Strong: Devotional Commentary for November 3-9
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
9Make every effort to come to me soon;
10for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
11Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.
12But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.
13When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.
14Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
15Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.
As noted in last week's meditation, Paul issued a major charge urging Timothy to take on the mantle of ministerial leadership in the service of the Gospel. But in a moment of sobering reality, Paul's demeanor drastically changed. Suddenly, we notice that he was entreating his son in the Spirit to come quickly and visit him in person. This was not a casual reminder to come and see him when it was convenient. It was an earnest appeal to make every effort to come, and come without delay.
Earlier, Paul had told Timothy that his life was approaching its glorious end. God's purpose for his life on earth had been fulfilled. Now, he was waiting for his time to leave the world and meet his Savior in glory. He knew he was going to face the world's ultimate rejection: death by martyrdom. Rejected by the world and missed by his spiritual children, Paul would enter eternity adorned with the crown of righteousness prepared for him by his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge.
But Paul did not know just when this glorious moment would arrive. Time was of the essence. He wished to fellowship with his son in the Spirit one last time before his certain execution. So Paul wanted Timothy to Hurry and visit him in person.
It seems Paul was alone and lonely. His urgent yearning for Timothy's companionship indicated that he felt somewhat isolated. He told Timothy that he was abandoned by some of his friends and opposed by others, while the rest were gone for a legitimate ministerial mission to places where they were dispatched by Paul himself.
He named Demas, Crescens, Titus, and Tychicus as having left him and gone elsewhere. Of these, Demas left Paul and headed to Thessalonica, having preferred the world. Paul felt deserted by a brother whom he praised early on for his reliable partnership in ministry. He was most disappointed by Demas' desertion. Demas loved the world more than his life in ministry. He chose what he loved instead of the One Who loved him.
While we do not have any information about Crescens, Paul told Timothy that he went to Galatia, probably sent by Paul to deliver his message to the churches in the region. In like manner, Titus was dispatched to Dalmatia, a mountainous region on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea directly across from Italy. Tychicus was sent to Ephesus, perhaps to fill in for Timothy while he traveled to Rome to be with Paul.
The only one who remained with Paul was Luke, a trusted friend, a physician, and a chronicler of God's work in Paul's life and ministry. Luke was loyal to Paul to the end. Paul indeed sounded lonely, because he was.
Paul asked Timothy to bring Mark with him because he needed someone to help him with his personal needs and his continued work in ministry while he remained in prison. Paul was aged and frail. Life in a roman prison has its way of getting harder and debilitating. However, Paul's request for Mark's help was quite interesting, seeing that he was disappointed with him when Mark left Paul and Barnabas in Pamphilia on their first missionary journey along the Mediterranean coast. But forgiveness and love have their way of mending the broken past. Paul asked specifically for Mark's help: the once unreliable deserter, now preferred as a dependable friend.
Paul also asked Timothy to gather his cloak, books, and some writing material from someone by the name Carpus in Troas. Paul had been to Troas twice during his missionary journeys, once when he received a vision to go to Macedonia and then when he walked from Troas to Assos to join his team. We have no information about Carpus. He probably hosted Paul during his brief stays in Troas and Paul might have left his things with Carpus as he might have left Troas in a rush ahead of some hostile pursuers.
Be that as it may, Paul's request for his stuff from Carpus in Troas was accompanied with a serious warning to Timothy. First, Paul expressed a form of resentment toward Alexander the Coppersmith for doing him much harm and for vigorously opposing his teachings. Paul was content to leave his just deserts in God's hand. Paul knew and taught that the Lord said to leave room for God's judgment for vengeance are His. He also warned Timothy to watch out for Alexander as he went through Troas to pick up Paul's garments and books. So Paul fondly asked for Timothy his young and timid son in the Spirit, and Mark, the young man who disappointed him earlier, so that he would be encouraged by God's work in their lives. He chose to be in the company of those whom he grew to love as he eagerly waited for the call home from the One Who loved him enough to die for him.
After all, he was human: a human being like us fully decorated with all of our frail attributes, strengths, passions, and everything else which qualifies each one of us as men and women. But he was the great apostle directly and personally conscripted into service by Jesus Christ and inspired by the Holy Spirit to write, to teach, and to found churches. He was appointed by God and received his commission from Jesus Christ. Yes, the great man we have in mind is Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles and a teacher to the Jews.
He was passionate in everything he did and relentless in his pursuits. The closing chapter of Paul's second letter to Timothy portrays a remarkable picture of a wholesome man of God. First, he issued a solemn charge to Timothy in the presence and in the Name of God. He did this after thoroughly instructing him in sound doctrine and encouraging him to rise to the occasion in spite of his youth and diffident demeanor. Here, we find Paul a highly motivated servant of God driven by a burning zeal for the Gospel.
But starting with verse nine of 2 Timothy chapter 4, we meet a man in need expressing sentiments of loneliness and isolation. His friends and co-laborers were gone except Luke. He asked Timothy to bring Mark along because he needed help. He was irritated by those who vigorously opposed his teachings. He felt lonely, needy, and rejected.
Most of the time, most of us assign greatness to great achievers who are driven by an insatiable appetite for more attainments. Certainly, there is some value in being successful at one's endeavors so long as it is decent, reasonable, responsible, and accountable. However, Paul's greatness lies, not in his success as the minister of the Gospel, but in his wisdom, attitude, and godly perspective in everything.
Indeed, Paul was never great in his own eyes. He was the great apostle of Jesus Christ. But his greatness was only in Jesus Christ. As we notice in our present text, he was a man of need, feeling abandoned by those who were close to him. He asked for help. He entreated Timothy to come and keep him company for one last time. He longed for companionship. He wanted his friends to help him serve his Lord to his last breath.
Paul was not great. But Jesus Christ was Great in him. Jesus Christ was Perfect in his weaknesses and frailties. So he was able to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith in spite of his personal defects and failures. Because of Christ's greatness in him, Paul can still exhort, admonish, and issue a solemn charge to Timothy in the presence and in the Name of God, even though he did not feel great about himself or his conditions.
Paul's experience should give us a profound reason to rejoice in our shortcomings. Just as it was for Paul, our weaknesses serve as the path which takes us to Christ's Perfection in us. The Christ Who was Great in Paul is also Great in us. But we fail to see that because we often seek to be great for Christ in our own ways. Little do we realize that our desire to be great for Christ in our own ways actually is a vainglorious attempt to replace divine Greatness with our own supercilious efforts.
Paul acknowledged his weaknesses, shortcomings, and needs. But he was neither afraid nor discouraged because he knew that he was about to receive the crown of righteousness from the hands of the One Who was Great in him. After all, he was human: a human being like us. But the life he lived in the flesh was not him. It was Jesus Christ Who loved him and gave His Life for his redemption. Jesus Christ: God's Greatness in all of us.