When the Apostle Paul was in prison awaiting execution in Rome, he didn’t focus on his final preparations. People talk about getting their house in order, or straightening out their affairs in anticipation of dying. Being prepared is a good thing, but in some cases, it’s an interesting, if not amazing, to look into the strength of the human spirit.
Such is the case of the Apostle Paul, who knew his end was coming soon. He was precise and careful in giving instructions to those he mentored. His second letter to Timothy, Chapter 4, we see his focus, as he clearly emphasizes the ministry and not his demise.
He instructs Timothy to teach the Word of God, using sound doctrine. This, of course, was written only 30 years following the death and resurrection of Jesus. However, it very much applies to our present day church, as many denominations have wandered off the path of true Christian faith in favor of a social gospel, all done to raise money.
Paul’s instructions to Timothy
He tells Timothy what he needs to do and to look out for himself in navigating a cruel and unfriendly world.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
Paul awaits execution doesn’t focus on final preparations
Paul, writing from Rome, has not long to live, as he awaits execution by the Romans. He focuses on Christ and moving forward, regardless of the consequences. He does not waver.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 6-8)
Paul requests visit from Timothy
He wants his young charge, Timothy to pay him a visit in Rome. In addition to preaching the good news to the gentile world, Paul worked to prepare young teachers and pastors. Paul passed along his knowledge, wisdom and experience to the next generation.
Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.
Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters. The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all. (2 Timothy 4)
We are called to teach others about Christ
Paul always kept in contact with those he trained. He knew his time was short, but he also knew that the new generation would carry out the mission and advance the cause of Christ. Believers have a similar job, whether teaching their children, their neighbors, or reaching out to complete strangers.