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before the judgment seat of Christ. Paul has made it clear in his early and in his later
epistles, that there will be an assessment of service associated with reward and forfeiture
for all believers (I Cor. 3: 12, 15; II Cor. 5: 10; Rom. 14: 10; and Col. 3: 22-25).
The received text uses the optative apodoe, "may the Lord reward him according to
his works", here and the revised texts read the future apodosei, "The Lord will reward".
While we cannot decide concerning the question as to which is the true reading here, it is
obvious that many would wish to alter the optative to the future, but it is inconceivable--
if the future had originally been written--why anyone should alter back to the harder
reading. Whichever may prove to the true reading, the sense and purpose remains
unaltered. If the apostle had taught, as we have seen that he did, that every believer must
stand before the judgment seat of Christ, if in this very chapter he has spoken of reward,
using the very same verb:
"The crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give (apodosei)
me at that day and not to me only" (II Tim. 4: 8),
shall he not with equal intensity speak of the just settlement of evil. Could the apostle
calmly see his life's work attacked, knowing the sacredness of the trust committed to
him, without being glad that, though it was not within the province of any believer to
execute vengeance upon another, yet the Lord Who was able to keep that which had been
entrusted, would most certainly deal with those who had opposed the truth. Such not
only made shipwreck of their own faith and of others, but were destined to suffer loss,
and even though saved, to be saved so as by fire.
Where the apostle does intervene, and express his own mind, is in the verse that
"I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge" (II Tim. 4: 16).
Here, he followed the blessed example of the Lord Himself, who prayed for those who
had delivered Him up saying: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
"At my first answer no man stood with me." Paul here refers to his trial. He had
appealed unto Cæsar and, theoretically, none but Nero could be his judge. While the
ancient law was still nominally recognized, it was set aside continually in daily practice.
Paul was probably heard in the first instance by the City Prefect. There he had stood,
humanly speaking, alone. So bitter was the hatred which now had grown, against
"Christians" that no man dared to appear either as his friend or to plead his cause. In the
ordinary course he would have had no difficulty in procuring the services of an advocate,
or of a procurator.
"and it was the custom, both in the Greek and the Roman courts of justice, to allow the
friends of the accused to intercede for him" (Conybeare & Howson).
Paul stood his trial alone. Yet, not alone, for the Lord never forsook him but stood by
and strengthened him. The expression "first answer" or "defence" is explained by a note