Paul’s Farewell

Posted: January 19, 2009 in 2 Timothy

2 Timothy 4:6-22, “Paul’s Farewell”

When we began 2 Timothy, we asked the question: if you knew you had one last phone call to make or email to send before you died, what would you say? Who would you send it to? For Paul, we know the answer, because 2 Timothy IS that letter. Paul knew his death was at hand, and though he wanted to see Timothy one last time before he died, he was under no illusions that his execution by the Romans couldn’t come at any day.

So what did he say? In Ch 1, he encouraged Timothy to not be afraid or ashamed of the gospel & doctrine that Paul had passed on to him…but to preach it boldly & accurately. In Ch 2, he exhorted Timothy to stay focused on the Lord Jesus & his calling to minister the word of God faithfully & accurately. In Ch 3, Paul warned him about the last days apostasy, the expected persecution, and once more underscored the need to Timothy to continue teaching the God-breathed Scripture. Finally in Ch 4, Paul gave him one final climatic charge to preach the Word. No matter what anyone else taught or how people desired their ears to be tickled, Timothy (and all of us) need to stick to the simple proclamation of the Scriptures which ultimately proclaim Jesus Christ.

As the letter comes to a close, we see a lot of personal requests, but we also see some simple reflection. Simply put, these are Paul’s last recorded words to the church – and he takes the opportunity to look over his walk with Christ…especially this latest round of imprisonment. As he looks back, he can honestly proclaim himself to be faithful to his Lord – forgiving towards others – and fully reliant on the promises of God for the future…

2 Timothy 4:6-22 (NKJV)
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.

A. What’s a drink offering? [Part of the daily offerings – Num 28:7] Even in the pagan Roman religions, it was common to pour out a libation prior to an animal sacrifice. The analogy for Paul is clear: he’s about to die by Roman hands, and his life itself is an offering to the Lord.

B. What’s a Christian’s view of death? Not “the great unknown” – not “the abyss” – not “soul sleep” – it’s a “departure.” Gk has to do with pitching one’s tent, or preparing to set sail…definitely a euphemism for death, but it provides a great word-picture for the Christian. Because Christ conquered the sting of death with His resurrection, at death born-again believers are absent from the body & present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8). We go instantaneously from life to death to life again as we ‘depart’ this world & see our Lord & Savior face-to-face. [BDW, “Changing Neighborhoods”]

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

A. Paul was fond of sports analogies…used a similar thought in 1 Cor 9:24-27. Whether it’s boxing or racing, Paul was eager to participate, and kept his eyes on the prize. One of the common misconceptions about Christianity is that “Once you give your heart to Jesus, your whole life will become easy, prosperous, and wonderful!” Praise the Lord that Jesus’ yoke is easy (we’re not under the law) – that we are made co-heirs with Christ (so we are eternally prosperous) – and that we have peace with God the Father, are indwelt by the Spirit, and are friends of our Lord Jesus (which is truly wonderful)… But nothing in the NT indicates that we won’t struggle along the way. There are promises of trials, temptations, and persecution. We ought to expect them, and be prepared to endure as an athlete endures his/her trials…

B. How do we endure? What gives us the strength? Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 (1) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [] He’s not only our source of strength; He’s our example.
C. Keep in mind that Paul’s not claiming perfection here; simply completion. From the day Jesus 1st called him while on his way to Damascus – to being stuck away in Tarsus for years – to his various missionary journeys, imprisonments, trials, etc., there were many days Paul struggled against sin (re: Rom 7), but in the end through the grace of God, Paul persevered. [Don’t give up! Stay faithful…]

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

A. Paul carries the sports analogy all the way through. Someone didn’t compete in a race simply because they had nothing better to do; an athlete competes to win. (Olympic crowns…) The Christian’s crowns are the “crown of righteousness”, the crown of life (Rev 2:10), & the crown of glory (1 Pet 5:4). What exactly are they? Are they all different names for the same thing? No one knows…what we do know is that our focus won’t be on the crowns we’ve been given, but upon the crown-Giver.
__a. Paul is assured of the fact that he will receive the crown of righteousness. Does this mean Paul was some sort of super-Christian that did things ‘just right’ to deserve his crown? Of course not! He was the self-proclaimed “chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15) & like the rest of us, he was saved by grace through faith & not by works (Eph 2:8-9). Paul’s crown is being given to him because he abode in Christ. The righteousness he was looking forward to was not earned; it was given.

B. Who gives the crown? The Judge – Christ. Every athletic contest needs a referee (which is the immediate context), but don’t forget Paul just introduced the Lord Jesus as the Judge of the living & the dead (2 Tim 4:1). All of us will one day face the Judge; it’s just that Christians will be the ones who will be saved.
__a. ‘I thought Christians weren’t judged?!’ We’re not judged for our sins; that was taken care of at the cross. We ARE judged for what we’ve done in the Body of Christ – not for punishment, but for reward. “That Day” isn’t a reference to the Great White Throne, but to the Bema Seat… 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (9) Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. (10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. [] The Bema Seat doesn’t affect our salvation (if we’ve repented from our sin & trusted Christ to be born-again, He’s saved us), the Bema Seat judgment does affect our reward. [Read more about it in 1 Cor 3:9-15 & Rom 14:10-13] Timothy would have been well-familiar with the concept in his travels with Paul.
__b. Here’s the point: One reason Paul was ready to see Jesus & prepared to be poured out as a drink offering was because he lived every day knowing that he was going to give an account of his life to his Lord. If we have a court appointment to stand before a judge tomorrow, it would probably change the way we acted today…we wouldn’t want any embarrassing (or illegal) events to be brought up. Likewise, we DO have an appointment to stand before the Ultimate Judge. If you’ve been forgiven, you can praise God Jesus has already paid the price for your sins – but you will still give an account for everything you did after you became a Christian… Like everything else in our walk with Christ, we entrust ourselves to our Savior’s grace and mercy – His holiness will burn the fleshly stuff away, to where all that remains is what He’s done in our lives.

C. Who gets the crown? “all who have loved His appearing” The Church! Everyone who’s turned to Jesus Christ as the Living Son of God for forgiveness of sins – everyone who has trusted Jesus as Lord & Savior, and is looking forward to seeing His face (either by death or rapture) will receive the “crown of righteousness.” Why? Because it’s not OUR righteousness; it’s His.

9 Be diligent to come to me quickly; 10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.

A. Paul loved Timothy as a father – but he didn’t just want to see Timothy because he missed him. Paul felt pretty lonely & at least in one case, abandoned by someone he originally thought he could trust. Demas is mentioned in Col 4:4 & Phm 24 as one of Paul’s companions – we don’t know what he might have done with Paul, other than he was one of Paul’s “fellow laborers” at one time. Whatever happened along the way (perhaps he was frightened by Paul’s 1st brush with death – vs 17?), he eventually abandoned Paul in favor of the love of the world. Some commentators are quick to soften the blow for Demas & say there’s no reason we should assume any sin on his part – but Paul specifically wrote that Demas had “forsaken” (utterly abandoned) him, having given the agape love that should have gone to Christ to the world, implying apostasy or lack of any real belief in the 1st place (1 John 2:15).
__a. There’s a tragic contrast here. Paul has been faithful to the end, and is prepared to meet his Savior to hear the words, “Well done, good & faithful servant.” Demas had fallen away – and even though he was once a minister, unless he repented at some point, most likely heard the Lord say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” Our hope of eternal life does not rest in what we think we can do for Christ; it’s in what He’s already done for us. There are many who sit in churches every week that believe they’re saved because they sit in churches every week (teach Sunday School, lead worship, etc.)… May it not be so with us – our trust is in Christ alone & the world has nothing to offer us in comparison with Him.

B. Crescens & Titus: We don’t know the reason Crescens & Titus were no longer with Paul…we shouldn’t assume that they also apostasized (they’re associated with “departing” & not “forsaking”). Most likely, they had been sent on ahead in ministry. But Paul still missed them as family.

11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.

A. The one person that remained was Luke (frequent travel companion of Paul & author of Luke/Acts). Luke was a physician & it’s easy to picture him tending to his friend during his last days in prison.

B. This one line about Mark is one of the greatest examples of restoration in the NT! If Demas had left the ministry; Mark had been restored to ministry. [Paul & Barnabas – Acts 15:36-41] Whereas at one point, Paul couldn’t even trust Mark as a travel companion, now he’s calling for him to be used in ministry.
__a. Never stop trusting the Lord for reconciliation…

12 And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.

A. Possibly to replace Timothy in service there. Last saw Tychicus in Eph 6:21, as Paul had sent him before. He would have been an obvious replacement for Timothy since he already knew the people there.

13 Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments.

A. Paul may know that his death is coming any day, but he’s not slowing down anytime soon. Theories abound as to what the books & parchments are – they could be Torah scrolls & commentaries…could be copies of his own letters…could be early collections of the gospel accounts. Regardless what they were, it’s apparent Paul wanted to continue studying & learning about the Lord up to his date of execution.

14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. 15 You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.

A. Who was Alexander? It’s a common name, but this is most likely the Alexander mentioned in 1 Tim 1:20…whom Paul had to excommunicate due to blasphemy. Because of this past history, Timothy was to be careful…

B. Was Paul wishing harm on him? No – simply praying for the Lord to intervene; some suggest that he was even prophesying what would take place. Vengeance belongs to the Lord; Paul had no need to ‘want’ Alexander to be punished – he just needed to leave the matter in the hands of the Righteous Judge.

16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.

A. “All”? Possibly even Luke & Titus? We don’t have an exact time frame here, so we don’t know if Luke & Titus were with Paul at his 1st defense. But whomever of the church was there, they abandoned Paul & allowed him to face Rome alone.
__a. Jesus knows what it’s like to be abandoned by those He loves. He came to His own people, but His people did not receive Him (John 1:11) – He betrayed by one of His own disciples – even one of His closest friend denied Him on the eve of His death. If you ever feel abandoned or betrayed, take heart – you have good company who understands.

B. If you haven’t learned it yet, you will: sometimes Christians will disappoint us. Just because they’re a believer in the Lord doesn’t mean that they’re perfect & will never fail (are you? 🙂 ). The question is: how will we respond when it happens? Paul chose to forgive them. Just like Jesus… Just like Stephen…
__a. Is forgiveness easy? Not often – especially if we’ve been truly hurt. But forgiveness is a choice that’s easier to make when we understand how much we’ve already been forgiven. [Matt 18 – Unforgiving Servant] Our own sin incurs the holy wrath of the Righteous God…whatever our own personal history, every single one of us deserves infinite Hell because we’ve rebelled against our infinite God. Yet because Jesus died in your place, He forgave you your entire debt…not just the ‘little’ sins; He forgave you of everything. With that in mind, how can we possibly pray “Forgive us of our debts, but don’t ask me to forgive my debtors?’ No – we forgive our debtors not because of their work; but because of Christ’s. Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. []

17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

A. The whole church may have abandoned Paul, but the Lord Jesus didn’t! He is faithful & never leaves us nor forsakes us…He’s with us till the end of the age.

B. Jesus strengthened Paul to continue to share the gospel… Did “all the Gentiles” hear? At the time, not necessarily – though Paul was certainly faithful to continue preaching the gospel of Christ, no matter what his circumstances. We know that many of the palace guard were saved through his preaching. But ultimately, we have to say “Yes! All the Gentiles DID hear.” After all, whose words are we reading right now? The Lord Jesus strengthened Paul through every trial & every circumstance, giving him the grace to endure (because it is sufficient) – and as a result, he wrote at least 13 of the 27 books of the NT!

C. Delivered from death in some way. Nero was often referred to as “the lion” among Roman authors, so Paul could have been referring to an earlier trial. As a Roman citizen, Paul would not likely have been thrown to a literal lion, but if so, it’s equally possible that God miraculously delivered Paul as He did Daniel. 3rd possibility is simply a reference to some trap laid by the Devil who roams about like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8)… The point isn’t so much the method of deliverance; it’s that Paul had a Deliverer!

18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

A. Because Jesus repeatedly delivered Paul in the past, Paul could trust Jesus’ deliverance in the future. Question: If Paul knows he’s about to be executed, then how can he say that “the Lord will deliver me from every evil work?” Because he understood what “deliverance” means. (Hint: it’s not health, wealth, & never experiencing hard times!)

B. Jesus WILL deliver us from every evil work when we are abiding in His grace – but He’ll deliver us in His way. (Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego) Daniel 3:17-18 (17) If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. (18 ) But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” [] Like Paul, they knew that their souls were not in the hands of the king, but in the hands of God. We may be delivered away from trials – we may be delivered through trials – but eventually we’re delivered into the presence of Christ, Who preserves us & keeps us for all eternity with Him in glory.

19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.

A. Final greetings to old friends: Prisca (Priscilla) & Aquila are often partners with Paul in the gospel – they helped disciple a young Apollos in the faith (Acts 18:26). Onesiphorus mentioned in Ch 1:16-17 as the man who searched Paul out in Rome. Erastus was likely the treasurer of Corinth mentioned in Rom 16:23. Trophimus was a common companion of Paul & had accompanied him to Jerusalem (and was the reason why the riot broke out at the temple – Acts 21:29). All were faithful to the Lord Jesus & partners in the Great Commission.

21 Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren.

A. Winter: hence the cloak… Sends greetings forward from the church…there’s no other Biblical record of the names mentioned – just brothers & sisters in Christ.

22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

A. Final greetings to Timothy…
B. Final greetings to the church. “Grace be with you” (plural). If there’s any one word that sums up Paul’s ministry, it’s “grace”…and the grace of Christ is what the Church needs to abide in the most.

The ministry God gave the apostle Paul was absolutely amazing. Jesus took a former persecutor of the faith, who’s one desire was to purify Judaism among the Jews & turned him into the greatest missionary to the Gentiles the world has ever known. His passion was proclaiming the grace and gospel of Jesus Christ, and wouldn’t compromise on that message in the slightest – even among other apostles! As time went on, he entrusted that same message to others (like Timothy & Titus) & continued to exhort them to stay true to the gospel & the truth. Was Paul perfect? Far from it – but he was forgiven, and understood what it meant to rely completely on the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

As Paul came to the end of his life, he could look back & see certain things. He was:
A. Faithful to his Lord & Savior – the Judge. He was ready and prepared to see Jesus at the Bema Seat & probably couldn’t wait to see Him face-to-face.

B. Forgiving towards others. Those who we’d expect to see faithfully sticking by Paul abandoned him in his hour of need – but Paul wasn’t taking a grudge to the grave. The chief of sinners had been forgiven much. and thus he loved much & was ready & willing to forgive others.

C. Fully reliant on the promises & grace of God. Out of the days he had left, Paul knew his toughest still lay ahead of him. But he had no reason to fear the executioner’s axe; he had a Deliverer Who was standing by him & would never leave him. Paul understood the instant his heart stopped beating, that he’d see Jesus in glory – and there’s no better promise than that!

All in all, Paul was ready to meet Jesus. Are you? As a Christian, are you abiding in Christ, or enticed by the world? Don’t be a Demas…immerse yourself in the grace of God to walk faithfully with Him till the end. Forgive others as you’ve been forgiven. And trust God at His word.

If you’re not a Christian, I can guarantee you you’re not ready. Keep in mind “Christian” doesn’t mean you’re a member of a denomination somewhere or that you attended Sunday School as a kid. A Christian is someone who’s been born-again by the Spirit of God because they’ve put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. When we see our sin for what it truly is (rebellion against God & worthy of death), then we ought to fall to our knees upon the grace and mercy of Jesus. He paid the penalty for your sins already at the cross, and offers you new life in His resurrection – we simply need to respond to His offer & receive Him as our Lord.


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