Do your best to come to me quickly. 2 Timothy 4:9 (NIV).
For those who say that Paul made up the things in his letters, there’s this little nugget of reality. When you’re in trouble, you call for help. When things are rough, you reach out a helping hand. You do it; I do it; we all reach out for help when things become desperate. They were desperate for Paul when he wrote 2 Timothy.
When you read the entire letter, you pick up on Paul’s attitude of completion, of his resignation to his coming execution. He’s thankful to have led this ministry that Jesus Himself personally began. And he understands that the world will kill his body but he as Paul and a follower of Jesus Christ will live on. Yet you can’t miss the undertones of sadness that Paul transmits. He’s thankful to be ministering on, soldiering on until the near-term end, yet he seems sad.
He seems sad because his ministry – his life’s work – is approaching its end and there is more Paul wanted to do. Another missionary journey was desired but would not happen. Reaching out to believers in Spain, in Gaul and Germania, and deeper into Asia would not be things that Paul would do. Despite all he had personally done to reach out to non-believers and questioning Jews, Paul probably wanted to do more. He had personally experienced Jesus Christ and desperately wanted other people to know about Him. Yet Paul’s work was done and his mission was winding down. The Romans would kill him and Jesus would call him home. Paul doesn’t seem afraid to die, just sad that it is going to happen.
Again, realism. If you or I had lived the life Paul lived, perhaps we would feel the same. What’s the most logical response? Paul says, “Help me. I need help now because time is running out. Do your best to come to me quickly…because if you take to long, I’ll be gone. We won’t be able to talk about things that we need to talk about. There are things the Lord wants to do through this, and I need you to help me while we can.”
Consider how a lie would have been simpler: “I’m doing ok. Everything is fine. No, they aren’t going to kill me. Everything is peaches and cream.” Those who knew Paul wouldn’t have accepted that because they knew him, understood him, had grown in the faith with him. That simpler lie might have fooled a few but, like all lies, would have been hollow and meaningless. If Paul had simply made these things up, why would he feel sad about them? Indeed, if his works are all lies, why would he feel anything about them?
Because Paul shared these things in so few words, his genuine feeling comes down through the years.
For further reading: Acts 17:1, 2 Corinthians 2:13, Colossians 4:14, Philemon 24, 2 Timothy 4:10
Thank You for Paul’s mission work, Lord.