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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

2 Timothy 4

Verses 1-5

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES

2 Timothy 4:1. I charge thee before God.—As in 2 Timothy 2:14. The word of itself does not mean to swear, but only as connected with “in the presence of God.”

2 Timothy 4:2. Preach the word.I.e. herald the word of reconciliation. Be instant in season, out of season.—Stand over them opportunely and inopportunely, on the bare chance of doing good. Reprove.—Includes the blame of everything blameworthy and the conviction of it. In juristic language confute. Rebuke.—Blame, with a decided manifestation of dislike.

2 Timothy 4:3. Sound doctrine.—R.V. margin, “healthful teaching.” As in 2 Timothy 1:13, 2 Timothy 2:17, we are reminded, by the terminology, of St. Luke’s presence. Having itching ears.—This tickling is usually taken to mean a pleasant sensation.

2 Timothy 4:5. But watch thou.—R.V. “But be thou sober.” The reference is to the clearness and wakefulness of attention which attends on sobriety. Endure afflictions.—Before, the old apostle had said “with me,” now he says “suffer hardship,” as though Timothy would have to meet it when Paul no longer shared it. See next verse.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Timothy 4:1-5

The Sublime Mission of the Preacher.—

I. Is to be fulfilled as in the presence of the Divine Judge to whom alone he is ultimately accountable (2 Timothy 4:1).—The apostle speaks as one who will himself soon be in the immediate presence of God, and as if he already felt the overwhelming awe of that presence. Before that sacred presence every preacher must sooner or later stand, and give an account of his stewardship. All his work should be done with reference to the day of the Lord’s appearing. “Christ’s kingdom is real now, but not visible. It shall then be both real and visible. Now He reigns in the midst of His enemies, expecting till they shall be overthrown. Then He shall reign with His adversaries prostrate.”

II. Necessitates the mastery of every method in order to attain efficiency (2 Timothy 4:2).—He must learn to be urgent in proclaiming the word in all seasons. As Chrysostom says, “Just as the fountains, though none may draw from them, still flow on, and the rivers, though none drink of them, still run, so must we do all on our part in speaking, though none give heed to us.” He must study how to reprove and confute the gainsayers, as well as how to instruct the willing hearers; be patient and forbearing with the one class, and unceasingly diligent with the other. Every effort should be made to gain the best qualifications for making known the gospel and winning souls.

III. Should be faithfully prosecuted in times of defection and error (2 Timothy 4:3-4).—“He who despises sound teaching,” says Bengel, “leaves sound teachers; they seek instructors like themselves.” Teaching that aims simply to please can never instruct. Love of novelty and change is inimicable to progress in Divine things. “Itch in the ears is as bad as in any other part of the body, and perhaps worse.” When so many are turning away from the truth, it is the more incumbent on the true preacher to be in earnest in faithfully declaring the truth. Error must be confuted by the clear and emphatic enunciation of sound doctrine.

IV. Demands constant vigilance and courageous devotion to duty (2 Timothy 4:5).—Paul, feeling that he must soon be removed from the scene of conflict, calls on Timothy to take his place and acquit himself with vigilance and courage. A time comes when our trusty friend and adviser is removed, and we must depend more upon ourselves—“swim without the corks.” All our previous experience has been a preparation for this. We must not shrink from the task, but brace ourselves up to our work, and fall back more completely on God.

Lessons.

1. Faithful preaching is an antidote to error.

2. The preacher should strive to excel in the best method of putting truth.

3. The preacher should have eternity always in view.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

2 Timothy 4:4. The Deficient and Dangerous Nature of the Infidel Scheme.

I. It does not teach man as a sinner how to worship God.

II. It is an insufficient rule of moral duty.

III. The light of reason cannot fix and ascertain the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments.

IV. Is insufficient to investigate the origin of moral evil, or to show how it can be remedied.

V. Sinners cannot be saved by any obedience they can yield to the dictates of reason and conscience.

VI. The light of reason cannot show that God will extend His pardoning mercy to sinners.P. Hutchison.

2 Timothy 4:5. A Champion for the Truth

I. Must exercise ceaseless vigilance.—“Watch thou in all things.”

II. Must be patient in suffering.—“Endure afflictions.”

III. Must be active in aggressive mission work.—“Do the work of an evangelist.”

IV. Must leave nothing undone that will advance the truth.—“Make full proof of thy ministry.”

Verses 6-8

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES

2 Timothy 4:6. For I am now ready to be offered.—R.V. “I am already being offered.” R.V. margin, “poured out as a drink-offering.” When the gaoler took the cup of hemlock to Socrates, the philosopher asked, “Is it allowable to make a drink-offering of it?” Paul’s spirit was the libation. Note the emphatic I in contrast to “thou” (emphatic too) in 2 Timothy 4:5. The time of my departure is at hand.—R.V. “is come.” In Philippians 1:23 the desire for this weighing anchor is expressed. Now the hour has arrived. Socrates, again, prayed to the gods that they would bless the voyage and render it happy.

2 Timothy 4:7. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.—“All three propositions denote the same thing. The second gives prominence to one particular form of contest, while the third clearly expresses how entirely Paul had done with life” (Hofmann).

2 Timothy 4:8. Henceforth.—Lit. “As concerns the rest.” At the end of his life there remains nothing more than to receive the reward. A crown of righteousness.—The just award of the impartial Umpire.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Timothy 4:6-8

The Faithful Minister in the Presence of Death

I. Undismayed by the terrors of approaching martyrdom.—“I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6). Whatever hopes Paul might have had of his probable release are now dismissed. Without a murmur, without seeking revenge upon his adversaries, he is ready to be poured out as a libation, to shed his own blood in the cause he loved more than his own life. Death has no terror; it is but a peaceful departure. The anchor’s weighed, the moorings are loosed, and he is starting on the last voyage.

II. Sustained by the consciousness of a well-spent life.

1. The Christian life is a conflict. “I have fought a good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7).

2. The Christian life is a race. “I have finished my course” (2 Timothy 4:7).

3. The Christian life is a stewardship. “I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

III. Exulting in the certainty of adequate future reward (2 Timothy 4:8).—The “henceforth” marks the decisive moment. He looks to his state in a threefold aspect.

1. The present. “I have fought.”

2. The immediate future. “There is laid up for me a crown.”

3. The future. “The Lord will give in that day.” A crown, or garland, used to be bestowed at the Greek national games on the successful competitor. The crown is in recognition of righteousness wrought in Paul by God’s Spirit: the crown is prepared for the righteous; but it is a crown which consists in righteousness. Righteousness will be its own reward. A man is justified gratuitously by the merits of Christ through faith; and when he is so justified, God accepts his works and honours them with a reward which is not their due, but is given of grace (Fausset). Even at this solemn crisis the large-heartedness of the doomed apostle is apparent. He thinks not only of his own reward, but of the reward also of all believing souls who love and are longing for the appearing of their Lord.

Lessons.

1. We truly live only as we live unto God.

2. We should ever be more concerned about living than about dying.

3. Death admits the faithful into a larger life.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

2 Timothy 4:6-8. The Christian’s Course, Conflict, and Crown.

I. The view in which the apostle represents his decease.—“I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”

1. He expresses neither terror nor reluctance, but speaks of death calmly as a sacrifice and offering to God.

2. He regards death as the transferring of our life from the service of God on earth to the presence of God in heaven.

II. The reflections with which the apostle looks back upon his life on earth.

1. He likens it to a good fight—a conflict which occasioned no remorse, in which he struggled to save and not to destroy—good in its object, in all its means, in its effect upon all employed in its labours, upon all interested in its success.

2. He likens it to a race. “I have finished my course.”

3. He is conscious of fidelity. “I have kept the faith.” He had not only run the Christian race, but had duly observed the rules of the contest.

III. The hope by which the dying apostle is cheered in his view of an eternal world.—“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” He looks forward with joyful assurance to a more than sufficient recompense of all his toils and perils—not as payment of a claim he had earned or deserved, but as a glorious and bounteous gift. Not a mere honorary crown or empty ornament like those bestowed on successful victors and warriors, but a crown connected with a kingdom—a kingdom of righteousness.—J. Brewster.

2 Timothy 4:7. “I have kept the faith.”

I. A phenomenon is to be accounted for—the origin of this remarkable language.

1. The deep-seated sentiments of natural religion will not account for it.

2. Still less the ancient natural theology.

3. It is accounted for only in Christ the life.

II. The world with the gospel is a new world.

1. The text reminds us that the Christian is charged with a sacred trust. “The faith.”

2. The discharge of this trust involves constant vigilance and effort.

3. A time may arrive in the prosecution of the Christian course, as it did with the apostle, when the mind turns from the past and gives itself up to the expectation of the future.

4. How can we sufficiently admire that gospel which, in turning our mind from earth to heaven, enables us to omit the mention of death, or to speak of it only in terms of disparagement!

5. A modest self-estimate of Christian fidelity is perfectly compatible with a sense of entire dependence on the grace of God.—Dr. J. Harris.

2 Timothy 4:8. Love, the Preparation for Christ’s Coming.

I. If any one would love that day he must have a clear and deep perception of the hatefulness of sin.

II. We cannot love the day of Christ except we be dead to this world.

III. This love of His appearing is the direct and natural effect of love to Christ Himself.—The love of His unseen presence now is the true and all-comprehending discipline to prepare us for the coming of our Lord.—H. E. Manning.

Verses 9-13

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES

2 Timothy 4:9. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me.—Make all possible speed to arrive, or on earth we shall not meet again. Perhaps, however, it was the loneliness of the apostle that made him yearn for Timothy. Compare 2 Timothy 4:10-11, with 2 Timothy 4:21.

2 Timothy 4:10. Demas hath forsaken me.—The word means to leave in the lurch, or in evil circumstances. The atmosphere of the prison and close association with Paul in his present circumstances could only be endured by true love and brave devotion.

2 Timothy 4:11. Mark.—He had left the apostle at Perga, and afterwards the desire of Barnabas to take him along with Paul and himself led to a rupture between the apostles. It is pleasant to see that the old man nearing his end has forgiven Mark and admits his serviceableness.

2 Timothy 4:13. The cloke that I left at Troas.—The word for “cloke” signifies a cloak with a hood, such as travellers and soldiers used, and which often formed their only shelter from the weather.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Timothy 4:9-13

Suffering for the Truth

I. Has often to be endured with a loneliness that craves for society.—“Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me” (2 Timothy 4:9). There is a beautiful pathos in these words, indicating the apostle’s sense of loneliness. “My end is drawing near; some have forsaken me: I yearn for the comfort and refreshment of a congenial spirit: my beloved Timothy, use all speed in coming to me.” Loneliness is sometimes more difficult to endure than pain.

II. The loneliness of suffering is intensified by the desertion of the timid.—“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). Demas was once an active fellow-labourer (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24). For some time the apostle must have observed the slackening of his zeal, his love of ease and comfort, his growing dislike to the hardships of pioneer work, his shrinking from the peril of being in Rome as a Christian and an associate of Paul; and the climax of his declension was reached when he deserted Paul at a time when he most needed help and companionship. The desertion of a friend always happens at the wrong time.

III. Suffering for the truth does not quench the zeal for its active propagation.—“Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia” (2 Timothy 4:10). “And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus” (2 Timothy 4:12). From his Roman prison Paul is the director-general of a world-wide mission, and he is interested in every movement of its messengers. Their engagement in the great work also explained their absence at this critical period. Paul had also seized every opportunity during his imprisonment to preach the gospel. The work of God was always uppermost with him.

IV. Suffering for the truth appreciates the friendship of the faithful.—“Only Luke is with me” (2 Timothy 4:11). It was a comfort to the noble sufferer to have with him one friend on whom he could rely. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Friendship is more valuable when it is tested, and when it bears the strain. It is in the power of one friend to render valuable service; and a noble nature does not fail to appreciate it.

V. Suffering for the truth recognises the valuable services of the man whose former vacillation had occasioned anxiety and strife.—“Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). Mark had been under a cloud for forsaking the work, and was the cause of a sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:37-40; Acts 13:5; Acts 13:13). But Mark had repented, and was now another man, chastened and stimulated by the lesson of his brief relapse. Paul’s sharp censure is wiped out by high praise—another example of the generous nature of the apostle, which even suffering did not sour.

VI. Suffering for the truth does not render us indifferent to the needs of body and mind.—“The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee” (2 Timothy 4:13). The cloak had no doubt been worn by the apostle as a warm wrap in many a cold, exposed journey, and would be known to his friends as an old, familiar article of his clothing. He needed it again, for winter was near (2 Timothy 4:21). “And the books, but especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13). The books he needed to carry on his work of translation for the benefit of the Church; and the parchments perhaps contained translations already done, and some of his own inspired epistles. Brief as his life might be, the mind must be fed, and work must not stop. Tyndale, imprisoned in the Castle of Vilvorden, asked for warmer clothing, and above all for his Hebrew Bible, grammar, and dictionary.

Lessons.

1. True greatness is conspicuous in suffering.

2. The sufferer appreciates genuine sympathy.

3. Suffering for the truth helps to spread it.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

2 Timothy 4:10. The Defection of Demas.

I. His offence.

1. He forsook the apostle. When he needed sympathy, comfort, co-operation.

2. He forsook the Christian cause. Fled from the post of duty because it was the post of danger.

3. He forsook the Saviour. Either for a season or permanently. Either as a backslider or as an apostate.

II. The principle by which he was actuated.

1. It might be the love of ease.

2. It might be the love of honour.

3. It might be the love of wealth.

4. It might be the love of life.

Demas.

I. Demas an apostate after having done and endured much in the cause of Christ.—His profession of Christianity must have exposed him to hardship and danger. There must have been in him tokens of genuine conversion, seeing they could bear the test of hardship incurred in defence of the truth. He had given proof of sincerity in bringing others to Christ. What hardship could not do, what peril could not do, was effected by the allurements of a world whose god is the prince of the power of the air; and the man who had been ready to undergo martyrdom, who would not have flinched from the apparatus of torture, failed in withstanding the blandishments of pleasure, and was conquered by lust after defying persecution.

II. Demas an apostate though he had to quit St. Paul when that apostle was on the point of sealing his confession with his blood.—Demas was for a long time steadfast. He had St. Paul to instruct him, to reprove, exhort, and encourage him; and perhaps he thought, because he felt his bosom glow as this man insisted on noble truths and delivered sublime and noble messages, he was necessarily impregnated with the very spirit of Christianity, and bound too firmly to the cause of the Redeemer to be induced to forsake it by any common temptation. But the world gained an opportunity of plying Demas with its seductions—an opportunity of which we may suppose it to have been partially deprived whilst he was in the dungeons of St. Paul—and thus was it seen what a mere thing of sand is religion which depends upon a preacher for its warmth and strength. St. Paul was most rich in Christian experience when closest in his intercourse with heaven; and when he appealed with his grey hairs to every sensibility, one would have thought desertion impossible. Oh the degrading, deadening tendency of an attachment to time and sense!—H. Melvill.

2 Timothy 4:11. “Only Luke is with me.” Christian Loneliness.

I. That there are times when the people of God are forsaken and left mainly to themselves.

II. That the good man is never left altogether alone.

III. That Divine helpfulness is afforded to compensate for the lack of human sympathy.

Lessons.

1. We have here a picture of noble Christian endurance.

2. Of submission.

3. Of fidelity.

2 Timothy 4:13. Human Means useful to Inspired Persons.

I. The poverty of the first preachers of the gospel.—A cloak and a few books.

II. Even Divinely inspired men did not so wholly depend upon Divine inspiration, but made use of ordinary helps and means.Bishop Bull.

Verses 14-15

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES

2 Timothy 4:14. The Lord reward him according to his works.—R.V. “the Lord will render,” etc. What the Jew Alexander would have said to the Ephesian mob we cannot now know, but he must have been one of the leaders of the Jewish element in the mob, and therefore we conclude it was he to whom St. Paul here refers (cf. Acts 19:33, and margin R.V.).

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Timothy 4:14-15

Opposition to the Truth

I. Is often violently persistent.—“For he hath greatly withstood our words” (2 Timothy 4:15). Probably the Alexander at Ephesus, put forward by the Jews during the riot there (1 Timothy 1:20). He was then excommunicated, but afterwards restored, and by his able and determined opposition was a thorn in Paul’s side. A renegade is all the more troublesome because of the acquaintance with the side he once espoused and now attacks, using his knowledge of both sides with subtle and malicious dexterity.

II. Is fraught with much mischief.—“Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil” (2 Timothy 4:14). Though again restored to the Church and to the confidence of the apostle, he never forgot the indignity of his expulsion, and vented his spleen on the man who had shown him kindness, accusing Paul before the Roman judges either of incendiarism or of introducing a new religion. He misrepresented facts, as suchlike men usually do, and was perhaps a chief agent in procuring the martyrdom of Paul. It is in the power of a restless, discontented, and malicious opponent to do mischief he can never repair.

III. Should put the faithful teacher on his guard.—“Of whom be thou ware also” (2 Timothy 4:15). An unprincipled opponent is difficult to manage. All kindly and courteous advances he construes into fear; and even our silence he counts as submission and claims as a victory. Knowing the unfair use he will make of our words, we should be cautious not to give him the least advantage.

IV. Will not escape Divine punishment.—“The Lord reward him according to his works” (2 Timothy 4:14). Baffled in all our efforts to silence or to restore a refractory opponent, we can leave him to God. The Christian teacher should be above the indulgence of personal revenge. The obstinate sinner will be certainly punished according to his deeds; and the punishment will be both just and adequate.

Lessons.

1. Truth is hated because it reproves our conscious sins.

2. A vindictive spirit is utterly impotent.

3. God will reckon with the enemies of His truth.

Verses 16-18

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES

2 Timothy 4:16. At my first answer.—R.V. “defence” (Gr. ἀπολογίᾳ). On his first appearance in the emperor’s court. No one stood with me.—R.V. “took my part,” i.e. as advocate. All men forsook me.—St. Paul was in the lion’s mouth (2 Timothy 4:17), and men fled from the stroke of the paw.

2 Timothy 4:17. The Lord stood with me.—In sharp contrast to those who fled, leaving the apostle in his evil hour. That all the Gentiles might hear.—“God gave us not the spirit of cowardice,” St. Paul had already written. He might say with Cæsar:—

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.”

It seems to have been of vastly more consequence to St. Paul that the story of the Crucified should be told in the court of Nero, than that it might cost him his head to tell it. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.—The lion was in all probability Nero. When Marsyas announced to Agrippa the death of Tiberius, he did so in the words, “The lion is dead.”

2 Timothy 4:18. And the Lord shall deliver me.—Not a poor mangled fragment of me, “As a shepherd rescueth out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear” (Amos 3:12).

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Timothy 4:16-18

A Brave Defender of the Faith

I. Is often deserted by those from whom he expected help.—“At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me” (2 Timothy 4:16). At his first public examination in the Roman court Paul had to defend himself alone. Those who might have spoken for him absented themselves. Their fears of being charged with complicity with the prisoner daunted their courage, and they fled. It is a bitter disappointment to be forsaken at a crucial moment; but the brave heart, sustained by the truth, will not flinch.

II. Charitably recognises the special difficulties of his timid friends.—“I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge” (2 Timothy 4:16). The emphasis is on their. “They were intimidated: their drawing back from me was not from bad disposition so much as from fear; it is sure to be laid to the charge of those who intimidated them.” Paul, like Stephen, would have offered the same prayer for his persecutors (Acts 7:60) (Fausset). Another side-light on the character of Paul; his large-heartedness excused the weakness of his friends, and he prays for their exculpation.

III. Is sustained at a critical moment by Divine power.

1. He is strengthened by the conscious presence of the Lord. “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17). That was sufficient: the enemies might do their worst; Paul—and the Lord—were more than a match against their most malignant cruelty. When friends forsake us, God draws nearer, and His almighty strength turns suffering into joyous triumph.

2. He is enabled fearlessly to declare the truth under circumstances that give it special publicity. “That by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear” (2 Timothy 4:17). Rome was the capital of the empire, of the Gentile world, and was the centre to which all news and commerce came, and from it was again distributed to the remotest provinces. The trial of Paul, conducted in a public manner, became notorious. His defence was a sermon in which he was careful to put the leading truths of the gospel; and his well-known mission as the apostle of the Gentiles would give his teaching favour in the eyes of the Romans, and would be likely to be rehearsed throughout the empire. The earnest preacher seizes every opportunity of publishing the gospel.

3. He is delivered from immediate peril. “And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion” (2 Timothy 4:17). He was acquitted from his first charge, or, what amounted to the same thing, there was an indefinite adjournment of the case. “The mouth of the lion” need not mean the lion of the amphitheatre, or Nero, or Satan. It is perfectly intelligible to regard it as describing a terrible danger, the peril of death. From this he was for the time being delivered.

4. He is assured of final deliverance and everlasting safety. “And the Lord shall deliver me … and preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18). The impending danger is past; but all danger is not past. The enemies of Paul will still be busy, and may at last succeed—as they did succeed—in securing a sentence of condemnation. But all this did not alter the apostle’s faith in the Divine deliverance. The evil work of his enemies would turn out for his good. The Lord will make their work of death the means of translation into His heavenly kingdom. Richard Cameron, lying mortally wounded on the battle-field of Airdsmoss, said: “I am dying happy—happy; and if I had a thousand lives I would willingly lay them all down one after another for Christ. Oh! He is near me: I think I see Him. I am just coming, Lord Jesus.”

5. He ascribes unceasing praise to his Divine Deliverer. “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18). “The very hope,” says Bengel, “produces a doxology. How much greater will be the doxology which the actual enjoyment shall produce!” With a heart full of thankfulness to the Master who has strengthened him in his sufferings and whose bliss he is about to share, the brave defender of the faith leaves us with a doxology of praise to Christ on his dying lips.

Lessons.

1. The gospel makes the noblest heroes.

2. God never deserts His servants in extremity.

3. The truth we defend will be our salvation and glory.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES

2 Timothy 4:16-17. A Gospel Hero

I. Fighting for the truth single-handed.—“At my first answer no man stood with me” (2 Timothy 4:16).

II. Though deserted by friends, not vindictive.—“All men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge” (2 Timothy 4:16).

III. Divinely sustained.—“Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17).

IV. Using his defence as an opportunity for declaring the truth.—“That by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear” (2 Timothy 4:17).

V. Rescued from threatened peril.—“I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion” (2 Timothy 4:17).

2 Timothy 4:18. Divine Deliverance

I. Often signally displayed.

II. Is a salvation from all evil.

III. Is the guarantee of future blessedness.

IV. Should call forth exalted praise.

Verses 19-22

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Timothy 4:19-22

A Martyr’s Last Words

I. Breathe the spirit of love towards tried and faithful friends.—“Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus” (2 Timothy 4:19). How tenderly this salutation would be prized when the friends received intelligence of the apostle’s fate! Love is precious the more it is tested and tried. The heart is impoverished indeed that cannot find room for its best friends. Love reveals itself in words and deeds.

II. Indicate unabated interest in the movements and condition of former fellow-labourers.—“Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick” (2 Timothy 4:20). Erastus was a frequent companion of Paul (Acts 19:22), possibly the same as referred to in Romans 16:23, and was the chamberlain or city steward and treasurer of Corinth. As he left Trophimus in sickness at Miletus, we learn that his power of healing the sick was limited and exercised only on special occasions and for a special purpose. To the last Paul kept in touch with his fellow-workers, and retained his anxious concern for the spread of the gospel.

III. Reveal a yearning for sympathetic companionship in the prospect of approaching doom.—“Do thy diligence to come before winter” (2 Timothy 4:21). Before the winter storms begin, when navigation would be impossible, or it may be too late. And Paul would need his cloak to protect him from winter cold. A companion like Timothy was what the apostle especially desired; but we have no record that the longed-for interview ever took place. How many of our yearnings are never satisfied! And yet they are not altogether useless. The highest cravings of the soul are gratified only in Christ.

IV. Do not neglect the grace of Christian courtesy.—“Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren” (2 Timothy 4:21). Pudens and Claudia afterwards married—she a Roman knight, he a Briton surnamed Rufina. Linus afterwards became a bishop. Eubulus is identified with Aristobulus, who, with his converts, is said to have been among the first evangelists of Britain. Paul himself, says Clement, “visited the farthest West—perhaps Britain, certainly Spain—and was martyred under the rulers of Rome, who were Nero’s vicegerents in his absence from the city.” Paul was not so absorbed with his own troubles as to neglect to send the joint commendations of the saints in Rome. Christianity is the essence of true courtesy.

V. Concludes with the invocation of Divine blessing.—“The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:22). Grace is invoked for Timothy and the members of the Ephesian and neighbouring Churches to whom this epistle would be read. We need no more to make us happy and inspire us to Christian work than the presence of Christ and the enriching favour of God.

Lessons.

1. The uncertainty of life should intensify our interest in God’s work.

2. Courtesy is a grace of the Christian spirit.

3. We cannot die better than with a prayer for others on our lips.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/2-timothy-4.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.