By Earl Robertson
What a heart-warming statement! No doubt it is the very thing all lovers of the Lord, want to hear. Paul wrote to the Romans and singled out one brother who obviously had stood the test of faith, saying, “Salute Apelles approved in Christ” (Rom. 16:10). We know not what his trial of faith was to have received so favorable an accolade from Paul, but we do give emphasis to the fact that inspiration says he was “approved in Christ.” Paul further wrote, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendth” (2 Cor. 10:18).
“Approved” translates dokimos, and is said to mean, “proved, tried: in the N.T. one who is of tried faith and integrity.” It goes without proving that one can do what the faith of the gospel teaches only as he knows that faith. This is further supported by what Paul wrote to Timothy: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). One’s right actions before God are dependent upon what the Lord teaches; so, He teaches one to study. Out of this study one can “show himself approved unto God.” This means his actions are fruitful, that he is bearing fruit for the Lord (John 15). Jesus said, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. . .” (Matt. 7:24). So, one’s approval before God depends on hearing and doing the will of God!
The opposite condition is exemplified in the coarseness and wickedness of the Gentiles. Paul said they did not approve to have God in their mind, so God gave them up to an unapproving mind (Rom. 1:28). God did not stand proved in the hearts of the Gentiles, they rejected Him; in turn, He gave them over to a mind unapproved to do the things unbefitting. The words “retain” and “reprobate” translate, in its negative form, the same word Paul used about Apelles. These Gentiles, like the sterile soil of Hebrews 6:8 where the word “rejected” translates adokmos, were cursed. Oh, how the Christian needs to prove himself with the beautiful deeds the will of Christ demands in his life (Matt. 5:16). The lukewarm and the sinful so-called Christian is not now approved in Christ, and, without repentance and fruitful living, will be lost in the judgment. Let the example of this ancient believer, Apelles, motivate one and all to a life of faithful service to Christ in spite of all problems.
Truth Magazine XXII: 35, p. 565
September 7, 1978