Paul was originally a man who was willing to allow harm to those who he felt did not uphold the Law and God he so cherished. His zeal was so great he approved the stoning of Philip and began making house arrests putting Jesus believers in jail. (Acts 7:54-8:2)
It was not until Jesus came to Paul (at that time Saul) in a bright light on the road to Damascus and said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting and oppressing Me?”. This word diako has a range of meanings revolving around pursuing or troubling. Paul was “troubling” the Lord. Paul told this story many times because of what the Lord instructed him to do after. Paul was to go to those formerly he despised and bring them the love of Jesus.
Paul’s message changed from law to love filled grace, something I like to call sincere affection. In Phil. 2:1-4 Paul talks about the fellowship of the brethren being one of deep affection and compassion. In verse one the noun translated as compassion (splagchnon) has a root meaning of bowels. According to Thayers Greek Lexicon, the bowels were regarded by Greek poets as the seat of strong passions such as anger and love. But the Hebrews regarded it as the seat of tender affections such as kindness, benevolence, compassion. It is coupled with the word “mercies” and then expanded upon in verses 2-4. One could say that if we are to have true fellowship of the Spirit between us we are to draw from deep within our hearts and souls a compassion coupled with deep mercy and seek to unite our fellowship together in that kind of brotherly love. Certainly it required a humility that considers others needs as well as our own.
These are such lovely words. But how do we think Paul hoped for us to live them. Perhaps, it looks different for each of us. What do you think?