2 Timothy 4:17
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.—Though men deserted him, yet One—even his Lord (Christ), who could do more for him than any friend, or advocate, or protector of earth—stood by him, and strengthened him by giving him courage and readiness.

That by me the preaching might be fully known.—More accurately rendered, might be fully performed: “impleatur,” as the Vulgate gives it. The strength and courage which the felt presence of his Lord gave him, enabled him on that occasion, when alone, friendless, accused of a hateful crime before the highest earthly tribunal in the capital city of the world, to plead not only for himself but for that great cause with which he was identified. He spoke possibly for the last time publicly [we know nothing of the final trial, when he was condemned] the glad tidings of which he was the chosen herald to the Gentile world. It is probable that this great trial took place in the Forum, in one of the Pauline Basilicas—so called after L. Æmilius Paulus. It is certain it was in the presence of a crowded audience. St. Paul evidently intimates this when he tells us how he spoke “that all the Gentiles might hear.” This was apparently the culminating point of St. Paul’s labours—the last stone of the laborious edifice of his life’s work. Had the courage of the Apostle of the Gentiles failed him on this most momentous occasion, the spirit of the sorely-tried Church of Rome had surely sunk, and that marvellous and rapid progress of the gospel in the West—which, in a little more than a hundred years, would make its influence felt in well-nigh every city and village of the empire—had been arrested.

And that all the Gentiles might hear.—Here alluding primarily to the crowded audience which had listened on this solemn occasion to St. Paul’s Apologia pro Christo; but there is another and deeper reference to those uncounted peoples in the isles of the Gentiles, who, by St. Paul’s work and words, would come to the saving knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.

And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.—Expositors have, in all ages, dwelt much on the question, “Who was to be understood under the figure of the lion?” The fathers mostly believe the Emperor Nero was here alluded to. Others have suggested that St. Paul was referring to the “lions” of the amphitheatre, from whom, at all events for the time, he had been delivered. It is, however, best to understand the expression as a figurative expression for extreme danger. His Master on that dread occasion stood by him, and gave him strength and wisdom over man to speak the words of life, and delivered him for the moment out of the imminent peril threatening him, allowing him, not only to speak his Master’s words there, but also thus to write this solemn farewell charge to Timothy and the Church. That such figurative language was not unusual, compare the Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans, iii.:8, in which writing the prisoner describes his journey from Syria to Rome as one long “fight with wild beasts,” and speaks of himself as “bound to ten leopards,” thus designating his soldier guards.

2 Timothy 4:17-18. Notwithstanding — I was not left entirely destitute; for, though men forsook me, the Lord stood with me — According to his promise, Luke 21:15; and strengthened me — With that inward fortitude of mind which no human support could have inspired; that by me the preaching — The gospel which we preach; might be fully known Πληροφορηθη, literally, might be carried with a full sail; that is, fully and boldly declared. That the apostle could thus courageously bear witness to the gospel when all his friends forsook him, and his enemies were so fiercely raging against him, was a glorious testimony to the honour of Christianity. And that all the Gentiles might hear — This implies that he made his defence in a manner which he was persuaded would be taken notice of and reported abroad, much to the honour of that sacred cause which was dearer to him than his life. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion — By the lion Nero is generally thought to be meant, or rather his prefect, Helius Cesarianus, to whom Nero committed the government of the city in his absence, with power to put whomsoever he pleased to death. But the expression may be understood proverbially, as denoting an escape from the greatest danger; in which sense it is used Psalm 22:21. And the Lord — Whose power and faithfulness are always the same; shall deliver me from every evil work — From all sin, and especially from doing any thing inconsistent with the honour of the gospel, and the salvation of my own soul; which is of far greater consequence than delivering me from death. And preserve me to his heavenly kingdom — An infinitely better kingdom than that of Nero.

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.Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me - Though all "men" forsook me, yet "God" did not. This expresses a universal truth in regard to the faithfulness of God; see Psalm 27:10; compare Job 5:17-19; Isaiah 14:1-2.

That by me the preaching might be fully known - The word "preaching," here probably means "the gospel as preached by him." The word rendered "might be fully known" - πληροφορηθῃ plērophorē̄thē - means "might obtain full credence;" that is, might be fully confirmed, so that others might be assured of its truth. The apostle doubtless means that on his trial, though forsaken by all men, he was enabled to be so steadfast in his profession of the truth, and so calm in the prospect of death, that all who witnessed his trial saw that there was a reality in religion, and that the gospel was founded in truth. He had maintained as a preacher that the gospel was able to support the soul in trial, and he was now able to illustrate its power in his own case. He had proclaimed the gospel as the true system of religion, and he was now able to bear testimony to it with the prospect of approaching martyrdom.

The sentiment of this passage then is, that the truth of the gospel is made known, or that men may become fully assured of it, by the testimony which is borne to it by its friends in the near prospect of death. One of the most important means of establishing the truth of the gospel in the world has been the testimony borne to it by martyrs, and the spirit of unwavering confidence in God which they have evinced. And now, one of the most important methods of keeping up the knowledge of the value of religion in the world, and of convincing men of the truth of Christianity, is the spirit evinced by its friends when they are about to die. Men judge much, and justly, of the value of a system of religion by its power to comfort in the day of calamity, and to sustain the soul when about to enter on an untried state of being. That system is of little value to mankind which leaves us in the day of trial; that is of inestimable worth which will enable us to die with the firm hope of a brighter and better world. A Christian, having served his God faithfully in life, may, therefore, be eminently useful when he comes to die.

And that all the Gentiles might hear - Paul was at this time in Rome. His trial was before a pagan tribunal, and he was surrounded by Pagans. Rome, too, was then the center of the world, and at all times there was a great conflux of strangers there. His trial, therefore, gave him an opportunity of testifying to the truth of Christianity before Gentile rulers, and in such circumstances that the knowledge of his sufferings, and of the religion for which he suffered, might be conveyed by the strangers who witnessed it to the ends of the world. His main object in life was to make the gospel known to the Gentiles, and he had thus an opportunity of furthering that great cause, even on what he supposed might be the trial which would determine with him the question of life or death; compare the notes on Romans 1:10.

And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion - This may either mean that he was delivered from Nero, compared with a lion, or literally that he was saved from being thrown to lions in the amphitheater, as was common in Rome; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 15:32.

It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to compare tyrants and persecutors with ravenous wild beasts; compare Psalm 22:13, Psalm 22:21; Jeremiah 2:30. Nero is called a "lion" by Seneca, and it was usual among pagan writers to apply the term in various senses to princes and warriors; see Grotius, in loc. The common interpretation here has been, that this refers to Nero, and there is no improbability in the interpretation. Still, it is quite as natural to suppose that the punishment which had been appointed for him, or to which he would have been subjected, was to be thrown to lions, and that in some way, now unknown to us, he had been delivered from it. Paul attributes his deliverance entirely to the Lord - but what instrumental agency there may have been, he does not specify. It seems probable that it was his own defense; that he was enabled to plead his own cause with so much ability that he found favor even with the Roman emperor, and was discharged. If it had been through the help of a friend at court, it is hardly to be supposed that he would not have mentioned the name of him to whom he owed his deliverance.

17. the Lord—the more because men deserted me.

stood with me—stronger than "came forward with me" (Greek, 2Ti 4:16).

strengthened—Greek, "put strength in me."

by me—"through me"; through my means. One single occasion is often of the greatest moment.

the preaching—"the Gospel proclamation."

might be fully known—might be fully made (see on [2511]2Ti 4:5).

that all the Gentiles—present at my trial, "might hear" the Gospel proclaimed then. Rome was the capital of the Gentile world, so that a proclamation of the truth to the Romans was likely to go forth to the rest of the Gentile world.

I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion—namely, Satan, the roaring, devouring lion (Lu 22:31; 1Pe 5:8). I was prevented falling into his snare (2Ti 2:26; Ps 22:21; 2Pe 2:9); 2Ti 4:18 agrees with this interpretation, "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work," namely, both from evil and the evil one, as the Greek of the Lord's Prayer expresses it. It was not deliverance from Nero (who was called the lion) which he rejoiced in, for he did not fear death (2Ti 4:6-8), but deliverance from the temptation, through fear, to deny His Lord: so Alford.

Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me; that is, did not leave me. It is opened by the next word, and strengthened me; he gave me courage and inward ability, so as I was able to plead, and to defend my cause.

That by me the preaching might be fully known; that all men that heard me might fully know by God’s presence with me, seen in my courage, that my preaching was not from myself, or from men, but from God, the message of God by one to the sons of men.

And that all the Gentiles might hear; and that all the heathen present in the court of Rome might hear and believe.

And I was delivered out of the mouth of the Lion; and I was for the present delivered out of my great danger: or possibly he calls Nero (the Roman emperor at that time) a lion for his barbarous cruelties.

Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me,.... Either personally appearing to him, as in Acts 23:11 or by the ministry of an angel, Acts 27:23 or else by granting him his gracious presence, which was what Christ had not when he was forsaken by his disciples: the presence of God or Christ is more than all friends whatever, and is often enjoyed by the believer, when they drop him; and is a bulwark against all enemies and fears of them; if God is with him, and on his side, though friends fail, and enemies rage, he has nothing to fear:

and strengthened me; inwardly with strength in his soul, with might in his inward man, unto all longsuffering with joyfulness: he was weak in himself, and could do nothing without Christ; Christ was his strength, in him it lay, and to him he looked for it; of which he often had experience, and now afresh; he strengthened him to plead his own cause, to make his defence without fear; he gave him presence of mind, boldness, courage, and intrepidity, freedom of thought and expression; and put it into his heart what he should say, and gave him a mouth and wisdom, which his adversaries could not resist. All which he takes notice of with thankfulness, admiring the divine goodness to him, and taking nothing to himself: and the end of this was,

that by me the preaching might be fully known; that is, that the doctrine of the Gospel, preached by him, might be made fully known by him; as to the author and original of it, to be of God, and not of men; and as to the matter of it, to be spiritual, and not concerning the things of the world; and as to the effects and consequences of it, to have no tendency to raise sedition and disturbances in commonwealths, but, on the contrary, promote peace and love:

and that all the Gentiles might hear; in Caesar's palace, or in the courts of judicature at Rome, and all over Rome, and from thence in other parts of the empire, what a Gospel it was that was preached by the apostle; and if not by his personal ministry, at least by his epistles he afterwards wrote in prison: however, the effect of his defence, the Lord being with him, and strengthening him, was his deliverance:

and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion; from death he was threatened with, which, like a lion, gaped upon him to devour him; or from Satan the roaring lion, who desired to have had him, and sought to have intimidated him, and brought him to have denied his Lord, to have deserted his cause, and blasphemed his name; or else from Nero the Roman emperor, so called from his power and fierceness. So Tiberius is called by Marsyas, Agrippa's freeman, when he brought the news of his death to his master (g); and Ahasuerus by Esther (h); and Nero himself is called a civil beast by Apollonius Tyanaeus (i); though some think that not Nero, but Helius, whom he had appointed governor in his room, he being at this time in Greece, is here meant, before whom Paul was tried, and out of whose hands he was delivered.

(g) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 18. c. 7. sect. 10. (h) Apocryph.

"Give me eloquent speech in my mouth before the lion: turn his heart to hate him that fighteth against us, that there may be an end of him, and of all that are likeminded to him:'' (Esther 14:13)

(i) Philostrat. Vit. Apollon. l. 4. c. 12.

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 {e} lion.

(e) Of Nero.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Timothy 4:17. παρέστη: The Lord was my “patronus,” cf. Romans 16:2. But the word is used in a purely local sense of the felt presence of a Divine Being in reff. in Acts.

ἐνεδυνάμωσεν: See note on 1 Timothy 1:12.

πληροφορηθῇ: impleatur (Vulg.). As long as there had been no public proclamation of the gospel by Paul himself in Rome, the function of κῆρυξ had not been completely fulfilled by him.

ἐρύσθην ἐκ στόματος λέοντος: This is most naturally understood as an echo of Psalms 21 (22):22, σῶσόν με ἐκ στόματος λέοντος λέοντος. ῥῦσαι occurs in the verse preceding. And what follows in the LXX seems to point to the most satisfactory explanation of the apostle’s meaning, καὶ ἀπὸ κεράτων μονοκερώτων τὴν ταπείνωσίν μου. διηγήσομαι τὸ ὄνομα σον τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς μου, κ.τ.λ. If St. Paul had not been strengthened to complete his κήρυγμα, his failure would have been his ταπείνωσις. As it was, he was delivered from that calamity, and enabled to declare God’s name to the Gentiles. It is impossible, in view of ἤδη σπένδομαι (2 Timothy 4:6), to suppose that delivery from death is implied. πρώτῃ (2 Timothy 4:16) proves that the apostle was aware that a second trial was awaiting him, the issue of which he knew would be his execution. It is still more impossible to suppose that literal wild beasts are meant. Paul’s Roman citizenship secured him from that degradation. The Greek commentators take “the lion” to mean Nero, “from his ferocity” (Chrys.). Cf. Esth. 14:13, of Ahasuerus; Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 6, 10, of Tiberius. It is no objection to this exegesis that the article is omitted before λέοντος, since, as we have seen, there is none in the Psalm. But deliverance from that lion’s mouth would be equivalent to acquittal by the Roman government; and it is evident that St. Paul was well aware that his sentence had been only deferred.

17. the Lord stood with me] Again took my part.

strengthened me] ‘Infused strength into me.’ Cf. 1 Timothy 1:12; Php 4:13.

the preaching might be fully known] Lit. ‘the message preached,’ as in Titus 1:3. The neuter form of the noun requires this. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21 ‘through the foolishness of the preaching,’ where R.V. has only altered ‘preaching’ into ‘the preaching.’ Accordingly A.V. may stand here. ‘Fully known’ is the same word as in 2 Timothy 4:5, ‘fully performed’; indeed thus was made the proclamation of the name of Christ ‘before the Gentiles and kings’ (Acts 9:15) in the world’s capital, before its highest magistrates, on a supreme trial of life and death.

out of the mouth of the lion] R.V. rightly lion. The phrase comes from Psalm 22:21 and therefore has no defined limit of reference such as ‘the lion of the amphitheatre,’ or ‘Nero,’ or ‘Satan,’ though, it is true, the popular cry against the Christians later was ‘Christianos ad leonem,’ Tertull. Apol. c. 40; and the phrase used of the death of Tiberius earlier was ‘the lion is dead,’ Jos. Ant. xviii. 6. 10; and Satan going about to frighten the saint out of his ‘good confession’ is called ‘a roaring lion, 1 Peter 5:8. ‘The lion’s mouth’ is each and all of these; the evil within and the evil without, ‘all adversities which may happen to the body, and all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul’ (Collect 2nd S. in Lent).

2 Timothy 4:17. Ὁ δὲ Κύριος, but the Lord) the more on this account.—παρέστη, stood by me) This is more than παραγίνεσθαι, to be present.—ἐνεδυνάμωσε, strengthened me) The opposite is, forsook.—ἵνα διʼ ἑμοῦ, that by me) One single occasion is often of the greatest moment.—πάντα τὰ ἔθνη all the Gentiles) of whom Rome was the capital.—ἐῤῥύσθην ἐκ στόματος λέοντος, I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion) Psalm 22:22, σῶσόν με ἐκ στόματος λέοντος. We may suppose that Paul had seen a vision under the form of a lion. The lion signifies either Nero, or some one who threatened danger. It is at all events a figurative expression; for he would have said, from the mouth of the lions, if he intended beasts without a figure. I was delivered, he says, not He delivered me, because, that the Lord had done it, was not outwardly apparent.

Verse 17. - But for notwithstanding, A.V.; by for with, A.V.; through for by, A.V.; message for preaching, A.V.; proclaimed for known, A.V. Stood by me (μαοὶ παρέστη); as in Acts 27:23; Romans 16:2 (where see also the use of προστάτις, a helper). Παρίσταμαι means simply to stand by the side of a person - to be present. But, like παραγίνομαι, it acquires the meaning of standing by for the purpose of helping. The contrast between the timid faithless friends who failed him like a deceitful brook (Job 6:15), and the faithfulness of the Lord who was a very present Help in trouble, is very striking. Strengthened me (ἐνεδυνάμωσέ με); see 1 Timothy 1:12, note, and Acts 6:8. The message (κήρυγμα). The A.V. preaching is far better. St. Paul means that gospel which he was commissioned to preach, and which he did preach openly in full court when he was on his trial (see ver. 15, note). Might be fully proclaimed (πληροφορήθη); see 2 Timothy 4:5, note; and comp. Romans 15:19. All the Gentiles might hear (comp. Philippians 1:12-14). The brave, unselfish spirit of the apostle thinking more of the proclamation of the gospel than of his own life, is truly admirable. I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. Surely there can be no doubt that, as Bengel says, this is a quotation from Psalm 22:20, 21. The verb ἐῥῤύσθην, "I was delivered," comes from the twentieth verse, "Deliver my soul from the sword," and the phrase, ἐκ στόματος λέοντος, is found verbatim in ver. 21. The apostle means his deliverance from the executioner's sword. In the next verse we find both the words ρύσεται and σώσει, and the whole tone of the psalm breathes the same spirit as the saying, "The Lord stood by me." Dean Alford's suggestion that the lion here is Satan, as in 1 Peter 5:8, and the danger which the apostle escaped was not death, which he did not fear, but betraying the gospel under the fear of death, is ingenious, but rather far fetched, though not impossible. It may possibly have been part of what was in St. Paul's mind. 2 Timothy 4:17Strengthened (ἐνεδυνάμωσεν)

See on 1 Timothy 1:12.

The preaching (τὸ κήρυγμα)

Better, the message (par excellence), the gospel message. Usually with a defining word, as of Jonah; of Jesus Christ; my preaching; our preaching. Absolutely, as here, 1 Corinthians 1:21; Titus 1:3.

Might be fully known (πληροφορηθῇ)

See on 2 Timothy 4:5. Lit. might be fulfilled; fully carried out by being proclaimed before rulers in the capital of the world. Comp. Romans 15:19; Acts 23:11; Acts 28:31; Philippians 1:12-14.

Out of the mouth of the lion (ἐκ στόματος λέοντος)

Figurative expression for danger of death. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:32. As usual, all manner of special references have been imagined: the lions of the amphitheatre; Nero; the chief accuser; the Jews; the Devil.

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