2 Timothy 4:17

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

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. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 2 Timothy 4:17

Paul had just stated that during his first defense, “no one stood with me.” Now he qualifies that. Nobody was there to physically be present with him, but he knew that the Lord was there. As he says, “the Lord stood with me.” The idea of standing speaks of the presentation of his defense, where the accused would stand and speak. Though nobody else rose to stand and speak with him or for him, the Lord was there. This was a promise given by Jesus to His disciples –

“But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11

Paul certainly knew these words of the Lord, and he trusted it was so. What was given to him were the words of the Holy Spirit which were being relayed through him. Thus, Paul next says, “and strengthened me.” The word used is the root of our modern word “dynamo.” Paul was imparted the ability to withstand the trail, and he was empowered to see it through to the glory of God. This was “so that the message might be preached fully through me.”

The word chosen here in this case signifies God’s power to bring the believer to maximum potential. As Paul spoke also to unbelievers, it was a word sufficient to relay to them the fullness of what is needed to know and accept the gospel for salvation. The Lord personally used Paul as His mouthpiece to accomplish this, and the purpose was “that all the Gentiles might hear.”

There were Jews there testifying against Paul. They knew his message, and they had decided against the truth of the gospel. But Paul, being the apostle to the Gentiles, was ready at all times to not only try to convince his brothers according to the flesh (meaning the Jews), but also the Gentiles. He spoke to the highest ruling council in the Roman empire words of life and words of salvation. All heard, and all had the choice to accept or reject what they heard. Paul simply acted as the messenger of this gospel message.

Finally, he notes, “Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” Here we have a theme coming from Scripture itself, and one which Timothy would have been well aware of. Daniel was delivered from the mouth of the lions because of his faithfulness before God. Further, David wrote these words in the 22nd Psalm, a messianic psalm –

“Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me.” Psalm 22:20, 21

The word “deliver” in verse 20 of the Greek translation of the psalm is used by Paul, and then the words “out (the) mouth of (the) lion,” are the exact words used in verse 21. Scholars have sought to identify who “the lion” is that Paul refers to. Some say it is Satan, some Emperor Nero before whom he stood, while others say that it was the amphitheater where Paul stood before Nero, thus being inclusive of all who sat during his trial.

However, it seems unlikely that he is setting a defined limit of reference. Rather, he is speaking of all of them, and all other times he was faced with possible doom. In other words, the singular is given as an all-encompassing statement that God had delivered him from the lion of opposition in any and all forms by which he attacks.

Life application: Mark 13:11 is cited above. Please understand the context of the words, and know that though we are Christians, it does not necessarily follow through that the words of Jesus there apply to us. He was speaking of his disciples who were going to face troubles and trials, and who would need the words appropriate to those instances. Today, we have the word of God in its fullness. It is breathed out, and it is what we are to use. The Holy Spirit has spoken, and now we are to use what He has transmitted through His chosen apostles, to make our defense before God.

Lord God, Your word is complete, and with it we have all we need to stand in defense of Your will for us. Help us to remember to use this precious gift from You as we speak to others about what Christ Jesus has done, and about the saving message which is found there for all of the world’s people. It is Your word, and it is sufficient. Thank You that we possess this marvelous treasure! Amen.

2 Timothy 4:16

Monday, 14 May 2018

At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 2 Timothy 4:16

Paul has just finished speaking of Alexander the coppersmith, and the harm that he did against him. It is apparent that this means he openly spoke against Paul, accusing him of violating the law through his gospel presentation. He then added in the words, “May the Lord repay him according to his works.” With that understood, he now says, “At my first defense.”

This is often assumed to be a defense made in Rome, and from there he is being held for a second defense. That seems unlikely though. What seems more likely is that he was accused somewhere, found worthy of further trial, and then sent to Rome. This occurred in the past when he was held in Casearea for a hearing. During that hearing, he appealed to Rome based on his Roman citizenship. From there, he was sent to Rome for a ruling on his situation. Rome is the place of final appeal for trials of Roman citizens. The same is probably true here as well. Unfortunately, Paul states that during his defense, “no one stood with me.”

This is a common theme in the Bible. Job had troubles, and he was all but abandoned (see Job 19:13-17). In the psalms, being left alone in times of troubles, being repaid with evil for having done good, and etc., is noted several times, such as in Psalm 35:12-16, Psalm 41:9, and Psalm 55:12-14. Zechariah 13:6 shows that the Messiah would be wounded in the house of His friends, and such prophecies are clearly seen as fulfilled in the gospels. Paul endured this treatment as well. He says that instead of being defended, “all forsook me.”

This continues to show that the defense Paul made was at a different place and time. He has already said that Luke is there with him. And so wherever his defense was, the people of that area were not faithful to stand with him. However, it needs to be understood that if they were to stand with him, it could have meant their own imprisonment or death. By this time, things were taking a sour turn for Christians, and to stand in defense of one would mean being looked at with suspicion as one of this group, or one sympathetic to it. Paul understood this and he then says, “May it not be charged against them.”

Because of the serious nature of standing with Paul, he felt it was a thing not to be counted as unworthy of the title of Christian to not stand with him. They could remain effective Christians by having their freedom. They may have had families to support as well. If they had come to Paul’s defense, the lives they lived might very well have been denied them. With this in mind, the scholar Bengel notes the structure of the Greek here. It reads, “Not to them may it be charged.” The words “to them” are thus in the emphatic position. Though he sees no guilt in those who did not come to stand with him, he sees guilt in those who intimidated them to not do so. Surely he is thinking of Alexander in particular, and also to the whole system which caused this situation to arise. Paul sees their guilt as worthy of being charged.

Life application: Paul’s words do not indicate that he was completely abandoned. As noted before, Luke was there with him, and Timothy’s presence was being requested. However, in his time of need, he was not supported by those around him. We all must choose when, and under what circumstances, we are willing to step forward and provide assistance to those in need. It may not always be clear when it is appropriate and when it isn’t, and so we should seek the Lord through prayer and act when we feel truly led to do so.

Lord God, You are all-knowing; we are limited in knowledge. Help us to seek Your infinite understanding of matters that arise through prayer and petition. Those things which are unknown to us, but important to act on if needed, cause us stress until we know which way to turn. And so hear our prayers for guidance, and then lead our feet to act in accord with Your will. Help us to always turn to You, and to trust that You are guiding according to the infinite supply of wisdom You possess. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:15

Sunday, 13 May 2018

You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. 2 Timothy 4:15

It was noted in the previous verse that Alexander may have been the same individual as in Acts 19:33, a man who was selected to speak against Paul. This is probably so, because he was in Ephesus in Acts 19, and Paul is writing to Timothy who is also in Ephesus. Paul says to Timothy that, “You also must beware of him.” He did a great deal of harm to Paul, speaking against him, and maybe even testifying against him in court. If so, he would have argued that faith in Christ was not a legitimate part of the legally recognized Jewish faith. Thus, it would be religio ilicita; an unlawful religious expression. This seems likely because Paul then says, “for he has greatly resisted our words.”

Paul warns against this individual because he didn’t just speak and then shut up. Instead, he spoke and continued to speak. He actively resisted the gospel message. The words Paul speaks of him make it highly unlikely that he is speaking about the same Alexander noted in 1 Timothy. Rather, it was another Alexander, quite likely the one in Acts. The name was a common one at the time.

Life application: If you speak out for Christ today, you are bound to have people resist your words. This is so much so that some may make up entire blogs about you on the internet. A simple name search may pull up lie after lie about an individual. Throw in other believers who disagree over points of doctrine, and you might suddenly appear to the world as the greatest heretic. Are you willing to defend your belief in Christ even to this extent? Or will you quietly remain shut up about the only news that can bring salvation to the lost of the world?

Gracious and merciful heavenly Father, You have given us this one life to live before we face our day of judgment. For the lost, they failed to make the right choice about Jesus. For those who are saved, we will stand and give an account for what we were willing to say and do in His name, and for what we failed to say and do which is in accord with Your word. Help us to consider this, and to use our time wisely – speaking out about Jesus. If we are persecuted or shunned because of it, who cares! We have eternity to not care about such trifling things. Give us boldness and wisdom in this. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:14

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. 2 Timothy 4:14

This bad guy at first seems to be the same one referred to in 1 Timothy 1:20, but it is more probable that he is the individual identified in Acts 19:33. This is because he is identified as “the coppersmith.” The other Alexander, in 1 Timothy 1:20, is not so named. Paul seems to be making a distinction between the two. However, if he is the same as in 1 Timothy, it doesn’t mean he isn’t saved, or that he has lost his salvation. Rather, exactly the opposite is true based on the same terminology being used in 1 Corinthians 5. Handing someone over to Satan is a corrective measure, not a note of condemnation.

But, with the assumption that he is identified in Acts 19 and not in 1 Timothy, he is a person who was chosen to speak against Paul. He was a Jew and not favorable to faith in Christ as the fulfillment of their laws. As such, he would be one that instead of simply trusting in the grace of Jesus Christ, and allowing others to do so, continuously worked to have others brought back under the law of Moses – an annulled, obsolete, and set aside law. It is a law that was “nailed to the cross” according to Paul in Colossians 2:14. Paul says that this wayward soul, “did me much harm.” The Greek reads “did me much evil.” Based on his coming words, it seems clear that he testified against Paul in a legal sense. Whatever other things he did against Paul, it was enough for him to say, “May the Lord repay him according to his works.”

Paul is not seeking personal revenge, but the Lord’s righteousness. In harming the apostle, the apostle’s message was hindered. The gospel message is the means of salvation for all men. Therefore, if a Judaizer creeps in and steals people away from the grace found in Jesus Christ, their repayment is justly due. If not saved, they will receive their just condemnation. If saved, they can stand at the back of the line in heaven when rewards are handed out. If they persisted in their aberrant doctrine, they will be repaid with a frown and a handful of nothing. There will be only loss.

Life application: It cannot be stressed enough that those who teach adherence to the Law of Moses, in part or in whole, are to be utterly rejected. There is one gospel, and that is that Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law. We are not under law, but under grace. To reapply the law to one’s life, doctrine, and practice, is to set aside the grace of Jesus Christ. It is in essence, “Nice try Jesus, but I can do better.”

Heavenly Father, it has become fashionable for sects of Christians to teach observance of some, or all, of the Law of Moses in their daily lives as a part of somehow adhering to Your commandments. But Jesus has fulfilled the law, and initiated a New Covenant in His own blood. Shall we say to You, “Nice try God. Jesus did OK, but I can do better”? Or should we rest in the finished work of Jesus? Help us to see rightly and to apply what has been accomplished to our walk before You. Help us to live in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:13

Friday, 11 May 2018

Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments. 2 Timothy 4:13

Paul now makes a specific request for Timothy to accomplish. He says, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come.” It seems like a simple thing to request, easy to translate, and without any need for conflict in interpretation. And yet, it is none of these. The word is found only here in the New Testament, phelonés. Some say it is the same as the Latin word paenula, a cape which fell down below the knees.

Others say that it is a phailone which speaks of a carrying bag. This is how the translator of the Syriac understood it. Others come to one of these two same conclusions using different Greek words, either a cloak or a carrying case. Some have even combined the two, thus signifying a cloak used for carrying.

It is truly hard to be dogmatic with a word used only once, and which has so many possible roots. If it is a cloak, the request is not at all unreasonable. If winter were coming, a cloak of this type could mean life or death for a man bound in a cold Roman prison. There would even be an urgency to it. It may have been hot when he left, and he thought he would not need it immediately. However, with an extended time in prison, the need arose for his garment. Sleeping in one’s garment is actually a concept found in the Old Testament –

If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. 27 For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious.” Exodus 22:26, 27

This general thought is repeated in Deuteronomy 24:13 as well. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine Paul, a man who was so well traveled, and who would constantly move from one clime to another, would go along his route without a cloak that was needed when it was cold. And so the second option is also quite possible. If so, he had a traveling case that he left behind in the care of “Carpus at Troas.” This is the only time Carpus is mentioned in the Bible, but he was obviously someone who could be trusted by Paul. Whether cloak or carrying case, Paul had entrusted something important to him.

The idea of it being a carrying case is then bolstered by the words to Timothy that he was also to bring “the books, especially the parchments.” These would have been Paul’s cherished copies of Scripture, possibly including early copies of the gospel of Matthew, Mark, and even Luke. They could have source material for all of Luke’s interviews and the like. There could have been the writings of Greek philosophers, at times quoted by Paul during his travels and in his epistles. Whatever they contained, a carrying case would make complete sense for Paul to request.

The word “books” is translated from biblion, meaning a papyrus roll; a paper. The word “parchments” is translated from a word unique in the New Testament, membrana. One can see the modern word “membrane” as coming from it. It signifies a sheep-skin; a parchment. Whatever was written on these parchments, be it Scripture, or letters from churches, or whatever else, they were especially important to Paul. He wanted them possibly even as a witness during any trial he would face.

Life application: Is the Bible so important to you that you would request it to be brought to you if you were restricted to a hospital, a prison, or some other type of place? Or would you ask for your favorite movie to be brought to you? The most valuable possession that anyone could possess is often treated as something cumbersome or useless to their needs at such times. In fact, exactly the opposite is true. Treasure your Bible, long for its presence in your life, and let it fill the times when you so most desperately need it.

Lord God, if we have an extended stay in the hospital or some other place of confinement, what is it that we would ask our family or friends to bring us. If our first request is not the Bible, then we are erring in our priorities. The most precious treasure of all is often the thing we relegate to a much lower status than should ever be. Help us to have our priorities straight. Help us to hunger after Your word first and foremost. Amen.