This may come as no surprise, but I really do love reading the Bible.
I know that kind of comes with the territory of being a pastor, but it’s why I love the Bible sometimes coming as a surprise. While the Bible is a book telling us about the relentless pursuit of the Father for His wayward creation, it reveals so much about us.
The Bible shows us glimpses of the majesty and power of God inasmuch as it demonstrates the full range of emotion in humanity.
No, it may not surprise you that I love reading the Bible but what might come as a surprise is how much I like this section of the Bible (2 Timothy 4:9-22) which starts with our passage today, 2 Timothy 4:9-13. And why I like it is not for the historical or geographical information.
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.2 Timothy 4:9-13
New International Version
I like it because it’s so personal. It’s almost mundane. We’re reading the conversation between spiritual father and son, mentor to protégé. And the contents of these personal comments are particularly touching and special. He tells Timothy: “hurry up and get here because I’m nearly alone”.
It’s so easy to forget how travel worked in first century. Timothy wasn’t going to buy a plane ticket in Ephesus and arrive in Rome in a few hours. Nor could Timothy jump in his car and travel down the Roman road system.
If Timothy had left before the winter hit, he could have reached Paul in about three or four months. If the winter sets in, the same trip might take up to six months—if it happened at all.
The aging Apostle knew Timothy was several months away while he was waiting on the slow Roman judicial system to work.
Not all the departures around Paul were shameful. Certainly, Demas left Paul for shameful reasons (verse 10), but Crescens and Titus more likely simply had business of some type to attend to causing them to leave. And Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus (where Timothy already was). Only Luke remained (the same Luke who authored the books of Luke and Acts). Many New Testament scholars believe Luke was not only a personal friend of Paul, but also his private physician.
The last note is the “don’t forget to bring these things when you come” list: Paul’s cloak, his scrolls, and his books (parchments).
When the chips were down on Paul’s life, he wanted his spiritual son, Timothy with him. There is much that can be said about that. We’re not meant to go through life alone. Christianity is not a “lone ranger” venture.
Do you have someone you would say, “drop it all and get here because I need you”? Have you cultivated that in others?
For all he was accomplishing for Jesus, Paul never ceased to pour into his relationships. Probably because cultivating Christian relationships is part of what we accomplish for Jesus. Paul wasn’t self-centered; he’d trained Timothy for ministry. He prepared Timothy to carry on the call of Jesus. The Gospel message Paul carried was entrusted to Timothy by Paul.
Yet in that process, he didn’t keep it impersonal. Instead, he loved Timothy as a son.
Isn’t that part of the gift the Lord gives us on the journey? Friends and spiritual family—those who come alongside us and hold us up when we feel so weary.
Reach out to that person today who comes to mind when you read those words. Encourage them. Pray the Lord blesses them. Cultivate that relationship. They are gifts from the Lord and not ones to be taken lightly.
Make the call. Schedule the lunch. Deepen the relationship.