Can’t you just imagine Paul sitting there in his prison cell, penning his final words to Timothy as he awaits his execution…his martyrdom? He had undergone such a radical life change on that Damascus Road when the Bright Light stole his sight. He had no idea that this one event would be the catalyst for a testimony that would touch the lives of believers for hundreds of generations. Even as he sat and wrote these words to Timothy, he had no way of knowing that they would one day be read by you and me nearly two thousand years later. What he knew was this: His heart beat for one purpose alone…Jesus. The good news of his death and resurrection woke him up in the morning and put him to sleep at night. His heart beat to preach the gospel. People who shared his passion were few and far between as persecution increased and the number of Christ-followers decreased. This is why Timothy was so special to him. Their hearts beat in unison. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Preach the word. His final piece of advice to Timothy was simple. He had already told Timothy about all the false teachers. They took bits and pieces of the truth and twisted them and added to them until no one knew what was true and what was false any more. Paul explained to Timothy that these false teachers were encouraged by the people who were out to accumulate teachers for themselves who suited their own passions. The people had itchy ears and they hunted for teachers to satisfy them, paying no attention to whether or not what they taught was true. Teachers of Truth were few and far between in those days, but Paul knew for certain that Timothy was one. So as he wrote these final words, he didn’t fear. He knew that that the treasure of the Gospel was in good hands with Timothy.
His next words paint the most beautiful picture of the Christian life…
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:6
In the days of the Old Testament, burnt offerings would be offered to the Lord and they would often be accompanied by drink offerings. These sacrifices were such a precious thing because that’s how the people were made right with God. Since Jesus had not yet come, someone had to pay the price. The price was the sacrifice laid upon the altar. So when Paul says that he is poured out as a drink offering, we can picture him willingly emptying himself of himself and offering himself to the Father.
“…Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1
Paul could pour himself out, empty himself completely, stare death in the face without even flinching, all because of his confidence in Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. The One who poured Himself out as an offering had gone on to prepare a place for Paul and Paul knew he was about to get to go there. As he handed the reins of his ministry over to Timothy, he had complete confidence that the gospel would continue to spread. He had done his job. He had fulfilled his calling.
I love that he adds a few personal notes at the end of his letter. It would be so easy to see Paul as some sort of elevated, saintly, unknowable, unreachable type of guy. But at the end of 2 Timothy, Paul tells Timothy that he needs his coat before winter and that Alexander is a mean old guy and that he wants him to bring his books and parchments. Just regular old Paul. He gets cold in the winter. People are mean to him. He likes to read, especially Scripture. Not much difference between Paul and you or me.
“The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” 2 Timothy 4:22
That little three letter word there – “YOU” – That word is plural. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, but I think he knew Timothy wouldn’t be the only one who would read it. I don’t think he had any way of knowing just how many people would read it over the years, but as he was “carried along by the Spirit” in his writing, he was prompted to use the plural form of the word “you” at the end of his letter. Because although he had no way of knowing that you and I would read it, God certainly knew. So when Paul wrote “Grace be with y’all” (can I put that Texas twang there?), it was God’s way of reminding us of the most precious promise of them all – that Grace Himself would be with us all.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.