2Timothy4v9to18: PERSONAL REMARKS

Introduction. Read 2Tim4v9to18.

As Paul's last letter draws to a close he mentions 6 individuals. Each of them has something to teach us.

(1) Demas the deserter. Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. v9.

Paul does not say that Demas deserted Jesus but, rather, Demas deserted him, the apostle, for worldly reasons.

It might help us to identify these worldly reasons by thinking of the world of professional football. Many professional footballers lack loyalty to their club. They might be keen to leave it for a variety of reasons; for a more successful club, more money, a bigger role or an easier life. Some old players nearing retirement opt to play in the U.S.A. or China.

Demas did not find remaining personally loyal to Paul as he neared the end of his life a very attractive prospect. The number of Paul's close associates had declined. The scope of his ministry had narrowed. The apostle was not especially popular with the local Christians. He faced a second hearing and death. Paul's closest collaborators were also in danger of sharing Paul's fate.

It is possible that Demas was a Thessalonian. Perhaps, he even received an invitation to return and lead the church in that Macedonian city. This was an appealing prospect. A nice fellowship existed in Thessalonica. He would both be better off financially and have more status there, than as one of Paul's dwindling band of confederates.

Many Christians are just like Demas. Perhaps they belong to a struggling, small fellowship where nothing very exciting happens. There are a lot of chores to do because there is no one else to do them. How much easier to leave for a bigger club - a superior fellowship where there are numerous church activities to enjoy and less responsibility. How utterly, gut-wrenchingly sickening, for those left behind.

About 24 years ago our very able pastor left for pastures new. Sadly, nearly all the younger members left with the pastor. Just a couple of us were left to look after an ageing fellowship. The church was weakened beyond repair. I felt sick at heart at the time we lost members. I can well understand Paul's despair and sorrow.

(2) Luke the loyalist. Only Luke is with me. v11.

There are not many references to Luke in the New Testament but those that exist are illuminating.

(a) He is called the beloved physician in Col4v14. Paul was never in the best of health and so the company and expertise of Luke must have been an immense comfort.

It is a great blessing when in persistent poor health to have a caring, compassionate and competent doctor. The best doctor I had was old Wilky - the doctor of my boyhood. He knew his patients and really cared. See story about Old Wilky.

Luke cared about Paul and doubtless used all his skill to ease his pain. We may not be doctors but there are some medicines we can all dispense: kindness, thoughtfulness, affection and tenderness.

(b) Luke is described as a fellow-labourer in Philemonv24. This suggests that Luke was not content to be a doctor or a writer but would turn his hand to anything. If a job needed doing he would do it. My brother Paul was like this during his time as pastor of a Baptist church in Clapham, London. He would paint and clean and cook and drive the minibus and visit and run the youth club as well as preach. David Piper who pastored a church in Rattlesden, Suffolk, was of the same ilk. There was nothing David would not do both for his fellowship and the association of churches of which he was the administrator. Such men are worth their weight in gold!

(c) Luke was the author of Acts and in chapter 20 and verse 6 he writes: But we sailed from Philippi .... and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days. From then on Luke was able to write from experience as the constant companion of Paul. Luke was a very intelligent man and his gospel and the book of Acts are both literary masterpieces.

Here is a reminder of how much we owe to Christian writers. I am indebted to four writers in particular: John Bunyan, C.S. Lewis, Philip Yancey and William Barclay. What a lot of help they have given me.

(d) Finally, Luke was a faithful brother - the only one of Paul's inner circle to be with him in his hour of need at his trial.

Personal loyalty is undoubtedly a great blessing. One of the reasons for Billy Graham's great success was the loyalty of his team of supporters, organisers and facilitators. If a pastor has a loyal group of elders and deacons this imparts confidence and peace of heart.

There are not many who have shown me personal loyalty during my time as secretary of the small church to which I belong. But there are a few. I am grateful to them. I buried one of them a few months ago. I miss her!

(3) Mark the young man who made good. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. v11.

John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. He stuck it out in Cyprus where Barnabas may have had relatives but when the team reached Perga in Pamphyllia (Western Turkey) Mark had had enough and sailed home to Judea. Paul and Barnabas pressed on - trekking inland - to Psidian Antioch.

Barnabas wanted to take Mark with him and Paul on a second missionary journey but Paul objected. He considered Mark untrustworthy on account of his failure to stick it out on their first campaign together. Sadly, Paul and Barnabas fell out over the matter and never again worked as a team.

Barnabas' trust in Mark was justified. The callow youth matured into a valued Christian brother and here, at the end of Paul's life, the apostle tells Timothy to bring Mark with him because he was a useful man to have around

This shows how important it is to give a person a second chance. Graham Gooch made his debut in Test cricket in 1975 at 21 against the touring Australia side captained by Ian Chappell. His debut was not a great success as Gooch got a pair. (0 0) Fortunately he was given a second chance and blossomed into a great English batsman.

My father worked part-time for a local Suffolk farmer. On one occasion my father backed a tractor into the ditch. He was never allowed to forget it. The farmer would frequently say, "Well, we can't let Mr Reed drive the tractor - we all know where it will end up." It hurt my father's feelings! He was never given a chance to redeem himself.

I have suffered from not being given a second chance. There are several churches where I only preached once. I must have said something which upset somebody and that was it - no second chance for you my lad. I often think that those who make the greatest fuss of God's grace in election show very little grace themselves. We should remember the words of the young man dressed in white to the women at Jesus' empty tomb: "He is risen. .... Go tell his disciples AND Peter." Peter was given a second chance after his denial of the Master.

(4) Alexander the antagonist. Alexander the metal worker did me a great deal of harm ..... he stongly opposed our message. v14.

It may be significant that Timothy is warned about Alexander after Paul asks him to pick up certain items from Carpus in Troas. Troas was a centre of metal working and not that far from Ephesus to the south. Perhaps, this Alexander is the same man that Paul denounced as a blasphemer in his first letter to Timothy. See 1Tim1v20. If Paul was released from his first imprisonment in Rome and travelled back towards Ephesus via Troas he may have fallen foul of Alexander there. His enemy may have informed on him, had Paul rearrested and sent back to Rome. This would explain how the cloak, parchments and scrolls that Paul requested got left there.

Whatever the actual circumstances, Paul had opposed Alexander and publicly condemned him as a heretic thereby making for himself a bitter and revengeful enemy. Alexander hated Paul, hated his message, and would stop at nothing to get the apostle locked up again.

Informers have caused Christians untold suffering for the last 75 years. Innumerable enemies of the Faith have followed in the footsteps of Judas the betrayer. During the German occupation of the Netherlands informers betrayed Christians like the ten Booms for sheltering Jews. In Stalinist Russia children were encouraged to inform against their parents. Many Christians ended up in labour camps because malicious neighbours made false accusations against them. Today, in countries like Pakistan with a Muslim majority, Christians are falsely accused of blasphemy by people holding a grudge against them.

It is as well to be aware that if you take a strong stand and publicly oppose someone you are likely to make an enemy for life. I found this out during my career as a teacher. It didn't pay to be too outspoken and belligerent in staff meetings.

There are not many Christians like the apostle Peter. Paul took Peter to task publicly for not eating with Gentile Christians at Antioch because he was afraid of legalistic, Jewish Christians from Jerusalem. Yet, when Paul went to Jerusalem to persuade the elders and apostles there to accept Gentiles as true believers without the necessity of circumcision Peter was the one who argued their case. He sounded very much like Paul himself when he said: "We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." Acts15v11. See exposition on Acts15v5to21. Peter didn't take the opportunity at the Council of Jerusalem to pay Paul back for publicly rebuking him in Antioch. He had learned humility.

(5) Timothy, Paul's errand boy.

Paul asks Timothy to come quickly - all the way from Ephesus to Rome - that is from the west coast of modern Turkey to present day Rome. Paul tells his son in the Faith to do his best to arrive before winter. This suggests that Timothy would do the bulk of the difficult journey by sea. Long voyages were not attempted in the winter.

We might wonder whether Paul was entirely justified to expect Timothy to drop everything in order to visit him. Timothy had important work to do in Ephesus.

Paul also instructs Timothy to pick up his heavy, poncho like cloak, scrolls and parchments from Carpus in Troas and bring them to Rome - another reason to suggest he did the bulk of the journey by sea. Finally, Paul told Timothy to search out John Mark and bring the young man with him. This was a good idea on Paul's part because it provided Timothy with some company. It is always easier to travel in company than alone.

Paul expected Timothy to make a BIG, BIG effort on his behalf - to leave his church, to make a long and dangerous journey - to lug along bulky items.

It often requires a big effort to help those in distress. It is not always easy to love our neighbour as ourselves or even to help a Christian brother or sister in need.

There is another lesson here for some of us - Paul was quite prepared to ask for help! He wasn't embarrassed to put Timothy to a whole load of trouble.

(6) The Lord - Paul's Saviour and Sustainer.

It seems that none of the Christians in Rome attended the preliminary hearing of the case against Paul. He lacked local support. Instead he was very much disowned and abandoned. It wasn't easy for Paul to accept. He deserved better. However, the apostle was consoled by:

(a) Scripture.

Paul uses several phrases in verses 16 to 18 that are found in Psalm 22. Paul shared David's experience. David felt forsaken - scorned by men and despised by the people. Trouble is near and there is no one to help. vs6and11. In spite of this David was able to write: But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my strength, come quickly to help me. v19. David looked forward to a coming day when: All the ends of earth will remember and turn to the Lord. v27.

Many Christians, like Paul, have found comfort in time of trouble and distress in the Psalms. They have been able to recite from memory Psalm 23 or to sing quietly to themselves:

          The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want:
          He makes me down to lie
          In pastures green; He leadeth me
          The quiet waters by.

(b) A consciousness of the Lord's presence.


  • Gave Paul strength - the confidence to proclaim the gospel message at his trial so that all the Gentiles might hear it. v17.

  • Delivered Paul from the lion's mouth. Paul is not referring here to being mauled by lions in the arena because Roman citizens could not be executed this way. Capital punishment of Roman citizens was by beheading. Maybe Paul is referring to Satan - who goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

    Paul was especially vulnerable to the fiery darts of Satan at a very difficult time for him. The local Christians offered him no moral support. The end of his ministry was in sight and he faced a gruesome death by beheading. It was only the Lord's presence that delivered Paul from the lion's mouth and helped him resist Satan's every attack.

  • Assured Paul that he would be brought safely to the Lord's heavenly kingdom - and in the process kept safe from bitterness, disappointment, disillusionment and despair.


  • Christians can find much comfort in Scripture and also in those hymns based on Scripture. I have an old friend who keeps a hymn book by the side of her bed. Sometimes in the early hours when she cannot sleep she finds a favourite hymn and sings it quietly to herself.

    I love the last verse of, 'How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,' based as it is on Heb 13v5:

            The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
            I will not, I cannot desert to his foes;
            That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
            I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake!

  • The Holy Spirit is with us to help in time of need. He will assist us to overcome discouragement, to bear witness to Christ's saving power and to resist Satan.

  • If, like Paul, we persevere to the end we will be saved. The King of Kings will accept us as subjects of his heavenly kingdom and we shall reign with him forever. As Paul wrote earlier in this epistle: Here is a trustworthy saying: If we endure we will also reign with him. 2Tim2v11and12.