18 October 2007

2 Timothy 4:5-17

'"I have fought the fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.'" (v.7)


Timothy is a young Christian from Asia Minor (modern-day Western Turkey), the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father. He became a companion to Paul assisting him in his missionary work.

The main theme of this letter is to invite Timothy to share in suffering by following the examples of Paul and Jesus Christ.

The words of this passage are Paul's final advice addressed to Timothy. But before he dies he wishes to pass on to Timothy the responsibility of the Christian message. He knows that the next generation has to take over.

Paul expects to face death as a martyr within the near future (v.6). The phrase "poured out as a libation" refers to the Roman practice of ending meals by pouring out a cup of wine to the gods. Paul expects to give his life as a sacrifice to God.

In another reference to the end of his life, verse 7 uses images from sport. Paul looks forward to successfully completing what he has been called to do and to receiving the victor's crown (v.8).

Today is the feast of St Luke. Only Luke, (the "beloved physician" - Colossians 4:14), was with Paul at the time he wrote this letter (v.11). As death approaches, Paul feels abandoned by almost everyone, just as Jesus did. He asks Timothy to come to him and bring Mark with him. He wants to have the company of those he knows and trusts.

"Bring the cloak I left with Carpus at Troas" is explained by Paul's wish for Timothy to join him before winter (4:21). Cloaks were used as bed covers in winter as well as for outdoor wear - this is a real contrast to Paul's spiritual concerns.

To Ponder

Reflect on death, life and reward as Paul did. Do verses 6-8 resonate with you?

Are we always willing to train the next generation and let them take over from us?

Who do we look to for comfort and support when we feel vulnerable?

Bible notes author

Revd Anne Brown

Revd Anne Brown is Chair of the Beds, Essex and Herts District. She has served as a Methodist minister in Lancashire and Yorkshire before becoming Chair of the former London North West District..