Summary: Though believers in the Lord are engaged in battles to the end of earthly days, they are assured of victory in Christ.

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“Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense, no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me, the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” [1]

At the conclusion of the film, “We Were Soldiers,” the West Point Cadet Choir sings a beautiful hymn. This particular hymn was sung at the funeral of President Ronald Reagan. The hymn, entitled “The Mansions of the Lord,” presents haunting lyrics that while admittedly militaristic, are entirely appropriate to commemorate the end of battles for a saint of God who has at last gone to her or to his eternal rest. This is the song, which I have come to love.

To fallen soldiers let us sing

Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing

Our broken brothers let us bring

To the mansions of the Lord

No more bleeding no more fight

No prayers pleading through the night

Just divine embrace, eternal light

In the mansions of the Lord

Where no mothers cry and no children weep

We will stand and guard though the angels sleep

All through the ages safely keep

the mansions of the Lord [2]

One day, each Christian listening to the message this day will have fought the final battle. As he wrote the words of our text, the end of the old man’s battles could be measured in days, or perhaps even in hours. Shortly, Paul would be forced to kneel on Roman flagstones and a swordsman would raise a large sword above the old man’s outstretched neck. One swift, downward motion and the flashing sword would ensure an inglorious end for the aged Apostle.

Undoubtedly, many would see this as an inglorious end. Many, even many professing Christians, would sarcastically assert that he got what he deserved since he was so unreasonable, always refusing to compromise, always insisting on fidelity to the unseen God he served. However, another chapter that is unseen will shortly unfold. Paul alludes to that additional chapter when he writes, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” [2 TIMOTHY 4:18].

Usually, our closing comments in personal missive are somewhat mundane. Though the Apostle’s comments turn to the personal, they are not unimportant. The old man speaks of people and places, includes some exhortations and reveals that he is fully engaged in ministry to the very end. The final paragraphs are poignant. The old man longs to see the young theologue one final time. He knows he will face the final battle alone, so he requests that Timothy hurry to Rome, bringing John Mark with him. Despite the dire situation, in the face of certain death the old man expresses confidence in the Master whom he has served through the many years.

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