Paul’s prayer: know God better and better (pt.1)

Bible diagram on Pauls’ prayer in Colossians 1:9-10

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer

We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf.[b] He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.

(Note: Paul’s co-worker Epaphras founded the church, along with those at Laodicea and Hierapolis (Col 1:7-8; 4:12-13). But Paul had his heart for them as well, and he and his co-workers prayed together always for all the new believers in the various churches they established in their missions. Another friend of Paul/a faithful co-worker/partner for his ministry, Philemon lived in this city.)

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

Initially I thought of doing just one diagram as I didn’t realize that the two verses in 1:9-10 are so rich in contents that they fill up the whole board. And that means I have to do another diagram for the remaining verses. (To continue)

Kainotes, 2023-03-28

A convert and his letter that converts countless

Paul himself was the first convert by grace and faith.

Paul received revelation of the Scripture directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12). Thirteen of Paul’s letters, written in the period AD49-67 are included in the New Testament as holy Scriptures. Romans is the sixth book, written around AD57-58, right in the middle of his ministry. Yet the early church considered it important enough to be placed as the first letter in the New Testament. The apostle Paul went through a supernatural encounter with Christ and was converted on the road to Damascus. His transformation converted many, through his life and mainly his letters, the Scriptures in the New Testament. And Romans can be said as the main doctrinal influencer.

A philosopher read Romans and became dramatically converted. For thirteen years prior to that he sought wisdom. Early in his studies, Augustine had even discounted Christian teachings through the scriptures as being “… unworthy to be compared with the majesty of Cicero” because of “their simplicity.” In AD386 at the age of 32, the worldly Augustine heard a child’s repeated voice telling him to read and he responded by picking up Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and read and found grace, and was converted to Christianity. He was consecrated Bishop of Hippo in 387 A.D. He was converted reading Romans 13:13-14 13 “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

A monk named Martin Luther reading Romans was awaken to grace, and became convinced that righteousness is not earned by works but by God’s grace. ‘Night and day I pondered until . . . I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.” The book of Romans sparked the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s.

Snapshot: Paul summarizes how the gospel of Jesus works in a letter to the churches at Rome, where he plans to visit. Paul had wanted to visit the church at Rome for many years when he wrote this letter (15:23) He purposes to establish them in the faith by explaining the gospel (1:8–15), and to encourage and remind them how they should act as a church (15:14–15).

Paul begins by showing the spiritual condition of all people. He finds Jews and Gentiles alike to be sinners and in need of salvation. That salvation has been provided as a gift (grace) by God through Jesus Christ and his redemptive work on the cross. It must be received by faith –as illustrated by the example of Abraham. Paul further shows how believers are freed from the power of sin, law and death –through their union with Christ in both death and resurrection and by the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Paul then shows that Israel too, though in a state of unbelief then, has a place in God’s sovereign redemptive plan.

God’s salvation and mercy are available to everyone who believes and accepts by faith.

Special Characteristics: The most systematic of Paul’s letters; emphasis on Christian doctrine; widespread use of OT quotations (chapters 9-11); deep concern for Israel.

A succinct list of subheadings (based on NLT Bible, 2015) that is self-explanatory!

  • Greetings from Paul (1:1-7)
  • God’s Good News (1:8-17)
  • God’s Anger at Sin (1:18-32)
  • God’s Judgment of Sin (2:1-16)
  • The Jews and the Law (2:17-29)
  • God Remains Faithful (3:1-8)
  • All People Are Sinners (3:9-20)
  • Christ Took Our Punishment (3:21-31)
  • The Faith of Abraham (4:1-25)
  • Faith Brings Joy (5:1-11)
  • Adam and Christ Contrasted (5:12-21)
  • Sin’s Power Is Broken (6:1-23)
  • No longer Bound to the Law (7:1-6)
  • God’s Law Reveals Our Sin (7:7-13)
  • Struggling with Sin (7:14-25)
  • Life in the Spirit (8:1-17)
  • The Future Glory (8:18-30)
  • Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love (8:31-39)
  • God’s Selection of Israel (9:1-29)
  • Israel’s Unbelief (9:30-33; 10:1-4)
  • Salvation Is for Everyone (10:5-21)
  • God’s Mercy on Israel (11:1-24)
  • Gods Mercy Is for Everyone (11:25-36)
  • A Living Sacrifice to God (12:1-21)
  • [Respect for Authority] (13:1-7) I prefer this alternate subheading: “Respect Ministers for God -executing justice against evil”. (my heading is based on verse 4, NKJV)
  • Love Fulfills God’s Requirements (13:8-14)
  • [The Danger of Criticism] (14:1-23) I prefer this alternate subheading: “Among Weak and Strong Christians” ( a heading used by NKJV, 1982)
  • [Living to Please Others](15:1-13) I prefer this alternate subheading: “Receive One Another just As Christ Received Us” (my heading is based on verse 7)
  • Paul’s Reason for Writing (15:14-33)
  • Paul Greets His Friends (16:1-16)
  • Paul’s Final Instructions (16:17-27)

A highlight on some chapters and verses

    Righteousness Imputed: Justification (3:21; 5:21) Through Christ (3:21-26) Received by Faith (3:27; 4:25) The principle established (3:27-31); The principle illustrated (Abraham’s faith accounted for righteousness) (4)   The Fruits of Righteousness (5:1-11) Life in the Power of the Holy Spirit (chapter 8)

Theme verse:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (1:16–17)

Gospel message

Romans 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Favorite verse

Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (This verse applies to my own 1983 conversion too!)

kainotes, 2022-01-19

How did Paul write his sensitive letters: a model passage and a revelation of the big picture

Let us do some investigative exploration in Paul’s letter writing to potentially offensive believers recipients and learn how he does it without discouraging them?

There are many things to learn from him. I will use a passage from Romans 15:14-24 to highlight a few notable observations.

One notable factor is his emulating Jesus, using the Holy Spirit’s gift of word of knowledge and word of wisdom. Paul lists out the likely questions for the audience before they could voice them and confront him. He then succinctly and masterfully answers his own questions. And his answers became part of the Bible.

Background: Paul wrote the longest and most organized doctrinal letter to the church in Rome proposing to visit the new converts. The letter summarizes what the Gospel is and how it works.

Paul anticipated this question: The Romans church was not started by Paul. Will some leaders not get offended?

He began this passage with an appreciation of their worth as Christian leaders (knowledge of the Gospel, ability to teach each other, and willingness to do good for the kingdom of God), and then went on to say what he intended to do.

Paul went on to answer the question on why they should not take offense. He is confident that the Roman recipients need to know a reminder. Why? Let us explore his reasoning.

They share a common ground over the matter of not overlapping even in evangelism. Paul agrees that he should preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. (15:20-21)

He also reminds them of his being specially called and sent to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, and how the Holy Spirit has confirmed the credibility of his messages with the convincing power of miraculous signs and wonders, from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum, a region northeast of Italy! (15:16-19)

He informs them that he has finished his work in these places and is now ready to move on and advance the kingdom of God further West from Rome, where Spain is.

Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire, which extended about three million square miles around the Mediterranean and encompassed Spain, France, Israel, and parts of northern Africa. It was logical for Paul to continue to Spain after Italy.

Thus, Paul’s answer to offenses, if any, among the Roman church leaders, made the potentially sensitive issue of visiting Rome immaterial when compared to the big picture of God’s kingdom. He was on the way to Spain, where the Good News was not yet preached. Rome was a transit station. There would be no overlapping.

Reading with the perspective of the true force behind the early church expansion, writing to the church in Roman can be seen as a crucial strategic spiritual move by the Holy Spirit, and not a wish fulfillment of one mortal man, albeit him being the great apostle Paul. Paul had a very important mission in Rome, in preparing and equipping the Christians to face the fiery trials, although Paul did not know then.

Paul wrote this letter in AD57. He was confident that the Holy Spirit had told him to go to Rome. And he did, (and eventually met up with the Roman believers), calmly braving a miraculous sea rescue adventure, ministering to others with the Holy Spirit! (Acts 27-28)

The First Martyrs of the Church of Rome were Christians martyred in the city of Rome during Nero’s persecution in AD64. The event is recorded by both Tacitus and Pope Clement I, among others. Paul’s letter written seven years ahead of the tragic event was timely. He himself was shortly imprisoned in Rome under house arrest for two years, during which he continued to write his letters to the churches to teach, correct, admonish, strengthen and build up his brethren in Christ, many of whom were key church leaders. His letters to the churches of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and a personal letter to Philemon were written in AD62, while in prison. He was martyred in AD67. The persecution of Christians continued by the Roman rulers for the first three hundred years of church history.

Paul’s life (including his letters) has impacted and strengthened many during and after his time for at least two thousands years. Why did he bother to write those letters? At the time of writing he did not know that one day his letters would become part of the Bible! He had nothing to gain but everything to lose in the eyes of men. A lessor man would have given up long ago, but not Paul. Why? I believe it is because of his close relationship with the living God. Paul knows Jesus, and walks closely with the Holy Spirit ever since he first encountered Jesus. He was dedicated to live God’s plan. His letters made a path to fulfill the plan.

Postscript: Did Paul reach Spain? The early church, including Clement of Rome in AD96 (a disciple of Paul, Philippians 4:3) wrote of Paul’s preaching reached the farthest bound of the West (a phrase used by Romans writers to refer to Spain), and especially the church in Spain has maintained accounts of Paul’s missionary journey to Spain.

kainotes, 2022-01-18

Three perfect storms (3): “Prepared”! Another one today!

another perfect storm

This third “perfect storm” post is relevant today. “Prepared’. What it means is the preparedness is already a done deal. Paul could not have started to get prepared when Euroclydon hit the ship. He was already aware and prepared. Reading this again makes us realize how Jesus has wanted His disciples to be prepared as he trained them in the three and half years of His earth ministry. They seemed to have lost it when He was crucified and buried. But they remembered to gather together in their usual meeting room (where they had the last supper with Jesus), and there Jesus appeared after resurrection! Then they also obeyed Jesus and waited in the big room in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them and the rest is history. Overcome! Victory! Fulfillment of the beginning of the Great Commission. Come to think of it now, this is the “perfect storm” again. Many will rise above the storm to greatness of their calling and sending, and many others may need to swim like never before.

AAA watchman

Mediterranean Sea tropical-like-cyclone November 2014

“Prepared” is the only word today to counter the unexpected. This seems paradoxical. How can one be prepared if what will come is unexpected? In the three perfect storm scenarios we study, one key common denominator is the preparedness of the three protagonists involved: Jesus, Apostle Paul and Prophet Jonah. Today we read Paul’s experience at sea, encountering a hurricane and shipwreck.**

HOW DID APOSTLE PAUL RIDE THE STORM? Like the other two examples we have read, he was well prepared in the Word of God and in the Spirit, remained calm, with the peace of Jesus in him, and even offered authoritative and accurate prophetic advice to the Roman Imperial centurion who was in charge. He did not have to worry or respond to the threatening storm. He continued his usual normal life of staying in the presence of God, praying and listening to…

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A two thousand year old letter for someone

1 Corinthians 13New Living Translation

Love Is the Greatest

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.


  1. 13:3 Some manuscripts read sacrificed my body to be burned.
  2. 13:8 Or in tongues.
  3. 13:12 Greek see face to face.

Kainotes, 2021-08-10