Read 2 Tim 4:9-22
9Do your best to come to me quickly, 10for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
14Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
16At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
19Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 20Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers.
22The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. (NIV)
We are at the close of Paul’s letter to Timothy. In a typical Greek letter, this is the time for greetings as opposed to the beginning of the letter.
We see in this closing, the strains of ministry and leadership in the church. We see in this the strains that come from opposition to both the Gospel and to Paul himself. We see three different kinds of people here. The first is Demas. He is someone who appears to have accepted Christ at some early event. But as time has passed on, he no longer believes as he once did. He has gone back to the worldly life. I have seen this over and over again in my time attending church, both before and after going in the ministry. Jesus in the parable of the seeds talks about those who are excited at first, but then turn away.
Then there are those who flat out actively oppose you. This is Alexander the metalworker. Other translations call him Alexander the Coppersmith. These kinds of people come in two varieties, those in the church and those in the community the church is located. We are not sure which Alexander belongs to. But because the waring is given to Timothy, the perception is that he is a church member.
Finally, we see the believers who abandoned Paul at the time he needed them. These are the people in church who come, but when things get real and require them to step up and serve, they back away.
Paul sums up all this opposition in one simple statement, “the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” He follows this with the admonition that Christ will rescue him from ever evil attack and bring him home at last into the heavenly kingdom. He knows God will give him the strength to persevere through all that is thrown at him.
There are a few people mention that deserve a note. First is Mark. This is a powerful admission by Paul. Many theologians believe the Mark is the same Mark that accompanied Paul and Barnabas on one of Paul’s missionary journeys. Mark got sick and returned home. When Barnabas wanted to take Mark again, Paul said some not so nice things about Mark not being able to handle the work. Here years later, he admits he was wrong about Mark. We also see that Paul is not alone as he lists a group of people in verse 21 that would have had to have been with Paul to send their greetings.
As one reads this, the question might be asked, where do you find your strength to keep moving forward in your life? If you were a member of the church at Paul’s time, where would you name be mentioned? A help? One who walked away? Or one who opposed? Each of us is a member of the body of Christ with a specific task and how we view that task determines the kind of member we become.
Hope you enjoyed reading this letter.
Blessings and Peace