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Bible Commentaries

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

2 Timothy 4

Verse 1

This immortal chapter is indelibly stamped upon the conscience of all mankind. It may be called the last will and testament of the great apostle to the Gentiles. In view of the apostasy, even at that time working in the church, an event Paul had frequently mentioned, and in view of his own forthcoming death, Paul penned his solemn charge to Timothy to "preach the word" (2 Timothy 4:1-8); then he called for Timothy to hasten to be at his side for the end, requesting that he bring Mark and a few personal belongings, including in this some very interesting material regarding his personal affairs and the circumstances that pertained to his final imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:10-18). The final four verses (2 Timothy 4:19-22) contain a few salutations and the final apostolic benediction.

I charge thee in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (2 Timothy 4:1)

Facing the immediate prospect of death, as were so many others of the faithful Christians, Paul declared his solemn charge to be "before," that is, "in the sight of" God and of Christ Jesus; but it was also very appropriate that his charge with attendant warnings should contain this powerful reminder of the eternal judgment to be faced by all men.

Who shall judge the living and the dead ... The living are those who shall remain and still be upon the earth at the time of the Second Advent (2 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:51); the dead, of course, are the myriads who sleep in death until the coming of the Lord.

And by his appearing and his kingdom ... These are not added here as witnesses along with God and of Christ of Paul's solemn charge, but merely for the "purpose of reminding Timothy of both."[1] The coming of Christ will be the occasion of the final judgment; and, as Lenski said, "There is no room for nor thought of a millennium"[2] in this passage.

His kingdom ... On Paul's very first missionary journey, he had stressed that "Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22); and, despite the fact that the false charges of his enemies who accused him of setting up a regime opposed to that of Caesar (Acts 17:7,8) had caused him to use other synonyms for the church of God, he never changed this basic concept of it as the kingdom of God." Evil men shall not inherit the kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:21); he wrote that both the Colossians and the Thessalonians had been called and translated into the kingdom (Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:12); Jesus is now reigning in his kingdom and will continue to do so until all enemies are put under foot (1 Corinthians 15:25). Despite the Pauline concept of the kingdom already being now and here, his teachings also recognized a higher and more exalted state of the kingdom to be realized in the future (2 Timothy 4:18), also speaking of this thus: "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom" (1 Corinthians 15:50); "These only are fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God" (Colossians 4:11). All of this bears out fully Paul's own declaration that "I went about preaching the kingdom" (Acts 20:25); "He expounded the matter, testifying the kingdom of God" (Acts 28:23); "He abode two whole years ... preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus" (Acts 28:31).

[1] R. C. H. Lenski, Exposition of the Epistles of Paul ... 1Timothy (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1964), p. 851.

[2] Ibid.

Verse 2

preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

Preach the word ... Something of what this means has been lost in the modern definition of preaching. The true meaning is "Herald the word of God in its completeness, not altering it in any way, nor adding anything of his own that is borrowed from another source."[3] It also includes the mandate to announce to men the total message as God gave it. Paul said, "I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). The brilliant little intellectual essays, just as suitable for the Kiwanis club as for any church of any name, which are the stock in trade of modern "preaching," simply do not qualify as "preaching" in the New Testament frame of reference. Again from Lenski, "Many a preacher who should be a herald and is not ... must stammer and blush when he faces Christ's appearance and his kingdom."[4]

Be urgent in season, out of season ... To state this negatively, it means that preaching should not be limited to convenient times or to those occasions purported to be propitious. As White said:

Do not ask yourself if this is a suitable occasion for preaching? but ask rather why this should not be a suitable occasion. Have no limited season; let it always be thy season.[5]

What God wants of his ministers was stated positively by Spence in these words:

(He wants) a restless, sleepless earnestness, which struggles on with the Master's work in spite of bodily weakness and discouragement, in face of dangers and the bitterest opposition.[6]

Reprove ... This means to censure, as for a fault, and to express disapproval of the actions of others, certain]y a lost art in modern preaching.

Rebuke ... This is even a stronger word that means "to reprove sharply, to reprimand with authority." The preacher should never forget WHOSE word it is that he preaches.

Exhort ... The meaning here is "to urge by earnest appeal or argument," but it also carries the idea of persuasion.

With all longsuffering and teaching ... The love and tenderness of the preacher are required by this. The true preacher should not be like Jonah who indeed heralded the message of God, inwardly hoping to see the awful sentence executed, who did not even invite his hearers to repent, who indeed hoped they would not heed the message, and who was disappointed and angry when they did!

[3] Ibid., p. 852.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Newport J. D. White, Expositor's Greek New Testament, Vol. IV (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967). p. 176.

[6] H. D. M. Spence, Ellicott's Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. VIII (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House. 1970), p. 239.

Verse 3

For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts;

For the time will come ... The use of "for" here and in 2 Timothy 4:6 cites two reasons for Paul's urgent charge, these being (1) apostasy so often foretold is present (potentially) even in Timothy's time, and indeed at all times, and (2) the grand old warrior Paul will very soon have departed from this life. Thus there are the most urgent considerations requiring Timothy to exert himself to the utmost. This clause also has the effect of identifying the evil conditions foretold as supplementary prophecy regarding the great falling away. For a more extensive list of the New Testament teaching on this subject, see excursus at the end of 2 Thessalonians 2.

When they will not endure the sound doctrine ... The thought here is that, as the future unfolds, Christians will more and more despise and hate the doctrine taught by the apostles of Christ, preferring their own philosophies, systems and devices to those of the sacred Scriptures. "Timothy must keep in mind that things in the church of Christ on earth will not change for the better."[7]

But, having itching ears ... "This comes from a verb which in the active means to tickle; hence in the passive to be tickled, thus, to itch, or have an irritating desire."[8] The thought is that men in the church will strongly prefer to hear novelties, tantalizing theories, stimulating rhetoric and flowery phrases rather than the word which is able to make them wise unto salvation.

And will heap to themselves teachers ... "The desire for pleasure is insatiable, and is increased by indulgence; hence the heaping up of those who may minister to it."[9]

After their own lusts ... Here is the seat of the trouble. The lusts of men, which at all risks they are determined to satisfy, lead them to despise the truth which condemns them; and yet, desiring to keep some semblance of religion, they are beguiled by evil ministers who deceive them with soothing words, fantasies, speculations and philosophies of men.

[7] Ibid.

[8] William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, 2Timothy (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1957), p. 311.

[9] Ibid.

Verse 4

and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.

What happens to people who despise and turn away from God's truth is revealed here; they are duped by fables. When a child of God fails away from the truth, there are no longer any hoops on the barrel; there is absolutely nothing too ridiculous or preposterous for him to receive. It is always the most bizarre and extreme cults that are able to seduce and proselyte Christians.

Verse 5

But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry.

Be thou sober ... This is not an injunction against drunkenness, a commandment Timothy did not need. Sober in this context means "that clarity of mind and sound judgment that is not blinded and carried away by follies, fables and morbid opinions."[10]

Suffer hardship ... a hardship which Paul himself was at that moment suffering, thus providing the great example for Timothy.

Do the work of an evangelist ... The New Testament does not make the distinction between this word and "preacher," as in current usage. For comment on the work of preaching, see under 2 Timothy 4:2.

Fulfill thy ministry ... Spain observed that the word "fulfill" here means "the same as the word Paul used in 2 Timothy 4:17 where Paul speaks of proclaiming the word FULLY."[11] To fulfill one's ministry is to be faithful and loyal to all of its obligations, not to stint the service, nor abridge the message, nor to shrink from giving the full measure of fidelity and devotion.

[10] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 856.

[11] Carl Spain, Commentary on 1,2Timothy and Titus (Austin, Texas: R. B. Sweet Company, 1970), p. 153.

Verse 6

For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come.

Commentators find a metaphor here, as of loosening the ropes of a tent when breaking camp, or a ship slipping off her moorings and heading for the open sea; but White declared that "There is no figure of speech here."[12] Paul used the same word again as a synonym for death (Philippians 1:21), also speaking of death as being "at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8), as gain (Philippians 1:21), as far better (Philippians 1:22), and as a falling asleep in Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14).

I am already being offered ... "This is comparable to the libation of wine that was poured out beside the altar (Numbers 15:1-10) in the Jewish sacrifices."[13] The meaning is that Paul considered his coming death as the final event that would embellish and complete the marvelous life of suffering for the gospel which he had already lived. The libation poured out in the Jewish sacrifices was the final, crowning ceremony involved in the offering of the sacrifice. The same comparison is in Philippians 2:17; see the comment in my Commentary on Galatians, p. 190. However, as Lightfoot effectively proved, Paul never considered HIMSELF in any sense as a sacrifice to God, there being only one sacrifice involved in the redemption of men, namely, that of Jesus Christ our Lord.

The evident meaning of this verse is that Paul recognized that his earthly race was run and that the issue of his present imprisonment was certain to be his execution, an event he regarded as already in progress, with the date of it, of course, unknown to himself. His calling, a moment later, for Timothy to join him does not indicate any doubt on his part, but merely an uncertainty as to the time of it.

How inspiring, how noble, how unbelievably beautiful is the attitude of this grand apostle in the contemplation of death! As Lenski put it:

Socrates' attitude toward the cup of hemlock has been admired; it is the best that paganism can offer; but how pitifully empty it is when placed beside these few words of Christian triumph and Christian assurance which are looking up to the Lord ... with all who love his epiphany and await their crowning. Lord give me a death like this![14]

[12] Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 178.

[13] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 313.

[14] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 858.

Verse 7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith:

It is wrong to see any touch of egotism in this. In the Greek, "I" does not begin each clause. Hendriksen rendered it: "The grand fight have I fought, the race I have finished, the faith I have kept."[15] Besides that, the mere reference to facts so overwhelmingly obvious, in such a context as this, could not possibly indicate any undue self-esteem on the part of the apostle.

The grand fight I have fought ... The imagery here is not that of a mere boxing match, or of any other particular contest such as marked the Olympian games, but rather to the entire course of life, which Paul surely regarded as "the grand fight," the same being not a contest looking merely to the defeat of others but of triumphing over every obstacle that stood between him and the crown of life. That such a contest involved struggling against enemies, and even struggling with himself, is, of course, inherent.

I have finished the course. Here again, under another figure, it is the race of life which is meant. Unlike the races which marked the Olympiads, wherein only one received the prize, the Christian race allows that all who run lawfully and diligently may receive the prize (2 Timothy 4:8), provided that, as in the example of the apostle, they FINISH the course. It will be remembered that in the Saviour's parable, the payoff came in the evening (Matthew 20:8).

I have kept the faith ... Many scholars cannot resist the temptation to alter any passage in the New Testament that speaks of faith in the objective sense, even so reliable a writer as Hendriksen referring to the meaning here as "I have retained my personal trust in God."[16] How preposterous! Of course, it is true that Paul had kept alive and nourished his subjective faith in the Lord, but it is absolutely impossible that he used "faith" in any such sense here. His keeping the faith is exactly parallel to his having fought the grand fight and finished the course, meaning a body of duties discharged. It is delightful to find Lenski agreeing with this totally: "All three nouns are alike objective, and only thus are the three statements one."[17] To be sure, Lenski, who also holds to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, likewise tempered the meaning here by making Paul's keeping the faith to consist only of his "guarding it" and passing it on intact to others; but the total life of Paul indicates that his keeping the faith included the full discharge of his duties as a Christian. Without such fidelity, or the earnest effort to attain it, no person has any promise of eternal life. This is a basic fact of the Christian religion, nor does this truth, in any sense, make man his own Saviour, or require sinless perfection.

[15] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 313.

[16] Ibid., p. 316.

[17] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 861.

Verse 8

henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.

Henceforth ... means that the next thing in order is for Paul to receive the crown.

Crown of righteousness ... Hervey thought the crown of righteousness here means "that crown the possession of which marks the wearer as righteous before God";[18] whereas White believed that "it is the crown which belongs to, or is the due reward of, righteousness";[19] however, the view here is that it is most certainly BOTH. Without the righteousness of keeping the word and commandments of the Lord, none shall receive that crown; but all of the righteousness of a Christian cannot make him ultimately and truly righteous in the eyes of the Lord, THAT righteousness being the achievement of Jesus Christ alone. However, the crown of righteousness at the last day will endow all who are truly "in Christ" with the sum total of our Lord's own righteousness. Analogous expressions are "the crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:4) and "the crown of life" (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10). Of course, all of these are used metaphorically, crowns being the earthly symbol of the glory, power and majesty of kings, they are also, by metaphor, fitting symbols of the rewards, honors and glory of Christians in the world to come.

The Lord, the righteous judge ... There is an unstated but obvious contrast here between the righteous Lord and the unjust judge before whom Paul had stood to be condemned.

Shall give to me at that day ... It should be noted that Paul said nothing of any who would be crowned in some "first resurrection." He spoke of only one day, only one occasion, that of the Second Advent of our Lord, as being the occasion when all of the redeemed would receive the crown of life.

To all who have loved his appearing ... One cannot escape the overwhelming emphasis upon the doctrine of the Second Coming in a statement like this. Those who are finally to be saved are precisely those who love, and longingly await, the coming of Christ in judgment. How many professed Christians can meet this test? The great design of the Lord's Supper was that it should be observed by the faithful "until he come"; and it is a loss of interest in Jesus' Second Coming that contributes to the omission and forsaking of the Lord's table by vast multitudes of the secular church of this age. Why should Christians love the appearing of Christ in judgment? It will mean that the glory of Jesus Christ will then be apparent to all men; the time of probation shall have ended; the reward of the righteous shall be received; and God shall rise in holy wrath and cast evil out of his universe.

[18] A. C. Hervey, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 21,2Timothy (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 59.

[19] Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 178.

Verse 9

Give diligence to come shortly unto me.

As noted earlier, this cannot indicate any uncertainty on Paul's part of the eventual outcome of his imprisonment, but rather an uncertainty of the date when the inevitable sentence would be carried out. Against the possibility that his imprisonment might drag on through the cold winter months, Paul wrote for Timothy to come as soon as possible. To be sure, he might need the cloak mentioned later; but, principally, he needed the loving and sympathetic companionship of one whom he loved and with whom he had already endured so many sufferings and hardships.

Verse 10

for Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

Demas ... is mentioned only three times in the New Testament, the other references being Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:1:24. His having loved the present age stands in contrast with those who love the appearing of the Son of God; and any hope that some seem willing to express on his behalf seems very precarious at best. It is idle to speculate on what Demas did in Thessalonica, or on why he chose that destination instead of any other. With the persecution raging in Rome, his purpose might very well have been merely that of getting as far away as he could.

Crescens to Galatia ... The English Revised Version (1885) margin gives Gaul as an alternative reading here; and, if that is correct, Crescens' going there may have indicated that Paul on the trip to Spain which he very probably made between the first and second imprisonments, might also have established congregations in Gaul (in France). Nothing is known of this man except what is written here.

Titus to Dalmatia ... The absence of these friends and co-workers from Paul's side in Rome is mentioned as one of the reasons why he so needed the presence of Timothy. Significantly, only Demas was mentioned unfavorably; and thus it may be assumed that the others were all absent on legitimate business.

Verse 11

Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is useful to me for ministering.

Luke ... For comment on the beloved physician who so long was Paul's companion, and even here is still by his side; see introduction to the Gospel of Luke in this series.

Take Mark, and bring him with thee ... The introduction to the Gospel of Mark (in this series of commentaries) has a rather full account of this young man, now older of course, who had once deserted Paul at Pamphylia (Acts 13:13), but who in this scene is fully restored to the apostle's confidence.

Verse 12

But Tychicus I sent to Ephesus:

This is doubtless an epistolary aorist, having the meaning that "I am sending Tychicus to Ephesus"; and as most scholars believe, he was the bearer of this letter to Timothy. Supplemental comment on Tychicus may be found on page 419 of Vol. VIII (Galatians, Ephesians, etc.) in this series.

Verse 13

The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest, and the books, especially the parchments.

The cloak ... White declared that the word thus rendered is from the Latin paenula, "meaning a circular cape which fell down below the knees, with an opening for the head in the center."[20] Hendriksen also mentioned the same facts, adding that "It had no sleeves," and that in Latin, "this is the usual, although not the only meaning of the word."[21] It would appear from this that it somewhat resembled the poncho, even today observed in south Texas and Mexico. The cold of Roman nights, even in summer, is well known; and Paul's prospect of possibly spending the winter in a dungeon without heating or proper clothing was indeed a chilling one. Gould added the information that this poncho type of garment "is still worn in many parts of the world."[22]

That I left at Troas with Carpus ... Nothing more is known of Carpus; and, as to why Paul left the cloak at Troas, we simply do not know. Some have speculated that Paul was arrested there and transported to Rome without being given a chance to gather his personal things together; but Lenski denominated this theory as so highly improbable that it should be rejected.

And the books, especially the parchments ... It is impossible to identify these. Perhaps the most plausible is the view that Paul might have wanted copies of the Septuagint (LXX) to use in his plea regarding the legitimacy of the Christian religion, but such a thesis fails to be convincing. It is not even known if "the parchments" means materials that Paul would need in writing letters, or if valuable written documents already in existence are meant. There are so many questions which insist themselves upon the inquisitive mind as these poignant words are read, but only the silence of centuries answers us.

[20] Ibid., p. 180.

[21] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 322.

[22] J. Glenn Gould, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. IX (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1969), p. 658.

Verse 14

Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord will render to him according to his works: of whom do thou also beware; for he greatly withstood our words.

Lockyer lists five characters bearing this name in the New Testament.[23] They are (1) the one here mentioned, (2) a prominent member of the high priestly family in Jerusalem (Acts 4:6), (3) the son of Simon who bore the cross of Jesus (Mark 15:21), (4) the man identified with the tumult at Ephesus (Acts 19:35), (5) a Christian who became an apostate (1 Timothy 1:20), possibly, though not certainly, the man in view here. The name was about as common in those days as Jones and Smith are today, and there can be no certainty with regard to identifying any of these Alexanders with any of the others listed.

The Lord will render to him according to his works ... One loses patience with commentators who tend to find Paul at fault in such a statement as this. Here was a man who was trying to hinder the gospel of Christ, doing a great deal of damage to the blessed apostle; and it was only natural that Paul should have been comforted in the assurance that God will judge and punish such evil-doers. He uttered no imprecations, expressed no bitterness and manifested no vindictiveness of any kind. The fact stated here should comfort all who truly love the Lord.

Do thou also beware ... If Alexander lived in Ephesus, where Timothy was located, or if he lived in Rome to which Paul summoned Timothy, Timothy would encounter him either way; hence the necessity of this warning.

Verse 16

At my first defense no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account.

Those who forsook Paul, as mentioned here, were guilty of a grievous sin against him; but there was a difference in their sin and that of Alexander. These loved the apostle, and through fear, failed to stand by him; but Alexander was an enemy of the truth; therefore, Paul breathed a prayer for these, whereas he consigned Alexander to the judgment of God. His was a sin against the truth.

At my first defense ... Many learned opinions are in disagreement about the occasion of this first defense. It has been variously understood as meaning Paul's appearance before the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:1-10), his appearance before Felix (Acts 24:1-23), his first appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11,12), also as the defense which he made at his arraignment (preliminary trial) on the occasion of his last imprisonment, and which had taken place only shortly before the time of his letter to Timothy. The tenor of the passage seems to indicate that Paul spoke of something recent. Conybeare identified this with the preliminary trial of the final imprisonment, pointing out that it would have been held, "not before the emperor, but before the City Prefect, Urbi, which under Nero had superseded the older methods of Roman justice,"[24] and which was conducted in a biased and unfair manner. About the only difficulty that confronts this interpretation is the reference to Paul's deliverance in 2 Timothy 4:17.

Verse 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.

The Lord stood by me ... The great apostle was not alone, after all; the blessed Saviour who had protected and blessed him through so many fiery trials in the past was present then to encourage, bless, comfort and strengthen. Even in the extremity of this situation, Paul's concern was that he might be empowered to preach the truth to the great Gentile multitude which (according to Conybeare) would most certainly have been present at a trial like Paul's. This verse reveals Paul's satisfaction and thanksgiving at having been enabled to proclaim an effective message to those who, in all probability, were screaming for his death.

And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion ... The easy first-blush meaning of this would appear to be that Paul's life was spared; and, even though it was but briefly spared, Paul's thanksgiving appears in a word like this. After all, even though Paul was sure that death was coming to him, as Spain said, "Paul always allowed for the possibility that God might intervene and change the future which Paul envisioned."[25] Scholars have long disputed about Paul's meaning here, and we do not feel qualified to determine the matter. However, we do reject the notion that Paul was saying that God had delivered him from Satan, a deliverance that had taken place long before this time.

Verse 18

The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord will deliver me ... Paul did not mean that the Lord would deliver his body, but deliver HIM. As Stibbs expressed it: "The deliverance Paul expected was from all evil, not from death, but through it."[26] Paul was here claiming the blessed promise of the Lord to the apostles that "They shall cause you to be put to death, and ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. And not a hair of your head shall perish" (Luke 21:16-18). Paul knew that his body would be beheaded, and yet he triumphantly declared, "The Lord will deliver me."

His heavenly kingdom ... See more on the kingdom under 2 Timothy 4:1. Note too, "that the Father's kingdom is also the Son's in Pauline doctrine."[27]

Unto whom be the glory ... "This doxology is unmistakably addressed to Christ,"[28] thus ascribing deity to our Lord.

[26] A. M. Stibbs, New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1183.

[27] Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 183.

[28] Ibid.

Verse 19

Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphorus.

Prisca and Aquila ... This wonderful couple had saved Paul's life, putting the whole world of Gentile churches in their debt; and both in this list and in Romans 16:3, Paul mentioned them above all others. For discussion of their relationship with Paul see my Commentary on Romans 511,512.

The house of Onesiphorus ... Comment on this Christian friend of Paul's will be found above, under 2 Timothy 1:17. It is not known whether or not he had perished, or if he had been sent on some mission. There is no reason to suppose that Paul gave any complete account of all that was going on. If Onesiphorus was, like Paul, awaiting trial, it might have damaged his case if Paul had mentioned him.

Verse 20

Erastus remained at Corinth: but Trophimus I left at Miletus sick.

Erastus ... This too was a common name; but despite this, White identified him as probably the Erastus mentioned in Acts 19:22. The Erastus who was chamberlain of Corinth is thought to be a different character.

Trophimus I left at Miletus sick ... No forger would have spared a miracle in this situation; but, as always, there is a remarkable economy of the divine power where miracles were concerned. They were never wrought for the private benefit of any persons, but were always for confirming the word, either of Christ or his blessed apostles.

TROPHIMUS

This Asiatic Christian was a friend and traveling companion of the apostle Paul, being mentioned three times in the New Testament, here, and in Acts 21:29, and in Acts 24:6. Some also think that he might have been the one Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8:16-24, but without giving his name. He was one of the eight friends who accompanied Paul at the close of his third missionary journey. He was the innocent cause of the riot in the Jewish temple that almost cost Paul his life.

The reference before us shows that even at this late date Trophimus was still a traveling companion of the apostle, having been with him only recently, and who no doubt would have been with him in Rome had not the sickness overtaken him which led to his being left behind in Miletus. "This was not far from Trophimus' native city of Ephesus."[29]

Verse 21

Give diligence to come before winter. Eubulus saluteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.

Before winter ... Paul quite naturally dreaded the onset of cold weather, not having the cloak which he so much needed. Again, in this, he urged Timothy "to hurry."

Eubulus ... Nothing is known of this man except what is written here.

Pudens ... This is all that Scripture reveals of him.

Linus ... His name appears nowhere else in Scripture; and, as for the tradition that he was "the first bishop of Rome," it may be rejected out of hand. Not one line of authentic history supports such a claim.

And Claudia ... "In the Constitution of the Apostles, this woman is identified as the mother of Linus";[30] but little dependence can be accredited to it.

And all the brethren ... Neither whom nor how many of these may be ascertained; but yet the words have a comforting ring. After all, in spite of the persecution, there was some considerable company of the redeemed in the ancient imperial capital who were still "brethren," and who would carry forward the living faith after its most prominent leaders were slaughtered in the Neronian persecution.

Verse 22

The Lord be with thy spirit. Grace be with you.

"This is Paul's own prayer-wish for Timothy; they are the great apostles' last words that came down to us through history."[31] What sadness fills our hearts as we contemplate the termination of so fine and great a life! Did Timothy reach him in time to supply any comfort in his martyrdom? Did the execution take place immediately, or at some protracted time afterward? What did Paul do with the cloak? bequeath it to Timothy? and the parchments? and the books? How much we would like to know, but the silent centuries mock us. However, not altogether; for the IMPORTANT things are known. Paul sealed his marvelous witness of Christ and his resurrection with the blood of his martyrdom; the letters he launched from the end of his chain and from the final dungeon at last exploded the pagan empire with all of its diabolical institutions; and the historical church erected its cathedrals upon the ruins of it. If ever one died triumphantly, it was Paul; and his holy words still challenge men to believe and obey the gospel of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/2-timothy-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.