Daily Devotional

May 4, 2019

Daybreak: 2 Timothy 4:1-22

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

It pays to determine to keep the faith even in difficult situations. When I was saved as a teenager, I was living with my parents in Nigeria. They strongly opposed my attending the Apostolic Faith Church, and one day my father confronted me about it. He said that I had to attend his church, but I indicated I preferred to go to a place that taught me how to live victoriously over sin. Because of that choice, my father said he would no longer pay for my college expenses, and he also instructed my mother not to support me in any way or even give me food. I became a stranger in my own home. 

The persecution was severe and sometimes almost unbearable, yet God was close to me. At one point, I looked for a job outside our town. However, when I talked to my pastor, he said I should not run away from persecution. He encouraged me to endure and be true to God no matter what it took. After three years, God in His own way provided money for me to go to college without the support of my parents. Later, I received a scholarship to come to the United States to continue my studies. 

I prayed earnestly for my parents’ salvation. When I went back to Nigeria to do a research project, my mother volunteered that she wanted to start attending our church, and until she passed away she traveled from another town each Sunday to attend services. About nine years later, I called my dad from the United States, and he told me that he was packing to attend camp meeting at our church in Lagos! He was saved at those meetings, and he has since been sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost. At eighty-two years old, he is still serving the Lord.

The Apostle Paul faced many persecutions, but God took him through, and many people heard the Gospel because of his faithfulness. At the end of his life, he could say that he had fought a good fight and kept the faith. 

When we face persecutions, we want to have that same determination to continue on with the Lord. It pays to fight the good fight of faith because God always has a purpose for everything we go through. I did not know that God was speaking to my parents’ hearts while they were persecuting me, but my dad later mentioned how my steadfastness helped to bring him to Christ. If we continue serving the Lord, we will be glad we did, and others may be saved as a result. It is worthwhile to keep the faith!

Background

In 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul’s final writing to Timothy, Paul admonished the younger man to be faithful in his ministry. It was written shortly before the Apostle was executed by the Emperor Nero around A.D. 67. In this chapter, Paul delivered a solemn charge to Timothy to preach the Word of God. 

In the previous part of his letter, Paul had instructed Timothy in how to be a minister, and in verse 1, he put the responsibility upon Timothy to be faithful in fulfilling this calling. The word charge could be translated “adjure,” for the original language had a legal tone. Paul reminded Timothy that he would be accountable to God for this responsibility. 

To fulfill this calling, Paul exhorted Timothy to “preach the word.” He was to declare the Gospel urgently and authoritatively, like the heralds of that time announced a pending arrival of the emperor. And he was to do this consistently. “Be instant in season, out of season,” has also been translated, “Press it home on all occasions, convenient or inconvenient.” Reproof, rebuke, and exhortation would be necessary, but Paul wanted these to be given patiently and with a doctrinal basis. 

Paul warned Timothy that some would not want to hear the truth he preached. Consequently, Timothy needed to be alert and to work at winning souls. If Timothy endured afflictions and proclaimed the Gospel, he would “make full proof” of his ministry. That phrase could also be translated, “carry out to the full the commission that God gave you.” 

The time of Paul’s own ministry was nearly over, and he had done what he was exhorting Timothy to do. In saying, “I am now ready to be offered,” he referred to a drink offering that was poured out when making sacrifices under the Law. “The time of my departure” alluded to a soldier taking down his tent. 

When Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith,” his comparison was to the Greek athletic competitions. Paul looked back and knew he had done his best for God. As a result, he knew he would receive a “crown of righteousness.” The crown Paul referred to here was not the crown of royalty, but the victory crown given to the winner of a race at sporting events of that time. Paul contrasted the athlete’s crown, which was made of olive branches that would eventually wither, to the crown given by the Lord, which will last forever. He said that “all them also that love his appearing” could obtain this crown.

With the major portion of his letter completed, beginning at verse 9, Paul gave some concluding remarks and greetings. The tone reveals some of Paul’s feelings, including loneliness, as he lived in a Roman dungeon not long before his execution. One of his workers, Demas, had departed. “Alexander the coppersmith” may refer to the Alexander mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20. In spite of Paul’s circumstances, the Apostle knew the Lord would be with him and preserve him.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   Expression of faithfulness in service (4:1-8)
      A.   The charge (4:1-2)
            1.   The gravity of the charge (4:1)
            2.   The responsibility of the charge (4:2)
      B.   The reason (4:3-4)
      C.   The contrast (4:5)
      D.   The example (4:6-8)
            1.   The endurance (4:6)
            2.   The consummation (4:7)
            3.   The crown (4:8)
V.   Conclusion (4:9-22)
      A.   Paul’s requests (4:9-13)
            1.   For companionship (4:9-12)
            2.   For his cloak, books, and parchments (4:13)
      B.   Paul’s reflections (4:14-18)
            1.   The danger of Alexander (4:14-15)
            2.   The first trial (4:16-17)
            3.   The confidence of His protection (4:18)
      C.   Greetings, some information, and further requests (4:19-21)
      D.   Benediction (4:22)

A Closer Look

  1. In today’s text, what are three of the things Paul told Timothy to do?
     
  2. Why could Paul say he had fought a good fight?
     
  3. What challenges have you faced in your service for Christ?

Conclusion

God wants to help every one of us fight a good fight and keep the faith, if we will purpose to follow Him with all our hearts.

Reference Materials