by Richard Mansel, assistant editor
The Apostle Paul was ready to be offered to God as a willing sacrifice. What gave him the impetus to do so?
A MAN OF FINAL SACRIFICE
Paul was ready to offer the ultimate sacrifice by giving up his life (Acts 9:29; 25:11). He was ready to be with his Lord for all eternity (Romans 8:18).
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NKJV).
He was “ready to be offered.” The phrase is “figuratively used of one whose blood is poured out in a violent death for the cause of God.”/1 “The possibility of his execution is vividly present to his own mind.”/2 “The passive voice hints that the apostle is the victim, being offered.”/3
He was giving his life as the ultimate sacrifice. He had taught the Ephesians that our lives and mission were to be about bringing glory to Christ (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Drink offerings served a purpose during the Old Law. In Genesis 35:14, we find Jacob offering a drink offering to God after the land blessing is given to him. Jacob’s descendants would have a promised land of their own (Genesis 35:11-12).
Drink offerings were a part of the Mosaical Law (Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 23:13). They were commanded in Numbers 15 to commemorate the entrance into the promised land (Numbers 15:2).
Paul was ready for his departure. The word refers to “a metaphor drawn from loosing from moorings preparatory to setting sail” and “breaking up an encampment.”/4 “At last he is released from the harness like the faithful horse at the end of the day’s journey. It will be sweet to rest from the toil and strife, but he is glad that he has had his share of the work.” /5
The imagery of the drink offering signifying the entering into the promised land and the onset of the departure on a journey signifies the differences between Israel’s physical homeland and the spiritual homeland of heaven.
The promised land given to Israel was temporal and had to be conquered. Our promised land in heaven will be sinless and is being built personally by the Lord (John 14:1-6). Israel’s land may have been a “land that flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 6:3), but our promised land is resplendent beyond all the imaginations of men (Revelation 21; 2 Corinthians 12:4).
Paul knew his crown awaited his arrival in heaven. It is a “garland of green leaves for the victor,” given to those who persevere against the ravages of the spiritual wars./6
While Paul was ready for the end of his journey, he still had his thoughts on the mission and his brethren. He wanted nothing more than to know that his brethren would be safe after his journey ended (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:10-14; 4:14-15).
“Paul still has interest in earthly affairs, but his heart is in the hills on high. He looks away to the mountains. His feet are growing restless and the sun is setting in the west. Jesus is beckoning to him and he will go.” /7
1/ Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1977), 583.
2/ Ralph P. Martin, Philippians, vol 11 of Tyndale New Testament Commentary Series ed. by Leon Morris (Inter-Varsity Press, 1987), 123.
3/ Wayne Jackson, Before I Die (Stockton Christian Courier Publications, 2007), 281.
4/ Thayer, 39.
5/ A.T. Robertson, Epochs in the Life of Paul (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), 314.
6/ Jackson, 282.
7/ Robertson, 314.