Paul didn’t want these to be his last words to Timothy, but knew they might be. Today we could get an email like this from Paul and be on a flight the same day. Then, it would take potentially months on its own, especially coupled with Timothy’s travel time even if he did leave immediately. There wasn’t time to delay as Paul knew his time on earth in this life could be up very soon. Paul had Luke by his side, but he’d sent other on to build up churches and continue evangelism in Galatia (Crescens), modern day Yugoslavia (Titus), and Timothy in Ephesus. Demas abandoned him, perhaps reminiscent of the disciples abandoning Jesus at His trial and crucifixion. He wrote to Timothy and Titus. I’m sure he wrote to Cresencs and probably others as well, but we don’t have those letters in Scripture. He asked for Mark to come to him, too, because he was “useful in ministry.” I love that line! He and Barnabas split over Mark being less than committed much earlier in his ministry. Now he sees him as a useful and desirable companion. Apparently Barnabas really was able to turn his cousin around, no doubt a work of the Holy Spirit through each of them. People do change and grow. Luke was still with Paul, which is why we have the book of Acts. Luke shared in the prison time in Rome the first time. He wasn’t afraid of persecution. It’s not really said why Tychicus was sent to Ephesus. Very likely he delivered the letter, and I would guess he was there also to fill in for Timothy so he could visit Paul in prison. It’s hard for a minister to get away without suitable relief. It bugs me when people decide to visit other churches or just not show up when the main pastor isn’t preaching…but that’s not really the point here. These men were tight, and in his last days, Paul wanted time with those he’d mentored so closely. Wherever we end up, I want those close relationships as a protégé and as a mentor. I want those lifelong relationships where we at least still chat every so often and where when the end comes we want to be together. It’s like family. And I love family. And, oh, Paul says not to forget his coat and good reading material. I’m sure a Roman dungeon was cold and boring in winter. I’m sure they knew what parchments he wanted and why they were important. It brings more regular life to the letter, I think, to see those basic personal wishes included and that helps bring Scripture to life.
Paul’s charge to Timothy this time bears more weight. He’s about to die. He’s passing on the reigns of ministry to Timothy in what could very well be his final words to his beloved protégé. Paul said “but you” to Timothy several times and along the way we get the impression he’s contrasting what Timothy should do with what the false teachers were doing, and that is what Paul was saying, but he’s also probably contrasting to himself since he won’t be able to continue. He had poured out his life for the gospel and was quite literally about to empty that drink. I don’t get the impression that it bothered him. I think he really, truly believed that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I think he was ready, even longing to receive his reward. He wasn’t worried about anything. He trusted Jesus’ salvation and was proud of how he’d served since the time he was called. He stayed faithful through an onslaught persecution from worldly people, unseen spiritual warfare, fellow Jews, and even people claiming to be believers. He battled nature and overcame. He never lost his faith. He never stopped ministering. He never quit fighting the good fight. He didn’t give in. And that’s not just pride of looking back on his life, it’s a message to Timothy to live the same way. He’s encouraging his protégé to fight and run just as hard and faithfully. This is a beautiful final letter from mentor to protégé. He’s handing over the reigns of ministry. What an honor! That’s how I’d love to go out. Run hard, prepare someone else to take my place, then hand it over at the right time. Then receive the reward Jesus earned for me. There’s no greater end than that. Death here, suffering here all fades away in light of the reward of being with the Tri-une God eternally with no more sin, pain, death, or sadness. Father, by Your Holy Spirit, fix my eyes on the prize. Fix my eyes on Jesus!
Diakonosmeanshumble servant and we translate it asdeacon.Particularly for we Baptist, but for more stringent congregationalist churches in general, we’ve made the deacon role something it was not intended to be. Deacons serve underthe elders’ oversight, not above them. In the Baptist world, the senior pastor is viewed, in the Biblical translation at least, as interchangeable with the elder or overseer. Practically that hasn’t been how many churches have treated the role. The pastor is an employee of the church who report first to deacons rather than the under-shepherd serving under Christ. The deacons often rule over the pastor, and that is not biblical. Deacons are to carry out assigned duties in the church to free the elders up to focus on what they need to do as modeled in Acts 6. Really, many church staff and a lot of volunteer leaders are deacons in this sense and deacons tend to operate more like elders. This list really applies to all church leadership roles. Deacons must be dignified or respectable. People see them as leaders in the church and their character should reflect such as it reflects on the LORD and His Church. The BKC says they should not be clowns. I like a good clown, but there is a time to be silly and a time to be more dignified. The next requirement is that they be me dilogousor literally not double-tongued. I like the NET translation, not two-face. Ooh that is such a hurtful and dangerous trait for anyone in a church, particularly someone in leadership. Leaders must be trustworthy. They can’t present one face to some and another to others. They can’t say one thing to one group and something totally different to others. I’ve been hurt by that to the core. It’s like being stabbed in the back. Another interpretation is sincere and unhypocritical. It’s easy to talk about what Scripture teaches and apply that to others, but it can be another thing to live it out when tested yourself. Deacons should do both. Deacons also shouldn’t be drunks and shouldn’t engage in any dishonest means of financial or other gain. That goes along with being respectable and having integrity. These are really just a list of Christian characteristics. It’s modeling the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We just have to be extra sure people in leadership exhibit those traits.