Online Bible Commentary
The Lord Will Rescue Us
2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. 18 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. Amen. (NIV)
Paul closes his second letter to Timothy with a warning, and a praise. First he warns Timothy about Alexander. Alexander the metalworker is believed to be the same Alexander who Paul excommunicated from the church in Ephesus for false teaching. Alexander did Paul “a great deal of harm” (v. 14a). He harmed Paul by his false teaching, helping to turn the churches in Asia against Paul.
It also appears that Alexander may have been responsible for Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, which resulted in Paul’s execution. The literal Greek for verse 14a is “much to me evils showed”. The word translated “showed” is the Greek word “endeiknumi” which means “to show” or “to point out”, and was often used with the legal sense of “inform against”. It appears that Alexander was Paul’s accuser. If we wanted to speculate, we could throw him in the hat as being a candidate for Paul’s “thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (2 Cor. 12:7). Paul then pronounces the fate of Alexander, which is the fate of all messengers of Satan. “The Lord will repay him for what he has done” (v. 14b).
Next, Paul warns Timothy to “be on your guard against” Alexander (v.15a). The word translated “strongly” (v. 15b) is the Greek word “lian” which means “exceeding” or “chiefest”. The conclusion is that Alexander was the greatest opponent of Paul’s teachings. Paul does not want Timothy to be another casualty of this man. We know that Timothy served some time in prison, and we can speculate that it came by the hand of Alexander.
Next, Paul praises the Lord. He recalls the occasion of his first arrest in Rome, his house arrest. At Paul’s “first defense” everyone, but the Lord, deserted him (vv. 16-17a). “The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (v. 17a). Verse seventeen is likely a reference to Acts 23:11: “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.’ ” This was the night following his “first defense”, his defense before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. As a result of that, Paul was sent to Caesarea and handed over to Governor Felix. This was the beginning of the process that landed him under house arrest in Rome, where he spent his time preaching to the “Gentiles” (v. 17b). It was there that he could fulfill Christ’s commandment to “testify in Rome”. There, Paul was “delivered from the lion's mouth” (v. 17c), perhaps a reference to Daniel (Dan. 6:22). He was released from house arrest, after two years.
Paul continues to praise the Lord in verse eighteen. The Lord will “rescue” him “from every evil attack” (v. 18a) does not mean that he will be rescued physically. It means that he will be rescued spiritually, preserved by the Lord from evil, and brought “safely to his heavenly kingdom” (v. 18b). Paul then concludes his praise by giving glory to the Lord (v. 18c).
When everyone else fails us, we have Jesus. Men will let us down, but Jesus never will. He is always standing at our side, giving us strength. He will never leave, nor forsake us. He delivered Paul through every circumstance. Paul was met with opposition and evil, at very turn. He was doing the work of the Lord, and the messengers of Satan were always present to oppose him. Those who work for the Lord are always under assault. But just as was Paul, we will be delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will see us through until our work is done. Then the Lord will rescue us, one last time, and bring us safely to His heavenly kingdom. Praise the Lord!