Deserters, Devotees and Directives

2 Timothy 4:9 begins the ‘Personal Remarks’ section of Paul’s mentoring manual to Timothy. There is an urgency in his directives to his young associate.  Paul names deserters, devotees and gives directives to Timothy in light of both groups.

“Do your best to come to me quickly,…”

How long did it take Timothy to receive this letter? ‘Quickly’ is a relative term. Paul needs Timothy’s help. He needs companionship, his cloak and his scrolls, likely written portions of Scripture.

Why does Paul need this urgent help? He lists for Timothy the changing roster of co-workers, some who have deserted or departed, while others have demonstrated devotion.

Demas because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica

What happened? Had Demas not heard, “And be not conformed to this world....?” as Paul had penned the classic letter to the Romans. Had he ever met the Apostle John, the Spirit-filled leader who wrote, “Love not the world…” The issue for Demas, as it it for us, is not a lack of information, but a lack of obedience.

Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. What took these men elsewhere? Ministry? We’re not sure.  The bottom line was that they weren’t with Paul to help take care of him.

Only Luke is with me. Paul’s physician, companion on missionary journeys and author of two New Testament large volumes unpacking the history of the Christian movement, had stayed. He’d know Paul’s physical needs. He’d be able to ease suffering when God chose not to heal.  

Get Mark – Say what? Mark? The one who quit on the first missionary journey?  Mark? The relative of Barnabas.  “…and bring him with you, because is is helpful to me in my ministry.” In this one sentence Paul has made a huge statement about second chances, forgiveness and restoration.  Details are sparse, but something major has happened! Full reconciliation is always a cause for great joy among those who understand repentance.

I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.  Perhaps some urgent church crisis or further correspondence had compelled Paul to deploy this team member.

And now the specific instructions for Timothy….

“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Thomas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”

Paul is cold.  As the winter season moves in, the lonely prison cell will prove a challenging place to be comfortable.  What will really sustain this aging apostle? A cloak may help a frail body keep warm, but truth, God’s truth, Scripture — written out on parchment scrolls, is what is life giving.

This paragraph presses all of us to ask, “What’s really important? What do I really treasure?  What people has God placed in my life and what is happening to each of them?” Some are devoted.  Others are distracted.  Praise God for those, who like Timothy, bless us as they model obedience.  

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