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Daily Devotional

December 7

I HAVE FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT I HAVE FINISHED MY COURSE, I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH

by Henry T. Vriesen

2 Timothy 4

It seems that Paul’s trial before Caesar was postponed. From his epistles we infer that it took place and that he was set free. In 2 Timothy we read, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me and strengthened me … that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” It is believed that when Paul left Rome, and from there to Macedonia. He may then have gone to Spain, since it had been his intention to visit that country (Rom. 15:24). Somewhat later Paul found that false teachers were causing disturbances in several churches. His first epistle to Timothy and the epistle to Titus were written about this time.

Meanwhile Nero’s frightful persecutions of the Christians had started. The most cruel tortures against them were invented. Christians were wrapped in the pelts of wild animals and hunted to death by dogs. They were covered with wax or oil and set on fire to serve as torches in Nero’s gardens. At that time the Christians did not reckon that the sufferings of this present time are worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. They looked up to the crucified and risen Savior. Nothing could separate them from his love: neither tribulation nor distress, neither peril nor sword. They were firmly convinced of the truth of the gospel. They were faithful unto death and received the crown of life.

In those days Paul wrote his second epistle to Timothy. He realized that his departure was not far off. And he said, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” So it was. He was brought to trial again. It is said, that at that time he made a bold statement, but we regret that it did not come down to us. No defense was possible in that hour before the fierce lion (Nero). The apostle was condemned to be beheaded, so tradition reports. By his friends his body was carried to the catacombs (subterranean passages beneath the city of Rome) where many thousands of Christians have found their resting place. Of all that are born of women, the apostle Paul was one of the greatest. We find his faith, hope and love summarized in his departing word, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

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