The Last Words of the Apostle Paul
Today’s Key Passage – 2 Timothy 4:6-18 - CLICK HERE to read the key passage
The last book in the Bible written by the apostle Paul is 2 Timothy. At this point in his life, he was locked away in a prison in Rome for preaching the Gospel. Paul knew that he was nearing the end of his life, and he sent one last letter to his friend Timothy. When I read 2 Timothy, I cannot help but feel a little bit sad and I cannot help but feel a little bit sorry for Paul. After all, he did nothing wrong and was living a Godly life, but because of the sinfulness of this world he was persecuted, imprisoned, and eventually killed for his faith. Today’s key passage contains the last known words we have written by Paul, and while he had every right to be depressed or even angry about his current predicament that is not what we see in his words. As Paul was closing his letter, and in fact as he was “closing” his life, his words show that even when nearing death Paul’s character did not change. His words near death reflected the same three characteristics that defined his entire life – faith, love, and forgiveness.
Faith – Our passage begins with these words from Paul – “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 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.” (Vss. 6-8) As Paul grew closer and closer to his last days, he had no fear of death. He had no doubts about where he was going or about the reward that was awaiting him in Heaven. In the face of death, Paul had the same unshakable faith that he had during his entire life.
Love – Though Paul was most likely living in a cold, damp dungeon, in his words we still see love. Though Demas deserted him (Vs. 10), in his words we still see love. In his words, we see the love Paul has for Luke who was the only person left with him who was faithful. In his words, we see the love for Timothy as he asked his good friend to visit him soon. In his words, we even see a love for Mark as he asks Timothy to bring Mark with him when he comes to visit. If you will remember from Acts 15:36-41, earlier in his life Paul did not have the best relationship with Mark. During his first missionary journey, Mark left Paul and Barnabas which was upsetting for Paul. This strained relationship with Mark was so bad that it caused Paul and Barnabas to part company completely. Obviously, though, Paul and Mark must have reconciled and we see that Paul had nothing but love for Mark.
Forgiveness – We have already seen that Paul must have forgiven Mark for his past indiscretions, but we also see a greater level of forgiveness in Paul’s words. He says, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.” (Vs. 16) Paul forgave the people who deserted him, and he was hoping that God would forgive them as well. Just as Jesus forgave even the men who crucified him, Paul forgave the ones who deserted him.
Near the end of his life, Paul still had a great message and he still had great character. My prayer today is that at the end of our lives, we all have the same characteristics of faith, love, and forgiveness that Paul displayed in this book. Since we do not know when the end will come, we have to be prepared by living our lives each day with these characteristics in mind. There is no better day to begin that than today.
Can you think of any other lessons we can learn from today’s key passage? Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.
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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.