Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (2 Timothy 1:1-2)
What Would Be My Final Letter?
Facing death is one of the strongest emotions a person can experience. The untold story of dying is lost with those who pass the vale of darkness into eternity. Few have truly experienced the sensation of death returning only by the hand of God (as found in scripture). Our Savior is the only one who died and lives today. Looking death face to face is the real story of a man’s character. Paul leaves an extraordinary testimony of faith and courage when death looms before him from a Roman sword.
Two letters are addressed to Timothy, traveling companion of the aged apostle. The book of 2 Timothy is the final chapter in the preserved writings of Paul. As he faced death the tone of his letter was not despair or feelings of regret. There are many ways men approach death especially if they are writing their final thoughts to a close friend or loved one. Paul’s letter to a young preacher was filled with a positive message of hope. An unknown writer prefaced the book of 2 Timothy, “Paul wrote this letter as he awaited execution. Despite all that Paul was facing – death, the end of his ministry, abandonment by most of his friends for fear of persecution – he faithfully directed his spiritual son Timothy to the hope that is in Christ. As he exhorted Timothy to boldness, endurance, and faithfulness in the face of false teaching, Paul showed his customary concern for sound doctrine.” What an amazing individual. The apostle knew his life was short but he spent his final days not regretting but reminding and teaching with exhortation the spirit of those faithful few who would carry on the work of God.
Take time today to read the book of 2 Timothy. It takes longer to drink a cup of Starbucks coffee than reading this wonderful letter. Embrace the message of hope. Feel the warmth of Paul’s spirit as he languished in a Roman jail cell. See through his eyes the true spirit of living for Christ even as death is near. He knows Timothy needs encouragement because the day will soon come when his faithful son will hear the news of his death. How agonizing this will be for Timothy but there is much work to do. Paul’s final words ring with clarity. “The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.” The words of a man who loved his God and looked forward to eternal redemption. I pray that I will have this spirit when death comes to me.
The act of dying is also one of the acts of life. (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, c. 170)