Summary: Knowing that he would soon face death at the hands of the Roman government, Paul issues some solemn commands to Timothy that were to guide him in carrying on the mission of spreading the Gospel of Christ.
Parting Words from Paul
Text: 2 Tim. 4:7
Intro: A dying person’s last words are generally considered very weighty. In fact, a person’s dying words are admissible as evidence in a court of law. For some reason, society seems to display great interest in a person’s final thoughts. Perhaps this interest is an attempt to gain insight into one of the greatest mysteries of man’s existence—death.
Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Queen of England, made a very revealing statement from her deathbed. Just before the monarch took her last breath, she said, “All my possessions for a moment of time.”(1) Her statement would seem to indicate that, at her moment of death, she viewed one more second of life as infinitely more valuable than all the trinkets and trappings of her royal status.
One of the great short story writers of last century, William Sidney Porter (1862-1910), who went by the penname of O. Henry, just prior to exiting this world, said, “Turn up the lights, I don’t want to go home in the dark.”(2) One could perhaps offer a number of implied meanings of Porter’s final cryptic statement.
Edgar Allan Poe, a man known for his stories of mystery and the macabre (pronounced like ma-kob’), was an author, poet, editor and literary critic. Poe was the victim of a very bizarre, chaotic, and unhappy upbringing. In 1849, he was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, and wearing a suit of clothes not his own. From October 3 to October 7, 1849, Poe remained in a state of delirium. Shortly before 5 a.m., Poe said, “Lord help my poor soul.”(3) Having uttered those pitiful words, he died.
While the final words of those mentioned above may leave us feeling a bit unsettled and disturbed, the last words of Christians are often quite different. The last thoughts from the lips of Dwight L. Moody (1834-1892) thrill this preacher’s heart. Listen, as he speaks from his deathbed:
“Earth recedes. Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.”
“No, no, Father,” said Moody’s son, “You are dreaming.”
“I am not dreaming,” replied Moody. “I have been within the gates. I have seen the children’s faces.” His last words were, “This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! It is glorious!”(4)
The last words of Moody are somewhat similar to those of the Apostle Paul, in Second Timothy 4:1-8, in the sense that they are words of victory, joy, and expectation. Paul, in seeking to prepare Timothy for Paul’s fast-approaching death, at the hands of the Roman government, speaks not with words of self-pity and fear, but words of victorious encouragement and confidence. Oh that every child of God would face death with such glorious grace.
Paul’s final words to Timothy are words that Christians of our day need to take to heart. We need to serve the Lord each day as though it was our last day on earth—as though we would stand before the Lord before the day’s end. Notice with me today, the Parting Words from Paul.