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God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:28).

The first step down was that they turned away from the Apostle Paul.  Timothy stayed faithful, but so many others turned away.

II Timothy 1:15:
This thou knowest, that all [I hope that is not all without exception; that it is all with distinction.] they which are in Asia be turned away [apostrephō] from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

This verse follows quickly upon verse 13 in which Paul commands to hold fast the form of sound words and verse 14 where Paul tells them to guard the mystery by operating the manifestations of the spirit.  I told you it was going to take both.  This turning away was not just from the man, Paul, but it was from the gospel of the mystery that he taught.

“Asia,” is used to denote Proconsular Asia, a Roman province which embraced the western parts of Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was the capital, and probably also of all Asia Minor.  Phygellus and Hermogenes probably got into the Word during the two years and three months that Paul and others ministered in Asia (Acts 19).  The specific mention of their names demonstrated that the turning away was not nebulous.  These were real people known by Timothy and others.

Acts 19:10 notes that “all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”  They all heard the Word under Paul’s ministry, but by the time II Timothy 1:15 was written, they all forsook Paul.  It is stated this way because it starts with finding fault with someone’s personality.  We don’t like the way he teaches or conducts his life.  It’s just so annoying.  People don’t like my crying and they don’t like others raising their voices.  Well, we’re working on not doing it as much, but if you want to receive the Word of God we teach you better cut us some slack in those categories or you’ll miss out on the truth we present as good ministers of Jesus Christ.  We all have our peculiarities and idiosyncrasies; we just have to extend grace to one another.  None of us are perfect.

I mean that.  I make mistakes.  I don’t try to or want to, but I do.  Just hang around long enough and you will see.  I’m sure the devil will point out many things I do that annoy you.  Let’s just beat him back and work together.  We are supposed to be fellowlaborers with Him.

“Turned away” is apostrephō, a compound from apo, “away from,” and strephō, “to turn.”  It means to depart or separate from the previous point.  Apostrephō emphasizes the personal element involved with turning away or rejecting.  The prefix apo intensifies the departure.  Many of those had turned away because of their fear and shame.  They were ashamed of Paul as a prisoner.  They were ashamed of the persecution and all the problems that went with standing up for the truth from the legalists and the others who abused their freedom in the Lord.  How could Paul be a man of God and not believe God better than that.

II Timothy 4:16 says that at his first defence no man stood with him, but all men forsook him.  This seems extreme knowing that at the end of the epistle to the Romans Paul salutes several illustrious friends and family by name (Romans 16:3-15).  Philippians also notes that some of Praetorian guard in Caesar’s palace were added to their number (Philippians 1:12; 4:22).  Yet Paul understood and prayed, “May it not be laid to their charge.”  Paul was aware of the danger to which his friends would have exposed themselves by appearing with him at his trial.  He also knew the infirmity of human nature and made great allowance for their yielding in these circumstances.

The application of this point to us is that we do not let personalities and personal preferences come before the truth.  If the Word of God is being spoken, it would behoove us to take it to heart.  We must get past our differences.  Diversity is God’s idea.  Diversity must be embraced.  We do not want to be clones.  We want to be men and women passionate for the things of God. . . men and women valiant for the truth.  CFFM has made a commitment to diversity.  You don’t always hear from the same person every Sunday.  Let’s not build things on personalities, let’s build on the truth.