A person’s last recorded words can be fascinating because they give a window into what people truly believe. The philosopher Karl Marx is purported to have ended his life by saying, “Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman’s final statement was, “I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.” While composer Ludwig van Beethoven declared, “I will hear in heaven.”
The book of 2 Timothy records Paul’s final words in Scripture. Some time had passed since he wrote 1 Timothy. Most scholars believe that Paul wrote 2 Timothy during his final imprisonment in Rome not recorded in the book of Acts. Church tradition indicates that Paul was arrested under the emperor Nero and was beheaded by him in AD 67.
It is clear throughout this letter that Paul sensed his death was near. This realization lends a gravity to his message. He opens by declaring that he is an apostle of “Christ Jesus . . . in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). Throughout the letter, Paul encourages the next generation, and specifically Timothy, to remain steadfast in his commitment to the gospel. The deeply personal tone of the letter is seen in these opening verses. Paul remembers a poignant episode with Timothy, “recalling your tears, I long to see you” (v. 4). We do not know what event Paul is referring to, but it is a reminder of how close these two men were. Paul affirms Timothy’s “sincere faith,” which he inherited from his faithful grandmother and mother. Timothy’s conversion was not a cataclysmic event like Paul’s on the Damascus Road, but it was nevertheless a genuine faith that he had embraced as a young man.
>> Paul’s mention of Lois and Eunice by name highlights the importance of passing down our faith to the next generation. Who first shared the gospel with you? Consider the “Timothys” in your life, those who are your children in the faith.