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Volume 31 - Page 160 of 181 Index | Zoom | |
Philippians speaks of the "prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus". The setting
of Philippians is likened to that of a race course, the terms used suggesting conflict,
endurance and reward. Just as Colossians supplements Ephesians, so II Timothy
supplements Philippians, the great thought in II Timothy being endurance with a crown
in view. Philemon is an epistle that teaches both doctrinal and practical truth, but it does
not specifically contribute to our knowledge so far as the distinctive revelation of the
mystery is concerned. Consequently it is usual with us to refer to "The Four Prison
Epistles", and the place occupied by II Timothy is best realized by placing these four
epistles together as follows:
The Prison Epistles.
Structure showing their Distinctive Doctrine and their Interrelation.
A | EPHESIANS.
+The dispensation (3: 2 and 9 R.V.); +Mystery (3: 3).
+The Church which is His Body (1: 22, 23).
+The fullness (1: 23; 4: 10); +Christ the Head (1: 22).
+Principality and Power (1: 21).
B | PHILIPPIANS. | Try the things that differ (1: 21).
| Strive (1: 27); Press towards the mark (3: 14).
| Prize (3: 14); *Depart (1: 23); *Offered (2: 17).
A | COLOSSIANS.
+Dispensation (1: 25); +Mystery (1: 26).
+The Church which is His Body (1: 24).
+Fullness (1: 19); +Christ the Head (2: 19).
+Principalities and Power (1: 16; 2: 10).
B | II TIMOTHY.
| Rightly dividing the word (2: 15).
| Strive (2: 5); Course finished (4: 7).
| Crown (4: 8); *Depart (4: 6); *Offered (4: 6).
(NOTE: + - None of these key expressions occur in Philippians or II Timothy.
* - Only occurrences in Paul's epistles.]
The reader will not fail to see the perfect balance of these four epistles, and that the
two pairs are related to one another as is standing and state. II Timothy differs from all
the others in one important particular. The opening verse of Philippians shows a church
well-organized and governed by bishops and deacons, but in II Timothy we find a
different atmosphere. Instead of rule we have ruin. Instead of a church governed by
bishops we have insistence upon individual witness. Consequently while we value the
earlier epistles of the mystery for the revelation they bring, we value II Timothy rather
for a message which fits the sad, apostate, days in which our lot is cast. By itself
II Timothy would present an enigma, but as supplementing the earlier epistles and
adjusting some of their practical teaching to meet the change in outward things, it is most
We trust that our readers will be enabled to enter into the teaching of this epistle and
thus find the help and guidance so much needed in these difficult times.