2 TIMOTHY-SERIES : NR 8
Theme: Last words
Scripture: 2 Timothy 4 : 9 – 22
READ VERSES 9-12 AGAIN
This is the closing paragraph of the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the young preacher, Timothy. It would also be the very last letter he writes, because shortly thereafter he died the martyr’s death.
In closing this letter, he is communicating something of the circumstances from which it would appear that the last lap of his race for Christ was rather difficult, and the loneliness great. God’s people do not always have an easy time. Therefore Paul longs for Timothy’s support, and he encourages him to make an effort to come to Rome before he, Paul, dies.
The reason for the apostle’s loneliness is evident from verses 10-12.
Demas, who supported Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome, chose a more comfortable and safer life and did not see his way open to sharing in the apostle’s hardship. His love for this world was stronger than his love for Christ, and Christ’s ambassador in chains. He did not want to pay the full price for being a follower of the Lord Jesus. About this, the Apostle is greatly saddened. Not everyone who initially is on fire for the Gospel message can keep up the pace. Jesus already said that in Matthew 13:21. The pressure of the world is too much for some.
The apostle sent Crescens and Titus and Tychicus – who were faithful fellow workers – to various other places and cities (Ephesus/ Galatia/ Dalmatia) to serve the churches there. Going out to all the nations was more important than remaining in Rome and caring for the apostle.
Only Luke, the good doctor, was with him. We know that Luke earlier accompanied Paul on his 2nd and 3rd missionary journeys and together they endured much hardship. He was the only one who supported Paul in Rome right to the end.
Timothy had to try to bring Mark with him to Rome. During the first mission journey, there was friction between the Apostle and Mark, but in the interim, they became reconciled because they were true Christians and Paul had great confidence in Mark’s abilities. He was very serviceable in God’s kingdom.
It is always so wonderful to see how the heart of the apostle was always focused on only ONE issue. So absolutely Holy Spirit-controlled. And that focus is the matter of the Lord Jesus Christ.
READ VERSE 13 AGAIN
Paul is therefore on the eve of his death. He knows it is coming, only he does not know when. Yet he is full of hope that Timothy will be with him in Rome in time before it happens. He supposes that – when Timothy comes – he would travel from Ephesus on the great Roman highway – the Via Egnatia. That is via Troas and through Macedonia to the Adriatic coast and then by sea to Brundisium and from there overland to Rome.
In Troas he had to stop and call on a man called Carpus, to collect Paul’s travelling cloak (which was made of heavy material) as well as his scrolls – and especially the parchments.
Paul was, therefore, exposed to the cold and dreaded the approach of winter.
The scrolls may have been copies of some of his letters.
But the parchments were something different. Parchment was an extremely expensive writing material at that time and was used exclusively for the books of the OT. The Bible, the Scriptures, therefore.
It is therefore clear that there were such books of the OT, which the Apostle dearly wanted to have with him during his last days before he would glorify the Lord by his martyr’s death.
This brief list encompasses perhaps all Paul’s earthly possessions – and should he die BEFORE Timothy’s arrival – Timothy will inherit it.
The apostles lived very simple lives and were not affected by earthly possessions.
Paul’s yearning for the parchments – the Scriptures – is noticeable. Perhaps there were descriptions on the parchments also of what the Lord Jesus has said and done while He was on earth.
What is important though, is Paul’s love and his devotion to the Scriptures. Until his last day, he embraced it. He cannot do without it. It is the oxygen of his soul.
READ VERSES 14-15 AGAIN
Among his fellow workers, in whom the Apostle was deeply disappointed, was Alexander the metalworker – who caused Paul a great deal of harm. Paul refers to him in 1 Timothy 1:20 also. In Acts 19 there is also mention of an Alexander, but it is not clear whether it is this same person. The point is though: This man was actively negative and hostile towards Paul and the Gospel message – although he had earlier confessed that he is a Christian and was part of the Lord’s work. We deduct that from what it says in 1 Timothy. That is why the Apostle subjected him to church discipline and handed him over to satan for an opportunity to repent. He was initially a Christ-believer, but later his true colours came through when he openly turned against the truth. From the start, he was therefore never truly born-again by the Holy Spirit. He fiercely opposed the apostolic teaching of the Word and Christ. What a most dreadful sin and outrage against the living God!
It is clear that the disciplinary measures AGAINST Alexander, which 1 Timothy 1 mentions, had no effect. It appears that he rather went from bad to worse. A crystal-clear sign that such a person never did receive the new life. He did not have a personal feud against Paul, but against the Gospel message as such. That is why Paul tells Timothy to avoid Alexander because he “strongly opposed OUR message”. Alexander would therefore also oppose Timothy if it comes to that.
From all that, we see how gloriously TRUE the Gospel is and how the sparks fly when THIS Word is preached. In the spiritual realm, the sparks fly. ALSO where it is opposed, it reveals its power and the Lord God receives the honour and glory at all times.
READ VERSE 16 AGAIN
Clearly, the Apostle Paul walked a road of great solitude – particularly during his two periods of detention in Rome.
Apparently, there was earlier a preliminary hearing about WHY Paul appealed to Ceaser and what he may have done wrong. And after that, there was a court hearing. These proceedings could be delayed for long periods. When it all took place and what it purport, we do not know.
What we do know, is that there was indeed such a court hearing, where the Apostle had to defend his case. According to Roman tradition, one’s friends could accompany you to court for moral support.
However, no one was there in Paul’s case. Perhaps Luke had not arrived in Rome yet. In verse 16 he is probably referring to the church members in Rome or those who influenced at the law court, who could intercede for him. They have all deserted him.
That is often the experience for a Christian – the loneliness. Not necessarily physically, but spiritually and emotionally.
We should keep in mind that we are surrounded by religious people, but very few are truly DEVOTED to Christ and His cause, and to whom Christ Jesus is LIFE.
It is only someone who is truly committed to the Lord God, who can genuinely and truly be CLOSE to someone else – who is also truly committed.
The Apostle was devoted to the Lord – and alone in the struggle.
Yet he was not bitter. He does not harbour any grudge. In the same way that Jesus prayed for His murderers and Stephen prayed for those who were stoning him, Paul is praying that the Lord would not hold the people’s sin against them.
Yes, one can be disappointed in others, but always forgive people – who disappointed you and deserted you – in the Lord’s Name and without bitterness.
READ VERSE 17 AGAIN
Now, look at this wonderful confession from the mouth of the Apostle. Yes, EVERYONE has deserted him during his earlier hearing – EVERYONE from a HUMAN point of view – but he is far from forsaken! GODforsaken he is not.
Look at the sharp contrast to verse 16. PEOPLE did such and such, BUT the LORD have done so-and-so.
What did the living God do? He delivered the Apostle from the lion’s mouth. Without a doubt, Daniel’s experience in the lion’s den was in Paul’s thoughts, and Psalm 22:21 as well.
This does not mean that Paul was being fed to the lions. It is meant figuratively. Just like Psalm 22 was meant figuratively.
The opponents of the Gospel message at that time knew no mercy. They were just as cruel and unfeeling as a lion with his prey. The Christians were completely powerless against the Roman rulers and godless emperors.
When Paul’s first hearing ended with an indefinite postponement of the sentence, he could rightly say that he was delivered from the lion’s mouth. But, he knew full well that the deliverance was a miracle from above. The Lord had never deserted him. PEOPLE deserted him, but not the Lord Jesus Christ.
As the Lord also promised His followers in Matthew 10: 19-20 – if they should be brought before governors and kings – the Spirit shall give them the words to say. And so the Apostle was safe and could continue preaching – the proclaimer of a kingly message. At his trial, he could address the Roman authorities and proclaim the Gospel message to the highest earthly tribunals, and later also in Rome for the Message to spread far and wide.
Eventually, the New Testament would be complete and the Message reaches all nations, and even in the 21st century, there is no end to the preaching of the apostolic word.
READ VERSE 18 AGAIN
What about the future? Does a child of God have any assurance about the future? Yes, indeed! Paul is confessing that the Lord would be close to him in the future also. He knows that the delay in court for immediate execution of the sentence would not belong. Soon he will be executed – without having committed a crime – but because the Emperor wanted to be rid of the troublesome Christians who set Jesus ABOVE Ceaser.
Earlier in this letter, he already said that he is being poured out like a drink offering. His death is imminent. The 2 Timothy letter would be his last writing. Yes, it is a day of evil, and to the unsaved and lost person, it is the final eternal end of the road. But not
for someone who is immured with the risen Lord. The One who overcame death. Whoever is IN HIM can not die and go to hell.
No, from the evil deeds that humans plan which would end in his certain death, the Apostle shall not escape. But amid that situation, the Lord shall deliver him. That is why he does not fear PEOPLE – who can only kill the body – but can do nothing more. As Jesus also promises in Matthew 10:28.
Paul shall – despite physical death – SAFELY enter God’s heavenly kingdom.
Notice the word: SHALL.
All honour – for eternity – to this Lord who grants such complete victory.
For someone who is in Christ – entering into the heavenly kingdom follows immediately at the moment of death. There is no period of waiting or souls rest. WHEN the Christ-believer dies, he/she IS taken up into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
READ VERSES 19-22 AGAIN
These 4 verses are the very last words that the Apostle Paul ever wrote. Perhaps it was in the latter part of the year AD 63, because at that time, by November seafaring was suspended for winter every year, and Emperor Nero’s persecution of the Christians reached its height in the second half of AD 64.
The Apostle would not have expected Timothy to come to Rome in the year 64. But certainly in 63, before the suspension of sea travel. Because Timothy would have had to undertake a sea-crossing over the Adriatic ocean.
Last words carry much weight. That is why last words are so important.
In short: The will and the heartbeat of the living God for Timothy and the church he serves, is to enfold them in His undeserved and unmerited free grace. That is what grace means.
That it specifically is the heartbeat of God, we see in the fact that it is the Apostle’s last words to them. Last words bear the most weight.
Literally in verse 22: “The Lord be with your spirit.” The human spirit/inner heart.
It is so precious that the Holy Spirit is close and serves the child of God to the very depth of his/her inner heart. The Lord is with your human spirit. That is where He is at work. There is where He supports and encourages.
Significant also that, towards the end of the apostolic era, the Apostles did not any longer perform the intensity of miracles such as at the beginning after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the first decade or two.
For example, the Apostle left Trophimus behind in Miletus because he was ill, and did NOT heal him.
In the foundation stage of the NT church, the Apostles and fellow workers performed direct miracles, but since then God perform miracles of healing when He will and as He will, and mostly in answer to prayer.
All around us, there are always true Christ-believers – such as Pricilla and Aquila and Onesiphorus, Erastus and everyone he mentions here who were all fellow-workers of the Apostle. Today it is still the same. True Christians love one another and form a Spirit-filled alliance – to the honour of the living God!
Translated by Marthie Wilson