Paul’s Desire to See Timothy

“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments” (v. 13).

- 2 Timothy 4:9–13

When we speak of Paul anticipating his impending death in 2 Timothy 4:6–8, we have to keep in mind the speed of judicial proceedings in the ancient world. Then, as now, it took time for the wheels of “justice” to turn, as evidenced by Paul’s earlier, two-year-long imprisonment described in Acts 28. The apostle, writing to Timothy from a later Roman imprisonment, knows that he will not make it out of jail alive and that his death is at hand (2 Tim. 4:6–8), but he also knows it could be several more months before his martyrdom.

Thus, Paul can urge Timothy to come visit him — very soon (v. 9). The information the apostle provides in today’s passage is a fascinating glimpse into the end of the apostle’s life. Apparently, Paul is a little bit lonely because many of his closest friends are absent during his time of trial. Some have left because of sin — Demas, the coworker mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24, has apostatized. Others are gone for noble reasons. Crescens, who is otherwise unknown, is ministering in Galatia, and Titus, whom we are well acquainted with from our study of the letter to Titus, is serving the kingdom of God in Dalmatia (2 Tim. 4:10). Tychicus, the Asian resident we read about in Acts 20:4 is on his way to relieve Timothy in Ephesus so that Paul can see Timothy one last time. Only the good doctor Luke is able to be with the apostle (2 Tim. 4:11; see Col. 4:14), which may indicate that he is the amanuensis or secretary who is writing the letters to Timothy and Titus on the apostle’s behalf. This would account for some of the differences in Greek style and vocabulary between the Pastoral Epistles and Paul’s other letters as well as the similarities in style between the Pastorals and the books of Luke and Acts.

Paul wants Timothy to bring a cloak he left behind in Troas (v. 13), probably when he was arrested. This refers to a sleeveless, round garment worn for warmth and to protect one from inclement weather. The apostle also wants his books and “above all the parchments,” most likely his writing materials and copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. Even near the end of his life, Paul still wants to feed on the life-giving Word of God.

Coram Deo

Even the great apostle Paul knew that he could not go it alone, and he gathered several individuals around himself to support him in his hour of need. We too must recognize the need for Christian fellowship in our lives and surround ourselves with Christian brothers and sisters who will encourage us and pray for us. Do you have a close circle of Christian friends who support you? Are you befriending others in your church that you might support them?

Passages for Further Study

1 Samuel 18:1–5
2 Corinthians 13:11–13
Colossians 4:7
1 John 3:11–18

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