13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Phillppos was a bit of a lazy sort. He wasn’t keen on plowing, planting, tending, and finally harvesting his crops. There was always something better to do, if only to rest out of the heat of the sun with a cool drink of water from the well. The land he tilled was not his own. Aristarchus owned the land and leased it to Philippos for a reasonable amount according to what the land should produce. The land should have produced enough for Philippos to pay his rent, meet his own needs, and leave a bit extra for Philippos to put aside.

However, the land never seemed to produce enough and Philippos found himself further and further behind on his rent.

Aristarchus, a man both rich and kind, gave Philippos ample time to rectify the situation, but Philippos still put in only half an effort and received only half a yield. He relied upon the kindness of Aristarchus to see him through.

Philippos’ debt owed Aristarchus continued to grow until it appeared that there would be no way it would ever be paid. Aristarchus had had enough! He took his claim for money owed before the Roman magistrate.

A Roman Centurion showed up at the home of Philippos later that afternoon with a rolled up piece of papyrus in his left had while his right rested on the grip of his sword. Upon the papyrus we written a list of the debts which Philippos owed to Aristarchus.

“You must now pay these debts in full or be confined to debtors prison!” barked the centurion at Philippos.

“Have mercy on me! I am doing my best! I will repay when I am able! Aristarchus is a kind man and he will give me more time,” cried Philippos.

“Your best is not good enough and Aristarchus is through with you!” With that the centurion bound Philippos and hauled him off to debtors prison.

Philippos was unceremoniously thrown through the door of his cell, and there he laid in the dirt while the door to freedom slammed shut behind him! He heard a nail being pounded into the door as he arose. Hanging from the nail was the papyrus which the

centurion had carried to the home of Philippos when he arrested him. It was the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against Philippos. Philippos would be confined to that cell until all of his debt was paid, or until his death. Since he had no money to pay the debt, and no means of earning it from inside the prison, the outlook for Philippos was bleak. He would almost assuredly die in that prison.

There Philippos sat, day after endless day, without hope. Miserable and forlorn, and, recognizing finally that his condition was his own doing, he turned to the only source of help left to him. He prayed. “Oh God! I am a sinner! I deserve this prison. Forgive me.”

Philippos had no hope. He had no one who would pay his debt, and he could not pay it on his own. Other prisoners had visitors and family members who would pay down their debts, but Philippos had no one. Resigned to spend his remaining days in prison, Philippos turned to God for forgiveness.

There, in prison, God met Philippos. Philippos committed the remainder of his life to God, not on the condition that he be released, but even in his imprisonment. He prayed for his release, but pledged to serve God whether in or out of prison.

Some time after his imprisonment Philippos receive a visit by two centurions. “Get up, Philippos, you are free to go,” said the first while the first took the certificate of debt off the prison door, wrote the word “tetellestai” across the list of accounts against him, and rolled up the papyrus.

“Why?” “How?” asked Philippos in astonishment.
“Your brother, Christos, paid your debt, and you are free to go.” “I have no brother!”
“Well, he said he was! Regardless, get out! You’re free!”

And that’s how it was with debtors prison in New Testament times. You paid, someone else paid, or you died in prison. If you had no friends or family you were quickly forgotten and you eventually died in your cell.

Paul tells us in Col. 2 that your certificate of debt, enumerating your sins, was figuratively nailed to the cross just as Philippos’ was nailed to his prison door. Then Christ, having paid your debt through the shedding of His own sinless blood, wrote the word “Tetellestai” in his own blood!

Tetellestai....what does that mean? Tetellestai is a first century Greek word meaning “Paid in full.” When written across someones certificate of debt it meant that the debt had been paid and you could never be charged with those crimes again! NEVER!

Tetellestai Oil and Wine Ministries

All of your sin was written upon your certificate of debt and Jesus paid for it all! You can never be charged with them again.

What would have happened to Philippos had he rejected the rolled up certificate of debt the centurion handed him after “Tetellestai” had been written across it? He would have rejected his freedom by rejecting the forgiveness of his sin.

You and I are in the same position. Jesus paid our debt on the cross. We either accept or reject our forgiveness. Jesus has rolled up our certificate of debt and is handing it to you. Take it!

Do you remember some of the last words Jesus said from the cross? Do you remember that He said “It is finished!” just before He died? What did that mean? What is the actual Greek word Jesus said at that final moment? He said, “Tetellestai!” “Paid in full!”

You did nothing to be forgiven. Jesus paid it all! How will you respond?

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