The Doctrine of Compassion

Part 1

January 5, 2020



Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1JOHN 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”


The Book of Philippians – known as a “Prison Letter” – was written by the Apostle Paul to express his gratitude and affection for the Philippian Church. They had been the strongest supporters in his ministry. Scholars agree that Paul drafted the Epistle during his two years of house arrest in Rome. He had established the church in Philippi approximately ten years prior to his arrest, during his second missionary journey. His tender, passionate love for the believers in Philippi, is expressed in The Book of Philippians.


The Philippian Church had sent gifts to Paul while he was in prison, bound in chains, during his first Roman imprisonment. These gifts were delivered by Epaphroditus, a leader in the Philippian Church, who ended up assisting Paul with his ministry in Rome. At some point while serving with Paul, Epaphroditus became dangerously sick and nearly died. After his recovery, Paul sent Epaphroditus back to Philippi, carrying with him this letter to the Philippian Church. Essentially the reason Paul wrote this letter to his Christian friends in Philippi, was to express his gratitude for their love, help, and assistance advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


In PHI 4:10 (The Message Bible), Paul wrote: I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. The apostle was actually referring to their compassion in this verse. But you don’t actually see the word “compassion” – right? Well, think about this. Some people might actually question the importance of going back to the original languages of the Bible, while studying God’s Word. The original language in which Paul wrote was Koine Greek. (So was the entire New Testament). Koine is simply the Greek word for “common.” The word koine comes from the word koinonia, which means “fellowship.” Fellowship means having something in common. Koine Greek was simply the common language of the Mediterranean world during the first century. As Alexander the Great conquered the “civilized world” of his time, he spread Greek language and culture. Because of this, Greek became the most common and pervasive “international language,” much like English in today’s world. Since most people could understand Koine-Greek, it was uniquely suited to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world. So, it makes perfect sense that as students of God’s Word, we should be interested in the original language in which it was written. (The Bible was written in 3 original languages – Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek)


All that said, in PHI 4:10, the word “concern” is actually the present active infinitive form of the Koine Greek verb phroneo. Phroneo means to care or be concerned about others with objective thinking, or to be compassionate and caring for others. When the translators of the New American Bible translated the word phroneo, they used the English word “concern.” “Concern” means to be compassionate and caring in addition to being concerned. Can you see how much more it really means when you look at the original Koine Greek word Paul used? We wouldn’t know this deeper meaning without going back to the Greek!


This expression of compassion came from those believers in the Philippian Church to whom Paul was writing, despite the fact that Paul had made a great mistake in Jerusalem. The year was 58 AD and he had just finished writing two Epistles – The Book of Romans and The Book of Galatians. He’d written them to the Jews and Gentiles about how keeping the Law is not a part of the Spiritual Life of the Church-Age. Then do you know what happened?? He went right out and violated the very principles about which he wrote!


Look at what Paul wrote in ACTS 20:22-24 (The Message Bible): “But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” Paul actually understood that he was heading into trouble if he went to Jerusalem and it seems unlikely that he needed any further warning about going.


Now look at three very crucial words written by the apostle Luke in ACTS 21:4-5: After looking up the disciples, we stayed there [Tyre] seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. It was “through the Spirit” that the apostles were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem! But he ignored them!


Let’s look at the full implications of those words. Luke was Paul’s friend. He wrote this account several years after these events. Then, with the advantage of hindsight, he looked back over the whole circumstance that followed. Led by The Holy Spirit in recording these words, Luke wrote down, at this juncture, that it was through The Holy Spirit that the disciples told Paul he shouldn’t go up to Jerusalem. The Greek is very strong here – much stronger than our English text. Literally they said, “Stop going up to Jerusalem!” And that was Paul’s mistake. He didn’t observe what The Holy Spirit said plainly and clearly.


It’s important to understand that Paul’s mistake was actually refusing to operate in God’s Plan for his life and refusing to exercise his spiritual gift. Like all believers, Paul was given a Spiritual Gift from God. As Christians, we are all commanded to use these gifts. Our Spiritual Gifts are designed to build up and teach and enlighten the body of Christ. Believers are commanded to use their Spiritual Gifts to enrich the local assembly to which God has called them. Spiritual Gifts function only in the Pre-Designed Plan of God.


Believers can serve God faithfully for years, and then difficult times begin to wear us down, and we begin to stumble and struggle. Then another Christian, motivated by God’s Love and compassion, begins to minister to us, and God’s Grace becomes more real to us. We come to a point at which we finally see the Eternal Purpose behind each situation God puts in our lives.


Paul recognized God’s Grace being manifested through the compassion and caring of the believers in Philippi. He was victorious in this situation because of their tenderness and compassion. That compassion made the difference! In GAL 6:1-3 (The Message Bible), Paul wrote: Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.


Paul rejoiced when he saw individuals applying this type of behavior to their lives. This is such an important function, that God The Holy Spirit has specifically given some believers certain Spiritual Gifts for this purpose, These Spiritual Gifts are called encouragement and mercy. Paul describes this in ROM 12:3-8 (The Message Bible): The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.


As Christians, we should be aware that God comforts us when we go through hard times, and He brings us to others who are going through hard times, so that we can be there for them, just as He was there for us. Look at what Paul wrote in 2CO 1:3-6 (New International Version): Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

{to be continued}


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