The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
April 8, 2012
1) Philippians 4:21-23 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
We now come to the end of Paul's epistle to the Philippians.
He closes by saying, "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The
brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you,
especially those of Caesar's household. The grace of the Lord Jesus
Christ be with your spirit" (Phil. 4:21-23).
Three times the passage uses the term "greet," which is rendered
twice as "salute" and once as "greet" in the King James
Version. It is from the Greek word "aspazomai," which is
defined as "to enfold in the arms, that is, (by implication) to
salute, (figuratively) to welcome" (James Strong). And though
we might normally think of the English word "salute" as more of a
military greeting done with raising the right hand to the side of
the head, it also means "to address with expressions of goodwill,
respect, etc.; greet" and "to make a bow or other gesture to, as in
greeting, farewell, or respect" (Random House Webster's Electronic
Dictionary and Thesaurus). It is also the same Greek word that
is used in Hebrews 11:13 in referring to those Old Testament
believers who had "...died in faith, without receiving the promises,
but having seen them and having WELCOMED them from a
distance...." Commenting on the word "salute," David Lipscomb
writes, "to salute is to bear assurance of love and kindness for
persons." So that is also what one does when welcoming or
greeting a person. For when we greet others -- in whatever
manner we do -- we our expressing our love and kindness for that
individual; and if that be not the case, then would it not be
because our greeting was insincere or hypocritical?
The word "greet," or a form of that word, is the most common
rendering of this Greek word in the New Testament.
Through the years, different methods of greeting one another have
been a part of various cultures. We often think of the
handshake in our time here in the United States; but during the time
of the early church Paul had exhorted the brethren to "greet one
another with a holy kiss" (Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20, and 2 Cor.
13:12), which Peter refers to as a "kiss of love" (1 Pet.
5:14). Greetings with a kiss had already been part of their
culture; so that wasn't something new they were being introduced
to. But what he now commands, he refers to as a "holy" kiss
Paul makes mention that "All the saints greet you, especially those
of Caesar's household." As pointed out at the beginning, the
Philippian letter is one of Paul's prison epistles, while he was
under house-arrest in Rome. So now Paul refers to those saints
at Rome who are also giving their greetings to the
Philippians. The phrase "those of Caesar's household" should
not be taken to refer to only those who were close relatives of
Caesar. For the term "household" was also used to refer to
much more than that. It could also include servants and
guards, who were not related to the family at all. As Thayer
shows, the Greek word for "household" ("oikia"), though having a
primary meaning of "a house," can also figuratively refer to not
only "the family," but also "the inmates of the house," or, in other
words, individuals who dwell with others in the same
This particular Caesar, by the way, is "Nero." He was the
fifth Roman emperor and, according to the International Standard
Bible Encyclopedia, had been "born at Antium" on "December 15, 37
AD" and "began to reign October 13, 54." So that was just one
month short of his seventeenth birthday. He then died June 9,
68; so he reigned as emperor about 13 years and 8 months; and,
therefore, passed away before he was even 30.
In wishing grace upon his hearers is a very common way that Paul
would begin and end his letters. This can be seen in numerous
passages (Rom. 1:7 and 16:24, 1 Cor. 1:3 and 16:23, 2 Cor. 1:2 and
13:14, Gal. 1:3 and 6:18, Eph. 1:2 and 6:24, Phil. 1:2 and 4:23,
Col. 1:2 and 4:18, 1 Thess. 1:1 and 5:28, 2 Thess. 1:2 and 3:18, 1
Tim. 1:2 and 6:21; 2 Tim. 1:2 and 4:22, Titus 1:4 and 3:15, Philemon
1:3 and 1:25).
Another thing common to some of Paul's epistles was his mention of
specific or general individuals who gave their greetings in the
close of his letters (Rom. 16:21, 22, 23; 1 Cor. 16:19,20; 2 Cor.
13:13, "All the saints greet you"; Col. 4:10-14; 2 Tim. 4:21,
"...Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all
the brethren." Philemon 1:23,24. Peter also does this: "She
who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings,
and so does my son, Mark" (1 Pet. 5:13); and John as well:
"The children of your chosen sister greet you" (2 Jn. 1:13; 3 Jn.
In Philippians 4:21, Paul speaks of "the brethren" who send their
greetings; and then in verse 22 of "All the saints" who also send
theirs. We might wonder about this. Are not the brethren
also saints, and vice versa? It is thought that "brethren" is
probably referring to those ministers who had been with Paul -- such
as Mark, Aristarchus, Justus, Demas, Epaphras, and Luke (Philemon
1:24, Col. 4:11,12) -- and then a greeting from the saints in
general, such as those Christians of Caesar's household.
It is also interesting to note that though there are these whom Paul
mentions specifically by name who had been with him in Rome, there
is never any mention of Peter being there. And this is true in
whether Paul was writing from that place during this first
imprisonment there (c. 60 to 63), during his second Roman
imprisonment (c. 66-68) or when writing to that place from Corinth
(c. 57 to 58). It is thought that Peter died somewhere
around A.D. 64 to 67. This all appears to indicate that the
tradition that Peter went to Rome in A.D. 42, following his release
from prison, is not a fact; that Peter never was in Rome and,
therefore, never was made the first Pope there, as some folks
But though they believe Peter was the first Pope, notice what the
Bible says to show that fallacy:
For one thing, Peter had been a married man. For he had a
"mother-in-law" (Matt. 8:14) and "a believing wife" (1 Cor. 9:5).
Also, could you imagine Peter even using such titles as popes have
used? The very word "Pope" means "the bishop of Rome as head
of the Roman Catholic Church." Would the apostle Peter ever
refer to himself as being the "head of the church"? Paul
writes in Ephesians 5:23, "For the husband is the head of the wife,
as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the
Savior of the body." Compare Colossians 1:18. Nowhere
does the New Testament give man the authority to be the head over
God's church -- for that role is Christ's alone. Since Jesus
is the head of the church, how can there be any other?
In addition, would Peter ever have people address him as "Holy
Father" as popes have been called? There is only one place in
all the Bible where this phrase is used, and it is in John 17 where
Jesus is in deep prayer on the night of His betrayal and shortly
before entering the Garden of Gethsemane. In verse 11, He
states, "...Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou
hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are." In
fervent prayer to the Father, Jesus used this title.
Could you imagine the Lord calling any man "Holy
Father"? Since this is a title that Jesus used in referring to
His Father in heaven, how could any man be called the same?
Furthermore, would Peter ever let others refer to him as the "Vicar
of Christ," as popes have been called? "Vicar" is defined as "a
person who is authorized to perform the functions of
another...." So this phrase is declaring the pope as having
the authority to perform the functions of Christ, and for many years
the pope has been viewed as infallible in his religious
declarations. And regardless of how humble a pope would be,
how sincere, how much he realized his inferiority compared to God's
greatness, but had greatly deceived himself into thinking he is
serving the Lord by being the head over all the church, does that
make it any more right? For as we noted, that superior
position is for Jesus alone. The very word "catholic" means
"universal in extent." So while the Bible shows that "elders"
are to oversee only the local congregation where they were members
(Acts 20:28) and that there was also to be a plurality of elders in
each congregation (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23), unauthorized men came up
with the idea to have just one man to oversee the church universally
(which there is no Bible authority for and, therefore, in conflict
with God's word).
And what about the title, "Sovereign Pontiff." Would Peter
accept such a title for himself? A "sovereign" is one who is a
"supreme ruler," having "sovereign power or authority." And
"Pontiff" is used primarily to refer to the pope. So a
"sovereign pontiff" describes the pope as being a supreme ruler, one
who has sovereign power or authority over all others. But,
again, how could just a man take upon himself such a superior role
in religious matters?
Peter was a good man, but he was not superior to others. He
was a fellow Christian, a "bond-servant" of Christ, as he refers to
himself in 2 Peter 1:1. He would not allow people to fall at
his feet and worship him, as we see when he prohibited Cornelius
from doing that in Acts 10:25,26.
There was a time when Peter, as well as the other apostles, had
disputes over who would be the greatest in the kingdom; but the very
fact that they argued about these things indicates that Jesus had
never made Peter superior to any of them by making him a Pope to
rule over them. Rather, the Lord shows the humble role of
servitude that all of them were to take on (Luke 22:24-26).
Another phrase Catholics sometimes use is "the primacy of Peter" and
"the primacy of the pope." "Primacy" means "the state of
being first in order, importance, rank, etc." The Bible never
refers to Peter in this way, but there is one whom it does: "And he
is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the
firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy"
(Col. 1:18, Douay Rheims Bible, which is considered a Catholic
version). Some other versions render the "primacy" as "that in
all things He may have the preeminence," "that he might have the
first place in all things," "that in all things he might have the
chief place," "that he would be above all others," and "that in
everything he might have the supremacy." How can this be said
of any other, but God's Son? Matthew 28:18: "And Jesus came up
and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in
heaven and on earth.'" Christ's supremacy can also be
seen in these phrases used in Revelation 17:14: "...He is Lord of
lords and King of kings...."
To show you how far some have wrongly gone with regard to Peter,
consider this following quote from James Cardinal Gibbons, a
Catholic Archbishop. He said, "Jesus our Lord, founded but one
Church, which He was pleased to build on Peter. Therefore, any
church that does not recognize Peter as its foundation stone is not
the Church of Christ, and therefore cannot stand, for it is not the
work of God'' (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 82). What about
that? Is Peter the foundation of the church? And is any
church not a true church of the Lord who does not accept that?
Paul makes it very clear in 1 Corinthians 3:11, "For other
foundation no one can lay, but that which has been laid, which is
Christ Jesus.'' Christ is the only foundation for the
church! He, therefore, is the one people must
Catholics refer to the pope as being the "visible head" of the
church, and Jesus as the "invisible head." Here are a couple
quotes on that: "The Pope, therefore, as vicar of Christ, is the
visible head of Christ's kingdom on earth, the Church, of which
Christ Himself is the invisible head" (Answer Wisely, by Martin J.
Scott, p. 49).
"According to the will of Christ, all its members profess the same
faith, have the same worship and Sacraments, and are united under
the one and same visible head, the Pope" ("Father Smith Instructs
Jackson," by John F. Noll and Lester J. Fallon, p. 42).
It seems that this often use of the phrase "visible head" in
referring to the pope is a way that Catholic officials seem to think
it won't put the pope in conflict to the headship of Christ, and
solve the problem of having a church with two heads. But this
concept of "visible" head over the church is nowhere taught in the
Scriptures. And when we think of the Bible illustration of the
church being liken to a body and Christ being the head of that body,
there is no room for another head -- whether visible or invisible
for that body. For the head is that part of the body that
controls the body, and the only one who is to be reigning over the
church and controlling it is Jesus Christ -- not the apostle Peter,
or any other man.
David Riggs writes, "Catholics often use the expression, 'One fold
and one shepherd' to sustain the doctrine of the papacy. (See
Catholic Catechism For Adults, p. 59, q. 3.) They teach that the
'one shepherd' is the Pope and the 'one fold' represents the
Is that what you understand the "one fold and one shepherd" to
be? According to John 10:11, 14-16, Jesus is that one
shepherd, and that one fold is all who will give themselves over to
So we close this lesson, having built an additional lesson around
the fact that Peter does not appear to have been in Rome when Paul
wrote from there or to there; and, therefore, never reigned as the
first pope (which is a man-made concept that the Lord had never
Though Paul closes the Philippian letter, the joy by which it is
characterized does not come to an end. For that joy comes from
God Himself, as part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, to all who
will submit to the gospel. And that fruit is made up of
various qualities that work together and which were, no doubt, a
part of Paul's life -- even as he wrote this epistle from his 2-year
house-arrest: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control; against such things there is no law" (Gal.
5:22,23). May we ever strive to develop more of this type of
fruit for our souls. For then Paul's final statement, by which
we will end this study, will certainly be true in each of our lives:
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Phil.
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following
people: Curtis Gautreau
who will soon be receiving a bone marrow transplant, due to a type
of bone cancer; Gyndell Henry
(who has breast cancer); Mike Dubose (who must receive cancer treatment for
the rest of his life); R. J.
Stevens (who is undergoing therapy, following heart
by-pass surgery and a mini stroke), Roy Fenner (who has macular damage causing
distortion, for which he must receive monthly shots in his eye
indefinitely, and the development of a small, unpredictable legion
near the scar where cancer had been recently removed, and who
requires plastic surgery to eliminate a basal cell wound that has
been behind his ear for more than 2 years); and for our members who
have been sick, with poor health, and/or physically weak: Geneva Wilson, Jean Calloway, Shirley
Young, and Cheryl Crews.
Also Mozelle Robertson (who
is healing from wrist surgery at 91), Clifton Trimble (whose health has been poor), and Anthony Webb and Andrew Robertson
(who are seeking new employment).
I received the following from R.J. Evans concerning an update on David Hartsell (from Belinda):
"Doctors have been searching for an answer to David's
unresponsiveness. They believe they have found an explanation. In
the quest to control his seizures in the week after surgery, he had
a rare metabolic response to a seizure medication. The results are
temporary changes in his brain which it is believed can be gradually
reversed. However, this means that he has to stay in ICU at...
MD Anderson while we await his recovery. This is an extremely rare
condition which will take time to reverse. We entered into the
meeting with the doctors expecting bad news, but we firmly believe
that the power of so many prayers allowed us to receive this hopeful
"I so much appreciate the support I have received from brethren. I
have many long days ahead as I work out a way to keep my job in
Tuscaloosa going and still provide David with the best care and
chance of recovery.
"Thank you and may the Lord be Praised!"
The Southside church of Christ in Gonzales, Louisiana, will be
having a gospel meeting April 27-29 with Chris Reeves as the guest
speaker. The church meets at 405 W. Orice Roth Road.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
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