“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:6
Today we welcome the second book of Timothy. Here we read Paul’s last words of encouragement and advice from his jail cell before he is executed. Biblical scholars date Paul’s second letter to Timothy between 66 and 67 AD. He was convicted of being a follower of Jesus and sat alone in a Roman prison writing out his final words of wisdom. As I studied this time in Paul’s life, I wondered whether Timothy received his letter in Ephesus before or after Paul’s death. I imagine Timothy reading and rereading the letter, the great weight of responsibility resting squarely on his shoulders. He opens the letter tenderly,
“To Timothy, my beloved child…” 2 Timothy 1:2
What follows is a rich tapestry of wisdom, advice and encouragement. As I consider both the author and the recipient, I’m aware that there has never been another person like Paul. He shows us his vulnerability and his loneliness in this letter. It’s clear that he has surrendered and uses his imprisonment and impending execution as an example of obedience and faith in Jesus Christ. His words are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. In this final letter to Timothy, Paul outlines four main tenants for leading in Christian service:
- Be Bold
- Paul encourages Timothy to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit he has been given to both preach and teach
- He reminds Timothy that there will be opposition and that he must persevere without guilt or shame
- Stay Faithful
- Paul anticipates his martyrdom and uses it as a powerful example of loyalty
- Paul speaks of endurance and diligence, he reminds us that God will give us strength to remain steadfast in the face of evil
- Preaching and Teaching
- Paul encourages Timothy to carry the burden of truth and train others in preaching the doctrines of Christianity
- False Teachings
- Finally, Paul warns Timothy that there will be false teachers. He implores Timothy to correct, rebuke and finally encourage those teachers to preach sound doctrine.
Just as we cherish the final words, the handwritten notes and photos of a loved one that has passed, so can we cherish Paul’s final words to Timothy. I’m looking forward to studying these chapters with you this week and exploring how our community is not so different from the Ephesian community in 67 AD. May God bless us as we commit to being in the word with Him this week!