Summary: A short grave-side message for a godly person who fought a long hard battle to overcome sickness. He fought the good fight, finished his race, & he kept the faith.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. (7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; (8) in the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing.”
Many of those facing death have an unusually clear perspective on what is truly important in life. A message from the dying can give purpose to the living. Paul’s dying instructions to his beloved son in the faith spans the ages to challenge us as well.
Here Paul viewed his approaching death as certain. He was already being poured out like a drink offering (Phil. 2:17). Paul knew that there would be no release from his confinement in a Roman jail. The time had come for his departure (analyseôs, a sailor’s term for loosening the moorings to sail out to sea which Paul made a analogy for his death).
As I watched John over those tough trying days, weeks, and months I could seen his life being poured out also. John also knew the time of his departure had come.... A long time before I knew it or at least would accept it.
Looking back over his life, the apostle offered a remarkable testimony in verse 7. He had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. The word fight is agôn, which gives us our word agony. It pictures an athlete coming off the field, having given the tough contest his all, his total effort. Giving your all though is not enough, you need to be fighting for the right cause. Far too many people climb the ladder of success-life only in the end to find it was leaning against the wrong wall. John though kept the faith. I had heard is clear testimony of when he place his life in the hands of God by receiving Jesus as his Lord & Savior
Paul also declared that he had finished the race. He had completed the work, the last task that God had given him. We all want to finish well in the race called life well, don’t we? Like Paul, John finished well by relying on Jesus and His Spirit to see Him through. And so by grace John fought to climb all the way over his final challenging mountain into the thin air to his earthly finish line. He remained faithful to the end. And now he is viewing the mysterious panorama of heaven and looking upon his loving, majestic Lord Jesus.
May I read verse 8?
As a result of his faithfulness to duty Paul had no fear of facing the Lord, the righteous Judge, but only an anticipation of reward in the form of a crown of righteousness which was already waiting in store for him. This crown of righteousness is for all the faithful who have longed for Jesus’ appearing, John included. I hope one will be waiting for you also.
In 4:18 we find a triumphant finale, To Him be the glory forever and ever. This is the purpose that should inspire our life also. My time with John reminded me that as I live I need to remember that my rewarded does not come as I run the race, but when I finishing the race. May we too be able to say as we face death that we have finished the race God has given us to run, even if like John we have to fight all the way to the end to do so.