The Word This Week

2 Timothy 1:1...

When Paul last wrote Timothy, he was a free man, serving the Lord once again after having been released from house arrest at Rome.

His concern then was to bolster Timothy’s authority in leading the church they had planted at Ephesus, which was a world-capitol of idolatry. It would be no small feat for this church to continue to thrive in the midst of this bustling city where the Temple of Diana was its most prominent architectural feature.

Now Paul’s concerns are even greater.

In the ensuing couple of years, emperor Nero had gone completely mad and either accidentally or intentionally burned Rome. The citizens were outraged about the fire, and Nero had a gigantic public-relations disaster on his hands. People were beginning to wonder if Nero himself had set the fire as a means of clearing the riff-raff from the city in order to rebuild it in glory.

(Many historians this day believe this is indeed what had happened.)

Rather than being engulfed in THAT fire of public outrage, Nero - inspired by the spirit of anti-Christ - came up with a plan to place the blame on this new religious sect called ‘Christians.’ This became the story of how the events of the fire played out. It was a ‘big lie’ that calmed the public toward Nero and turned their outrage toward the Christians.

This worked, because, after all, weren’t the Christians known for refusing to worship the emperor as God – and weren’t the Christians well-known for saying this was, “all going to burn?”

Paul, known to be a ringleader of those Christians, was hunted down and arrested, along with Peter and many others. Paul and Peter were placed in the Mamartine dungeon in Rome, a horrible place of torment and deprivation. There would be no house-arrest for Paul this time, and this time Paul’s release from imprisonment would only be accomplished by his beheading.

This was the end of the ministry road for Paul. These are his last words.

He writes Timothy again – this time to encourage Timothy, who has been made aware of Paul’s arrest - which he also understands will most-likely result in his death. Paul, as we may expect from such a servant of Christ, seems primarily concerned with Timothy and his faithful continuance in the ministry at Ephesus rather than himself. Indeed, his final words are a treasure.

Pastor Bill