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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

2 Timothy 4

Verses 1-5

Chapter 8 Paul’s Last Charge to Timothy

2 Timothy 4:1-5

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry, (vv. 1-5)

As we read this letter we need to remind ourselves again and again that it came from one who was about to die for Christ’s sake, a man who was under no delusion as to his future. He knew that within a little while he would end his long career at the executioner’s block, yet there was no fear on his part, no regrets that he had given himself to that ministry which was to close so tragically, as far as this world is concerned.

He wrote this letter, as we have seen, to one whom he loved, whom he had the privilege of leading to Christ many years before, and who had then gone out with him in the Lord’s work and was now ministering in various places where Paul himself had labored for some time. He does not for a moment intimate to the younger preacher that perhaps, after all, it would be better not to give oneself so drastically to the work of the Lord, not to be so self-sacrificing-that perhaps it would be better to compromise to some extent, and thus avoid persecution for Christ’s name’s sake. No, there is nothing like that in Paul’s exhortation to Timothy. He exhorts him to endure his share of suffering and persecution for Christ’s sake. It is a poor kind of Christianity that rejoices in the fact that Christ has purchased for us eternal life through His death on the cross, yet refuses to identify oneself with Him in suffering and persecution.

Here we have the Apostle’s last charge to the younger preacher. Notice the things he stresses: “I charge thee therefore before God,” who in infinite grace had sent His Son to redeem sinners to Himself, “and the Lord Jesus Christ,” whose Timothy was and whom he served. Notice how he gives our blessed Savior His full title. He is Lord. He is Jesus. He is the Savior. He is the Anointed of God the Father, “who shall judge the quick and the dead [the living and the dead] at his appearing and his kingdom,” or as it might be rendered, “and by his appearing and his kingdom.”

Believers are to look forward to the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. At that time He is going to give rewards to those who have labored for Him down here, who have been ready to suffer with and for Him, and have held the things of this world with a loose hand while fixing their affection on things above. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

In both the Old and New Testaments we have promises of the coming kingdom. That golden age is still in the future to be ushered in when the Lord Jesus returns from heaven in power and glory, to put down iniquity, and to reign over this lower universe for a thousand wonderful years. This is the kingdom for which we pray when we join together in saying, “Thy kingdom come,” when, “Thy will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

So it is in view of the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ and the setting up of His kingdom that Paul stresses the importance of faithfulness to Christ while we await the fulfillment of His promise.

He says to Timothy first of all, “Preach the word.” He did not tell him to preach philosophy, nor preach politics, nor preach some system of morals, but preach the Word! And that takes in the entire Bible, for our commission is not only to preach the gospel that tells us how lost sinners may be saved, but we are to proclaim the whole truth of God which not only gives us the way of salvation but also shows how we ought to live after we are redeemed. The servant of Christ who preaches the Word will never be at a loss for subjects, for he has the whole Bible from which to choose.

There are many ministers of Christ who have never learned that it is their business to preach the entire Word, and they are always trying to think up topics that may thrill, charm, and entertain the people. But the servant of God is not called to do these things. He is to seek to make people acquainted with the mind of God, to preach the gospel to the unsaved, to show them their lost condition, and then to set before them the remedy that God has provided. He is to open up God’s Word to Christian people, showing them how they may be kept from sin and live daily in this life to the glory of God. This is the charge of the Holy Spirit to every minister of the gospel: Preach the Word! He who does this may never be highly esteemed among men as a great orator or declaimer, but he should not mind that. His one object should be to glorify God in setting forth His truth in the way He Himself directs.

Observe the next charge: “Be instant in season, out of season.” Paul is really saying, “Be constantly on the lookout for opportunities to glorify God and to make Him known to others.” You remember when William Haslam, that English church clergyman, was converted. He preached with such power that he won every member in his own parish to Christ. There was not a person living in the Baldhu section of Cornwall who had not confessed the Lord. Then he became greatly concerned about his neighbors, so he began preaching in adjoining parishes and winning souls there. The other ministers became upset over it, and sent in their objections to the Bishop, saying, “Mr. Haslam is interfering with our work. He is poaching in our parishes, telling our people that they have to be converted and need to be born again.”

The Bishop sent for William Haslam and said, “I understand you are preaching all the time. You don’t seem to be doing anything else.”

William Haslam replied, “My lord bishop, I assure you I preach only in two seasons of the year.”

“Oh,” said the Bishop, “I am glad to know that. And what seasons are they?”

“In season and out of season,” replied William Haslam.

That is the charge that comes to everyone of us if we really know Christ. It is not just for official proclaiming of the Word, not just for pastors and elders, but for all Christians. Let us be instant in season and out of season in winning precious souls to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then there will be occasions when we will have to “reprove, rebuke, exhort.” The last word has really the thought of comfort. So we are to comfort those who need help, assuring those who have sinned of pardon and restoration if they will turn to the blessed Lord and make confession of their failures and wrongdoing. But we must do this with all longsuffering and tenderness. The preacher of grace must not behave in an ungracious manner. I am afraid that when many of us try to reprove we get in a bad spirit ourselves and forget that the servant of the Lord should not strive, but should be characterized by longsuffering, by patience, by tender consideration even of those whom he has to rebuke or reprove.

Note the emphasis put upon teaching sound doctrine. Some people say, “I am not interested in doctrine. I like practical preaching not doctrine.” But we need to know the great truths of Scripture in order that we may learn how to behave in accordance with the revelation God has given. Sincerity of purpose is not enough. We are to be sanctified by the truth. David prayed, “Order my steps in thy word” (Psalms 119:133). We must know the Word in order that our lives may be as God would have them. The servant of Christ is therefore responsible to give out sound teaching.

The Apostle knew that the day would come when people would not want this kind of ministry, when they would prefer to hear smooth things. He says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” It is not that the teachers have itching ears. The teachers in this instance generally have itching palms! They are in the business for filthy lucre. But the people have itching ears. They want preachers who will say things to them that will not trouble their consciences but will tickle their fancy.

I never feel worried when people write me letters, saying, “I resent your personal attack on me last Sunday.” They always come from people I do not know. If I do know something bad about a person, I am careful never to refer to it in a public address. I would rather see him privately. But every little while I receive a letter, saying, “I don’t like your preaching, and I don’t think you had any right to expose me in the way you did. I don’t know who has been talking to you about me.” And they always end up by saying, “It is not true.” So whatever made them think I was talking about them, I do not know. I am never concerned about such letters, for when the preacher presents God’s Word it is bound to speak to some people. You remember what Sam Jones said, “If you throw a stone into a pack of dogs and one of them yelps, you know who got hit.”

We should so walk before God and so live in fellowship with God that the Holy Spirit can speak directly through us. Many will not like this kind of preaching because they have itching ears. They want people to say nice things to them so that they can go away feeling good.

Then we read, “They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Some years ago two gentlemen were sitting opposite one another in a railway car. One was reading his Bible. The other looked across and said, “Pardon me. Is that a Bible you are reading?”

The man looked up and said, “Yes, this is the Bible, God’s Word.”

“Well, well,” said the other, “that really astonishes me. You look to me like an intelligent man. I didn’t know that intelligent persons ever read the Bible anymore. I used to believe in that when I was a child, but after I became somewhat educated I found there was nothing to it. I believe the day will soon come when civilized people will have no more confidence in the Bible than they have in the old idea of ghosts.”

This Christian gentleman looked up quietly and said, “You may be right, but when the day comes that people no longer believe in the Bible they will believe in ghosts again!”

And we see the evidence of that on every hand. People turn away from the truth and take up with-what? With Spiritism, Theosophy, and all kinds of other weird systems and strange cults. They turn away from the truth to satanic doctrines that lead men down to perdition.

Paul says to Timothy, “Watch thou in all things.” The Christian life is a warfare. We are in conflict with three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. We need to be on our guard continually, watching in all things. “Endure affliction,” that is, be willing to suffer for faithfulness to the truth.

Must I be carried to the skies

On flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize

And sailed through bloody seas?

He adds, “Do the work of an evangelist.” Now I do not think Timothy was an evangelist. I think, as I read over the passages of Scripture that give information regarding the character of his work, that he was a pastor. He had a shepherd’s heart. He cared for the sheep and the lambs of Christ’s flock. But Paul says to him, “Do not forget the gospel. Men are dying in their sins. Do not be so occupied with feeding the flock that you overlook the need of those who are out of Christ. Do the work of an evangelist.” Some ministers say, “I don’t feel I have any evangelistic gift, so I never preach to the unsaved.” It is not necessary to have any special gift to preach to the unsaved. Just give them what God says in His Word about the salvation He has provided in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The last exhortation is, “Make full proof of thy ministry.” In other words, Paul is saying to Timothy, “Do not be halfhearted, Timothy, and do not be content with halfway measures. Give your whole soul, all your strength, all your ability, all your talents, all your heart, your whole life to the great work to which God has called you.”

Although these words were addressed directly to Timothy, they have been preserved by the Spirit of God Himself in order that they may come home to everyone of us, that we may seek to act upon them in our day and generation even as he was responsible to do in his.

Verses 6-8

Chapter 9 Paul's Valedictory

2 Timothy 4:6-8

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing, (vv. 6-8)

We may well call this “Paul’s Valedictory.” Someone has designated it as “Paul’s Swan Song.” I think I quite understand what he meant. But, personally, I do not feel like speaking of it in that way. You know they say-it is an old fable-that the swan is silent all its life, but opens its bill and begins to sing just as it is dying. I have never been present at the death of any swan, and so I could not witness to the truth of this. But Paul did not wait until death to start singing. From the time he was saved by God’s grace, he had a song in his heart which he continued to sing all his life. The night he was in prison in Philippi with his companion, Silas, they both sang praises unto God, even though their feet were fast in the stocks and their backs terribly lacerated by the cruel flogging they had received. Paul said, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). He did not begin to sing just as he was about to die.

This letter has peculiar interest. It is Paul’s final message, not only to his young friend Timothy, but also to the church as a whole. We should remember some of the circumstances under which these words were written. The Apostle was now an old man. He had been preaching the gospel for over thirty years, perhaps about thirty-five years. He had been confined for some months in the Mamertine Prison in Rome. There is no window in that prison where he could get a whiff of fresh air, just a hole in the roof through which they dropped whatsoever food they cared to give him, and through which water was lowered down to him. As I stood there I noticed a cleft in the floor, and you could look down and see the dark water of the river rolling beneath the cell. From that foul and dismal dungeon Paul sent forth this glad, triumphant message.

He was a lonely man. He tells us farther on in the chapter of one after another who had left him, going out to minister the gospel in various places. “Demas,” he says, “hath forsaken me, having loved this present world… Only Luke”- faithful Dr. Luke, whom Paul called elsewhere, “The beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14)-“only Luke is with me.” Luke remained with him to the last no doubt, ministering in every way that circumstances permitted.

Under such circumstances you might forgive a man if he were discouraged and disheartened, and if, looking back upon his long years of service, he felt that God had not fully appreciated what he had done. But Paul had no such thoughts as these. He says, “I am now ready to be offered,” literally, poured out. In writing to the Philippians, he says, “Yea, and if I be offered [or, poured out] upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all” (2:17). The reference is to the drink offering. If the burnt offering was a sheep or a lamb, the parts were placed upon the fire on the altar, and the priest took a flagon of wine and poured it out upon that which was to be burnt. This was called the drink offering. It symbolized our blessed Lord Jesus pouring out His soul unto death for our redemption on Calvary.

Paul was to drink of the same cup. So he says, “For I am now ready to be offered.” He was ready to yield up his life, for it belonged to Christ; He had saved him and now Paul was glad to die for Him. That is really what he meant. He adds, “The time of my departure is at hand”; literally, “The time of my dissolution is at hand.” The hour was near when his spirit was to be separated from his body, to depart and be with Christ. He did not mean merely that the time of going out of the world was nigh, but rather the time of the separation of spirit and body. In 2 Corinthians 5:1 he says, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” He speaks of dwelling in this body while living, and going out of the body in the hour of death. At death the Christian goes out of the body and goes home to be forever with the Lord. So Paul says, “The hour of my dissolution [the end of present conditions] is at hand.”

Then as he looked back over scores of conflicts with unseen powers in heavenly places, the world-rulers of this darkness, of which he speaks in the epistle to the Ephesians, he was able to say, “I have fought the good fight.” It is not exactly as we have it in our King James Version, “I have fought a good fight.” To say that would be to pass on his own ability as a fighter, as though to say: “I have done very well; I have fought a good fight.” What he really said is this, “I have fought the good contest.” He was on the right side in the conflict. Some of us may feel that we have not done very well as Christian soldiers, but at any rate, we will be able to thank God in that day that we were on the right side. We were on Christ’s side in the war against iniquity and unrighteousness. That is what Paul means, “I have fought the good fight.”

“I have finished my course.” In the twentieth chapter of the book of Acts, where Paul addressed the Ephesian elders, perhaps some six years before he wrote this letter, he told the elders that his one great concern was to finish his course with joy (v. 24). He had run well by the grace of God for nearly thirty years since that day he met the Lord on the Damascus turnpike. His earnest desire was to finish well. He did not want to break near the end. Oh, how many have fought a good fight for years and then in some way, even in old age when we think one should be free from temptations, they have been broken down, perhaps because of self-confidence! They have gotten their eyes off the Lord. Some who made a good record for many years have had a dishonorable old age.

I will never forget, as a boy, how I used to be amazed as I heard an old preacher say in public prayer, “O Lord, keep my eyes on the Lord Jesus. Don’t let me become a wicked old man.” I used to wonder why he prayed like that, but I have since seen many who had a testimony for Christ in their early days break down and become wicked old men because they got their eyes off Christ.

I am not talking about losing one’s soul. I am talking about our lives counting for Christ here in this world, and the danger of losing one’s testimony for Him.

“I have kept the faith.” God grant that everyone of us who confess the name of Jesus may be able to say that when we come to the end-“I have kept the faith!”

Some years ago a fearful railroad wreck took dreadful toll of life and limb in an eastern state. A train, loaded with young people returning from school, was stalled on a suburban track because of what is known as a “hot box.” The Limited was soon due, but a flagman was sent back to warn the engineer in order to avert a rear-end collision. Thinking all was well, the crowd laughed and chatted while the train hands worked on in fancied security. Suddenly the whistle of the Limited was heard, and on came the heavy train and crashed into the local, with horrible effect.

The engineer of the Limited saved his own life by jumping, and some days afterward was hailed into court to account for his part in the calamity. And now a curious discrepancy in testimony occurred. He was asked, “Did you not see the flagman warning you to stop?”

He replied, “I saw him, but he waved a yellow flag, and I took it for granted all was well, and so went on, though slowing down.”

The flagman was called. “What flag did you wave?”

“A red flag, but he went by me like a shot.”

“Are you sure it was red?”

“Absolutely.”

Both insisted on the correctness of their testimony, and it was demonstrated that neither was color-blind. Finally the man was asked to produce the flag itself as evidence. After some delay he was able to do so, and then the mystery was explained. It had been red, but it had been exposed to the weather so long that all the red was bleached out, and it was but a dirty yellow! Oh, the lives eternally wrecked by the yellow gospels of the day-the bloodless theories of unregenerate men who send their hearers to their doom instead of stopping them on their downward road!

No wonder the faithful Apostle cries, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). And lest any should think he spoke in haste, not weighing his words, he adds, “As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9). To trifle with souls is an awful sin.

How many there are who once bore a faithful testimony and proclaimed salvation through the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but who, after some years have gone on, have failed to carry out the commission given to them, and their message is no longer that of the blood of Christ. It is a dirty yellow flag of man’s personal acceptability to God on the ground of his own character and good works, and the result is that many are being lured on to their eternal doom.

There is no other real message than that of the cross. “Without [the] shedding of blood [there] is no remission.” “The blood of Jesus Christ [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin.” When we get home, the blood will be the theme of our song for eternity. “They sung a new song,” says John, “saying, Thou art worthy…for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

Paul had kept the faith, and now he says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” In 1 Corinthians he speaks of crowns and rewards. The crown is to be distinguished from salvation. The crown speaks of approval; salvation is by grace through faith, but rewards are for service. Our blessed Lord, the righteous Judge, will give rewards for the work done in the body. So Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:27, says, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Or, literally, should be set to one side; should fail of the reward. He draws an illustration from the arena. How carefully young men train that they might receive the prize. He says, “They do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (1 Corinthians 9:25). And so through the years he had kept a prayerful watch that he might not allow himself to give way to the desires of the flesh. He did not allow the body to dominate, but, he says, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” Instead of permitting his body to master him, he mastered it. At the end of the race he could say, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.”

There is a difference between the gift of righteousness and the crown of righteousness. Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ receives the gift of righteousness. All of us are made the righteousness of God in Christ. We have no righteousness of our own. That which we fancy to be our righteousness is but as filthy rags in God’s sight. When we believe in the Lord Jesus, our faith is imputed to us for righteousness, and we stand before God cleared of every charge. That is our justification. That is perfect. That is complete. But the crown of righteousness is something quite different. It is the reward that is given to those who have lived righteous lives as they have waited expectantly for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” The Lord, the righteous Judge, will sit on the judgment seat where the works of believers will be examined.

This is different from the Great White Throne where the unsaved are to be judged. We find the expression “the day of Christ,” and sometimes, “the day of Jesus Christ,” and in one place, “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” These terms always refer to the time when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Then we shall stand before His judgment seat. That will be the day when we will give account of the deeds done in the body.

Observe that expression, “deeds done in the body.” I do not know of any Scripture that promises reward for post-mortem gifts for the work of the Lord. There are some who accumulate vast fortunes, forgetting the Lord’s warning about laying up treasure on earth. Then when they are about to die they bequeath their wealth to Christian enterprises. It is far better to give what you can while in the body, for if given as unto the Lord this assures reward in that day.

If you have money you are not going to need, put it to work while you are in the body. To do it for Jesus’ sake is to assure a reward in that day.

Paul adds, “And not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” He is not thinking of himself only. He was not the only one who will have a crown of righteousness. It is for all them also that love Christ’s appearing. Do you love His appearing? Are you waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is that the lodestar of your soul? We read, “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). The hope of the coming of the Lord is the most sanctifying thing I know. If you are living day by day as one expecting the early return of your Lord, you are not going to be carried away by the trend of the times. You are not going to yield to the solicitations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

May God grant that in that day not one of us will come up empty-handed; that not one of us will have to look back with regret upon years that might have been lived to the glory of God but were not, or upon hoarded wealth that might have been put to use for Christ!

Verses 9-22

Chapter 10 Luke and Demas

2 Timothy 4:9-22

Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick. Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. (vv. 9-22)

A section such as this might not seem to have very much in it that is for real spiritual edification, and one might ask whether divine inspiration was needed to give us these greetings and salutations. But God had a special reason for causing the Apostle to put these things into his letters. In the first place, in order that they might be preserved for our instruction and help in a future day, and then to enable us to understand the circumstances in which Paul found himself at this time much better than we otherwise could.

We have noticed that Paul wrote this particular letter during his second imprisonment, while awaiting execution as a martyr for Christ’s sake. He was anxious to see his friend, Timothy, to whom this letter is written, once more before his impending death. So he urged him, in verse 9, to do his “diligence to come shortly unto” him. A little farther down, in verse 21, Paul says, “Do thy diligence to come before winter.” This might have a double suggestion. Possibly he already knew that he was to be martyred that winter, or because the cold weather was near at hand he wanted Timothy to bring him the needed supplies that would help to make the winter in an underground dungeon more comfortable.

Then he spoke sorrowfully of one of his former companions: “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” He also mentioned two other associates who had gone away on evangelistic tours: “Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.” Luke, the beloved physician, remained with him, as we are told in verse 11, “Only Luke is with me.”

Then there is a very interesting request: “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” This is the John Mark who went out with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but who left them at Perga in Pamphylia and returned to his home in Jerusalem. Paul felt that Mark had manifested a rather poor spirit at that time, and later on when Barnabas wanted to take him on another journey, Paul refused to agree to this, as he considered Mark had proven untrustworthy before. You see, with Paul, a missionary journey was no pleasurable excursion, and he wanted a man who would stay with him, endure the hardship, and not go back home if things became difficult. So he said, “No, we will not take Mark with us.” Paul and Barnabas were both very godly men, but this was something on which they could not agree. Barnabas, who was closely related to John Mark, pleaded with Paul to give the boy another chance, but the latter was adamant. So we are told that the contention became so sharp between them that they separated. Barnabas took Mark and returned to Cyprus, while Paul went another way and chose Silas to go with him. God blessed and used both Paul and Barnabas in spite of their difference of opinion, and they were warm friends later on, as we know (1 Corinthians 9:6).

As the years went on, we find this difference had passed away. Paul speaks very tenderly and lovingly of Mark, and expressed his desire to see him again.

I am glad that Barnabas gave Mark another chance, for he made good the second time. He went on in the Lord’s work, and Paul recognized that God had made Mark a profitable servant. It was he who wrote the second gospel.

Next Paul mentioned Tychicus, who had traveled with him, “Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.”

In verse 13 he says something that is rather interesting: “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” Evidently he had been entertained in the home of a man named Carpus. Just where, we are not told, but he had left his heavy coat there until he should send for it. Now he felt the need of it. He requests also that Timothy bring his books and, especially, some parchments. These parchments may have been simply plain material on which he could write letters, but if they contained parts of Scripture we can well understand why he would be anxious to receive them.

“And the books”-that he might pass the time profitably in prison. Here I am reminded of what Francis Newman said of that devoted servant of God, J. N. Darby: “Never before had I seen a man so resolved that no word of the New Testament should be a dead letter to him. I once said, ‘But do you really think that no part of the New Testament may have been temporary in its object? For instance, what should we have lost if St. Paul had never written, “The cloke that I left at Troas…bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments”?’ He answered with the greatest promptitude, ‘I should have lost something, for it was exactly that verse which alone saved me from selling my little library. No! Every word, depend upon it, is from the Spirit, and is for eternal service.’”

“Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.” This may have been the same Alexander referred to elsewhere, whom Paul had delivered unto Satan, because he was leading the believers into false teachings (1 Timothy 1:20). As Paul looked back over his first appearance before Nero, he said, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” Think of that: the aged apostle charged with sedition against the Roman Empire, standing there alone before Caesar. No one to take his part. No one to say, “I know this man. I know him to be a man of uprightness and integrity, and I heartily endorse his message.” But there he stood, alone, faithfully witnessing to the truth of God. Did I say alone? No, he was not alone. He himself said, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” In a little while he was to die for Christ’s sake, but he could say with confidence, “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Then the letter concludes with several salutations. “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.” Priscilla and Aquila were friends of Paul’s with whom he had lived in Corinth and Ephesus. They had given him a home when he had none of his own. “And the household of Onesiphorus.” He had spoken of how this man had sought him out (1:16-18). His household is mentioned here. One of his companions, Erastus, remained at Corinth. “But Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.” Paul was forced to leave this brother behind because of illness. Some people think that Christians should never be sick, and if they are, it is because of their unfaithfulness to the Lord. But Paul had to leave his sick companion at Miletum, and there is no indication of unfaithfulness here. Neither did Paul heal him. Healing from sickness is not always God’s will for the Christian.

Then we have that word, “Do thy diligence to come before winter.” He next mentioned several who sent greetings: Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia. Linus is listed in Roman Catholic chronology as the second bishop of Rome. Peter was supposed to be the first. But neither Linus nor Peter knew anything about it, you may be sure of that! Paul then closes the letter with the words, “The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.”

Now, having glanced briefly at this portion, I am going back to note what is said about Demas and Luke. “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world… Only Luke is with me.”

These two names had been linked together in other Epistles. In Colossians 4:14 we read, “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.” Then in the little epistle to Philemon, in verse 24, these two names are mentioned with others, “Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.” It is very evident that both Luke and Demas were very good friends of the apostle Paul. He counted on them. They worked with him, traveled with him, no doubt relieving him of a great many responsibilities.

Here we read, “Only Luke is with me.” Luke remained faithful to the end. He was found by Paul in Troas, as we gather from the book of Acts. Luke may have been a Greek-speaking Jew; on the other hand, he might have been a Gentile. There is no evidence either way. If a Gentile, then he is the only New Testament Gentile writer, for all the rest were Jews, Hebrew Christians. The word Luke means “light.” He was a scientific man, a physician, a man of culture and refinement. He had investigated Christianity very carefully before accepting it. The introduction to his gospel tells us that he had looked into these things that had been reported concerning Jesus. He gives considerable detailed information regarding the virgin birth of our Lord. Matthew simply mentions that His mother was a virgin in accordance with the prophecy in Isaiah, but Luke gives many particulars that evidence the physician’s personal conversation with Mary.

From the time when he met Paul at Troas until Paul’s death, Luke was always closely linked with him. At different times in the book of Acts we see that he remained behind when Paul went on, doubtless to help build up young converts. Then he would join Paul later.

Not once does Luke mention his own name either in his gospel or in the book of Acts, and he wrote both of these. But in the Acts we are able to know when Luke is on the scene and when he is not. If he is with Paul, he uses the pronouns “we” and “us.” If he is not with Paul’s party, he uses “they” and “them.” Then when he rejoins them, it is “we” and “us” again. In this way we can trace his journeys with Paul in the latter chapters of the book. He was faithful to the end, and what a crown there will be for him in that coming day!

About this other man, Demas, we know very little. He and Luke must have been very intimate. We get this from the way their names are found together in these two Scripture passages. Now Paul is in prison, and Demas must have said, “This business of preaching the gospel isn’t going to pan out very well.” So he did not know whether he could go on or not, and by-and-by, after careful consideration, he determined to leave Paul and return to the world.

Paul says, “Demas hath forsaken me.” He does not say that Demas has forsaken God or given up his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but that “Demas hath forsaken me.” There is nothing to indicate that he gave up faith in the gospel that he professed and became an apostate. There is no intimation that he plunged into a life of sin. But he turned away from Paul, having loved this present world. He was more concerned about temporal things than he was about getting a reward at the judgment seat of Christ, and therefore his name goes down on the page of Holy Scripture as a warning to every servant of Christ.

We remember the words of our Lord Jesus, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Demas lost his great opportunity. He might have been honored of God as a wonderful soul winner, but he loved this present world.

May that speak to everyone of our hearts. It is only as we are occupied with Christ Himself that we are set free from the love of the world. The Spirit of God says to every Christian, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).

May we be encouraged by Luke and warned by Demas to go on faithfully in the path of service to which our God has called us. God grant that it will never be said of any us that we “loved this present world.” And if I am speaking to any who have never come to Christ, oh, I plead with you, make the choice that Luke made. If you are troubled by doubt and perplexity, then study Scripture for yourself. Look for the evidences of the truth in the Word of God itself, and look for corroborative evidence in the lives of those who have received Christ. See what wonderful things God has done for them. Put your faith in Jesus, and so go on with us to yonder glory-land.

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/isn/2-timothy-4.html. 1914.