Salvation, although a free gift from God, must be kept. Thus those who have received Christ are admonished to abide or to persevere in Christ (John 8:31; 15:4–7; Acts 14:22; Rom. 11:22; 2 John 9).

To counter the threat of their eroding faith and shifting hope, Paul draws upon building metaphors that, as elsewhere in Scripture, portray strength, endurance, and security (Matt. 7:24–27; 1 Cor. 3:10–15; Eph. 2:19–22; 1 Pet. 2:4–10). The recipients can only have such a foundation, established and firm, by following in the faith and hope of the gospel that initially was proclaimed to them as well as to the whole world.

With these themes of faith, hope, and the universality of the gospel, Paul returns full circle to ideas expressed in his opening thanksgiving (1:3–8). There, his concern was that the Colossians see this as evidence for the truth of the gospel; here, he admonishes them to apply this truth to their lives continually.

Paul closes this section by stating that he is related personally to this gospel as a servant (diakonos). By doing this, he shows his commitment to the message that the Colossians have heard as well as his identity with his co-workers Epaphras and Tychicus, who likewise are servants of the gospel (1:7; 4:7). The statement also serves as a transition to the following verses where Paul outlines his ministry to the church.[4]


How you must go on (verse 23)

This verse confirms our understanding of Paul’s meaning. The position the Colossians occupy before God as ‘acceptable people’ depends upon one condition—continuance in the faith. This continuance is then defined as faithfulness to the gospel. The gospel is then defined as:

(i) the gospel they had already heard, i.e. which had already proved itself to be living and powerful;

(ii) the gospel the world was also hearing, i.e. which had already proved itself ‘catholic’ or universal;

(iii) the gospel Paul had received and served, i.e. which had already proved itself to be apostolic.

The duty of the Colossians to this gospel is expressed in fine words, whose precise meaning epitomizes the appeal of the whole Colossian letter.

  1. a. They are to be stable, literally, established or well-founded in the truth. To move from the gospel is to move from the foundations on which Christ has built his church, and therefore to lose Christian ‘stability’.
  2. b. They are to be steadfast. This is the great call of 1 Corinthians 15:58, where apostolic truth was again at stake. It means loyalty to the truths by which they were saved.
  3. c. They are not to shift. A unique New Testament word, it literally means that they are not to be dissuaded from the hope of the gospel. This is extremely significant language, specially characteristic perhaps of the captivity epistles. The chief blessing of the gospel is the hope it contains for the future. Meanwhile, in the present, the church lives by faith. Now we have a ‘taste’ of ‘the powers of the world to come’.7 It may be that the new teachers urged the believers not to be content with this ‘taste’, but to claim from God the full heavenly feast. But this, for Paul, is to ‘shift from the hope’. It is to refuse to walk by faith. It is to bring Christ down to earth. It is to give oneself to ‘another’ gospel.

To continue in the faith is to be content with the gospel that first saved and delivered us from spiritual death and estrangement with God, and brought us straightaway to live in his presence, at peace with him. It is to base our lives and our teaching upon the apostolic doctrines of grace. It is for those whose confidence that they are reconciled is in Christ’s work for us, not in Christ’s work in us. It is to be unmoved and immoveable in the face of strong winds of new doctrine, not just when people would deny the apostolic gospel but when, more subtly, they would improve upon it. For the sixteenth-century Anglican Reformers it was the rediscovery of the ‘finished work’ of Christ on the cross as an atonement for the sins of the world that made the medieval Mass so intolerable to them. From experience they knew that the focus of the worshippers’ attention was on the words and actions of the priest at the altar; there is concrete evidence of this in the new consecration prayer prepared for the Holy Communion service in the Book of Common Prayer. The words of this prayer vigorously turn our attention back to what Christ did by his death at Golgotha, ‘who made there … a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice … for the sins of the whole world’. Notice the emphatic there as opposed to here. Communicants are then invited to listen to what Christ said at the institution of the supper, since it is not the mysteriously powerful words of the priest that matter but rather the words Christ spoke by way of explanation for this remembrance of his passion. It is these words that must reach every listening ear and lodge in every worshipper’s mind and heart.

Today the situation is confused for many Christian people. Frequently one meets ‘catholic’ believers who claim with obvious sincerity that they believe and trust in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for sins. Shall we not say, therefore, that the old misunderstandings have been removed and that all believers can reasonably look forward to meeting with one heart and mind at the Lord’s table? Only if we can all agree that the finality of the sacrifice on the cross is a cardinal tenet of the New Testament, not only here in Colossians (1:20, 22) but also in the letter to the Hebrews where the imagery is very telling. Christ is pictured as having sat down at the right hand of the Father, his work of offering sacrifice completed, while his presence at the place of honour witnesses to the fact that he is (and therefore those that are ‘in him’ are also) now accepted fully, finally and for ever (Heb. 10:1–18).

It must reluctantly be said that this finality is still contradicted by much Catholic principle and practice even since Vatican II. Granted that the Mass is no independent or additional sacrifice, it remains for many a ‘real’ sacrifice, that is, the same sacrifice which Christ offered, though offered now in a different way. But why is this constant ‘renewal’ of Christ’s sacrifice necessary, even if it is offered in a bloodless manner? The official answer remains unchanged, as in paragraph 29 of Paul VI’s encyclical Mysterium Fidei (1965);

Instructed by the Lord and the Apostles, the Church has always offered it not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions and needs of the faithful still alive, but also for those who have died in Christ but are not yet fully cleansed.

Notice carefully the final phrase ‘not yet fully cleansed’. But this full cleansing of all sin is precisely what Christ by his bloody sacrifice has won for his people. This is the glory of the cross (1:27); this is the hope of the gospel from which we may not shift (1:23); from the enjoyment of this ‘freedom from sin’ we cannot allow ourselves to be recaptured by the chains of ‘religion’ (2:8–15). To those with a heart for this spiritual freedom the official Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass remains intolerable still.

Paul’s teaching remains the only road to spiritual ‘assurance’, a much neglected aspect of Christian truth: indeed it has often been regarded as peculiarly evangelical. Writing of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, Georgina Battiscombe says that

No existing record suggests that at any period of his life did Ashley experience that sudden and definite assurance of salvation which is the classic Evangelical conversion. If he in fact ever had such an experience it most probably would have been during his childhood under the influence of Maria Millis.

But sudden or gradual, can there be an intelligent and genuine turning to Christ without ‘that definite assurance of salvation’? Alas, it seems that there can, but only because believers do what Paul here forbids and shift from the hope (i.e. assurance) of the gospel by seeking something more than Christ crucified as the sufficient foundation for their soul’s confidence. Assurance of ultimate salvation is God’s intention for every Christian (1 Jn. 5:13), and, incidentally despite his most recent biographer’s hesitations, Shaftesbury certainly enjoyed it. The celebrated minister of St Peter’s, Dundee, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, wrote these words about such Christian certainty:

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.[5]


1:23. The if of verse 23 should not be misunderstood. This verse is not saying that we will be presented holy and blameless if we remain faithful, as if our eternal salvation depends on our performance. The Greek construction of the if is not an expression of doubt but an expression of confidence and is better translated as since. Paul is not in doubt about whether the Colossians will remain faithful (see Col. 2:5). He is confident that because they have understood what it means to be reconciled they will remain faithful to the gospel that reconciled them. He writes this as an expression of confidence and as a warning to avoid the religious fads of the false teachers of Colosse.[6]


23. Now in connection with this glorious presentation at the Lord’s return a condition must be fulfilled. Hence, Paul continues: if, indeed, you continue in the faith, founded and firm.… Divine preservation always presupposes human perseverance. Perseverance proves faith’s genuine character, and is therefore indispensable to salvation. To be sure, no one can continue in the faith in his own strength (John 15:5). The enabling grace of God is needed from start to finish (Phil. 2:12, 13). This, however, does not cancel human responsibility and activity. Yes, activity, continuous, sustained, strenuous effort (Heb. 12:14). It should be noted, however, that this is distinctly the activity of faith (cf. 1 Tim. 2:15), a faith not in themselves but in God. Thus they will be “founded and firm,” that is, firmly established upon the one and only true foundation, the foundation of the apostles (through their testimony). Of this foundation Christ Jesus is the cornerstone (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20: Rev. 21:14, 19, 20). The conditional clause continues: and are not moved away from the hope that is derived from the gospel which you have heard. Danger was threatening; and it was of a twofold character, as pointed out earlier (see Introduction, III B; IV A). Hence, the apostle by implication is here warning the Colossians against relapse into their former state with all its soul-destroying vices (Col. 3:5–11) and against the “solution” urged upon them by those who refused to recognize Jesus Christ as the complete and all-sufficient Savior. Let them not allow themselves to be dislodged or shunted away from the hope—ardent expectation, complete confidence, watchful waiting—of which the gospel speaks and to which the gospel gives rise, that gospel which the Colossians “have heard,” that is, to which they have not only listened but to which they have also given heed. See above on Col. 1:6–8. That gospel, moreover, was not meant for a select few—the Colossian errorists may well have considered themselves an exclusive set!—nor was it confined to any particular region; on the contrary, it was the gospel which, in obedience to the Lord’s command (Matt. 28:19; especially Mark 16:15), was preached among every creature under heaven. It recognized no boundaries whether racial, national, or regional. It is always the “whosoever believeth” gospel. Having reached Rome, from which Paul is writing this epistle, it had actually invaded every large center of the then-known world. More on this under verse 6 above. With deep emotion and humble gratitude the apostle concludes this section and links it with the next paragraph by adding: and of which I, Paul, became a minister. The real depth of these words can only be understood in the light of such passages as 1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 3:8; and 1 Tim. 1:15–17. A minister of the gospel is one who knows the gospel, has been saved by the Christ of the gospel, and with joy of heart proclaims the gospel to others. Thus he serves the cause of the gospel.[7]


1:23 Now the Apostle Paul adds one of those if passages which have proved very disconcerting to many children of God. On the surface, the verse seems to teach that our continued salvation depends on our continuing in the faith. If this is so, how can this verse be reconciled with other portions of the word of God, such as John 10:28, 29, which declare that no sheep of Christ can ever perish?

In seeking to answer this question, we would like to state at the outset that the eternal security of the believer is a blessed truth which is set forth clearly in the pages of the NT. However, the Scriptures also teach, as in this verse, that true faith always has the quality of permanence, and that one who has really been born of God will go on faithfully to the end. Continuance is a proof of reality. Of course there is always the danger of backsliding, but a Christian falls only to rise again (Prov. 24:16). He does not forsake the faith.

The Spirit of God has seen fit to put many of these so-called “if” passages in the word of God in order to challenge all who profess the name of Christ as to the reality of their profession. We would not want to say anything that might dull the sharp edge of these passages. As someone has said: “These ‘ifs’ in Scripture look on professing Christians here in the world and they come as healthy tests to the soul.”

Pridham comments on these challenging verses as follows:

The reader will find, on a careful study of the Word, that it is the habit of the Spirit to accompany the fullest and most absolute statements of grace by warnings which imply a ruinous failure on the part of some who nominally stand in faith.… Warnings which grate harshly on the ears of insincere profession are drunk willingly as medicine by the godly soul.… The aim of all such teaching as we have here is to encourage faith, and condemn, by anticipation, reckless and self-confident professors.

Doubtless with the Gnostics primarily in mind, the apostle is urging the Colossians not to be moved away from the hope that accompanies the gospel, or which the gospel inspires. They should continue in the faith which they learned from Epaphras, grounded and steadfast.

Again Paul speaks of the gospel as having been preached to every creature (or “all creation”) under heaven. The gospel goes out to all creation, but it has not as yet reached literally every creature. Paul is arguing the worldwide proclamation of the gospel as a testimonial to its genuineness. He sees in this the evidence that it is adaptable to the needs of mankind everywhere. The verse does not mean that every person in the world at that time had heard the gospel. It was not a fact accomplished, but a process going on. Also, the gospel had reached to all the Bible world, that is, the Mediterranean world.

Paul speaks of himself as a minister, a Latin word that simply means “a servant.” It has nothing of officialdom about it. It does not denote a lofty office so much as humble service.[8]


23 Their continuing in the faith shows how real that faith is; so the passage concludes with a condition. If it is true that the saints will persevere to the end, then it is equally true that the saints must persevere to the end. Like a building set on a sure foundation and erected with strong supports, the readers are to remain true to the gospel, and not to shift from the fixed ground of their Christian hope. The claim of Paul’s gospel (which focused on this hope) to be the true message of God is shown by its universal appeal. It has already been preached in representative towns and cities of the empire—Paul does not mean that every single individual has heard.[9]


1:23if indeed you continue in the faith: The perseverance of the Colossians was proof of the reconciling work of Christ on their behalf (vv. 21, 22). every creature under heaven: Paul uses this exaggeration to illustrate the rapid spread of the gospel. Compare Acts 17:6, where the apostles are said to have turned the world upside down, even though their ministry up to that point had been limited to a small portion of the eastern Mediterranean region.[10]


1:23. This reconciliation in Christ comes only by an abiding faith—if you continue in your faith. The Colossians had a settled faith—established (i.e., “grounded” like a building on a strong foundation) and firm (hedraioi, “seated or settled”; cf. 1 Cor. 7:37; 15:58), so Paul did not doubt that they would continue. In fact he spoke of the hope (confident expectation) which this gospel of reconciliation provides not only to them but also to the whole world—to every creature under heaven. This is obviously a figure of speech indicating the universality of the gospel and its proclamation, not that every person on the globe heard Paul preach. In Acts 2:5 this phrase describes a wide range of people from various countries without including, for example, anyone from North or South America (cf. also Gen. 41:57; 1 Kings 10:24; Rom. 1:8).[11]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 65–67). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 297–298). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] McNaughton, I. S. (2006). Opening up Colossians and Philemon (p. 32). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[4] Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (p. 37). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Lucas, R. C. (1980). Fullness & freedom: the message of Colossians & Philemon (pp. 62–65). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, p. 284). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[7] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Colossians and Philemon (Vol. 6, p. 85). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[8] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1996–1997). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[9] O’Brien, P. T. (1994). Colossians. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1267). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[10] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1563). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[11] Geisler, N. L. (1985). Colossians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 674–675). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

May 26 Asking for God’s Provision

Give us this day our daily bread.—Matt. 6:11

“Give” reminds us of our need to ask God for His provision. In recognition of His past and present provision we ask Him, and trust for His future furnishing of all our needs. We can ask confidently because God has richly promised. “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.… The humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Ps. 37:4, 11). God does not pledge to always meet the physical needs of everybody, but only of those who trust in Him. In Psalm 37:25, David is speaking about believers when he says, “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread.”

It is clear that the “us” who can expect provision from the Father are believers. Paul echoes the same principle: “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:10–11; cf. Luke 18:29–30).

God mercifully supplies our needs daily, meaning simply our ordinary, day-by-day provision of food, clothing, money, etc. The primary means by which we receive these things is through work, but isn’t it the Lord who provides even the strength for that? To accept God’s provision for today without undue concern for tomorrow is a testimony of our godly contentment (cf. Matt. 6:25, 32–33).

ASK YOURSELF

If the supply we have today isn’t satisfying to us and doesn’t seem like enough, is the problem with our Supplier or with our own measure of demand? Pray for a humble willingness to be thankful for every blessing, without focusing on the ones He seems to be withholding.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 155). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

MAY 26 ARE YOU A SETTLED AND CONTENTED CHRISTIAN?

…Let us go on unto perfection….

HEBREWS 6:1

I wonder why the people of God in our churches are so reluctant to leave the things which are the “first principles” of the doctrine of Christ?

Some of you have heard the gospel many times. You say you have believed and that you have turned away from idols to serve the living God and to wait for His Son from heaven—and yet you do not behave as though you are a settled and contented Christian!

You are not satisfied until you have tried out the latest gospel peddler or the sensationally popular evangelistic services down the street.

If a gospel troupe comes along, you are satisfied for a while because they have cowbells and a musical handsaw and a lot of other gadgets.

In our day we seem to overlook the divine principle of what ought to happen in the life of a truly born-again person. What do we do? We get them into church and then after we get them in, we try to “work” on them. My reading tells me that in an earlier day believers were better Christians when they were newly converted than many of today’s so-called deeper life people—because a miracle had taken place!

They would not accept a pale, ineffective and apologetic “believing.” They insisted on a miracle taking place in the human breast. Jesus Christ was their Hope, and they knew full well the guarantee—God had raised Him from the dead![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

May 26 Forgiven!

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. Acts 10:43

Peter says, “You may not appreciate this fully, but everything that Jesus did was predicted by the prophets. Long before he ever came, what he would be like and what he would do was written down. Every prophet bore witness to this one fact: The only way you could ever find forgiveness of sins is by believing in him. That is the great, final, glorious thrust of the gospel. The good news is that men have been given a way to be forgiven of their sins.”

That is the basic need of every human heart. Each of us suffers from the terrible consciousness of guilt. We are guilty people; and we know it. That is what makes us so restless. That is why often we cannot stand to be alone with ourselves, because we are afraid of that sense of guilt which oppresses us. So the prime need of our lives is to be forgiven, to have nothing in the past to worry about, to have nothing that makes us uncertain of the future and, especially, nothing which makes us unwilling to appear before God. Through Jesus Christ sins are forgiven.

Have you reflected upon that, Christian friend? Have you recently stopped and thanked God that your sins are forgiven? Have you ever? Not just the ones you committed before you became a Christian; all your sins. All the future ones as well as those of the past are forgiven already in Jesus Christ. God therefore has no quarrel with you, he loves you, he accepts you. Whatever you do he will continue to love you and accept you.

No one can take that truth and use it as a license to sin, to go out and do as you like. To do so would indicate that you have never been regenerated, have never understood why God bore your sins. But if you have been born again you know that this is the greatest and most unending blessing of your life — to wake up every morning and remember that you stand as a beloved child in God’s presence. He loves you and accepts you. You are his, and for that reason he will be with you all day long, in every circumstance of your experience.

Thank you, Father, for the forgiveness of my sins. Thank you for sending your Son to die for me so this could be possible. And thank you that he rose victorious over death to give me the hope of eternal life.

Life Application

The apostle Paul exults: ‘your life is hidden with Christ in God.’ (Col.3:3) Such is our security, our identity in Christ, that nothing can separate us from Him. Are you living in the understanding of Christ’s total forgiveness of you? Will you each day wake to the guilt-free joy of His presence?

Related Message

For more on this portion of Scripture read the message:

Life for All

May 26 An Expectation of Heaven

Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

Colossians 3:1

The apostle Paul was preoccupied with heaven; he knew few earthly comforts. He was beaten, stoned, left for dead, deprived of necessities, and frequently disappointed by people. But he had no concern for pleasant feelings: he wanted only to live a productive life in pursuit of his heavenly goal.

We must have the same focus if we are going to pursue our heavenly reward. Christ is from heaven and in heaven. Heaven is His place, and because we are His, heaven is our place as well. If we are preoccupied with being like Him, we will naturally be preoccupied with heaven. What happens there should be more important to us than what happens here.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 163). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

May 26 Paul: Joy in Spite of Detractors

“Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.”

Philippians 1:18

✧✧✧

It is possible to maintain your joy even while dealing with criticisms and irritating distractions.

The dictionary definition of detraction is “the uttering of material (as false or slanderous charges) that is likely to damage the reputation of another.” A detractor wants to undermine and destroy the good name and credibility of another. Great statesmen, such as President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, often have been the targets of contentious political opponents and stinging detractions by the press.

For the church, the most difficult criticism has arisen from within, from false professors who once claimed to support it and its leaders. Paul came to know the disappointment and distress of being torn down when his detractors at Philippi assailed him even while he sat in prison. But he is a model of how one can rise above such pain and discouragement.

Paul’s main detractors (Phil. 1:15) were his fellow preachers who proclaimed the same gospel as he did. They were not at odds with him over doctrine but over personal matters. Paul’s detractors were envious of his ministry gifts and the way God had blessed his efforts with many converts and numerous churches.

Contending with the detractors at Philippi was not a completely new trial for Paul. He had previously learned patience in dealing with the letdowns caused by other supposed supporters (see 2 Tim. 1:15; 4:16). Now his opponents were testing his patience to the extreme as they sought to destroy his credibility with his supporters.

The detractors’ tactics might have unsettled the faith of some in the churches, but not Paul’s confidence. He stood up to all the unpleasantness with joy because, as our verse indicates, he knew the cause of Christ was still being advanced.

Paul’s exemplary behavior under fire provides an obvious lesson for us: no amount of false and unfair criticism should steal our joy in Christ and His gospel. And we can keep rejoicing if we, like Paul, stay devoted to our top priority, proclaiming and glorifying the name of Christ.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that the gospel and its power are strong enough to overcome any amount of jealous detraction. Pray that you would stay focused on gospel priorities.

For Further Study: Read Nehemiah 4–6. How did Nehemiah deal with the detractors to his work? ✧ What was the eventual outcome (6:16)?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MAY 26 TOO HARD FOR GOD?

Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

—Jeremiah 32:27

What does it mean to us, that God Almighty has all the power there is? It means that since God has the ability always to do anything He wills to do, then nothing is harder or easier with God. “Hard” and “easy” can’t apply to God because God has all the power there is. Hard or easy applies to me….

God, who has all the power there is, can make a sun and a star and a galaxy as easily as He can lift a robin off a nest. God can do anything as easily as He can do anything else.

This truth applies specifically to the area of our unbelief. We hesitate to ask God to do “hard” things because we figure that God can’t do them. But if they are “easy” things, we ask God to do them. If we have a headache we say, “Oh God, heal my headache.” But if we have a heart condition, we don’t ask the Lord about that, because that’s “too hard” for the Lord! What a shame! Nothing is hard for God—nothing whatsoever. Nothing! In all God’s wisdom and power He is able to do anything as easily as He is able to do anything else. AOGII084

Lord, no matter where You lead me today or what circumstances come my way, I rest in the knowledge that there is no such thing as “hard” or “easy” with You. Amen.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

May 25 Daily Help

“MEADOWS may be occasionally flooded, but the marshes are drowned by the tide at every return thereof.”

There is all this difference between the sins of the righteous and those of the ungodly. Surprised by temptation, true saints are flooded with a passing outburst of sin; but the wicked delight in transgression and live in it as in their element. The saint in his errors is a star under a cloud, but the sinner is darkness itself. The gracious may fall into iniquity, but the graceless run into it, wallow in it, and again and again return to it.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 149). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

May 25, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The God Who Provides

Philippians 4:19

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

I am sometimes asked what I consider to be the best cure for mental and spiritual depression, and I have answered that the best cure for spiritual depression is to feed on the promises of God. Are you depressed or discouraged? Has life gotten you down? If so, somewhere in the Bible there is a promise of God to cover it. I am convinced there is no need, no anxiety, no worry, no dismay for which God has not made dozens of encouraging and uplifting promises.

God’s Promises

Years ago now a delightful old French woman told me a story from her own life that illustrates this principle. In her youth in France she had been taught to make a little box of Bible verses containing a selection of the promises of God from Scripture. Each verse was written on a small piece of paper about the size of a piece of chewing gum, and each was then rolled up to make a miniature scroll. After there were forty or fifty of these small scrolls they were placed on end in a tiny open box. This was the promise box. She had been encouraged as a child to pull out one verse each morning and read it. One day during World War II (when she was much older) she was feeling terribly discouraged by many things that had happened. In her depression her mind turned to the little box of promises that had been long since forgotten. She went to the drawer of the dresser where she kept the box and took it out. She prayed, “Lord, you know how depressed I am. You know that I need a word of encouragement. Isn’t there a promise here somewhere that can help me?” She finished praying and stepped over to the window where the light was better for reading. As she did she tripped over a loose edge of the rug and all the promises spilled out onto the carpet. She immediately got the point and prayed again, joyfully, “Lord, how foolish I have been to ask for one promise when there are so many glorious promises in your Word!”

Think of the breadth and scope of God’s promises. There is John 3:16, a promise of everlasting salvation: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” John 10:9 points out, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10:27–28 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” Some promises concern prayer. Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” First John 5:14–15 tells us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

We come now to what is perhaps the greatest promise in the entire Bible. It is great because it includes all the other promises. It is Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Do you stand in need of salvation? God will supply salvation. Do you need strength for life’s trials? God will supply strength. If you are lonely, God can meet you and comfort you in your loneliness. If you are discouraged, he can lift you up. No need is left out, for the verse says that “God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

The God of Israel

A verse like this needs to be savored in each of its phrases, and the place to begin is with the two most important words in the sentence, the subject. The words are “my God.” Who is the one who Paul knew was able to supply the needs of the Philippian Christians? It was not any God, for he did not say “a god” or merely “the god in whom you may happen to believe.” Paul was not referring to the gods of the Greeks, Egyptians, Assyrians, or Romans. When Paul said, “my God,” he was being specific and personal. Paul’s God was Jehovah, the God of Israel who had revealed himself to human beings personally in Jesus Christ. This God is a great God. He is a gracious and effective God. In fact, to the biblical writers all other gods were “no gods” (idols); they were nothing.

The God of Philippians 4:19 is the God who called Abraham out of Mesopotamia when he was an idol worshiper like his contemporaries and sent him on his way to a new land promising that he would be blessed and there would be greater blessing to all people through his descendants. The God of Philippians 4:19 is the God who called Israel out of Egypt, who took her through the Red Sea, who preserved her for forty years in the wilderness, and who finally enabled her to conquer the land of Canaan. He is the God of David, of Elijah, of Jeremiah, of all the prophets. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who died for our salvation and then triumphed over the tomb. This God stands behind his promises.

The value of a promise depends entirely upon the effectiveness and fidelity of the thing or person believed. Once I was talking to someone about faith, and he asked whether the faith of Christians is any different from the kind of self-delusion that many people practice to escape reality. He wanted to know if faith was not purely subjective. I admitted in reply that there is a subjective element to faith. Faith is personal. Emotionally there probably is very little difference between this type of conviction and delusion. But that is only half the picture. Although there is little or no difference between the two kinds of faith psychologically, there is all the difference in whether or not the object of the belief corresponds to the things believed about it. For instance, there is not much difference between the belief of a person who leans against a papier-mâché column, thinking it is marble and able to hold him up, and the belief of a person who leans on a real one. But the real column will support the person while the artificial one will collapse and let him fall down. The God of whom Paul speaks is a God who will support his people and who will not let down the one who believes in him.

Is he your God? If he is not your God, if you have never come to him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the promises of God’s care in the Bible are not for you. On the other hand, if you do believe in him and wish to obey him, you will find him strong in your need. You will find him entirely and consistently faithful.

Human Needs

The emphasis of the first part of the verse is on God, but the second part speaks of human needs. We must think of this also. What are our needs?

First, there is our need for forgiveness. God provides that abundantly, for he offers forgiveness of sins that are past, present, and future. Forgiveness is made possible for us through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we receive it personally by acknowledging our sin before God and accepting Christ’s sacrifice. The apostle John wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9).

The doctrine of forgiveness through Christ is never taught without some people imagining that a promise of forgiveness is actually an invitation to wrongdoing. The argument goes, “If we know God will forgive us, why can’t we do as we want beforehand?” Fortunately, it does not work that way. I know of a Christian family who raised two fine boys in Philadelphia. Because they were in the midst of the city the boys were often tempted to join one of the gangs that roamed through the neighborhood and destroyed property. The parents might have said, “Look here, Carl (or Robin), if you ever get mixed up in one of those gangs and get hauled in by the police, don’t come running to me for help. Just remember that I warned you about it beforehand.” If they had done that, the boys would likely have taken up bad company in self-defense. Instead, the father said, “I know about the temptations that you will be facing in the city. But I want you to know this. If you ever get into trouble with the gang, never keep it to yourself. Come back here. This is your home. You belong with me and your mother, and we’ll face everything that happens together. Never doubt that we love you and that we’ll forgive you.” In that home the boys grew to be strong Christian men and were pure and honest. How glorious that our heavenly Father treats us in an identical manner!

Forgiveness is not our only need, however. Our second greatest need is for fellowship with God. Without God we are spiritually hungry, empty, and miserable. That is why Saint Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” We do not need to be miserable and spiritually hungry, however. For God longs to be known by us, to fill the spiritual vacuum of our hearts, to commune with us personally, and to meet us in our deep longings. Moreover, he is able to do so abundantly “according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

We also need God’s defense against enemies, and God is able to supply that too. David, the first great king of Israel, had enemies within and without, in his own family and in other nations. But when he came to the end of his life and was able to look back thankfully over the years of God’s deliverance from his enemies he said, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent men you save me” (2 Sam. 22:2–3).

A Need for Testing

I must add one other thing, however, for it is sometimes true that in God’s sight we have a need for that which is not so pleasant. We need to be disciplined, taught, or tested. If that is the case, then it is also true that Philippians 4:19 is a promise of God to supply the unpleasant discipline and testing.

Early in his ministry Harry Ironside had an experience that illustrates this provision. On one occasion he had acted on faith, as he often did, to preach for two weeks in Fresno, California. But the time came, surprisingly to him, when he was entirely out of money and had no funds with which to eat. He was even forced to check out of his hotel room and leave his suitcase at a drugstore to be picked up later. There was some complaining and bitterness. When the thought of Philippians 4:19 crossed his mind—“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”—his spirit rebelled. “Why then doesn’t he do it?” he questioned. It seemed that God had promised, but he was no longer keeping his word.

That night, as he settled down under a tree on the lawn of the courthouse in Fresno, God spoke to Ironside concerning things about which he had grown careless. In his prayer and meditation he experienced a spiritual awakening. From that time on the work went better. Old friends appeared, first to invite him to lunch and later to provide accommodation. The church to which he was ministering took a collection to help him out on his return journey.

At the end he went to the post office and found a letter from his father, much to his surprise. He opened it, and there staring him in the face was a postscript that said, “God spoke to me through Philippians 4:19 today. He has promised to supply all our need. Some day he may see that I need a starving! If he does, he will supply that.” Ironside says, “Oh, how real it all seemed then! I saw that God had been putting me through that test in order to bring me closer to himself, and to bring me face to face with things that I had been neglecting.” He wrote later that he wished to share the experience with others who may be going through similar times of testing.

God’s Riches in Glory

The final phrase of our text speaks of the measure of the supply of God for our need. The measure is this: “according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Every so often the world is witness to some new space spectacular. I suppose that every time an astronaut goes off into space there are millions of people who wish they could share this experience. Suppose that one of these persons would ask one of the astronauts to bring back a sample of space. Well, he could take up a small canister, seal it in space, and bring it back. There is a sense in which the canister would contain a sample. But it would not even begin to capture the immensity and grandeur of space. If it were to hold more, it would be necessary to enlarge the container. But even then it could never even begin to exhaust that immensity.

In a parallel sense God has promised to fill the need of the believer in Jesus Christ out of his infinite wealth and resources. He will expand us as time goes on, and we shall come to hold more. We shall become more and more like Jesus Christ. But even at the greatest extent of our enlarged capacity we shall only touch his resources slightly. There will always be infinite resources beyond the ones we experience.

Do you think that you can exhaust the riches of God by your needs, however great they may be? Can the finite exhaust the infinite? Can that which is corrupt exhaust that which is incorruptible? Can the part exhaust the whole? Can human beings exhaust God? It is impossible. In this life, as in the next, God shall supply all our needs, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus, and still there will be inexhaustible resources beyond.[1]


19 Paul reinterprets all gifts as gifts from God and counts on God’s unlimited grace and generosity to reward the Philippians. Their gift has made him full (v. 18, plēroō, GK 4444; NIV, “amply supplied”), but he cannot reciprocate in his current circumstances. He says that “my God” will now assume his obligation for reciprocating and will make them full (plēroō; NIV, “will meet”), and they will obviously have the better of it. Every need of theirs will be met. Most important, they will be “filled [plēroō] with the fruit of righteousness” (1:11, see 3:9) when they stand before God’s tribunal. Paul thereby recasts social customs in his theological forge. The gospel embraces everything, including friendship, and reshapes it. To make certain that his acceptance of the gift is not misinterpreted because of Greco-Roman assumptions about gift exchanges, he uses theological categories to create a new attitude toward gifts and giving that accords more with a Christian mind-set. The idea of a divine reward for giving was absent from Greco-Roman customs. The spiritual union among Christians as the basis of sharing material goods and the idea that God will reward persons for their generosity to others are new concepts.

Paul commends the Philippians for their Christian maturity, affirms that they are receiving spiritual benefits from giving, and that my God (not he himself) will repay them (2 Co 9:8). Paul was deeply imbued in Scripture, which makes clear that relationships between giver and receiver also involve God. Giving is encouraged as praiseworthy behavior that God will reward. He therefore triangulates their relationship. Their gift to him is a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God, and God is the one who will reciprocate. Paul’s concluding remarks in the letter are therefore more than a recognition of their gift, because he intends to teach them what sharing gifts with others means for those who are Christians.[2]


Paul expresses an assurance (v. 19)

This verse has often been misunderstood. It does not tell us that God’s people will never experience or feel a need. It rather tells us that God will supply the needs of his people. He sometimes does this by meeting the need and sometimes by giving his people the strength to face the need, as the apostle has already testified (v. 13).

Israel’s great king David says to the Lord:

For by you I can run against a troop.

And by my God I can leap over a wall.

(Ps. 18:29).

We prefer always to leap over the wall of need, leaving it behind. But we should not despise the other possibility—that is, God enabling us to run against or go through a troop. Sometimes God takes us right through the need, giving us strength as we go. David himself experienced this on several occasions, most notably when he went out to meet the giant Goliath. God could have removed Goliath, causing him to vaporize as David approached. Instead God gave David the strength to face and to defeat him.

Needs that simply get vaporized may seem more glamorous, but strength to face and meet needs is just as much from God.[3]


4:19 / They may rest assured, says Paul, that what they have given to God will be amply repaid by him from the limitless resources of his riches. Paul cannot even think of the divine riches now without linking them with Christ Jesus. he is the mediator through whom all God’s blessings are communicated to men and women. Paul speaks of my God (cf. 1:3) because he had long since experienced his power to meet all his personal needs, and to supply them through Christ. At a time when he was most painfully conscious of his own inadequacy he received the assurance from the risen Lord, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9), and in effect it is that assurance that he now imparts to his friends.[4]


4:19. Their obedience and generosity will bring God’s reward. This is Paul’s promise to the Philippians, according to the niv. However, other translators follow different manuscript evidence or interpret the Greek tense differently and read this as Paul’s prayer that God may fulfill all their needs. Either reading gives encouragement and expectation to the readers. As they met all of Paul’s needs (v. 16), so God will meet all their needs. God does this out of the abundance of his treasury, a glorious resource without limits. How does one draw from these unlimited resources? Through Christ Jesus. Only those in him have access to God’s account and can ask him to meet their needs.[5]


19. Approaching the end of his epistle Paul now assures the addressees that God will supply their every need: And my God will gloriously supply every need ofyours according to his riches in Christ Jesus. Had not God’s care rested in a marvelous manner upon the apostle himself, during this very imprisonment? Note Paul’s later testimony regarding this care: “But the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength in order that through me the message might be fully heralded, and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued out of (the) mouth of (the) lion” (2 Tim. 4:17). So also this same compassion would bless the Philippians. Touching is the expression “my God.” See on Phil. 1:3. It was the God who meant so very, very much to Paul. This God will not fulfill every wish but will supply every need! He will do this “in glory,” which in the sense of gloriously must in all probability be construed as modifying the verb supply; hence, “God will gloriously supply.” Paul is not primarily thinking of what God will do for believers when they have entered the glory of heaven, but what he will do for them in this earthly realm of needs, as they present these needs to him. These he will fulfill not merely out of his riches (as a millionaire might do when he donates a trifling sum to a good cause, subtracting the amount from his vast possessions) but according to his riches, so that the gift is actually in proportion to God’s infinite resources! Of course, this loving care, this glorious help in need, is based on the merits of Christ Jesus. “How vast the benefits divine which we in Christ possess” (cf. Rom. 8:32). It is only because believers are in vital union with him that they receive all these bounties.

The assurance of this manifestation of God’s very special providence does not mean that the Philippians would now be justified in becoming lazy, disregarding or even rejecting every means and avenue of caring for themselves. “God’s word does not advocate fanaticism, nor does it say that one should throw his pocketbook into the nearest river and then announce that he is going to live by faith” (Tenney). To be sure, God was taking care of Paul, but one of the ways in which he was providing for him was the gift from Philippi which Paul here acknowledges.

Among the many passages in which this tender and loving care of God for his children in the here and now is described, passages which have given comfort to God’s people in many generations, are also the following: Gen. 28:15; 50:20; Exod. 33:14; Deut. 2:7; 32:7–14; 33:27; Josh. 1:9; 1 Sam. 7:12; 1 Kings 17:6, 16; 2 Chron. 20:17; Ps. 18:35; 23; 31:19; 91; 121; Isa. 25:4, 32:2; 40:11; 41:10; 43:1, 2; 46:3, 4; Joel 2:21–27; Mal. 3:10; Matt. 6:32; 14:20; 23:37; Luke 6:38; 12:7; 22:35; John 10:27, 28; 17:11; Rom. 8:28, 31–39; 2 Tim. 1:12; 4:18; 1 Peter 5:7.[6]


[1] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 256–261). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 259–260). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Ellsworth, R. (2004). Opening up Philippians (pp. 90–91). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[4] Bruce, F. F. (2011). Philippians (pp. 155–156). Peabody, MA: Baker Books.

[5] Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, p. 265). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, pp. 209–210). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

May 25: Longing and Being

1 Chronicles 16:1–17:27; 2 Timothy 1:3–18; Psalm 84:1–12

The general sense of what worship “is” is widely known, but the specifics of what it means are a little vague. Aside from obedience (i.e., avoiding sin and following what God asks of us), there are specific ways to show God admiration. In 1 Chronicles, during David’s many great acts, we get a glimpse into ancient worship practices that are still applicable today. We know that the biblical “editors” favored these practices because they would later ascribe countless psalms to David. His way of worship was deemed “the way to worship.”

After David and his comrades journey to Obed-Edom to bring back the ark of the covenant—the symbol of Yahweh’s provision and advocacy for His people—David appoints “some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of Yahweh” (1 Chr 16:4). The Levites, the tribe designated as religious teachers, are first to “invoke” Yahweh (call upon Him). They are then to do what should be natural in all encounters with Him: thank and then praise Him. These are all acts of worship and the way to worship: acknowledge Him by calling on Him, be thankful for His provision, and then praise Him for who He is.

David illustrates another part of worship in His song that follows this event: “Save us, O God of our salvation; gather us and rescue us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Blessed be Yahweh the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” (1 Chr 16:35–36). David petitions God, and he calls others to acknowledge His work by making their own petitions. It’s not that God needs to hear how great He is—that is not why we worship. It’s that we need to be reminded. In humbling ourselves before Him, we are demonstrating our rightful place in His kingdom as His servants, appointed for His great works (Eph 1:11).

Worship is really about longing for God. Our attitude toward God should be as Psa 84:2 proclaims: “My soul longs and even fails for the courtyards of Yahweh. My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”

How can you instill these worship practices into your daily life?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.