The Testimony Of Paul's Life
2 Timothy 3:10-13; 4:1-8, 17, 18
Graduation time is a new beginning.
On the last day of school a student leaves the place of learning.
But it is a beginning, not the end.
A valedictorian usually speaks and looks back and remembers past year of achievements, gives a farewell
to their school.
Expressions of gratitude are heard as they are reminded of the benefits and blessings, they have received
during their time of their education.
This is also true of the apostle Paul who looked back as a prisoner in a Roman prison, and remembered the life
that he had lived.
It would soon be ended, and he was eager to make his summary, and to recall all of his ministry.
He did not gloss over the ills and difficulties that he had encountered as a Christian.
He had a testimony to the life he had lived as worthwhile in spite of all the scars he had received.
1. A fearless life, 2 Timothy 3:10-13
The chapter opens with a declaration that "perilous times" are to be expected.
The "last days" were about to come.
Time was running out, and although Paul did not live to see his Lord's second advent; he truly believed
in that appearing and as something that would definitely happen.
Death was to come soon for Paul, and his words still abide today for the church which waits for the coming Lord.
(1) The persecutions (verses 10, 11)
The opening verses of the chapter describes the dangers and perils of those days.
Men were living evil lives, and with their sordid aims prostituted the God-given powers of life.
Their foolishness was apparent to Paul as he wrote to Timothy to warn him against the seductive
influences around him.
He commands Timothy to followed his teaching.
Not only is his teaching accepted but also is his "conduct, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, patience,
Then he remembers certain events at Antioch, Iconium, and Listra.
In those places he was subjected to opposition from those who rejected the gospel.
Paul was assaulted several times and stoned.
Once he was left for dead and thrown out of the city.
He also knew what it was to receive the punishment of the lash, as well as to be thrust into prison many times.
Down through the centuries the Christian church has had its share of trouble and opposition.
In civilized countries there have been those who have sought the destruction of the church.
The gospel has not always been welcomed.
Others in lands outside our nation have been persecuted under death as well as put in prisons.
What has been done physically has had its equivalent in mental and social attacks bringing ruin
and disaster to many Christian lives.
We remember the Boxer Rebellion in China, the Nazi atrocities in Germany, the evil of communism in Russia,
and more recent persecutions and South America, India, and other lands where superstition and evil religion
have been instruments of persecution.
Timothy was reminded of those qualities of character which stood the test of those trying days for him
and the church.
By following Paul's example (even as he was a witness to it) he modeled his life by love, patient endurance,
and faith in being steadfast under provocation.
This was the victory of the Christian in those dread and terrible times.
(2) Relevant witness (verse 12)
Paul knew that what he had endured was a sample of what the whole church would endure from time to time.
He informs Timothy that there is no release or relief from this warfare.
Evil powers will molest and the secular society will not be friendly to Christian standards of morals and conduct.
Sometimes preachers infer that if only the teaching of Jesus were observed our whole society would
I wish that this could be true, but human nature must first be regenerated to do this.
The world at large does not have the power to do this.
Only by spiritual change and rebirth is this possible.
Those who are Christ's and who live godly in this world will meet the challenge of evil.
A good life shows up the bad life.
The Christian life disturbs the non-Christian life.
Christians can be hated in this age in which we live, and although we may not be put to death for our faith,
there are other more subtle ways of doing away with the Christian.
He may lose advancement in his business because he will not go along with the crowd in certain social practices.|He may experience isloation and antagonism in the community because he refuses to compromise
in his keeping of the Lord's Day.
As he stands against desecrations of the holy and sacred, he will find opposition.
(3) When things are bad. (verse 13)
Paul relates what is realistic.
We recognize the trends today as it was in his day.
Corruption abounds in all walks of life.
Politics, business, sports, and even religion are affected with pollutions of evil standards of compromise.
Godly testimony is not wanted or welcomed.
Many centuries have followed after Paul's declaration ,and the same deceits and evils abound today.
They get worse and worse.
There are those who think the world is getting better and better.
We can certainly appreciate the improvements for man's social economic life where Christian civilization
Yet underneath the surface, human nature is unchanged.
Our world is in the age of the nuclear bomb, and the age of the greatest cruelties known by man to man
and sadistic deeds and devilish destruction.
As yet there is no justice among men and "slavery" is not wiped out entirely.
We can never take for granted that this generation is better in their heart.
We can never know what will erupt like molten lava when the volcano of human nature trembles with fear.
2. A full life, 2 Timothy 4:1-8
Paul lived a fearless life in the midst of persecution and opposition.
In the fight against evil, he never compromised.
His fearless life is matched with the full life he lived in his dedication to the will of God in Christ.
(1) Preach the word. (verses 1-4)
This admonition came out of Paul's full experience of the missionary enterprise.
All of his Christian life had been lived in the conviction that the word of God must be proclaimed to all men
Both Jew and Gentile heard it from his lips.
Now he urges Timothy to make this his aim in the ministry.
Here is his charge to Timothy.
Paul had a busy life in travel, establishing churches, ordaining leaders, writing letters, and the care
of the churches generally, but the most important thing which filled his life was to proclaim the eternal gospel.
This was done in the light of the eternal presence – "in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus."
Paul knew that he served under the eye of his Great God, and his entire life was seen in that light.
He had stood firm before Nero, the Emperor, as well as lesser dignitaries.
He had been in the presence of some of the finest minds and intellects of his day.
Throughout he never swerved from preaching the Word of God, "instant, urgent, in season, out of season,"
so that he was well aware of the implications of that task.
Standing before God in Christ was more awesome than standing before any earthly throne,
and it was this which impelled him write as he did.
It was the thought of divine judgment on his life which gave purpose and meaning to this charge.
Another reason for preaching the word of God lay it in the spirit of thinking hearers.
Always the spirit of the age is that which turns man away from the truth.
Our day is a witness to the restlessness and the surface-like nature of men's minds easily swayed by trash
and brain-washing whereas the truth is not superficial and so rejected.
(2) Fulfill thy ministry. (verse 5)
Paul's full life indicated a ministry which never stopped wherever he was.
Before the public or in the streets or synagogues or homes Paul spoke the gospel message.
Now while in prison, he kept on ministering to the Roman guard chained to his wrist, and to the strangers
who came to his humble abode.
Now he urges Timothy to have a similar ministry.
He urges Timothy to do this and to live a sober life.
This stressed for a gravity in the knowledge of conditions and an understanding of human nature.
Suffering would be part of the lot of one who would do the work of an evangelist.
Timothy was to tell everyone the good news of salvation.
To fulfill his service he was to bring to completion his God-given task.
His commission implied this servant work for the church.
To make full proof of his ministry meant to discharge an obligation which God had given him.
The evangelist is the one who thinks in terms of "others", everywhere and who has a concern to reach them
with the gospel.
He is never off duty no matter what he does.
It was this spirit which spurred Timothy on, even as it revealed the heart of the apostle.
(3) Eternal confidence (verses 6:8
In his passage are enshrined some of the last words of Paul.
This is his valedictory and farewell.
It is not the lament of the defeated or the dirge of the disappointed.
This is the clarion call to others to listen to one who has endured through a long life to win the victory.
There is humility in these words and there is the note of triumphant satisfaction.
A life well spent and given fully to God brings no other end or reward.
Three things are claimed in these words.
(a) Poured out as a drink-offering. (Verse 6)
In this offering Paul used the language of the Tabernacle and Temple.
Then the libation was poured out at the climax of dedication and thanksgiving.
Paul had recognized his full life as one like that.
Nothing was kept back, and he had no reservations.
This was the time of his "departure."
In this he used a seafaring word for a ship leaving the harbor and putting out to sea.
Death beckoned him, and he saw himself sailing out from the narrows and the limitations of this earthly life
to the boundless, wider life beyond time.
(b) Fought the fight, finished the course, kept the faith. (Verse 7)
Words never were more sublime than these.
Having used the metaphors of the wine poured out on the altar and the unmooring from the shore,
he now turns to the world of athletics for these well-known ones – the wrestler and boxer, the runner,
and the martyr who lays down his life.
He had not only kept the faith, but he had kept faith.
There was no slackness in Paul.
There was not a laggard step and no turning aside for him.
Nothing could intimidate him, and an old Roman emperor couldn't muzzle him.
He kept on to the end in triumph.
(c) Laid up for me the crown. (Verse 8)
In passionate and burning words Paul comes to his climax as he utters these thoughts.
At the end of the race in the stadium, the winners were crowned.
Usually a wreath of bay leaves and was all that was given to the winner in the Olympic Games of old.
This was reward enough, and far transcended money or material gain.
The honor was everything.
Paul expected to be so crowned by his Lord and final Judge.
Others also would have the same anticipation, even Timothy, when sharing the same faith.
The wreath of victory is its own glory and reward.
3. A Faithful Life, 2 Timothy 4:17, 18
Paul knew the cost of a witness which was down to earth and relevant.
He faced the onslaughts of evil in many guises.
The State would have swallowed him up.
Nero would have destroyed him earlier if he could.
False teachers would have discredited his teaching if they had had the power.
His steadfastness is obvious as we think of his final words before the end of his life.
(1) The power given. (verse 17)
The most astounding thing is that Paul lived an incredible life.
What he went through would have killed many others by the incessant demands upon time and strength.
The spiritual conflict was real and the load of responsibility he carried for all the churches was crushing at times.
Nevertheless, Paul was sustained throughout his life and work.
The secret is revealed when he said, "the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me."
God gave him power to stand in the evil day.
Paul knew what it was to be deserted by those who proved weak, and who defected from the Christian faith.
There was Demas, and there was Alexander the coppersmith.
A marathon race require stamina and staying power.
Paul was given this.
To run with patience, and to endure to the end is not an easy task.
Paul mentions in the context the names of those friends (such as Luke and Mark) who were encouragements to him.
Not all were renegades and traitors.
Paul could speak of a majority who stood with him to the end.
There was also the fact that through this time of the endurance the messages or proclamation
– through Paul was fully proclaimed.
That was enough satisfaction for Paul.
In the same experience, he could testify how God delivered him "out of the mouth of the lion."
The lion in this case referred to Nero, the despot, on the throne of the Roman empire.
Nero had put Paul under sentence of death, a prisoner in a Roman prison.
Perhaps he imagined he could, and would, end the life and influence Paul.
The tyrant could blot out the Christian.
But history now tells how Nero is dead, and almost forgotten.
No dog is named by his name.
The name of Paul in contrast is given to our sons.
Paul's faith and message is still being proclaimed, and all were a wider and greater empire than Rome.
Paul's name is on the honor roll of the ages for his character and writings and influence.
He abides as the best interpreter of the Christ he served.
Paul had been acquitted at his first trial, and now he knew the end of his life was near.
As a Roman citizen, Paul could not be sent to the arena to be devoured by the lion.
Paul will not escape from some other mode of death, but in dying he will still be delivered from the evil one
who worked through Nero.
(2) The prospect ahead (verse 18)
Paul's language in this section suggests that he has familiarity with Psalms 22.
It is in that where the psalmist testifies of God's deliverance in time of trouble.
"Save me from the lion's mouth… I will declare thy name unto my brethren." (Psalm 22:21, 22)
In the midst of the most dangerous times Paul was confident that God would not fail him.
His faith carried him through the fiery trials of persecution and imprisonment.
Now that he must face the executioner's block, he expresses a new conviction that even in death,
he will not be afraid and will be saved.
Paul was killed at the hand of the evil powers of the State under Nero, but death did not destroy
his faith or his life.
His days of witnessing were ended here, but his testimony endures forever.
He lost his earthly life, but he gained eternal life and heaven.
Nero's kingdom has crumbled to ruin, but the kingdom of Jesus Christ endures and increases.
Paul was devoted to his Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
He bore testimony by word and by conduct of a transformed life.
That life is seen to be fearless before every attack, full before every test of character, and faithful before
every crucial examination of strength.
Paul came through these tests as a shining light and of a burning witness for Christ.
His testimony is unimpeached and his influence continues.
Our age has devised new forms of persecution and testing for the Christian.
There are many threats around the world that are real, and that the Christian must bear testimony
against their evil of hate and destruction.
Secularism has found its way into the warp and woof of our culture and society.
Christianity is not only tolerated and ignored sometimes, but there is also a growing menace of opposition.
Men have not only lived on the dividends of the investment of the Christian faith in our land,
but they are beginning to waste the capital itself.
Paul's ringing declaration of his testimony should encourage us with our special situations.
Whatever the odds are against us, we may stand where Paul stood.
Our admiration for Paul should not hinder us from copying his example.
His influence abides to spur us on.
This concludes the study of 2 Timothy