II Timothy 4:6 For I am now 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:
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.
The apostle Paul was a well educated man. He had spent many years after being saved, preaching the Word and establishing true churches. He was a bold man who did not allow the opposition to shut him down. He was committed to serving God faithfully.
In verse 6 Paul mentioned that he was ready to die. Notice the language that God directed him to use about his death. He was going to be offered. The Greek word translated as “offered” means “to be poured out”. That Greek word is only found twice in the New Testament. The other time is in Philippians 2:17 where it is also translated with the word “offered”. The apostle Paul was not giving his life to pay for sin. Jesus’ blood alone can forgive sin. Paul was willing to be recorded in history as having been murdered for the cause of Christ. Years earlier, he had consented to the murder of Stephen. Now he was also willing to give his life in service to the Lord. Whether in death or in life, he was serving the Lord.
Those who were given the power to govern by God, would bear the guilt for killing a faithful servant of the Lord. Paul was not being killed for any crime. He was a humble and faithful servant of God who had been hounded by Judaizers almost from the moment of his salvation. The Roman government had worked along with the Judaizers many times because the bottom line for them was to have a peaceful society. They did not want to have to be involved in religious disputes. Murders and thefts were ok, but not unrest due to religious disagreements.
Paul did not look at his life as wasted. He had been faithful to the Lord. He knew it was just a matter of time before he would leave this earth.
The Greek word translated as “departure” draws from a metaphor of: “loosing from moorings preparatory to setting sail”. Paul’s soul was about to be loosed from his decaying body and from this earth. His soul would soon be departing and entering his eternal home. He had nothing to regret. He was trying to be a help to Timothy in his final time on earth. He was encouraging Timothy to take this same attitude. We are pilgrims on this earth. We are simply sojourning here. Our time here is short in comparison to eternity.
In verse 7 Paul was directed by God to give some further testimony. We need to keep in mind that Paul was not boasting. Paul was directed to remind Timothy and us that those who are saved can be forgiven and free from the guilt of sin. Any true Christian can make the same claim that Paul was making here. He walked so close to God that he knew he had done all that God required of him. He took care of sin according to God’s Word. In Philippians 3 he talked of the blessing of forgetting those things that are behind. When sins are forgiven, there is no need to dwell on them. Unlike some others he spoke of, he had kept the faith. What a great testimony. It is so important for Christians to continue to grow stronger in the Lord the longer we live on this earth. We need to be so engaged in the study of God’s Word that we do not bow to the pressure to compromise.
A valid question to ask is “what do I want to be known for?” So many people seem to lose their moorings as they get older. They are so concerned about being accepted by the younger generations that they wrongly assume the way to do that is to accept the worldliness of the younger generations. The apostle Paul was not interested in being accepted by those who were not interested in the truth. He was interested with seeing Timothy grow stronger in his walk with the Lord. The difference was that Paul rightly took God as his authority and not others. The Bible teaches that older Christians have an important role to play in helping younger Christians to learn the importance of faithfulness to the Lord. Younger Christians sometimes boast of how strong they are in the Lord. Yet their lives do not reflect what their mouths say. They need to learn to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
In verse 8, Paul could state that he was awaiting that crown of righteousness that was laid up for him. We hear much about supply chain issues right now. I ordered a part recently and was told it would arrive in the new year. Paul stated that the crown of righteousness was laid up for him. It is there and ready to be given. There is no wait time. There is no supply shortage with God. Paul was confident that the Lord was going to give him this crown.
Again, we see that it is the Lord that is in charge in Heaven. There is no committee of individuals who will determine what the reward is for the saint. The Lord alone looks after that. Paul acknowledged that the Lord is the righteous judge. In I Corinthians 3, Paul was directed to warn of the loss of rewards that Christians can face. Every reward or every loss of reward will be determined by the righteous Judge. No Christian will negotiate what they will receive.
Paul also shows us that true Christians know what they are supposed to be doing in the here and now. It is not a mystery. Each true Christian knows what God’s call is for them. There may be others that will have some input into that call. Other godly people who have walked faithfully with the Lord will be led by God to help identify certain attributes in a younger Christian. The younger Christian would be wise to consider input from Godly Christians. As the younger Christian learns, and grows, they will be able to see more clearly what God’s calling is for their life. The important factor is to be submitted to God’s Word. If a person will study to show himself approved unto God, he will know God’s leading in his life. Rather than following our hearts, we need to follow the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives through the written Word of God.
Paul continued by reminding Timothy that this crown of righteousness was not limited to just a few. Every true child of God can expect a crown of righteousness. There are not a limited number of those crowns. It is not like a race where only one person can get first place.
I Corinthians 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Every Christian can go through life with confidence. We need to be saved, and then join a good church that can help us to grow in the Lord. We cannot isolate ourselves. We need the fellowship of God’s people. That fellowship is designed by God to strengthen the child of God. It is not designed to undermine or to weaken the child of God. That is one of the things that distinguishes a true church from a New Evangelical church. New Evangelicalism says we need to be careful not to be too spiritual. They say we need to use some of the world’s methods to try to draw the world in.
A true church wants people to come. They want people to know the truth. They understand that their words will be twisted and corrupted by naysayers. They pray for others and they desire to see others know the truth. Jesus declared that the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). True Christians are liberated by the Holy Spirit. They are liberated to serve God freely. They are not liberated to pursue the flesh. They are liberated to walk in the Spirit and thus produce the fruit of the Spirit.
Paul had been doing that and he was encouraging Timothy to do the same. God is encouraging Christians in every generation to do the same.