For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4


Genesis 39

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

39:1.  “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.”

In chapter thirty-seven we have been shown symbolically Israel’s rejection of Christ, and in chapter thirty-eight we have seen in Judah the symbolic revelation of the nation’s experience from the time of that rejection until the end of the Tribulation.  Chapter thirty-nine, however, resumes the revelation of Christ as represented by Joseph. 

In our study of Ge 37:36 we noted that Potiphar’s buying Joseph portrays the conversion of the Gentiles during the Apostolic age, so that Joseph’s experience in Egypt therefore, should be the symbolic revelation of the experience of Christ in relation to the Gentiles during this present age, and in the Tribulation age to follow.  In our earlier studies we noted that the sale of Joseph represents rejection of Christ; but his purchase, reception of Christ by the believer.  Here it is declared that “Potiphar ... bought him,” and Potiphar means my affliction was broken.  This, as we have noted already, describes the condition of the man who puts his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

39:2.  “And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man, and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”

As God was with Joseph so was He also with the One whom Joseph represents, and as Joseph was “a prosperous man” so also was the Lord Jesus Christ, for it was of Him that the Psalmist wrote “and whatsoever He doeth shall prosper” (Ps 1:3).

The designation of Potiphar as “his master” raises the question, If Potiphar represents a believer; and Joseph, Christ, in what possible way can a believer ever be seen in the role of master?  That part of Joseph’s life which was characterized by this servitude portrays Christ during this present age.  It is as “Servant” that He indwells us through the Holy Spirit, and even now in heaven He “serves” His own as their great High Priest, and also as the One Who is preparing a place for them.  We have to remember that just as Joseph dwelt in the house of Potiphar, so does Christ, in the person of the Holy Spirit, dwell in the “house” of the believer.  The “house” represents the believer’s body, in regard to which Paul writes, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you....” (1 Cor 6:19).  The old nature, however, also continues to dwell in that body, so that there are now two natures vying for control of the body, for it is only by means of our bodily members that either nature can express itself.  It is by an act of his own will, however, that the believer yields his body either to the service of the old nature, or to the Holy Spirit.  In this sense the believer is very much “the master.”  The Holy Spirit will not control a man apart from that man’s will.

Potiphar’s being described as “the Egyptian”  confirms that he represents the Gentiles, for Egypt represents the world. 

39:3.  “And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.”

The literal experience of Potiphar symbolizes the spiritual experience of those who receive Christ as Savior: His presence in the life brings spiritual prosperity.  (It is emphasized that in this present age of grace the believer’s blessings are spiritual, not necessarily temporal.  Israel was promised temporal blessings; the Church, spiritual riches.  Christians would save themselves much disappointment and frustration if they recognized this principle). 

39:4.  “And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.”

Obviously there was harmony between master and servant, a harmony that seems to have resulted from Potiphar’s recognizing that his best interests were served by this exceptional young man who was his servant.  Accordingly therefore, he soon placed all he had under Joseph’s complete control, and in this God would teach us the necessity of placing everything under Christ’s control if we would enjoy fullest blessing.  He Who through the Holy Spirit “serves” us, has our best interests at heart, and when that fact is recognized, and He is given complete control, there will be harmony as our wills are yielded to His.  Accompanying that harmony will be peace and fullness of blessing. 

Joseph was made “overseer over his house, and all that he had.”  Nothing was held back, nor must anything be held back from the One Whom Joseph represents.  Christ must be given control, not just of the “house,” but of the whole life. 

39:5.  “And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.”

It is emphasized that for Potiphar fullness of blessing began from the moment he gave control of his affairs to Joseph.  Fullness of blessing will begin for us the moment we give Christ complete control of our lives.

Potiphar had made Joseph not only “overseer over his house,” but also over “all that he had,” and the result was that God’s blessing was upon all that he had “in the house, and in the field.”  Every area of the life will be blessed when Christ is allowed to control.  (It is emphasized again, however, that we are not to make the mistake of thinking that that blessing is to be measured in temporal things such as money, health, freedom from trouble, etc.). 

The house in Scripture is frequently used as a symbol of the local church; and the field, of course, represents the world, so the practical truth being declared here is that when Christ is in control there will be blessing in the assembly, and in the ministry of the Gospel to those in the “field,” the world.

39:6.  “And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat.  And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored.”

Here is the picture of a man delivered from anxious care as to any of his affairs, and in him God would have us see what is possible also for all who will give Christ complete control of their lives .

In the physical perfection and beauty of Joseph we are being shown the moral perfection and beauty of Christ.

39:7.  “And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph, and she said, Lie with me.”

Since Potiphar represents the Gentiles who trust Christ during this present age of grace, and since the wife represents the expression of the spiritual life, and the church is the corporate expression of Gentile belief, then this woman represents also the expression of the spiritual life of the Church.  As has been noted already, however, though the spiritual life of the believer is perfect because it is the life of Christ, the expression of that life is often marred by imperfection.

Since she is mentioned only “after these things,” i.e., after Potiphar has been so richly blessed, and since her activity is evil, she represents the spiritual experience of the believer in whose life the zeal of first love is beginning to wane; but since the church is the corporate expression of the spiritual state of the individuals who comprise it, she represents also the state of the church soon after those early halcyon days described in the first chapters of Acts, when she walked in obedience and lived in the enjoyment of divine blessing.  Those days were brief.  It wasn’t long till love for Christ began to cool, and be superseded by love for this present evil world. 

Potiphar represents the true believers, and therefore the true Church, while his wife portrays, not only the expression of his spiritual life, but also the great harlot church.

There is nothing to suggest that Joseph, up to this point, had enjoyed a relationship with his master’s wife that was any less harmonious than the one existing between him and his master.  Such was the state of the early Church.  The inward spiritual life, and the outward expression of that life, were in perfect harmony, because Christ was Lord both of “the house” and of “the field.”  The control He was permitted to exercise over the inward life (the house) manifested itself in the outward life (the field), i.e., the life lived in the world under the scrutiny of men.  “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost were multiplied” (Ac 9:31). When the inward life can bear the scrutiny of God, the outward life can bear the scrutiny of men. 

God’s ideal in marriage is that the wife be subject to her husband, and the corresponding spiritual truth being symbolized in that submission is that the expression of the believer’s spiritual life (which the wife represents) should be subject to the believer’s contro­l.  The rejection of her husband’s control by Potiphar­’s wife, and her seeking an illicit union with Joseph, points therefore to a spiritual experience in which the expression of the spiritual life becomes a thing apart from the control of the believer’s will.  As we have seen in previous studies, however, the Holy Spirit does not control a man apart from that man’s will, yet there are many professing Christians today doing spiritually what this woman did literally.  There are those who teach that fullness of spiritual experience is achieved only when the control of the will is exchanged for the absolute control of the Holy Spirit, above and beyond the will of the individual.   Such control, however, is completely foreign to the teaching of Scripture.  It was as a safeguard against this very thing that there was given to the Apostolic Church the gift of “discerning of spirits” (1 Co 12:10).   The very fact that this gift was given implies that what was uttered by any individual believer might be at the impulse of a spirit other than the Holy Spirit.  Since there is only one Holy Spirit, other spirits, then, are clearly unholy.  It was to emphasize this command of Paul that John also gave the command, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God....  (1 Jn 4:1).   With the completion of the canon of Scripture there is no longer any need for this gift, and it has accordingly ceased.   It is now by means of the Scriptures that believers assess the validity of any utterance.  What does not conform to Scripture, both as to content and mode of utterance, is not of the Holy Spirit, but is rather, very clearly, proceeding from an unholy spirit.  One of the clearest marks of such an activity is that the utterance comes apart from the will and understanding of the speaker.  It is high time that Christians stopped mincing words in regard to such so-called “gift.”  All such activity is of Satan, not of God. 

The illicit union sought by Potiphar’s wife was a dishonor to her husband, a disgrace to herself, and a terrible slander of Joseph.  That wanton activity of the spiritual life which proceeds apart from the will of the individual, accomplishes exactly the same results spiritually.  The exercise of the so-called “gift of tongues” has done much harm to the cause of Christ.  The man who practices it simply makes himself a fool in the eyes of the world, his spiritual life becomes a witness to his folly, and Christ is mocked. 

As the divine ideal for marriage is that the wife be subject to her husband, so is God’s ideal for the professing Christian that the man’s spiritual life be subject to the control of the man’s will.  We have already noted in earlier studies that marriage is the Biblical symbol of conversion: a man’s taking a wife  portrays his receiving a new life through faith in Christ. 

It is significant that her unlawful interest in Joseph is recorded immediately after the statement that “Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored.”  She saw in Joseph a man much more desirable than her husband, but there could be no legitimate union between her and Joseph until the death of that husband.  Similarly there can be no fuller experience of Christ, while we are here on earth in the body, than that which may be achieved through of the will in submission to the Holy Spirit.  The lesson being taught in her seeking such a union is that what is apart from the consent of the will is as much a spiritual transgression as hers was a physical.  When the “husband” (the body) is dead we shall enjoy that union with Christ, which during our earthly lives is impossible.  That ecstatic experience which some profess to find in “tongues” and apart from the volition of the will, is at least part of the evil we are being warned against in what has been written concerning Potiphar’s wife. 

39:8.  “But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand.”

Joseph’s refusal to be a partner in her sin is the typical declaration of the attitude of Christ towards that activity of the spiritual life which is outside the control of the believer’s will.  Joseph would be no partner to what was apart from his master’s will, nor will Christ be partner to anything that is apart from the will of the believer, in whom He dwells through the Holy Spirit.

As Potiphar had entrusted all he possessed to Joseph’s care, so should the believer entrust all that he has to Christ’s control, for as Joseph was faithful in regard to what had been committed to his trust, so is the Lord Jesus Christ faithful in regard to all that we commit to Him.  We may be untrue to ourselves, that which is the expression of our spiritual lives may be unfaithful, but in the midst of unfaithfulness He remains faithful. 

“... he hath committed all that he hath to my hand.” Potiphar could have entrusted himself to no one more faithful than Joseph, nor can a man entrust himself to anyone more faithful than the Lord Jesus Christ. 

39:9.  “There is none greater in this house than I, neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

As there was none in Potiphar’s house greater than Joseph, neither is there in the believer’s “house” (his body) anyone greater than the indwelling Holy Spirit.  And as Joseph was a servant in Potiphar’s house so is the Holy Spirit a “Servant” in the believer’s “house.”  Joseph, however, was there involuntarily, but the Holy Spirit has willingly made Himself the believer’s “Servant.”  And having willingly taken that place, He will not go beyond what the believer, by an act of his own will, permits.  Were it otherwise, it would obviously be impossible for believers “to grieve” or “to quench” the Holy Spirit.

“... neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee.” By an act of his will Potiphar withheld his wife from Joseph, and since Potiphar represents the believer of this present age; and his wife, the expression of the believer’s spiritual life, then the truth being declared is that the expression of the spiritual life of the believer is to be under the control of the believer’s will, and will be controlled by the Holy Spirit only as the believer himself, by an act of his own will, permits that control,

Were the individual believer’s will not involved in the Holy Spirit’s control of the life, then clearly there could be no sin in the believer’s life, for it is inconceivable that the Holy Spirit would ever will sin.  When the believer abandons the control of his will, he is submitting himself, not to the will of the Holy Spirit, but to Satan, and that is “great wickedness, and sin against God.”

39:10.  “And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.”

Had her attempted seduction of Joseph been a one-time, spur-of-the-moment thing, she might have been pardoned, even pitied, but it wasn’t, and its being continued day by day points to the fact that she was wicked.  The very factor, however, that discloses her wickedness, discloses also the virtue that was in Joseph.  The long duration of the temptation which he resisted, measures both his personal integrity, and his loyalty to God.  Every recorded detail concerning Joseph’s life marks him as one of the most perfect types of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Others have pointed out the close analogy between this temptation of Joseph, and that of Christ as recorded in Lk.4:1-13. 

Joseph’s rejection of her suggestion points, not only to the Lord’s rejection of that spiritual activity which is portrayed in her evil conduct, but to His rejection of every activity of the great false church.

39:11.  “And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business, and there was none of the men of the house there within.”

As has been noted in previous studies, the man represents the activity of the will; and the woman, its passivity.  It is significant therefore, that “there was none of the men of the house there within.”  Spiritually this speaks of lack of activity in the realm of the will, and surely the lesson isn’t difficult to read.  A will where there is passivity without a corresponding activity, is a will that is in danger of abetting the very evil which is portrayed in the conduct of Potiphar’s wife.  Her attempted seduction of Joseph was facilitated by the absence of men in the house.  There is always danger where there is lack of activity of the will in doing God’s will. 

39:12.  “And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me; and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.”

In Scripture the garment always speaks of righteousness, either the filthy rags of our own self-righteousness, or the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness that clothes the believer.  One result of this woman’s attempted seduction of Joseph was that he lost his garment, and this speaks spiritually of lost righteousness, but since Joseph is a type of Christ, it speaks of Christ’s being robbed of His righteousness.  We know, of course, that this is impossible literally.  In the eyes of the world, however, it may be made to appear that such a thing has happened.  This is, in fact, what happens when the world witnesses the sorry spectacle of professed believers babbling incoherent gibberish, falling into trances, etc., all of it being announced as the evidence of a higher spiritual experience.  These things are simply the evidence of the will abandoned, and therefore removed from the Holy Spirit’s control, and brought under the control of an demon.  Those who witness this folly do exactly what Paul said they would do - they say “Ye are mad” (1 Co 14:23).  Christianity is made a laughing stock, and Christ is robbed of His “garment.”  He is dishonored, however, not only by this particular sin, but by any sin on the part of those professing to belong to Him.  Every activity of the great false church, in fact, robs Him of honor.

Joseph, however, “fled, and got him out.”  Cost what it might, he would have nothing to do with this evil woman.  Nor will Christ identify Himself with the spiritual evil which her conduct portrays: the activity of the great harlot church, or sin in the life of the believer. 

The results of this woman’s evil were far- reaching.  Joseph’s service in that house ended that day, but his service had been the very thing that had brought God’s blessing to Potiphar and to everything he possessed.  When Joseph’s service ended, so did blessing, for it was only for Joseph’s sake that God had blessed that house, “the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake,” v.5.

When the service of the Holy Spirit is brought to an end, by the believer’s abandoning his own will to the control of an unholy spirit, or by any sin, blessing likewise ends, for there is no blessing save as there is willing subjection to the Holy Spirit’s control.  That control, however, it must be emphasized, is never apart from the believer’s will.  (The Holy Spirit’s control is not to be confused with His presence.  He indwells every believer, but He controls only those, who by a conscious act of their own will, accept His control.  He may be grieved and quenched, His control refused, but once He has taken up His abode in a man, He cannot be dismissed). 

39:13.  “And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,”

39:14.  “That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us, he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:”

Her infatuation with Joseph came to an abrupt end.  Her concern now was to vindicate herself.  This foreshadows the experience of those who seek this “fullness of spiritual experience.”  It is an experience that is never realized, but as soon as the so-called “gift” is received, the recipient uses it, not to glorify Christ, but self, and the measure in which self is glorified is the measure in which Christ is dishonored.  Potiphar’s wife vindicated herself at the cost of Joseph’s honor.  The honor acquired by the activity of the great false church has been in direct proportion to the measure of Christ’s dishonor.

39:15.   “And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.”

When a believer abandons the control of his will, two results follow.  One, he abandons the Holy Spirit’s control of his life, for He will not control a man apart from that man’s will; and second, he makes possible the control of his own life by an evil spirit, whose control is facilitated by an abandoned will.  And as might be expected, that unholy spirit proceeds to take the very righteousness which his victim professes to have (the righteousness of Christ) and uses it to vilify Christ, as Potiphar’s wife used Joseph’s garment to vilify him.  The “garment” of Christ’s righteousness, in the hand of those whom this woman represents, is used exactly as she used Joseph’s garment: in the eyes of the world Christ is robbed of righteousness; His cause is impugned; and true believers belittled and mocked. 

39:16.  “And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.”

Her conduct had deprived Joseph of his garment, and given her an instrument by which to condemn him.  So is it with all who are guilty of the spiritual offense portrayed in her actual sin.  The achievement of a “higher” spiritual experience, beyond what is possible through the normal functioning of the will, deprives Christ of honor, and makes Him the butt of mockery and condemnation. 

39:17.  “And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me.”

Here, and in verse fourteen she refers to Joseph as a Hebrew.  The Egyptians considered the Israelites their inferiors, and almost invariably referred to them as Hebrews, so that her use of the term is clearly derogatory.  It depicts what happens when the believer, having abandoned his will (and thereby, the Holy Spirit’s control), becomes himself the servant of an unholy spirit.  That legitimate activity of the Holy Spirit, which is never apart from the consent of the individual’s will, becomes a despised thing.  And all the while the deluded dupe is induced by the unholy spirit controlling him, to believe that this new experience is a higher manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  Such is the subtle working of the arch deceiver. 

Joseph’s derogation became in a measure, that of her husband also, for she implied that he had been wrong in bringing Joseph into their house in the first place.  This is a picture of the professed believer’s spiritual life becoming that, which instead of being a testimony to the man’s wisdom, becomes instead what makes him appear to be a fool. 

39:18.  “And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.”

The expression of the man’s spiritual life, under the control of the Holy Spirit, will display the perfections of Christ.  Under the control of another spirit, however, it will discredit Christ.  It will take His “garment” (righteousness) and use it to make Him appear unrighteous.  In the life of a professed believer who is being controlled by a spirit other than the Holy Spirit, the normal Christian virtues are made to appear worthless by comparison to the emotional excesses that accompany the “higher spiritual experience” produced by that other spirit.  As Joseph’s service ceased in Potiphar’s house, so does the ministry of the Holy Spirit cease when the individual believer abandons the control of his own will.  The Holy Spirit does not leave the believer, but since the abandonment of the will makes His ministry impossible, it is as though He had “fled out,” leaving His “garment” (now to be used to discredit Him) in the hand of the spiritual life expressing itself under the control of an unholy spirit. 

39:19.  “And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me, that his wrath was kindled.”

We have seen already in our study of verse eleven that the absence of any men in the house when Joseph went there on his business, symbolizes inactivity of the will in the believer’s life.  Had there been men in the house there would have been neither opportunity for Potiphar’s wife to attempt Joseph’s seduction, nor any pretext to slander him.  The life in which the will is not actively doing the will of Christ, is a life in which there are plenty of opportunities for the activity of Satan, and there is no one more ready than he to seize such opportunities.  What happened to Potiphar literally may happen spiritually to the believer whose life consists only of a passive refraining from evil, without a corresponding active pursuit of good.   As he was deceived by his wife, so may such a believer be deceived by what the wife represents - the expression of his spiritual life.  He may be deceived into believing that the activity of an evil spirit is good, and the activity of the Holy Spirit, if not bad, at least inferior.   The works of the Holy Spirit cease (it is as though He had fled) while the emotional extravagancies of an unholy spirit multiply.

39:20.  “And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound, and he was there in the prison.”

Others have pointed out that Joseph’s being imprisoned, rather than executed, may indicate that Potiphar had at least some doubts as to his wife’s truthfulness, and that may very well be.  An additional thought, however, also presents itself.  Joseph we have seen to be a type of Christ ministering through the Holy Spirit.   In his being imprisoned therefore, but not executed, we are being reminded that while many circumstances may cause the activity of the Holy Spirit to cease in a believer’s life, nothing can terminate His presence.  He continues to indwell the carnal believer just as He does the spiritual.  A true believer can never lose his salvation, however much he may grieve or quench the Holy Spirit Who indwells and seals him for God.

Joseph didn’t cease to be under Potiphar’s control, for it is generally agreed that this man was a high-ran­king officer whose jurisdiction included authority over the king’s prisoners.  Joseph’s service in Potiphar’s house had ceased, but he continued to live, though as a prisoner.  His confinement in the prison is a portrait of the Holy Spirit’s condition in the life of the believer who refuses His ministry.   There, too, He is “in the prison” - confined in a body over which he is given no control.

39:21.  “But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”

We have noted already that Potiphar, in addition to being a type of the individual Church-age believer, is also a type of the Church.  In addition, then, to having in him a picture of the experience of the believer who abandons the use of his own will in the attempt to achieve a “higher spiritual experience,” we have also a picture of the Church as to her actual experience.  As there was in the midst of the nation of Israel a small believing remnant which was the true Israel, so is there in the midst of the professing church a small minority of true believers who are the true Church.  But even in the true Church, there is a spiritual minority in the midst of a carnal majority.  Potiphar, in this present context, may represent that carnal majority in the true Church, which has “imprisoned” the Holy Spirit by grieving and quenching Him, while the keeper of the prison, who showed Joseph favor, may represent the small spiritual minority. 

39:22.  “And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison, and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.”

As Potiphar had once committed all he possessed to Joseph’s care, so now does the keeper of the prison.  As the early Church had once committed itself wholly to Christ, so now does the small godly remnant of spiritual believers.  There is a difference, however, between what each man committed to Joseph’s care.  Potiphar committed everything, but in the case of the jailer it was the prisoners that he placed under Joseph’s control.

The prison now becomes the sphere of Joseph’s activity, but since Potiphar clearly ranked above the jailer, and had jurisdiction over the prison, it means that for all practical purposes Joseph still served him.  The service, however, now limited to the prison, indicates a restricted activity of the Holy Spirit.  In its application to the individual believer, this portrays only a part of the life yielded to His control. 

In its wider application to the Church, this speaks of the fact that the activities of the spiritual minority, in some degree at least, are limited or restricted by the carnal majority.  This is indeed true of the Church.  There is much there that spiritual believers would wish to see changed, but their efforts to effect change are hindered by the power of the carnal majority. 

The prison, then, represents the small area of his life which the carnal believer, represented by Poti-pha­r, permits to remain under the control of the Holy Spirit, while in its application to the Church, it represents that part which is made up of the small minority of spiritual believers as distinguished from the carnal majority. 

This, however, relates only to the prison.  It now remains to be determined what is represented by the prisoners in that prison.  Some, like Joseph, may have been there on the basis of false charges, while others were paying the just price of their wrongdoing.  Those unjustly imprisoned may represent the believer’s new nature, and those rightfully imprisoned, the old.  Both are restricted by the body in which they dwell.  The one cannot produce all the good it desires, nor can the other produce all the evil it desires.  Each is the “prisoner” of the body, bound by its limitations.  And as we have noted already, Joseph’s being also a prisoner, reminds us that while we are here in the body, there are restrictions even upon the activity of the Holy Spirit. 

Joseph, however, had control of all the prisoners, and this is the symbolic declaration of the fact that Christ ultimately has control of the old nature as well as the new.  But this raises the question, In what way can He be said to have control over the old nature?  The answer is found in Joseph.  His authority or control was delegated by the jailer, whom we have seen to represent the spiritual believer.  Such a man delegates control of his life to the Holy Spirit, and that delegated control places the bodily members at His disposal for the use of the new nature.  That use by the new nature, however, effectively deprives the old nature from having use of those same members.  We see therefore, that in delegating control of our bodily members to the Holy Spirit, we are, in effect, enabling Him to control also our old nature as well as our new.  The type is fulfilled, and “Joseph” is given control of the “prisoners” when we obey the injunction of Paul, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Ro 12:1-2).

39:23.  “The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand, because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.”

As it had been once with Potiphar, so is it now with the keeper of the prison.  He is delivered from anxious care in regard to anything that he has entrusted to Joseph.  So is it with the man who gives the Lord Jesus Christ complete control of his life. 

One point yet remains to be noted as we conclude our study of this chapter.  Joseph was under the control of the jailer, and in this God would remind us that the Holy Spirit is similarly under the control of the believer in the sense that He will not go beyond that individual’s will in order to control the life.  If we are to enjoy the Holy Spirit’s control of our lives it must be by the activity of our own will in permitting Him to exercise that control.

[Genesis 40]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough