9Come to see me as soon as you can. 10 Demas loves the things of this world so much that he left me and went to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke has stayed with me.
Mark can be very helpful to me, so please find him and bring him with you. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
13 When you come, bring the coat I left at Troas with Carpus. Don't forget to bring the scrolls, especially the ones made of leather.
14 Alexander, the metalworker, has hurt me in many ways. But the Lord will pay him back for what he has done. 15Alexander opposes what we preach, so you had better watch out for him.
16When I was first put on trial, no one helped me. In fact, everyone deserted me. I hope it won't be held against them. 17But the Lord stood beside me. He gave me the strength to tell his full message, so that all Gentiles would hear it. And I was kept safe from hungry lions. 18 The Lord will always keep me from being harmed by evil, and he will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. Praise him forever and ever! Amen.
19 Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and to the family of Onesiphorus.
20 Erastus stayed at Corinth.
Trophimus was sick when I left him at Miletus.
21Do your best to come before winter.
Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia send you their greetings, and so do the rest of the Lord's followers.
22I pray that the Lord will bless your life and will be kind to you.
It is easy to fall into the trap of seeing the ordinary activities of life as somehow less “spiritual” and thus less important than those activities where we worship God, pray and study our Bibles. There is no hint of that in these verses from Paul’s letter to Timothy.
Paul candidly talks about specific and ordinary people (not apostles!) noting those who have been helpful – like Luke, Mark and four other friends who send greetings to Timothy (v 21) – and those who have not been helpful at all: Demas and Alexander (vv 10, 14). Nor does Paul “spiritualize” his suffering with pious words. “No one helped me when I was put on trial,” he says (v 16).
The ordinary news of “who is where” is included too: Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, Tychicus to Ephesus, Erastus has stayed in Corinth while Trophimus was still sick in Miletus when Paul saw him last.
Do we as 21st century readers need to know these details? They mean nothing to us because we don’t know these people or these geographical places at all. But I suspect they mean so much to Timothy; he can picture the faces of these friends and imagine them in their communities. This information gives him a sense that he is included, that he is not alone, that he is supported and that he is part of something much bigger.
And then (in this which appears to be Paul’s final NT letter) he says quite simply: “bring my coat and the scrolls . . . pass along greetings to my friends . . . and do your best to come before winter.”
In earlier letters and even earlier in this letter, Paul has given sound, theological teaching. But as important as those are – and they are important – he is an ordinary human being with friends and foes and with personal needs. If we are to follow Paul’s example, we would do well to pay attention to the ordinary and human aspects of our lives and our friends’ lives.
Lord God, when I am struggling to get out of bed, my tea kettle is broken and my friend has gone out of town, help me to see that you are still with me. And help me also to pay attention to these kinds of ordinary issues in my friends’ lives. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.