Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 25 2013 - 2 Timothy 4:1-22 – Finishing Well

Paul knows that his life is drawing to a close; he writes, "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure" (2 Timothy 4:6). His was not to be the quiet death of old age. He knows that he will soon face execution. But he views his death as he has viewed his life since the day of his encounter with the risen Christ; his life has been poured out in service of his Lord. "I have fought the good fight," he writes, "I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (4:7). Paul has not wavered or turned back from serving Christ. Even now, when many have abandoned him, he continues to proclaim the saving message of Jesus (4:17).

What a sad contrast with Demas (v.10). Demas had been one of Paul’s missionary team, helping him in the work of the Gospel. His name is mentioned along with Luke in the greetings Paul sends to the church at Colossae at the end of his letter to them (Colossians 4:14) and is mentioned alongside Luke, Mark and Aristarchus in Paul’s greetings to Philemon (Philemon 1:24). He had seemed to run well, but, when the going got tough, he deserted Paul “because he loved this world / this present age.” Demas loved his present life more than the work of the gospel and the coming kingdom.

Speaking of Mark, it’s good to read Paul’s estimate of this young man (v.11). Mark had turned back from accompanying Paul on his missionary journeys and Paul did not want to take him along a second time – he did not want an unreliable worker (Acts 15:36-41). But in the end, Mark had made good and had proved a real help to Paul in his ministry. He was now running well. Who knows, Demas may well have proved useful again in the end.

Paul writes, "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" (4:8). He has his eye on the finishing line and his hope set on the prize that awaits him. He's determined to finish well.

Does the hope of glory and the longing for Christ's appearing – the hope of cosmic transformation – keep us faithful and strong in following and serving Christ? Does it encourage us when we fall to pick ourselves up and continue the race? Let's make sure we finish the race and finish well. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Living God, we thank you for the ministry and example of the Apostle Paul and his determination to be faithful and useful as long as he had breath. But we thank you even more for the saving work of Christ who was faithful to the task you had committed to him. He was faithful to death and has been crowned with glory and honour. As we look for and long for the day of his appearing, help us to follow him and to serve him faithfully by serving others cheerfully. Help us not to grow weary and lose heart. As we have started the race, so let us finish, strong in faith and empowered by your Spirit.

Peter Misselbrook