Saints Peter and Andrew
Is a painting by the
Italian Baroque master Caravaggio
It takes its theme from a passage in the Gospel of Matthew
describing the moment when
the two brothers
Simon – later known as Peter – and Andrew,
To be his Disciples
As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw two brothers, Simon,
who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother,
casting a net into the sea –
for they were fishermen. And he said to them,
"Follow me, and I will make
you fishers of men."
Immediately, they left their nets and
— Matthew 4:18–20
The painting shows a young, beardless Christ,
leading the two much older-looking brothers. The more prominent of the brothers, presumably Simon, is holding a fish in his right hand.
The edge of the canvas is rather damaged,
but the central panel is in
The presence of "incisions" into the ground of the canvas
marking out St. Peter's ear and
the eyes of Christ
are typical of Caravaggio's technique.
The painting appears to date from
the height of Caravaggio's Roman period, c. 1603–06.
In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul says, I have fought the
I have finished the race,
Kept The Faith
This well-known and oft-quoted passage
is quite significant in that this epistle was
Paul’s last before
his martyrdom in A.D. 67.
It is a
deeply moving affirmation
of his unwavering
faith and unyielding love
For the Gospel
(Galatians 1:4; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21)
“I have fought the good fight”
is also significant for believers today because it
serves as a stark reminder that the
struggle against evil--
within ourselves and
in the world
(John 15:9; Romans 8:7; James 4:4).
Earlier in this same epistle, Paul reminded Timothy to
Good Soldier of Jesus Christ”
(2 Timothy 2:3)
The Greek word agonizomai, translated “fought,”
“to engage in conflict.”
The word was used in the context
of competing in athletic games or engaging in military conflict.
Paul was chained to a Roman soldier
when he wrote this epistle,
it would have been easy for him to make such an analogy.
In fact, he had known many Roman soldiers
and during his imprisonment
had won a number of them
some of them members of the Praetorian Guard
Our battle is not with flesh and blood
“but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”
The Christian life is a fight in that Christians face
a never-ending struggle against evil—not an earthly military campaign,
but a spiritual battle against Satan.
This is why we must
“take up the whole armor of God, that you may
be able to withstand in the evil day”
(see Ephesians 6:13-18)
Without question, the
Apostle Paul was the
consummate warrior, never quitting,
In his zeal for the Lord
He knew where lay
The source of his strength
(Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9)
His campaign to
Spread the Gospel of Christ
on the Damascus Road
and eventually took him across the ancient world on
four missionary journeys.
He had witnessed
before Felix and Agrippa, the legates and
officials of Rome
(Acts 23:26; Acts 26:1).
He contended with
false teachers and false brethren
within the church
(2 Corinthians 11:13; Galatians 1:7; Galatians 2:4)
Paul’s “good fight”
included an astonishing series of dangers and indignities
(2 Corinthians 11:23-33).
Even in these he proclaimed his victory in Christ:
“Yet in all these things
we are more than conquerors
Him who loved us”
Paul’s life and ministry provide for us a
modeling Christ today.
Not only did he
“fight the good fight,”
but he also
“finished the race”
“kept the faith”
(2 Timothy 4:7)
Paul knew that his death was near (verse 6)
but had no regrets.
After Jesus took control
of his life
lived life to the fullest,
fulfilling all that Jesus had
charged and empowered
him to do
(Ephesians 3:6; 2 Timothy 4:17).
He had a remarkable sense
of fulfillment and contentment
with his life
(Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-8).
As believers today, we can have
no greater sense of fulfillment
than to know,
as Paul did,
that we have fully accomplished
all that the
Lord has called us to do
May we “fight the good fight” and
“be watchful in all things, endure afflictions,
do the work of an evangelist, fulfill [our] ministry”
(2 Timothy 4:5).
Second Timothy contains the
of the apostle Paul, who says his life is
“being poured out
a drink offering”
and the time of his death had come
(2 Timothy 4:6).
In verse 5 he says, “But you [Timothy], keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” There was no better man than Paul to give advice about endurance under suffering for the Lord Jesus. Paul had been imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, cold, and destitute (2 Corinthians 11:23–28).
In spite of all this and more,
Paul managed to endure the suffering, finish the race, and keep the faith
(2 Timothy 4:7).
Hardships come in a variety of ways. Temptations, illnesses,
lost jobs, broken relationships, and
for one’s faith are all
forms of hardship
Christians should not be taken by surprise when hardships come:
Jesus warned us,
“In this world you will have trouble”
The good news
that Jesus followed up
His warning with this word of encouragement:
“But take heart!
overcome the world.”
We can endure
is more than just continuing to exist;
it is continuing to exist
in the same manner
The suffering began
If Paul had lived through his sufferings
but at some point
had thrown up his hands in defeat,
obedient to God,
or no longer
worked for the cause
he would not have“endured.”
If he had responded to his
with an attitude of bitterness, anger, or retaliation,
then Paul could not have said
That He “endured!
Paul’s response to suffering was
not to buckle
under the weight of circumstance
but to realize
Christ has called His church
to endure hardship
(John 16:33; Luke 14:27).
Paul said that he rejoiced because
in his flesh he was
filling up what was lacking in
Every time Paul was
beaten, chained, or hungry,
he identified more
Christ in his flesh.
because suffering in his flesh
sake of The Church
is a privilege
of sharing in the
sufferings of Christ
As Christians, we should turn to God with our suffering, and He will be faithful to help us undergo every trial and overcome every temptation
(1 Corinthians 10:13).
We can learn to have the same joy as Paul had during trials,
knowing that suffering produces
such as endurance,
godly character, and lively hope
does not mean simply to grin and bear it.
feel sad, betrayed, or even angry at times.
These emotions in and of themselves are not bad; they only become sin when we allow them to take root in our lives and produce bitterness, evil thoughts of revenge, or unforgiveness. Believers must remember that everything that comes into our lives is under the control of a sovereign God who has promised He is working all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Jesus is the ultimate example
who endured hardship
The author of Hebrews reminds
hands of sinners
Jesus, in spite of
never turned back, even from
Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus endured the cross
“for the joy set before him.”
Although Christ knew the suffering the cross would provide,
His anticipated joy enabled Him
to keep going;
He knew what the rewards would be
redemption of mankind
seat at the right hand of God
In the same way, Christians can find hope to
endure when we consider
God has promised us. “
Do not throw away your confidence;
it will be
You need to persevere
so that when you have done
The will of God,
you will receive what he has promised.
In just a little while,
he who is coming will come and
will not delay.’
But my righteous one
will live by faith
And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’ But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:35–39).
If you were going to write your last letter to a dear friend,
what would you write? In 2 Timothy, we get to see what may have been
Paul’s final words to Timothy, his protégé and
“son in the faith”
(1 Timothy 1:2). In chapter 4,
Paul gives Timothy a series of solemn exhortations,
to be faithful to the
about God and
Paul commands Timothy
to “be ready in season and out of season”
(2 Timothy 4:2, ESV).
The whole command is this:
“I charge you therefore before God and the
Lord Jesus Christ,
who will judge
living and the dead at
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching”
(2 Timothy 4:1–2, NKJV).
The word translated “ready” comes from the
Greek word for “
The idea is to always be
“on-duty,” “ready to go.”
The word also carried a connotation of
urgency in the original language.
A good example might be a
soldier standing at attention, attentive
to assist at any moment.
Timothy was to
be ready in season and out of season,
to do whatever
God is calling him to do
(2 Timothy 4:2).
In the original language, the words for “in season and out of season”
mean “timely and untimely” or “
The word for “in season” literally means “good time,”
out of season”
comes from the same word but with a different prefix,
giving it the opposite meaning. Another occurrence
of the same word is found in Mark 14:11,
where Judas is looking
“good time” or “opportunity”
By being “ready in season and out of season,” Timothy is prepared to engage in the actions Paul specified:
preach the word,” “correct,” and “
rebuke and encourage”
(2 Timothy 4:2).
Timothy was to do these things whether it was convenient or not.
In every circumstance,
be ready to proclaim
That was his job as a pastor,
regardless of his personal feelings
(2 Timothy 4:3–5).
What about us today? Like Timothy,
we are commanded to
ready for God’s work
(1 Peter 3:15; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 6:9–10).
It is easy to “clock in” and “clock out” of our faith,
erroneously believing that we
represent God at church
but not throughout the week.
This was not an option for Timothy, and it is not an option for us.
If you are a Christian,
you are a “
chosen people, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
God’s special possession, that you may
declare the praises
of him who called you
out of darkness
(1 Peter 2:9).
Whether we are speaking to a crowd
or changing a tire, we should
“be ready in season and out of season”
His praises and His truth
Timothy had incredible advantages.
He was taught
the Word of God by his mother
(2 Timothy 1:5),
and he was discipled by Paul and
served with Paul
in ministry for years.
Timothy knew the Word of God and was well-equipped.
Even still, Paul tells Timothy that he needed
to be diligent in
study of the Word
dividing the Word of
Without that continuing diligence
in the Word,
Timothy would not be able
to stand firm,
and he would not
be able to maintain sound teaching.
Paul warned Timothy to
attention to himself and
(1 Timothy 4:16).
Because all Scripture is
profitable for teaching,
training in righteousness,
it is exactly what
in order to be equipped
every good work
intends for us
(2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Paul encourages Timothy to be
diligent to present himself
workman approved by God
who would not need
ashamed because he was rightly dividing
handling the Word of truth
(2 Timothy 2:15).
First, Paul’s instruction
makes it clear that
study of the Bible
It takes effort. It takes diligence.
We need to be committed
to doing that work
if we desire to be equipped
for what God
intends us to do in life.
Second, Paul helps us To focus on the idea that
is NOT about the approval
It is God who is
How we “handle”
and so we are studying His Word for Him.
Also, we understand that, if we are diligent, we will not need to be ashamed because we will have
the remarkable stewardship of
Sometimes we may take for granted
we have His completed Word—the Bible.
We may be unaware of how many people suffered and died to provide us the freedom and opportunity
to own our own Bibles and read them in our own language.
How sad would it be if we took this—one of the very greatest of freedoms—and were not diligent to make the most of it?
Paul’s final comment in 2 Timothy 2:15 is helpful because
it tells us what success
in the study of
the Word: to be “rightly dividing” the Word of truth
The Greek word translated as “rightly dividing” is orthotomounta--
ortho means “right or proper,” and tomounta means “to cut.”
Literally, success in
handling the Word
is to cut it
properly or correctly
This is farming imagery, as a
farmer who is plowing a field
seek to cut straight furrows
in order to plant rows of
When plowing, a farmer would look at a point
on the other side of the field and focus on that point
to ensure the line cut in the dirt was straight.
This is what
The good student
the Word is doing,
as well: remaining focused on the goal or outcome
and being diligent to handle the Word of God properly.
To rightly divide
the Word of truth is to “cut it straight.”
Ultimately, in studying the Word,
we are trying to understand
what the Author has said
own opinions or
views to cloud
of what He has written.
When we are diligent
to “cut straight”—to rightly divide the
Word of truth
we can understand what
He has communicated in His Word
and be well-equipped
for what He would have us to do
He would have us to think
The word court has several uses in English. Among the meanings
are “an area where a tennis or
basketball game is played
a venue where legal cases are
and a judge presides”;
officers and advisors.”
In the New Testament, the word courts is normally
used in the legal sense.
“The courts are in session and
proconsuls are available;
let them bring
charges against one another
The term is never used
in conjunction with heavenly courts.
In the Old Testament, the term courts is used almost
exclusively to refer to the temple
(or a part of the temple) where God was enthroned:
“Solomon your son is the one who will build my house
and my courts, for I have chosen him”
(1 Chronicles 28:6).
In the Psalms we find “
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and
courts with praise”
At the time this was written,
“entering God’s courts”
walking into the physical temple
When most Christians read this verse today, they may picture
spiritual presence of God
and imagine this happening in
“the courts of heaven,”
the spiritual realm
God is enthroned
Still, the term courts of heaven or the court of heaven
is never used in Scripture.
Prosperity theology teacher Robert Henderson has lately sparked interest in
“the courts of heaven,” using the term in the legal sense.
Henderson says that he had known for a long time that he could pray to God as Father and as his Friend; however, he had missed the fact that he could also appeal to God as the Judge. Henderson reasons that,
human judges rule
earthly judicial systems,
so God is the Judge in the Court of Heaven.
In an interview with Patricia King, Henderson tells the story of how he prayed for two years for his son Adam, who battled with depression, and nothing was working.
He had tried
“binding and loosing,” “opening and shutting,”
“every formula I had ever heard,” and “everything I knew to do,”
but with no breakthrough. Then Henderson
heard the voice of God tell him,
“Bring Adam to my courts.” So that is what he did.
Henderson started by saying, “Lord, I bring Adam to your courts.”
Then he repented for anything
that he thought Adam might have done wrong.
Then he repented for some of his own sin in relation to Adam.
The whole process took about 15 minutes.
A week and a half later, his son called to tell him that
he had experienced an amazing breakthrough from
his depression a week and a half before.
Henderson states, “
I suddenly realized that I had done in 15 minutes in the
courts of heaven what I had not been able
to do in two years on the battlefield of prayer.”
From this experience Henderson concluded that
the battle has already been won by Christ
and that we just need to
get “legal access” to the victory.
In the courts of heaven, we remove any legal issue
that the enemy is using to prevent
God from delivering what He has promised to His children.
Henderson has written the following books,
further developing his “
Courts of Heaven”
• Operating in the Courts of Heaven: Granting God the Legal Rights to Fulfill His Passion (2016)
• Unlocking Destinies from the Courts of Heaven: Dissolving Curses That Delay and Deny Our Future (2016)
• Accessing the Courts of Heaven: How to Position Yourself for Breakthrough in Prayer (2017)
• Prayers & Declarations That Open the Courts of Heaven (2018)
• Receiving Healing from the Courts of Heaven: Removing Hindrances that Delay or Deny Your Healing (2018)
• Redeeming Your Bloodline: Foundations for Breaking Generational Curses from the Courts of Heaven (2019)
• The Cloud of Witnesses in the Courts of Heaven: Partnering with the Council of Heaven for Personal and Kingdom Breakthrough (2019)
• Issuing Divine Restraining Orders from Courts of Heaven: Restricting and Revoking the Plans of the Enemy(2019, co-authored with Francis Miles)
• Father, Friend, and Judge: Three Dimensions of Prayer That Receive Answers from Heaven (2020)
• Praying for the Prophetic Destiny of the United States and the Presidency of Donald J. Trump from the Courts of Heaven (2020)
Robert Henderson has also held a conference called
“Unlocking Wealth in the Courts of Heaven.”
A corollary to this is his book
The Trading Floors of Heaven:
Where Lost Blessings Are Restored and Kingdom Destiny Is Fulfilled
(2018, co-authored with Beverly Watkins).
This book purports to tell readers how
to “receive your New Covenant blessing and inheritance
through the Courts
Henderson’s theology and methodology have many problems.
First, Henderson assumes that, because
God is called a judge,
He must actually preside over a court system at
least somewhat similar to a modern judicial system.
Scripture does call God
but it says nothing of a legal system
in heaven, much less this being
to getting what we want
Second, Henderson relies upon extra-biblical revelation that he claims to have received. It is amazing that the New Testament never once mentions this critical information about accessing the courts of heaven.
For 2,000 years Christians have been praying and
suffering and persecution
that, according to Henderson,
could have been avoided if they had simply
known to apply to God
not as their Father or Friend,
but as the Judge,
and to present their cases in the heavenly judicial system.
earthly judicial system,
requests are regularly denied because the
plaintiff did not file the
the right way.
Are we to believe that
the “heavenly judicial system” works in much the same way?
Henderson’s concept of the heavenly courts
and how we can use them are
According to Henderson,
wealth and healing are all there for the taking
if we only know
how to properly apply for them.
His theology rests on the idea
that God gave
Adam, the first man,
legal authority over
When Adam sinned,
that legal authority
transferred to Satan.
Now God is legally barred from
taking action on earth unless people take back that authority
from Satan and give it to God.
Apparently, this is accomplished in the legal setting
of a real heavenly courtroom. Thus the subtitle of the
original “courts of heaven” book:
Operating in the Courts of Heaven:
Granting God the Legal Rights to Fulfill His Passion.
In this theology, God wants to bless us,
but He may be
hindered on technical legal grounds.
Fourth, Henderson’s approach to prayer is mechanistic. In
the “courts of heaven” paradigm,
prayer is about
using the right formula or, we might say,
filing the right
paperwork in the proper jurisdiction.
There is no sense of
“thy will be done”
is to bless them
health and wealth
If they are not receiving these in abundance,
there must be some technicality that is preventing it.
Perhaps a certain formula or technique will be the
to get the blessings flowing. This is,
at root, a pagan concept
In the final analysis, when
His disciples to pray by giving
them a model prayer,
we find nothing about “the courts of heaven”
about health and prosperity
We do find an emphasis on
God’s Kingdom Coming
God’s will being