If you knew you were going to die in the near future, what information would you want to pass on, and who would you want to pass it on to? That was Paul’s situation. He was on “death row,” waiting his execution for preaching the gospel of Christ. The letter of 2 Timothy is his last will and testament.
Of all the people Paul has known over the years, he chooses to write one last letter to his spiritual son in the faith, Timothy. Instead of trying to drum up sympathy or pity for himself or stir up reprisals against an unjust and godless governmental system, Paul writes to comfort and encourage and motivate Timothy.
Before he dies, Paul wants to pass on the mantle of ministry to Timothy, his trusted assistant. Concerned that Timothy may be in danger of spiritual burnout, Paul writes to encourage him to continue being faithful to his duties, to hold on to sound doctrine, to avoid error, to expect persecution for preaching the gospel. Above all, he encourages Timothy to put his conﬁdence in the Word of God as he preaches it constantly.
He reminds Timothy of his assets for the ministry – a genuine faith that had been modeled for him by his mother and grandmother, his calling and giftedness, a resolve to hold tightly to the truth of God’s Word, and a loyalty that will last even under the most difficult of circumstances.
Paul then challenges Timothy to prepare others to follow him in the ministry. Timothy is to discipline himself like a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer, and to follow Paul’s example of endurance. In his dealings with others, Timothy must not get entangled in useless controversies. In his dealings with himself, he must ﬂee youthful lust and keep his life pure.
And Paul exhorts Timothy to never waver in his use of the Scriptures to combat this growing problem. In fact, it was these same Scriptures that God had used even in Timothy’s childhood to made Timothy “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). These Scriptures are “God-breathed” and will now equip Timothy to combat erroneous teaching and heresy.
To the very end, Paul is thinking of the personal and spiritual needs of others more than he is thinking of himself.
Question: How does Paul’s utter disregard for himself strike you? Are you so busy focusing on yourself and your perceived needs that you are failing to notice the people around you? Look outside yourself. You are sure to ﬁnd plenty of people who could use a helping hand or a word of encouragement, particularly a message from God’s Word delivered to them… by you!
If you wish to learn more life lessons for men from the people in the bible like Paul and Timothy, you will find a great resource in my book, A Leader After God’s Own Heart.