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Godly Relationships Are Precious

2 Timothy 4:19-22
Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus ill in Miletus. Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters. The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all. (NIVUK)

In the last verses, Paul described how, for different reasons, no believing friends were in court to support him at his first hearing (2 Timothy 4:16-18).  Now he turns to cherished gospel colleagues many miles away and asks Timothy to send them his love.  They were Paul’s Christian fellow-workers.  They served together in the different parts of the Lord’s ‘family business’ – the church.  Just remembering them made Paul glad.  Priscilla and Aquilla were Jewish tentmakers in Corinth with whom Paul had stayed and worked (Acts 18: 1-3).  They had previously been exiled from Rome but Paul taught them the gospel.  Later they travelled with Paul to  Ephesus (Acts 18:19), where they taught Apollos who became another travelling missionary preacher (Acts 18:24-27).

Onesiphorus had greatly encouraged Paul in prison; he presumably died in Rome because Paul was concerned for his family in Ephesus (2 Timothy 1:16).  Erastus was an old co-worker with Timothy (Acts 19:22), sent by Paul to build up the church in Corinth.  Trophimus was a Gentile convert from Ephesus (Acts 21:29).  Of the others, we know nothing.  But these gentle pastoral verses show that Paul cared for widows and orphans, prayed for the sick, and could not stop being eager that the gospel should be preached.  And he longed for the company of his faithful assistant Timothy and his spiritual welfare, committing him to the grace of God.
 
As far as we know, these are the last words written by the Apostle Paul.  Like any patriarchal ‘last words’ they have a sense of summarising and commissioning and are good for us to take to heart, as Paul intended for Timothy.  The Christian life is intended to be lived in relationship with God and His church.  These should be relationships where the gospel of Christ controls the agenda, the love of Christ enables mutual giving, and the grace of Christ strengthens us.  

The Apostle Paul was a preacher, evangelist, pastor, writer, team leader and strategic missionary; but he was also a humble tentmaker, an uncomplaining sufferer and content to be on ‘death row’ for the sake of Christ.  He understood the meaning of love – giving out of a full heart, personally assured that God’s love for him could never fail.  So, without self-pity, he continued to strengthen others even though his own death was near.  Godly relationships are precious and need to be maintained well.  As Christ has a heart for others, so must we also.

Prayer 
Dear Lord God. Thank You for loving me. I am so glad that You have brought me to know You through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I am sorry for when I have not spent time developing my relationship with You or those You have set alongside me; when I have been more interested in what I am doing than those I am doing it with and for. Please help me to invest in spiritual relationships for Your glory’s sake. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams