Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5
10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
11 These things command and teach.
1901 ASV Translation:
10 For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe.
11 These things command and teach.
August 21, 2005
- I. Paul's Intensity.
- A. He deliberately combines two concepts of rather significant difficulty.
- 1. The word translated "labour" is used to refer to physical work (such as fishing, farming, etc.).
- 2. The word translated "suffer reproach" is replaced by "strive" in the Nestle/Aland 26, though the editors had little manuscript basis for the change as both readings have nearly equal attestation.
- a. The question is this: did Paul have in mind the difficulties associated with the reaction that his "labors" created in others (being reproached by them), or was he emphasizing the difficulty of the labors themselves (strive)?
- 1) On the one hand, the larger immediate context has overtones of conflict in it so that "suffering reproach" could have been in his thought.
- 2) On the other hand, the larger immediate context does not emphasize the issue of conflict with opponents so that he could have simply been talking about the difficulties of the demands of ministry.
- 3) There is, however, a parallel passage (Colossians 1:29) in which the issues are the very same and Paul deliberately ties "labor" to "striving" rather than "being reproached".
- 4) There is no way to be "certain"; thus, we opt for the Nestle/Aland 26 reading because the scales are tipped in that direction by Colossians 1:29 and by the fact that "reproach" is not an issue in the pastorals.
- a) The word "strive" is used in two other places in Paul's letters to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:12 and 2 Timothy 4:7) so that this indicates that it was a part of his thinking in respect to the issues of instruction on how to go about the work.
- b) The word "suffer reproach" is not used by Paul in the pastorals at all unless our present text is his true text. At any rate, the lack of use indicates that it is not a major issue in his mind.
- b. The answer to the question is subjective and, thus, inconclusive.
- 3. In spite of the textual issues, it is clear that Paul was addressing the issue of how hard one must work if the goal is to be obtained.
- a. As at any other time that human effort comes into the picture, the spectre of the principle of "Law" hovers in the background.
- b. The issue, however, is not whether human labor is involved. Rather, the issue is whether the human labor is ultimately "human" as Paul clearly told the Galatians that the life he lived as an apostle was not really "his", but the outworking of the indwelling Christ (Galatians 2:20). Therefore, any attribution of labor to himself as an apostle must be understood in light of that very basic reality because anything else will establish boasting and conflict. 1 Corinthians 15:10 and Ephesians 3:7 both eliminate human labor as the foundation for anything effective in the plan of God.
- c. But, the bottom line is that the outworking of ministry is "work". There can be no notion that accomplishment will happen without labor.
- B. The AV's "therefore" is a sad translation altogether.
- 1. Paul's phrase is deliberate: "Unto this end/objective...".
- 2. Paul has never left the focus of the "faithful saying worthy of all acceptance" -- that is to say that he is still focused upon the pursuit of "godliness".
- 3. Paul is declaring that the pursuit of godliness has called forth intense effort in his life and attitude.
- II. Paul's Foundation.
- A. He claims that his labors are "caused" by what the AV translates "trust in the living God".
- 1. The word translated "trust" is not the typical word for "belief"; rather, it is the typical word for "hope". It does not always carry the idea of a firm expectation (Luke 6:34 and Acts 24:26), though it does indicate a hopeful expectation.
- 2. The perfect tense indicates that Paul's confidence of "hope" was focused upon the Living God at some time in the past and that the focus was carrying him day by day into the future.
- B. The characterization of God is significant...
- 1. He is "alive".
- a. The biblical focus upon Life is unmistakable as a (lest I say "the") major focus of all of divine activity.
- b. Any who wish to "live" must do so by means of their attachment to the Source of Life.
- 2. He is the "Savior of all men".
- a. The issue of "salvation" in respect to all men is to be understood as an amelioration of the impact of death. It is not to be taken as a statement of individual justification, but as a statement of God's continuous activity to mitigate the dominance and impact of Sin and Death at least in the present time.
- b. The additional phrase "specially of those that believe" indicates that "faith" has a significant, additional, impact upon one's experience of this merciful grace of the God of Life.