2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
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2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 Biblical Commentary
In 3:14 – 4:5, Paul (the mentor and spiritual father) urged Timothy (the younger disciple) to “remain in the things which you have learned” from the scriptures, and assured him that the scriptures are able to make Timothy “wise for salvation” (3:14-15).
He went on to assure Timothy that all scripture is God-breathed—God-inspired—and thus “is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” (3:16).
He called Timothy to “preach the word, (and to) be urgent in season and out of season—whether convenient or not—whether popular or not (4:2).
He also warned Timothy that the time would come when people would not listen to sound doctrine, but instead would listen to false teachers who would tell them what they wanted to hear (4:3-4).
He called Timothy to “be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry” (4:5).
2 TIMOTHY 4:6-8. I HAVE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT
6 For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. 8 From now on, there is stored 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 those who have loved his appearing.
“For I am already being offered” (Greek: spendo) (v. 6a). The word spendo means “being poured out.” Paul’s lifeblood is being poured out as a sacrificial offering.
“and the time of my departure (Greek: analysis) has come” (v. 6b). The word analysis means a departure or death, but it has a triumphant note here. Paul’s death will result in a loosening of his bonds—and as an end to his sufferings.
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith” (v. 7). Paul has talked about his steadfastness in the face of the persecutions that he endured in Christ’s service (3:10-11), and has warned Timothy that he is likely to suffer persecution (3:12). He has called Timothy to faithful service (4:1-2, 5).
Now he says that he has done what he is calling Timothy to do. He has fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith.
Would that we could all face death with the same sense of having persevered in faithfulness that Paul portrays in this verse.
“From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day” (v. 8a). The picture is that of a great race where a laurel wreath awaits the winner at the finish line. Paul is expressing his confidence that Christ is keeping a crown of righteousness—akin to the victor’s laurel wreath—to award to Paul at the end of the race.
Paul speaks of “the Lord, the righteous judge”—a sharp contrast with Nero and other Roman officials who judged winners in Roman athletic contests.
“and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing” (v. 8b). Paul quickly adds that the crown of righteousness is reserved, not only for him, but for all who have eagerly awaited the Lord’s appearing.
2 TIMOTHY 4:9-15. PERSONAL NOTES
9 Be diligent to come to me soon, 10 for Demas left me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12 But I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 Bring the cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus when you come, and the books, especially the parchments. 14Alexander, the coppersmith, did much evil to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works, 15 of whom you also must beware; for he greatly opposed our words.
Paul, who is alone, except for Luke, asks Timothy to come to him soon and to bring Mark with him (v. 11). He also asks Timothy to bring his cloak, books, and parchments (v. 13)—precious possessions in that day—especially for a prisoner.
Paul has been abandoned by Demas, who had been one of Paul’s associates (Colossians 4:14). However, Demas fell in love with this world—the world opposed to God.
There is no indication that Crescens and Titus have done anything wrong:
• We know very little about Crescens. Tradition places him among the Seventy (Luke 10:1-20), but that is far from certain.
• Titus was one of Paul’s early associates, and was the recipient of the letter from Paul that bears his name. He ministered successfully in Corinth despite difficult circumstances (2 Corinthians 7:6-16; 8:6-23; 12:18). He went to Crete to solve problems in the church there (Titus 1:5; 2:1, 15).
It is quite possible that Paul encouraged Crescens and Titus to leave him in prison to go to Galatia and Dalmatia to solve problems in those places—although that is conjecture. Paul did send Tychicus to Ephesus (v. 12).
The note about Alexander, the coppersmith, is unusual in its harsh criticism. Alexander “did much evil” to Paul, for which he will suffer severe judgment. Paul warns Timothy to beware of Alexander (vv. 14-15), who is probably the same man whom Paul mentioned critically in 1 Timothy 1:19-20.
2 TIMOTHY 4:16-18. THE LORD WILL DELIVER ME
16 At my first defense, no one came to help me, but all left me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me, that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me for his heavenly Kingdom; to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
“At my first defense, no one came to help me, but all left me” (v. 16a). We aren’t sure which defense was involved. The more important point is the contrast between those who left Paul to defend himself and “the Lord (who) stood by (Paul) (v. 17).
“May it not be held against them” (v. 16b). This is a truly gracious comment, reminiscent of Jesus’ dying words, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It is also reminiscent of Stephen’s dying words, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60). It stands in marked contrast to the judgment Paul pronounced on Alexander (v. 14).
“But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me” (v. 17a). Again, Paul sharply contrasts the lack of support from his fellows with the faithful support of the Lord.
“that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear” (v. 17b). This presumably took place at Paul’s trial, where he would have had the opportunity to witness to judges, jailers, and witnesses alike.
“and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion” (v. 17c). Being “delivered out of the mouth of the lion” suggests that Paul was faced with death. It is reminiscent of Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6).
“And the Lord will deliver (Greek: rhyomai) me from every evil work” (v. 18a). The word rhyomai means to rescue or deliver. It has the sense of rescuing by drawing the person being rescued to the rescuer. The picture that comes to my mind is a hen gathering her chicks to herself for their safety.
With regard to evil works, Demas and Alexander come to mind—especially Alexander (see above on verses 10 and 14). Paul is probably also thinking about the potential for his execution under the evil emperor Nero.
“and will preserve me (Greek: sozo) for his heavenly Kingdom” (v. 18b). The word sozo means “save.” The Lord’s salvation has many dimensions:
• He assures us of his love for us and his accessibility to us.
• He answers our prayers, not necessarily as we asked, but in accord with his greater wisdom and love.
• He transforms the world in which we live, using us as leaven to leaven the whole loaf.
• He promises eternal life. This is what Paul means when he talks about the Lord saving him for his heavenly Kingdom. While God’s kingdom has both a this-world and a next-world character, Paul’s mention of God’s heavenly kingdom shows that he is thinking specifically of the next-world kingdom.
Paul rejects the idea that evil forces can control his life. God is for him, so what does it matter who happens to be against him (Romans 8:31).
“to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (v. 18b). Paul also uses this sort of God-centered doxology in Galatians 1:5 and Romans 16:27. It is a gracious and full-of-faith way for him to end this section on his suffering.
Except for greetings to particular people (vv. 19-22), this closes Paul’s second letter to Timothy.
SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.
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