I love to study the historical context in which the Bible was written. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he is writing from a Roman prison cell. He is nearing the end of his ministry. The time frame is around the 60s A.D. when Emperor Nero was persecuting Christians after falsely accusing them for the great fire in Rome. Paul knows the Romans are going to kill him, so he is writing Timothy to encourage him to keep following Jesus and be strong in his faith.
The beginning of the letter is beautiful:
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
2 Timothy 1:1-2
He comforts Timothy and encourages him to not be ashamed because of his imprisonment. He also tells him to not be ashamed of Jesus, and gives a powerful explanation of the Holy Spirit.
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God…”
2 Timothy 1:6-8
The persecution in Rome is fierce and the believers are scared and scattered. Many people who were once trusted friends to Paul have deserted him and want nothing to do with him or Christianity.
“You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me…”
2 Timothy 1:15
Paul talks about his first court hearing where he barely escaped an execution by lion. At this time, Nero was feeding Christians to the lions in the coliseums as a spectacle for all to enjoy. Rome was Satan’s playground.
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But 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.”
2 Timothy 4:16-17
Paul knows his time is coming soon and throughout the entire letter he impresses upon Timothy the importance of persevering in his faith in Jesus. He loves Timothy as a father would a son, and he wants him to continue the ministry. Paul gives him wise advice at every turn of the page.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:14-17
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.”
2 Timothy 4:1-2
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
2 Timothy 2:22
In the last chapter of the letter, Paul pens some of the most heartfelt words any human being could ever write at the end of their life. He is not scared. He is at peace, and he is ready to go.
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:6-8
Paul was never fed to the lions. When he was in his sixties, shortly after writing that letter, the Romans chopped his head off with a sword. He never gave up his faith and he preached the Gospel to the very end. I am very much looking forward to meeting Paul in Heaven someday, and I pray that I can be as strong in my faith to the very end and be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.”
Grace and peace to you all!
One thought on “The Death Row Letter”
What an example to us all!
LikeLiked by 1 person