Be diligent to come to me quickly; 10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica––Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. 12 And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.
13 Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come––and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. 15 You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.
16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick. 21 Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren.
22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
This final passage in Timothy has a number of different parts. It includes updates on what various people are doing, or not doing in the ministry, there is a portion of doctrine, and there are greetings. This is Paul’s way, he had a tendency to mention various people as we have seen, both good and bad, as well as personalise his letters with greetings, along with his doctrinal teaching.
Today, we can look at these verses in the context of the letter as a whole, this being the final sermon dealing with this Book of the Bible, to remind ourselves of the important messages that Paul imparts in this his last known letter. A good place to start with the overview is the first part of today’s reading, in particular the word ‘diligent’ as in the NKJV. In the English Standard version the words used are "Do your best". In the context of the passage, diligence is the way Timothy needs to act as when coming to Rome to see Paul, before Paul’s execution. However, the word ‘diligent’ is an action word we can apply to all aspects of our Christian lives.
We only need to go back to our last sermon and see in verse 2 of this same chapter the exhortation "be ready in season and out of season…" diligence takes a readiness, or in chapter one, verse 13 – "follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me", diligence requires a total focus, and understanding, otherwise; how could one do their best? Paul writes in chapter 2 verse 10 "therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect". Words like ‘be ready’, "follow the pattern of sound words" and ‘endure’, make up this whole concept of the idea of diligence. Deuteronomy 6:17 tells us "You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you." It is a word for how we should obey God’s teachings; His way. Still in Deuteronomy; we can note an interesting passage in chapter 4, starting verse 9
"9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes saw, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life; but make them known unto thy children and thy children's children," (ASV OnlineBible.net).
This verse is parallel from earlier in the letter with Paul telling Timothy to continue in what he had learned in his childhood from his mother and grandmother, in this context, telling the children of Israel the importance of being diligent.
So what do we get from this? A Christian life has to be focused, has to be handed over to God, has to be in total submission, with a real heart, and deliberateness. Diligence does not come easily (for some of us anyway!); it does not just happen. 2 Corinthians sums this up for us: 7 'But as you abound in everything––in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us––see that you abound in this grace also." Here we see five aboundings – things we need to be full of: faith, speech, knowledge, diligence and love. Note how they all fit together, without faith we have nothing; our speech will demonstrate our faith; our speech cannot be without knowledge; knowledge cannot be gained without diligence in the things of Scripture and love cannot be meted out without all of these things. Somehow, Paul’s use of the word to summon Timothy is not an accidental one, rather a steady reminder of the attitude of the heart. Fascinatingly, if one looks for the word "'diligence" in the Scriptures, the use of the word is very prominent in the book of Deuteronomy as already quoted from, where the Children of Israel were reacquainted with the Law, and how to live their lives.
The next set of ideas in this portion of Scripture is that of being forsaken along with those who are faithfully remaining. Forsaking the work of Christ has several layers; from wandering off after one’s own interests, through to completely forsaking, as we saw at Calvary. Here Paul does not state that Demas has lost the faith, though it may be the case. Certainly, Demas may have been responding to the Roman’s attitude towards Christians in Paul’s trial, and gotten out of there. How often do we run away when things get tough? Although not an excuse in itself, even Elijah did it when Jezebel was out to get him! But Demas is remembered forever, documented in Scripture as the man who ran away from Rome, and Italy. On the other hand Cresens’ and Titus’s departure is probably more to do with their ministry as they are not included in the charge of "in love with this present world".
Let us visit this phrase for a brief moment – "in love with this present world". This is the issue of the Western World and has infiltrated itself into the Western Christian world; the love of the world. Unless I am mistaken, we all have this element of shameful truth in our lives. We live in decadence compared to many around the globe. We like our television, we barrack for a football team, we like to shop, we back a certain car! Where do we draw the line. When does the love for the world get overridden by the love for our God? Sure, there is a danger of legalism, as we see in the Amish community for example, in their attempt at severing themselves from the world, but there is the real danger of decadence in our casualness. Each week, do we give an entire day over to God? Maybe if we add and scrape together every second spent in prayer, meditation, reading, home group, we may add up 24 hours. Is our time with God generous? God provides for us an example of the consequence of this sin. Israel was supposed to rest the land every seven years, for a year. The Sabbath was wholly for God. God added up the total time not spent resting His land. He then used the enemy to make it happen, a whole 70 years of exile. God is jealous regarding the amount of time His people have with Him.
Moving forwards, we note that Paul had a number of references in this letter to wrong doctrine, or teaching wrong things along with unfaithfulness and people leaving. He names Phygelus, Hemogeneses, Hymenaeus, Philetus, Jannes and Jambres as examples to avoid. In this section of the letter he names Alexander the coppersmith, a person who did Paul great harm; we also met him in 1 Timothy, where Paul wrote that:
This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme".
We know not what harm it was, but we not that Paul also wrote:
For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self–control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
This final book is a book of how to behave, and how not to behave and in doing so, Paul gives Timothy names of people who are examples of who not to be like. The letter leaves us with firm direction, directing a lifestyle and carefully telling us, through the exhortations to Timothy, what to avoid. I am sure we can all fill in a modern name of some that would be examples of that which we need to avoid! So long as our names are not on the list of shame, unless it be for repentance.
In today’s reading we note that Luke stayed on. Paul is hinting that the others have gone, and perhaps they too could have stayed on, just a little while more. Praise the Lord that one remained! This reminds me of the verse in 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, 13 –
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
This verse is talking of temptation, but we see a parallel with God in all His wisdom, giving Paul Luke as a companion, a writer of the Gospel. Truly faithful, in keeping with His word, God will sustain us through whatever is thrown at us, whether it be giving us someone to lean on, or the right portion of scripture, He is always faithful.
Next in this passage is a remarkable piece of Scripture. It is an overarching theme in the letter as well. I have never really seen it until I was rereading the passage:
"Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry".
No matter the circumstance, Paul is concerned with the ministry being continued. He is chained up quite literally, and his ministry is all but ended as we saw earlier in the chapter where Paul writes: ‘I am already being poured out as a drink offering’, whereas Mark, he is useful in ministry, so bring him over! Paul was heading for execution, but his interest was in others, and the continuation of the work. It matches his sentiments in the first chapter of this book where he says, starting at verse 6:
"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
Mark had a gift in ministry, Paul says that we must not have a ‘spirit of fear’, therefore, he makes his request! It also backs up his earlier statement to Timothy in verse 5 of this chapter: "But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
Fulfilling ones ministry is not just a Timothy topic. The ministry is all over the New Testament and also in the Old. It goes hand in hand with gifts. For example, Psalm 101 as an Old Testament example says:
6 "My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, That they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, He shall serve me. 7 He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence."
And in Romans 12 we see it all wrapped up in a couple of verses starting verse 6:
"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
Of course this is Paul again; the man is consistent in what he writes, albeit inspired by the Holy Spirit. But the same can be found in Jesus’ own teaching as found at the end of Matthew, the well known verses: 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Ministry, in whatever way God wants us to do it is required of our lives.
Also, as part of Paul’s continuing leadership in the organisation of the spread of the gospel is the note that Tychicus has gone to Ephesus. Commentators note that Timothy was probably in Ephesus, and Paul wants him in Rome. So to fill the gap and enable ongoing work in Ephesus, he replaces Timothy with Tychicus. Tychicus is not an unfamiliar figure if one looks for him. He is mentioned as a bearer of news in Ephesians (6:21), he is described as a beloved brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in Colossians (4:7), he spent time with Paul in Crete (Titus 3:12), and accompanying Paul to Asia, going ahead to Troas as found in Acts 20:4-5.
In a similar vein of organisation Paul also requests a couple of items, a cloak and books as well as parchments. The cloak appears to indicate winter is approaching. The books and parchments indicate that Paul does not wish to just sit around. He has some reading to do, some writing to get on with. What this was we do not know, as historians tell us that these verses we have read was Paul's final chapter of kept letters. His book – it is complete, and now, He still wants us to communicate, spread the word, continue in the telling of Gospel, as Paul did.
As mentioned, Paul emphasises the danger of Alexander the coppersmith. He notes that this man strongly opposed "our message", that was being preached. This opens up the text to a wider comment, that no-one came to stand by Paul at his first defense, with the prayer that it be "not charged against them". Alexander, though is not included in this merciful prayer, Paul seeks rather that the Lord would deal with him. This is not the first time Paul has something to say about support in this letter. In our opening chapter we read about Onesiphorus, who searched for Paul earnestly until he found him, noting that he was not ashamed of Paul’s chains. This also fits with Paul’s exhortation to be "ready in season and out of season". We cannot claim a day off, we can not act as if was ‘not my time, or make an ‘I was not on the roster’ type of excuse. In season and out of season, we must be ready to defend the gospel, we must be ready to preach, teach, or apply whatever gift God has given us to help others, without exception.
Here also is a lesson for us, and the recognition that there are two types of sin in this passage. There is the active open sin as Alexander was doing, and then there is the sin of omission, that is, no-one coming to Paul’s defense. How many times do we not do something that we could have? When do we look the other way, or avoid a person, a situation, somewhere we might have done something, but it may have been a little tough, or cost us something, so we walked? Hopefully we have prayers by people like Paul for us in these circumstances, so that these sins of omission are not charged against us!
Paul then writes a portion of scripture that should hearten all of us.
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
Again, we see the promises of God not only being played out, but also being reported as happening in someone’s life, this time Paul’s. We read in Deuteronomy 31:6;
"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
And more than a thousand years later, God was holding true to his Word. We read in the New Testament, the promise restated, in Hebrews 13 starting at 5:
5 "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
Despite some things of the old testament not being part of the Christian’s conduct, for example animal sacrifice, the promises that are made under the covenants given to Israel are often also for us, as we see here. Paul’s fellow workers left the building, God did not. Not only did God stay, but he also strengthened Paul. So it can be with us, when all else appears to fail, God will not only be there, but will help us have sufficient strength to get through.
Paul here is not noting anything about himself, but rather he is noting that through God’s intervention the Gospel goes out and enables all Gentiles to hear. This thought made me think of my own response if I were strengthened, would it be for the work of God to continue? Or just for me to survive? Paul also notes that he was "delivered out of the mouth of the lion", which commentators presume to mean that Paul was not executed straight away, and he was able to continue his communications, preaching and teaching the Gospel. This bookends, in thought, the words found in the first chapter, starting at verse 8:
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things…"
The Gospel was worthy of suffering, and Paul’s place in this world was this work, but as in chapter one, so in chapter four, God’s grace is highlighted, so the gospel could be spread. Paul was intimately connected to these two things, suffering and the gospel. We know this as we read in chapter 2, in verse 8 of that chapter:
Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect…"
And in chapter 4, the same sentiments, Paul’s teachings, aim in life, his very conduct led to suffering at
"Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra––what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
As we have seen throughout the letter, Paul there is a relationship between serving God diligently and suffering for serving, so that the gospel may reach the ends of the earth.
The accompanying thought that is also within this letter, as with this last portion, is that of the purpose for all of this. Paul writes that
"The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom."
Previously we have read: 4:7
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."
And as we saw a little earlier, 2:10
"Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."
Our reward is not here on earth, we should not expect grand times, nor recognition, nor other worldly rewards. Indeed if we do get rewards, the Scriptures tells us in Matthew 6:1 "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven." If man rewards, then don’t expect God to double it up! However we read further Matthew 19:29
"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life."
and in Ephesians 1:11
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory."
We do have a final reward, and we should be looking forward to that heavenly day more than anything else. However, if we think of the rewards to come, this must also come with the same praise on our lips as Paul had when he wrote of it: "To Him be the glory forever and ever Amen!"
Paul finishes the letter with greetings to Timothy from others in his flock. We have heard of some before; Prisca (or Pricilla) and Aquila, Onesiphorus’s household, and others not so well known, Erastus, Trophimus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers. Don’t forget to look for these people in heaven. Encouragement, even in being remembered by someone can be a great help and strength for the believer in a tough or rough place. Timothy was losing his mentor and father figure. He would need all the support that was available. These people were putting their hands up. How well do we do in remembering ourselves to others? We need to reach out with our own and our brethren’s greetings.
Paul completes the book as he started, with a benediction:
"The Lord be with Your spirit. Grace be with you." bookending "To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."
What are these things, "The Lord be with our spirit", "Grace be with us", "mercy and peace from God". These are all the positive blessings that we can have through knowing Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord. Let us also be blessed by these things.
I have five points with which to end today:
One: Paul had great friends and supporters, some not so great, and some enemies as well. In one of his greatest times of need, he had one friend left in the building, Luke. We too, may have just one friend left. Maybe, we need to be that one friend? Remember 1 Thessalonians 3:2 "…and [Paul] sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith…"
Two: Suffering is part of being a Christian. Suffering is not a punishment for doing wrong (though sometimes God will put us through the mill to pull us up), however suffering can be best thought of as refining, as we read in Malachi chapter 3: 2 "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderer's soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness." Or as we can read in 1 Peter 5:10 "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you."
Three: We must have endurance, finishing the race, and as with the runner, or farmer, must compete "according to the rules". It is all about demonstrating Christ in our lives every day in our walk (or run). Paul also says, to fight "the good fight". In the context of the letter, I think that there is emphasis here on knowing what the good fight is, as Paul also warns us against "vain words" our vanity. If we go to Deuteronomy, a place I have been a few times today, in chapter one we can read the corollary of this in verse 29:
"Then I said to you, 'Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. 30 'The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes…"
We can fight the good fight as the Lord will fight for us, so in all reality, we are not fighting at all!
Four: Paul warns against tradition. This is an area where great vigilance is needed. We at times, follow tradition without realising that there are no basis for what we are doing in the Bible. The gospel is what is important, not how it is delivered, nor where it is delivered, nor who delivers it, nor by what if any ceremony that may surround it. This is well stated in 1 Corinthians 1:22-25:
"For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."
Ensure that the pattern of worship, is Christ crucified, not vain traditions.
Five: Paul also warns against the false teachers. He does this regularly, as do the writers of the gospel. I do not find today’s world any different to Paul’s world, in fact, the opportunity for deception seems far greater now. Remember the Bereans in all things you hear taught, you too may have the same blessing as we read in Acts 17 starting at verse 10:
"Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair–minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men." Timothy was to " Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us."
as we found in chapter 2:13-14. That is what he needed to do to run his race, as do we. Don’t let us be like the recipients of Jude’s letter, where he wrote: 3
"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
Let us dear Brothers and Sisters, run the race set before us, endure the suffering, hold tight to the Truth found only in the Holy Scriptures, live, and where able, preach the Gospel, be diligent, study the Word, love the Lord your God, Jesus Christ our Saviour with all our hearts, serving Him totally. Amen.