OK, welcome back. We are in round 18 of 20 days in 2 Timothy, we are almost at the end and we’re entering a section a lot of people sometimes skip or breeze over, the shoutouts section at the end of a book. But to me they’re some of my favorite to study because they give us a window into the lives of our earliest brothers and sisters in the faith. You know, often for many of us, if we want to run our race well, we need to look at somebody else whose life will inspire and instruct us as we run our own.
I remember when I was training for a marathon on the hard days and difficult days. Often I would call to mind my Bible study leader, Chris, who I had watched successfully complete a marathon, and the vision of him crossing the finish line inspired me and helped me as I ran my race. And here we’re going to get to look at Paul’s life to follow him as he follows Christ. We’re going to see some things that are true of him at the very end of his life that my hope is will be the same at the end of your life and mine.
So you see in 2 Timothy Chapter four, beginning verse nine, he tells Timothy, do your best to come to me soon. You remember, Paul was imprisoned in Rome for preaching the gospel, and this was a difficult imprisonment. This was probably not the one at the end of the Book of Acts, where he was fairly comfortable under house arrest seeing visitors preaching here. This was after the burning of Rome, Nero began to persecute Christians. Paul does not envision himself making it out of this moment alive. If you remember that from last time. He said the time of my departure has come so now he looks at his beloved Timothy and says, do your best to come to me soon. I need you here.
The immediate cause in verse 10, he says for Demas, in love with this present world has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Demas was mentioned as a coworker in the letter to the Colossians and to the Philemon. And yet now Demas, Paul says he agaped this present world and deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Demas is Paul’s Judas that was in the inner ring and then left when it got hard. He’s the antithesis of Paul. Paul’s been calling Timothy suffer for the sake of the gospel. Demas decided not to. I remember my mentor, Greg Mott, telling me the name Demus means popular, and he said, Ben when I read this text, I’m always challenged at the end of the day will I seek to be faithful to God? Or will I seek being liked? Those paths diverge. I want to be a Paul, not a Demas.
But notice what else he says, Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you. He’s useful to me for ministry, but Tychicus I’ve sent to Ephesus. It’s fascinating, Paul’s here in prison at the end of his life, but notice Paul is now coordinating ministry, unlike five fronts. I remember talking with my Bible study guys about this, and they were like, Paul looks like a coach calling plays that rather than his ministry shutting down in this jail cell, it’s expanded through the lives of these young men he’s influencing. Dalmatia, Ephesus, all these different places he’s sending guys. Paul never retires.
It’s interesting. My wife, we were talking earlier today about our schedule and Isaid, What are you doing today? And she said, I’m here till I’m not here. And I was like, that’s Paul, I’m here till I’m gone. He said, as long as I’m here on this earth, I’m going to keep doing ministry. I’m never going to retire. Now he may retire from a job, you may retire from your career, but we never retire from doing the work of the ministry. And notice Paul as he ages. His priority is investing in these young men. He’s like Liam Neeson.
I remember there was a rash of movie several years ago where all of them, people were mentored by Liam Neeson. He was the Jedi training young Obi-Wan. He was the mentor training the young Batman. He was the mentor training young Orlando Bloom. That Hollywood understood we all want mentors. Someone with wisdom to speak to us the truth. And I want to encourage you, whatever stage you’re in in life, we tend to forget the generation beneath us. Don’t do it. One of your greatest usages of your time is to invest in the younger generation. And here Paul at the end of his life, he’s got his ministry expanding, not contracting, and it’s because of his investment in these young men. Guys like Timothy and guys like Mark.
This is Mark who if you read the book of Acts, it’s a fascinating story to follow Mark. He went with Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey and then bailed as soon as it got hard. And when Paul came back and they began to launch out on a second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to bring young Mark. Paul said, absolutely not. That guy’s a quitter. I don’t want him on the team. And so Paul and Barnabas ended up splitting. Mark split the dream team, and yet Barnabas didn’t give up on Mark. You see Mark later in the Bible, mentioned by Peter, that he’s following around Peter and here at the end of Paul’s life, Paul and Mark have reconciled. And Paul looks at Mark and says he’s useful for ministry.
We train people. Some of them wander off and come back. We’re patient. We teach him like he was encouraging Timothy. And you see, young Mark here is not just serving alongside Paul, he’s going to write a gospel of Jesus. Most commentators believe the first one. That we know the story of God’s grace because God’s grace worked in the heart of a wayward mark.
And so Paul never retires. Paul’s investing in young men. Paul also has buddies. Look, Luke is with me. That’s another gospel writer. Luke, we find out, was a physician. He might have been keeping Paul’s beat-up body alive. They didn’t have attendants in prison cells back then. Your friends had to provide for you. And here Luke is faithful with Paul to the end. And let me tell you something when life gets hard, you need friends like that who will be faithful alongside you to the end.
Loneliness is an epidemic in the world today, and yet Paul doesn’t isolate himself even when he’s in prison. He’s surrounded by young people he’s investing in, and he’s got a good buddy alongside of him. Most of us, if we can end our life with two to three good dear friends, you’ve been successful in life. Are you prioritizing people who want to flee youthful us and pursue righteousness along with those who call out to the Lord out of a pure heart? You want a Luke to run with. We need buddies to help sand down the edges of a difficult life and you want a Luke and Paul had one.
He says, get Mark, bring him with you. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, above all the parchments. We don’t know what the books are, but parchments were made on animal skin. They were more prized books, so some commentators think, well, maybe this was his copy of the Scriptures, his Bible. It’s interesting.
There’s a parallel to this in Tyndale’s life. Tyndale who translated the New Testament into English, was imprisoned for it in the 1500s in Vilvoorde castle, and while in prison, he wrote a letter asking for a wool shirt, his Hebrew grammar, Bible, and dictionary. And I often think about that like me, and if I was ever in prison, what I’d just be like, man, I’m freezing to death here I wish I had my Hebrew grammar and dictionary. But Tyndale loved the word of God so much that even as his life contracted, he wanted more of it, wanted to keep learning and hear Paul at the end of his life keeps learning. I want these parchments with me. Bring them.
You see a Paul that never retires, keeps investing, and then keeps bringing in to himself. Output and input all the way to the end.
And then in verse 14 or 15, he warns Timothy, Alexander the Coppersmith did me much harm. The Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. He warns him, you know, Paul if you remember when he preached in Ephesus, it was the Smithies, those that would make the golden ten idols of the culture that got mad at Paul because he was hurting their idol business because people were turning away from vain idols to praise the one true living god.
And so Paul points out a coppersmith that Timothy, who’s now ministering in Ephesus, may need to look out for. He says, hey, look out for this guy, he vigorously opposed the message. He didn’t just hate me personally, he hated the word of truth. But he doesn’t tell Timothy, so take him out. It’s not a gangster hit. He tells him, hey, avoid him. The same thing he’d been encouraging Timothy to do earlier. Hey, Timothy, don’t get caught up in word wars. Don’t get in fights with different people. And if there’s an Alexander that’s coming to get you to sidestep him and keep doing your ministry, keep proclaiming the word to investing in young people. Keep expanding the gospel all the way until you cross the finish line. That’s what Paul does. Paul’s modeling the message he’s been presenting to us through all these rounds. We keep moving forward to learn the word of God and deliver the word of God all the way into the finish line, sidestepping useless arguments but continuing forward all the way until we see God face to face. That’s our call.
So think about these, a lot of information real fast, but process it and ask yourself, what do I want to be true when I die? What one of these things is not true of me? Maybe it’s I want to spend more time in the word. I want to spend more time investing in others. I want to have a vision for ministry that goes all the way to the end of my life, and I want to have the right kind of enemies for the right reasons. Billy Graham said that you can test the metal of a man by seeing the measure of his enemies. Who are your enemies? Do people dislike you for the right reasons? If you’re not, if you’re loved by everybody, you’re probably not making much of a difference.
I remember someone challenging me with that once, and I don’t know about you and me, but man, I want to live a life of impact, and that may mean a life of adversity. But it’s also a life where you can see a world change, and Paul was a world changer because he had these planks true in his life, and I want wanted to be true of yours and mine. Praying for you, cheering ya on. Contemplate these things with the Lord, and I’ll see you next time.
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