2 Timothy 4

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The final farewell


I. A call to diligence (in the ministry) (verses 1-5)

1. An emphasis on personal accountability (v. 1).
2. An emphasis on daily vigilance (v. 2).
3. An emphasis on passing opportunity (v. 3, 4).
4. An emphasis on constant evangelism (v. 5)

II. A personal testimony (from Paul himself) (verses 6-8)

1. My ‘pouring out’ is imminent; completing the sacrifice (v. 6a).
2. My anchor is weighed (lit. time for setting sail (v. 6b).
3. My fight is fought; my race is run; my stewardship is fulfilled (v. 7).
4. My crown is waiting (because I have longed for His appearing) (v. 8)

III. An urgent summons (to Timothy) (verses 9-13)

1. Come yourself (v. 9).
2. Bring Mark (v. 11) – see also v. 21.
3. Bring the cloak and the parchments (v. 13).

IV. A word of warning regarding Alexander (verses 14, 15)

He did me much harm; beware!

V. A word of gratitude to the Lord (verses 16-18)

1. He stood by me (v. 17), when others failed (v. 16).
2. He shall deliver me (v. 17, 18).

VI. A cluster of greetings; to and from friends (verses 19-21)

1. Onesiphorus mentioned again (v. 19) – recall Chapter 1:16-18.
2. We are ‘experiencing some sickness too (v. 20).

VII. A simple but beautiful benediction (verse 22)

1. The great Christ, Himself be your companion (v. 22a).
An everlasting Father, as in Isa. 9:6.
2. God’s grace still with you (v. 22b).

Key comment

The testimony section of this chapter (v. 6-8), in which Paul so beautifully summarises his past history and looks forward to his future hope, is probably the best-known and most-loved passage in the whole epistle.

We note that Paul here describes the second coming of Christ as His appearing (v. 5). The original word employed is ‘epiphania’, meaning literally ‘a shining forth’.  Referring here to that coming glorious day when the sun of righteousness Himself (Mal. 4:2) shall burst forth in all his unimaginable splendour and with a brilliance that our poor minds cannot at present understand. The Lord Himself said that his coming would be as the lightening coming out of the east and shing even unto the west (Math. 24:27). Paul himself had earlier been blinded by a sudden release of that same brilliance, and consequently needed to be led by the hand into Damascus (Acts 9:8 ). We are told also, that the enemies of Christ shall be destroyed by the brightness of his coming (2 Thess. 2:8); a solemn thought indeed! But for the believer, thank God, that appearing will be total blessedness, for we shall see Him as He is and, better still, we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2). Who, we ask, can compass that?

In closing, we would like to make a particular comment on verse 8 where Paul points out that the crowns he speak of are explicitly for those who love the appearing of Christ, This surely is something far more than being students of prophesy, or being people who are somehow waiting for the event with some expectancy. Paul insists that the crowns are for those who love the appearing and they would do that of course, because they love the person Who is about to appear. An illustration perhaps may help us here.

At an international airport, for example, we may often see a wide variety of people waiting for an incoming plane. There could be the business executive, possibly impatient with time-table in hand, and obviously despatched to take care of some incoming official. And, in the very same area we may also see a happy and excited child jumping up and down at the thought of soon being embraced by a much-loved ­father, who has been away for such a long time, but who has faithfully written and said that he would be back soon and would be bringing a special present for his loved child (comp. Rev. 22:12). And what of the rather strained-looking and mother who nervously holds fast to the hand of the little child? It has been a difficult time for her and the problems of maintaining the home have been many. But she has held on courageously, counting him faithful that promised (Heb. 10:23). And at last her long patience is about to be rewarded. Ever ­conscious of her own feebleness and inadequacy she, most certainly, has loved the appearing of her partner and loved one! What an example for us all!

It is in terms like these that the aged apostle and the concerned father has helped and challenged his son Timothy. And it is thus that our heavenly Father helps and challenges us, even today. May we be among those who in our day and by God’s grace, love the appearing of our blessed Lord and Saviour and thus qualify for the promised crown.

“As for me, I think my work is done. I am as wine just about to be spilt on the altar, – a ship at point to put out in sea. I am a wrestler who has striven through a gallant struggle, a runner who has finished his race, a soldier who has kept his oath of loyal obedience. Henceforth there is laid up in store for me the victor’s wreath of righteousness, which the Lord will award me in the great day, the lord the righteous judge – and not to me alone, but to all who, with yearning love, have watched for his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:6-8; early translation by Arthur S. Way, MA, published in London in 1906.)

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