About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Final Written Words
Paul was one significant
man of God and of history. You
might think that the final days of such a man would be held in high
esteem, spent in relative comfort because of the respect due to him.
That was not the case with Paul.
He spent his last days in prison, and, although his death was
celebrated in Heaven, it certainly wasn't celebrated on earth.
The book of Acts ends
with Paul being held in house arrest in Rome. I hold to the position that
he was released from prison after Caesar Nero acquitted him of the charges
brought to the Roman court by the Jews.
Clement, Bishop of Rome from 88 AD to his death in 99 AD, wrote
that Paul had traveled to the far west of the empire.
That would mean Paul preached Jesus in
Upon returning from Spain
Paul was arrested again in
It is commonly understood
that Paul's last recorded words that we presently possess were penned in
his second letter to Timothy. The
last words of any person are important. They
tell us what he holds dear to life. One
doesn't waste words on his death bed.
Let some of Paul's final words sink into your heart and mind.
They were written as he stood at the doorway to death.
They demonstrate a life of gracious thankfulness in the midst of
misery, affliction, and suffering.
"Paul … according
to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus (1:1) … I thank God, whom
I serve (1:3) … night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers
(1:3) … Join with me in suffering for the gospel (1:8) … Christ
Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to
light (1:10) … I am not ashamed … I know whom I have believed and am
convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted with him (1:12)
… I am suffering, even to the point of being chained as a criminal …
But God's Word is not chained … I endure everything for the sake of the
elect (2:9 - 11) … If we died with Him we will also live with Him (2:11)
... Anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be
persecuted (3:12) … For I am already being poured out as a drink
offering, and the time has come for my departure.
I have fought the good fight. I
have finished the race. I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness (4:6 - 8)
... At my first defense (before Nero) the Lord rescued me from the lion's
mouths (literal lions). The
Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His
heavenly kingdom. To Him be
glory for ever and ever (4:16 - 18)."
Paul knew that he wasn't
about to die quietly in his sleep and slip into his heavenly home.
Jesus did rescue him from evil as he predicted, but not in the way
one might think. Like Stephen
whose entrance into Heaven was due to rocks being buried into his skull,
Paul entered Heaven when his head was sliced from his shoulders.
Knowing that the head of one of the most significant men in western
world history fell from a Roman chopping block into a bloody mess on the
ground is painfully disturbing.
Paul's life, right up to
the final bitter second, serves as an example for us all.
I believe Paul viewed his excruciating execution as his ultimate
witness for his Lord. Compared
to Paul's afflictions, that he called "light and momentary" in 2
Corinthians 4:17, our western world trials pale in comparison.
We have no valid reason to complain about anything.
Rather, we should adopt Paul's gracious life of thanksgiving for
ourselves. If we don't, we
certainly won't possess it when our day of suffering comes.
Paul's love for Jesus outweighed his life of suffering.
May the same be true for us.