Summary: Encouragment for those nearing the end of the Christian journey.
A View from the Finish Line
Paul does us a wonderful service when he gives to believers a view from the finish line. He’s just about ready to finish his life’s race, when he decided to write to young Timothy, his protégé, and said, “Timothy, let me tell you how I feel right now. Allow me to give you a view of what I’ve got going on inside me as I approach the finish line.” Due to persecution, Paul was in prison in Rome, more than likely in the Mamertine Dungeon. There, beside the river, damp and dark and cold, Apostle Paul wrote this last letter to Timothy, his dear son in the faith. Sensing that he was approaching the finish line, Paul gave his final words of encouragement, challenge, and caution to a young man that he had mentored and discipled in the faith. Paul sent this letter hoping that Timothy, who was in Ephesus (2 Timothy 1:18), would receive it in time to come to him in Rome before anything bad happened or winter set in (2 Timothy 4:9, 21). But if not, then this letter would serve as Paul’s last will and testament and would prepare Timothy to do the work of ministry in Paul’s absence and to ensure that the gospel was extended to the next generation. Even though Paul is lonely, he is fulfilled in what he’s been able to accomplish and he is full of anticipation.
1. The Confidence
First, he compared himself to a sacrifice. The "sacrifice" is a reference to the drink offering which in the Jewish feasts terminated the great Day of Atonement. At the end of all the offerings, a drink offering, a jug of wine was poured out upon the altar. Paul sees himself in that way.
Second, Paul was ready to depart
1. Paul was raising anchor
a.) The first word picture for the word departure is that of a ship raising anchor and removing moorings to leave one country for an another
b.) Paul had been anchored in this life but was now ready to raise anchor and set sail for his new home
2. Paul was breaking camp
a.) The second word picture for departure is that of a camp being taken down to move on
b.) Paul was constantly moving from village to village, city to city and country to country. Paul was now breaking camp for the last time and heading for his permanent home in heaven.
3. Paul was released from his burden
a.) The third word picture of departure was that of unyoking an animal from the burden of its work
b.) Paul was being released from his burden and his labor for Christ’s kingdom was over. Paul was moving on to his rest with Christ.
Paul had given his all for the service of Christ and he was ready to move on to be with Christ
2. The Conflict
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
CONQUERERS (square miles they conquered)
1. Genghis Khan (1162-1227), 4,860,000
2. Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) 2,180,000
3. Tamerlane (1336-1405), 2,145,000
4. Cyrus the Great (600-529 B.C.), 2,090,000
5. Attila (406-453), 1,450,000
6. Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), 1,370,000, all of which he lost in 3 years
7. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) 720,000
8. Mahmud of Ghazni (971-1030) 680,000
9. Francisco Pizarro (1470-1541), 480,000
10. Hernando Cortes (1485-1547), 315,000
3. The Course
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
William Barclay writes: “The one thing necessary for life is staying-power, and that is what so many people lack. It was suggested to a certain very famous man that his biography should be written while he was still alive. He absolutely refused to give permission, and his reason was: ‘I have seen so many men fall out on the last lap.’” Paul was not going to fall out on the last lap.