Paul is warned by the Holy Spirit to expect hardships and prison. He writes:
“But I dread nothing of these, neither I make my life preciouser than myself, so that I end my course [the while I end, or fulfill, my course], and the ministry of the word, which I received of the Lord Jesus, to witness the gospel of the grace of God.” (WYC)
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (KJV)
“But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course[with joy] and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.” (HCSB)
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (NIV-1984)
I love the Wycliffe Bible translation! Note that Paul is not testifying about the gospel of the grace of God, but he is witnessing the good news firsthand. He is not counting his life so precious that he dreads imprisonment or hardships. Rather he determines not to “end his course” before he finishes “the ministry of the Word, which [he] received of the Lord Jesus.”
Perhaps the other translations miss this subtlety only slightly — that Paul does not testify about the gospel; but rather witnesses it himself. What Paul works to complete is “the ministry of the Word” which is certainly more than telling others the good news. Paul determines to consider his life worthless in comparison to his calling — for to Paul, to live is Christ and to die is Christ.
I admire and appreciate the way in which the Holman Christian Standard Bible words John 3:16. The verse we know from childhood as beginning with “For God so loves the world” is translated in the HCSB version as “For God loves the world this way” and proceeds to tell what God does to reveal His love for the world.
Clearly, God loves the world a lot. He loves the world so much that He gives His only Son, Jesus as a sacrificial lamb to wash away its sins and justify it before Him. The wording of the HCSB version emphasizes not how much God loves the world, but how God loves the world.
God’s method is espoused. His motivation is clear — to avoid His own judgment against the world. His method is simple. The Light comes into the world, and those who “live by the Truth come to the Light.” The works of those who come to the Light are subsequently revealed as “accomplished by God.” (John 3:21) From beginning to end, the work is God’s. For this is the way God loves the world.
“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.”
Notice Paul says “your bodies as a living sacrifice.” He implies that it is the offer of our collective bodies which constitutes this “living sacrifice.” Together, we create “spiritual worship.” We individually “renew [our] minds” and are “transformed” “so that [we each] may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12: 2) So, we act individually and then mutually to worship God.
Paul explains, “Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” (Romans 12: 4-5)
Therefore, “come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Psalm 95: 6-8)
After comparing flesh to grass which “withers” and to flowers which “fail,” Peter writes that “the Word endures forever.” Unlike flesh — which is subject to death and decay — the Word of God stands eternally.
Recall that “man does not live by bread alone but on every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8: 3)
The psalmist asks God, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” And answers his own question, “By keeping Your Word.” (Psalm 119: 9) He says to God, “I treasure Your Word in my heart so I may not sin against You… I do not forget Your Word.” (Psalm 119: 11, 16) “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119: 105)
The psalmist recognizes that God “gives [him] hope through [His Word].” (Psalm 119:49) God’s Word “is [his] comfort in affliction; [God’s] promise gives [him] life.” (Psalm 119: 50)
The psalmist declares, “I put my hope in Your Word.” (Psalm 119: 81) “Lord, Your Word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.” (Psalm 119: 89)
“For the Word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.”
The Word of God tells us that “the Word of God is living and effective!” Why is the Word of God alive? Because “the Word is God.” (John 1: 1) Through the Word of God, “all things are created.” (John 1: 3) “Apart from Him [the Word] not one thing is created.” (John 1: 3)
“Life is in Him [the Word], and that life is the light of men.” (John 1: 4)
The Word of God is life; it is “the light of men.” The Word of God gives us life and light.
The Word of God is “sharper than any double-edged sword.” The Word creates our life in Christ. “It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.”