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Use diligence to come to me quickly. 2 Timothy 4:9 JND

Paul’s Example of “First Love” for Christ

Second Timothy has often been called Paul’s spiritual “last will and testament,” not only for Timothy but for any next generation of believers. Paul’s purpose in writing this letter from his cold prison cell was to encourage Timothy to continue on and not give up. Through this letter, Paul also challenges all believers to be true overcomers. What does that mean? Paul’s desire was for Timothy to keep following the Lord Jesus, no matter how difficult the circumstances, obstacles, or attacks.

Paul himself, in that dark and terrible “dungeon,” was a living example of what “first love” is all about (cf. Rev. 2:4). It means that Christ is everything for us, as was the case with Paul in those very trying circumstances. Yes, the Lord Jesus wants to be all for each individual believer, wherever we are and in whatever circumstances. The reason is simple, yet profound: Christ is all-sufficient. Realizing this through faith, Paul was not discouraged in his tough situation. Many believers had forsaken him (2 Tim. 1:15), in part, perhaps, because the apostle had been arrested by the Roman authorities who considered him a criminal guilty of death. Besides Paul’s own example in this last of his inspired letters, we also find in it several other believers who demonstrated features of true overcomers. They had spiritual zeal for the Lord—not carnal or selfish—but a God-honoring commitment, as focused on the Lord and His interests.

The challenge that Paul left with Timothy implies such an example: “Make every effort to come to me soon” (2 Tim. 4:9 nasb), or “Do your best to come to me soon” (esv). Paul added, “For Demas has forsaken me, having loved the present age” (v. 10). This does not mean that Demas, who had been one of Paul’s close co-workers, had lost his salvation. Sadly, the Lord no longer was first in Demas’s life, and he had lost interest in working with Paul: Demas had lost his first love.

Alfred E. Bouter