December 15- Nº 349 2 Timothy 1 – 4
Nero, the Emperor of Rome, had never been kind to Christians. When half of Rome was burned to the ground in 64 A.D., he decided to blame it on Jesus’ followers. This gave him the opportunity to outlaw Christianity. Persecution of believers rose to a whole new level. Paul (who had recently been released from a Roman prison—see #333 - November 29 and #343 - December 9), was targeted as a ringleader. He was re-arrested in Asia Minor as he ministered in the church at Troas. Fearing for their own lives, none of the believers had stood up for Paul during his arrest. None had supported him when he was on trial before the Imperial Court in Rome. This time, instead of being confined to a house, he was thrown into a cold, damp prison cell. Although he was physically alone, Paul knew that Jesus was with him. From that dark cell, he wrote a letter to Timothy, his son in the faith. Although he realized that he was about to die, Paul did not complain about his harsh treatment or the horrible conditions. Instead, he wrote a personal letter filled with encouragement and instructions. “Stay true to the Gospel you first learned from you grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice,” Paul wrote. “And remain strongly committed to the things I have taught you.” He told Timothy to teach these things to faithful leaders who would then pass them onto others in the same way that Paul had passed them on to him. This strategy of discipleship would allow the Gospel to spread even during persecution. One of Paul’s goals was to give Timothy the courage to continue ministering. He knew that Timothy was much more timid than he was. So, he urged him not to be ashamed of the Gospel or frightened by the fact that his mentor was now an accused criminal. Then Paul illustrated the kind of commitment Timothy should have. He should be like: · a soldier whose goal is to please his commanding officer rather than get involved in civilian affairs; · or an athlete who trains hard and follows the rules so that he can win a trophy; · or a farmer who is the first to benefit when his hard work finally results in a bountiful harvest. Paul explained that these individuals are all committed to something bigger than themselves. They are willing to make short-term sacrifices to experience long-term gains. Paul stated clearly. “Evil people and false teachers won’t go away—as a matter of fact, they will continue to multiply. But knowing that Jesus was raised from the dead—and that one day we will join him—makes the sacrifice worthwhile!” “Work hard to handle the truth correctly,” he continued. “Don’t get caught up in discussions or arguments with false teachers. They are deceitful and divisive and far more interested in fulfilling their own pleasures than they are in following God.” Paul instructed Timothy to teach only what was in the Scriptures. “They are inspired by God and contain everything you need to teach, correct, and train people to live righteous lives,” he wrote. He warned Timothy to stay focused and not give in to his own desires. As he closed his letter, Paul begged Timothy to come see him as soon as possible—and to bring Mark with him. He asked him to stop in Troas to pick up his cloak and scrolls that were left behind when he was arrested. This letter was Paul’s final farewell.
Have you ever felt abandoned and all alone? Do you understand that Jesus is right there beside you? He promised that he will never leave us or abandon us. Paul found this to be true even in a cold, dark prison cell.