Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:1
Paul wrote this last letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, who is probably in his 40's by now. Timothy was pastoring the church Paul established in Ephesus. For more details, see my last lesson summarizing 1 Timothy.
Time elasped between his first and second letters to Timothy. 1 Timothy and Titus were written by Paul after his first imprisonment. He then made his third missionary journey, visiting most of the churches he helped start. It was probably written between A.D. 67-A.D.64.
So now we find Paul in a different kind of prison, confined to chains in a cold, foul-smelling, overcrowded dungeon below ground, waiting for his final trip to Rome, where he was probably beheaded for witnessing for his Lord Jesus. During this time, Nero had begun the persecution of Christians. (Horible executions are recorded.) Unlike his first letter written with hope for release, Paul writes to encourage Timothy one more time, and to enourage him to come visit one last time.
I know the following is lengthy, but it sets the tone for our new book, 2 Timothy. Mind you, I haven't visited Rome yet.
In his book, A Man of Grace and Grit, Paul, Charles Swindoll quoted the author Hans Finzel (Empowered Leaders) who skillfully describes the place where Paul spent his final days:Any visitor to Rome learns immediately that St. Peter's Church is at the center of the city's attractions. I visited Vatican Square, toured St. Peter's Cathedral, and spent half a day in the Vatican Museum. I was especially impressed by the works of Michelangelo in the sistine Chapel. However, what inspired me most about my visit to Rome happened after I left those great buildings and that rich history.
On an obscure side street a few kilometers from the Vatican, there is a small building thought to house the prison cell where Paul spent his final day. Whether it is actually his prison cell or not is of course debatable. We climbed down into this cramped hole beneath the ground and spent about a half-hour in the dark cell. It was cold, damp, and musty. A small grate in the ceiling allowed a little daylight to shine through. As I sat on that cold stone floor, I imagined what it must have been like for Paul in those last day. If this wasn't the exact room, it had to be just like it. I thought to myself, "Here is where the man who wrote the greatest portion of the New Testament spent his last days. The greatest missionary and church planter of the first century died here. Wouldn't more people want to feel what it was like for him?" Obviously the answer is no. Most people visiting Rome today do not list Paul's cell as one of their top ten tourist sites. But for me it ranked as the number-one spot in Rome.
What a humbling description as we continue through this letter Paul wrote.
LET IT GLOW
Now that we have this doom and gloom suroundings of Paul while writing this Epistle, let's listen to the encouraging words sent to Timothy.
1. Paul identifies himself as the author. This writing was later read to the congregation, copied several times,
and then distributed to other area churches for their edification.
2. Paul was an apostle by the will of God. Apostolos, in Greek, is a "messenger" or "envoy." An apostle
was sent with a message of the promise of life in Christ. This is the preacher's message and the people's
hope today. His call was according to God's sovereign plan and purpose. (1 & 2 Cor.1:1, Eph.1:1,
3. Paul had the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus. When the gospel's message is embraced by faith, the
spiritually dead have the promise of eternal life in Christ (John 3:16; 10:10).
In't it great to know the will of God for our life as Paul did? God has a will (thelema) which means "desire" for each one's life. Just as Paul was lead by the Holy Spirit on his missionary journeys and in writing his letters, now part of our Bible, we too can have the same Spirit leading us. Isn't it astounding to think that you and I can accomplish great things for our Lord's glory as the great Paul did? Surrendering of my will to His will is what it takes, friend.
LET IT GROW
Here's what I found Swindoll to teach us from his same book:
Keep in mind that the apostle didn't write his letters in chapters. The words flowed continuously as the Spirit of God moved the seasoned apostle's weathered hand to transfer divinely inspired truth.
Chapter 1: A Clarion Call to Courageous Living
Chapter 2: A Checklist for Faithful Service
Chapter 3: A Warning list for Difficult Times
I think my appetite is wet. How about yours?
LET IT GO
Be more appreciative of my living conditions.
Serve the Lord wherever He leads.
Heaven is just a breath away.