But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)But none of these things move me . . .—Literally, But I take account of nothing, nor do I hold my life . . . We note the parallelism with Luther’s famous declaration, when warned by his friends not to go to Worms, “I will go thither, though there should be devils on every house-top.”
So that I might finish my course with joy.—The two last words are wanting in many of the best MSS., and were probably inserted as a rhetorical improvement. The passage is grander without them. What St. Paul desired was to finish his course—whether “with joy” or not mattered little. The dominance of the same ruling thought finds utterance once again in his last Epistle (2Timothy 4:7).
The ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus.—We have again to note the parallelism with St. Paul’s language elsewhere (2Corinthians 4:1; 2Corinthians 5:18; 1Timothy 1:12); the words that follow are in apposition with the “ministry,” and explain what it consisted in. To bear witness, especially as a living example of its power (1Timothy 1:12-16), of the good tidings that God was not a harsh Judge, but a gracious Father, willing all men to be saved (1Timothy 2:4), that was the truth to the proclamation of which his life was to be devoted. In this there was the central truth of the kingdom of God, of which the next verse speaks.
THE FIGHT WITH WILD BEASTS AT EPHESUS
A FULFILLED ASPIRATION
Acts 20:24. - 2 Timothy 4:7.
I do not suppose that Paul in prison, and within sight of martyrdom, remembered his words at Ephesus. But the fact that what was aspiration whilst he was in the very thick of his difficulties came to be calm retrospect at the close is to me very beautiful and significant. ‘So that I may finish my course,’ said he wistfully; whilst before him there lay dangers clearly discerned and others that had all the more power over the imagination because they were but dimly discerned-’Not knowing the things that shall befall me there,’ said he, but knowing this, that ‘bonds and afflictions abide me.’ When a man knows exactly what he has to be afraid of he can face it. When he knows a little corner of it, and also knows that there is a great stretch behind that is unknown, that is a state of things that tries his mettle. Many a man will march up to a battery without a tremor who would not face a hole where a snake lay. And so Paul’s ignorance, as well as Paul’s knowledge, made it very hard for him to say ‘None of these things move me’ if only ‘I might finish my course.’
Now there are in these two passages, thus put together, three points that I touch for a moment. These are, What Paul thought that life chiefly was; what Paul aimed at; and what Paul won thereby.
I. What he thought that life chiefly was.
‘That I may finish my course.’ Now ‘course,’ in our modern English, is far too feeble a word to express the Apostle’s idea here. It has come to mean with us a quiet sequence or a succession of actions which, taken together, complete a career; but in its original force the English word ‘course,’ and still more the Greek, of which it is a translation, contain a great deal more than that. If we were to read ‘race,’ we should get nearer to at least one side of the Apostle’s thought. This was the image under which life presented itself to him, as it does to every man that does anything in the world worth doing, whether he be Christian or not-as being not a place for enjoyment, for selfish pursuits, making money, building family, satisfying love, seeking pleasure, or the like; but mainly as being an appointed field for a succession of efforts, all in one direction, and leading progressively to an end. In that image of life as a race, threadbare as it is, there are several grave considerations involved, which it will contribute to the nobleness of our own lives to keep steadily in view.
To begin with, the metaphor regards life as a track or path marked out and to be kept to by us. Paul thought of his life as a racecourse, traced for him by God, and from which it would be perilous and rebellious to diverge. The consciousness of definite duties loomed larger than anything else before him. His first waking thought was, ‘What is God’s will for me to-day? What stage of the course have I to pass over to-day?’ Each moment brought to him an appointed task which at all hazards he must do. And this elevating, humbling, and bracing ever-present sense of responsibility, not merely to circumstances, but to God, is an indispensable part of any life worth the living, and of any on which a man will ever dare to look back.
‘My course.’ O brethren! if we carried with us, always present, that solemn, severe sense of all-pervading duty and of obligation laid upon us to pursue faithfully the path that is appointed us, there would be less waste, less selfishness, less to regret, and less that weakens and defiles, in the lives of us all. And blessed be His name! however trivial be our tasks, however narrow our spheres, however secular and commonplace our businesses or trades, we may write upon them, as on all sorts of lives, except weak and selfish ones, this inscription, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’
The broad arrow stamped on Crown property gives a certain dignity to whatever bears it, and whatever small duty has the name of God written across it is thereby ennobled. If our days are to be full-fraught with the serenity and purity which it is possible for them to attain, and if we ourselves are to put forth all our powers and make the most of ourselves, we must cultivate the continual sense that life is a course-a series of definite duties marked out for us by God.
Again, the image suggests the strenuous efforts needed for discharge of our appointed tasks. The Apostle, like all men of imaginative and sensitive nature, was accustomed to speak in metaphors, which expressed his fervid convictions more adequately than more abstract expressions would have done. That vigorous figure of a ‘course’ speaks more strongly of the stress of continual effort than many words. It speaks of the straining muscles, and the intense concentration, and the forward-flung body of the runner in the arena. Paul says in effect, ‘I, for my part, live at high pressure. I get the most that I can out of myself. I do the very best that is in me.’ And that is a pattern for us.
There is nothing to be done unless we are contented to live on the stretch. Easygoing lives are always contemptible lives. A man who never does anything except what he can do easily never comes to do anything greater than what he began with, and never does anything worth doing at all. Effort is the law of life in all departments, as we all of us know and practise in regard to our daily business. But what a strange thing it is that we seem to think that our Christian characters can be formed and perfected upon other conditions, and in other fashions, than those by which men make their daily bread or their worldly fortunes!
The direction which effort takes is different in these two regions. The necessity for concentration and vigorous putting into operation of every faculty is far more imperative in the Christian course than in any other form of life.
I believe most earnestly that we grow Christlike, not by effort only, but by faith. But I believe that there is no faith without effort, and that the growth which comes from faith will not be appropriated and made ours without it. And so I preach, without in the least degree feeling that it impinges upon the great central truth that we are cleansed and perfected by the power of God working upon us, the sister truth that we must ‘work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.’
Brethren, unless we are prepared for the dust and heat of the race, we had better not start upon the course. Christian men have an appointed task, and to do it will take all the effort that they can put forth, and will assuredly demand continuous concentration and the summoning of every faculty to its utmost energy.
Still further, there is another idea that lies in the emblem, and that is that the appointed task which thus demands the whole man in vigorous exercise ought in fact to be, and in its nature is, progressive. Is the Christianity of the average church member and professing Christian a continuous advance? Is to-day better than yesterday? Are former attainments continually being left behind? Does it not seem the bitterest irony to talk about the usual life of a Christian as a course? Did you ever see a squad of raw recruits being drilled in the barrack-yard? The first thing the sergeants do is to teach them the ‘goose-step,’ which consists in lifting up one foot and then the other, ad infinitum, and yet always keeping on the same bit of ground. That is the kind of ‘course’ which hosts of so-called Christians content themselves with running-a vast deal of apparent exercise and no advance. They are just at the same spot at which they stood five, ten, or twenty years ago; not a bit wiser, more like Christ, less like the devil and the world; having gained no more mastery over their characteristic evils; falling into precisely the same faults of temper and conduct as they used to do in the far-away past. By what right can they talk of running the Christian race? Progress is essential to real Christian life.
II. Turn now to another thought here, and consider what Paul aimed at.
It is a very easy thing for a man to say, ‘I take the discharge of my duty, given to me by Jesus Christ, as my great purpose in life,’ when there is nothing in the way to prevent him from carrying out that purpose. But it is a very different thing when, as was the case with Paul, there lie before him the certainties of affliction and bonds, and the possibilities which very soon consolidated themselves into certainties, of a bloody death and that swiftly. To say then, without a quickened pulse or a tremor in the eyelid, or a quiver in the voice, or a falter in the resolution, to say then, ‘none of these things move me, if only I may do what I was set to do’-that is to be in Christ indeed; and that is the only thing worth living for.
Look how beautifully we see in operation in these heartfelt and few words of the Apostle the power that there is in an absolute devotion to God-enjoined duty, to give a man ‘a solemn scorn of ills,’ and to lift him high above everything that would bar or hinder his path. Is it not bracing to see any one actuated by such motives as these? And why should they not be motives for us all? The one thing worth our making our aim in life is to accomplish our course.
Now notice that the word in the original here, ‘finish,’ does not merely mean ‘end,’ which would be a very poor thing. Time will do that for us all. It will end our course. But an ended course may yet be an unfinished course. And the meaning that the Apostle attaches to the word in both of our texts is not merely to scramble through anyhow, so as to get to the last of it; but to complete, accomplish the course, or, to put away the metaphor, to do all that it was meant by God that he should do.
Now some very early transcriber of the Acts of the Apostles mistook the Apostle’s meaning, and thought that he only said that he desired to end his career; and so, with the best intentions in the world, he inserted, probably on the margin, what he thought was a necessary addition-that unfortunate ‘with joy,’ which appears in our Authorised Version, but has no place in the true text. If we put it in we necessarily limit the meaning of the word ‘finish’ to that low, superficial sense which I have already dismissed. If we leave it out we get a far nobler thought. Paul was not thinking about the joy at the end. What he wanted was to do his work, all of it, right through to the very last. He knew there would be joy, but he does not speak about it. What he wanted, as all faithful men do, was to do the work, and let the joy take care of itself.
And so for all of us, the true anaesthetic or ‘painkiller’ is that all-dominant sense of obligation and duty which lays hold upon us, and grips us, and makes us, not exactly indifferent to, but very partially conscious of, the sorrows or the hindrances or the pains that may come in our way. You cannot stop an express train by stretching a rope across the line, nor stay the flow of a river with a barrier of straw. And if a man has once yielded himself fully to that great conception of God’s will driving him on through life, and prescribing his path for him, it is neither in sorrow nor in joy to arrest his course. They may roll all the golden apples out of the garden of the Hesperides in his path, and he will not stop to pick one of them up; or Satan may block it with his fiercest flames, and the man will go into them, saying, ‘When I pass through the fires He will be with me.’
III. Lastly, what Paul won thereby.
‘That I may finish my course . . . I have finished my course’; in the same lofty meaning, not merely ended, though that was true, but ‘completed, accomplished, perfected.’
Now some hyper-sensitive people have thought that it was very strange that the Apostle, who was always preaching the imperfection of all human obedience and service, should, at the end of his life, indulge in such a piece of what they fancy was self-complacent retrospect as to say ‘I have kept the faith; I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course.’ But it was by no means complacent self-righteousness. Of course he did not mean that he looked back upon a career free from faults and flecks and stains. No. There is only one pair of human lips that ever could say, in the full significance of the word, ‘It is finished! . . . I have completed the work which Thou gavest Me to do.’ Jesus Christ’s retrospect of a stainless career, without defect or discordance at any point from the divine ideal, is not repeated in any of His servants’ experiences. But, on the other hand, if a man in the middle of his difficulties and his conflict pulls himself habitually together and says to himself, ‘Nothing shall move me, so that I may complete this bit of my course,’ depend upon it, his effort, his believing effort, will not be in vain; and at the last he will be able to look back on a career which, though stained with many imperfections, and marred with many failures, yet on the whole has realised the divine purpose, though not with absolute completeness, at least sufficiently to enable the faithful servant to feel that all his struggle has not been in vain.
Brethren, no one else can. And oh! how different the two ‘courses’ of the godly man and the worldling look, in their relative importance, when seen from this side, as we are advancing towards them, and from the other as we look back upon them! Pleasures, escape from pains, ease, comfort, popularity, quiet lives-all these things seem very attractive; and God’s will often seems very hard and very repulsive, when we are advancing towards some unwelcome duty. But when we get beyond it and look back, the two careers have changed their characters; and all the joys that could be bought at the price of the smallest neglected duty or the smallest perpetrated sin, dwindle and dwindle and dwindle, and the light is out of them, and they show for what they are-nothings, gilded nothings, painted emptinesses, lies varnished over. And on the other hand, to do right, to discharge the smallest duty, to recognise God’s will, and with faithful effort to seek to do it in dependence upon Him, that towers and towers and towers, and there seems to be, as there really is, nothing else worth living for.
So let us live with the continual remembrance in our minds that all which we do has to be passed in review by us once more, from another standpoint, and with another illumination falling upon it. And be sure of this, that the one thing worth looking back upon, and possible to be looked back upon with peace and quietness, is the humble, faithful, continual discharge of our appointed tasks for the dear Lord’s sake. If you and I, whilst work and troubles last, do truly say, ‘None of these things move me, so that I might finish my course,’ we too, with all our weaknesses, may be able to say at the last, ‘Thanks be to God! I have finished my course.’
Neither count I my life - I do not consider my life as so valuable as to be retained by turning away from bonds and persecutions. I am certain of bonds and afflictions; I am willing also, if it be necessary, to lay down my life in the prosecution of the same purpose.
Dear unto myself - So precious or valuable as to be retained at the sacrifice of duty. I am willing to sacrifice it if it be necessary. This was the spirit of the Saviour, and of all the early Christians. Duty is of more importance than life; and when either duty or life is to be sacrificed, life is to be cheerfully surrendered.
So that - This is my main object, to finish my course with joy. It is implied here:
(1) That this was the great purpose which Paul had in view.
(2) that if he should even lay down his life in this cause, it would be a finishing his course with joy. In the faithful discharge of duty, he had nothing to fear. Life would be ended with peace whenever God should require him to finish his course.
With joy - With the approbation of conscience and of God, with peace in the recollection of the past. Man should strive so to live that he will have nothing to regret when he lies on a bed of death. It is a glorious privilege to finish life with joy. It is most sad when the last hours are embittered with the reflection that life has been wasted. The only way in which life may be finished with joy is by meeting faithfully every duty, and encountering, as Paul did, every trial, with a constant desire to glorify God.
And the ministry - That I may fully discharge the duty of the apostolic office, the preaching of the gospel. In 2 Timothy 4:5, he charges Timothy to make full proof of his ministry. He here shows that this was the ruling principle of his own life.
Which I have received of the Lord Jesus - Which the Lord Jesus has committed to me, Acts 9:15-17. Paul regarded his ministry as an office entrusted to him by the Lord Jesus himself. On this account he deemed it to be especially sacred, and of high authority, Galatians 1:12. Every minister has been entrusted with an office by the Lord Jesus. He is not his own; and his great aim should be to discharge fully and entirely the duties of that office.
To testify the gospel - To bear witness to the good news of the favor of God. This is the great design of the ministry. It is to bear witness to a dying world of the good news that God is merciful, and that his favor may be made manifest to sinners. From this verse we may learn:
(1) That we all have a course to run, a duty to perform. Ministers have an allotted duty; and so have men in all ranks and professions.
(2) we should not be deterred by danger, or the fear of death, from the discharge of that duty. We are safe only when we are doing the will of God. We are really in danger only when we neglect our duty, and make the great God our enemy.
(3) we should so live as that the end of our course may be joy. It is, at best, a solemn thing to die; but death may be a scene of triumph and of joy.None of these things move me; they cannot deter me from my duty.
Neither count I my life before dear unto myself; I am so far from fearing bonds, that I would not fear death itself. He is said to account his life precious, or dear, that spares it; as 2 Kings 1:13,14.
My course; his general course of Christianity, or the special course of his ministry; in either of which there is a race to be run, and a prize to be got, 2 Timothy 4:7. It implies the great and constant labour that all Christians must take in their general calling, and especially ministers in their particular calling, 1 Corinthians 9:24.
With joy; which ariseth from the testimony of a good conscience, which only is true joy; the other is madness, Ecclesiastes 2:2.
The ministry; his apostleship, so called, Acts 1:25 6:4.
The gospel of the grace of God; so the gospel is called, because bestowed upon any nation or people by God’s mere grace only. And also it declares the grace of God in Christ Jesus to repenting and believing sinners.
neither count I my life dear unto myself: life is a very valuable thing, no outward or temporal enjoyment can be dearer to a man than life; all that he has he will give for his life: this therefore must not be understood in an absolute sense, as if the apostle despised his life, and esteemed of it meanly, when it was the gift of God, and had been not only so eminently preserved in providence, but had been so useful in a way of grace to so many valuable purposes; but it must be taken in a comparative sense, with respect to Christ and his Gospel, and when it should be called for to be laid down for him; and that, in such circumstances, and under such considerations, he made no account of it at all, but preferred Christ and his Gospel to it: this sense appears by what follows,
so that I might finish my course with joy; the course and race of his life, ending it by suffering cheerfully and joyfully for Christ; or his Christian course and race, which began at his conversion, ending that with a joyful prospect of being with Christ in an endless eternity; or else the course of his ministry, sealing that with his blood, and rejoicing that he was counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, and so he did finish his course, 2 Timothy 4:7
and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus; which seems to be explanative of the former, or of what is meant by his course, namely his ministry, the ministry of the Gospel: Beza's ancient copy, and the Vulgate Latin version read, "the ministry of the word"; this he had received from Christ, both the Gospel which he ministered, and gifts qualifying him for it, and a mission and commission to minister it; and which he was desirous of fulfilling in such a manner, as to give up his account with joy to him from whom he had received it, and to whom he was accountable; namely,
to testify the Gospel of the grace of God; to profess and preach it, to bear a constant and public testimony to it at death, as in life, and faithfully to declare it, and assert it to the last; which he calls not only the "Gospel", or good news of salvation by Christ; but the Gospel "of the grace" of God: which brings the account of the free grace, love, and mercy of God, displayed in the scheme of salvation of the grace of God the Father, in pitching his love upon any of the sons of men; not because they were better and more deserving of his favour, than others, but because of his sovereign will and pleasure, who will be gracious to whom he will be gracious; and in choosing them in Christ unto salvation, before they had done good or evil, and without any consideration or foresight of, or motive from good works hereafter done by them; in drawing the scheme and model of their salvation in Christ, appointing him to be the author of it; and in making a covenant of grace with him, stored with all the blessings and promises of grace; and in sending him, in the fulness of time, to suffer and die for them, not sparing him, but delivering him up for them all, and giving all things freely with him; and in accepting the sacrifice, satisfaction, and righteousness of his Son on their account, as if done by themselves. It also gives an account of the grace of Christ in undertaking the salvation of men; in assuming their nature, and becoming mean and low in it; in dying for their sins; in his intercession for them at the right hand of God; and in the care he takes of them in this world, until he has brought them safe home to himself. Likewise it gives an account of the grace of the Spirit in regeneration and sanctification; in working faith in the hearts of men; in being a comforter to them, a witnesser of their adoption, the earnest of their inheritance, and the sealer of them unto the day of redemption. And the Gospel may be so called, because all the doctrines of it are doctrines of grace; it asserts election to be of grace, and not of works; and ascribes the justification of a sinner to the free grace of God, through the righteousness of Christ, imputed without works and received by faith, which faith is the gift of God, and it denies it to be of the deeds of the law; it represents the pardon of sin to be according to the riches of God's grace, though it is through the blood of Christ, and not owing to humiliation, repentance, confession, and new obedience, as causes of it; it attributes regeneration and conversion to the abundant mercy, the free favour of God, and to the efficacy of his grace, and not to the will of the flesh, or the will of man; and in a word, as the great doctrine of it is salvation, whence it is called the Gospel of salvation, it declares that the whole of salvation, from first to last, is all of grace. And it may also bear this name, because it is a means of conveying grace unto, and implanting it in the hearts of men; regenerating grace comes this way; God begets men by the word of truth, they are born again of incorruptible seed by it; the Spirit of God, as a spirit of sanctification, is received through it, and faith comes by hearing it; and both that and hope, and every other grace, are quickened, encouraged, and drawn forth into exercise by it; all which is, when it is attended with the Spirit of God and power: and this being the nature and use of the Gospel, made it so precious and valuable to the apostle, and made him so intent upon testifying it, and fulfilling the ministry of it, and to prefer it to life and everything in this world; and it cannot but be highly valued and greatly desired by all those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Beza's ancient copy, and some others, read, "to testify to Jews and Greeks the Gospel of the grace of God".But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 20:24. According to the reading ἀλλʼ οὐδενὸς λόγου ποιοῦμαι τὴν ψυχὴν τιμίαν ἐμαυτῷ (see the critical remarks), this verse is to be interpreted: But of no word do I account my soul (my life) worthy for myself, i.e. the preservation of my life for my own personal interest is not held by me as worth speaking of. On τιμίαν, comp. Plat. Soph. p. 216 C: τοῖς μὲν δοκοῦσιν εἶναι τοῦ μηδενὸς τίμιοι, τοῖς δʼ ἅξιοι τοῦ παντός, and on οὐδενὸς λόγου, Herod, iv. 28 : λόγου ἄξιον (worthy of mention), Thuc. vi. 64. 2. According to the Recepta, as also according to Lachmann, it would have to be taken as: but to nothing do I take heed (I do not trouble myself about any impending suffering), even my life is not reckoned to me valuable for myself. On λόγον ποιεῖν τινος, comp. Wetstein and Kypke; and on λόγον ἔχειν τινος (Lachmann), Herod, i. 62, i. 115, al. (Schweigh. Lex. Herod. II. p. 76); Theocr. iii. 32; Tob 6:15.
ὡς τελειῶσαι κ.τ.λ.] purpose in this non-regarding of his own life: in order (not to remain stationary half-way, but) to finish my course, etc. On δεόμος, comp. Acts 13:25; 2 Timothy 4:7; Galatians 2:2; Php 2:16; 1 Corinthians 9:24. On ὡς with the infinitive in the telic sense, see Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. p. 175, and in the Sächs. Stud. 1846, p. 60; Sintenis, ad Plut. Them. 26. Only here so in the N.T.
καὶ τὴν διακονίαν κ.τ.λ] Epexegesis of the preceding figurative expression.
τὸ εὐαγγ. τ. χάρ. τ. Θεοῦ] the knowledge of salvation, whose contents is the grace of God (manifested in Christ). Comp. Acts 14:3.Acts 20:24. See critical note. “But I hold not my life of any account, as dear unto myself,” R.V., reading λόγου for λόγον omitting οὐδὲ ἔχω and μου. Both verbs ἔχω and ποιοῦμαι are found in similar phrases in LXX, Tob 6:16, Job 22:4, so also in classical Greek (Wetstein). The former verb is used in N.T. as = habere, æstimare, cf. Luke 14:18 and by St. Paul, Php 2:29.—ὡς τελειῶσαι, see critical note. “So that I may accomplish my course,” R.V., “in comparison of accomplishing my course,” margin. Difficulty has arisen because this is the only case in the N.T. in which ὡς appears in a final clause, Burton, p. 85 (but see W.H, Luke 9:52, and Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 74 (1893)). The whole phrase is strikingly Pauline, cf. Php 3:12, where the same verb immediately seems to suggest the δρόμος (Alford), Galatians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Timothy 4:7.—μετὰ χαρᾶς, see critical note, cf. Php 1:4, Colossians 1:11, Hebrews 10:34. The words are strongly defended by Ewald.—τήν διακονίαν, see above on p. 422 “saepe apud Paulum,” cf. Romans 11:13. Apostleship is often so designated, Acts 1:17; Acts 1:25; Acts 21:19, 2 Corinthians 4:1, and other instances in Hort, Ecclesia, p. 204.—διαμαρτ., cf. Acts 6:4, where the διακ. τοῦ λόγου is the highest function of the Apostles.
 Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.24. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself] The oldest MSS. omit the words for “neither count I,” and following these the Rev. Ver. has translated, “but I hold not my life of any account, as dear unto myself.” The feebleness and tautology of this sentence are enough to condemn it, and the “as” is a mere substitute for the “neither” of the A. V., which it quite implies. In a very clear paper on the verse Dr Field has shewn that there is probably some omission before “dear unto myself” of the same character, though not exactly the same, as what is supplied in the A. V., and that the reading of א, B, and C, which the Rev. Ver. has tried to give in English, arose after the words, of which he suggests the loss, had fallen away from some very early exemplar. The literal English of Dr Field’s suggestion would be “Neither make I account of anything, nor think my life dear unto myself.”
so that I might finish my course with joy] Better, “may accomplish.” The figure of the Christian life as a race is common enough in St Paul’s language (cp. Acts 13:35). The Apostle signifies by his words that the race will last as long as life lasts, and that he must not faint in the middle, whatever suffering may be in store. The “joy” would arise from the sense of duty done, or, at all events, striven to be done.
and the ministry, which I have received, &c.] Better to omit the “have” with Rev. Ver. The Apostle refers to the commission which he received at his conversion. The work and the sufferings are both foretold to Ananias from the first (Acts 9:15-16), and St Paul speaks of this ministry or service by the same word (1 Timothy 1:12), “I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to his service.”
to testify … God] To bear witness to men of the good news that God is willing to be gracious. In the context of the passage just quoted (1 Timothy 1:14) St Paul shews how fit a person he was to bear such testimony. He had been a blasphemer, a persecutor and injurious, but had obtained mercy … and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ abounded exceedingly.Acts 20:24. Οὐδενὸς) of no adverse occurrence.—ἐμαυτῷ, unto myself) as concerns myself [ch. Acts 21:13]; Php 1:21-22. The denial of self.—ὡς, as) viz. I count it dear [I do not count my life so dear, as I count it a dear object to finish my course with joy].—τελειῶσαι, to finish) He finished after it that a very long time had intervened: 2 Timothy 4:7-8, τὸν δρόμον τετέλεκα, “I have finished my course.”—δρόμον, course) a speedy one.—τῆς χάριτος, of the grace) of the New Testament.—τοῦ Θεοῦ, of God) This name is repeated with great force in Acts 20:25; Acts 20:27.Verse 24. - I hold not my life of any account, as dear for none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear, A.V. and T.R.; may accomplish my course for might finish my course with joy, A.V. and T.R.; received for have received, A.V.; from for of, A.V. I hold not my life, etc. It is inconceivable that St. Paul should have uttered, or St. Luke have reported, such an unintelligible sentence as that of the R.T., when it was perfectly easy to express the meaning clearly. Neither does the mention of his life, in the first instance, tally with that of "bonds and afflictions." The T.R., which has considerable support, seems to be far preferable. The first clause, Οὐδενὸς λόγον ποιοῦμαι, means quite naturally," I take no account of anything;" I value nothing, neither liberty, nor ease, nor comfort. I am ready to suffer the loss of all things, and I do count them as dung (Philippians 3:7-9); and then he adds yet further, "Neither do I count my own life as precious, so as to accomplish my course," etc. This metaphor of running a race is a favorite one with St. Paul (1 Corinthians 9:24; Galatians 5:7; Philippians 3:13, 14; 2 Timothy 4:7). To testify the gospel of the grace of God. An invaluable epitome of the Christian ministry. The essential feature of the gospel is its declaration of God's free grace to a guilty world, forgiving sins, and imputing righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. The distinctive work of the ministry is to declare that grace. So St. Paul describes his own ministry, and the record of his ministry in the Acts and in his Epistles exactly agrees with this description.
The best texts omit neither count I, and render, I esteem my life of no account, as if it were precious to myself.
Of value; precious.
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