For the week commencing 16 June 2019
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on 2 Timothy 4:9-22 – Dear Timothy… the Lord stood at my side
Our Term 2 series takes us through Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Here is the outline:
05 May … Do not be ashamed of Jesus 2 Tim 1:1-8
12 May … Jesus has destroyed death 2 Tim 1:9-18
19 May … be strong in Jesus’ grace 2 Tim 2:1-13
26 May … God approves 2 Tim 2:14-26
02 June … there will be terrible times 2 Tim 3:1-9
09 June … all Scripture is God-breathed 2 Tim 3:10-17
16 June … preach the word 2 Tim 4:1-8
23 June … the Lord stood at my side 2 Tim 4:9-22
DAY 1: Read 2 Timothy 4:8-14
Both in v9 and v21, Paul urges Timothy to come to him quickly. Paul it seems, thought that his time was short and soon the winter months would inhibit travel. His request also reveals the close relationship he felt with Timothy, who in the opening verses of this book, he had described as his ‘dear son’. We see here also, the sad reality that other people with whom he had worked and on whom he had depended, had either deserted him or departed for some other assignment.
Demas – instead of loving Christ’s appearing (v8), he loved this present world. He had misplaced affections. He had hung out with Paul and been a co-worker (see Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 24) but had now ‘deserted’ him – a word meaning to utterly abandon and leave someone helpless in a dire situation.
Crescens, Titus and Tychicus – Crescens and Titus appear to have been sent out on mission to Galatia and Dalmatia. Dalmatia was across the Adriatic Sea, and Galatia was across the Aegean Sea.
Tychicus – was the bearer of the letter to the Colossians and Ephesians. Paul had sent him now to Ephesus, possibly as a temporary replacement for Timothy, allowing him to visit Paul in Rome.
Luke – a loyal friend and companion to Paul. He was with Paul in prison from the first time to the last. He was Paul’s biographer, and the passages in book of Acts where Luke includes himself in the narrative (the so called ‘we’ passages) indicates that Luke had been with Paul during some of the most difficult times.
Mark – Timothy was to bring Mark with him. Mark had been involved with Jesus from the start. Some people believe that he may have been the young man who ran away naked at Jesus’ arrest (Mark 14:51-52). Paul had issues with Mark at one point (Acts 13:5, 13) but is later restored and is present with Paul during the apostle’s first imprisonment (Colossians 4:10).
Carpus – Apparently Carpus lived in Troas and Paul had visited him. Paul’s cloak was important as it was cold in Rome.
We see in all these references, a glimpse of Paul’s humanness. John Stotts says, “When our spirit is lonely, we need friends. When our body is cold, we need clothing. When our mind is bored, we need books. To admit this is not unspiritual; it is human.” (Stott, Message, 121).
Alexander – Paul notes that he had done great harm to him and he had strongly opposed the message. He may have been involved in Paul’s second arrest. As a metalworker, it is possible he was an idol maker who resented Paul because he was cutting into his bottom line. In 1 Timothy 1:20, Paul mentions an Alexander whom he had delivered over to Satan. Although we cannot be sure, it is likely that this is the same person. Paul is content to leave him in the Lord’s hands but warns Timothy to be on his guard against him.
Give thanks to God today for those who are good friends in the Lord Jesus, who bless you and encourage you in your relationship with the Lord Jesus. And be on your guard against those who may lead you astray.
DAY 2: Read 2 Timothy 4:16-18
Paul’s first defence may be similar to a person going before a magistrate to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a trial. Paul says that no one stood with him during this trial. Some could not because of other tasks, while others would not because of fear or some other reason. This courageous leader of the 1st century church, did not have one other Christian with him! We are reminded of our Lord Jesus, who went to Jerusalem knowing that he was walking into death, and where he was also deserted by everyone (Mark 14:50).
Some of what Paul is reporting here, is reminiscent of Psalm 22, which also occupied the mind of Jesus during his dying moments. Take a moment to compare 2 Tim 4:16 with Psalm 22:1 and Psalm 22:11. Or look at 2 Tim 4:17 with Psalm 22:21 and 27. Or 2 Timothy 4:18 with Psalm 22:28. Paul is a model of faithfulness and devotion, worthy of our imitation because he points us to the Saviour (1 Corinthians 1:11).
DAY 3: Read again 2 Timothy 4:16-18
Paul knew that he was not ultimately alone. The Lord was with him! He says to Timothy: But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord didn’t just stand by his side passively – to help him through – though no doubt that would have been blessing in itself. No, he strengthened Paul not just to make it through the trial, but so that the message of Jesus might continue to be proclaimed to the Gentiles!
Paul’s dominant concern was not himself but the message of Christ! In front of this large crowd, before judges and perhaps the emperor himself, Paul publicly declared the gospel. When you recognise that you ultimately stand before God almighty, you are freed from the fear of man!
The Lord also temporarily rescued him from death (“the lion’s mouth”). The court could have easily decided to take his life, but instead there would be another hearing. In the end Paul did die, but the Lord would still provide the ultimate rescue to this faithful messenger. Paul knew that though he would one day die a physical death, he would actually be rescued from every evil attack and brought safely into God’s eternal kingdom. What a wonderful confidence!
Because God provides the strength, gives us the message, protects us from evil and will ultimately bring us to heaven, God deserves the glory: “To Him be the glory for ever and ever.”
DAY 4: Read 2 Timothy 4:19-22
Priscilla, Aquila and Onesiphorus – Paul now greets his friends in other places. Priscilla and Aquila (wife and husband) befriended Paul in Corinth. Paul stayed with them and worked with them as tent makers (Acts 18:2-3). Paul called them his co-workers (Romans 16:3) and apparently, they were still in Ephesus, where they had accompanied Paul before he left for Caesarea (Acts 18:26). They exemplify steady faithfulness to Jesus. Paul also greets Onesiphorus’ household. Even though this refreshing friend appears to be in Rome (recall 2 Timothy 1:16-18), Paul still mentioned a word of greeting to his household.
Erastus and Trophimus – two other mutual friends are included here. Paul says, Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. It may be that this is the Erastus spoken of in Romans 16:23, where he was known as the ‘city treasurer’ and the same guy who was with Timothy on a previous trip to Macedonia (Acts 19:22). Trophimus, a native of Ephesus, was a companion of Paul on this third missionary journey. According to Acts 21:29, he went with Paul to Jerusalem. Trophimus knew of the hardships of Paul and undoubtedly experienced difficulty as well in labouring for the gospel. He may have been with Paul on his trip from Asia to Rome but had to remain in Miletus because of an illness.
Nothing more is known of Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia. Whilst they are unknown to us, they were not unknown to God!! And your service to God does not go unnoticed either! The church has been blessed, enriched and strengthened throughout the ages mostly by unsung heroes!
The letter ends as it began – with a gospel focus on the grace of God through the Lord Jesus. Paul’s final recorded thought is grace! This war-torn apostle experienced God’s grace, testified to God’s grace, proclaimed God’s grace and closed his letter to Timothy by praying for that grace to strength and empower him and all who would read this letter.
As you pursue faithfulness to God, you can rest in the Saviour’s grace, remember God’s perfect faithfulness and rely on his strength to finish your course. And then at the end, you will with Paul, receive the crown of righteousness awarded to Paul and to all who have longed for Jesus’ appearing!
Resources: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Christ-centered Exposition Commentary) by David Platt
Commentary on 1-2 Timothy by Andreas J.Kostenberger, in the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series