Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. THE SOLEMN ADJURATION. "I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the quick and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom." The object of the apostle is to impart to Timothy a solemn sense of responsibility in the discharge of his ministry.
1. All preachers must one day give an account of their stewardship. Such a thought ought to stimulate them to greater faithfulness.
2. Their responsibility is to God and Jesus Christ, who are Witnesses of their work, as they have made them good ministers of the New Testament.
3. Jesus Christ is the Judge of the two classes of living and dead saints, who in the last day shall appear before his judgment seat. All judgment is committed to him, and he will exercise it righteously.
4. The judgment will take place at "his appearing and his kingdom;" that is, at his second coming.
5. The reward of fidelity is also held out to faithful servants in connection with the glory of his kingdom.
II. THE DUTIES OF THE FAITHFUL MINISTER. "Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching."
1. His first and pre-eminent duty is to preach the gospel, because it is the power of God to salvation. There is no injunction to administer the sacraments, though that would be included in his duties. There is nothing, therefore, to justify the higher place which Tractarians assign to the sacraments beside the Word. It is a significant fact that the success of the apostles, as recorded in the Acts, is never once attributed to the sacraments, but always to the Word.
2. The minister must have an earnest urgency in every part of his work. He must create opportunities where he cannot find them; he must work at times both convenient and inconvenient to himself; he must approach the willing opportunely and the unwilling inopportunely.
3. He must reprove, or convince, those in error as to doctrine.
4. He must rebuke the unruly, or immoral in life.
5. He must "exhort with all long suffering and teaching - exercising due patience, and using all the resources of a sanctified understanding, to encourage men to keep to the ways of good doctrine and holiness. - T.C.
I. CHARGED TO BE FAITHFUL IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES.
1. Witnessing the charge.
(1) Christ associated With God. "I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Jesus Christ." Unseen by Timothy, they were really present as Witnesses of the charge now to be laid on him. The first Witness, who is the First Person of the Godhead, is simply designated God. It is the highest, most comprehensive, of names. With God is associated the historical Jesus with the Divine commission. While the apostle is very careful to place himself and other ministers at a distance from Christ (1 Corinthians 3.), he does not hesitate to bring him into the closest association with God. The spirits of the departed cannot communicate with us; but Jesus, who died thirty-eight years before the writing of this Epistle, is thought of as present with Paul in his dungeon, witnessing to the charge in all its particulars that is to be sent on to Timothy.
(2) Christ at the time of greatest solemnity for Timothy. "Who shall judge the quick and the dead." Timothy is not mentioned; but, as the quick and the dead are all-inclusive, he was to regard himself as included. The time was to come when Christ was to return to earth. Before his judgment seat were to be gathered the quick (suddenly changed) and the dead (raised from their graves). Timothy (changed or awakened) would have to take his place along with others, to give an account to the Judge especially of his official work.
(3) Christ at the time of greatest joy to his people. "And by his appearing and his kingdom." Christ is now concealed from human view, and men may dispute his being the Son of God, may dispute the fact that he died. At his appearing, his relation to the Father and to human salvation will be made clear beyond all possibility of doubt. Christ is now reigning, but there is not a full acknowledgment of his power. Many never think of his reigning at all. The time is to come when his kingdom is to be established as it is not established now - established in the full acknowledgment of his power - established to know neither modification nor end. On his return to heaven he is to come into a certain subordination to the Father, and yet is the order of things that is to last through eternity called his kingdom. To his people the time of his appearing, and from which his kingdom dates, will be full of joy as the time when their Master shall be publicly honoured, and when their own sharing with him shall stand out in its full meaning. Timothy must not, by unfaithfulness, take from the joy of the future disclosure of Christ to him.
2. Particulars of the charge. These are given in rapid succession, without connecting words, by which there is gain in force.
(1) Duty of preaching. "Preach the Word." The Word, i.e. of God, was what he was to preach; but the stress is more on the preaching. That was his work; let him preach, preach; let him utter Divine truth; let him utter it loudly as a herald, so that men may hear.
(2) Season for preaching. "Be instant in season, out of season." He was to be ready forevery opportunity of preaching. He was to have his stated season for preaching, so that men might know when they could hear the Word; but he was also to preach beyond the stated season. His season was to be every season, i.e. within natural and moral limits. He was to preach, strength permitting, whenever an opportunity of doing good thereby was presented to him.
(3) Parts of preaching. "Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching." He was to reprove, i.e. to expose the real nature of sin. He was to rebuke, i.e. to impute blame for sin. He was to exhort, i.e. to use persuasion against continuing in sin, and toward leading a better life. He was to execute the three offices of a reprover, rebuker, exhorter, with all long suffering - not vehemently, but, as with all proper restraint on himself, so with all proper consideration for others; and with all teaching - not unintelligently, but with repeated instruction, and not out of his own thoughts, but out of the Word.
II. ARGUMENT DRAWN FROM A DISTURBED FUTURE.
1. The intolerableness of sound doctrine. "For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine." The sound or healthful teaching, according to 1 Timothy 3:16, is that which, founded on the facts of redemption, leads to godliness. Men find it intolerable, because it binds them down to thoughts and courses which are contrary to "their own lusts."
2. The teachers that spring up for those who find sound doctrine intolerable. "But, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts." Their relief is not to get rid of all teachers (which would be too drastic), but to get teachers after their own lusts. These teachers are the birth and reflection of their own depraved sentiments. Those who strive to have their desires regulated by the Word of God are satisfied with the gospel teachers; those who have their desires unregulated (i.e. in the state of lusts) are not easily satisfied. "Having itching ears, they heap to themselves teachers." They have a constant uneasy feeling which seeks to be gratified with new teachers, both many and indiscriminate.
3. The abandonment of those who have itching ears to myths. "And will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables." Their duty is to turn their ears to the truth, but, as they have itching ears, they turn aside to listen to fables - not truth, but inventions. When men do not find the truth agreeable to the ear, they may take the wildest fancies, the most childish beliefs. There were anticipations of these myths of the future with which Timothy had to do.
III. CHARGE RESUMED.
1. Sobriety. "But be thou sober in all things." Those who had to do with myths had not clearness and caution of mind, but were intoxicated with their own wisdom. Timothy was to avoid their fault. There is a sobriety which is germane to the truth. It does not flatter a man, but keeps him to the humility of fact. It may deeply move him, but does not take away his clearness and caution. It does not, like many myths of the false teachers, morbidly excite the imagination, or leave room for morbid gratification, but acts as a principle of self-restraint. Timothy, in seeking to influence others, was to exercise all self-restraint in manner and matter of preaching and in personal dealing.
2. Hardihood. "Suffer hardship." This is not the first time that he has been thus exhorted. In 2 Timothy 2:3 there was the added idea of association with Paul. The exhortation is reintroduced in this comprehensive charge, again and more impressively to remind him of hardships that he might expect in his future ministry.
3. His evangelistic office. "Do the work of an evangelist." There was need to remind Timothy of this, inasmuch as for the time he was settled in Ephesus. Paul had been very much of an evangelist, i.e. an itinerant preacher, himself. However important the establishing of congregations, he was not to overlook the importance of circulating the gospel, with a view to new congregations being formed.
4. All the parts of his ministry to be attended to. "Fulfil thy ministry." He has mentioned one part; in the concluding direction he includes all. His ministry was partly determined by his talents and circumstances. He was rightly to proportion between the various parts of his ministry, giving each the attention to which it was entitled, though one might be attended with greater hardship than another. He was to fill up the Divine measure in all, and to the end of his life.
IV. CONSIDERATION DRAWN FROM THE APOSTLE'S END.
1. His end approaching. First mode of conceiving of his end. "For I am already being offered." The force of the connection is that Timothy was to be faithful, because Paul was no longer to remain to carry on Christ's work. Upon him the mantle of his master was to fall. The language in which Paul describes his end is Jewish, and sacrificial, in its colouring. The conclusion of the sacrifice was the libation, or pouring out of the drink offering of wine around the altar. His service of Christ had been all of the nature of sacrifice. He "counted not his life dear unto himself." He was among those who, for Christ's sake, were killed all the day long, who were accounted as sheep for the slaughter. There was now only the concluding libation, viz. the pouring out of his blood as a martyr around Christ's altar. The concluding ceremony was already commenced, in what he was suffering in his dungeon. It had a painful significance, and a rich significance too; for it was as the pouring out of strong wine (Numbers 28:7). Second mode of conceiving of his end. "And the time of my departure is come." The word translated "departure" has a common nautical application, viz. to the loosening of the cable that binds the vessel to land, that it may speed on to its destination. By his martyrdom the connection between Paul and earth was to be let loose, that he might speed, as with the quickness of lightning, to the haven where he was forever to rest. The time of the loosening was all but come; there on the pier was the man appointed to let slip the fastenings.
2. Feelings with which he regarded his approaching end.
(1) Consciousness of faithfulness in view of the past. First mode of conceiving of his faithfulness. "I have fought the good fight." The language is taken from the games. The fight is to be interpreted as the fight of faith. It is the good fight, being on behalf of Christ, on behalf of souls. He had the testimony of his conscience that he had "fought the good fight." By faithful preaching, by holy example, by fervent prayers, by patient sufferings, he had sought to advance Christ's cause, he had sought to save souls. Now the end of the conflict was come, little being left but its effects, these effects partly shown in his own wearied frame. Second mode of conceiving of his faithfulness. "I have finished the course." The language is taken specially from the racecourse. At one point we find him nobly anxious to finish his course (Acts 20:24). At another point we find him conscious of the space that lay between him and the goal (Philippians 3.). Here he is conscious of his standing at the goal. He had finished his course, not in the sense of having done with it, but in the sense of having done what properly belonged to it. He had followed on (after the Master), without stopping, without abating zeal, till he now had come up to the goal. Third mode of conceiving of his faithfulness. "I have kept the faith." He had been specially entrusted with the talent of the Catholic faith. It had been his, to let it be known that Christ was the Friend of man, that as Incarnate God he had made infinite satisfaction for sin, that he was longing to embrace all in his saving love. Amid all temptations to lose it, to substitute something else for it, he had kept it inviolate. He had not allowed the truth to suffer in his hands; nor must Timothy allow it to suffer in his hands now that more depended on him.
(2) Full assurance of hope in view of the future.
(a) Present laying up. "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness." There is the idea of laying up, as for future use or enjoyment. What was laid up was the crown of righteousness, i.e. the reward of him who conquers, and of him who rightfully conquers. In the Christian view this is he who does the work which is appointed for him by Christ. From that time forth the crown of righteousness was laid up for him. To such a height the assurance of the apostle rose. There was no self-exalting element in his assurance, as though he had been working in his own strength, or as though he had the deciding of what, comparatively, his reward was to be. But that, from his experience of assisting grace m the doing of his work, he was among those who were to be crowned, he had no more doubt than he had of his own existence.
(b) Future bestowal. "Which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give to me at that day." The Rewarder is the Lord - whose prerogative is indisputable. He is to reward at that day - the day of the future by pre-eminence. He is then to act as the righteous Judge - whose judgments are all to be founded on righteousness. From his reserved treasures he is to bring forth the crown due to faithful service, and place it on his head.
(c) General occasion. "And not only to me, but also to all them that have loved his appearing." He expressly excludes the thought of his being exceptionally crowned. His being crowned would not prevent others, such as Timothy, from being crowned. All would be crowned who continued to love Christ's appearing. This event is to be affectionately regarded, because it is the time when his loveliness is to be fully displayed, when also his love for his people is to be fully displayed. It is an event which is fitted to purify and elevate our spiritual life. Let it be the test by which we try our being included in the number of the faithful. Does it occupy our thoughts? does it inflame our affections? - R.F.
create a gospel, but to preach one; and the "Word" is broad and vast enough for any preacher. The cross has for its circumference all truth, and is to be carried into all spheres of life.
I. PREACH IT WITH INSTANCY. It is not a mere philosophy to interest students as an esoteric study; nor is it a mere elaborate theological thesis to be proven true. It has to do with "the present salvation" and the future well being of man. Instancy: for:
1. The season may be only now. Tomorrow preacher or hearer, or both, may be gone.
2. The truth can never be out of season. We need it always - in all places, in all our duties, temptations, and trials.
II. PREACH IT WITH AUTHORITY. That is, with the authority of truth, not your own ex-cathedra authority. "Meekly;" but not as though your congregations were patrons to be pleased, or Sanhedrims to try your opinions. Modestly; but with authority; not, as I said, your own authority, but the authority of truth, which has its own witness within. So you will reprove men fearlessly, never hiding them from themselves by cunning words of flattery. And you will "rebuke" - for evil soon spreads if it be not exposed and condemned at once - just as Nathan boldly faced David, and said, "Thou art the man."
III. PREACH IT WITH EXHORTATION. The teacher is not to be merely a scornful satirist of immorality - a sort of Juvenal. Nor is he to be a lightning conductor of Divine wrath; he is to seek to save men. He has not done his work when he has revealed the Law of God against evil. He is to remember that the Christ he preaches is the Son of man who is come, "not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved."
1. Long suffering is to be the spirit of his method. Remembering that humanity is frail and fallen, the preacher must be sympathetic, as himself needing mercy.
2. Doctrine is to be his remedy. The great revelation of a Divine Saviour and the promised Spirit, the Comforter. - W.M.S.
I. THE REASON OF THE APOSTASY. "For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine."
1. The gospel doctrine is sound, because it necessitates a holy life, and holds the gratification of sinful passions to be inconsistent with the hopes of salvation.
2. Evil men cannot endure it, because it is so opposed to the corruption of human nature, and therefore treat it with neglect, if not with contempt.
3. The apostle foresees the growth of evil in the Church, and therefore seeks to prepare ministers to war against it.
II. THE EFFECT OF THIS MORAL DISGUST AT THE GOSPEL. "But, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts."
1. They will not discard the ministry absolutely. They will only exchange one class of ministers for another. But they will vastly multiply the number of their religious guides.
2. The itch for novelty led to the multiplication of teachers. They were fickle, unsettled, and uneasy. They wanted to hear new things or smooth things, such as would reflect the caprices of a corrupt nature.
3. The reason for the whole rabble of teachers that they gathered to themselves is to be found in their wish to have their fancies gratified - "after their own lusts." They wanted indulgent guides, who would flatter the pride of human nature, and not lay too great a stress upon the importance of a holy life. The sound doctrine was necessarily allied to a pure morality.
III. THE RETRIBUTION THAT AWAITS ON SUCH A PERVERSION OF JUDGMENT. "And will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables."
1. It is a solemn fact in Divine providence, that when men do not like to return to the knowledge of the truth, God gives them up to a reprobate mind, so that they lose all relish for sound doctrine.
2. It is an equally solemn fact that, if the truth is repudiated, the heart will not therefore cease to exercise itself about religious concerns. The heart cannot long remain empty. Fables rush in to occupy the place which denies a footing to truth, just as infidelity has a vacuum-creating power, which superstition immediately rushes in to fill up. What a waste of soul! - profitless fables taken in exchange for soul-saving truth! - T.C.
I. "BUT BE THOU SOBER IN ALL THINGS."
1. The presence of false teachers necessitated a wakeful attitude, a constant presence of mind, a quick discernment of opportunities for advancing the truth.
2. There ought to be a consistently sober and watchful care extending through the whole life of the minister, who has to "give account of souls."
II. "SUFFER HARDSHIP."
1. If the minister fears the anger of men, he will not be faithful to God.
2. There is a reward for brave suffering. (1 Timothy 2:3-12.)
3. The example of the apostle's life was ever before Timothy as a powerful incentive to endurance. (1 Timothy 3:10-12.)
III. "DO THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST."
1. There was a separate class of officers called evangelists in the apostolic Church (Ephesians 4:11), whose special business was to break new ground in the open fields of heathenism or the narrower confines of Judaism. They preached the gospel, while pastors shepherded the flocks. But we are not to suppose that pasters did not also "do the work of an evangelist." They had saints and sinners under their care in all places.
2. As Timothy had been lately occupied in organizing the Church life of Ephesus, the admonition was not needless that he should henceforth devote himself to the direct work of evangelization, as the best antidote to heresy and impiety.
IV. "MAKE FULL PROOF OF THY MINISTRY." This was to be done:
1. By constant labours.
2. By unswerving faithfulness to God and man.
3. By efforts to save sinners and edify saints, which were seen to be successful. Such a man fulfils his ministry, for he seeks not his own things, but the things of Christ. - T.C.
I. THE IMMINENCE OF HIS DEATH. "For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is at hand."
1. Mark the calmness with which the apostle contemplates a violent death. There is no tremor, or hurry, or impatience in his last days. The language is singularly composed. He knew that Nero would soon put an end to his life, for that monster of cruelty and crime was even then striking out wildly against the Christians. Nothing but an assured hope and a living faith could maintain the spirit in such trying circumstances.
2. The apostle is not too preoccupied with his own approaching sufferings to forget the cause for which he is now about to surrender his life. He is now more urgent than ever in his instructions to Timothy.
II. THE HAPPY RETROSPECT OF A USEFUL LIFE. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith."
1. The good fight ended.
(1) Every Christian is a soldier.
(2) He has to fight against the threefold enmity of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
(3) He overcomes through faith as his sole weapon (1 John 5:4, 5).
(4) There is a limit to the duration of the fight. Death ends it.
2. The race ended.
(1) It is a long race;
(2) a wearying race;
(3) yet a glorious race, because it has a happy ending.
3. The faith preserved.
(1) It is a precious deposit placed in our hands (2 Timothy 1:14).
(2) Errorists of all sorts are continually striving to wrest it out of our hands by their specious sophistries.
(3) Believers keep it safest who treasure it in their hearts as well as their minds.
III. THE BLESSED PROSPECTS IN STORE FOR HIM. "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give to me at that day: and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved his appearing."
1. The reward. "The crown of righteousness."
(1) It was the symbol of excellence and glory.
(2) It was a recognition of the righteousness of the wearer.
It was not a crown of ambition. It was not won by inflicting miseries on the human race.
2. The certainty and manner of its bestowal.
(1) It is laid up in reserve securely for its wearers.
(2) It is conferred
(a) as matter of grace, for the Judge "awards" it of grace; and
(b) as matter of righteousness, for, as righteous Judge, he will not allow the works of believers to go unrewarded (Revelation 14:13).
3. The character of those receiving the reward. "Them that have loved his appearing."
(1) Believers do not dread Christ's appearance in judgment.
(2) They look forward with hope, satisfaction, and joy, to the day of final account.
(3) All who love him now will love him at his appearing, when they shall see him in his glory.
(4) The day of reward; the day of judgment. - T.C.
I. THE APOSTOLIC READINESS. Although a prisoner, he had been permitted to be a preacher in the neighbouring camp of Caesar's palace during his first imprisonment at Rome. But not so now. Amid the Praetorian Guard alone could he testify now; and as the soldier to whom he was chained by the wrist would often be changed, he had the opportunity of speaking to each one in turn the good word of the kingdom of God. His imprisonments had been preceded by missionary journeys, in which he had planted Churches of Christ everywhere - Churches which had become centres of evangelization and edification. He was "ready;" for his character had been moulded by "great tribulation;" so that his soul was purified by the grace of God working there the self-conquests of his nature. The righteous indignation of a strong nature - which we know full well once in his apostolate would have been aroused at his adversaries - had been softened into a calm submission to the Divine will, and he was conscious that God would take care of his own Church in the perilous times which had come. Moreover, Timothy was there to take up the great work and to preach the Word. Paul was ready for the "rest;" and the "rest" was ready for him.
II. THE APOSTLE'S TIME. "The time of my departure." All our times are in God's hand: "the time to be born and the time to die." This was with Paul no fatalistic creed; he did not forget that there was a divinely wise will ordering all.
1. Death was a departure. It was not the habit of St. Paul to dwell on death in itself, but rather on its glorious issues to the Christian. The faith was strong in him. The motto - Mors janua vitoe - "Death is the gate of life," was the spirit of his creed.
2. But death was not the departure of the Christ. He was here. By his Spirit he was still working in the hearts of all who believed. The Christ in him was the Christ in Timothy too; and St. Paul well knew that the triumphant chariot of the Redeemer stops at no man's grave. - W.M.S.
I. THE PAST FIGHT. He was a man of war in the best sense, and had fought a good fight. He had conflicts in himself - "fightings without, and fears within." He had opposition from the Jews of the ancient Church, and from the Judaistic Christians, who were trying to pervert the gospel! Rome, that dreaded sedition, looked upon him as a stirrer-up of strife, and though St. Paul was not an enemy of Caesar, this gave Caesar's enemies an opportunity for casting opprobrium on him. He had, too, as we all have, invisible enemies, so that he did not war only "against flesh and blood." The past fight was a lifelong one with him, for he had at first to withstand even his Christian coadjutors in his determination to proclaim and to preserve the universality and spirituality of the gospel kingdom; he boldly and triumphantly withstood even Peter to the face, and so gave to the Church of all ages the Magna Charta of its Divine freedom.
II. THE FINISHED COURSE. He could look back upon the racecourse now, and he varies his imagery. Now he introduces the idea of the Grecian games. We can see the eager athlete girding his loins for the race - a race which taxed all his energies. In heat and cold, amidst enemies and friends, St. Paul "pressed toward the mark." There is no tone of finality, however, about his language in the strictest sense. The end was only a post which he had to pass, not a grave in which he had to sleep. For to him to live was Christ, and to die was gain. - W.M.S.
ennui, and worse; for all was "vanity and vexation of spirit."
I. THE FUTURE IS PROVIDED FOR. "Henceforth for, [or, 'as to the rest'] there is laid up for me." Christ will not let any one of his faithful servants go uncrowned; all receive the prize - only their crown will be the perfecting of character, as the flower blossoms in its summer beauty. Heaven is the everlasting summer of the saints; and there "the crown of righteousness," which never was fully attained upon earth, will be given to all those who endure unto the end. Sometimes it is called "the crown of glory," sometimes "the crown of righteousness," and sometimes "the crown of life;" for the crowns of God are not the tinsel of earth's corruptible gold, but crowns of conscience, mind, and character - in one word, crowns of life.
II. THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE WILL BE THERE. He before whom all hearts are open, he whose judgment is according to knowledge, and who understands all the unknown and unnoticed conflicts of every earnest soul. He is the righteous Judge. Human judgment at its best cannot be perfectly righteous - it may approach to it, but "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" None, indeed, but himself and God.
III. THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH WILL SHARE IN THE CORONATION. "And not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Some men dread that appearing. They never have liked thoughts of God, and how shall they like the presence of God? Those who have lived in pleasure, and said to God, Depart from us!" may well tremble at his appearing. But the true Christian, who has walked by faith, loves Christ's appearing.
1. We long to see equity or righteous judgment triumphant in the universe. So much judgment seems to miscarry now.
2. We long to see the Saviour, whom not having seen, we love; for at his appearing "we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." St. Paul was no rhapsodist, but he desired to depart and be with Christ, which was far better. - W.M.S.
I. THE APOSTLE HAD BEEN DESERTED BY DEMAS. "Demas hath forsaken me."
1. This brought great distress to the apostle:
(1) Because Demas had been a fellow labourer and friend (Colossians 4:14).
(2) Because he forsook him at a critical time in his personal history, when he was already disheartened by the Asiatic deserters and in the near prospect of death.
(3) Because there was a special need for such as Demas to stand by the gospel in the city which was the heart of paganism, and to show courage and constancy in persecution.
2. The cause of the desertion was more distressing. "Having loved this present world." It may have been love of life or love of ease, or the desire to get back to old associations at Thessalonica (probably his native place), or the desire for pleasure or wealth. But it was a fatal passion. The love of this world is inconsistent with the true life, for all that is in the world is evil - "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life." It is all, in the present order of things, opposed to God and destructive to man. Nothing but Christ can deliver us from the power of this present evil world (Galatians 1:4).
II. THE APOSTLE WAS NOW ALMOST ALONE. Other fellow labourers had gone on their errands of usefulness to various quarters - no doubt with his heart's consent: Crescens to Galatia; Titus to Dalmatia, on the Adriatic; Tychicus, an old friend, and once before sent to Ephesus, goes back there by the apostle's directions. Luke alone of all the ministers of Christ keeps the aged apostle company; for though such brethren as Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia now dutifully attend upon him, yet the apostle is anxious to see Timothy, and begs that Mark may accompany him, for "he is useful to me for ministering," both in evangelistic and in personal service. - T.C.
1. Requested to come to Rome. "Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me." His formerly expressed longing to see him (2 Timothy 1:4) is now turned into a formal request to come, and to come shortly, unto him. In the diligence he was to show in this there is not the idea of pure haste, but of the utmost haste that was compatible with the interests of Christ at Ephesus. Certain arrangements would require to be made, not merely for his journey, but for the carrying on of the work after his departure. But as soon as these arrangements could be made he was to hasten to him at Rome.
2. Special reason in Paul's isolation. "For Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me." The fundamental reason for the request was the apostle's approaching martyrdom; but there was an additional and special reason in his isolation at Rome. This should not have been the case; for Demas, who had been his trusted assistant, had been there, and if he had done his duty would still have been with him. But he forsook him in his hour of distress, which may probably be associated with his first defence (ver. 16). The reason for desertion was that he loved the present world. We are not to understand world in the ethical sense in which it is sometimes used; the world as it has become by the entrance of sin, in opposition to the world as it was intended to be. He loved the good things of the world - absence from the scene of peril, ease in his own home - in preference to what would have advantaged him in the future world - bravely standing by Paul and lovingly ministering to his sufferings. The conduct of Demas was dastardly and cruel, calculated to destroy his influence as a Christian teacher. We are not warranted in saying that it excluded after penitence and wrecked his destiny. It has been his earthly destiny to be associated with a black act done to one of the noblest of men at a time when his nobility shone forth most clearly. In explanation of his isolation, Paul mentions without comment the departure of Crescens to Galatia, and of Titus to Dalmatia. In their case we may understand that there was not desertion of Paul, but pressure of Christian work and a mission from Paul. The only one of Paul's assistants who was with him was Luke, so often mentioned in connection with Paul. In connection with the mention of his name here, it is remarkable that he who was with Paul during his second imprisonment in Rome only brings down the apostolic history to the period of the first imprisonment there. With the exception of Luke there were no Christian workers with Paul who could enter intelligently and sympathetically into his plans and render assistance on the spot.
3. Requested to take Mark, and bring him with him. "Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is useful to me for ministering. But Tychicus I sent to Ephesus." After what had happened, the honourable mention of Mark in Colossians 4:10 and again here is honourable to Paul. His opinion of him had undergone great change. He had made a firm stand against him as an unsuitable companion in labour; now he bases his request for the presence of the evangelist at Rome on his being useful for ministering. Tychicus, who is warmly commended in Ephesians 6:21, had been thus useful; but he had been under the necessity of sending him on a mission to Ephesus. The ministering to be thought of was not so much to Paul the prisoner as to Paul in his imprisonment planning for the future of Christianity. These, then, we are to think of as the three workers who surrounded the apostle in Rome as he neared his martyrdom - Timothy, Mark, Luke. They were men of like spirit, to whom he could freely communicate his plans and also the enthusiasm necessary for carrying them out. All three had the evangelistic faculty. If Timothy had more of the administrative faculty, marking him out as, more than the other two, the successor of Paul, they had more of the literary faculty, marking them out for service to future generations.
4. Requested to bring belongings of the apostle with him from Troas. "The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest, and the books, especially the parchments." The apostle had not lived to accumulate property; and none would be much the richer by what he left behind. He possessed a cloke, which some friend may have gifted to him - a large warm cloke for winter, when lately at Troas - since the previous winter, we may suppose - he had not been able to bring it with him, but had left it with Carpus. As Timothy would pass Troas on his way to Rome, he is requested to bring it with him. Paul did not, in the spirit of modern monasticism, court suffering; he provides against the coming winter, even when that winter was to bring his martyrdom. He also possessed books, which are a necessity for the preacher. He who has influenced so many by his books was himself influenced by the books of others. He also possessed parchments, on which he laid greater stress as his own compositions, containing records and statements of truth in which he was deeply, interested, as fitted to keep the current of Christianity clear and pure. Timothy, who in the First Epistle is charged to attend to reading, would find in these books and parchments good pabulum and companionship on his journey from Troas to Rome.
1. His injurious conduct. "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil." The fact of his being styled the coppersmith seems to point to his being distinguished from others of the same name. We would not, therefore, identify him with the Alexander of the First Epistle, or the Alexander of the Acts of the Apostles. We may conclude, from the language, that he bore personal animosity to Paul.
2. The Righter in heaven. "The Lord will render to him according to his works." This is very different from invoking a curse on Alexander. He found it in his heart to make matters much worse for Paul. The Lord would judge between them. This would issue in evil to Alexander, unless his present spiteful works were followed by repentance.
3. No confidence to be placed in him. "Of whom be thou ware also; for he greatly withstood our words." Paul had good reason to be on his guard against him. We can understand his having a certain connection with Christianity, which would give him all the more power to injure Paul. But he had not the spirit of Christianity, when on the occasion, we may suppose, of the first defence, he made injurious statements against the great champion of Christianity. If he still professed to be a friend of Christianity at a distance from Rome, he was to be regarded with suspicion.
1. First defence. "At my first defence." This first defence was in connection with a second imprisonment, of which there can be no doubt. The account of Eusebius is that "after defending himself successfully, it is currently reported that the apostle again went forth to proclaim the gospel, and afterwards came to Rome a second time, and was martyred under Nero." Some would place an interval of five years between the first and second imprisonments. We have not the means of knowing the precise charge against which he had to defend himself on this second occasion. There is apparently this fact to go upon, that, after the conflagration of Rome which was attributed by Nero to the Christians, Paul as their leader was liable at any moment to be arrested. The supposition is adopted by some that on this ground he was arrested at Nicopolis, where Titus was to join him (Titus 3:12), and taken across the Adriatic to Rome. His trial, which does not seem this time to have been long delayed, was yet recent; for Timothy had not been informed of it. The trial would probably take place, not before Nero, as on the previous occasion, but before the city prefect, who, as more the emperor's creation, was supplanting the regular judges. The scene of the trial would probably be in one of the basilicas in the Roman forum, where a large audience could be accommodated. "A dense ring," says Pliny, "many circles deep, surrounded the scene of trial. They crowded close to the judgment seat itself, and even in the upper part of the basilica both men and women pressed close in the eager desire to see (which was easy) and to hear (which was difficult)." We may conclude, from the language here (first defence), and also from his being still in bonds as a malefactor (2 Timothy 2:9), that the trial resulted neither in his condemnation nor in his full acquittal. Some imagine that he was acquitted on a first charge; but that there was a second charge on which he was yet to be tried. The more probable supposition is that there was a postponement in consequence of the case not being clear, and that the apostle was looking forward to a second trial when, on the whole case, be would have to make a second defence.
2. Assistance at his trial. "No one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not he laid to their account. But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear." He had not the assistance which was usually enjoyed by the accused on his trial. No stress need be laid on the absence of a professional advocate; for Paul was well able to defend himself. But there was no one beside him to give him countenance. There was no one - which would have rendered great assistance - to come forward and testify that his relation to the Roman law, in his conduct and teaching, had been all that Romans could have desired. It was his fortune to be put in the position in which his Master had been put before him. "All," he says, "forsook me." The resemblance extended not merely to his position, but to his gentleness of spirit. The Master had said on the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." The servant echoes this sentiment when he says, "May it not be laid to their account." The absence of earthly friends was, however, more than made up by the presence of a heavenly Friend. This was the Lord Jesus Christ, who stood by him, not merely as his Friend, but as his Advocate, and strengthened him as such. That is to say, he supplied him, in matter and spirit, with all that was necessary for his defence. This was according to the Master's own promise, "And when they bring you before the synagogues, and the rulers, and the authorities, be not anxious how or what ye shall say: for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say." We learn that the defence of himself was adroitly turned into a defence of the gospel. If there was a charge of arson, it would be open to him to show that the gospel did not encourage crime or resistance to the powers that be. It would also fall naturally to him to give a statement of the points on which he laid greatest stress in his teaching. The assistance he received was of the highest avail; for it brought his life work to its culmination. He had been proclaiming the gospel in many places, and in many places the Gentiles had heard. Now, when his opportunity had come before Roman officials and before a Roman multitude, as apparently it had not come before, he could say that, as far as his instrumentality was concerned, his proclamation had reached its climax, and the last of the Gentiles had heard.
3. His description of the restart of the trial. "And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." The ancient opinion, that the lion here was Nero, may be taken as substantially correct. We are not to understand that Paul had become personally obnoxious to Nero since his acquittal by him. Away from Rome, he may not have attracted the attention of the tyrant. But it suited Nero, according to the testimony of Tacitus, to avert the rage of the populace from himself to the Christians. As the result of that rage, Paul, as the ringleader of the Christians, was apprehended, and put on his trial. In the state of feeling which prevailed, it would be very difficult for Paul to get a calm hearing. He was more likely to meet with fierceness than with justice. The Roman power, of which Nero was the fit embodiment, was like a lion opening its mouth to devour him. That he was not instantly devoured was nothing less than a miracle. The Lord standing by him, he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. We must not put more meaning into this than it will bear. It simply means that he got a respite. Roman fierceness was not then gratified; the lion did not. get him then between its teeth. But Roman fierceness, consequent on the conflagration, had not died out; the lion might again open its mouth on him.
4. Confident hope of future and everlasting deliverance. "The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto his heavenly kingdom." His respite gave him this confidence. It did not make him self-confident; but, mindful of the source whence his respite had come, his confidence was in the Lord, that he would deliver him still. It was not a deliverance from death that he expected, as appears from the second clause. But it was deliverance from all that would intimidate him or unfit him for bearing a worthy testimony on the occasion of his second trial. A wicked attempt might be made to damage Christianity in him, as may have been made by Alexander on the occasion of the first trial. The Lord would not allow that attempt to succeed. Christianity would come forth out of the trial untarnished. The issue, so far as he was concerned, would be his being placed safely in Christ's heavenly kingdom. This would be his receptacle after and through death. For Christ's kingdom is already commenced in heaven. The safe placing of Paul in it meant, on the one side, removal from the sphere of all evil, and, on the other side, the coming under the highest conditions of happiness in the enjoyment of Christ - barring what is associated with the completing of the number of the elect and the reunion of soul and body.
5. Doxology. "To whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen." Doxology is an accompaniment of the highest spiritual mood. It is offered here to the Son, as elsewhere to the Father. For it was the Lord's assistance that he had enjoyed, and still expected, and into whose kingdom in heaven he was, by the same assistance, to be safely brought, it would take the ages of ages to declare all that Christ had been and was still to be to him.
1. The distant to whom salutations are sent. "Salute Prison and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphorus." Prisca and Aquila were workers with Paul, who for his life had laid down their own necks. Prisca being mentioned before her husband would seem to point to her characteristics being more remarkable. The house of Onesiphorus is saluted, apparently for the reason that Onesiphorus himself was dead. Appended notices. "Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus I left at Miletus sick. Do thy diligence to come before winter." Erastus and Trophimus, who were associated with Ephesus, he did not salute, because they were not at the time there, as far as he knew. His feeling with regard to Timothy himself was to have his immediate fellowship. Let not winter come on and prevent his coming; for his martyrdom was imminent.
2. The near who send their salutations. "Eubulus saluteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren." The brethren in Rome all sent their salutations. They were numerous enough to be known as Christian,s by Nero. The members of the Roman Church whose names are given would be specially interested in Timothy.
V. BENEDICTION. "The Lord be with thy spirit. Grace be with you." The peculiarity of the benediction is that it is twofold - first to Timothy separately, and then to Timothy and those with him. What Timothy is to have separately is the presence of the Lord with his nobler part; what he is to have along with others is undeserved favour. - R.F.
I. THE APOSTLE'S DIRECTIONS. "The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest, and the books, especially the parchments."
1. There is no evidence that the cloke was an ecclesiastical vestment; for there is no evidence of vestments being worn at all in the primitive Church. It was a thick cloke or mantle which the apostle needed in view of the approaching winter. His death might be near at hand, but, as its day was uncertain, it was natural he should provide against the winter cold.
2. It was a precious consignment that was left with Carpus, the Christian disciple, at Troas. It included, besides his cloke, books and parchments.
(1) Even an apostle could not do without books for his ministry.
(2) The parchments were more valuable than the books, containing, as they did probably, some of his own writings, if not the Holy Scriptures.
II. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE APOSTLE'S DIRECTIONS.
1. The request concerning his cloke implied that he was a poor man, as well as exposed to hardship and cold.
2. It suggests that he was partially deserted by the Yeoman Christians. Why could they not give him or lend him a cloke? What had become of the Roman Christians who met him, so many years before, fifty miles from the city, and gave him such a hearty welcome?
3. It proves his personal independence. He will not ask a cloke from any one. - T.C.
I. THE CHARACTER OF THIS MAN. "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil... for he greatly withstood our words." This implies that he had been at Rome, and was still an enemy to the gospel (1 Timothy 1:20), as in the day when the apostle delivered him and Hymenaeus over to Satan at Ephesus. Probably trade interests may have inspired the fierceness of his hatred to the apostle, for he may have been an idol maker. He was insulting and spiteful and obstinate in his gainsaying.
II. THE RETRIBUTION THAT WOULD OVERTAKE HIM. "The Lord will render to him according to his works."
1. This is to state a fact in Divine providence, quite irrespective of the apostle's wishes or feelings.
2. Transgressors against the cause of God have to reckon in the last resort, not with humble apostles, but with God himself.
III. WARNING AGAINST HIS WAYS. "Of whom be thou ware also." He was a heretic and a blasphemer, and as such had been delivered to Satan, and was still perversely opposed to the truth. Timothy was warned to be watchful against his devices. It was no personal injury, but resistance to the gospel, that dictated this counsel. - T.C.
I. His DESERTION BY MAN. "At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me; may it not be laid to their account."
1. The apostle had to make his defence before the emperor. There is no record of the nature of the charge. It was probably a charge of sedition or disobedience to the pagan authorities, which, on account of the close complication of civil and religious duties in the state, could not be explained to the satisfaction of a ruler jealous of civil obedience.
2. The saints at Rome deserted the apostle through fear. They failed to support him either by their presence, their sympathy, or their witness in his favour. Their weakness and timidity must have been a sore trial to the apostle. Yet he could remember that his Divine Master had been similarly deserted in his last hours.
3. The apostle's prayer for these timorous saints. "May it not be laid to their account." This implies:
(1) That they had been guilty of a grave trespass in forsaking the apostle.
(2) That a single sin, unpardoned, would be destructive to the saints.
(3) That the apostle had a deep interest in their welfare.
(a) He would be concerned for the great weakness of their faith, with its accompanying depression and discomfort;
(b) for the effects of their weakness on the high repute of the gospel;
(c) and he would seek their restoration in the very spirit of his Divine Master.
II. IF MAN FORSOOK HIM, HE WAS NOT FORSAKEN BY GOD. "But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear." Like his Divine Master, he might say, "Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
1. The Divine support accorded to him. The secret but gracious presence of the Lord delivered him from all unworthy fears of man. He would feel, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" He was strengthened inwardly unto all long suffering with joyfulness; so that he could make his defence with all clearness and courage, with all presence of mind, and with all freedom of thought and expression.
2. The end of this Divine support was that the gospel might be still more fully known at Rome and elsewhere by all Gentiles.
III. THE EFFECT OF HIS DEFENCE. "And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." He had, for a time, escaped condemnation. Nero was the cruel lion out of whose power the Lord had delivered him.
IV. THE APOSTLE'S ANTICIPATION OF A STILL HIGHER DELIVERANCE. "And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto his heavenly kingdom."
1. This is no declaration that the apostle shall escape death, for he had already spoken of himself as "already being offered. (Ver. 6.)
2. It is a declaration that he shall be carried beyond the sphere of evil in every form, and translated securely into the heavenly kingdom. All the evil influences at work around him would not affect him. There is not a note of fear in his last days.
V. ASCRIPTION OF GLORY TO HIS DIVINE DELIVERER. To whom be the glory forever and ever."
1. The glory is here ascribed to the Son of God, an express evidence of his Divinity.
2. There is no time more appropriate for such an ascription of glory as after deliverance from death and evil. - T.C.
I. SALUTATIONS. "Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphorus."
1. The apostle remembers his absent friends in his solitude, but especially those who gave him such hearty cooperation at Corinth or Ephesus.
2. He likewise transmits to Timothy the Christian salutations of Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia, Roman saints, of eminence and grace in the Church, yet who failed to stand by him on his memorable trial.
II. NOTICES. "Erastus abode at Corinth." Probably the chamberlain of that city (Romans 16:22), who once showed much kindness to the apostle, and afterwards accompanied Timothy on a journey into Macedonia (Acts 19:22). "Trophimus I left at Miletus sick." This was a Gentile Christian of Ephesus, whose presence with the apostle at Jerusalem caused such an uproar (Acts 21:29). Miletus was a seaport of Caria, thirty miles from Ephesus. Trophimus would have been with the apostle at Rome, probably, but for his sickness. The apostle left him at Miletus, probably, shortly before his present imprisonment.
III. FINAL WORDS FOR TIMOTHY. "Do thy diligence to come before winter." We see here the tender anxiety of the apostle to see his young friend before death. If he did not come at once, the severities of the winter might prevent his journey altogether. "The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you." We have here a double benediction - one addressed singly to Timothy, the other to Timothy and the Ephesian Church. The presence of Christ would be his comfort and stay in every difficulty, and strengthen him forevery duty. - T.C.
them, for there are songs of prisoners in those inspired prophetic rolls. And let Timothy remember that St. Paul wants to see his face again.
I. HERE IS ABSENCE OF MURMURING. We may and ought to learn what the gospel can achieve. Here is Paul prevented from preaching, with arrest laid on all his missionary work. In a dreary Roman dungeon he is "persecuted, but not forsaken;" "struck down, but not destroyed." Yet mark this - he never suffered one murmuring word to pass his lips.
II. HERE IS PRESENCE OF GREETING. He would cheer Timothy, and sends him various greetings, from the Roman saints, as we may see by their names - Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren - send greeting. What sublime self-abnegation there was in St. Paul! Forgetful always of himself! How like the Master! In the hour of expected dissolution he is thinking only of others. - W.M.S.