Come before Winter

“Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers” (v. 21).

- 2 Timothy 4:19–21

We are coming to the end of Paul’s second letter to Timothy and the final epistle that we have from his hand. As customary in other first-century letters, Paul takes some time to include final greetings from other people and from himself just as he does in his other epistles (Rom. 16:1–16; Phil. 4:21–23).

These greetings are interesting due to the information they give us about the first-century church. First we read that Timothy is to convey a greeting from the apostle to Prisca and Aquila (2 Tim. 4:19). This is the same couple mentioned in Acts 18:1–3 (Prisca is another form of the name Priscilla), tentmakers with whom Paul lived and worked in Corinth. Prisca and Aquila were devoted believers in the mid-first century. They were Jewish Christians who had a vital ministry of teaching and discipleship. The couple explained the way of Christ to Apollos more accurately, equipping him for ministry (vv. 24–28), and they also helped to start a house church in Rome (Rom. 16:3–5a). Apparently they had been living in Ephesus in the mid-60s, which is why Timothy could give regards to them on behalf of Paul.

All we know about Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 4:19) is that he helped meet the apostle’s needs in prison (1:16). Onesiphorus may have been dead by the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy, since Paul prays for and greets his household and not Onesiphorus himself. Trophimus (4:20) was an Asian who served with Paul (Acts 20:1–6), and Erastus was apparently the treasurer of the city of Corinth (2 Tim. 4:20), for archaeologists have found an inscription naming one Erastus to that position in the city. Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia (v. 21) were likely significant people in the church at Rome but not part of Paul’s inner circle. Contra Roman Catholicism, some strands of early church tradition name Linus as the first bishop or overseer of the church of Rome (not Peter).

Finally, Paul calls Timothy to visit him before winter. Winter travel on the Mediterranean Sea was dangerous, and all shipping ceased between November and March. Land travel was not any safer, so Timothy had to leave Ephesus at the right time if he wanted to see Paul prior to his beloved mentor’s death.

Coram Deo

Were Timothy to delay his journey too long, he would not be able to get to Paul before winter. Similarly, when we delay serving the Lord, we may miss opportunities to be used by God in service to other people. When we make commitments to others, not least the Lord, let us fulfill them quickly. We should not put off until tomorrow what can be done today, lest we miss a chance to do some good for the kingdom.

Passages for Further Study

Ecclesiastes 5:4–5
Matthew 5:47
Colossians 4:10–17
1 Thessalonians 5:23–27

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