2 Timothy 4:16
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) At my first answer no man stood with me . . .—And then, after the mention of what his enemy had done out of hatred to the cause of Christ, the old man passed on to speak of the conduct of his own familiar friends at that great public trial before—most probably—the city præfect: Præfectus Urbi, a nominee of the Emperor Nero. No one friend stood by him; no “advocate” pleaded his cause; no “procurator” (an official who performed the functions of the attorney in an English court) helped him in arranging and sifting the evidence; no “patronus” of any noble or powerful house gave him his countenance and support. The position of a well-known Christian leader accused in the year 66-67 was a critical one, and the friend who dared to stand by him would himself be in great danger. After the great fire of Rome, in A.D. 64, the Christians were looked upon as the enemies of the state, and were charged as the authors of that terrible disaster. Nero, to avert suspicion from himself, allowed the Christians to be accused and condemned as incendiaries. A great persecution, in which, as Tacitus tells, a very great multitude of the followers of Jesus perished, was the immediate result of the hateful charge. It is most probable that St. Paul, as a famous Nazarene leader, was eventually arrested as implicated in this crime, and brought to Rome. His implacable enemies among the Jews might well have been the agents who brought this about, and Alexander of the last verse was possibly principally concerned in this matter. But St. Paul, conscious of his own great peril, knew well that to stand by him now, implicated as he was in this net-work of false accusations, would be a service of the greatest danger; so he pleads for them, these weak, unnerved friends of his, who, through no ill-will to the cause, but solely from timidity, had deserted him, remembering, no doubt, his own Master, who, too, in His hour of deadly peril, had been forsaken. (See John 16:32, “Behold the hour cometh, yea is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and ye shall leave Me alone.”) But like his own Master, who proceeded to say, “Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me,” so St. Paul went on to tell Timothy neither was he alone, for One greater than any friend on earth stood by him.

2 Timothy 4:16. At my first answer Απολογια, apology, or defence, before the emperor, or, as is more generally thought, the prefect of the city in his absence; no man — None of the Christians here at Rome; stood — Appeared in court; with me, but all — Either through treachery or cowardice; forsook me — “Many circumstances make it astonishing that Paul should have been deserted by the Christians at Rome in this extremity. When he wrote his epistle to the church there, which must have been almost ten years before this, he speaks of their faith as celebrated through the world, Romans 1:8. He salutes a vast number of illustrious persons by name, and mentions many of them as his particular friends, Romans 16:3-15; and we may assure ourselves that during the two years he spent there in his hired house, when access was granted to all that desired it, the number, and probably the zeal of the Christian converts would be greatly increased, as indeed he expressly assures the Philippians that it was, and that some of Cesar’s palaces were added to them, Php 1:12; Php 4:22.” How then did it happen that he was thus forsaken? The true answer seems to be, that the cruel persecution which Nero had raised against the Christians at Rome, (in which they were worried in the skins of wild beasts, wrapped up in pitched clothes, and then chained to stakes, and set on fire to give light in the streets by night,) had taken place before this; and it is probable that many of the excellent persons above mentioned had suffered death for their religion; and that others, according to our Lord’s advice, had retired to a distance from Rome, while some were so terrified that they concealed themselves; or at least had not courage to appear with him before the tribunal. For these last mentioned the apostle prays, May it not be laid to their charge — He was sensible of the danger to which his friends would have exposed themselves by appearing with him at his trial; he knew likewise the infirmity of human nature; and therefore he made great allowance for their yielding in such circumstances, and prayed that they might be forgiven, as Christ prayed his Father to forgive those who crucified him.4:14-18 There is as much danger from false brethren, as from open enemies. It is dangerous having to do with those who would be enemies to such a man as Paul. The Christians at Rome were forward to meet him, Ac 28, but when there seemed to be a danger of suffering with him, then all forsook him. God might justly be angry with them, but he prays God to forgive them. The apostle was delivered out of the mouth of the lion, that is, of Nero, or some of his judges. If the Lord stands by us, he will strengthen us in difficulties and dangers, and his presence will more than supply every one's absence.At my first answer - Greek, "apology (ἀπολογία apologia), plea, or defense." This evidently refers to some trial which he had had before the Roman emperor. He speaks of a first trial of this kind; but whether it was on some former occasion, and he had been released and permitted again to go abroad, or whether it was a trial which he had already had during his second imprisonment, it is not easy to determine. The former is the most natural supposition; for, if he had had a trial during his present imprisonment, it is difficult to see why he was still held as a prisoner. See this point examined in the introduction, section 1.

No man stood with me - Paul had many friends in Rome (2 Timothy 4:21; compare Romans 16); but it seems that they did not wish to appear as such when he was put on trial for his life. They were doubtless afraid that they would be identified with him, and would endanger their own lives. It should be said that some of the friends of the apostle, mentioned in Romans 16, and who were there when that Epistle was written, may have died before the apostle arrived there, or, in the trials and persecutions to which they were exposed, may have left the city. Still, it is remarkable that those who were there should have all left him on so trying an occasion. But to forsake a friend in the day of calamity is not uncommon, and Paul experienced what thousands before him and since have done. Thus, Job was forsaken by friends and kindred in the day of his trials; see his pathetic description in Job 19:13-17;

He hath put my brethren far from me,

And mine acquaintance verily are estranged from me.

My kinsfolk have failed,

And my familiar friends have forgotten me.

They that dwell in my house, and my maids,

Count me for a stranger.

I am an alien in their sight.

I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I entreated him with my mouth.

My breath is strange to my wife.

Though I entreated for the children's sake of mine own body.

Thus, the Psalmist was forsaken by his friends in the time of calamity; Psalm 35:12-16; Psalm 38:2; Psalm 41:9; Psalm 55:12. And thus the Saviour was forsaken in his trials; Matthew 26:56; compare, for illustration, Zechariah 13:6. The world is full of instances in which those who have been overtaken by overwhelming calamities, have been forsaken by professed friends, and have been left to suffer alone. This has arisen, partly from the circumstance that many sincere friends are timid, and their courage fails them when their attachment for another would expose them to peril; but more commonly from the circumstance that there is much professed friendship in the world which is false, and that calamity becomes a test of it which it cannot abide. There is professed friendship which is caused by wealth Proverbs 14:20; Proverbs 19:4; there is that which is cherished for those in elevated and fashionable circles; there is that which is formed for beauty of person, or graceful manners, rather than for the solid virtues of the heart; there is that which is created in the sunshine of life - the affection of those "swallow friends; who retire in the winter, and return in the spring." Compare the concluding remarks on the book of Job. Such friendship is always tested by calamity; and when affliction comes, they who in the days of prosperity were surrounded by many flatterers and admirers, are surprised to find how few there were among them who truly loved them.

"In the wind and tempest of his frown,

continued...

16. At my first answer—that is, "defense" in court, at my first public examination. Timothy knew nothing of this, it is plain, till Paul now informs him. But during his former imprisonment at Rome, Timothy was with him (Php 1:1, 7). This must have been, therefore, a second imprisonment. He must have been set free before the persecution in A.D. 64, when the Christians were accused of causing the conflagration in Rome; for, had he been a prisoner then, he certainly would not have been spared. The tradition [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2.251] that he was finally beheaded, accords with his not having been put to death in the persecution, A.D. 64, when burning to death was the mode by which the Christians were executed, but subsequently to it. His "first" trial in his second imprisonment seems to have been on the charge of complicity in the conflagration; his absence from Rome may have been the ground of his acquittal on that charge; his final condemnation was probably on the charge of introducing a new and unlawful religion into Rome.

stood with me—Greek, "came forward with me" [Alford] as a friend and advocate.

may it not be laid to their charge—The position of "their," in the Greek, is emphatic. "May it not be laid to THEIR charge," for they were intimidated; their drawing back from me was not from bad disposition so much as from fear; it is sure to be laid to the charge of those who intimidated them. Still Paul, like Stephen, would doubtless have offered the same prayer for his persecutors themselves (Ac 7:60).

At my first answer, at my first appearing before Nero, and the court of Rome, no man stood with me; none of the Christians stood by me, or owned me; but all men forsook me; but all, being frighted at my danger, left me alone to speak for myself.

I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge; the sinned through weakness and human frailty, and the Lord, I hope, will pardon it; God grant them remission. At my first answer no man stood with me,.... Meaning, that when he made his first defence against the charges laid unto him in one of the courts of judicature in Rome, no man appeared in his cause, to speak to his character, to be a witness for him, or plead his cause:

but all men forsook me; all his friends, all that came with him from Judea, or from Asia; see 2 Timothy 1:15 being timorous of coming into danger, and of the loss of their lives; as the disciples of Christ were, when he was apprehended, who all at that time forsook him and fled:

I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge; that this sin may not be imputed to them, or they be punished for it, but that it might be pardoned; so differently does he express himself on the account of these, than on the account of the coppersmith; he sinning through malice, wilfully and obstinately, these through surprise, temptation, and weakness.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Timothy 4:16-17. Information regarding the apostle’s present condition, ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ μου ἀπολογίᾳ] ἀπολογία: the public appearance before the court; comp. Php 1:7. Ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ shows that there was a second appearance in order to bring the case to an end. On the time when the first trial took place, see the Introduction, where, too, there is a discussion of Otto’s hypothesis, that it means the proceedings before Festus, as recounted in Acts 25:6-12.

οὐδείς μοι παρεγἐνετο] “no one stood on my side, was present with me,” viz. as patronus[69] (defender). It is the negative expression of the thought which in the next words is given positively: ἀλλὰ πάντες με ἐγκατέλιπον. As to the reason why they had left the apostle, Theodoret says rightly: οὐ κακοηθείας ἧν, ἀλλὰ δειλίας ἡ ὑποχώρησις.

However much this want of evangelic spirit may have pained the apostle, he says no word in anger: μὴ αὐτοῖς λογισθείη: “may it not be reckoned to them, but pardoned.”—2 Timothy 4:17. ὁ δὲ κύριός μοι παρέστη] said in sharp antithesis to the previous thought. The presence of the Lord manifested itself to the apostle in the courage which he had to testify freely and openly regarding Him; hence καὶ ἐνεδυνάμωσέ με] Chrysostom: παῤῥησίαν ἐχαρίσατο; comp. 1 Timothy 1:12; Php 4:13. According to Otto, this expression means simply that the Lord “maintained the apostle’s cause against his accusers,” which is clearly an unjustifiable paraphrase of the word, as the apostle is speaking not of his cause, but of himself. Even if ἐνεδυνάμωσε be used in a forensic sense, its signification cannot be altered; it applies to the strengthening which enabled the apostle so to speak as to ward off sentence against him. The purpose of this strengthening was: ἵνα διʼ ἐμοῦ τὸ κήρυγμα πληροφορηθῇ] According to the meaning suitable to the word πληροφορεῖν in Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5, Beza translates: “ut per me praeconio evangelii fides fieret.” Heydenreich, too, thinks that πληροφ. refers to the confirmation of the gospel or testimony to it, either through the proofs delivered by Paul or through the joy he exhibited. But it is safer to take πληροφ. in the same sense here as in 2 Timothy 4:5, some of the MSS. even reading πληρωθῇ for πληροφορηθῇ. It is, however, inaccurate to take the expression in the sense of: “that I might be enabled to preach the gospel” (de Wette). In this interpretation full force is not given to πληροφορεῖν. These words must be taken in very close connection with καὶ ἀκούσῃ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, and referred to the apostle’s being called to preach the gospel to the heathen. The κήρυγμα, sc. τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, was fulfilled by Paul, inasmuch as it was done openly before all people (Wieseler, Wiesinger) in the metropolis of the world (was delivered before the corona populi, before the court). Hofmann, regarding this interpretation of the apostle’s words as forced, understands ἵνα κ.τ.λ. in this way: “If courage and strength had failed the apostle before the heathen tribunal of the metropolis of the world … his confident belief that the heathen world was called to become the church of Christ would have been shattered.” But the words διʼ ἐμοῦπληροφορηθῇ distinctly say that the preaching had been carried out by the apostle himself, and not simply that the preaching to be done by others would not be hindered by him, i.e. by his conduct.

The ἵνα was fulfilled by the apostle’s speech in the πρώτη ἀπολογία. Otto, on the contrary, asserts that the first ἀπολογία and the preaching in Rome took place at different times, and that ἵνα refers to what was to be done afterwards in Rome by the apostle. This is wrong, since in that case ἵνα ought not to stand before, hut after ἐῤῥύσθην.

καὶ ἐῤῥύσθην ἐκ στόματος λέοντος] second proof of the help and presence of the Lord.

στόμα λέοντος has been very variously explained. The expression is not to be taken literally (Mosheim), but figuratively, and is to be referred to the punishment of being thrown to the lions.

Chrysostom and many after him take Nero to be the λέων; Pearson again takes Helius Ceasareanus, since Nero at the time had departed for Greece. Wahl thinks λέων a metaphor for tyrannus crudelis, while Wolf explains it to be omnis illa hostium caterva, quorum conatus in prima apologia tunc facta eluserit.[70] All these interpretations are inappropriate. In the first place, the metaphor is not in ΛΈΩΝ alone, but in ΣΤΌΜΑ ΛΈΟΝΤΟς (so, too, van Oosterzee, Hofmann); and, secondly, this expression can hardly be referred simply to the danger that threatened the apostle from men, but also to the danger prepared for him by the might of Satan, which was opposed to Christ. Hence the interpretation “deadly danger” (so de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee) is not sufficient.[71] Paul escaped from the danger impending over him, unhurt in body and soul (see on 2 Timothy 3:11), escaped as a conqueror in the eyes of the Lord, and hence he says: ἘῤῬΊΣΘΗΝ ἘΚ ΣΤΌΜΑΤΟς ΛΈΟΝΤΟς.

[69] Wolf: verb. συμπαραγίνεσθαι indicat patronos et amicos, qui alios, ad causam dicendam vocatos, nunc praesentia sua, nunc etiam oratione adjuvare solebant. Graeci dicunt nunc παραγίνεσθαι, nunc παρεῖναι, nunc συμπαρεῖναι.—See further, in Rein, Röm. Privatrecht, p. 425; Schömann, Attisch. Recht, p. 708.

[70] Otto adopts an explanation to suit his opinion that this ἀπολογία took place in Caesarea before Festus: “Judaism was the lion that panted for the apostle’s blood,” and from it the apostle was delivered when he appealed to the emperor, and Festus received the appeal.

[71] Hofmann: “His danger was a greater one, to lose … before the tribunal his courage in confessing Christ. That he had escaped it, he owes thanks to God’s help.”2 Timothy 4:16-18. I have spoken of my present loneliness. Yet I have no justification for depression; for since I came to Rome I have had experience, at my preliminary trial, that God is a loyal protector when earthly friends fail. And so I have good hope that He will bring me safe through every danger to His heavenly kingdom.16. At my first answer] This should not be referred to any preliminary trial at Ephesus or elsewhere, but to the ‘prima actio’ of the main case at Rome before Nero or his representative; ‘if the matter was one of difficulty the hearing might be adjourned as often as was necessary: such respite was called ampliatio.’ See Dict. Ant. judex.

stood with me] The simpler compound is the better supported by mss., took my part, was my ‘advocatus.’ Under the emperors this word signified a person who in any way assisted in the conduct of a cause, our ‘solicitor,’ and was sometimes equivalent to ‘orator’ or ‘patronus,’ who made the speech for the client, our ‘counsel’ or ‘barrister.’ See Dict. Ant. advocatus. The verb here is generally in N. T. without any case following, in the sense of ‘to come,’ and is especially used by St Luke, occurring twenty-nine times in the Gospel and the Acts, against nine times elsewhere in N.T. The meaning of ‘support,’ with the dative, is quite classical. Cf. Æsch. Eum. 309.

all … forsook me] As in 2 Timothy 4:10.

laid to their charge] More exactly to their account, lit. ‘reckoned to them.’ So the line of Martial, which has been adopted as a motto for sundials and clocks, ‘horae pereunt et imputantur,’ ‘are put to our account.’

16–18. ‘Then came my first trial at Rome; Alexander was as nothing compared to “the lion”; I was alone, yet “not alone”; the Lord delivered me; and He will deliver me, even through and out of death—Safe home, safe home, in port.’2 Timothy 4:16. Πρώτῃ, in the first) (defence). It was now therefore the second; and at it he wishes Timothy to be present with him, and is confident that the Lord will stand by him, that he may overcome.—συμπαρεγένετο) The σὺν indicates that they were in no great danger.—[17]ἐγκατέλιπον, forsook) from fear.—μὴ αὐτοῖς λογισθείη, may it not be laid to their charge) The greatness of the sin is hereby implied, as well as the wish of Paul: the αὐτοῖς, to them (to their charge), as being put before the verb, intimates, that it will be laid to the charge of those who had deterred the godly from standing by him.[18]

[17] Πάντες, all) Lamentable to hear.—V. g.

[18] That is to say, the αὐτοῖς is emphatic, being put first, “May it not be laid to their charge,” to the charge of the godly who were intimidated: implying, that will be sure to be laid to the charge of those who intimidated them.—ED.Verse 16. - Detente for answer, A.V.; no one took my part for no man stood with me, A.V.; all for all men, A.V.; may it not for I pray God it may not, A.V.; account for charge, A.V. Defence (ἀπολογίᾳ). "The technical word in classical Greek for a defence in answer to an accusation;" as Acts 22:1 (where see note for further illustration), and Philippians 1:7. Took my part; παρεγένετο R.T., for συμπαρεγένετο T.R., which occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in Luke 23:48, in a somewhat different sense. The simple παραγίνομαι is very common in the New Testament, but nowhere in the technical sense in which it is used here. In classical Greek both forms are common in the sense of "coming to aid," "standing by any one," "assisting." Here it represents the Latin assistere or adesse in its technical sense of "standing by" an accused person as friend or assistant, to aid and abet them in their defence. Powerful men sometimes brought such a multitude of assistants as to overawe the magistrate, as Orgetorix the Helvetian, when summoned to trial, appeared with ten thousand followers, and so there was no trial. Paul, like his Lord and Master, of whom it is written, "All his disciples forsook him and fled," had no one to stand with him in his hour of need. At my first answer (ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ μου ἀπολογίᾳ)

Ἁπολογία defense in a judicial trial. Comp. Acts 25:16. Also against private persons, as 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 7:11. Defense of the gospel against its adversaries, as Philippians 1:7, Philippians 1:16; comp. 1 Peter 3:15 (note). It is impossible to decide to what this refers. On the assumption of a second imprisonment of Paul (see Introduction) it would probably refer to a preliminary hearing before the main trial. It is not improbable that the writer had before his mind the situation of Paul as described in Philippians 1, since this Epistle shows at many points the influence of the Philippians letter. It should be noted, however, that ἀπολογία in Philippians 1:7, Philippians 1:16, has no specific reference to Paul's trial, but refers to the defense of the gospel under any and all circumstances. In any case, the first Romans imprisonment cannot be alluded to here. On that supposition, the omission of all reference to Timothy's presence and personal ministry at that time, and the words about his first defense, which must have taken place before Timothy left Rome (Philippians 2:19-23) and which is here related as a piece of news, are quite inexplicable.

Stood with me (παρεγένετο)

As a patron or an advocate. The verb mostly in Luke and Acts: once in Paul, 1 Corinthians 16:3 : only here in Pastorals. It means to place one's self beside; hence, to come to, and this latter sense is almost universal in N.T. In the sense of coming to or standing by one as a friend, only here.

Be laid to their charge (αὐτοῖς λογισθείη)

Mostly in Paul: only here in Pastorals. See on Romans 4:3, Romans 4:5; see on 1 Corinthians 13:5.

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