2 Timothy 4:9-22: Grace and Glory
August 17, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
As we come to end of this Paul’s final letter, we would expect to find Paul trailing off and describing an inactive and somewhat depressing life in his final days. But nothing could be further from the truth. He is still very active, and in describing his desires and activities for Timothy (and us), he is giving us an example of what it means to preach the word in season and out of season, and to keep on with Christian ministry through it all.
First, note that verse 9 and verse 21 mirror each other in a desire that Timothy would come to him quickly: do your best to come to me quickly, and then do your best to come to me before winter. Paul needed companionship, and he was not afraid to ask for it. He also needed a cloak because winter was coming, and he was not afraid to ask for that too. He also wanted his books and especially the parchments. Paul is in need of the resources, reading and writing, to do the written ministry that he was called to do. In all these ways, Paul is showing Timothy and us that even great Christian leaders are human. He needed things and he was not afraid to ask for them. What do you need? Who could you turn to provide what you need?
But then also note the list of names that Paul has here that he is still actively engaged with in ministry. What an example for Timothy! Here is Paul at the end of his life, still warning about this person, equipping that person, sending this person, encouraging that person, greeting this person. All through Paul’s life – right to the end – he is active in personal ministry. Who is there that we could encourage, disciple, shepherd, evangelize, and lift up towards Christ? Be active in personal ministry!
Then note how Paul was even preaching the gospel while on trial. There he is, with God alone strengthening him, in the court, and in that place he proclaimed the gospel so that the Gentiles listening would hear of the good news of Jesus. What a way to preach “out of season”! And what a lesson for Timothy – and to us – to keep on sharing Christ and teaching the Bible whatever our feelings, and whatever the cultural or political context.
Note also Paul’s last words. He wants God to get all the glory. And he wishes grace – that word “grace,” the great summary of all of Paul’s teaching and theology – to be with you all. What a fitting summary for the life and work of the apostle Paul: only by grace that God alone may be glorified.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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