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Personal Remarks October 1, 2013

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 2 Timothy 4:9-18.

Summary: Paul begins by asking Timothy to travel to Rome, as he:

  • wants to discuss many matters about the welfare of the church with him
  • misses his support.

Indeed, Demas cares more for his own convenience and safety than for Paul’s life. Also, Crescens and Titus have gone to the churches in Galatia and Dalmatia, respectively (with his approval). In addition, he has sent Tychicus to Ephesus to take Timothy’s place during his absence. He asks Timothy to bring the chest filled with manuscripts and letters that he had left with Carpus at Troas.

Paul then states that Alexander the metalworker has publicly attacked the kingdom of Christ; thus, he calls down God’s vengeance on him.

Now Paul notes that although the Roman church failed in its duty by deserting him at his first defense, God gave him heavenly power to bear his entire burden – enabling him to make the Gospel known among the Gentiles; He allowed Paul to escape danger. Paul concludes by stating that he has been ruled by God’s hand throughout his life – enabling him to engage in a spiritual fight and achieve victory.

Thoughts: In verse 13, we see that Paul wants Timothy to bring him a chest that he had left with Carpus at Troas. Calvin offers some insights on this point:

Commentators disagree about the meaning of the word translated cloak. Some think that it is a chest or box for books, others that it is a kind of traveler’s cloak that gave special protection against the cold and rain…However, I incline to interpret this word to mean “chest” since that fits in with the scrolls, especially the parchments that the apostle goes on to mention.

I pondered how Timothy would bring this chest of books to Paul in Rome. First, he would need to travel from Ephesus to Troas to retrieve this chest from Carpus. According to this note, the distance between Ephesus and Troas is about 400 “road miles,” and it would take a man about 10-12 days to travel it by horseback. If Timothy made this journey by foot, it would take about a month for him to reach Troas. Second, he would need to find Carpus and retrieve the chest; perhaps we can assume that Timothy knew where Carpus lived in Troas. Third, he would need to transport the chest to the harbor of Troas; if it was filled with documents, he would not be able to carry it to a Rome-bound ship. Instead, he would need to place the chest on a cart that was pulled by an animal. Fourth, he would need to pay for his passage to Rome along with the cost of transporting the chest. Fifth, he would embark on the journey from Troas to Rome; given the speed of Roman-era merchant ships, this journey would take about 2-3 months. Lastly, he would need to find the jail where Paul was being held and deliver the chest to him; perhaps he would procure another cart in Rome to that end. Now I wonder if Luke wrote a separate letter to Timothy that included directions to Paul’s jail from the harbor of Rome.

In verse 14, we see that Alexander the metalworker opposed Paul’s teaching of the Gospel. Calvin offers some insights on this point:

This man was a terrible example in his apostasy. He had professed some zeal in furthering Christ’s kingdom, but later he attacked it publicly. This is the most dangerous and venomous kind of enemy…Alexander worked with his hands and was not educated in debating skills. But enemies in one’s own circle always do much damage.

I do wonder if Alexander the metalworker is the same Alexander who is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20. Now Alexander must have delivered compelling arguments against the Gospel, as Paul notes that he “did me a great deal of harm.” As for God bringing His vengeance against Alexander due to his apostasy, was he punished in this life for his sins? Did he perish without repenting of his apostasy? Hopefully Alexander repented after enduring a severe punishment (such as a terrible illness); if that was the case, he could have redirected his natural zeal to the task of promoting the true Gospel and rescuing those who had been swayed by his apostasy.

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