Sermon Manuscript . . .
Saturated in Relationships
2 Timothy 4:19-22
There is a scale that exists between the task-oriented and the people-oriented. You remember the tension that existed between Mary or Martha? Which are you? You have experienced the struggle between talking to people or preparing the food, hanging out or organizing a closet, welcoming strangers or setting up the chairs? Are you a people person or a task person?
You already know what side I belong to. You may not know–I also need to be alone, to study and pray. And, I occasionally find satisfaction in doing yardwork, organizing, or making things. I like to scuba dive, which is a small group in your own world type of sport. So people-oriented folks also need time alone, and task-oriented folks also need people. Social people need tasks and task people need relationships. This is obvious because task type people get married, have kids, and have friends. When God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” He meant it.
As Paul wraps up this incredible letter, he demonstrates his saturation in relationships. This is the apostle of Jesus Christ, human author of much of the New Testament, planter of churches, a task-oriented man who loves people, is intimate with friends–a man saturated with relationships.
All people are made in God’s image, designed by Him for relationships. You need them–Christ-like, healthy, deep, true, genuine and authentic relationships. All Christians need to learn to develop healthy relationships. You are saved to be a part of a community–inter-related to other Christians, to be discipled and to disciple, and baptized into the body of Christ.
Relationships are a means of grace, a reflection of the Trinity, a mandate of the Church with its one another’s, a requirement for growth, and a fulfillment of our purpose to make disciples. And biblical relationships create healthy churches, are essential for elderships, crucial for missionaries, necessary for godly marriages, key for harmonious families, desperately needed in student ministry, and relationships are a witness for Christ. When relationships get along, love and enjoy each other, it’s a powerful draw to the fallen heart.
They are also very attractive to other Christians. At the Shepherds’ Conference, a team of us were enjoying each other, laughing loudly while we were ministering to a pastor. It was at that moment when another pastor from a large church came up and asked if he could be a part of our church and staff–sincerely. Great relationships are a powerful draw to others.
The Scripture is filled with strong relationships–Moses and Joshua, David and Jonathan, Elijah and Elisha, Daniel and the Shadrach three, Jesus and His disciples, Paul and Timothy. Why do some of you resist relationships? Because they make you dependent, they x-ray who you really are, they require wisdom. And people can’t be totally controlled–they can flay open your spiritual life, and they’re unpredictable, messy and often hurt.
How many parents have I heard say, “It was so much easier when they were young, when they said, ‘Yes, Daddy and yes, Mommy.’ But now as they’re older, how much more difficult it is–the thinking, wisdom, the dialogue, the prayer needed to parent students and young adults is absolutely exhausting. Can’t we just go back to spanking and taking away their dessert?'” No–because Christians are to be saturated in relationships, give and take growth. A relationship with Christ, a relationship with Christians, and relationships with non-Christians.
So how do you cultivate healthy relationships? There are some crucial principles that spring from God’s Word. Be full of grace and truth. Speak the truth in love. Live what you teach. Model what you believe. Do what you say. Live the same at home as you do at church. Be at peace with all men, if at all possible. Let love cover a multitude of sins.
Go privately to your brother, if they have sinned–don’t tweet, post, talk, just go to them. The greatest among you is the servant, so serve others. Be intimate with Christ, wonder at His love for you in order to love others. Stop being offended, stop being the victim, stop being petty. Dependent reliance upon the Spirit of God to follow those principles from the Word of God would vastly improve your marriage, your family, your church, and your friendships.
In the final verses of 2 Timothy, Paul models a saturation with relationships by loving some folks in Ephesus and passing on the love of others in Rome. This is not merely a checklist. Never forget, these names are in the Word of God and every word in the Scripture is inspired by God.
Every name is listed here intentionally for the original audience and for you today. The Lord wants you to know these people and witness Paul’s saturation in relationships. God’s living and active Word contains these relationships because you too are to be saturated with relationships. What does Paul say? Read verses 19 to 22 as Paul wraps up 2 Timothy.
“Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. 21 Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren. 22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you” (2 Timothy 4:19 to 22).
In Second Timothy, Paul is in prison again–we call that a repeat offender. He is in Rome, writing Timothy in Ephesus who is under persecution from Rome externally, and under pressure from heretics internally in the church. Paul commands Timothy to preach the Word of God and to model the Word of God. And most of all, to be willing to pay the price of teaching God’s Word.
Paul is about to be executed for the Gospel–and in this letter, Paul prepares Timothy to be willing to lose his life for proclaiming the same Gospel. “They are killing me, Timothy–now be ready for them to kill you. I am about to die, yet I love my friends–and only because I’m in Christ and they’re in Christ, my relationships with them will not end with my death, but will go on for eternity.
“But Timothy, only those in Christ will enjoy Heaven together, in relationship together. Those not in Christ will be in darkness, in flames, in torment forever in misery. Those not in Christ will not be with friends–there is no fellowship in Hell. Therefore, it is most important that your friends and family be in Christ.
All legitimate Christ followers believe Christ died for their sins and rose from the dead. All true Christians have also turned from their sin in repentance, and daily follow Christ. All genuine believers also depend on Christ in faith for every aspect of their lives. All authentic born again disciples also obey God’s Word over their own will.
All valid saints believe Christ is their Creator, who made the world in six literal 24-hour days, who made only two sexes, male and female, designed marriage only for one man and one woman, taking life as in abortion is murder, and that Christ Himself is the only way of salvation. And all sincere Christians are saturated in relationships, first to Christ, next in the community of Christians, and while they live on this earth with non-Christians who need Christ. Paul demonstrates that in these final verses. Follow along in your outline and look at . . .
#1 The relational greeting–two old FRIENDS
Paul did not fail to remember his old friends. He could not end his last letter without some personal references, so he greeted two friends who were with Timothy in Ephesus. He mentioned some famous helpers and greeted an entire household. Verse 19, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”
FIRST Priscilla and Aquila were friends of Paul’s
They gave Paul a home in Corinth and Ephesus and ministered with him for Christ in a mighty way. Paul first met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth during his second missionary journey. The couple were Jewish refugees who had come from Rome at the time of the outbreak of anti-Semitism under Emperor Claudius.
Because Priscilla and Aquila were tentmakers like Paul, the apostle lived with them and labored at their looms while evangelizing in the city. In Acts 18:1 to 3, “After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, 3 and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tentmakers.”
When Paul was finished in Corinth, he took them with him to Ephesus and left them there to prepare the way for the Gospel in that important city. Because they were well taught in the Word, they were able to give helpful instruction to a gifted preacher named Apollos, Acts 18. Priscilla and Aquila were later in Rome when Paul wrote his letter to the Romans. In it Paul spoke of being in their debt, Romans 16:3 to 4, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”
In four of the six references to this wonderful team, the name of the wife is listed first, and in two references the order is reversed. Why is the wife stated before the husband four times out of six? Pages are written on this–a big controversy! Some suggest, 1) Prisca was more loyal and zealous in the work of the Lord, 2) Prisca came from a more distinguished, well-known family, 3) or Prisca had been a “noble hostess” and had bestowed greater sympathetic care upon Paul and his fellow workers.
We don’t know, but Paul calls her Prisca–meaning earnest woman. And Luke says Priscilla, meaning little earnest woman. Aquila means eagle. They’re both Latin/Roman names. When Paul writes this last letter to Timothy, this couple were in Ephesus again, probably because it was their home and most likely in Ephesus because of the persecution of Christians in Rome.
Paul greeted them personally by name–and when he did, he must have experienced a flood of great memories. They had a special relationship with Paul. Healthy relationships in Christ bring God glory. Some people don’t preach, but they are a help to the preacher. Some couples don’t shepherd, but they are a great help to those who do. Some minister as singles, and some minister married. Some couples minister separately and some minister together. Aquilla and Priscilla are an amazing blessing to the Early Church and to the apostle Paul.
SECOND The household of Onesiphorus
Paul had already praised Onesiphorus in 2 Timothy chapter 1. Fearless of the consequences, Onesiphorus had visited Paul in prison. In prison, Paul expressed appreciation for the household of Onesiphorus, who in chapter 1:16, “often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.”
His household is mentioned either because he is dead or because he is away. Paul appreciates the services the entire household has given to Christ, pointing to a very unique situation–everyone in the HOUSEHOLD was probably a Christian. Not only family members, but servants and friends were also believers in this household. If Paul’s mention of the household means this brave brother had recently died, Paul was expressing compassion for Onesiphorus’s family.
The amazing ministry potential of an entire household can never be measured. A family who comes to Christ and serves Christ together is a are but powerful tool–not only in service to Christ, but as a witness of how Christ can change relationships.
#2 Relationally updating Timothy on two fellow MINISTERS
Verse 20 begins with, “Erastus remained at Corinth.” Notice how Paul switches from greeting certain individuals to reporting of details. Again, here you have the ministry of key Christians in key cities. Paul is bringing Timothy up to speed in case they don’t meet face-to-face before Paul’s execution.
So in verse 20, Paul is updating Timothy on news. This bit of information suggests that Paul may have visited Corinth shortly before his second arrest. According to Romans 16, Erastus was the city treasurer of Corinth–a political player. Paul tells us in Romans 16:23b, “Erastus, the city treasurer greets you.”
Erastus had accompanied Paul during his second missionary journey. The apostle had sent Erastus and Timothy from Ephesus to Macedonia in Acts 19, perhaps in connection with the love offering for the poor in Jerusalem. Erastus is a trusted friend, a connected friend, an important relationship.
Then Verse 20 ends with, “but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.” Paul was forced to leave this brother behind because of illness. There are some who think that Christians should never be sick–and if they are, it is because of their unfaithfulness to the Lord or some sin in their lives. But Paul the apostle had to leave his sick companion at Miletus. There is no indication of unfaithfulness or sin or failure or regret. And Paul did not heal him. Healing from sickness is not always God’s will for the Christian.
According to Acts 20, Trophimus was from the city of Ephesus and had accompanied Paul from Greece to Troas. As a member of the team that took the offering to Jerusalem, he had traveled from Macedonia to Troas and from there to Miletus and Jerusalem. Trophimus the Gentile helped bring the offering to Jerusalem, but as a Gentile he was the unintentional cause of Paul’s first arrest. Paul was accused of presumably bringing a Gentile into the temple in Acts 21.
What happened to him after that is not known. Evidently, he traveled with Paul on his last journey to Rome. When Trophimus became sick, Paul was obliged to leave him in Miletus, not far from Ephesus. Probably Paul expected Timothy to act on this news and see what could be done for a colleague in his time of need.
At one time, Paul could have healed Trophimus or anyone else. But the sign gifts—tongues, miracles, and healings now seem to have been withdrawn from the Church. As soon as the apostle John had written his final New Testament books and departed to be with Christ, the gifts of apostles were withdrawn. The sign gifts had been given to authenticate Christianity to the Jews, according to 1 Corinthians.
But those signs to the Jews, the people of Israel, had been ignored. Their national life was about to be terminated–there was no further need for the sign gifts. So poor, sick Trophimus was left behind, but he was not forgotten. He is mentioned here out of compassion for a friend. Paul tells Timothy so he will arrange help for Trophimus.
Paul made no effort to heal Trophimus. Interestingly, Trophimus was present at the late night service in Troas, when the apostle miraculously restored life to Eutychus, a young man who fell asleep during the sermon and fell out a window to his death in Acts 20 (an important warning for you listening today). The sign gifts were coming to an end.
There is no evidence that any of the apostles, including Paul, performed miracles of any sort during their later years. As more and more of the New Testament was revealed and made available to the Church, God’s Word no longer needed the verification of miracles. The New Testament teaches that God heals in miraculous ways today, but it’s important to understand from His Word how God does so–otherwise you could can end up embracing error on healing.
Timothy had a stomach problem which Paul said would be helped with wine. Timothy also had other frequent infirmities that Paul did not heal (1 Timothy 5:23). Acts 28 says Paul had the power to heal, but he did not always use that power–why? Because it is not always God’s will to heal, God left Paul with a thorn (2 Corinthians 12:9 to 10).
There are some who believe that sickness is caused by Satan and that God wants us to be perpetually free from it. They say God will keep us perfectly healthy, if we only have enough faith. But the Bible says God’s will for His children includes physical suffering–He allowed both Job in Job 2 and the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 to suffer for His reasons.
And Paul didn’t blame Timothy and Epaphroditus for a lack of faith, when he mentioned their sicknesses (1 Timothy 5:23; Philippians 2:27,30). God may allow sickness for many reasons, from chastening a believer, to simply bringing someone closer to Him. Though God may not always be clear about His reason for suffering, you always know it is for our good (Romans 8:28).
Many today claim to have the same gift of healing the apostles exercised. But what so-called healers do today is nothing like the ministry of the apostles. The apostles healed with a mere word or touch, instantaneously rather than over a period of days, and not partially, but totally. They healed everybody who came to them, including those with diseases, not merely maladies–like back pain, migraine headaches, and palpitations of the heart.
They also were able to raise the dead. Only a limited number of people in New Testament times had the true biblical gift of healing–Jesus, the apostles and those the apostles laid their hands upon. The healing gift was not given at random, even during apostolic times. God still heals miraculously, in response to faithful prayer and for the purpose of manifesting His glory. But He does not heal everybody, nor does He do so through the apostolic gift.
Reason this out–if God desired healing for every Christian, why has everyone other than those now living, succumbed to illness, old age, and accidents? Is there a line where God no longer chooses to heal, or protect, or help and finally lets a person die? If so, why? Surely there were people of faith among all Christians who have ever lived who would qualify to continue to live, had healing been God’s will.
Obviously, if God chose to heal and raise every Christian from the dead, there’d be 2000-year-old Christians still alive, and there would be no dead Christians . . . which is absurd. Hebrews 9:27 says everyone has an appointment with death which will be followed by the judgment. Healthy relationships in Christ bring God glory.
#3 A hurried REQUEST for personal relationship
Paul made one last yearning plea. Before he extends greetings from some in Rome, Paul expands his earlier request in verse 9 by asking Timothy now, verse 21a, “Make every effort to come before winter.” The verb “every effort” is do your best, to be eager or zealous, to hasten and hurry.
The apostle was chilled to the bone in his dungeon. He desperately needed his cloak for warmth. Desiring his cloak in verse 13, Paul wondered what it would be like when winter came. As for the books and parchments, Paul realized the little light he now had for reading and writing would decrease more as the days became shorter.
The hurried request fits the travel restrictions of the first century. If Timothy did not come before winter, it would be too late. Travel by sea would be impossible once winter came. Travel by land through the highland passes was often impossible. Plus, Paul doubted he had long to live.
We all hope, as soon as Timothy read this letter, he immediately dispatched someone to Miletus to take care of Trophimus, packed his bags, bought his tickets, and set out for Troas and Rome, picking up John Mark along the way. We hope he was able to see Paul personally. Healthy relationships in Christ bring God glory.
#4 Relational greetings from local BELIEVERS
Even though Paul stood before Nero alone during his trial, Paul was not without friends in Rome. All the male names are in Latin, perhaps indicating the men were from Italy and had been members of the church in Rome. So the apostle passes on greetings from a few people in the besieged Christian community, still surviving the onslaught of persecution in Rome.
Verse 21b, “Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.” Each name is separated from the other names with the Greek word for “and”. This is a grammatical approach which reveals the thoughtful care with which Paul mentions each name. Nothing is known about these named people. No one knows Eubulus or Pudens, but there is a lot of speculation on Linus and Claudia.
Early Church father Irenaeus says, “Legend has nothing to say with reference to Eubulus, a Greek proper name meaning ‘good counselor,’ or ‘prudent person.’ Among the Greeks, Linus (meaning “flaxen-haired”) was the name of a mythical minstrel. Linus describes a simple believer in Rome, not a past companion of Paul. Tradition has it after Peter’s death, this man Linus was appointed as the bishop of the church at Rome.”
I love commentator Harry Ironsides’ comment about Linus becoming the second pope in Catholic manipulation of history. He says, “Linus is listed in Roman Catholic chronology as the second bishop of Rome. Peter was supposed to be the first. But neither Linus nor Peter knew anything about it.”
There are suggestions that Claudia was a faithful believer and a close friend of Paul, maybe the wife or mother of Linus. There is even speculation that Claudia was the daughter of a British king who was an ally of Rome. Paul concludes verse 21 with “and all the brethren.” All the remaining Roman believers were relationally connected to Paul and passed on greetings to Timothy and the believers in Ephesus. Healthy relationships in Christ bring God glory.
#5 Concluding with a reminder of our AWESOME Lord
Verse 22, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” All of the people Paul mentions in this passage were part of his relational network. This network included both men and women, friends and fellow ministers, the faithful and one unfaithful. In one way or another, they were all connected relationally to Christ, to Paul, to other Christians and to non-Christians in the ministry of the Early Church.
Paul concludes this great letter with a focus on the Lord, whom he now asks to be with Timothy in spirit. The Greek word “your spirit” is singular–this is addressed to Timothy. Paul leaves Timothy personally and intimately in the Lord’s hands and in His grace. Verse 22, “The Lord be with your spirit.” Paul is speaking of God’s spiritual presence, wishing that the Lord will be spiritually present with Timothy in his inner person.
Timothy has lots of friends, but Timothy needs the Lord most of all. The apostle knew Timothy would need a sense of the Lord’s presence as he journeyed from the less-persecuted Ephesus to the center of persecution in Rome. Timothy would need more than all his courage and resolve–he would need the Lord.
Before he reached Rome, Timothy might avoid suspicion. No sane Christian would be headed to Rome with the firestorm of persecution, brutality red-lining at believers. But once in Rome, Timothy would face real danger. Once Timothy showed up at the mamertine prison and asked to see Paul, it is important for him to be reminded that the Lord was standing by his side–“the Lord be with your spirit.”
As Paul concludes, his final written words on Earth are, “Grace be with you.” What other legacy did Paul have to leave? He had no gold or gems. The soldiers might cast lots for his cloak, like they did for the Lord’s robe. Paul had grace, and grace was all that Timothy needed. Grace was all Paul needed. Grace was all that Paul had.
It was grace that met Paul when he was the chief persecutor of the Church. It was grace that washed away his sins and wrote his name in the Book of Life. It was grace which put Paul in the ministry and called him to be an apostle to the Gentiles. It was grace that used Paul so mightily in so many ways for so many years. It was grace that opened Paul’s eyes to Heaven and gave him his thorn.
It was grace that brought him through so many perils. It was grace that blessed his ministry and used it for the conversion of countless souls. It was grace that opened his heart to a sense of the Lord’s presence in his prison. What better gift could he leave Timothy and all Christians than grace? Paul writes, “Grace be with you,” then the curtain fell. Paul had no more to say. His ministry was complete.
The traditional date of Paul’s martyrdom is June 19, A.D. 68. That same month, Nero committed suicide. Nero went to Hell and still experiences eternal torment, like all those who do not follow Christ. Paul went to Heaven and entered into “joy unspeakable and full of glory” for all who do follow Christ.
On that fateful day when Paul left his dungeon, he gave a farewell to his beloved physician and was led to the block. Paul probably had some kind words for his executioner and a word of testimony about where he would be “in just a moment.” He bowed his head to the block, closed his eyes in a dungeon, and immediately opened them in Heaven to see the face of Christ. What a great Savior!
A None of your friends are PERFECT, except for Christ
No relationship is perfect, nobody lives happily ever after on this planet. Relationships are messy, difficult, hurtful and broken because of sin–they require work. Christians are not exempt. Christians are all saints who still battle with sin. You must have Christ and depend on His Holy Spirit to learn to love like Christ and to learn to forgive, to cover with love, to be gracious, giving and trusting.
To be saturated in healthy relationships, you must be related to the only perfect relationship there is–the triune God. Your sin prevents that relationship and the only solution is to turn to Christ in faith and repentance so that Christ lives through you. To enjoy relationships, you must live by God’s Word through His Spirit, and that only happens when you are born again. Are you a genuine Christian?
B Relationships are never to be your SATISFACTION
If your happiness comes from something you can deposit, drive, drink, digest–then face it, you’re in prison . . . the prison of want. You have wants, but Christ can give you all you need. The true Shepherd is greater than what you don’t have–the house you don’t have,
the scholarship you didn’t get, the promotion that you didn’t get, the car you didn’t get, the friends you don’t have, the spouse you don’t have, the spouse you do have.
And the Lord is greater than what you do have. He is greater than the cancer, the Shepherd is greater than the past, He is greater than the fact that you were raised by a crummy dad or a lousy mom in a bad setting. He is greater than the broken relationships, or a rebellious kid, or the failed business.
The Shepherd knows His sheep and only the true Shepherd can satisfy the cry, the wants, the relational needs of your heart. Stop looking for satisfaction in things, in a guy or gal, in a spouse or a family–find your satisfaction in Jesus Christ alone. Healthy relationships in Christ bring God glory. Let’s pray.