Bible Study
The Second Letter of Paul to Timothy
(6) Deserted but not Alone
II Tim. 4:6-22


Introduction

In our last lesson, Paul reviewed for Timothy some of the persecutions he had endured for the faith - even to being stoned and left for dead. He warned Timothy and us that all who desire to be godly will be persecuted. In the end times there will be more and more evil men and imposters who are deceived and who are deceivers of others. There will be people with itching ears who don't want to hear the truth, and false teachers who are happy to teach them the lies they do want to hear. In order to stand for the faith in times like these we must be students of the Word. We must desire to live a godly life and be willing to endure hardship and persecution. As we study this last section of II Timothy we need to remember that Paul was facing death. These are his last written words before his execution.

Read II Tim. 4:6-22

1. An offering and a crown

A. Paul felt that he was being poured out like the priests would pour a drink offering on the altar to the Lord. He had lived his life sacrificially for God. Now he would die as his final sacrifice. He called it a "departure". He was leaving one country to go to another. Heb. 13:14 Paul was able to summarize his life and service with the conclusion of the 3 illustrations he had given Timothy in II Tim. 2:3-6.

Like a soldier he had "fought the good fight".
Like an athlete he had "finished the race".
Like a farmer he would receive his reward.

Paul had fought, finished and kept the faith. That means that it is possible to have the faith and not keep it!  Heb. 3:12-14 This is Paul's testimony of his hard life and his faithfulness to the end.

B. Paul was expecting a crown. It was the crown of righteousness which would replace the soldier's breastplate of righteousness which he would no longer need. It was imputed righteousness which Christ had given him, and achieved righteousness which he had striven to gain as a faithful follower of Christ from the time of his conversion to his impending death. Only the Lord, who is the Righteous Judge, can award the crown of righteousness. James, too, spoke of the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12 Paul knew that on that day of judgment and rewards, he would receive what he deserved. But rewards would not only be given to Paul, but also to all who had longed for His appearing. No one will long for Christ's appearing who does not love Him and serve Him. If we doubt or fear Him we will not want to see Him. If we have not been faithful, we will want to run and hide. Those who long for Him are His lovers who know that their joy will be full when He appears.

2. Friends who desert us
A. Paul concludes his letter with very personal news of his situation. We can feel his broken heart over those who have deserted him, and his love and dependence on those who truly care for him. It helps us see this great man of God with tears in his eyes. Old and scarred from much persecution, Paul was lonely and hurting. He was longing to see his son Timothy who would have been a great comfort to him. Twice Paul asked Timothy to come. 'Do your best to come to me quickly""Do your best to get here before winter". II Tim. 4:21 Was Paul thinking of the winter storms in the Mediterranean like the ones in which he had been shipwrecked? Probably he knew that it would be dangerous if not impossible for Timothy to travel once winter began. But he may have also been thinking of the "winter" of our lives. Maybe he wanted to say, "Come before my death" but in a gentle way.

B. Paul, all alone except for Luke (II Tim. 4:11), was languishing in a Roman dungeon awaiting his imminent execution. Those who should have been there to help and comfort him had left - evidently for different reasons. In Col. 4:14 which Paul wrote during his first imprisonment, he mentioned "our dear friend Luke, the doctor" and Demas who were both with him at that time. This time they had also both been there, but Demas had left "because he loved this world". Probably he was afraid of Nero's persecution and didn't want to get caught. Maybe he had already decided that he would turn away from Christ as he did Paul, to save his neck in this world. Since Paul used the word 'deserted" it seems clear that it was a choice that Demas had made between the Lord and the world. He is remembered till today as a deserter just as Judas is remembered as a betrayer. Crescens and Titus had also left but evidently for valid reasons. Paul was allowed by God to taste the cup of Christ when His disciples deserted Him in the hour of need.

3. Faithful friends
A. Faithful Dr. Luke was evidently the only one who stuck with Paul. His ministry of healing and encouragement must have been a great comfort to Paul. Luke had traveled extensively with Paul on his missionary journeys. We can trace Luke's presence because he writes "we" in his account in the book of Acts. (ex. Acts 16:10) We are surprised to hear Paul ask for Mark. How was Mark helpful to Paul in his ministry? He was the one who had deserted him on his first missionary journey. Acts 13:13 And he was the one Paul refused to take on his second journey. Barnabus knew that Mark had changed, but Paul didn't believe it. I guess he thought, "Once a deserter, always a deserter." Evidently Barnabus had done a good job of discipling Mark so that he had become helpful in the ministry. This proves that failing does not have to be final. We can repent and become faithful and useful again. I'm glad that Paul did not hold a grudge against Mark, but evidently forgave him. And evidently Mark didn't hold a grudge against Paul either for refusing to take him on his second journey.

B. Paul had sent Tychicus to Ephesus to deliver his letter to the church there. Eph. 6:21-22 Paul is asking for Timothy to bring 2 items with him when he traveled to Rome to be with Paul. He wanted his cloak which he had left at Troas, and his scrolls and parchments. He needed the cloak for the cold winter coming. And he longed for his scrolls - probably scripture - and his parchments - maybe his own writings. Anyone who identified himself with Paul would be in danger of the same death penalty. Did Luke pay with his life for his faithfulness to the Lord and to Paul? We don't know. This was no game. It required a life or death commitment to Christ and His servant. Did Timothy and Mark get there before Paul's death? We don't know what happened to Luke or Mark, but it seems that Timothy was imprisoned and later released. The writer of Hebrews wrote about Timothy's release a few years after Paul wrote this letter to him. Heb. 13:23

4. Paul's criminal trials
A. Paul now talks about his first criminal trial before Caesar. Alexander the metal-worker was probably from Ephesus so that Timothy knew him. Whether he's the same man mentioned in Acts 19 we don't know, but he probably was involved in the riot of the silversmiths since that was similar to his trade. How could he do Paul great harm? He probably testified against him, blaming him for the riot and making it appear that he was stirring up rebellion against Rome in the Ephesian colony. He strongly opposed Paul's message of the gospel and the one true God, possibly emphasizing That Paul did not honor and worship the emperor, and taught others to follow his ways. Why would Alexander follow Paul to Rome? When anyone endangers another person's wealth or their methods of gaining wealth, he could lose his life. Many murders come from this root. I think he opposed Paul and his message because the Christians were hurting his business. Paul warned Timothy to be on his guard against him, because Timothy was in Ephesus, he was Paul's disciple, and he was preaching the same message as Paul. Paul's only consolation was that Alexander would have to face the judgment of God for what he had done.

B. It sounds as though Paul would be allowed to give more than one defense. At his first defense, he was like Jesus. No one came to his support, but everyone deserted him. How disappointing and discouraging this must have been for Paul, yet it is his prayer that it will not be held against those who had failed him. Paul was alone and yet not alone. "But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength". Paul was aware of the Lord's presence beside him. He was strengthened so much that he was able to proclaim the message so that all the Gentiles listening could hear it. It resulted in his deliverance for the time being. He was literally "delivered from the lion's mouth", as Nero was having Christians thrown to the lions.

C. Paul had confidence that the Lord would rescue him from every evil attack. The message prevailed in the face of accusations. This does not mean that Paul would not be executed. He knew that he would soon "depart". II Tim. 4:6 But he also knew that he would die as an overcomer and that the Lord would bring him safely to his heavenly kingdom. Safety can be understood in many ways. We can be delivered in this life ("from the lion's mouth") and we can be delivered out of this life ("to His heavenly kingdom"). While the body may not be delivered, the soul will be. And so Paul could give glory to the Lord in the midst of his troubles and in face of his imminent death.

5. Greetings to friends
A. Paul ends with greetings to those serving in Ephesus with Timothy. Paul had first met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth. There they had made tents and ministered together. Acts 18:1-3 Paul sent thankful greetings to  Onesiphorus and his household as he mentioned the blessing he had been to him both in Ephesus and in his imprisonment in Rome. II Tim. 1:16-18 Erastus was Timothy's friend who had traveled with him in Macedonia. Trophimus was evidently Timothy's countryman. They had both traveled with Paul, but Erastus stayed in Corinth and Trophimus in Miletus. Greetings were sent to Timothy from Christians in Rome who knew him. Paul's final words to Timothy were a prayer. They may have been the last words of Paul that Timothy heard. We don't know if Paul survived till Timothy got to Rome.

B. Paul begged Timothy to do his best to get to Rome before winter. This serves as a reminder to us to help people in their time of need. Their need may be physical or spiritual, emotional or mental. Paul needed Timothy in his loneliness and discouragement over unfaithful friends. He needed someone who loved him to be nearby as he faced certain death. Are we willing to hear God's call to go to the hurting, suffering ones before their "winter"? Maybe they are already in the middle of their winter of trouble or pain. The time may be limited in which we can help them. Timothy had to deny himself and be willing to face great danger in order to help, encourage and strengthen his beloved "father in the faith". Paul had often ministered to him. Now it was his turn to minister to Paul.

Conclusion

Are we willing to be crucified with Christ? Can we put aside our own comfort and desires in order to put Christ's desires first? Paul lived his life totally for the Lord. Wherever he went he spread the gospel even when people hated him for it and tried to destroy him. Timothy, his spiritual son, followed in his footsteps. Both men were willing to die that others might know the Lord. Are we an example to others of this kind of faith and obedience? If they follow in our footsteps and become like us, what kind of soldiers will they be for Christ?


(c) 2003 Juanita Simpson

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