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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY - Chapter 4 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me. Though all men forsook me, yet God did not. This expresses an universal truth in regard to the faithfulness of God. See Ps 27:10. Comp. Job 5:17-19; Isa 43:1,2.

 

That by me the preaching might be fully known. The word preaching here probably means the gospel as preached by him. The word rendered "might be fully known" plhroforhyh means, "might obtain full credence;" that is, might be fully confirmed, so that others might be assured of its truth. The apostle, doubtless, means that on his trial, though forsaken by all men, he was enabled to be so steadfast in his profession of the truth, and so calm in the prospect of death, that all who witnessed his trial, saw that there was a reality in religion, and that the gospel was founded in truth. He had maintained as a preacher that the gospel was able to support the soul in trial, and he was now able to illustrate its power in his own case. He had proclaimed the gospel as the true system of religion, and he was now able to bear testimony to it with the prospect of approaching martyrdom. The sentiment of this passage then is, that the truth of the gospel is made known, or that men may become fully assured of it, by the testimony which is borne to it by its friends in the near prospect of death. One of the most important means of establishing the truth of the gospel in the world, has been the testimony borne to it by martyrs, and the spirit of unwavering confidence in God which they have evinced. And now, one of the most important methods of keeping up the knowledge of the value of religion in the world, and of convincing men of the truth of Christianity, is the spirit evinced by its friends when they are about to die. Men judge much, and justly, of the value of a system of religion by its power to comfort in the day of calamity, and to sustain the soul when about to enter on an untried state of being. That system is of little value to mankind which leaves us in the day of trial; that is of inestimable worth which will enable us to die with the firm hope of a brighter and better world. Christian, having served his God faithfully in life, may, therefore, be eminently useful when he comes to die.

And that all the Gentiles might hear. Paul was at this time in Rome. His trial was before a heathen tribunal, and he was surrounded by Pagans. Rome, too, was then the centre of the world, and at all times there was a great conflux of strangers thee. His trial, therefore, gave him an opportunity of testifying to the truth of Christianity before Gentile rulers; and in such circumstances, that the knowledge of his sufferings, and of the religion for which he suffered, might be conveyed by the strangers who witnessed it to the ends of the world. His main object in life was, to make the gospel known to the Gentiles, and he had thus an opportunity of furthering that great cause, even on what he supposed might be the trial which would determine with him the question of life or death. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 1:10".

 

And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. This may either mean that he was delivered from Nero, compared with a lion, or, literally, that he was saved from being thrown to lions in the amphitheatre, as was common in Rome. See Barnes "1 Co 15:32.

 

(3.) It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to compare tyrants and persecutors with ravenous wild beasts. Comp. Ps 22:13,21; Jer 2:30.

Nero is called a lion by Seneca, and it was usual among heathen writers to apply the term in various senses to princes and warriors. See Grotius, in loc. The common interpretation here has been, that this refers to Nero, and there is no improbability in the interpretation. Still, it is quite as natural to suppose, that the punishment which had been appointed for him, or to which he would have been subjected, was, to be thrown to lions, and that in some way, now unknown to us, he had been delivered from it. Paul attributes his deliverance entirely to the Lord; but what instrumental agency there may have been, he does not specify. It seems probable that it was his own defence; that he was enabled to plead his own cause with so much ability, that he found favour even with the Roman emperor, and was discharged. If it had been through the help of a friend at court, it is hardly to be supposed that he would not have mentioned the name of him to whom he owed his deliverance.

{c} "Lord stood" Mt 10:19; Ac 23:11 {d} "mouth of the lion" Ps 22:21

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