Second Timothy 4:6



The Apostle Paul wrote of the apparent end of his own life and said in Second Timothy 4:6-7, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Paul was sitting in a Roman prison undoubtedly having been given the death penalty. As Paul looked back over the years since he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul said that he had accomplished three things. Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith


Paul fought a good fight. Literally it means that he agonized the good agony. It speaks of a great struggle. There are many fights that a person may be involved with in this world. There is the fight for freedom, the fight for human rights, the fight for equality, and a thousand other fights that may have some merit to them; but the fight that Paul was talking about was the spiritual warfare of this life. If you are involved in any other fight, but you are not involved in the great spiritual battle that rages in the world; then you have no idea what Paul was talking about. Paul was talking about the great spiritual battle of good against evil. He was talking about the spiritual opposition that will come against anyone who purposes to live for Jesus Christ. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. It is not against other human beings. It is against the dark spiritual forces of this world.


The same Greek word that is translated “fight” in this passage, “agonizomai”, is used in a similar way in other passages. It means literally to be involved in a contest or a great struggle, to contend. First Timothy 6:12 uses the word and says, “Fight the good fight of faith.” The same word is translated as “strive” in First Corinthians 9:25 that says, “And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” Colossians 4:12 translates the word as “laboring fervently” and says, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God


When Paul said, “I have fought a good fight,” he is not just talking about the fact that the Christian life is a battle. By using the word “agonizomai” Paul is also emphasizing how great was the struggle and how great was the effort that he put forth in following Jesus. If you fight a good fight consistently, then you will be able to finish your course. That is the second thing that Paul said he accomplished in his life. He said, “I have finished my course.” When Paul was still in the midst of his ministry, he said in Acts 20:24, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God


Remember this: it is not how you start, it is how you finish that counts. It is also not necessarily how early you start. As long as you start sometime, and then finish what you have started. By looking at what Paul said in Acts 20:24 we can see that Paul knew that there was no absolute assurance that he would finish his course the way the Lord willed for him to do so. There was always the possibility of failure. Anyone who thinks he stands should take heed lest he falls. There are obstacles, there are distractions, there are rabbit trails, and there are many other things that can get you off course. Concerning the things that might have taken him off course, Paul said in Acts 20:24, “None of these things move me.” In order to end up the way that Paul ended up at the end of his life, you must identify the right course for you and then you must have a strong resolve to become un-moveable from that course. First Corinthians 15:58 says “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, un-moveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord


Being un-moveable was one of the things that helped Paul to get all the way to the end of his life and able to say, “I have finished my course.” Another thing that Paul said in Acts 20:24 that demonstrates how he was able to get there was when he said, “Neither count I my life dear unto myself.” The course that God will put you on will be a course of self-denial. One of the things that will get you off that course will be your own selfish ambition or your own selfish will that will rise and cause you to make a foolish decision. If you love your own life, you will not be able to stay on God’s course for you. This same principle is found in Revelation 12:11 that speaks of how believers win the victory over the evil one and says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death 


Paul fought a good fight, he finished his course, and he kept the faith: three things. The proof that you have done the first two is by where you stand with the last one. If you come to the end of your life and you have kept the faith, then you will have only done so by having fought a good fight. Finishing your course is to end up at the end strong in faith. When Paul said that he fought a good fight, perhaps we should clarify what kind of fight we are talking about. In First Timothy 6:12 Paul said, “Fight the good fight of faith.” The spiritual fight can only be fought with faith. First John 5:4 says “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.”


It is not as easy as you may think to stand at the end of life strong in faith. Paul warned Timothy of what can happen to some people’s faith. Paul wrote in First Timothy 1:9, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck The devil wants to destroy your faith. Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:31-32, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” Some people have failed in regards to faith, and thereby have had a great failure. What is more precious than your faith? It certainly is more valuable than your bank account or anything else you could find in this world. The Bible says in First Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” If you come to the end of your life and your faith in Jesus Christ and His promises is strong and real and vibrant, then you will be able to say with the same feeling of accomplishment as the Apostle Paul when he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith


If you do continue to fight the fight of faith, you will be able to look forward somewhat to the same thing that Paul was looking forward to. He said in Second Timothy 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Paul did not look for rewards in this life. His hopes for the future were entirely tied up in what the Lord would say to Him in the next life. We are talking about a lot more than salvation. We are also talking about the rewards that believers will gain or lose at the judgment of believers.


This is no small matter. Paul did not think it was a small matter. Salvation will determine which place you end up in. But there is a lot more to be decided than just where you will be for eternity. Undoubtedly there will be rewards of authorities, and opportunities, and who knows what else that will be determined by these rewards. The rewards are called crowns. A crown is a symbol of authority. Paul did not work for his salvation, but he did labor to gain rewards. Most of us will probably receive much fewer rewards than Paul did based upon what he willingly put himself through for the cause of Christ.


We get another picture of what Paul went through for the cause of Christ by looking at what is said in the next several verses. Second Timothy 4:9-16 says, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” Paul was sitting in a jail cell on death row, and basically he asked Timothy for two things. The things that he asked for are very revealing. He asked for a coat because winter was coming on. That tells us how destitute Paul was: the great Apostle Paul without even a coat.


Paul also asked for the books and especially the parchments. In other words he was asking for the scriptures. The word that is translated books is the Greek word “biblia” from which we get our word “Bible.” This shows the priority that Paul placed on the scriptures. If you were locked in a jail cell with nothing and could have any two things, would a Bible be one of them? It would be if you understood the tremendous value and importance of the Word of God. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone by every word of God 


In this passage of scripture one other thing that we see clearly about the Apostle Paul is the degree to which he had become isolated and forsaken here at the end of his great life. Paul said, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.” Paul also said, “All men forsook me Those who say that God always gives prosperity to His children do not understand the way of the cross, nor do they understand the scriptures.


Of course, it is not like Paul to dwell on the negative circumstances in which he found himself. He wrote in Second Timothy 4:17-18, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” From a human standpoint Paul may have been alone, but he knew that he was not truly alone. The Lord was with him. If the Lord is with you, you will never walk alone, and just like Paul you will never stand alone. Jesus says to all those who believe in Him, “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”


We know that the Lord stood with Paul and the Lord strengthened Paul because we know that is what the Lord does for all of us who are His children. The Lord also strengthened Paul because the Lord wanted Paul to be a witness in this situation that Paul was in. David wrote in Psalms 23, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” The Lord wants everyone great and small, rich and poor, to hear the wonderful gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to have the opportunity to be saved from their sins. When Paul spoke of his “first answer,” Paul was talking about standing before Caesar to give an answer to the charges that were brought against Paul. It is true that the common people heard Jesus gladly, but the Lord still wants to give a chance even to kings. It could have been a frightening and fearful thing to stand before this king. Some think this was probably Nero, one of the most cruel and most evil of the Roman emperors before whom Paul stood. It would have been like standing before the antichrist. Paul needed to be strengthened in this situation. Some Christians are not faithful witnesses in the presence of the powerful people of the world, but Paul was because he went to the Lord for strength.


In Second Timothy 4:19-22 Paul wrote, “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus abode at Corinth; but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick. Do your diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.” In these closing verses we can see at least three things. 1. The warmth and friendliness that can and should characterize believers and their relationships. 2. The emphasis on the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. A final reminder of the importance of grace. The emphasis is on the spirit, not the body. The way to be a spiritual person is to have the proper relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This and much more is possible, not because of you and your efforts, but because of grace: God’s riches that are freely given because of Jesus and what Jesus has done.          



Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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