Paul speaks of his “gospel” to Timothy as a very short form of thekerygma of the apostolic church. Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. The rest of the story is implied that Timothy knows it. Paul suffers for proclaiming this gospel of death and resurrection. While he may be in chains, the Word of God will out! I’m remembering here the language of the Christ poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Knowing this gospel bestows eternal life, but not merely knowing in some intellectual sense but then perpetuating its release into the world by positive witness.

Paul composes a short Christological hymn constructed of four conditional sentences. The “saying” is extremely tightly constructed and balanced piece of rhetoric. Note that the subject of each “if” clause is us, in the first two instances we are doing something positive, while the last two our denial and our infidelity is objectionable and leads to the judgment of Christ, while the first two protases proclaim a rich reward — eternal life through resurrection. The whole thing is beautifully constructed by Paul.

It’s our perseverance and our faithfulness by the grace God that results in our reception of the fulfillment of God’s promises. In some sense the one leper who returns is an example for us of perseverance in his cry for mercy and in his fidelity by returning to Jesus, his belief that leads to thanksgiving.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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