"Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen." (2 Timothy 4:21-22)
These are the final words of the apostle Paul, written shortly before he was beheaded. Despite his faithfulness and fruitfulness in the Lord’s service, he was now penniless, lonely, and cold. Yet he was not complaining. "I am now ready to be offered. . . . I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (vv. 6-7).
He did yearn to see Timothy, his beloved son in the faith, before he died. "Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me" (v. 9). "Without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy" (1:3-4).
Paul made one especially touching request of Timothy. "The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments" (v. 13). Paul didn’t even have a coat in the cold prison, and winter was approaching. Yet, even under such miserable circumstances, he still desired to keep reading and studying, preparing himself better for any future service the Lord might still have for him.
What a contrast there would be between his present circumstances--abused by his enemies and forsaken even by most of his friends--and the glorious reception awaiting him in the near future! "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day" (v. 8).
Paul has left us a worthy example. He had kept the faith, had gladly suffered the loss of all things for Christ (Philippians 3:8), and was still studying, witnessing, teaching, encouraging, and exhorting, even to the day of his death. HMM