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Final Words

October 8, 2017 Preacher: Lyndon Shook Series: 2 Timothy

Scripture: 2 Timothy 4:19–22

2 Timothy 4
19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. 21 Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

As Paul concluded his second letter to Timothy, he did so by mentioning nine people with whom he had some relationship. He is near the end of his life, he has had a full life of trial and joy, suffering and peace, adventure and loneliness. Paul was a man who had been on the go, a doer and a thinker. He was a passionate man and yet a disciplined man. He had been faithful to his God and to people around him. He was by no means perfect, he readily admitted that, but he strived, labored to live the life that God desired for him. He was task oriented and yet loved people. He was a tremendous leader, but still a committed follower of Christ. There has not been, perhaps, a more interesting person who has lived than the apostle Paul.

Paul seemed to love life, he loved gospel ministry, and yet he so desired to exit earthly life to be with Christ. Now the time was near for him to be received by Christ. His statement “to die is gain” was about to be a reality for him.

Paul’s relationships were important to him, and he had developed many relationships. Even in his final hour he would not forget those who had been such a joy to him and his ministry. He loved to work with fellow believers for the spread of the gospel, and so he mentions some of those people here.

Paul says to Timothy in verse 19, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.” You may recall Prisca (or Priscilla) and Aquila. Paul knew them originally from Corinth.

Acts 18
2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Paul had met them, and they were not only fellow believers, but he shared with them the occupation of being tentmakers. Aquila and Priscilla had been kicked out of Rome, so they had that in common with Paul. Paul knew what it was like to be tossed out of places and to face the kind of persecution that they had faced. They seemed to form a quick bond with Paul, which would primarily be based on their love for the Lord, but also due to some common experiences and a determination to be faithful in spite of hard things.

I think there is something to this. That is, sharing hard things with others, experiencing similar hardships but also, and primarily, seeing faithfulness during hardships. That is refreshing. Paul would have known right off that here is a couple who is serious about their walk with the Lord. Perhaps they could be trusted to remain faithful, to keep the faith no matter what comes along. That was important to Paul and should be to us. These were trustworthy people, not those who just cut and run when the going gets tough. Paul, recognizing them, took them with him to Ephesus so that they could stay and minister there.

Acts 18
18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. 19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. 21 But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.

This was a big deal, great responsibility that Paul had left with them. We even see their faithfulness in a very practical matter concerning Apollos later down in verse 24 and following:

Acts 18
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

I love this, I love the wisdom and courage of this couple. I love that they did not discourage Apollos, but they took him aside, that is privately, and explained to him what he had been missing in his message. Apollos was an eloquent man, a competent man, but he was wrong on some points, and Aquila and Priscilla were willing to speak to him about it. They didn’t shrink back and pretend there was no issue, but spoke privately so as not to embarrass or harass Apollos unnecessarily.

Faithful friends of Paul, faithful ministers with Paul. It is no wonder that Paul asks Timothy to greet Priscilla and Aquila, his dear friends in faithful ministry.

The household of Onesiphorus was much the same. This is the second time in this short book that the household of Onesiphorus is mentioned.

2 Timothy 1
16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

Another example of faithful friends, trusted friends who have brought encouragement and comfort to Paul in his life and ministry.

2 Timothy 4
20 Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.

Erastus is mentioned in Romans 16 and Acts 19.

Romans 16
23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.

Acts 19
22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

And then there is Trophimus, who had become ill. Trophimus was from Ephesus and had been with Paul in Greece and Troas. We read of this in Acts 20.

Acts 20
1 After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days.

What we see there is how many people, including Trophimus, had stuck with Paul in difficult ministry for the sake of Christ.

Here is part of the point of the mention of these people so far: we are blessed to have had many go before us who walked by faith, in faith through turbulent times for the spread of the gospel of Christ. Paul gets a lot of credit for the spread of the gospel, but what Paul is doing here is bringing our attention to many others who also walked faithfully with him. They were in a sense like him. We don’t know as much about them, but we know that they were faithful.

God has been faithful to lead others, since Paul’s day and through the present day, who stand for the gospel of Christ. We are in line for that, it is now in our court to do the same. Yes, we live in turbulent times. We see uncertainty all around. Things on many fronts look dim. And as a result, many are turning away from the faith. We have seen in this book that God has told us this would happen. But it does not have to happen to any of us. We can call upon the name of the Lord, we can continue the walk of faith, we can live for Christ, love Christ, walk with Christ in our day too! Many have gone before us – what will we now do?

All the names we have read so far this morning, these were Paul’s old friends with whom he had a lot of history. The last few people he mentions were near him now and would be newer friends. First, though, he once again encourages Timothy to come see him, and he says before winter. He still wants and needs that cloak, the large coat he had mentioned a few verses ago. Who wants to freeze to death in prison, right? He needs that heavy, blanket-like coat. He then mentions four more people who send their greetings: “Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.” Now Paul ends with this:

2 Timothy 4
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

Paul ends with a right focus and a deep desire. Paul knew that Timothy would need the enduring work and presence of Christ in him. Life was too much to live apart from Christ. Life was too hard to live alone. Paul had needed the Lord at every step of his ministry life, and he knew Timothy needed Christ too.

“The Lord be with your spirit,” and then “Grace be with you.” This is like saying: “May the Lord continue to favor you, to pour out His favor on you! Grace be with you.”

I have enjoyed going through this book of 2 Timothy with you all. I have to tell you that my aim in picking this book had to do a great deal with what I perceived as a great need – that we learn to stand for truth no matter what. That is what I primarily had on my mind when we started this book. It just seemed as though our country and society was making such a radical shift away from truth, and that we would need to be prepared to respond with truth, God’s truth.

But having gone though this book now with you all, the main topic and theme seem to be faithfulness. Faithfulness to truth, but really more of a faithfulness to live out the truth. So not as much about proclaiming truth to those who have fallen away from it, but instead living in faithful truth wherever we go, whomever we are with. I think that sums up Paul’s life and this book of 2 Timothy. Galatians 2:20 sums it up.

Galatians 2
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The Christian life is so much more than just knowing – it is living by faith. Paul lived by faith, we are to live all our days by faith, that is living in obedience to the Lord because He lives in us. Our lives have been crucified with Christ, our lives are His.

2 Timothy 4
19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. 21 Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

More in 2 Timothy

October 1, 2017

Realities of Life in Christ

September 24, 2017

Spiritual Friends

September 17, 2017

People Whom God Allows into Our Lives