If you read the last words of dying people, you’ll find sayings both preposterous and profound. Playwright Oscar Wilde, for example, said as he died in a drab hotel: “Either the wallpaper goes, or I do.”
Well, there was no drivel from Paul’s pen as he recorded his last words in 2 Timothy. Confined to Rome’s Mamertine Prison Paul told Timothy:
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:
Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren” (2 Tim 4:7, 9, 21).
Many of Paul’s companions had abandoned or turned against him. He needed Timothy’s help, as well as a coat and some books, while awaiting execution.
So as we read 2 Timothy, we feel we’re reading a final letter from a father to his son, giving us Paul’s last testimony and final instructions.
Second Timothy emphasizes faithfulness. Paul spoke of his own faithfulness and exhorted Timothy to be faithful to his calling and gifts, particularly to preaching the Word. He tells us to persevere like a soldier in the army, an athlete in the games, or a farmer in the fields.
None of us knows if we’ll have the opportunity for last words. But we can live a life of faithfulness now, leaving a legacy for those who follow, as we fight the good fight and keep the faith, looking forward to the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give us on that day.
In perilous times, we must be steadfast and determined to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim 1:7-8).
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2).