Here’s a devotional thought worthy our attention: 2 Timothy 4:16-17a KJV “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me.” This is the King James but let’s look more closely at what Paul told Timothy.
The Expositors Commentary along with more recent scholarship interprets “My first answer” to mean Paul’s court hearing now at the end of his life. The word “answer” means “defense.” He was being arraigned but knew that this time he would not be freed [2 Timothy 4: 6].
What was his crime? “By me,” he confessed, “the Lord commissioned and enabled me that the Gospel message might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear.” [2 Timothy 4:17].
But Paul informed Timothy, “no one stood with me.” Paul, like the Savior, had no one there to speak in his defense [Matthew 26:56]. Did he not say he wanted to partake of Christ’s sufferings!
But the next thing he told Timothy is what stands out here: “I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” Paul didn’t hold it against anyone for not showing up during his arraignment.
- The words “I pray” were not written. I don’t think this thought was directed at the Lord. When life’s final moments are pending, its best to approach already with a forgiving heart.
- The words are in the form of a wish, as if Paul were telling Timothy, ‘”It’s Okay. I don’t fault anyone for not being here.
Paul was so forgiving of the many [Philippians 1:13-14] that might have been available as defense witnesses. He had 2 reasons.
- He wrote confidently, ” Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me.” reminds me of Romans 8:31b, 33a: “If God be for us,who can be against us? … Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” [Matthew 10:19].
- Paul, also, knew he was soon to go home. “I have finished what God had called me to do! My fight is over. [2 Timothy 4: 7].
In verse 7 Paul is writing with emphasis. I, also, believe we will know when this moment has arrived for each of us as believers and it will be Okay.]
In verse 7 he writes in this “perfect” sense 3 times: “fought, finished, kept.” This form emphasizes completeness, finality, and permanence.
- His fight with the judaizers was over, finally, completely and for good.
- His race was run and there would be no other.
- And, as unexpected as this might sound, coming from Paul, the last temptation was won! [I thought only I am tempted!] The last act of Satan to undo him was defeated. Paul is going home!!
These are the final thoughts of an elderly saint to his spiritual son. He has mellowed over the years. He has learned to be more understanding and accepting of the ambivalence of youth [Mark 15:39 comp 2 Timothy 4:11]. He is very much like a father now [1 Timothy 5:23].
“And for those believers I might have expected to support me in this moment but were not here,” I can imagine Paul thinking, “it’s Okay, son. Don’t give it any thought:”
I’m going home!