By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012
The combination of knowing Jesus and being known by Him points to the abiding and ever-deepening relationship with Him that is necessary for true Christian discipleship.
We are useful to our Lord, and not just useful, but useful in a special and unique way.
"We do not know what is coming, but we know who is coming. The final hour belongs to us. We need have no fear of the next minute."  The Lord's promises bring great comfort and courage to us.
Picture posted by zakia meghiref chafa on 7 August 2015
How did Paul experience God's presence, purpose, and promises as he faced death? [1a]
In an art gallery in Berlin is a painting by German painter Adolf Menzel (1815-1905). What is striking about the painting is that it is not finished. Menzel started the painting, intending to portray Fredrick the Great, the Prussian ruler, speaking to some of his generals. The artist decided to paint the generals and the background first, leaving the king to be painted last. He had drawn an outline of Fredrick in charcoal, but unfortunately ;died prematurely before he could complete the painting. Thus this painting lacks the central figure; it has all except the most important part.
Painting by German painter Adolf Menzel (1815-1905)
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
Paul mentioned the various aspects of life that are important - the physical, intellectual, and emotional. But he made sure now that the most important aspect takes pride of place. All the other areas of lives are held together by this dimension - the spiritual. It is primarily base on our relationship with God.
The Lord Stood at My Side: Presence of Christ [1a]
In all his feelings of isolation, with the treachery of some so-called friends and the desertion of others making matters worse, Paul was especially aware or the fact that the Lord had not abandoned him. He testified: "But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength" (2 Timothy 4:17) or as Greek New Testament scholar A.T. Robertson inspiringly renders, "poured power into me" . Paul stated the stark facts: "no one came to my support" and "everyone deserted me" at his first defence (2 Timothy 4:16). But like his Lord who forgave His enemies and persecutors on the cross (Luke 23:34), Paul forgave his friends-turned-traitors. He wrote: "May it not be held against them" (2 Timothy 4:16).
Paul stated the stark facts: "no one came to my support" and "everyone deserted me" at his first defence . But like his Lord who forgave His enemies and persecutors on the cross (Luke 23:34), Paul forgave his friends-turned-traitors (2 Timothy 4:16).
Picture posted by delores, http://indulgy.com
A similar response is noted when Stephen the first martyr was stoned to death by a murderous mob. As he fell to the ground, his last breath was a prayer for his murderers: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60). Those who follow Jesus closely and have a deep relationship with Him will respond to suffering, torture, pain, and death like their Lord. Paul's response showed that he was very close to the Lord; he had nurtured his most important relationship - that with Christ.
As he fell to the ground, his last breath was a prayer for his murderers: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60). Those who follow Jesus closely and have a deep relationship with Him will respond to suffering, torture, pain, and death like their Lord.
Painting by Walter Rane showing Stephen being stoned by an angry mob
"I See the Son of Man Standing on the Right Hand of God"
Picture posted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Though deserted socially, Paul did not feel spiritually abandoned. Humanly speaking it must have been difficult for the old apostle. We read in the book of Acts how, through the faithful teaching ministry of Paul in Ephesus over a period of two years, "all the Jews and the Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord" (Acts 19:10). All Asia (referring to the Roman province which now is part of Turkey) had heard the gospel and many had believed. But now, sadly, all Asia had deserted Paul, he said "everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me" (2 Timothy 1:15); Paul is probably using hyperbole here to overstate things to make a point). Even in these sad circumstances, Paul sensed God's presence, and it was a deeply comforting and strengthening presence.
Picture posted by Sacred Space 102fm on 1 January 2015 at 11:48
From the day he met the risen Christ to his present imprisonment in Rome, Paul knew the abiding presence of Jesus. When he was in Jerusalem and stood before the Sanhedrin, Paul caused a great commotion when he spoke. There was such an uproar that the Roman commander, fearing for Paul's safety, had him arrested so that he could be safely lodged in the Roman barracks. The next night, perhaps as Paul was thinking about what would happen next, "the Lord stood near Paul" and His message was: "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome" (Acts 23:11). Paul was sent by the Lord as a prisoner to Rome. The future was not going to be easy, but God assured Paul that it was in fulfillment of His purpose and His presence would be with him.
Picture posted by THE NEW TESTAMENT on 18 April 2010
THE NEW TESTAMENT, A Pictorial Archive from Ninteenth-Century Sources, Don Rice, Dover, 1986, p124, Fig.291
Later, en route to Rome, in Caesarea where Paul was in prison for two years, he stood before King Agrippa II and explained why his fellow-Jews were trying to kill him - it was because of his faithful preaching of the gospel of Jesus and his obedience to the Lord. Paul further testified: "But I have had God's help to this very day" (Acts 26:22). It was in this same spirit that Paul, for the second and final time in a Roman prison, would mow testify that the Lord had not abandoned him, but had stood at his side, encouraging and strengthening him. Though many of his friends had deserted him, his divine Friend faithfully stood by him. The true Friend who "[laid] down his life for his friends" (John 15:13) and "sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
Picture posted by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
Picture posted by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania on March 2015
This friendship with Jesus does not happen automatically or accidentally. It is only possible by the grace of God and is based on God's promises. God's consistent promise to those He calls is that He will be with them. To Moses, God promised: "I will be with you" (Exodus 3:12). To his successor, Joshua, God gave the same promise: "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5). After giving Joshua His promise, God urged him to be "strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:6). Paul must have experienced the same assurance. He not only felt the Lord's presence just as He had promised; he also felt strengthen as he faced the darkness surrounding him.
Picture posted by 泠汐舞天涯 Líng xī wǔ tiān yá, on 13 November 2014 at 6:48
Matthew tells us in his gospel that when Jesus was born, he was named Immanuel, in keeping with biblical prophecy (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). The name means "God is with us" referring to the truth that in Jesus we have God's abiding presence. At the end of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus issued the Great Commission to His disciples, that as they obey Him by making disciples of all nations, they could rest in the promise of His presence: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age" (Matthew 28:20).
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Not only did Paul rely on the promise of Christ, he also made all the necessary efforts to cultivate his friendship with Jesus. He set aside everything to give priority to "the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8). Everything was subsumed under the need and holy ambition to know Christ and to be known by Him (Galatians 4:9). The experience of being known by Him is connected with our love for Him. "But the man who loves God is known by God" (1 Corinthians 8:3). And whether we are known by Him will determine our ultimate destiny as Jesus warned that many will be turned away from His presence on the day of judgement with the dreadful words, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23) or "I don't know you" (Luke 13:25).
Picture posted in Discipleship, Practical Christianity on 30 April 2016
To know Jesus is often misunderstood or reduced to a mere factual knowledge about Him, like the way a famous person is known by many. The combination of knowing Jesus and being known by Him points to the abiding and ever-deepening relationship with Him that is necessary for true Christian discipleship. Paul knew this, preached this and practiced what he preached. He followed his own advice by allowing the Holy Spirit to nurture and build his inner life so that Christ may dwell in his heart (Ephesians 3:16-17). He cultivated his friendship with Jesus by trusting and obeying Him. Because of this, he experienced the Lord's presence and His strength. This is repeatedly seen in the lives of those who trust Christ and serve Him with all their hearts, being nurtured in His presence.
Painting by artist James Nesbit
Picture posted by Bridget Thomas (Pinterest) Saved from jamesnart.net
The story of John Paton, a 19th century Scottish missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, illustrates this.
"Hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see that, unaccountably, the attackers had left. They thanked God for delivering them. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, 'Who were all those men you had with you there?' The missionary answered, 'There were no men there; just my wife and I.' The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard - hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realise that God had sent His angels to protect them. The chief agreed that there was no other explanation." 
Hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands were standing guard the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. God had sent His angels to protect John Paton and his wife from being harmed by the hostile natives.
Picture posted by ManyBooks - John Gibson Paton autobiography
The Story of John G. Paton Or Thirty Years Among South Sea Cannibals
Abridgment of The autobiography of John G. Paton, published in 1889
Another time John Paton was surrounded by a mob seeking his life. He hid in a tree above them and spent a terrifying night there. He wrote later,
"Yet I sat there among the branches, as safe in the arms of Jesus. Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul . . . as I told all my heart to Jesus. . . . I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree, to feel again my Saviour's spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowships." 
The Lord is Using Me: Purpose of Christ [1a]
Not only did Paul enjoy the Lord's presence amid the darkness and disappointment, he also understood His purpose.
Paul could see that his final moments in the Roman prison were designed by God to allow him to be used by the Lord to bring glory to Himself. Even imprisonment could be a great opportunity for mission. In fact, sometimes our adversity may bring greater opportunities and harvests than our prosperity. When he was imprisoned in Rome for the first time, Paul heard about the preaching activities that was going on outside. Some of the preachers preached sincerely because the great missionary apostle was now immobilised and his work was curtailed - thus they preached all the more courageously and fearlessly. Others preached with less than noble motives - out of envy and rivalry, thinking that they could take advantage of the situation to compete with Paul or stir up trouble for him while he was in prison.
When all these news made known to him, Paul could rejoice that whatever the motives might be, his imprisonment had resulted in a surge of gospel preaching. "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice" (Philippians 1:18).
Even imprisonment could be a great opportunity for mission. Sometimes our adversity may bring greater opportunities and harvests than our prosperity. Some of the preachers preached sincerely because the great missionary apostle was now immobilised and his work was curtailed - thus they preached all the more courageously and fearlessly. Paul could rejoice that whatever the motives might be, his imprisonment had resulted in a surge of gospel preaching.
Illustration by Yuko Shimizu
Picture posted by Mother Jones on March/April 2009
Even though he was immobilised in prison by "this chain" (Acts 28:20), Paul was never deterred from continuing to preach the gospel. It is evident that he was under some form of house arrest in his first imprisonment while awaiting his trial. He was therefore still able to have visitors, though perhaps in a restricted sense. The moment he arrived in Rome, he invited the leaders of the Jews in Rome to meet him so that he could tell them about Jesus. "From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and the Prophets" (Acts 28:23). Some believed. Following this, Paul used his prison house to do ministry by welcoming all who came to see him. "Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:31). Paul demonstrated what John Chrysostom observed as he reflected on 2 Timothy 2:9 - that the Word can never be chained. 
Picture posted by Vennfage - Paul's scrapbook
There is one more intriguing point. In his epistle to the Philippians, Paul wrote about his chains and saw a divine purpose for the chains. Paul explained "Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ" (Philippians 1:12-13). As a prisoner, Paul would have to be guarded by soldiers; these soldiers belonged to the palace guard and they would have taken turns, as assigned, to guard the prisoner. It is evident that Paul, though in chains, found the wonderful opportunity to talk about Jesus to the guards. As a result, many of them heard Paul's testimony and message. By word of mouth, the whole palace guard heard about Paul and his Lord Jesus. Paul must have marvelled at this. What better way to evangelise the palace guard than to become a prisoner guarded by them!
Luke, the author of Acts, must have witnessed how imprisonment did not deter Paul from his ministry. Paul could see that imprisonment provide special opportunities that he would not otherwise have had if he were free to move about. Such was Paul's trust in his sovereign Lord and His purposes, and his irrepressible (not able to be controlled or restrained) zeal for the gospel ministry.
Painting by Clive Uptton - Paul reassuring the Roman jailer after the earthquake
Picture posted in Ancient History, Bible, Religion on Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Now Paul was imprisoned in Rome for the second time, and this time it was far more severe and difficult, more dreadful and final in mood. Paul was heavily chained in a prison dungeon. He had very limited access to visitors and his movements were severely curtailed. Luke must have looked upon Paul with great concern. What would this irrepressible servant of God do and how would he feel? It would be so difficult for one as active and zealous as Paul to be cut off from ministry. But Paul was not discouraged. Trusting in his Lord, Paul knew that even these more restricted circumstances provided special opportunities. Thus he wrote that his prison experience was for a purpose, and that Jesus stood by him and strengthened him "so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it" (2 Timothy 4:17, emphasis added).
Picture posted by Nack on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 at 5:33 PM
Though Paul was severely immobilised, he had to appear in court. In his first defence, he had all the time to make his position clear, to explain the gospel and point to his Lord. Some important people of Rome were there. It was a wonderful opportunity and surely the Lord's sovereign arrangement. The words "fully" and "all" suggest that Paul saw how great an opportunity this was for him to proclaim the gospel. Though he was the prisoner on trial, the people in the court were his "captive audience" for they all had to hear the whole story. What was more, they would then go out and talk about it to their relatives and friends, even if they did not believe Paul.
Painting by Nikolai Kornilievich (1850 - 1921) - Trial of the Apostle Paul (1875)
Picture posted by art-catalog 2003-2016
Even in his chains, Paul must have rejoiced that he was still useful to his Lord, and not just useful, but useful in a special and unique way. Paul was so deeply loyal to the Lord Jesus and so thoroughly committed to the ministry of the gospel, that not even the terrible experience of imprisonment in a system ruled by a mad and wicked emperor, the desertion of his friends, nor the creeping shadow of impending death, could suppress the faith and zeal of this great apostle.
Picture posted by Intellectual Reserve, The True Church of Jesus Christ
The Lord Will Rescue Me: God's Promise [1a]
Paul so rejoiced in the Lord's presence and His purpose that he saw in his imprisonment and sufferings that the gospel ministry would be extended in unexpected ways. As he looked into the uncertain future, aware that he may receive the death sentence and suffer martyrdom at any moment, his heart was filled with a certainty that rested on the Lord's promises. It is possible that he was thinking of Psalm 22 as he wrote these stirring words of confidence in the face of adversity: "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom" (2 Timothy 4:18). He testified how the Lord had delivered him "from the lion's mouth" (2 Timothy 4:17). That was possibly a reference to his experience in court at his first hearing. Before the emperor and his officials, he must have felt like Daniel in the lion's den (Daniel 6). But God was with him, and in the same way He had delivered Daniel from the hungry lions by shutting their mouths, God had done the same for Paul in the Roman court.
Painting by Peter Paul Rubens - Daniel in the Lions' Den (1615), (chapter 6 in the Book of Daniel)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
As Paul awaited his second appearance in court, he was not sure what lay ahead. He may die soon, but whatever happened, he could trust his Lord. Even if he were put to death, he knew that his Lord would not abandon him, but would walk through death with him. As the psalmist in the well-known 23rd Palsm loses his audience when he comes to the valley of the shadow of death and speaks directly to God, so Paul knew that while no human being would be able to walk with him into death, his Lord would surely go with him. His Lord who had died and was raised would personally guide him safely through death and usher him into the eternal kingdom in the presence of God.
Picture posted by Psalms About Death Quotes
Helmut Thielicke, the German pastor-theologian, wrote: "We do not know what is coming, but we know who is coming. The final hour belongs to us. We need have no fear of the next minute."  We may not be sure of the circumstances in the near or distant future, but we can be sure of our Companion in that future. Paul had such unshakeable confidence that Jesus would not abandon him and that He would keep all His promises. Paul, as he anticipated death, must have recalled the words of Jesus: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:28-32). The Lord's promises must have brought great comfort and courage to the battle-scarred apostle.
Helmut Thielicke (04.12.1908 - 05.03.1986 – Helmut Thielicke was a German Protestant theologian and rector of the University of Hamburg from 1960 to 1978. Thielicke grew up in Wuppertal, where he took his Abitur in 1928. After this he began to study theology in Erlangen, but soon had to undergo an operation on his thyroid. After his health improved, Thielicke listened mainly because of Barth's exclusion of natural anthropology. Eventually he did his doctor's degree in theology in 1934 under the supervision of Paul Althaus in Erlangen. He took his postdoctoral qualification with "Offenbarung, Vernunft und Existenz. In 1936 he obtained a professorship in Heidelberg where he met Marie-Luise Herrmann, to whom he was married in 1937. They had four children. After repeated interrogations by the Gestapo from the mid-1930s onwards, he was finally dismissed in 1940. Nine months later he was able to take over a church in Ravensburg with the help of regional bishop Theophil Wurm. Thielicke published a critique of Bultmann's composition about the demythologisation of the New Testament, which gave rise to a inconclusive correspondence between the two. He also contacted the group Freiburger Kreis, but without working actively in their plans for a revolution. He personally was received by President Jimmy Carter during lecture tours in the United States in 1977. Thielicke also traveled in the 1960s and 1970s. Thielicke died 1986 in Hamburg, aged 77. 
Picture from "Wie die Träumenden" by Pfarrer Hinrich C. G. Westphal / Helmut Thielicke
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:28-32).
Picture posted by Avtor zupnija.sv.Lovrenc-Jursinci on Sunday, 25 October 2015 at 13:33
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broasman, 1931), 683.
 Billy Graham, Angels: Ringing Assurance that We Are Not Alone, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 3-4.
 James Paton, ed., John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides, An Autobiography (1889, 1898; Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 200.
 John Chrysostom, Homily 4 on 2 Timothy, translated by Philip Schaff, Nicene Post-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff, first series, vol. 13 (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing, 1889). Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/230704.htm.
 Helmut Thielicke, Being a Christian When the Chips are Down, translated by H, George Anderson (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), 28.
 C.S. Lewis, from the essay, "Christianity and Culture," in Christian Reflection, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1992), 14.
 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 20th-century German Protestant theologians - Last modified on 6 February 2016 at 10:38, http://wikivisually.com/wiki/Category:20th-century_German_Protestant_theologians
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