The Second Epistle to Timothy is the last letter Paul would ever write. It was written around 64-67 A.D. Paul wrote this letter from a prison cell. His execution was likely imminent (cf. 2 Tim. 4:6-8). It's important to keep this background setting in mind because when a person knows their end is near their final words, being a precious commodity, take on all the more import. Final words have no gloss or glitter, they have only what the person departing feels are the most important final statements they can make. 2 Timothy is such a letter.
Paul in his final words warns Timothy about the danger of false teachers and their false teaching. In his final words with perhaps his final breath Paul exhorts Timothy with a singular emphasis, "Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season" (2 Tim. 4:2a). That is a message to ministers for the ministry God has called them too as well as for every Christian walking in the Spirit with Jesus. If there is one thing we need to take to heart it is the importance of the word of God in everything we are and do.
Paul had long been freed from the bondage of the fear of death. Paul told those who grieved for his impending departure, "For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 21:13). We know that by the end of the book of Acts Paul has left Jerusalem under Roman guard and has arrived in Rome and is under house arrest (Acts 28:30-31). In prison Paul wrote the Philippians, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). While he lived Paul lived with and for Jesus. Death would only bring him the better existence of eternal life with Jesus.
It is believed Paul was eventually released from his Roman house arrest and went on another missionary journey to Spain. When he returned to Rome from Spain it is believed he was once again arrested, thrown in a much less hospitable prison cell very possibly in the infamous Mamertine Prison where he stayed until his eventual execution. There is no Biblical account of the death of Paul. But we do have traditional and historical statements about Paul's death:
Of the actual manner of his death, we know only what may be stated in few words. Tradition says that it was by being beheaded; and all the circumstances of the case render that probable. The fact that he was a Roman citizen would exempt him, under Roman laws, from death by lingering torture, in the forms in which it was inflicted on many of his Christian brethren. It would save him from the ignominy of crucifixion, and would thus distinguish his death from that of Peter, who had no claims to Roman citizenship, and who, wherever he died, was probably put to death, like his Master, on a cross (comp. John xxi. 18). There were two modes of beheading among the Romans:—the one by the lictor's ax; the other by military execution with the sword. In the former case, the criminal was tied to a stake, scourged with rods, and then beheaded; in the latter case, the executioner was commonly one of the Imperial bodyguards, and the execution was performed in presence of a centurion, whose duty it was to see the sentence carried out. It is every way probable that Paul was executed in this latter mode.
The place where he was put to death is fixed with some degree of certainty. "It was not uncommon to send prisoners, whose death might attract too much notice in Rome, to some distance beyond the city, under a military escort, for execution." Tradition affirms that, in the case of Paul, this occurred beyond the city walls, on the south-western side of the city, on the road which led to Ostia, the port of Rome. That road was a great thoroughfare when Rome had some commerce; and though outside of the metropolis, and thus free from the dangers of popular tumult and excitement, it would be the most public and conspicuous of all the places in the vicinity of the great city. . . .
We have none of the dying words of the apostle Paul; we have no account of the melancholy procession to the place of death; we know not whether he was attended by any of his friends, or whether there were any Christians present to witness the closing scene, and to sustain him by their presence and their prayers. . . . 
The circumstances of Paul's end are described by one commentator in the following way:
The Book of Acts closes with Paul under house arrest in Rome. Although he was linked to a guard at all times, he lived in his own quarters and was able to have visitors. After his release from house arrest, Paul embarked on yet another missionary journey, probably into Spain. Upon his return to Rome, he was arrested a second time. This time, however, Paul was put in a dark, damp dungeon. Why? The reason most probably lies with the then-emperor of Rome—Caesar Nero.…
According to historical evidence, such a megalomaniac was Caesar Nero that he desired to burn Rome in order to rebuild it and become known as the supreme architect of a rebuilt Rome. Thus, the majority of historians believe that Caesar Nero was the one who set the fire that did, indeed, burn the city in A.D. 64. Needing a scapegoat for the fire, Nero chose to blame Christians. “These Christians are always talking about being the light of the world,” he said, “but really they’re nothing but a bunch of arsonists and cannibals”—referring to Communion. Eventually, Caesar Nero would ride through his palace grounds, shrieking with glee, as he watched Christians lit as human torches.
Why did Nero descend to such depths of insanity? Historical evidence points to the fact that Nero went insane after he had a discussion with Paul the apostle. Church history indicates that Paul was indeed brought into a discussion with Nero before he was beheaded. Thus, it was at the point that Nero rejected the gospel that he seemingly lost his mind. Awaiting trial before Caesar Nero, Paul picks up his pen for the last time.…
Beheaded by an ax or sword. What might Paul's last thoughts have been? That brings us to our study of 2 Timothy which we will see as a continuation of Paul's message to Timothy in his first epistle and entitle More Tactics for Life and Ministry from Second Timothy. But more importantly, 2 Timothy contains the last inspired words and thoughts of this great saint. What were Paul's last words to Timothy? This second epistle to Timothy can be outlined as follows:
I. Hold Fast - 2 Timothy 1
II. Be Strong - 2 Timothy 2
III. Carefully Follow God's Word - 2 Timothy 3
IV. Preach the Word! - 2 Timothy 4
Hold Fast - 2 Timothy 1
2 Timothy 1 (NKJV)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
To his dying breath Paul lived faithfully to the calling Jesus had put on his life as an apostle (Greek apostolos) one sent as a delegate or ambassador with a message. The King he represented is Jesus. The message from Jesus Paul declared is found in the word of God and in particular in this epistle.
Paul mentions that his call to apostleship is "by the will of God." Paul never ceases to mention that he is an apostle by God's will and not his or any other mere human decision. God elected Paul to be an apostle. Paul could have rejected that calling. But he could not have taken it upon himself. A person's position in life should be according to the will of God. Fruitfulness only comes through cooperation with God's calling according to His will for us.
Paul adds that he was an apostle "according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus." That is the substance of the message this apostolic ambassador carries and proclaims to all. There is life in no one else but Jesus. Fulfillment, purpose, true meaning and satisfaction in this life comes only through Jesus. Eternal life in the hereafter in the presence of the Lord is only found in Jesus. A life lived as it was designed to be lived, as it was meant by the Creator to be enjoyed can only be experienced through faith in Jesus (Acts 4:10-12). No one comes to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). This is God's promise. We need only receive it by faith.
2 To Timothy, a beloved son:
Paul addresses this final letter "To Timothy, a beloved son." To Paul, Timothy was a son in the faith. Timothy was discipled and mentored, trained by Paul. Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy and as such Timothy was very precious to him. These are last words from a spiritual father to his precious spiritual son.
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
In most of his letters Paul begins with grace and peace. The message Paul communicates in such introductions is to state from the start that the grace of God precedes the peace of God. We need to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ as a gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus. Then we will experience peace with God (cf. Romans 5:1 ff.).
In his Pastoral letters Paul adds the ingredient of mercy to his usual grace and peace. Grace is getting what you don't deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Ministry is such a great responsibility and as human beings who are weak and flawed mistakes and shortcomings are bound to happen. Therefore, ministers need God's mercy so that they will be spared the deserved discipline for such shortcomings. Minister, thank God for His mercy!
We also see in these opening words the equality of God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. No word of separation or one of the Godhead being of lesser worth or power than the other. Only a joining conjunction "and" to unite them both.
3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did,
Paul begins his letter with an expression of thanks to God. He is thankful for Timothy and the man of God he has developed into. Paul no doubt uses words in this letter that are intentionally pregnant with meaning for Timothy. Paul is thankful to God "whom I serve" (Greek latreuo) or renders a sacred service to. Such sacred service is done "with a pure conscience" (Greek katharos) or a conscience purified by fire, or like a vine pruned so it can bear fruit. All the trials and difficulties and challenges Paul experienced in life, (including the present one of his awaiting execution) had a purifying effect on Paul. Any ulterior or self-serving motives or ambitions had been crucified with Christ (cf. Gal. 2:20). Life for Paul wasn't about "Paul," but about Jesus. Paul was the embodiment of a "living sacrifice" (cf. Romans 12:1-2). Paul practiced what he preached and that is one of the prime reasons his ministry was so powerful.
He also connects with his predecessors or "forefathers" showing he is following in a heritage of others who served their Lord in a similar way. The implication is that as Paul received the torch of sacred service to God from his predecessors, not Timothy was in a position to receive the torch from Paul.
Be a Person of Prayer
as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,
What made Paul great? Why was he able to do so much for the glory of the Lord? The answer to that is that he was a man of prayer. E.M. Bounds, a 19th century pastor and prayer warrior and one known for his teachings stated:
“The men who have done mighty things for God have always been mighty in prayer, have well understood the possibilities of prayer, and made most of these possibilities . . . . It is the effectual, fervent prayer that influences God. . . . When prayer fails, the world prevails. When prayer fails the Church loses its Divine characteristics, its Divine power; the Church is swallowed up by a proud ecclesiasticism, and the world scoffs at its obvious impotence.” 
Therefore Bounds concludes:
Praying men are God's chosen leaders. The distinction between the leaders that God brings to the front to lead and bless His people, and those leaders who owe their position of leadership to a worldly, selfish, unsanctified selection, is this, God's leaders are pre- eminently men of prayer. This distinguishes them as the simple, Divine attestation of their call, the seal of their separation by God. Whatever of other graces or gifts they may have, the gift and grace of prayer towers above them all. In whatever else they may share or differ, in the gift of prayer, they are one.
Every person used by God both in and out of the Bible have at least one thing in common, they were people of prayer. Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God. Prayer is the fuel hose that keeps our spiritual gas tank full. Prayer connects to God for direction and the dynamics needed to follow through on those directions. Prayer is our lifeline to God.
Paul prayed "night and day." Paul practiced what he preached about unceasing prayer (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:17). And his prayers weren't merely for himself. His prayers were intercessory; he prayed for Timothy. How's your prayer life? Do you pray some nights and some days, or night and day?
4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy,
Paul was not a passionless academic or stoic philosopher. Paul had a heart filled with the memories of others. Paul was "greatly desiring" (Greek epipotheo) or intensely craving to see Timothy. He remembered Timothy's tears. His memories of Timothy filled him with joy (Greek chara) or great gladness, cheerfulness, calm delight, settled satisfaction.
Paul was completely unselfish. His pure heart and conscience was such that he only had pure motives and genuine joy for Timothy. He didn't feel threatened by Timothy who he would pass the ministry torch to. No, he was blessed by Timothy.
5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you,
Paul was blessed by his memory of Timothy because of Timothy's "genuine faith" (Greek anypokritos) or sincere, unhypocritical, unpretentious faith. timothy was genuinely a man of faith. He didn't wear his faith on his sleeve in a proud or pretentious way. There was nothing fake about Timothy's faith; his walk with Jesus and ministry. What you saw of his faith was real. That Timothy had grown and developed into a man of real faith was a great blessing and source of joy for Paul. When people think of you are they filled with joy and thankfulness?
Paul was a great encourager and did not hesitate to compliment and recognize someone for their growth in faith. 1 and 2 Timothy are corrective and precautionary but they are also very encouraging words from Paul. When was the last time you encouraged someone in their walk with the Lord.
which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
Family played an important part in the preparation of Timothy for God's use. He was discipled and trained in God's word by his mother and grandmother. A major purpose of family is to produce godly offspring (cf. Malachi 2:15 - "He seeks godly offspring"). Paul was blessed by the heritage of Timothy and how God had seen fit to bless his disciple with a firm foundation of a grandmother and mother who also had a "genuine faith." And so Paul felt it was appropriate to remind Timothy of the blessing of his heritage.
Were you raised by godly parents and or a godly family? Were you introduced to the gospel and the possibility of a personal saving relationship with God in Christ? If so, thank God, and thank those godly family members who discipled you to continue in the faith and prepared you to pass on the good news of the gospel to your generation and the next.
Stir up your Gift - Rekindle the Flame
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
It's possible that Timothy may have been going through a down time spiritually. Paul may have felt it was time for Timothy to "stir up" (Greek anazopyreo) or rekindle, inflame one's mind, be zealous, strengthened "the gift of God which is in you." God never calls a person to a task that He doesn't also equip to accomplish the task. God's callings are His enablings. If God calls us to do something, He will empower us to do it.
What might "the gift" refer to that Paul mentions here? It could be a reference to the ministry gift that Jesus provides for ministers in the church (cf. Ephesians 4:11-12). But more fundamentally it likely refers to the empowering of the Holy Spirit for service. Before we march out in service for the Lord we need to be empowered by the Lord (e.g. Acts 1:8). The promise of the Father is the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:4-5). Such empowerment is received by faith (Acts 15:8-9). But is also ongoing (cf. Eph. 5:18). Even those empowered by the Spirit at Pentecost had to experience a subsequent infilling of the Spirit (e.g. Acts 4:31). This implies the flame of the Spirit can grow dim and needs to be rekindled periodically.
Paul acknowledges such a spiritual gifting or empowering of Timothy stating "which is in you through the laying on of my hands." There was no magic in Paul's hands. The spiritual gifting Timothy received was from God. He received it by faith. Laying on of hands was merely an acknowledgment and agreement that God had called and gifted a minister to serve. It was a way of Paul putting his arm around Timothy agreeing and acknowledging that he had been ordained by God for ministry. Timothy had the Spirit within him, but maybe he needed a bit of personal revival; a remembering and rekindling of the Spirit's power.
I was at a friend’s house fellowshipping and they had a beautiful fireplace. It was warm and cozy as they lit it up and we all felt the heat it gave off. But as the night wore on something became very apparent, a fire tends to go out. There is a spiritual lesson to be learned from that truth.
The Holy Spirit is associated with fire. John the Baptist announced that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mat. 3:11; Luke 3:16). Jesus said He came to bring fire on the earth (Luke 12:49). The fire He spoke of there was contextually the fire of judgment. But can’t we say that judgment fire was aimed at burning off sin? I think we can. Fire is a purifier. It melts metal allowing impurities to be identified and removed. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is an empowering work that by nature involves the purifying of our hearts (Acts 15:8-9). We need the fire of the Spirit to burn off that which hinders our walk with Him.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit that leads to God’s empowerment for service and holy life is a gift of God to be received by His grace through faith in Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:18-20; 10:45). If the presence of the Holy Spirit is represented by fire, and fire has a tendency to go out, then as Paul remarked to Timothy, we need to stir it up, or fan it to a flame. We need to feed the fire of the Spirit within us.
Now it isn’t as though the Holy Spirit in some way is going to go out within us. It is that if we don’t feed the fire or zeal produced by the Spirit, it can flicker. The fire from God kindled on the altar must be fed (Leviticus 9:24; 6:9-13). God’s fire in our hearts must be attended to. Like a fire in a fireplace, we need to feed it. We need to be stoked. How do we feed the fire of the Spirit’s zeal within us?
First, stoke the fire of the Spirit with prayer. The baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire promised by the Father was delivered as God’s people were united in fervent prayer (Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:3). We need to get serious about our prayer lives. Nothing will suffocate the fire within faster than a prayerless life. It is in fervent prayer that God renews us and rekindles His fire within us. Paul opened this epistle with a mention of his "night and day" prayers. Maybe there was a not so discreet insinuation that Timothy's prayer life needed to be taken up a notch. How's your prayer life? Does it need to be turned up a notch?
Second, stoke the fire of the Spirit with the word of God. The Lord told Jeremiah that He would make His words he spoke “a fire” (Jeremiah 5:14). God said His words were “like a fire” (Jeremiah 23:29). Second Timothy is largely an exhortation to Timothy to rely on and preach the word of God. He will tell his protégé to be a workman who handles the word of God properly (2 Tim. 2:15). Therefore the second thing we need to do is stoke the fire with the word of God. Prayerfully dig in and consume God’s word. Even if we don’t feel like doing so, we need to step into God’s word by faith and seek a word from the Lord.
Third, stoke the fire by dealing with fire quenchers. Paul was inspired to warn the Thessalonians to not quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). When we look at the context we see that fire quenchers could take the form of:
1. Rendering evil for evil and not pursuing good for all people (1 Thess. 5:15)
2. Joylessness (5:16)
3. Prayerlessness (5:17)
4. Thanklessness (5:18)
5. Despising prophesy (5:20)
6. Permissiveness; lack of scrutinizing things with God’s word (5:21)
7. Involvement with evil (5:22)
8. Failure to trust God to entirely sanctify you (5:23-24).
These things in our lives throw cold water on the flame of the Spirit. Paul will reiterate many of these in this second epistle to Timothy. When you go to prayer ask the Lord to search you for any such fire quenchers (e.g. Psalm 139:23-24). God’s fire will test each one’s work (1 Cor. 3:13). God’s plan is that we be on fire for Him in the power of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 1:7; Psalm 104:4). He makes “His ministers a flame of fire.” How’s your fire? Get stoked!
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Paul didn’t want Timothy to neglect the fire within. Perhaps Timothy’s flame was flickering. Perhaps the light from the fire of the Spirit that dispels the darkness was dimming and Timothy was fearful as the darkness was creeping in. Paul reminded him when the flame is burning hot and bright, there is power, love and soundness of thinking. When those things are absent or diminished, we need to stoke the fire of the Spirit within.
The "fear" (Greek deilia) Paul mentions here is timidity, or cowardice which is the product of faithlessness. Such fear is what prevents someone from taking a stand or making the truth of God known. Such "fear" is what keeps us seated when we should be standing up. Such fear keeps us on the sidelines when we should be entering the game. Such fear is what causes us to retreat when we should be charging into battle. Such fear is not from God. If it isn't from God, it is likely from the devil or our own sinful nature.
Are you fearful? Fearfulness is not from God. Fear is the foe and antagonist of faith. Feat is overcome with faith. And faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). God has not given us a spirit of fear. He has given us a spirit or attitude of "power" (Greek dynamis) which is the force to move, power, strength, ability to do and work. He has given us a spirit or attitude of "love" (Greek agape) which is a love like God, a love like Jesus; a love that will sacrifice for the redemptive needs of others, a love that sacrifices to see God's will and purpose fulfilled. And God gives us a spirit of "a sound mind" (Greek sophronismos) which is discipline, self-control, balanced thinking and living. These are the characteristics of the gift of the Spirit. What spirit do you have?
Do Not Be Ashamed
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
After Paul exhorts Timothy to stir up the gift of the Spirit in him, he then speaks the "therefore" or the desired outcome or consequence of such a stirring. That would be that Timothy "not be ashamed" (Greek epaischynomai) or embarrassed, not wanting to be associated with "the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner." In other words, in the power of the Spirit, stand for Jesus and stand with Paul who is imprisoned for the sake of Christ.
To be imprisoned was to be a social outcast. A prisoner was looked down upon in social circles. To be imprisoned as far as the world was concerned was to be marked as a rebel to the existing state authority. It was to be an outcast. Timothy may not have wanted to be associated with such things. Perhaps he thought it would hinder his ministry by causing people to disassociate with him if he stood with Paul. In our day many in ministry don't want to be associated with anything that might offend sinners. Instead they adopt a position of being seeker friendly by removing anything and everything, including portions of God's word, from conversation. Maybe Timothy was falling prey to such a mindset. Not so Paul! Paul courageously stood for the truth of Christ and His word to the point of imprisonment. There is a pertinent message here for ministers and churches and Christians of our day. In some parts of the world Christians are literally losing their heads for their courageous stand with Christ. In our land we are more concerned with being trendy and "relevant" to a decadent society.
What do you think Paul would say about that? He'd say, "do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner"! And Paul would and does call us " but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God." Paul calls us to "share with me in the sufferings" (Greek sygkakopatheo) or suffer together, to suffer hardship in company with or be a fellow partaker of afflictions "for the gospel."
That's not something done with intestinal fortitude. That is something that can only be done "according to the power of God." Only God's "power" (Greek dynamis) that comes from the Spirit can empower us to stand for the gospel instead of shrinking back in shame for associating with it.
The Calling of the Saved
The minister in particular and the Christian in general is saved from sin and given a holy calling.
9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
We have been "saved" (Greek sodzo), delivered, made safe from the consequences of, healed, made whole, saved from sin. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin results in deterioration and if left untreated it leads to eternal damnation and destruction (not annihilation but a state of destruction) (Gal. 6:7-9). This salvation is "not according to our works." It does include us receiving it by faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Therefore, while faith that is genuine leads to good works, faith itself is not a work. We are saved "according to His own purpose" (Greek prothesis) or God's showing forth, like the showbread in the Temple, a setting forth of a purpose. Jesus as the Bread of Life is what God has shown forth as the means of our salvation. The redemptive work of Jesus on the cross is a product of God's "grace" (Greek charis) or gift, unmerited favor "which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." God's gracious gift of salvation from sin is found in Jesus. This purpose and plan of redemption presupposes that God foreknew it ("before time began") would be necessary and that He in love would have to provide it given human weakness and sinfulness.
To be saved from sin introduces us to being "called . . . with a holy calling." "Holy" (Greek hagios) means pure, morally pure, separate and distinctly set apart for God's use. Christians, and ministers and pastors in particular, are called to live a holy life. Do you know what it means to live a holy life? Are you committed to live a holy life unto God?
What is such a holy life? Paul describes this holy calling first as "not according to works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." It's not about our works but about His gracious provision.
10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
Our calling is based on what "has now been revealed" (Greek phaneroo) or manifestly declared, shown forth "by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ." We are saved by our Savior Jesus Christ. This salvation involves Jesus as the One "who has abolished death" (Greek katargeo) or abolished, destroyed, done away with death. And the One who has positively "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." If death is darkness, the gospel is light and promise of a good afterlife.
When we look at Jesus and the cross we see a service of sacrifice motivated by love. Such love is poured out within us when we are born again by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Love is the fruit of the Spirit's work in our lives (Galatians 5:22-24). And such love is to be the compelling force dynamic in our lives (2 Cor. 5:14-21). Living a holy life is loving God with everything you've got and loving others as you love yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus said His followers should be known by His love (John 13:34-35). Living a holy life is a matter of walking in the Spirit and growing in the love of the Lord (e.g. 1 John 4:7-21). This is the essence of what "has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ."
11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
Paul was "appointed" (Greek tithemi) put in place, put down for, bent down "a preacher" (Greek keryx) or herald of divine truth, "an apostle" (Greek apostolos) a delegate, ambassador, one commissioned with a message, "and a teacher" (Greek didaskalos) doctor, master teacher, one who teaches and explains the things of God "of the Gentiles" or whose prime targets is the non-Jewish world. Paul didn't take this calling on himself but it was put on him by God. Being a pastor or minister isn't based on how many people follow you on Face Book or some other social media. Being a pastor or minister of God is based on whether you are following God and He has chosen you for service. It's not up to you. It's up to Him.
12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
Paul's calling as a preacher, apostle and teacher was the reason he was suffering imprisonment. But he was willing to suffer anything for His Savior and the proclaiming of the gospel. No cost was too great for Paul to pay for the One who had given all for him. He was not his own. He had been bought by the blood of Jesus (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Paul lived that.
Even though he was imprisoned he was "not ashamed." And the reason he was not ashamed was, "for I know whom I have believed in." To "know" (Greek oida) means to fully know, realize the truth about, understand. Paul fully knew the One he "believed in" (Greek pisteuo) or who he had fully trusted in. Paul knew Who he had believed in. "Believed" (Perfect tense) implies a past action with ongoing results or effects. In other words, Paul knew the One he had put his faith in and continued to believe and trust in Him. Paul has a consistent persevering RELATIONSHIP with God in Christ.
This belief was one in which Paul was "persuaded" (Greek peitho) or completely convinced about, there was no longer an argument about, he had come to a point of complete agreement with, become friends with, bowed in obedience to, surrendered to, fully trusted. Paul had a full and complete, a certain assurance of his salvation and eternal destination in Christ. Paul fully trusted and settled the issue that God, "He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." Paul entrusted his life and all it entailed to God and did so knowing and being completely persuaded that God was able to safely keep all of what Paul committed to Him until the final day when all things would be culminated.
I like what Bible Teacher Jon Courson comments on this verse:
I know whom I have believed. Circle the word “whom.” Underline it. Meditate on it. Paul doesn’t say, “I know what I believe.” He says, “I know Who I believe.” That’s the key. What gets you through the dark, damp, dungeons of life? Not what you believe. It’s who you believe.
Many people know what they believe doctrinally. They know what they believe theologically. But they don’t know Jesus personally. Others may not be all that familiar with the theology, but they know Jesus intimately—and they’re a joy to be around.
“What” will never see you through dark, damp dungeon days. It will only say, “Wait a minute. This doesn’t figure in to my theology.”
But if you know Who you believe, you’ll join Paul in saying, “Lord, if You have me here in this dungeon, that’s okay with me. After all, when I remember what You did for me on the Cross, how could I not trust You?”
Do you know Who you believe in? Are you persuaded that what you've committed to Him He is able to keep until the Day?
13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
To "hold fast" (Greek eche) means to have, hold, keep, preserve, to have in your possession, to have in hand, to have within you. This is the same word used by Paul when he says, "Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9). John used this word to expressing the idea of to have fellowship with God (1 John 1:3) or "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:12). The idea is to convey the idea of having something in your possession or having a firm grip on something so that you won't let it go. What is it that Paul exhorts Timothy to have hold of?
The grammar of "hold fast" (Present/Active/Imperative) conveys the idea of the necessity of always actively holding fast. Something that is imperative is mandatory, a necessity, an essential. What Paul is instructing Timothy to do here is an absolute must!
Paul exhorts Timothy to "Hold fast the pattern of sound words you have heard from me." "Pattern" (Greek hypotyposis) refers to an outline, a pattern, summary exposition, an example, form, standard. Paul had given Timothy a kind of summary example outline to follow. This summary example involved "sound" (Greek hugianonton Present/Active/Participle of hygiaino) or sound healthy, correct "words" (Greek logos) or words stated after thoughtful consideration, reasoned words.
These are the words Paul says to Timothy, "you have heard from me." In other words Timothy should hold on tightly to the words Paul so thoughtfully had shared in ministry that Timothy witnessed and heard Paul speak. These words could have been directly stated to Timothy or Timothy may have witnessed Paul using them in conversations with others. But we especially take this exhortation to hold fast to Paul's inspired words; the scriptures.
The last phrase in this verse is interesting. Paul says, "in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." These words can be applied in two ways. They can be related to Paul's exhortation to Timothy to hold fast. In this case it would mean "Hold fast to the exemplary words I shared with you in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." In other words our motive and capability to hold fast to these sound words is through faith in Jesus and by the compelling love of Jesus (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14-16). The other application of the phrase could be in the sense of expressing the nature of holding fast to sound words itself. In other words holding fast to sound words leads to faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This doesn't have to be an either or interpretation. Paul may have intended to convey this double meaning to make a double point.
Keep what's Committed to you
14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
To "keep" (Greek phylasso) means to watch, be on guard for, to preserve, protect, preserve by obeying. "Committed" (Greek parakatatheke) refers to something put down alongside, a deposit or sacred trust given for faithful keeping. The idea of a great responsibility is involved here in what has been committed to Timothy to be kept, guarded, perpetuated and preserved.
The "good thing which was committed to you" would be the message of the gospel. The gospel is frequently referred to as "good" news (Matthew 11:5). This is especially the case in the writings of Luke (The Gospel of Luke and Acts) who was a companion of Paul in ministry. Perhaps he was inspired to hold fast the pattern of sound words of Paul in his use of "good" here (Luke 1:19; 2:10; 3:18; 4:18, 43; 7:22; 8:1; 16:16; Acts 8:12, 35; 10:36; 13:32; 14:15). Paul also referred to the gospel as "good" (Romans 10:15) as did the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 4:2) and Peter (1 Peter 1:12 and 25). This news is good because it the means by which a person can be saved from sin and enter into an eternal relationship with God in Christ. It would include the word of God; God's revelation truth concerning this "good" news.
The only way we can keep, hold and protect this good news Paul says is, " keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us." The only way any believer can do anything for the Lord is to do it with the Lord as they walk in the Spirit side by side with Him. It is only with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us that we can hold fast and protect this precious gospel message that has been committed to us. To guard the gospel which has been entrusted to us is a huge responsibility. But it isn't only all up to us. We have the Holy Spirit Who will help us to fulfill this task. Remember, God's callings are His enablings.
One commentator explains:
"We must have a twofold commitment: to Christ and to the gospel. In Paul's commitment to Christ, he put his life and ministry in Christ's hands as a deposit for Christ to guard and keep.... The other side of our Christian commitment is the accepting of the gospel as a deposit which we must keep and guard. The very form of the words in which the gospel was originally given is important."
The truth of the matter is that, according to Paul's inspired words Timothy and we must hold fast and keep guard of the Gospel and God's word even if we must do it alone. Of course, we are never truly "alone." The Lord Jesus is always with us. Paul knew this as well. Towards the end of this epistle Paul will assert, "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me" (4:17a). That is the point Paul is alluding to in his closing words of this chapter.
15 This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; 17 but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. 18 The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.
Betrayal and desertion are inevitable parts of ministry with people. Paul speaks of two in particular who "turned away from" him. "Turned away from" (Greek apestraphesis Aorist/Passive/Indicative of apostrepho) conveys the idea of turning away from, rejecting, repudiating, deserting. Paul may be speaking hyperbolically when he says "all those” who were with him in Asia deserted him, but we get the idea. Paul was left pretty much all alone to fend for himself while in the ministry fields of Asia (Asia refers to the area of Rome comprising Mysia, Lydia, Caria, most of Phrygia, and the islands off the coast).
We don't know anything more about Phygellus and Hermogenes who Paul mentions here. His naming them in particular may indicate that their turning away from him was especially hurtful and damaging or that they may have been the ring leaders of the turning away of "all those in Asia." Or it may be both.
Thankfully there was Onesiphorus. Paul utters a prayerful comment about him: "The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus." Onesiphorus "often refreshed" (Greek anapsycho) or often cooled off, was a fresh breath of air, a breath of fresh air. Ministry can get pretty gloomy and depressing when people are deserting you. But Onesiphorus was one of the few who stayed by Paul's side and encouraged him. Sometimes a word of perspective and encouragement in times of discouragement are what God uses to get you through. In Proverbs it states: "A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!" (Proverbs 15:23). "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Proverbs 25:11). In other words, a kind word of encouragement in times of discouragement is a precious rich commodity. That was what Onesiphorus did for Paul.
There was evidently an element of risk or perhaps being seen as guilty by association for Onesiphorus and his interaction with Paul. Paul comments Onesiphorus "was not ashamed of my chain." Onesiphorus wasn't ashamed of Paul's predicament. It didn't deter him in the least from ministering to his friend in the faith.
Paul says Onesiphorus "sought me out very zealously and found me." Here is a true friend in the faith. He didn't just knock on one door or make a halfhearted effort; just enough to say he had done his due diligence. Onesiphorus "sought me out" (Greek zeteo) or to seek with intent to find, to figure out how to find something, to strive toward seeking and finding something or someone. "Very zealously" (Greek spoudaioteron) means more earnestly than others, very diligently, with urgency, quickly. Evidently Paul was not in a readily known location. This was often the case especially with political prisoners which Paul would have been categorized as. It involved some detective work and effort to find him. Onesiphorus was up for the task of finding his good friend Paul. He likely risked his own reputation and possibly even his life in the pursuit of Paul. That's what friends and brothers in Christ do for each other.
In war the military have a motto of leave no man behind. It is a principle as old as war itself. Recently my wife and I were watching our grandson James. James and Grandpa love to play together. On this particular day we went to my basement where toys from James' dad and uncle are stored away for the next generation. James is part of that generation. As we started looking through the bins of old toys James eyes particularly lit up as we found some G.I. Joe type military figures. He wanted to take them upstairs to play with. So we gathered them and their equipment and prepared to bring them up. At first I set the limit at 6. But James, young enough to not count too well yet, soon stretched that to an even dozen.
It was such a nice day that I decided James and I should go outside. James of course wanted to take his new company of army men outside too. I explained to him that they could get lost. As we went outside I thought to make it a teaching moment. "James, you know how you can make sure you don't lose any of these soldiers?" James was listening attentively. "First you count them so that when you're done playing you make sure you have the same number of men than when you first came outside." Then I went on, "You know what real soldiers say?" He said, "What grandpa?" Then I explained, "Real soldiers say 'Leave no man behind.' If a soldier gets hurt they never leave him behind but take them with them when they move on. They will even carry a wounded soldier or a soldier that is shot in combat." "Leave no man behind," James said. We both said it together, "Leave no man behind!" So James and I counted the men and took an inventory of their weapons. We had a great time playing. James made me the "Leader." I decided the mission and strategy and James carried it out with the men.
After we were done playing we gathered up the soldiers and did so with a head count. We went back inside. Now it was time to clean up a bit and then go for our traditional summer slurpee at the local 7-Eleven. As we were getting ready James asked if he could bring his men. I had grown up images of getting in and out of the van and car seat and the cumbersomeness of bringing the toy soldiers with us. So I told James it would probably be best to leave them home and play more with them when we got back. Quick as a whip my preschooler grandson James responded, "But grandpa, 'Leave no man behind!'" So we decided he could take "a few" of the men; one for each hand.
Even at this young age James got it. Leave no man behind meant even if it was a bit of additional work, it was worth keeping the men with you. It was only with the men that you could play with or care for them. To James leaving no man behind left no question about whether or not you took these toy soldiers with you. And I might add, none of the troops were lost and we had a great time.
It's unfortunate that brothers in Christ don't often follow such a principle. Too often Christians turn away from or desert their fellow Christians. Onesiphorus wasn't going to leave his brother Paul behind. He wasn't going to forget about him. He didn't see Paul and Paul's predicament as an inconvenience but he saw a brother in need and pursued him at the risk of personal sacrifice in order to find him. How about you, have you left a fellow Christian behind in some way?
Paul's words regarding Onesiphorus to Timothy are warm. "The Lord grant him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day - and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus." Onesiphorus ministered to Paul in "many ways." He had done the similarly to Paul while Paul was ministering in Ephesus (e.g. Acts 20). This was a good and exemplary friend to Paul. Sadly, the grammar of the words used by Paul in reference to Onesiphorus may indicate he had passed away.
In contrast to Phygellus and Hermogenes, Paul writes of Onesiphorus as one who truly cared about him. Interestingly, all of Paul’s allusions to Onesiphorus are in the aorist, or past tense, including a reference at the end of this letter (4:19).[[The aorist is referred here as a past tense, but in one of the earlier books it was spoken of as a continuing tense once when referring to Romans 3:24 “being justified.”. Can they be the same?]] Therefore, we can conclude that Onesiphorus had died, “moved on” to his heavenly home. In this, we are given interesting insight into Paul’s heart for this one to whom he felt uniquely linked at a time when everyone else had abandoned him—a link that transcended the temporary separation that exists between we who are looking forward to the day when we will be in heaven and those who are already there.
If this is the case, that Paul's friend and brother in Christ Onesiphorus was dead, then it meant Paul really was all alone, that is, except for the One who was "able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."
Paul twice refers to "that Day" in this first chapter (1:12 and 18) and he will use the phrase again in the final chapter (4:8). "That Day" refers to Judgment Day at the coming of Christ. To the Corinthians Paul states that every believer will come before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:9-10). This is not a judgment to determine our eternal destiny; whether we are going to heaven or hell. That is settled for the Christian once they turn from their sins in faith and trust in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Paul was able to say, "I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (1:12). But every Christian will come before the Judgment Seat of Christ for their works and the way they used their God-given resources for the glory of God during their life (e.g. 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; cf. also Matthew 25:31-46).
When the Christian comes before Jesus they will be rewarded for all the good they did and all they did for the glory of God. Paul closes this chapter voicing his hope and prayer that his good faithful friend Onesiphorus will be credited and blessed by Jesus for his faithfulness to Paul in times of difficulty. Do you know of anyone you would want to say something like that about? Are you thankful for anyone like that in your life? Maybe you should tell them face to face. Maybe you could be a friend like that to someone else. Pray about it. It may be something you can include in your efforts to hold fast what God has committed to you.
 Missi lictores ad sumendum supplicium, nudatos virgis csedunt securique feriunt.—Livy ii. 6.
 Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1398). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
 E.M. Bounds, Purpose in Prayer (
Book House) 1978 edition of book originally published in 1920, Pages 102-103 Grand
 Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (pp. 1400–1401). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
 Quote from Stanley Horton - Complete Biblical Library Commentary - The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon.
 Complete Biblical Library Commentary - The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon.
 Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1401). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.