19 October 20202 Timothy 4:15-17
At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. (vs. 16-17)
You'd think that Paul would be pretty fed up at this point. Since his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-31) he had devoted his life to Christ and known real persecution because of it. He'd been arrested and imprisoned, had become an outcast from his own Jewish community and to top it all off, his friends had deserted him and death was near. Only his trusty friend Luke remained by his side.
Biblical scholars debate whether Paul actually wrote this letter (along with 1 Timothy and Titus) or whether the three were written in his name after his death in a Church that had developed well beyond what it would have been during Paul's lifetime. But for me, their authorship is, to a certain extent, irrelevant. They are a key part of the New Testament and communicate important principles for church life.
Here, Paul was writing to Timothy, a young church leader whom he has been mentoring. Paul sensed that the end of his ministry was near and longed for his friend to join him and offer him comfort. You'd think that with all he’d been through, he would be just a little bitter. Though he mentioned those who had done him wrong such as Demas who had abandoned the ministry and Alexander who had opposed Paul's message, he prayed that God would not count their wrongs against them. And even though some abandoned him at the time of his trial, he was content that God always stayed by his side.
One of the most striking elements of this passage is the list of the author’s many friends and their various activities. It gives a real sense of the close-knit community of which Paul and Timothy were a part. The author’s ministry is not over as long as his friends continue to carry out theirs, doing ‘the work of an evangelist’ (v. 5) and enduring the suffering they face.
- An evangelist is someone who shares the good news of Jesus with others. What is “the work of an evangelist”? Do you have a role to play in this? What might it be?
- Paul prays for those who have done him wrong. How difficult would this be for you? If you are able, think about those who have done you wrong and pray for them.