Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come–and the books, especially the parchments. (2 Timothy 4:11-13)
Last Minute Concerns
Paul’s final letter to Timothy is charged with a lot of emotion. He knows his life is very short yet he looks to the release of body and spirit as one of joy. The Roman shackles will not keep him from the reward he so anxiously longs for. Buried deep in a prison the apostle clearly sees the light of hope as he prepares for his death.
What I find so interesting about this letter is the spirit of Paul’s mind. Facing death he still has a lot of work to do. He tells Timothy he is being poured out and his death is at hand. But then he turns and exhorts the young man to be diligent to come quickly and to bring certain things. He wants Mark to come because he is useful to Paul’s work and ‘by the way could you bring that cloak I left with Carpus at Troas’ Paul says. It seems that Paul has a lot of work to do. He needs Timothy to bring the books and especially the parchments to prison when he comes. The apostle also reminds Timothy to come before winter. All of this from a man who is about to die.
I am not sure how long it was after Paul penned this letter that he died but it was probably not long. He had such a visionary spirit in the service of the Lord. It would seem natural the final days of one’s life to be spent in reflection of life. A somber time maybe. Not Paul. He still wants Timothy to come quickly and bring a fellow worker because there is still work to do. Asking for the cloak suggests Paul is thinking about the winter that is approaching. There is still some reading to do from the books and study from the parchments. Remember Paul knows his life is short. Death is near. He is spending his final days on earth working harder than I do on a normal day.
This is a great story to me because I learn how to face life and death. Paul had friends that he wanted to continue the work of the Lord. Chained and in prison we see a spirit of a man who kept serving the Lord in the face of death. He loved the Lord so much. He loved God’s people. Paul thrived on the spirit of service to Jesus Christ. Can I do less?
The last thing he writes in this letter is an exhortation to Timothy. “The Lord Jesus Christ be with YOUR spirit. Grace be with YOU. Amen.” Paul was thinking of others. Whether I know when death will come or not may I have the spirit of Paul that even in the last minutes of life I will look steadfastly in the face of my Lord and say, “I AM READY.” Lord come quickly.
To think of death and to prepare for death is not a surrender; it is a victory over fear. (Paul William von Keppler, More Joy, 1911)
And one more: “Feared of dying? Were you ‘feared of being born?’” (Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1943)