Sunday, 22 April 2018
…persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 2 Timothy 3:11
In this verse, Paul continues with his list of things which Timothy “carefully followed.” He had followed Paul in his doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, and perseverance. Paul now says that he also followed him in “persecutions.” The word signifies “pursuit,” and thus to hunt, or bring someone down like an animal. In this, persecutors try to suppress the convictions of another. This is seen happening to Paul throughout Acts. He would speak, and others would try to shut him down. Timothy, traveling with Paul, experienced this personally.
Next are noted his “afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured.” As we can see, the words “persecutions” and “afflictions” are different things, but they occurred together at the places mentioned. The word “afflictions” is an internal one. The persecutions led to the afflictions. The Greek word specifically refers to “the capacity and privilege of experiencing strong feeling” (HELPS Word Studies). This includes suffering, agony, etc. Paul, accompanied by Timothy who also suffered in these afflictions, did so when persecutions came to him “at Antioch, at Iconium, [and] at Lystra.”
Timothy is first noted in Acts 16:1, and some of these things occurred prior to this. This means that either Timothy saw these things because they occurred in the area in which he lived, or he heard about them, and yet he was still willing to endure with Paul despite them. Either way, Paul’s words mean that Timothy either actively or passively endured these things with him. He then stresses the thought again with, “what persecutions I endured.”
Paul was one who bravely spoke out the truth of Christ, and thus he became a target of those who rejected this same truth. They persecuted him, they chased him, and they harmed him physically and mentally. Timothy saw this, and he also suffered in these same things to some extent. But Timothy also saw something else. It would seem that Paul would be overcome and completely silenced, or even destroyed. But instead, Paul joyfully proclaims, “And out of them all the Lord delivered me.”
During each trial, the situation seemed helpless. During Paul’s travels, there were riots, there were beatings, he was stoned, he was imprisoned, and etc. Each time, it seemed like he was a goner. And yet, each time, the Lord delivered him. It is obvious that the Lord would continue to use him until he had run the race set before him, and nothing would thwart that. His confidence in this is noted to encourage Timothy as well. The trials would come, but when they did, Timothy was to stand on the fact that if the Lord wanted him to endure, he would do so. Until his mission was likewise complete, he would continue on.
Life application: Would you deny that the Lord has a set time for your death (or rapture)? Obviously not! To deny that would mean that He is not omniscient. And so, whatever trial you are facing will either be one which you will endure through, or it will be one which will be the end of your trials. As it is completely in the Lord’s hands, then why worry at all? He will either be the one to ensure you get through it, or He will be the one to bring you home to His glory. Rest easy… He is there directing the events of your life.
Lord God, it is You who directs the events of our lives. You have a set time in which You will call each of us home. And so why should we get stressed and distressed when we face trials? You already have determined to get us through them, or to use them to bring us to Your arms of rest and safety. Either way, You are sovereign over the moments of our lives. Help us to accept this, and to rest comfortably in this knowledge. Amen.