II Timothy 2, and 4

Pilgrim Athletes and IMMINENT EXECUTION
of that SPIRITUAL EXECUTIVE of the LORD,  the apostle PAUL:



In II Timothy 4:6ff., we again find the spectacle of Paul facing execution, now imminent. Alexander the coppersmith has performed that sort of evil denunciation to exacerbate Paul's position as someone in trouble 4:14), which is often the prelude in totalitarian regimes, to death. Alas no one suffered to attend, stood in the official court for Paul's defence, but all forsook the apostle, reminding one of the disciples' feeling when Christ was arrested, although in that case one must always remember this, that Peter so far from  MERELY fleeing, drew his sword, and in an amazingly close call, cut off an ear of one of the adversaries.

Perhaps it was intentional, perhaps not, but one half inch to one side might have meant death for that particular member of the group coming to arrest Christ! Peter was not inactive, but when Christ FORBADE armed conflict on His behalf (something more should remember, and should have remembered in the last 2000 years or so), Peter was apparently confused, and evidently did the only other thing he could think of, and ran off with the others.

Nevertheless, in the fact of being alone at the trial, Christ’s position was similar in measure, to the case with Paul when he was seized as part of his particular political/personal program (Matthew 10:24). Forsaken by possible allies in the court issue in Rome, when his life was on trial before the crudely insane or insanely crude Emperor Nero, Paul seemed to stand alone. Of this abandonment, we read in II Tim. 4:16, although mercifully, Luke, the kindly physician, writer under the Lord, of Acts and Luke’s Gospel, stayed with Paul at this last time in his internment (II Tim. 4:11).

What however of those audited and perhaps heeded at the trial itself ? While the incensed evil of Alexander against the message and presentation of Paul, possibly in some  garbled or adverse form, asks for requital, yet of the mere failure to stand by him is in line for pardon, the apostle declares, "May it not be charged against them!"

·       To the crucial point, Paul notes that One stood by him and did not forsake him, and that, it was the LORD! Strengthened from His glorious might, the apostle made a good presentation, meeting whatever calumny came with dynamic and dignity, so that no harm would befall the Gospel. That was clearly prominent in his mind, in this confrontation.

·       Indeed, he declares, "the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me,  and that all the Gentiles might hear."

The apostle apparently bore himself with address and skill. His position was not compromised,  and his stature did not diminish as an apostle to the Gentiles, fortifying and deepening in this trial by these means, the planting of the seed already sown.

Of course evil men have evil imaginations and in a figure, readily slant the very light of the sun, into weird colours as they describe it. As Christ declared, With what measure you meet, it will be measured to you! In Matthew 7:2, then, we find these words: "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

Nevertheless, many are self-condemned, consciences a ruined morass (cf. Titus 3:10-11), and despite all their pretensions and words, are afflicted by the word of truth, such as Paul gave.

Now we come to that ringing testimony that gathers itself in the heart, bestows itself in words from the spirit and indeed, with Paul, is granted by the Spirit of God, a testimony to all and for all who believe.

·       "And the Lord will deliver me," the apostle declares,

·       "from every evil work, and preserve  me for His heavenly kingdom.
To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!"


Put this together with II Corinthians 1:10, and like ingredients for a bomb of blessing, not like the Islamic ones so often, of cursing, you find this:

·       "who delivered us from so great a death,

·       and does deliver us;

·       in whom we trust that he will still deliver us..."

The Christian pilgrimage, so well attested in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, is not only in, but into the midst of an evil program so intense, so unremitting, so strategically squalid and sinuous that together with the courage to enter the domain of the prince of this world, with the hauteur of the devil behind it, with the Gospel, there is need of that deliverance which will enable the Gospel to be fully preached.

While some, like Stephen, early in the midst of flaming passion for the truth, are dealt death blows, like seed sown early in the season for a good crop (for his testimony lives and has lived, as in Acts 7, for countless millions inspired by what he did, its purity and its goodness, its faith and its conscientious conviction), yet others like Paul go on being used like a car which gets a new engine, and proceed to remarkable lengths, heights and breadths.

Thus, when Romanism seemed set to rule with its evil powers intense and its squandering of the spiritual heritage of Christ inveterate (cf. SMR pp. 1032ff.), who could have thought that the Protestant Reformation would ever be able to come to the point that two of the most powerful nations in history would and did go far along its path, in the case of England even making it the official position, in the days of England's imperial greatness. Again, when Hitler seemed ready to bring his own pagan squalor and religious distortions, not blocked at all by the papacy, into Europe, who could have thought that in a very little while, the case would be turned; or that the iniquitous USSR, in its atheistical confusions (cf. SMR pp. 740, 750B, Repent or Perish Ch. 7), would be gone in a mere 70 plus years, departing without being desired.

Hollowness was its depth, and smog its height. Bankrupt, it departed.

From every evil work, political, commercial, social, academic, then, Paul is delivered; and if in death he must seal his testimony, an apostolic prelude to the coming international world rule and its hungry maw at work, then this is a forward to that chapter (Revelation 12:11), which will come soon enough. Likewise, those trusting in the Lord, with saving knowledge of Him, His sheep, these too will find that in the most perplexing or even impossible seeming situations, the writhing contortions of evil will fail. Body may be lost (Matthew 24:9, Luke 21:12,18); wicked torture may presume; but the testimony of Christ remains, butchery as irrelevant as the drunken leer of a lout to the love of a woman (I John 5:4, Matthew 10:30).

It matters not what new passion and folly grips the world, from EVERY evil work is the man of God, the woman of God delivered, to His heavenly kingdom: He HAS delivered, DOES deliver and WILL deliver, just as the apostle, an expert in being shipwrecked, naked, despised, beaten and yet unconquered in his work for the Lord, has attested (I Corinthians 4, II Corinthians 4).

What however has the apostle declared a little earlier, in II Timothy 4:7-8, if not the gleam of faith penetrated from the visible to the invisible, which after all is the home to purpose, plan and device of every kind, where love and divinely accorded vision is to be found, which activates the life and draws the feet to the path ? It is this: "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

This perfect tense, "have loved" HIS APPEARING implies a continuity of the love from its inception, so that it is still present. In this way, it incorporates

·       FIRST the love of the ADVENT of Christ in incarnation,  

·       then that of the DEATH of Christ in atonement through devotion to His people,  

·       then that of the RESURRECTION of Christ, a major part of His appearing to man, thus
      banishing disappearance by making His own body again touchable, as it first was (John
      20, Matthew 28),  

·       but then the love of His RETURN (Acts 1:7ff.). When Christ comes again, His very
      being once more is made manifest, without sin. That was dealt its death blow in the
      atonement, this bringing salvation even of the body (Romans
8:23), for at His coming is
      the resurrection (Matthew 24, I Thessalonians 4) of the justified.

That in turn is twin to Hebrews 9:28 which declares this conjunction: "So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."

Meanwhile, "within the veil" - that is, in symbolical terms derived from the pattern of the structure of the Temple, where this was the Holy of Holies area, where the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat showed atonement, as the golden wings of the cherubim stretched high and broad, significant of the heavenly origin of the mercy thus shown:  there is found the refuge and its anchor. God's anchors do not rise, nor is there any force to dismantle or detach them! (Hebrews 6:18-20).


In these passages then, in II Corinthians 1 and II Timothy 4, you see the sweep of faith over time as a vast ocean breaker, covers the rocks with geysers and spray, anointing all.

Here you see the thrust of a God-given confidence which removes every obstacle, real or imagined, prospective or merely threatened, like an armoured division invading Iraq; and his triumphant trust in Providence is cast like angels’ wings over the coming scene as over the things past and those present. In all of this alike, the apostle finds in the midst of danger, rest; amid quest, certainty; and over the bluster of all the evils, the benignity of God his Saviour.

This is the inward counterpart of that thrust of active zeal, as shown in the admonitions of II TImothy 2:3-10 and 4:2, 14, toward athletic zest in the work of the Lord, disciplined attention and concentration with priority in princely place, and proper development and use of the gifts which God so freely gives. This was proclaimed near the end of the earthly life of that apostle, who could say (II Tim 2:11-13):

"For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.
If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.

“If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful:
He cannot deny Himself."

Even when Peter for a small moment denied Him, forgiveness flowed like a flood and made character like a sculptor, the fluid and the rock-like elements together borne of the God who had first caused Peter to be reborn, so that the liaison was inseparable, the love undetachable, with the discipline of restoration likewise free.

That is not ironic. To be disciplined IN LOVE for GOOD is a great and most gracious thing.  To be simply left is the appalling thing; but this God does not do, saying, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5, 12:9ff.). It is PLAYING with the faith which is fatal, and the peril is to those who taste and then spit out, those whose hearts never being truly repentant, but merely a repository for endless GAIN FOR ME, have a seed which dies in their superficially touched bosoms! (Matthew 13:20-21). Once saved, however, the soul is appointed not to wrath but to glory (I Thess. 5:9-10, Romans 8:17,28ff.), and from EVERY evil work is it delivered.

In the meantime, the Christian is to be patient, the servant a good teacher, as Paul tells Timothy (II Tim 2:24ff.), not quarrelsome, but seeking by a combination of personal meekness (2:25) for recovery of those seized by evil doctrine, and decisive valour, when the faith is confronted. This is the more necessary, for as Paul divulged, the times would become even graver, as they now therefore are, so that "they will not endure sound doctrine, and according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth" (II Timothy 4:13).

Timothy must PREACH, WARN and WITNESS, EXHORT (II Timothy 4:20, REBUKE, and in love seek to awaken those who in sleep go to be no more in the light of the Lord, without hope, without faith, rebellious. WORK for the night is coming when no man can work (John 9:4-5).



For fuller treatment, see gracetoface7.html