2 Timothy 4:20

Friday, 18 May 2018

Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick. 2 Timothy 4:20

This is a relatively simple verse. It seems to have nothing doctrinally significant in it, and yet it actually carries great importance in at least one major point. Paul has just asked for greetings to be extended to others. He now gives additional words concerning two people that Timothy obviously knew. Without these words, Timothy might wonder what happened to them. And so Paul begins with, “Erastus stayed in Corinth.”

The name “Erastus” is mentioned two other times in the Bible. It is derived from the word eraó, meaning “to love.” Thus, the name means “Beloved.” The name was first seen in Acts 19:22. There Paul sent Timothy and Erastus from Ephesus into Macedonia while he stayed behind in Asia. Then, in Romans 16:23, an Erastus is mentioned as “the treasurer of the city,” meaning Corinth. It is unknown if this is the same Erastus in both situations, or if the same name is given to different people. However, if he is the same as the one mentioned in Romans, then Paul is noting that he remained at his home in Corinth. From there, he says, “but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.”

The name “Trophimus” is also seen three times in the Bible. It is from the word trophé, meaning “food” or “nourishment.” Thus, it may mean something like “Well-educated,” or “Brought up.” Some extend this even further to “Foster child.” The name is first mentioned in Acts 20:4 where “Trophimus of Asia” is noted. Then again in Acts 21:29 he is called “Trophimus the Ephesian.” He had traveled to Jerusalem with Paul. This is most likely the same person in all three instances.

Here Paul says that he had left Trophimus while he was sick in Miletus. The word used for “sick” is one that can mean either physically sick or morally weak. In this instance, it is certainly speaking of a physical sickness. Another time the word is used in this manner is when speaking of Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25, 26. In those verses, Paul noted the physical sickness which almost ended in the death of Epaphroditus. In these two men, and their physical sicknesses, along with the physical sickness of Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23, we are taught what should be a readily discernible truth concerning healing. But it is one which is overlooked by false Charismatic faith healers.

It is God who heals, not false teachers who wave their hands over others and supposedly restore them to health. In three instances, the apostle himself could not heal the sickness of others. If nothing else, these instances are given to show us that not all sicknesses can be claimed into healing. It is a false teaching. The deceitfulness of these false healers is an affront to the truth of God which is found in Scripture. The apostles only healed on certain occasions, and only in order to substantiate their apostolic authority. These gifts ended with the termination of the apostolic age.

Now, Christians are to pray for healing of others, but are never to act in a presumptuous and sinful manner by claiming healing. Such notions are to be rejected by those who hold faithfully to God’s word, and to the notion of God’s sovereignty over all things, including the affliction of his people.

Life application: Doctrine matters.

Most glorious heavenly Father, we are the work of Your hands, and at times we sure need Your hand of divine support. Due to our fallen nature, pains come, sicknesses arise, weakness prevails, and our physical limitations can overwhelm us. In these times, we can come to You to find strength through the suffering, and You are there. Thank You for Your ever-present hand of help and strengthening which will carry us through to our final, glorified state. Until then, we will rest in You and in anticipation of that wondrous day ahead. Amen.

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