II Timothy 1-4
We are in the Church Stream reading from the World English Bible.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Lord, may we never lose our gratitude and awe of those who honored you to the death. We pray also to be inspired and motivated to live for you as the Apostles did. Amen.
This ends up being Paul’s final word to Timothy; his endeared apprentice and disciple in ministry. It was between 66 and 68 A.D. Nero had ordered that Christians be rounded up and punished for “causing the fire in Rome”…really
?! The innocent
Christians were Emperor Nero’s scapegoat and he persecuted them severely – for sport in the coliseum and in many other witchy ways. Paul was martyred during this purge of 67-68 A.D. He waited in his cell for the visit from a soldier who would lead him to the block where Paul would be executed for his faith. The young church would say goodbye to it’s most prominent teacher. The world would say goodbye to the most influential person of all time for he explained Jesus in depth, he brought light to the matter of what salvation means. So much of theology pivots from what the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul. His writings had more affect on history, and faith, and eventually government and the Christendom that is still sweeping into millions of new hearts each week. Paul’s students loved him to the core like they loved their own souls. Timothy would finish the task that Paul clearly laid out in this, his final marching orders to him. Paul could only hope to see Timothy again…but he never would. These are his final words to Timothy; dear as a son. Paul had seen the escalation of Christians being killed. The new church was being gutted. Would it survive? False teachers were trolling the empire in Paul’s wake striving to adulterate the faith and lead churches off in to doctrinal oblivion. Were things bleaker than bleak? No, Paul was exultant in the assured victory that Christ had lived, demonstrated, and promised. He wanted Timothy to live this same celebratory faith.
1 – Paul is walking memory lane and going back to Timothy’s beginning before he says his goodbyes. Paul is bold for the gospel, and he wants Timothy to minister and teach courageously, not to second-guess His calling or that the Spirit is upon him. He uses clear examples and names names when referring those who have fallen away and are not to be emulated. He also gives the first of many names of people who have been a blessing to Paul and he wants them to be greeted, honored, remembered and such.
2 – It is paramount that Timothy teaches and disciples others to do the same so that there is an endless chain of multiplied discipleship stretching from now to Christ’s return. Be ready and willingly endure hardship and make certain to handle to Word of God correctly. So many had embraced a warped doctrine and were evangelistic about their wrong ideas. And Paul ends chapter two with a list of items to tend to so that Christian character is developed, nurtured, and flourishes in Timothy personally as well as in the Christian community.
3 – Paul warns of the apostate times that will come in the last days. There have been hucksters and abusers of the faith throughout history. They were in Paul’s day, as they are now. The tactics of these vandalous beasts who worm into churches is listed and called for what it is. Paul does not go gentle on these maligned souls and neither will the Holy Spirit. But there is Timothy. Paul reiterates that Timothy has been a faithful student just as he is now a vital pastor in service. Yes, there are bad apples here and there but that isn’t going to hamper the blessing that Timothy is. Timothy need only to stick to the Scriptures [know them, love them, live them, teach them] for they are the words of God.
4 – Timothy is urged to stay the course, evangelize, and be a “finisher” in ministry. Paul reminisces briefly and poignantly as he knows his time of departure is at hand. He is practically seeing heaven/Christ/the reward that awaits him! Notice [v.11] that Paul is alone except for Luke who is with him. Yes, Luke who wrote Luke and Acts. From here to his salutation, Paul says his goodbyes, sends his well-wishes and blessings, He names those who turned against him so that they would not be able to weasel into the gospel work in the future and hamper Timothy’s work like they’ve tried to against Paul. His final words have extra gravity to them because Paul is taken from the cell where he wrote this gospel to his place of execution. Evil tried to stomp out the gospel by finishing off its greatest teacher. Billions have since embraced this creed of eternal life in Christ!
If you would indulge me to comment before closing today, my husband and I had the touching experience of being in Rome, Italy in the Autumn of 2013. I must say it was about the most fascinating and enthralling places we have ever been. [And between us we have been to almost 80 countries, so I’m not being glib here]. We saw the dungeon where Peter was held before being crucified and heard the miraculous things he experienced in there the last month of his life. We were taken into the basement corridors of the Vatican by personnel who knew more history than most historians. We walked through Paul’s personal cell in Rome where Paul was chained to a wall for the last time before he was executed from the lies told against him. We saw the well where he was allowed to drink his last from. As he closed his final letter to Timothy, one can almost hear his whisper from this chamber that we ourselves walked through, “farewell dear Timothy, I will see you on the other side of the Jordan…and will wait for you there with our Savior…”
The Thread Through the Streams
The phrase, “you’re on” fits each character featured that took center stage this week. Moses is in his last year of ministry. Miriam and Aaron both die within this reading in Numbers. He had leaned on them for near 40 years. This had to wrench his heart. He institutes the matter of the red heifer, he navigates through several battles, deals with water shortage -[that could have gone better!], creates the bronze snake for healing. There was much to handle this week and Moses was center stage, with no human back up.
-David is called up to expand the boundaries of Israel to a tremendous and far new reach. In this task there was much pagan culture and people to subdue. No one else was so up for the job, or so covered by God to do this task. Life and world history focused on David these years [I Chr. 18-23] and said, ,”your on!” The same goes as he is gathering material for the Temple. This gathering needed to occur so Solomon could simply start the construction once he was “up”.
-Psalm 140-145 is the prayers of this same David who demonstrates for us and Believers for all time that walking with God is and can be done no matter the stressors that bear down on a man’s heart. These Psalms were written before during and after the events David battled through in our reading this week. These prayers need to be attached to this man in this lifetime because David was to demonstrate discipleship amid a tremendously variegated life. He was up for the task and lived it for all of us very well.
-Ezekiel was in a crucial position (4-7) to urge the Hebrews to NOT return to Jerusalem for it was about to be a fiery warzone off death. He was also saying to the Judeans in Jerusalem that the “army is approaching your gate very soon.” His assignment was merged with other very uncomfortable tasks. Pleasant or not, Ezekiel is up to bat; he’s on. He needs to write this down -Him! at this place and at this time. God could call up somebody else, but God called on Ezekiel to do Ezekiel’s job.
-Nahum was not alone in his indictment against Nineveh; the capital of Assyria. They were a savage people, a culture, a savage way of life that needed to be removed from the earth. They, in a strange Providential twist, were the ones who cleared out Israel/Samaria the northern Kingdom that was utterly pagan and disobedient to God. That had to be done, but the blood-shedding never stopped for the Ninevites. Their direct descendants are the soldiers of ISIS who act the same way today. The microphone is in Nahum’s hand and he tells them “it’s over now!” Their imminent defeat and scattering was final.
-Jesus is crucified as we read Luke 23. Painful as it is, it had to be done. Jesus was ‘on’. It was time to pay the price to ransom our souls back to God. Did he like this? Did he relish the assignment? He wanted out if there was any possible way. [We know his prayer in Gethsemane.] But this is why He came to earth. To save us. He was it; the Savior. And heaven is opened and the Holy Spirit is soon to be released from what He did.
-Paul’s solemn farewell to Timothy is among the richest teaching in all Scripture. It was dire material – every verse. “Timothy, I’m out. It’s all you brother” is what we are hearing. Not a hint of concession akin to , “hey, Timothy, if you feel like it – this really would be nice if you so choose…” No way. Timothy is called to ‘take it from here!’ And do it all in the Spirit with everything he’s got. And he has God so he has all he needs to do his dire task of ministering and passing the torch to hundreds who will pass it to thousands, who
will pass it to …” What is it that God is charging us to step up and deliver on? … today?