2 Timothy 4:9-18
9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. – 2 Tim. 4:9-18, ESV.
Based on your present state of mind, what do you think your last requests would be, if you knew death was near?
I don’t think you would say, “I need to go back to my office one more time,” or “Will someone take me to the mall just one more time.” I doubt you would say, “can I post one more thing on Facebook” or “give me my phone to check my text messages just one more time.”
The apostle Paul knew death was imminent, and what he requested can cause us to think seriously about our values, hopes and needs.
Paul needed his brethren. To young Timothy he said, “do your best to come to me soon.” Others had abandoned Paul. But he wanted to see Timothy. To this he added, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” Paul longed to be with his spiritual family members. It wasn’t empty attraction to a crowd. It was a love for specific people who shared his faith and work. (See Eccl. 4:9-12).
Gary Henry, in one of his books, said: “Our happiness needs a little privacy, but it also needs the friendship of a few select companions.”(Feb. 6, Enthusiastic Ideas, p. 36).
Also, Paul valued certain objects. The cloak, the books and the parchments. This humanizes Paul, the man. He needed physical warmth, in the coat or cloak. He needed intellectual stimulation, in his books. And spiritual nourishment in the parchments (which likely contained Scripture).
It was William Tyndale, the well-known bible translator, who from his cold prison-cell at Vilvoorde made request that in view of the approaching winter (how like Paul!) a cloak, woolen shirt, warm cap, an most of all, his Hebrew Bible, grammar, and vocabulary be brought to him. (Source: Vol. 4, New Testament Commentary, Hendriksen & Kistemaker).
Paul kept a gracious heart. “At my first defense, no one stood with me, but all forsook me … May it not be charged against them.” One of the miserable sights to witness here on earth is – someone coming to the end of life, bitter, vengeful, still wanting blood from enemies.
Paul is not asking God to ignore their sin. He is expressing his desire that they be forgiven, according to the conditions of forgiveness. His hope is, they will repent and receive divine pardon.
Compassion was still active in the heart of this man who was about to be executed by an evil empire.
Let me ask – if you were in a cold, dark Roman dungeon – facing imminent death - what would you want; what would you need, in addition to the presence of God and your thoughts of Him, the Savior and heaven?
I hope we see – if you have given yourself to the Lord, as death comes near, the values you cultivate now, will be with you then.
Never feel bad about growing old; many do not get to reach old age.
Never rebel against persecution for righteousness’ sake – seize the joy of serving your God.
Never think of death without thinking of Christ, who gives us the victory.
By Warren E.
From Expository Files 22.10; October 2015