Friday, May 25, 2012

2 Timothy 4:9-18

9 Be diligent to come to me quickly; 10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. 12 And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. 15 You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. 16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

Vs. 9-11 The Apostle Paul having already given some exceptional exhortations with gracious words of wisdom and encouragement. Now concludes with a personal exhortation to Timothy, urging Timothy to come to him quickly, saying Demas having loved this present world has forsaken him departing for Thessalonica; Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Now Demas is mentioned favorable by the Apostle Paul in Col. 4:14 and Philemon 24. But here it is very evident that Demas though serving with the Apostle Paul for a season in the end loved this present world more and forsook Paul and the sufferings of Christ with him, for it. The two other men mentioned as having left Paul are Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Crescens is only mentioned here in the N.T. (though he must have been known to Timothy for Paul to mention him). Yet it is uncertain by the text whether Crescens departure was an abandonment of the Apostle Paul or something else. Titus too is said to have gone to Dalmatia, a region on the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea, equivalent to Illyricum (the region north of Greece and across the Adriatic Sea from Italy) where Paul once preached. Hence Titus' departure may have been by mutual consent (as it seems) to go and minister there, or he may have went there of his own accord for undisclosed reasons. Nevertheless the Apostle Paul mentions that Luke, and only Luke, is with him, (a great testament to Luke's faithfulness), but hence the urgency for Timothy's coming to him. Now in exhorting Timothy to come to him the Apostle Paul specifically mentions that he should bring with him Mark, saying he is useful for him in ministry. Which itself is a great turn of events as the Apostle Paul previously had a falling out with Barnabas over him (Acts 15:36-41). Yet here there is a genuine desire by Paul to have Mark there with him for the work of ministry. The Apostle Paul likely now upon reflection; both of himself and Mark; now sees Mark no longer as a liability to the gospel's work and ministry (as he once did) but now as a needed and desired asset.

Vs 12 The Apostle Paul now mentions that he has sent Tychicus to Ephesus. A man who became a trusted friend, and was a fellow worker and gospel minister who followed and served with the Apostle Paul early on. Tychicus is first mentioned along with other believers in (Acts 20:4-5) as traveling ahead of the Apostle Paul to await his arrival in Troas. Later the Apostle Paul entrusts Tychicus to carry news of him and his affairs to both the Ephesian (Eph 6:21-22) and Colossian (Col. 4:7-8) church's. It may have been that Tychicus was the person who brought and first read the Apostle's Epistles to those churches? If so it would speak volumes of his trusted person and character. Again the N.T. mentions the Apostle Paul possibly sending Tychicus as a messenger to Titus in Crete (Titus 3:12). And finally here once again in sending Tychicus back again to Ephesus (2 Tim 4:12).

Vs. 13 Having addressed all the personnel issues, the Apostle Paul now asks Timothy to bring with him Paul's cloak (an outer garment) which he left with another believer named Carpus in Troas. Now it was while the Apostle Paul was in Troas that God gave him a vision of a man calling to him to come to Macedonia and help them and thus to preach the gospel there (Acts 16:6-10). Carpus must have been then a convert of the Apostle Paul's preaching and ministry work there and one whom the Apostle Paul trusted to leave his only outer garment with, but more importantly to leave his books, and his parchments with, which if Scriptural works, would have been invaluable to him.

Vs. 14-15 The Apostle Paul now warns Timothy about a man known to them, Paul refers to him as Alexander the coppersmith, saying that man did much harm to him. Though were not told how Alexander the coppersmith harmed the Apostle Paul, it must have harmed either Paul's person or reputation pretty severely for him to say as much about him. Paul, nonetheless rather than seeking personal vengeance invokes a wise Spiritual principle of non-retaliation, of committing justice and judgment to the Lord's hands. Something that King David once invoked when fleeing from the then rejected King Saul (see 1 Sam 24:1-22, vs 12-13; also consider Psalm 17:1-15; Proverbs 3:25-26). Thus the Apostle Paul can say of Alexander the coppersmith may the Lord repay him according to his works! And so in verse fifteen the Apostle Paul continues to warn Timothy of Alexander the coppersmith saying that he has greatly resisted his words. A dead giveaway if you want to know who the troublers inside the house of faith are, or are going to be (consider Luke 10:16). For to resist Jesus Christ's Words and gospel, accurately spoken and presented through a Biblical Apostle can only indicate one thing, Alexander the coppersmith was not a believer. Indeed the words Paul uses to warn Timothy about him indicate that Alexander not only sought Paul's harm, but he set himself against the very faith that the Apostle Paul was preaching! Which gives rise to speculation that he may have been the same Alexander the Apostle mentions in 1 Tim 1:19-20 as having suffered shipwreck in his faith and who had been turned over to Satan by him.

Vs. 16 Having warned Timothy to beware of Alexander the coppersmith. The Apostle Paul now tells Timothy that at his first defense no one stood with him. It appears this was some sort of Roman legal tribunal. What the Apostle Paul was charged with is not stated. But you can be sure of this it wasn't a criminal act. It must have been directly related to the faith, for at this point in the early church there was ever increasing opposition to it. No longer just from unbelieving Jews, but from Rome itself. And so believers seeing how Rome was dealing with those of "the Way" were likely shying away from standing up for church leaders who found themselves in the clutches of Roman justice. And so as Jesus was forsaken by the twelve at His arrest and trial, so here it seems Paul too must drink that cup. Yet few and privileged are those who are called to suffer so much for the Lord while still being called to be a faithful witness for Him. And so there is no bitterness in the Apostle's voice, no ill will towards those whom he loved, yet forsook him at his first defense (gr. apologia). Rather just an appeal that it might not be charged against them. For they likely in a moment of weakness let their fears get the better of them; they did not intend to harm Paul, or abandon their faith, or stand in opposition to it, as Alexander the coppersmith did. They like Apostle Peter after he denied Christ, likely had their own moments of deep regret for not standing with Paul in his hour of need as well.

Vs. 17-18 And so the Apostle Paul though forsaken by certain brethren, was not forsaken by the Lord. As Paul says: 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

Therefore the Apostle could boldly declare that the Lord Jesus Christ both stood with him and strengthened him to be His witness (even when others did not). And so it was the Lord who both encouraged and strengthened Paul to fully declare the gospel to all the Gentiles, even if this meant it might end in his own death. Now the Apostles Paul's reference to being delivered out of the mouth of the lion harkens back Scripturally to the prophet Daniel and God's deliverance of him from certain death for his own faithfulness to God. And so here it seems the Apostle Paul standing alone before a Roman tribunal had every reason to cower and doubt, but like Daniel the prophet he too found himself both strengthened by the Lord to be His witness, but also delivered by Him from anyone or anything (even from personal fears or past personal failures) that could have hindered him from effectively declaring the gospel to all. And thus the Apostle Paul's declaration here is one utter confidence in Jesus Christ to both deliver him from whatever present personal weaknesses he had, but also of the Lord preserving him for His heavenly Kingdom; where we will never again have to wrestle against fears; failures or personal weaknesses. And so the Apostle Paul in great gratitude and thanksgiving for being strengthened one more time before his departure from this life gives all glory to the Lord. For ultimately it is the Lord Jesus Christ who upholds, strengthens, sustains and preserves us all who believe in Him for His heavenly Kingdom, to Him alone then be glory forever and ever amen!

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

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