[ 4 minutes to read ]
“The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus,
when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books,
but especially the parchments.”
~ 2 Timothy 4:13
Upon first glance, this verse may seem of no great consequence. Paul is simply asking his young friend Timothy to come to him and bring some of his personal possessions with him. However, I believe “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). More than once, A. W. Pink wrote that the Bible was not written for a lazy man. The Word opens up its treasures only for those who “labour in the word and doctrine.” The Holy Spirit has not moved “holy men of God” to speak in vain and, therefore, nothing trivial is bound in “the volume of the book” that God has given. With this in mind, let us meditate upon God’s Word and receive profit thereby.
Paul the aged confesses that his days are ending writing, “the time of my departure is at hand.” Our text somewhat reveals the mind of a man facing the reality of his own death. He tells Timothy in verse 9, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:” and in our text says, “when thou comest.”
One by one all of his companions had left him. They all had their reasons and maybe even plead their work as sufficient grounds. In verse 11, he says, “Only Luke is with me.” He is here urging Timothy to come with haste. Paul certainly had no time to waste and he longed for his truest friends to be with him.
He also told Timothy to “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” Paul had once called Mark “Apostate” (ref. Greek Acts 15:38) and refused to take him on a missionary journey. He was so strong in his conviction that it caused a sharp contention and separated his chief friend Barnabas from him. Now Paul considers him useful and wants his presence with his closest friends. Time and labor have a way of healing old wounds. Paul shows grace and wisdom is not holding on to an old grudge. He acknowledges that Mark has made good and overcome the defect that Paul early detected.
I was talking with a couple of older brethren once and the name of a certain man came up in conversation. The oldest fellow was asked if he knew this man. “Yeah, I know him” was his reply with obvious distaste. He proceeded to tell us that he “didn’t care anything for him.” He had said something nearly 20 years ago that upset this now elderly man. He could not remember what was said, or even what it was about, and he had not seen him in almost 20 years, but he was determined as ever to hold on to his grudge and dislike for the man.
What an amazing waste of energy, emotion, and time this is to remain angry over forgotten offenses. Paul had told the Philippians, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Part of reaching forth is forgetting what is behind. Furthermore, in an attitude of brotherly kindness let us be “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:13). In this Paul is a great example.
Paul furnishes us with another great example in his dwindling hours. Paul had requested Timothy to bring his coat and also “the books.” He desired to have another look at his old books. Almost every preacher realizes the value of good books and especially The Book. Paul is a bound prisoner and the sun is setting quickly on his life, what should he do? Maybe Paul should retire and rest. I mean, what can he do? His request for his books gives an insight into his mind in his waning hours. He told Timothy that God had put him “into the ministry.” I believe he is resolved that with whatever time, health, and strength he has, he is going to stay at it.
He took a great interest in young preachers and endeavored to encourage and help them along as he could. He told Timothy, “make full proof of thy ministry.” He sent word to Archippus to “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” He had said of himself, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). He is a tremendous example and testimony. Paul was faithful unto the end, faithful even unto death. His words carry a great weight when viewed in the light of his own steadfastness. Whatever time he had, he was going to improve it for the work of the Lord.
Paul here provides us with a key to a successful ministry and Christian life. We should forget and forgive past infractions. We cannot move forward always looking back. We also should stick to the work at all times, and in all places and conditions. If God has put us into the ministry, then He is also one day going to take us out. If we have done all to stand, we can one day reflect with joy that we have finished our course and fought a good fight.