12 Last Lessons in Legacy from Saint Paul
Paul’s second letter to Timothy sums up his final warnings to his best protege. This letter reveals some of Paul’s powerful and meaningful life secrets. A person’s last words are usually the most important before leaving this world. Therefore, we must take Paul’s second letter to Timothy seriously as they are the apostle’s last words intended to carry on his ministry to the next generation and beyond.
1. Paul knew he was sent by God, which meant that his faith in his purpose and calling was unwavering (2 Timothy 1, 2 Timothy 11).
He called himself an apostle, which means “sent”. He framed his letter to Timothy with this description, reminding him that he was not just a professional minister. God sent Paul to be a primary voice in Timothy’s life. Unfortunately, too many people approach ministry as a profession rather than a vocation. If it’s just a job, you’re just a mercenary, not a real shepherd. To function with this divine mindset, one must sow one’s life in the gospel. You should not keep any part of it for your own benefit.
2.Paul considered Timothy his beloved child (2 Timothy 1:2).
Paul viewed the church as a family of families. Therefore, he was not just looking for church members, but sons and daughters.
3.Paul lived a life of intercession for key people in his life (2 Timothy 1:4, 2 Timothy 5).
He also remembered Timothy’s tears. So he was emotionally connected to people, not just in ministry.
4.Paul imparted spiritual gifts and knew of his disciple’s divine mission (2 Timothy 1:6). Paul knew Timothy’s spiritual condition and his sense of purpose and calling, so he could keep reminding him. He commanded Timothy “…to preach the word; be ready in and out of season; rebuke, rebuke, and exhort, with full patience and teaching” and “be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, minister” (2 Timothy 4:2-5).
5.Paul left a pattern of sound words. (2 Timothy 1:13,14)
It refers to a doctrinal teaching system that was to be a spiritual repository for Timothy and others. They were to keep them with them to continue the preaching ministry long after Paul was gone. Too often, pastors preach on the subject with excellent oratorical and rhetorical skills, but do not leave a systematic way of thinking about the congregation. A byproduct of this is a lack of discernment and a vulnerability to heresy.
6.Paul urged Timothy to reproduce himself in others (2 Timothy 2:2).
He left Timothy the criteria he used to choose potential disciples; people had to be faithful and able to teach. That is, if a person had the ability but did not prove faithful, he would not meet the criteria Paul used to disciple him.
7.Paul warned the disciples to be harsh (2 Timothy 2:3-7).
True biblical discipleship requires a mindset similar to that of the military or athletics. Therefore, it takes focus and perseverance. A person must tirelessly push himself forward, even when experiencing pain and suffering.
8. Paul focused primarily on the Scriptures.
Paul didn’t waste his time with endless genealogies, wild controversies and conspiracy theories. He devoted himself to the study of the Old Testament and to the writing of parts of the New Testament. He said, “All scripture is inspired by God and helpful to teach, to convict, to correct, and to instruct in righteousness, that the man of God may be accomplished and equipped for every good work.”
9. Paul expected Timothy to befriend other sincere believers (2 Timothy 2:22).
Paul urged Timothy to “flee the passions of youth and seek righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” He also told Timothy to avoid those who “have a form of godliness, but deny his power” (2 Timothy 3:5). Therefore, Paul urged his followers not to spend free time with insincere people.
10. Paul modeled leadership with his life (2 Timothy 3:10, 2 Timothy 11).
He reminded Timothy: “You have followed my teaching, my conduct, my purpose in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my constancy, my persecutions and sufferings which were inflicted on me in Antioch, in Iconium and Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the LORD has delivered me.
The greatest lesson taught by a leader is the life he leads. Christianity is caught, not just taught.
11.Paul has completed his homework.
He said, “For I have already been poured out in drink offering, and the time for my going has come.” I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith. Henceforth is reserved for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the just judge, will bestow on me on that day, and not only on me, but also on all those who loved his appearing.
So, in his last words before his execution by Nero, Paul had no regrets. He knew he had finished the race and fought the good fight. Before dying, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John
7:30 p.m.). Psalm 91 ends by telling us that with a long life, God will satisfy us and show us His salvation. God wants us to die satisfied accomplishing all that He has given us to accomplish.
12. Paul knew he could not die until his mission was complete (2 Timothy 4:17, 2 Timothy 18).
As long as he was in God’s will, Paul knew the devil couldn’t kill him. Paul had divine protection; therefore, he was temporarily immune to death until he finished the race. That is to say, he testified by preaching one of his last messages, “the Lord has stood by my side and strengthened me, that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that all Gentiles can hear it. So I was saved from the lion’s mouth. It gave him the faith and patience to endure trials, challenges, and personal suffering.
In conclusion, may we all learn from Paul’s final lessons so that we can carry on the faith for generations to come.
Read more on the GOD TV blog here
Start your day with God and the GOD TV team. Get a daily 2-3 minute devotional and encouragement video delivered straight to your inbox.