November 18, 2011

Saturday after the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 21, 23, 2 Kings 11, 1-16, 2 Tim. 4:9-22
Evening - Ps. 18, Eccles. 12, Mt. 24:1-14

Commentary
2 Timothy 4:9-

The charge to Timothy is ended. What remains in the epistle are personal remarks. Yet, even they say much to those who have ears to hear. Demas, for example, was a close friend and fellow labourer with Paul in Colossians 4:14. But in 2 Tim. 4:9 he has deserted Paul. What has caused his defection, which is not only from Paul, but also from Christ Himself? He "loved this present world." He loved his life and was unwilling to risk it by helping Paul in his imprisonment. Our Lord said the greatest and most important commandment of all is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. But Demas, after years of seemingly following Christ, has now decided he loves himself more than Christ.

Many have followed Demas' path. Appearing to faithfully serve Christ, they really only follow as long as He allows them to have their own way. The moment following Christ begins to require them to get out of their comfort zone, and to do a little giving instead of taking, they run away.

Crescens and Titus have been sent to Galatia and Dalmatia by Paul, and Tychicus has been sent to Ephesus, probably carrying the letter of Timothy with him (4:12). Unlike Demas they have not deserted Paul, and Christ; they continue to serve. Timothy also remains true, and will come to Paul, though being in Rome at that time will endanger his life. With autumn and winter approaching, Paul wants his coat. He also wants his books and papers (4:13).

Verses 14 and 15 are about Alexander, probably one of the Ephesian craftsmen who persecuted Paul. Timothy is to beware of him.

The "first answer" (4:16) may refer to a hearing after which Paul was put into the Mammertine prison. He faced that alone. This man who gave so much of himself, who suffered so much to take the Gospel to people, had to face the Roman authorities alone. The sadness of this is palpable.

But the Lord was with him (4:17), and delivered him from the lion's den for a while, that he might be allowed to continue to preach the Gospel, even if from prison. Yet, Paul knows the time of his death is near, and trusts Christ to "preserve" (save and deliver) him "unto His heavenly kingdom" (4:18).

Paul closes with a few words to those who have worked and prayed and suffered with him in the service of Christ. "The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit" is a prayer for Timothy himself. "Grace be with you" is for all the people, and clergy of Ephesus. Neither Timothy nor the Ephesians ever saw Paul again in this life.

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