Parting Words of Paul

Bible Book: 2 Timothy  4 : 7
Subject: Perseverence

A dying person’s last words are generally considered very weighty. In fact, a person’s dying words are admissible as evidence in a court of law. For some reason, society seems to display great interest in a person’s final thoughts. Perhaps this interest is an attempt to gain insight into one of the greatest mysteries of man’s existence—death.

Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Queen of England, made a very revealing statement from her deathbed. Just before the monarch took her last breath, she said, “All my possessions for a moment of time.”[1] Her statement would seem to indicate that, at her moment of death, she viewed one more second of life as infinitely more valuable than all the trinkets and trappings of her royal status.

One of the great short story writers of last century, William Sidney Porter (1862-1910), who went by the penname of O. Henry, just prior to exiting this world, said, “Turn up the lights, I don’t want to go home in the dark.”[2] One could perhaps offer a number of implied meanings of Porter’s final cryptic statement.

Edgar Allan Poe, a man known for his stories of mystery and the macabre (pronounced like ma-kob’), was an author, poet, editor and literary critic. Poe was the victim of a very bizarre, chaotic, and unhappy upbringing. In 1849, he was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, and wearing a suit of clothes not his own. From October 3 to October 7, 1849, Poe remained in a state of delirium. Shortly before 5 a.m., Poe said, “Lord help my poor soul.”[3] Having uttered those pitiful words, he died.

While the final words of those mentioned above may leave us feeling a bit unsettled and disturbed, the last words of Christians are often quite different. The last thoughts from the lips of Dwight L. Moody (1834-1892) thrill this preacher’s heart. Listen, as he speaks from his deathbed:

“Earth recedes. Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.”

“No, no, Father,” said Moody’s son, “You are dreaming.”

“I am not dreaming,” replied Moody. “I have been within the gates. I have seen the children’s faces.” His last words were, “This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! It is glorious!”[4]

The last words of Moody are somewhat similar to those of the Apostle Paul, in Second Timothy 4:1-8, in the sense that they are words of victory, joy, and expectation. Paul, in seeking to prepare Timothy for Paul’s fast-approaching death, at the hands of the Roman government, speaks not with words of self-pity and fear, but words of victorious encouragement and confidence. Oh that every child of God would face death with such glorious grace.

Paul’s final words to Timothy are words that Christians of our day need to take to heart. We need to serve the Lord each day as though it was our last day on earth—as though we would stand before the Lord before the day’s end. Notice with me today, the Parting Words from Paul.

Theme: Paul’s parting words tell us of…


A. Paul Tells Timothy what He was to Do.

2 Tim.4:1 “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

NOTE: [1] The word “charge,” in verse one, means to, “adjure,”[5] which means, “to command or charge solemnly, often under oath or penalty.”[6] Paul could not have given Timothy a more solemn command than when he commanded him in the presence of “…God, and the Lord Jesus Christ…” (v. 1a). According to Wuest, “The expression…is in a construction on Greek which requires us to understand that the word ‘God’ and the names ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ refer to the same person.”[7]

[2] To Timothy, the words “Preach the word” would not have conjured up the picture of an ordained clergyman standing behind a pulpit.

At once it called to his mind the Imperial Herald, spokesman of the Emperor, proclaiming in a formal, grave, and authoritative manner which must be listened to, the message which the Emperor gave him to announce. It brought before him the picture of the town official who would make a proclamation in a public gathering.[8]

[3] The words “be instant” mean, “to be at hand, to be ready.”[9] Paul urged Timothy in the strongest possible terms to be ready to preach God’s truth at every opportunity. Connected with that thought are the words “in season, out of season,” which simply meant that Timothy was to preach God’s truth when the circumstances were favorable and when they were not favorable.

Pony Express

When it comes to being on the alert and ready at any moment to do the job, it’s hard to beat the Pony Express. This historically famous mail service between St. Joseph, Missouri and California depended on constant movement and readiness. Relay stations were established every ten to fifteen miles. A rider would shout aloud as he approached a station, giving the station master very short notice that he needed to be outside waiting with a fresh mount. Even when a rider came to the station where he was to spend the night, another rider was already mounted and waiting, ready to grab the first rider’s bundle of packages and continue the trip.

The completion of the transcontinental telegraph system rendered the Pony Express obsolete after just eighteen months. But we have this service’s intriguing example of what it means to be ever watchful.[10]

[4] Wiersbe explains the words “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (v. 2b) as follows:

Preaching must be marked by three elements: conviction, warning, and appeal (“reprove, rebuke, exhort”). To quote an old rule of preachers, “He should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”[11]

B. Paul Tells Timothy why He was to do It.

1. He was to preach the Word because of the coming destruction.

2 Tim. 4:1b “…who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;”

NOTE: Paul warned Timothy that one day Jesus Christ would return to earth for the purpose of judging all unbelievers. Therefore, the Word of God must be preached faithfully, so that men would be warned. In another place Paul said, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14).

2. He was to preach the Word because of the coming defection.

2 Tim. 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

NOTE: [1] Paul’s warning, found here in verses 3-5, is one that is all too real in our day. It seems that people these days will believe a lie before they will believe the truth of God’s Word. The average worldling craves and clamors for the fantastic, the unusual, and the strange. Paul said that this condition would stem from the worldling’s own fleshly “lusts,” or “‘cravings…’ Those cravings consist of the desire for personal gratification.”[12]

[2] The people who will turn away from the truth of God’s Word are said to have “itching ears,” which means that these folks search out and accumulate teachers, who will “‘tickle the ear,’”[13] or, in other words, tell them what they want to hear. The idea here is reminiscent of the Greeks, in that, “It describes that person who desires to hear for mere gratification, like the Greeks at Athens who spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear, not some new thing, but some newer thing (Acts 17:21).”[14]

[3] Rather than “going with the flow” of what was popular at the time, Paul told Timothy to “…do the work of an evangelist,” meaning, “to proclaim glad tidings…good news, gospel.”[15]


2 Tim. 4:6 “For I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”

NOTE: [1] The word translated “offered” means to be, “poured out on the altar as a drink offering.”[16] This perhaps alluded to the fact that Paul would be beheaded for the cause of Christ.

[2] The word “departure” is euphemism referring to Paul’s impending execution at the hands of the Roman government. This word is translated from a Greek word that was used as a military term in Paul’s day, which referred to “…taking down of a tent and the departure of an army.”[17] To the sailor, this word meant, “to hoist anchor and set sail.”[18] Paul viewed his death as release, not execution.

[3] We don’t want to overlook the fact that though Paul was facing execution, he said he was “ready” (v. 6a). What a testimony it is to be staring one’s own death square in the face, and yet, be able to say, “I’m ready.” Can you truthfully say that my friend? If you don’t know Christ as your personal Savior, you’re not ready to face death.

A. Paul’s Words Proved he had Fought the Fight Well.

2 Cor. 4:8 “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our body.”

B. Paul’s Witnesses Proved he had Fought the Fight Well.

Acts 14:19 “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

NOTE: Anyone whoever worked with Paul in the ministry knew that he didn’t quit just because things were rough. He endured the hardships of life as a good soldier of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

Michael Jordan Persevered

Philippians 3:14, Hebrews 10:36

In the fall of 1978, fifteen-year-old Michael tried out for the varsity basketball team at Emsley A. Laney High School, in Wilmington, North Carolina. The sophomore was 5 feet 11 inches and with his skills, the coach told him that he was not good enough, and Michael was cut from the team.

The following summer, however, Michael grew four inches and he trained rigorously. Upon earning a spot on the varsity roster, he averaged about 25 points per game over his final two seasons of high school play. As a senior, he was selected to the McDonald’s All-American Team.

“When I got cut from the varsity team as a sophomore in high school, I learned something. I knew I never wanted to feel that bad again. I never wanted to have that taste in my mouth, that hole in my stomach. So I set a goal of becoming a starter on the varsity,” said Michael Jordan. He went on to play professionally in the National Basketball Association, and is arguably the finest player in basketball history.

If the Lord is calling you to do a work, persevere! He who called you will provide the means to succeed.[19]

C. Paul’s Wounds Proved he had Fought the Fight Well.

2 Cor. 11:24 “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”

NOTE: An old black preacher once said, “If your faith fizzles before the finish, it was faulty from the first.”[20]


2 Tim. 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

NOTE: The life of the Christian may be fraught with rigor and difficulties, but the life to come is full of reward for the faithful. Though the Christian may endure the slight of men and gross unfairness in this life, one day they will stand before Jesus Christ, the “Righteous Judge” (v. 8a), Who will judge with perfect fairness, for He will make no mistakes.

Theme: Paul’s parting words tell us of…




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Copyright © July 1990 by Rev. Donnie L. Martin. All rights reserved.





[5] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, as recorded in e-Sword®, Version 9.9.1, Copyright © 2000-2011, by Rick Meyers. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[6] Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, eds. Victoria Neufeldt and David B. Guralnik, (New York, NY: Webster’s New World Dictionaries, n.d.), p. 17.

[7] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, vol. II, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), The Exegesis of II Timothy, p. 152.

[8] Ibid, p. 154.

[9] Ibid, p. 154.

[10] Today in the Word, December 1997, p. 17.

[11] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Faithful, (Wheaton, IL: SP Publication, Inc., Fifth printing 1984), p. 165.

[12] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, vol. II, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), The Exegesis of II Timothy, pp. 156-157.

[13] The Bible Knowledge Commentary, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, Inc., Fourth printing 1984), p.758.

[14] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, vol. II, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), The Exegesis of II Timothy, p. 157.

[15] W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, compiled by Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, n.d.), p.208.

[16] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Faithful, (Wheaton, IL: SP Publication, Inc., Fifth printing 1984), p. 168.

[17] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, vol. II, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), The Exegesis of II Timothy, p. 160.

[18] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Faithful, (Wheaton, IL: SP Publication, Inc., Fifth printing 1984), p. 168.

[19] Aquilla Webb, One Thousand Evangelistic Illustrations, Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.

[20] “Squire Parsons’ News,” published by The Squire Parsons Evangelistic Association, 1990.