Monday, August 12, 2013

2 Timothy 4 - Parting Exhortations and Instructions

LINK: 2 Timothy 4


BACKGROUND


Paul's days were numbered. He wrote this letter from prison in Rome in about A.D. 66 or 67. He would soon be executed by Emperor Nero. These are his parting exhortations as he passed the torch to the next generation of believers. 


His solemn charge to Timothy was that he would . . . 
  • Preach the Word - This follows on the heels of what he had just exhorted in 2 Timothy 3. Timothy was to correct (2:25), rebuke (1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 3:16; Titus 1:13; 2:15), and encourage in his ministry at all times regardless of whether it was "popular" at the time and in spite of any persecution that might ensue because of it. This was important so that the Gospel would spread. 
  • Fulfill His Ministry - He was to do this with serious purpose ("sober" is used several times in these letters). Behind all of this was the overarching goal of people coming into the kingdom as Paul exhorted him to "Do the work of an evangelist" (see Acts 20:17-21). Paul had definitely fulfilled his ministry. He had been "poured out like a drink offering (see Numbers 28:4-7 for the libation connected with the daily offering of the lambs) and had "fought the good fight and finished the race" of faith. He wanted Timothy to do so also.
  • Be diligent and faithful - Faithfulness is a theme throughout the whole letter. In Roman athletic games, winners were given a laurel wreath. It was a sought after prize and a symbol of triumph and glory. Paul knew that he would receive the "imperishable wreath" of righteousness because of his faithfulness (see 2 Corinthians 5:10 and 1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Paul longed for Timothy to come to him because some had deserted him, and he was at the end of his life.  Here are some cross-references for the people mentioned in the closing comments of his letter:


  • Demas - Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:9-10; Philemon 23,24
  • Luke - Luke 1:1-4; Acts. 1:1-2; 16:10-13; 20:5-6; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:31; Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11
  • Mark or John Mark - Acts 12:12,25; 13:5,13; 15:36-40; Colossians 4:10-11; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philippians 24; 1 Peter 5:13
  • Tychicus - Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21-22; Colossians 4:7-8; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12
  • Alexander - Acts 19:33; 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 4:14-15 
  • Prisca and Aquila - Acts 18:1-3; 18-19; 24-26; Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19

Paul's closing benediction indicates that it was not only for Timothy but also for a wider audience because the "you" in 4:22 is plural.


It is believed that these were the last words of Paul to have survived before his death. Sobering.

REFLECTION


Recently, I had a melanoma skin cancer scare. It is the deadliest form. I went through Christmas waiting for the results of two biopsies wondering if this would be my last Christmas on earth. One was benign, but the one on my jawline was melanoma.


It was good to evaluate what I would do differently if I knew I only had months to live, and guess what? There was not one thing I would change! My biggest goal was to finish the editing of this Bible Book Club and the group of young people we are investing in for Kingdom purposes (including our two young adult sons). 


APPLICATION


Take some time to review the whole book of 2 Timothy. What did you glean from it that you can put into practice in your own life? Do you want to end your life knowing that you have "fought the good fight"?  Are you in the process of doing that now? Do you know the ministry that He has called you to? Are you fulfilling your calling?


PRAYER


I feel the death of a friend. I cannot imagine Paul in that prison cell writing down his last words. Thank You for his faithful ministry. May we be faithful also to preach Your Word and fulfill the ministry You have called us to. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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