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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

2 Timothy 4

Verses 1-22

2 Timothy 4:2

Observe, he puts longsuffering before doctrine, and that because nothing except patience answers with those who are hard to win. Patience enables us to possess not only our own souls but those of others also.

St. Francis de Sales.

2 Timothy 4:2

In the ninth chapter of The Saints' Everlasting Rest, Baxter observes that 'we are commanded to "exhort one another daily," and "with all longsuffering" (2 Timothy 4:2 ). The fire is not always brought out of the flint at one stroke; nor men's affections kindled at the first exhortation; and if they were, yet if they be not followed, they will soon grow cold again.... If you reprove a sin, cease not till the sinner promise you to leave it, and avoid the occasions of it. If you are exhorting to a duty, urge for a promise to set upon it presently.'

Reference. IV. 3. H. D. M. Spence, Voices and Silences, p. 33.

St. Luke the Evangelist

2 Timothy 4:5

Here are four distinct thoughts. They are thoughts of St. Paul the friend of St. Luke, whom we commemorate today, and they form the opening words of the Epistle for this day. They are nearly his last thoughts. He was nearing the end; he was forsaken by his friends 'Only Luke,' he wrote in this chapter, 'is with me'. Each thought comes straight and warm from one of the largest hearts ever given to man. Further', each is not only a thought but a charge a charge countersigned, we cannot doubt it, by the sign-manual of the Divine Master Himself.

I. Sobriety in all Things. 'Be thou sober.' Be temperate, calm, collected. Keep your heart warm, but your head cool. To each matter that comes to be dealt with, whether to cheer or to trouble, give its due proportion, neither more nor less. Do not let the heat, the headiness, the wild outcries of others make you lose your own balance. Be on the alert against surprises. Be on the watch alike against your own drowsiness and against the midnight assaults of others, and in all that calls for judgment, counsel, doctrine, action, 'keep a temperate brain'. Whatever others may be, 'Be thou sober'.

II. Suffer Hardship. Clearly the word had a special force for St. Paul and for those whom St. Paul sent forth to battle. In our day it has a special force for some of the clergy, not least those whose work lies in foreign lands, and whose dangers are not only dangers of the soul, but also of the body. We cannot hear the name of China, we can scarcely hear the name of India, or Uganda, or Nyassa, without being reminded that to 'suffer hardship,' even in the most literal sense, may at any time become the lot shall we not say the glorious privilege? 'before they taste of death,' or even in the hour of death itself, of some of those devoted brothers who are representing us in the mission field. But, apart from this, there is surely a meaning for us all, clergy alike and laity, in this emphatic word, which might well be the motto of a great life 'Suffer hardship'. In every human life, and at many stages of each life, there is always, seen or unseen, some eventful 'parting of the ways'. There is the level, smooth path of ease, and there is the steep rough path of difficulty; the path of 'least resistance' and the path of trenchant daring; the path of tactful if you will, kindly compromise and the path, always of outspoken resolve, sometimes of outspoken leadership. No man who weighs his words, and knows something of the complications of modern life, can doubt that again and again the easier path will be also the path of wisdom and of charity. But there are a hundred voices always ready to advise the softness of compromise. There is not always ready a voice to recall the old soldierly word of command, 'Suffer hardship'. There are times when the sterner voice is truly the present voice of God, 'Suffer hardship'. Speak out. Say the word that must offend. Be content to be for a season misunderstood, misconstrued, misliked, and even denounced, if by any means you may gain a hearing for some eternal truth of God which in your heart and intellect you know to be vital.

III. The Work of an Evangelist. I sometimes think that this part of our ministry, which should surely be the most delightful, is the one which in practice we clergy find the hardest Judge us, but judge us generously, by the history of nineteen hundred years. What is the character which we have made for ourselves? Are we outwardly spoken of, are we inwardly thought of, as bringers of 'good news'? Do men single out this as one of the services for which they thank us? Do they expect from us some thought, some word, some comment, on what is passing in human souls, or on the words of Christ in Scripture, or on the works of God in Nature something which will brighten their homes, add to their sense of being happy, and breathe the freshness of what is known both to poetry and to religion as 'newness of life'? We can hardly put the question without a seeming touch of self-accusing irony. And yet, if we know anything of the history of the Christian Church; if we have followed the life of any of her first-rate evangelists; if we have observed how men and women hung on the lips of any of the greater thinkers and preachers and writers whether Fathers, or Bishops, or monks, or friars, or Reformers, or translators of the Bible, or scholars and teachers in Universities, or missionaries at home like Whitefield and the Wesleys, or missionaries abroad like Boniface, or Xavier, or Duff, or Swartz, or Marsden, or the two Selwyns, or Patteson, or Whipple, or Mackay, or Hannington if, I say, we have noted the spell which these men cast over those to whom they offered their message, it was, we must all admit, because they were felt to be bringing 'good news'. They had something fresh to tell about God and about the Saviour, and about the Eternal indwelling Spirit, and about the brotherhood of the Christian society, and about man's life and man's death. They had something to say which made for gladness of heart, which left the burden of life brighter, which threw over it the rainbow of hope, which was the breaking of some yoke, and was the unveiler and herald of some 'power from on high'.

H. M. Butler.

References. IV. 5. W. H. M. H. Aitken, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 251. W. G. Rutherford, The Key of Knowledge, p. 142. W. J. Adams, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxi. p. 268. IV. 5, 6. G. Trevor, Types and the Antitype, p. 253.

The Backwater of Life

2 Timothy 4:6

Paul knew that his work was done. How does this man, the servant of Jesus Christ, bear himself in these closing days? With what thoughts of the friends about him, of the years that lie behind, of the few fleeting days that still remain, and above all, of the great Beyond that is now so near to him? It is a testing day in a man's life when he comes to know what he has long secretly feared, that the prizes he has coveted and toiled for are not for him, that already he has done the best he is capable of, and that henceforth his influence will be within less and ever-lessening circles. Perhaps there is nothing that some of us so much dread as the coming of the days whereof we shall say that we have no pleasure in them. May it not help us if we listen to the last words of the Apostle Paul?

I. And in the first place, mark the Apostle's quiet confidence and joy. 'Youth,' some one has said, 'is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret.' Paul might have called his youth a blunder, and his manhood a struggle, but his old age a regret no! a thousand times no! Long ago it had been his desire that he might finish his course with joy; and now his prayer is being answered.

II. The Apostle's life-convictions remain with him still in unshaken strength. Nor are the old interests of his life dead and gone from him. He gives manifold directions to Timothy: 'The clothes that I left at Troas with Carpus bring when thou comest, and the books, especially the parchments'.

III. Very beautiful also is Paul's attitude towards those who were near him in these last days. There is, too, if I mistake not, a new note of tenderness in Paul's voice.

IV. Need I say Paul did not fear to die? Paul welcomed death because he saw beyond death. 'There is the Mainstream,' writes Mr. James Payn, 'the Backwater and the Weir, and there ends the River of Life.' What is after that he does not know; with him it is from death to dark. But with Paul it is from death to day. To Paul death was but as 'the lifting of a latch'; to us, perhaps, who are young and strong, 'the thought of death is terrible, having such hold on life'. But if our work is done, if we are in the backwater and the end is near, God grant that in deepening peace and with ever-growing tenderness we may do the things that remain, till the soft mellow light of evening fade into that last darkness that brings the swift dawn of the eternal day!

G. Jackson, Table Talk of Jesus, p. 239.

References. IV. 6. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 989. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 191. IV. 6, 7. H. Woodcock, Sermon Outlines (1st Series), p. 219. IV. 6-8. J. W. Boulding, Sermons, p. 153. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Timothy, p. 100.

2 Timothy 4:7

I may not boast with the Apostle that I have fought a good fight, but I can say that I have fought a hard one. For be my success small or great, it has been won without wilful wrong of a single human being and without inner compromise or other form of self-abasement.

James Lane Allen, in The Choir Invisible.

References. IV. 7. G. Dawes Hicks, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p. 40. J. G. Greenhough, ibid. vol. xlix. p. 202; ibid. The Gross in Modern Life, p. 219. R. J. Wardell, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xviii. p. 178. Expositor (5th Series), vol. i. p. 144; ibid. (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 370.

The Christian Life: A Fight, a Race, a Trust

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I. First of all, Paul says, Christian life and Christian service are a conflict, a battle. 'I have fought.' Any conception of the Christian life that leaves out this side of it is a soft, inadequate and misleading conception. There is no Christian life apart from conflict. Paul says that it is not only a fight but it is the good fight No sight is fairer than that of the man making war on the base within and the base without, fighting with self, sin, the devil, and the world, and in God's strength overcoming.

II. The second metaphor, 'I have finished my course'. When Paul says here, 'I have finished my course,' he does not mean the sands of life have run out, but I have run along the appointed track. He means. I have fulfilled the Divine destiny. Henry Drummond said, 'God has a will concerning a man's character, and then He has a will concerning a man's career'. Find out God's will for you and go straight on whatever comes.

III. Now the last metaphor, 'I have kept the faith'. The Christian life is a great entrustment, a great stewardship. Your Christian life begins in your trusting Jesus. But that is only half. The other half is that Christ is trusting you. Supposing we are true soldiers of Christ, what is the end? Not death. There is 'a crown of righteousness'.

Charles Brown, The Preacher's Magazine, vol. xvii. p. 439.

References. IV. 7; 8. J. H. Holford, Memorial Sermons, p. 192. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. iii. p. 415. H. Woodcock, Sermon Outlines (1st Series), p. 225. F. B. Woodward, Selected Sermons, p. 42. Bishop Bethell, Sermons, vol. ii. pp. 1, 16. F. B. Woodward, Sermons (1st Series), p. 190.

The Love of Christ's Appearing

2 Timothy 4:8

Do you notice where St. Paul places a 'love' of the Second Advent? He was writing as 'Paul, the aged,' with his own 'crown of righteousness' now full in view. But that does not at all prevent him keeping his eye upon the coming of Christ. And I conceive that however close death may be to a man, the right point of contemplation is still the Advent. There are four attitudes of mind in which we may stand respecting the 'appearing' of Christ. By far the worst is 'indifference'; and that indifference may be either the dulness of ignorance, or the apathy or the deadness of the moral feelings. The next state is, 'fear'. There is always something very good when there is 'fear'. It requires faith to 'fear'. But above 'fear' is 'hope'. 'Hope' is expectation with desire: knowledge enough to be able to anticipate and grace enough to be able to wish it And here the ladder is generally cut off; but God carries it one step higher 'love'. 'Love' is as much above 'hope' as 'hope' is above 'fear' for 'hope' may be selfish, 'love' cannot be; 'hope' may be for what a person gives, 'love' must be for the person himself. Therefore a man might deceive himself, by thinking all was right in his soul, because he 'hoped' for the Second Advent; but he might, after all, be set upon the pageant, and the rest, and the reward. But to the individual that 'loves' it, there must be something infinitely dear in it; and that one dear thing is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The 'love of Christ's appearing' is not a simple idea, but one composed of many parts. I would separate four, which four at least go to make it

I. Manifestation of the Saints. The moment of the manifestation of Christ will be the moment of the manifestation of all His followers. Then, perhaps, for the first time, in their united strength and beauty declared and exhibited, and vindicated, and admired, in the presence of the universe. And, oh, what a subject of 'love' is there! Some we shall see selecting and individualising us, as they come, with the well-remembered glances of their loving smiles. But all sunny in their sacred sweetness and their joyous comeliness. Never be afraid to 'love' the saints too much. Some speak as if to 'love' Christ were one thing, but to 'love' the saints were another thing; and they almost place them in rivalry! But the saints are Christ. They are His mystical body, without which Christ Himself is not perfect

II. The Manifestation of Christ's Kingdom. Another part of the 'appearing' very pleasant and very lovable to every Christian will be the exhibition that will then be made of the kingdom and the glory of Jesus. If you are a child of God, every day it is a very happy thought to you, that Christ gains some honour. If you yourselves get a victory ever so little a one over some sin if you make the very smallest attainment in some grace you would like to feel, 'This pleases Christ This magnifies Christ Not I, He is higher.' And if you chance any day to hear of or see any advance of the empire of God's truth the very fact has drawn out the deepest feelings of your heart Only think what it will be to look all around, as far as the eye can stretch, and all is His! 'On His head are many crowns!' His sceptre supreme over a willing world! Every creature at His feet! To behold that Saviour your Saviour everything to all and still not a whit the less yours. He everything to you; and you everything to Him!

III. The Manifestation of Christ But there is another thing after which you are always panting. I mean the image of Christ upon your soul. 'Why am I not more like Him?' But now you stand before Him, in His unveiled perfections, and you are like Him, for you 'see Him as He is!' And if 'His appearing' is to appear in you, is not that cause to love Him? It is difficult for any who have not known quiet hours of holy meditation to realise what it will be to see Him 'Whom having not seen, they love'.

References. IV. 8. A. Coote, Twelve Sermons, p. 99. D. C. A. Agnew, The Soul's Business and Prospects, p. 30. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ix. p. 4; ibid. vol. x. p. 109; ibid. (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 278. IV. 9, 10. J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Feast Days in the Christian Year, p. 309.

Demas

2 Timothy 4:10

Among all the portraits of the New Testament there is none more arresting, more solemn in its suggestiveness, more eloquent in its appeal, than this of Demas. 'Demas forsook me, having loved this present age.' These words were written by the Apostle of the Gentiles in circumstances of trials and loneliness. Almost certainly they are among the last words that he wrote or dictated. He was in prison, expecting the end. The words almost immediately preceding those of my text reveal this fact: 'I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come'.

Paul was alone, save for the companionship of Luke, waiting the final act: Crescens away, Titus away, Timothy away, and Mark away. But they were all away upon the business of the King, and even though he missed them he thought of them with gladness. There was one whose absence filled his heart with sorrow: 'Demas forsook me,' not on the King's business, but 'having loved the present age'. Now, we have seen Demas before. At the close of the Colossian letter, a letter of the first imprisonment in all probability, Paul wrote, 'Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas salute you'. There was a time, then, when Demas was by the side of Paul, in company with Luke, ministering to him in the need of the hour. At the close of his letter to Philemon he referred to him as a fellow-worker. But now he had to write, 'Demas forsook me, having loved the present age'. That in a sentence is the story of a spiritual tragedy. A man who had been in closest fellowship with the Apostle, both in ministry and in suffering, had left him.

I. No man who has once known our Lord Christ, and been in fellowship with Him, immediately forsakes Him. The devil never wins such a man by frontal attack. There is always an insidious flank movement upon Mansoul ere Mansoul is captured. There is always heart-backsliding before there is definite and open backsliding. I take up my newspaper one day, and I see that which, alas! the newspaper is all too ready to publish, that some minister or prominent Christian worker has been arrested for fraud, or has fallen into vulgar sin; and I know that preceding that open fall such minister or worker has been drifting. Always first the subtle, insidious force, alluring the soul; always next definite choice, decision, a volitional yielding to the alluring force; then some day, inexorably, suddenly, Demas has gone, and the world finds out that which God knew long before.

Let us consider these things a little more fully for our warning. The alluring forces. It is a very noticeable fact that this text is constantly misquoted: 'Demas forsook me, having loved this present evil world'. The word 'evil' was not used by the Apostle. Why is it that it is so constantly used in quotation? Is it not because there is a subconscious sense that it is so insufficient to say, 'having loved this present age'; that there is nothing to be afraid of in 'this present age'; that there must have been some quality of evil in the age, seducing Demas, ere he could be lured from his loyalty to Christ? Now, as a matter of fact, when we introduce the word 'evil,' we rob the text of its keenest edge. The sharpness of the sword is in the adjective, rather than in the substantive: 'Demas forsook me, having loved this present age'. How did the age allure Demas? First, by the enticement of its nearness; secondly, by the enticement of its method; and finally, by the enticement of its gifts.

II. This love that took Demas away was that of deliberate choice. If we would really understand the meaning of the solemn warning, let us take the word of Paul when Demas was yet with him, and helping him. He wrote to the Colossians, 'Set your affection, your mind, on the things that are above'. In this high and holy mystery of the spiritual life let no man say that he cannot help what he loves. Religion is of the will. Set your affection upon the things that are above that is the great word, and it is a command. Demas set his affection deliberately upon the present; came to some hour of crisis in which he said, I have been comparing these things, and I have come to the deliberate conclusion that I will take no risk on an uncertain eternity. I will make sure of the thing that is right here, under my eyes.

Following that deliberate decision Demas went from Paul. He left the prison, he left the difficulties; he went from fellowship with the little band of souls who still loved His appearing; he left Luke, and Crescens, and Tychicus, and Timothy, and Titus; he left Christ.

G. Campbell Morgan, Mundesley Conference Report, 1910.

References. IV. 10. Phillips Brooks, The Mystery of Iniquity, p. 224. C. Brown, God and Man, p. 210. J. Stuart Holden, The Pre-Eminent Lord, p. 187.

Paul Under Depression

2 Timothy 4:11

We have affinity with Paul in the mood in which these words discover him. He is in the depths. We have been there. When he sings we cannot always accompany him, but he is sure of our fellowship when he sighs. We are unable to soar with him to the seventh heaven, but when he moans, 'Only Luke is with me,' he becomes our brother and companion in tribulation. We cannot range with him the mystic uplands, but we can take his hand in the dreary prison-house. When he philosophises he gets away from us, but he is close to us when his bitter tears overflow. Let us observe this royal soul under depression. It will cheer us in our forlorn seasons.

I. The Depression of a Noble Soul. How faithfully is Paul's drear depression reflected in this plaintive memorandum, 'Only Luke is with me!' And it was a justifiable depression. There is an accidie which is atheism. There are glooms which are the pestiferous exhalations of unbelief. Moreover, there is a frequent depression which is the result of thoughtless and selfish indulgence. The extravagant supper of the night leaves stupid depression next morning. We need not waste sympathy upon such retributive sadness.

But how different is the depression of this faithful Apostle! His dejection arises from painful circumstances.

Paul's depression arose from impaired health. The thorn in the flesh had always a cruel sting, but its edge was sharpened in the dismal prison. Strong pain became ferocious pain. Paul had ever borne this cross, but it pressed overwhelmingly upon him now.

Paul's depression sprang from his excessive labours. The bow of Ulysses was unstrung. Its horn was worm-eaten and its string was mildewed. And what a conquering bow it had been!

Then Paul's depression was the depression of age. He was an old man now. He felt old, and that constitutes real old age. He subscribed himself 'Paul the aged'. And evening hours bring evening shades. He was darkened by the fogs which often fall heavy on the banks of the Jordan. I would call for warm sympathy with all such. We may all require that sympathy ourselves in a little while. Speak your kindest words to such depressed souls. Seek to irradiate their darkness. Pray much that unto these loyal souls there may arise light in the darkness.

II. A Pathetic Spectacle of Loneliness. Paul's loneliness was intensified by the fact that living friends had become unfriendly. He had not only to bear the grief of friends fallen on sleep, but the tragedy of the unfaithful friend.

III. Great Compensation in a Distressing Lot. If Paul was depressed and lonely, his compensation was rich. 'Only Luke is with me.' It is a sign of his despondency that he projects that 'only' upon the statement. Had he not been whelmed with all God's waves and billows, he would not have used that limiting word. The 'only' is a little window through which we can see his forlornness. 'Only Luke is with me.' Matthew Henry inquires, 'And was not this enough?' It is a natural inquiry. But depression and loneliness have to fight hard against querulousness.

'Only Luke is with me!' Nay, Paul! Luke's Lord and yours is with you! John Wesley makes Paul say, 'But God is with me and it is enough'.

'Only Luke is with me.' And he had enriching fellowship with this choice servant of God amid disquieting surroundings. What medical relief the beloved physician would afford him! It was a great thing to have a doctor as his friend in such extremity. Intellectual stimulus he would also gather from Luke, the man of lovely mind. Paul's vocabulary and his store of metaphor were notably augmented by his fellowship with Luke. Students of these latest letters of Paul do not fail to notice medical words and ideas which Paul had never employed before.

IV. A Saint Verging on the End of Life. 'Only Luke is with me,' he writes, and he is very near his rough and hazardous journey's end. Frequently trials multiply as the end of life approaches. It is the final test of faith and hope and love. The cross grows heavier as faith's journey ends, and the crown of life flashes on our view. And verily the crown shines on Paul's tear-dimmed eyes. 'Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown' (ver. 8): he has just written. And the very crown he has all his life been panting for 'the crown of righteousness'.

We shall not fare badly at the last if 'only Luke' is with us. Keble calls Luke 'the sick soul's guide'. The Anglican Collect for St. Luke's Day runs thus: 'Almighty God, who calledst Luke the Physician, whose praise is in the Gospel, to be an Evangelist and Physician of the soul: may it please Thee, that, by the wholesome medicines of the doctrine delivered by him, all the diseases of our souls may be healed, through the merits of Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord'.

When Richard Jefferies lay on his dying bed he and his wife read much together in the Gospel of Luke. It will be well with each of us at the last if we can say, 'Only Luke is with me'.

Dinsdale T. Young, The Gospel of the Left Hand, p. 59.

St. Luke the Evangelist

2 Timothy 4:11

St. Luke is known to us as 'the beloved Physician'. We think of him, too, as the writer of the Gospel which bears his name, and also of that wonderful book in which are recorded the triumphs of the early Church, the Acts of the Apostles. He is not very frequently mentioned in the Scriptures, but such references as there are present him to us in a beautiful light. 'The Physician' surely it is a happy thing for us to know that thus early in the Christian Church there was so close a connection between the ministry of medicine and the ministry of the Gospel. 'The Evangelist' how delightful to think of this cultured and refined man being the bearer of the Evangel, the good news which his writings have given to the world, that 'unto us is born a Saviour, Which is Christ the Lord!' 'The Faithful Friend' no, he is not specifically called so in the New Testament, but our text states it in sufficiently eloquent terms. May we think of him in this threefold capacity.

I. The Faithful Friend. St. Paul was writing his second letter to Timothy from his prison in Rome. He was ready to be offered, and the time of his departure was at hand. He had no fear, no misgiving about himself, for he had fought a good fight, and he knew that there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness. But he was saddened and depressed by the defection of friends, particularly by that of Demas, who, having put his hand to the plough, had turned back, because he 'loved this present world'. Other friends were absent from necessity, but St. Luke was by his side, and his presence would be congenial not only because they had much in common intellectually, but also for the reason that they were united in the bonds of holy love to their common Lord. 'Only Luke is with me.'

II. The Evangelist. St. Luke has laid us all under a debt of gratitude for his beautiful record of our Lord's life. 'His superior education is proved by the philological excellence of his writings ( viz., the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, which are but two volumes of one work). His preface, in pure Greek, implies previous careful study of documentary and other evidence. He speaks of other attempts to write a "Life of Christ," which were unsatisfactory. Though it is the same Gospel, it is narrated with peculiar independence, containing additional matter, more accuracy in preserving the chronological order of events, and complying with the requirements of history. He tested tradition with documentary records ( e.g., 1:5; 2:2; 3:1); by comparing the oral testimony of living witnesses (1:2, 8); and only when he had "perfect understanding of all things from the very first "ventured to compile a "Life of Christ" as a perfect man, restoring human nature and offering Himself a sacrifice for all mankind. To him we are indebted for the history of the birth and childhood of Jesus and the Baptist, for those liturgical hymns, and the scene in the synagogue at Nazareth (IV.), which were probably communicated by the Virgin Mary.'

III. The Beloved Physician. The name is familiar to us all, and what a depth of sympathy and love and patience it conjures up! His gifts as a doctor were consecrated to the Lord's service, and do not we know in our own experience how great a work can be done by the modern doctor who recognises that he is a steward of the Great Physician of the soul? The medical man can be, if he will, a very real missionary of the Gospel, and he can always do much to make easy the visits of the parish clergyman to the sick room. It is a blessed thing to know that doctors and clergy are today acting together to a far greater extent than they have ever done before, and such unity of action cannot but conduce to the eternal comfort and happiness of the patient. The Church honours the healing art as the gift of God.

A Holy Alliance

2 Timothy 4:11

There is a note of pathos in this word 'only' which is not to be interpreted as a belittling of Luke. It is rather a revelation of the Apostle Paul. These two have much to give to each other, and the ministry of each will be vitally enriched by the ministry of the other.

I. I remark, first, what a natural alliance this is. 'Luke is with me,' says the Apostle of the spiritual. A colleagueship of such a kind is not likely to miss a certain plain fact which good people have found it possible to overlook, namely, that men have bodies as well as souls. The beloved physician, in his calling, is as much within the sphere of religion as the Apostle. (1) How finely this comradeship suggests a ministry which squares with the great facts of human need. Sin and disease are the two great ravagers of human life, and next to sin disease works the tragedy and pathos of human history. (2) It is a natural comradeship if you consider how helpless one of these ministries must often find itself without the other. The world expects that what Paul and Luke represent should go together.

II. The second remark which suggests itself is what a supreme and compelling precedent there is for this association. I will read one verse of the New Testament, for it recalls One in whom the ministry of Paul and Luke, and every other gracious ministry, either to the souls or the bodies of men, finds both its example and its benediction: 'And they brought unto Him all that were sick and diseased, and blind and leprous, and He healed them'. This is the great compelling precedent behind the mutual ministries of the Apostle of grace and the man of healing.

III. Last of all, what a permanent mutual ministry this comradeship suggests and its compelling precedent enjoins. The first friends of Jesus recognised this. They did not look askance at sorrow and suffering, they went to meet it as something their Lord had taught them to claim as an opportunity for love and service. The social wing of the early Church is the earliest phase of the Institutional Church. The sick and the afflicted are ours because they are His. Only the infinite pity is adequate to the infinite pathos of human suffering. But the infinite Divine pity has its human mediators.

T. Yates, Christian World Pulpit, vol. LXVIII. p. 4.

References. IV. 11. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Holy-tide Teaching, p. 180. J. D. Jones, Elims of Life, p. 239. James Moffatt, The Second Things of Life, p. 1. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 229; ibid. (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 81; ibid. vol. x. p. 319.

2 Timothy 4:13

Ma. Spurgeon says, in his sermon entitled 'Paul his Cloak and his Books': 'We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an Apostle must read. Some of our very ultra-Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men's brains oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the Apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The Apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, "Give thyself unto reading". The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.'

References. IV. 13. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix. No. 642. F. Hastings, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p. 140. J. Stalker, ibid. vol. lv. p. 406. Dinsdale T. Young, Messages for Home and Life, p. 61. Expositor (6th Series), vol. v. p. 55. IV. 14. Ibid. (4th Series), vol. i. p. 408.

A Study in Unselfishness

2 Timothy 4:16-17

It is especially difficult to avoid egotism when one has to speak of one's own experiences, but Paul's unselfish spirit comes out with remarkable clearness in this passage at three points. (1) In his references to the Roman Christians who seemed to have failed him at the critical moment. At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their charge. He does not blame them for their gross cowardice. It is not their desertion of him which weighs on his mind, so much as their failure to seize an opportunity for serving Christ. May it not be laid to their charge! The tone is magnanimous pity. Paul forgives and prays that God may forgive them. He entertains no personal resentment. (2) In his references to his own courage. That was due to Divine aid; he claims no credit for it, and does not draw attention to his own virtues. The Lord stood by me and strengthened me. Paul got power to stand firm and give a ready answer to the judge's queries. He does not plume himself upon his ready wit and bravery, but acknowledges the hand of his Lord in the matter. If he was not intimidated, the glory was God's. (3) The object of his personal deliverance was wider than his own comfort. The aim of God's intervention, in sparing his life for the meantime, was that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Even the postponement of the trial served, in his judgment, to promote the greater ends of the Gospel. He regarded himself consistently as the agent of the cause, not as the main object on which all other considerations should hinge. This absence of pretension forms the third and highest note of unselfishness in the passage. He would not pose as a victim or as a hero in the cause of Christianity.

James Moffatt.

References. IV. 16-18. J. Edwards, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xviii. p. 414. IV. 18. Expositor (5th Series), vol. viii. p. 146. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Timothy, p. 124. IV. 20. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv. No. 1453.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/2-timothy-4.html. 1910.