A last will and testament of sorts, 2 Timothy is filled with strong exhortations, insightful instructions, and intimate reflections—and it spurred Timothy onward in his race of faith. It will do the same for us…if we hear and heed its admonitions.
Paul’s Swan Song: A Study of 2 Timothy
Few things in the world today are as needed as courage—the courage to stand against lies and error, to live godly lives in a godless culture, and to pass on the Gospel to the future generations.
But courage isn’t something you find just around the corner. It only comes from one place.
Chuck Swindoll’s inspiring series, Paul’s Swan Song: A Study of 2 Timothy, will challenge you to stand strong in the faith and carry on the ministry of the Gospel to those who follow. Best of all, it will point you to the One who can give you the courage to do so.
Timothy ministered in Ephesus, some 830 miles to the southeast. Ministry was troublesome. Heretical hounds barked and bit. And the naturally reserved Timothy had grown weary and timid. A few tender words from his mentor were just the boost of confidence and courage the young pastor needed.
Some of God’s choicest saints were reluctant (like Moses), rebellious (like Jonah), and fearful (like Timothy). Despite his timidity, Timothy was called to follow God onto the battleground. To do so, the young man needed courage to stand for Christ, even if it meant suffering.
Every verse in 2 Timothy echoes this everlasting truth: “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date”—including the last six verses of chapter 1. In these verses, Paul reminded Timothy (and us) that only two things are really eternal and worthy of lifelong investment.
When Paul laid out a path of suffering for his protégé, Timothy, the young pastor may have grimaced. But Paul promised more than pain. The path, should Timothy choose it, would take him to heights unknown—to glory after death and to greater maturity in life. The same awaits us, if we choose the rough and rugged road of Christ.
Words are powerful things. With them, we can lead people to life-freeing truth or life-imprisoning falsehood. That’s why Paul was concerned about certain men in the church who had “gone astray from the truth” (2 Timothy 2:18).
Character is no longer king; our culture champions competency. Scripture, however, champions character. So, for those of us who wish to lead in a Christian manner, character must always trump competency. That’s the message of the last seven verses 2 Timothy 2.
We’re no longer shocked and outraged by human depravity. Perhaps that’s why the Bible sometimes backs up the truck and unloads a descriptive deluge of indecency on us. That’s exactly what we get in 2 Timothy 3:1-9.
Don’t be distracted by difficulties or hampered by hardships; don’t despair because you don’t have the highest IQ, the richest portfolio, or the finest pedigree. Rather, master a few great, majestic, unchanging, simple, glorious truths—and be mastered by them.
No one enters a race hoping to come in second. Runners run to win. Paul ran to win (2 Timothy 4:7-8). And he wanted the same for Timothy—for him to finish well. But how? Second Timothy 3:14–17 provides the answer.
Paul wrote to Timothy without panic and with purpose. The days were depraved and dangerous, and Timothy needed to read Paul’s never-to-be-forgotten final charge in order to complete his ministry. Pastors today who carry on the ministry, regardless of age, location, or culture, need to hear and heed that same timely and timeless charge.
Paul didn’t think life ridiculous or irrational—even with his head on the axeman’s block. In one of the finest epitaphs found in literature, Paul celebrated life, without reservation, remorse, or regret.
Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart—not because it’s so demanding (though it is) but because it’s so isolating. This was true of Paul. All his life, he was engaged in the nitty-gritty of ministry. But sitting in a dark dungeon awaiting death, loneliness crept into his lap and refused to leave. So Paul took his pen and wrote his friend.
A grace-filled death only comes about after a grace-filled life. Like few others, Paul lived with grace and died with grace—grace to the very end.