The Loneliness of Paul – 2 Timothy 4:9-12

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

Also available as MP3: The Loneliness of Paul – 2 Timothy 4:9-12


Paul had been sentenced to die (4:6) and so asks Timothy to come see him. Paul craved fellowship (cf. II Cor. 2:12,13) and, staring death in the face, asked Timothy to come “diligently.” That word is used in some serious ways (Deut. 17:2-5; 24:8; Titus 3:13), so Paul must have been serious about wanting to see Timothy.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “If Paul could write Timothy, why couldn’t Timothy write Paul and comfort him that way?” Well, a letter can be comforting, but it is no substitute for fellowship. Similarly, a church’s internet ministry might be comforting, but it is no substitute for being in church.

Paul craved Timothy’s fellowship all the more in the wake of losing Demas (4:10). He was one of Paul’s “fellow-labourers” (Phile. 1:24). His fellowlaborers were like family to Paul, as the Lord’s were to Him (Mt. 12:47-50). The Lord found it unbearable to lose one of His laborers (Ps. 55:12-14), and I’m sure Paul felt the loss of Demas just as keenly.

Demas “loved this present world” (4:10), the world the Lord died to save us from (Gal.1:4). The secret to not loving the world is to love His appearing (cf. 4:8; Tit. 2:12-14). The only way to resist the attraction of the world is to look beyond the world to the next world (Col. 3:1,2).

Demas perhaps went “to Thessalonica” because they had trouble with fornication in the church (I Thes. 4:3-5). What better church to go to if you love the world? But Crescens perhaps went to Galatia because he had the opposite problem, legalism. Not everyone that leaves the faith goes into carnality, some go into legalism, thinking grace pastors are too soft on sin. Lordship Salvationists are good for this.

Of course it doesn’t say Crescens forsook Paul and the context isn’t just the apostasy of Demas, it’s also the loneliness of Paul. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since love “believeth all things”(I Cor. 13:7),i.e.,believes the best about someone when there is a doubt about their character. We’ll also believe the best about Titus, who left for Dalmatia.

But if rough and tumble Titus did forsake Paul, and meek Timothy didn’t, that shows that spiritual fortitude isn’t always tied to personal manliness.

At least Paul had Luke (4:11), a kingdom saint who wrote a kingdom book of the Bible, but became Paul’s traveling companion in Acts once God put the kingdom program on hold. His skill as a doctor (Col. 4:14) would come in handy to Paul’s battered body (cf. II Cor. 11:23-33).

“Mark” (4:11) didn’t start out “profitable” to Paul, or the Lord either. When Mark wrote the Lord “cometh” with the 12 for the last supper, that meant it was at his house, so he was probably the one awakened by the hymn (Mt. 26:30) and who followed the Lord out in a sheet, deserting Him when they arrested Him (Mark 14:50-52). Mark is the only gospel writer who records this. Similarly, Mark served as Paul’s gopher (Acts 12:25; 13:5) but left when the going got scary (Acts 13:13). This caused Paul to form a low opinion of him (Acts 14:36-38). But Barnabas knew Mark better, being related to him (Col. 4:10), and knew he was a “profitable” man, and eventually so did Paul!

You’d think Timothy would jump at the chance to come comfort his father in the faith, but he was surely concerned about his church in Ephesus (cf. I Tim.1:3). So Paul assures him, “Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus” (4:12). Hearing that, Timothy would know his church was in good hands, for he would know what Paul said about Tychicus (Eph. 6.21; Col.4:7).

Paul gave Mark a second chance because he knew that God is a God of second chances. Aren’t you glad he gave Adam one? And Moses, David, Jonah, Peter and many others are glad for their second chances as well. If you’re thinking Mark couldn’t be as used of God as before he failed Paul, think again. God used Mark to write a book of the Bible, and not just any book, the book that presents Christ as a servant. Matthew presents Him as king, Luke as a man, John as God, but Mark presents Him as the perfect servant of the Lord. Written from the unique perspective of a man who failed as a servant. What grace!