2 Timothy 4:6
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
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(6) For I am now ready to be offered.—What, in the Philippian Epistle (Philippians 2:17), was alluded to as a contingency likely enough to happen here is spoken of as something which was then absolutely taking place. In his first imprisonment at Rome St. Paul looked on to a martyr’s death as probable. In his second captivity at Rome he writes of the martyrdom as already beginning. The more accurate, as well as the more forcible, translation would be, For I am already being offered. The Greek word rendered “I am being offered,” points to the drink offering of wine which, among the Jews, accompanied the sacrifice. Among the heathen this wine was commonly poured upon the burning victims—the allusion here is to St. Paul’s bloody death. So convinced was he that the dread moment for him was at hand, that as he thus speaks he feels as though it was even then taking place, and sees—in his present suffering, in his harsh treatment—the beginning of that martyrdom in which his life-blood would be poured out. But he would not allow Timothy or the many Christians who revered and loved him to be dismayed by his sufferings or shocked at his painful death. He would show them, by his calm, triumphant language, that to him death was no terror, but only the appointed passage to glory. So he speaks of his life-blood being shed, under the well-known peaceful image of the wine poured out over the sacrifice, the drink offering, the sweet savour unto the Lord. (See Numbers 15:1-10; compare John 12:24, where the Master of St. Paul, too, speaks of His approaching death of agony and shame also under a quiet, homely image.)

And the time of my departure is at hand.—“My departure:” that is. “from life,” from this world to another. The moment of my death, so long looked for, is now close at hand, is all but here. The Greek word rendered “departure,” among other meanings, signifies the raising of the ship’s anchor and the loosing of the cables by which the vessel was hindered from proceeding on her destined voyage.

2 Timothy


2 Timothy 4:6-8PAUL’S long day’s work is nearly done. He is a prisoner in Rome, all but forsaken by his friends, in hourly expectation of another summons before Nero. To appear before him was, he says, like putting his head into ‘the mouth of the lion.’ His horizon was darkened by sad anticipations of decaying faith and growing corruptions in the Church. What a road he had travelled since that day when, on the way to Damascus, he saw the living Christ, and heard the words of His mouth!

It had been but a failure of a life, if judged by ordinary standards. He had suffered the loss of all things, had thrown away position and prospects, had exposed himself to sorrows and toils, had been all his days a poor man and solitary, had been hunted, despised, laughed at by Jew and Gentile, worried and badgered even by so-called brethren, loved the less, the more he loved. And now the end is near. A prison-and the-headsman’s sword are the world’s wages to its best teacher. When Nero is on the throne, the only possible place for Paul is a dungeon opening on to the scaffold. Better to be the martyr than the Caesar!

These familiar words of our text bring before us a very sweet and wonderful picture of the prisoner, so near his end. How beautifully they show his calm waiting for the last hour and the bright forms which lightened for him the darkness of his cell! Many since have gone to their rest with their hearts stayed On the same thoughts, though their lips could not speak them to our listening ears. Let us be thankful for them, and pray that for ourselves, when we come to that hour, the same quiet heroism and the same sober hope mounting to calm certainty may be ours.

These words refer to the past, the present, the future. ‘I have fought - the time of my departure is come - henceforth there is laid up.’

I. So we notice, first, the quiet courage which looks death full in the face without a tremor.

The language implies that Paul knows his death hour is all but here. As the Revised Version more accurately gives it, ‘I am already being offered’ - the process is begun, his sufferings at the moment are, as it were, the initial steps of his sacrifice - ‘and the time of my departure is come.’ The tone in which he tells Timothy this is very noticeable. There is no sign of excitement, no tremor of emotion, no affectation of stoicism in the simple sentences. He is not playing up to a part, nor pretending to be anything which he is not. If ever language sounded perfectly simple and genuine, this does.

And the occasion of the .whole section is as remarkable as the tone. He is led to speak about himself at all, only in order to enforce his exhortation to Timothy to put his shoulder to the wheel, and do his work for Christ with all his might. All he wishes to say is simply, do your work with all your might, for I am going off the field. But having begun on that line of thought, he is carried on to say more than was needed for his immediate purpose, and thus inartificially to let us see what was filling his mind.

And the subject into which he subsides after these lofty thoughts is as remarkable as either tone or occasion. Minute directions about such small matters as books and parchments, and perhaps a warm cloak for winter, and homely details about the movements of the little group of his friends immediately follow. All this shows with what a perfectly unforced courage Paul fronted his fate, and looked death in the eyes. The anticipation did not dull his interest in God’s work in the world, as witness the warnings and exhortations of the context. It did not withdraw his sympathies from his companions. It did not hinder him from pursuing his studies and pursuits, nor from providing for small matters of daily convenience. If ever a man was free from any taint of fanaticism or morbid enthusiasm, it was this man waiting so calmly in his prison for his death.

There is great beauty and force in the expressions which he uses for death here. He will not soil his lips with its ugly name, but calls it an offering and a departure. There is a widespread unwillingness to say the word ‘ Death.’ It falls on men’s hearts like clods on a coffin. So all people and languages have adopted euphemisms for it, fair names which wrap silk round its dart and somewhat hide its face. But there are two opposite reasons for their use - terror and confidence. Some men dare not speak of death because they dread it so much, and try to put some kind of shield between themselves and the very thought of it, by calling it something less dreadful to them than itself. Some men, on the other hand, are familiar with the thought, and though it is solemn, it is not altogether repellent to them.

Gazing on death with the thoughts and feelings which Jesus Christ has given them concerning it, they see it in new aspects, which take away much of its blackness. And so they do not feel inclined to use the ugly old name, but had rather call it by some which reflect the gentler aspect that it now wears to them. So ‘sleep,’ and ‘rest’ and the like are the names which have almost driven the other out of the New Testament - witness of the fact that in inmost reality Jesus Christ ‘has abolished death,’ however the physical portion of it may still remain master of our bodies.

But looking for a moment at the specific metaphors used here, we have first, that of an offering, or more particularly of a drink offering, or libation, ‘I am already being poured out.’ No doubt the special reason for the selection of this figure here is Paul’s anticipation of a violent death. The shedding of his blood was to be an offering poured out like some costly wine upon the altar, but the power of the figure reaches far beyond that special application of it. We may all make our deaths a sacrifice, an offering to God, for we may yield up our will to God’s will, and so turn that last struggle into an act of worship and self surrender. When we recognise His hand, when we submit our wills to His purposes, when ‘we live unto the Lord,’ if we live, and ‘die unto Him,’ if we die, then Death will lose all its terror and most of its pain, and will become for us what it was to Paul, a true offering up of self in thankful worship. Nay, we may even say, that so we shall in a certain subordinate sense be ‘made conformable unto His death’ who committed His spirit into His Father’s hands, and laid down His life, of His own will. The essential character and far-reaching effects of this sacrifice we cannot imitate, but we can so yield up our wills to God and leave life so willingly and trustfully as that death shall make our sacrifice complete.

Another more familiar and equally striking figure is next used, when Paul speaks of the time of his ‘departure.’ The thought is found in most tongues. Death is a going away, or, as Peter calls it {with a glance, possibly, at the special meaning of the word in the Old Testament, as well as at its use in the solemn statement of the theme of converse on the Mountain of Transfiguration}, an Exodus. But the well-worn image receives new depth and sharpness of outline in Christianity. To those who have learned the meaning of Christ’s resurrection, and feed their souls on the hopes which it warrants, Death is merely a change of place or state, an accident affecting locality, and little more. We have had plenty of changes before. Life has been one long series of departures. This is different from the others mainly in that it is the last, and that to go away from this visible and fleeting show, where we wander aliens among things which have no true kindred with us, is to go home, where there will be no more pulling up the tent-pegs, and toiling across the deserts in monotonous change. How strong is the conviction, spoken in this name for death, that the essential life lasts on quite unaltered through it all! How slight the else formidable thing is made! We may change climates, and for the stormy bleakness of life may have the long still days of heaven, but we do not change ourselves. We lose nothing worth keeping when we leave behind the body, as a dress not fitted for home, where we are going. We but travel one more stage, though it be the last, and part of it be in pitchy darkness. Some pass over it as in a fiery chariot, like Paul and many a martyr. Some have to toil through it with slow steps and bleeding feet and fainting heart; but all may have a Brother with them, and, holding His hand, may find that the journey is not so hard as they feared, and the home from which they shall remove no more, better than they hoped when they hoped the most.

II. We have here, too, the peaceful look backwards. There is something very noteworthy in the threefold aspect under which his past life presents itself to the Apostle who is so soon to leave it. He thinks of it as a contest, as a race, as a stewardship. The first image suggests the tension of a long struggle with opposing wrestlers who have tried to throw him, but in vain. The world, both of men and things, has had to be grappled with and mastered. His own sinful nature and especially his animal nature has had to be kept under by sheer force, and every moment has been resistance to subtle omnipresent forces that have sought to thwart his aspirations and hamper his performances. His successes have had to be fought for, and everything that he has done has been done after a struggle. So is it with all noble life; so will it be to the end.

He thinks of life as a race. That speaks of continuous advance in one direction, and more emphatically still, of effort that sets the lungs panting and strains every muscle to the utmost. He thinks of it as a stewardship. He has kept the faith {whether by that word we are to understand the body of truth believed or the act of believing} as a sacred deposit committed to him, of which he has been a good steward, and which he is now ready to return to his Lord. There is much in these letters to Timothy about keeping treasures entrusted to one’s care. Timothy is bid to ‘keep that good thing which is committed to thee,’ as Paul here declares that he has done. Nor is such guarding of a precious deposit confined to us stewards on earth, but the Apostle is sure that his loving Lord, to whom he has entrusted himself, will with like tenderness and carefulness ‘keep that which he has committed unto Him against that day.’ The confidence in that faithful Keeper made it possible for Paul to be faithful to his trust, and as a steward who was bound by all ties to his Lord, to guard His possessions and administer His affairs. Life was full of voices urging him to give up the faith. Bribes and threats, and his own sense-bound nature, and the constant whispers of the world had tempted him all along the road to fling it away as a worthless thing, but he had kept it safe; and now, nearing the end and the account, he can put his hand on the secret place near his heart where it lies, and feel that it is there, ready to be restored to his Lord, with the thankful confession, ‘Thy pound hath gained ten pounds.’

So life looks to this man in his retrospect as mainly a field for struggle, effort, and fidelity. This world is not to be for us an enchanted garden of delights, any more than it should appear a dreary desert of disappointment and woe. But it should be to us mainly a palaestra, or gymnasium and exercising ground. You cannot expect many flowers or much grass in the place where men wrestle and run. We need not much mind though it be bare, if we can only stand firm on the hard earth, nor lament that there are so few delights to stay our eyes from the goal. We are here for serious work; let us not be too eager for pleasures that may hinder our efforts and weaken our vigour, but be content to lap up a hasty draught from the brooks by the way, and then on again to the fight.

Such a view of life makes it radiant and fair while it lasts, and makes the heart calm when the hour comes to leave it all behind. So thinking of the past, there may be a sense of not unwelcome lightening from a load of responsibility when we have got all the stress and strain of the conflict behind us, and have at any rate not been altogether beaten. We may feel like a captain who has brought his ship safe across the Atlantic, through foul weather and past many an iceberg, and gives a great sigh of relief as he hands over the charge to the pilot, who will take her across the harbour bar and bring her to her anchorage in the landlocked bay where no tempests rave any more forever.

Prosaic theologians have sometimes wondered at the estimate which Paul here makes of his past services and faithfulness, but the wonder is surely unnecessary. It is very striking to notice the difference between his judgment of himself while he was still in the thick of the conflict, and now when he is nearing the end. Then one main hope which animated all his toils and nerved him for the sacrifice of life itself was ‘that I might finish my course with joy.’ Now in the quiet of his dungeon, that hope is fulfilled, and triumphant thoughts, like shining angels, keep him company in his solitude. Then he struggled, and wrestled, touched by the haunting fear lest after that he has preached to others he himself should be rejected. Now the dread has passed, and a meek hope stands by his side.

What is this change of feeling but an instance of what, thank God, we so often see, that at the end the heart, which has been bowed with fears and self-depreciation, is filled with peace? They who tremble most during the conflict are most likely to look back with solid satisfaction, while they who never knew a fear all along the course will often have them surging in upon their souls too late, and will see the past in a new lurid light, when they are powerless to change it. Blessed is the man who thus feareth always. At the end he will have hope. The past struggles are joyful in memory, as the mountain ranges, which were all black reek and white snow while we toiled up their inhospitable steeps, lie purple in the mellowing distance, and burn like fire as the sunset strikes their peaks. Many a wild winter’s day has a fair, cloudless close, and lingering opal hues diffused through all the quiet sky. ‘At eventide it shall be light.’ Though we go all Our lives mourning and timid, there may yet be granted us ere the end some vision of the true significance of these lives, and some humble hope that they have not been wholly in vain.

Such an estimate has nothing in common with self-complacency. It co-exists with a profound consciousness of many a sin, many a defeat, and much unfaithfulness. It belongs only to a man who, conscious of these, is ‘looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,’ and is the direct result, not the antagonist, of lowly self-abasement, and contrite faith in Him by whom alone our stained selves and poor broken services can ever be acceptable. Let us learn too that the only life that bears being looked back upon is a life of Christian devotion and effort. It shows fairer when seen in the strange cross lights that come when we stand on the boundary of two worlds, with the white radiance of eternity beginning to master the vulgar oil lamps of earth, than when seen by these alone. All others have their shabbiness and their selfishness disclosed then. I remember ones seeing a mob of revellers streaming out from a masked ball in a London theatre in the early morning sunlight; draggled and heavy-eyed, the rouge showing on the cheeks, and the shabby tawdriness of the foolish costumes pitilessly revealed by the pure light. So will many a life look when the day dawns, and the wild riot ends in its unwelcome beams.

The one question for us all, then, will be, Have I lived for Christ, and by Him? Let it be the one question for us now, and let it be answered, Yes. Then we shall have at the last a calm confidence, equally far removed from presumption and from dread, which will let us look back on life with peace, though it be full of failures and sins, and forward with humble hope of the reward which we shall receive from His mercy.

III. The climax of all is the triumphant look forward. ‘Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.’

In harmony with the images of the conflict and the race, the crown here is not the emblem of sovereignty, but of victory, as indeed is almost without exception the case in the New Testament. The idea of the royal dignity of Christians in the future is set forth rather under the emblem of association with Christ on His throne, while the wreath on their brows is the coronal of laurel, ‘meed of mighty conquerors,’ or the twine of leaves given to him who, panting, touched the goal. The reward, then, which is meant by the emblem, whatever be its essence, comes through effort and conflict. ‘A man is not crowned, except he strive.’

That crown, according to other words of Scripture, consists of ‘life,’ or ‘glory’ - that is to say, the issue and outcome of believing service and faithful stewardship here is the possession of the true life, which stands in union with God, in measure so great, and in quality so wondrous that it lies on the pure locks of the victors like a flashing diadem, all ablaze with light in a hundred jewels. The completion and exaltation of our nature and characters by the illapse of ‘life’ so sovereign and transcendent that it is ‘glory’ is the consequence of all Christian effort here in the lower levels, where the natural life is always weakness and sometimes shame, and the spiritual life is at the best but a hidden glory and a struggling spark. There is no profit in seeking to gaze into that light of glory so as to discern the shapes of those who walk in it, or the elements of its lambent flames. Enough that in its gracious beauty transfigured souls move as in their native atmosphere. Enough that even our dim vision can see that they have for their companion ‘One like unto the Son of Man.’ It is Christ’s own life which they share; it is Christ’s own glory which irradiates them.

That crown is ‘a crown of righteousness’ in another sense from that in which it is ‘a crown of life.’ The latter expression indicates the material, if we may say so, of which it is woven, but the former rather points to the character to which it belongs or is given. Righteousness alone can receive that reward. It is not the struggle or the conflict which wins it, but the character evolved in the struggle, not the works of strenuous service, but the moral nature expressed in these. There is such a congruity between righteousness and the crown of life, that it can be laid on none other head but that of a righteous man, and if it could, all its amaranthine flowers would shrivel and fall when they touched an impure brow. It is, then, the crown of righteousness, as belonging by its very nature to such characters alone.

But whatever is the essential congruity between the character and the crown, we have to remember too that, according to this Apostle’s constant teaching, the righteousness which clothes us in fair raiment, and has a natural right to the wreath of victory, is a gift, as truly as the crown itself, and is given to us all on condition of our simple trust in Jesus Christ, If we are to be ‘found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless,’ we must be ‘found in Him, not having our own righteousness, but that which is ours through faith in Christ.’ Toil and conflict and anxious desire to be true to our responsibilities will do much for a man, but they will not bring him that righteousness which brings down on the head the crown of life. We must trust to Christ to give us the righteousness in which we are justified, and to give us the righteousness by the working out of which in our life and character we are fitted for that great reward. He crowns our works and selves with exuberant and unmerited honours, but what he crowns is His Own gift to us, and His great love must bestow both the righteousness and ‘the crown.’

The crown is given at a time called - by Paul ‘at that day,’ which is not the near day of his martyrdom, but that of His Lord’s appearing. He does not speak of the fulness of the reward as being ready for him at death, but as being ‘henceforth laid up for him in heaven.’ So he looks forward beyond the grave. The immediate future after death was to his view a period of blessedness indeed, but not yet full. The state of the dead in Christ was a state of consciousness, a state of rest, a state of felicity, hut also a state of expectation- To the full height of their present capacity they who sleep in Jesus are blessed, being still in His embrace, and their spirits pillowed on His heart, nor so sleeping that, like drowsy infants, they know not where they lie so safe, but only sleeping in so much as they rest from weariness, and have closed their eyes to the ceaseless turmoil of this fleeting world, and are lapped about for ever with the sweet, unbroken consciousness that they are ‘present with the Lord.’ What perfect repose, perfect fruition of all desires, perfect union with the perfect End and Object of all their being, perfect exemption from all sorrow, tumult, and sin can bring of blessedness, that they possess in over measure unfailingly. And, in addition, they still know the joy of hope, and have carried that jewel with them into another world, for they wait for ‘the redemption of the body,’ in the reception of which, ‘at that day,’ their life will be filled up to a yet fuller measure, and gleam with a more lustrous ‘glory.’ Now they rest and wait. Then shall they be crowned.

Nor must self-absorbed thoughts be allowed to bound our anticipations of that future. It is no solitary blessedness to which Paul looked forward Alone in his dungeon, alone before his judge when ‘no man stood by’ him, soon to be alone in his martyrdom, he leaps up in spirit at the thought of the mighty crowd among whom he will stand in that day, on every head a crown, in every heart the same love to the Lord whose life is in them all and makes them all one. So we may cherish the hope of a social heaven. Man’s course begins in a garden, but it ends in a city. The final condition will be the perfection of human society. There all who love Christ will be drawn together, and old ties, broken for a little while here, be reknit in yet holier form, never to be sundered more.

Ah, friends, the all-important question for each of us is how may we have such a hope, like a great sunset light shining into the western windows of our souls? There is but one answer - Trust Christ. That is enough. Nothing else is. Is your life built on Jesus Christ? Are you trusting your salvation to Him? Are you giving Him your love and service? Does your life bear looking at to-day? Will it bear looking at in death? Will it bear His looking at in Judgment?

If you can humbly say, To me to live is Christ, then is it well Living by Him we may fight and conquer, may win and obtain. Living by Him, we may be ready quietly to lie down when the time comes, and may have all the future filled with the blaze of a great hope that glows brighter as the darkness thickens. That peaceful hope will not leave us till consciousness fails, and then, when it has ceased to guide us, Christ Himself will lead us, scarcely knowing where we are, through the waters, and when we open our half-bewildered eyes in brief wonder, the first thing we see will be his welcoming smile, and His voice will say, as a tender surgeon might to a little Child waking after an operation, ‘It is all over.’ We lift our hands wondering and find wreaths on our poor brows. We lift our eyes, and lo! all about us a crowned crowd of conquerors,

‘And with the morn those angel faces smile

Which we have loved long since, and lost awhile,’

4:6-8 The blood of the martyrs, though not a sacrifice of atonement, yet was a sacrifice of acknowledgment to the grace of God and his truth. Death to a good man, is his release from the imprisonment of this world, and his departure to the enjoyments of another world. As a Christian, and a minister, Paul had kept the faith, kept the doctrines of the gospel. What comfort will it afford, to be able to speak in this manner toward the end of our days! The crown of believers is a crown of righteousness, purchased by the righteousness of Christ. Believers have it not at present, yet it is sure, for it is laid up for them. The believer, amidst poverty, pain, sickness, and the agonies of death, may rejoice; but if the duties of a man's place and station are neglected, his evidence of interest in Christ will be darkened, and uncertainty and distress may be expected to cloud and harass his last hours.For I am now ready to be offered - This conviction of the apostle that he was about to die, is urged as a reason why Timothy should be laborious and faithful in the performance of the duties of his office. His own work was nearly done. He was soon to be withdrawn from the earth, and whatever benefit the world might have derived from his experience or active exertions, it was now to be deprived of it. He was about to leave a work which he much loved, and to which he had devoted the vigor of his life, and he was anxious that they who were to succeed him should carry on the work with all the energy and zeal in their power. This expresses the common feeling of aged ministers as death draws near. The word "ready" in the phrase "ready to be offered," conveys an idea which is not in the original. It implies a willingness to depart, which, whether true or not, is not the idea conveyed by the apostle.

His statement is merely of "the fact" that he was "about" to die, or that his work "was" drawing to a close. No doubt he was ready, in the sense of being willing and prepared, but this is not the idea in the Greek. The single Greek word rendered "I am ready to be offered" - σπένδομαι spendomai - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Philippians 2:17, where it is translated "if I be offered;" see it explained in the notes on that place. The allusion here, says Burder (in Rosenmuller's A. u. n. Morgenland), is to the custom which prevailed among the pagan generally, of pouring wine and oil on the head of a victim when it was about to be offered in sacrifice. The idea of the apostle then is, that he was in the condition of the victim on whose head the wine and oil had been already poured, and which was just about to be put to death; that is, he was about to die. Every preparation had been made, and he only awaited the blow which was to strike him down.

The meaning is not that he was to be a sacrifice; it is that his death was about to occur. Nothing more remained to be done but to die. The victim was all ready, and he was sure that the blow would soon fall. What was the ground of his expectation, he has not told us. Probably there were events occurring in Rome which made it morally certain that though he had once been acquitted, he could not now escape. At all events, it is interesting to contemplate an aged and experienced Christian on the borders of the grave, and to learn what were his feelings in the prospect of his departure to the eternal world. Happily, Paul has in more places than one (compare Philippians 1:23), stated his views in such circumstances, and we know that his religion then did not fail him. He found it to be in the prospect of death what he had found it to be through all his life - the source of unspeakable consolation - and he was enabled to look calmly onward to the hour which should summon him into the presence of his Judge.

And the time of my departure is at hand - Greek: "dissolving, or dissolution." So we speak of the "dissolution" of the soul and body. The verb from which the noun (ἀνάλυσις analusis), is derived (ἀναλύω analuō), means to loosen again; to undo. It is applied to the act of unloosing or casting off the fastenings of a ship, preparatory to a departure. The proper idea in the use of the word would be, that he had been bound to the present world, like a ship to its moorings, and that death would be a release. He would now spread his sails on the broad ocean of eternity. The true idea of death is that of loosening the bands that confine us to the present world; of setting us free, and permitting the soul to go forth, as with expanded sails, on its eternal voyage. With such a view of death, why should a Christian fear to die?

6. Greek, "For I am already being offered"; literally, as a libation; appropriate to the shedding of his blood. Every sacrifice began with an initiatory libation on the victim's head (compare Note, see on [2507]Php 2:17). A motive to stimulate Timothy to faithfulness—the departure and final blessedness of Paul; it is the end that crowns the work [Bengel]. As the time of his departure was indicated to Peter, so to Paul (2Pe 1:14).

my departure—literally, "loosing anchor" (see on [2508]Php 1:23). Dissolution.

For I am now ready to be offered; spendomai, the word properly signifieth to be offered as a drink-offering, which was offered by being poured out. Some say that spendomai is only used to signify such offerings whereby some covenant was confirmed; so as it not only signifieth that Paul was sensible that he should die a violent death, but that his death should be an establishment and confirmation of the doctrine of the gospel which he had preached, that he should be offered upon the sacrifice and service of their faith, as he speaketh, Philippians 2:17, where the same word is used. A learned author thinks it is there used in a little different sense, there as an accession to the sacrifice, here as a preparation to it, they being wont to prepare their sacrifice by pouring wine upon it; which possibly guided our translators to translate it here, I am ready to be offered. And the time of my departure is at hand; analusewv we translate it departure, it properly signifieth resolution, because in death we are resolved into dust, from whence we are. If any ask how Paul knew that the time of his death was so near;

Answer: He might know it by revelation from God, or from his observation of Nero’s temper, malice, or behaviour toward him.

For I am now ready to be offered,.... Or poured out, as a libation, or a drink offering; or as the blood was poured out at the bottom of the altar; which is expressive of martyrdom, and shows that the apostle knew what death he should die; for which he was habitually ready; and this sacrifice of himself was not to atone for sin, his own, or others; Christ's death was the only sacrifice for sin, and that is a complete one, and needs no other to be added to it; but this was in the cause of Christ, and for the confirmation of the Gospel, and the faith of the saints in it: so covenants have been confirmed by libations or drink offerings of wine; and this was an offering acceptable unto God, in whose sight the death of his saints is precious; as the wine in the drink offering is said to cheer God, that is, to be acceptable to him:

and the time of my departure is at hand; death is not an annihilation of man, neither of his body, nor of his soul; the one at death returns to dust, and the other to God that gave it; death is a dissolution of soul and body, or a dissolving of the union that is between them, and a resolution of the body into its first principles; hence the Syriac version renders it, "the time in which I shall be dissolved"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "the time of my resolution". Death analyzes men, and reduces them to their first original earth; it is a removing of persons from one place and state to another; from an house of clay, from this earthly house of our tabernacle, to an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, to everlasting habitations, and mansions in Christ's Father's house. This phrase, "a departure", is an easy representation of death, and supposes an existence after it; See Gill on Philippians 1:23. Now there is a "time" for this; saints are not to continue here always; this is a state of pilgrimage, and a time of sojourning, and which is fixed and settled; the time for going out of this world, as well as for coming into it, is determined by God, beyond which there is no passing; the number of men's days, months, and years, is with him; and the apostle knew partly from his age, and partly from his situation, being in bonds at Rome, and it may be by divine revelation, that his time of removing out of this world was very near; and which he mentions, to stir up Timothy to diligence, since he would not have him long with him, to give him counsel and advice, to admonish him, or set him an example.

{4} For I am now ready to be {c} offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

(4) He foretells his death to be at hand, and sets before them an excellent example, both of invincible constancy, and sure hope.

(c) To be offered for a drink offering: and he alludes to the pouring out of blood or wine which was used in sacrifices.

2 Timothy 4:6. Paul points to his approaching death in order to strengthen his exhortation to Timothy to fulfil his duties faithfully. As he himself cannot any longer contend against the increasing disorder, Timothy must be all the more careful to prove himself faithful.

ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι] ἐγώ is emphatic by position, being in contrast with σύ, 2 Timothy 4:5.

ἤδη] not “soon,” but “already;” it denotes present time; his sufferings form already the beginning of the σπένδεσθαι.

σπένδομαι Wahl wrongly takes the verb here in the middle voice: sanguinem meum libo, i. e. vires et vitam impendo. But it is impossible thus to supply the object; the verb is passive. It does not, however, stand for κατασπένδομαι: “I am besprinkled,” i.e. I am consecrated for the sacrificial death (Heydenreich and others); the proper meaning is to be retained: “I am made a libation, poured out as drink-offering” (de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Hofmann). The meaning is, dropping the figure, already is my blood shed; comp. Php 2:17. De Wette maintains that the form of expression is incorrect without ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ κ.τ.λ.; but why, it is difficult to see. Heinrichs wrongly lets the idea of sacrifice drop out of the word, and explains it quite generally as effundere, i.e. viribus defici, “my end is already near, it is all over with me.” Luther translates it inexactly, but rightly enough in meaning: “I am already offered.”

Paul does not use θύομαι, but σπένδομαι, not because he means to declare that he is fully and completely offered for God’s cause (Oecumenius: τῆς μὲν θυσίας μέρος τὶ μόνον Θεῷ εἰς θυμίαμα ἀφιεροῦτο· ἡ δὲ σπονδὴ ἅπασα αὐτῷ ἀφιέρωται), but because the shedding of blood is analogous to the pouring out of the drink-offering; and as the libation formed the conclusion of the sacrifice, the apostle’s martyrdom closed his apostolic service, which to him was the same as a service of sacrifice (Romans 10:16; Php 2:17).

The idea contained in the figurative expression that his death was near, is again expressed by Paul in the next words: καὶ ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἀναλύσεώς μου ἐφέστηκε] The verb ἀναλύειν means “unloose what was tied,” so that ἀνάλυσις might be equivalent to “unloosing,” dissolutio (Vulgate, Matthies); but it is more correct to return to the usage by which in nautical language ἀναλύειν with or without ἄγκυραν means “weigh anchor, depart,” or even of an army, “strike tents, set out on the march.” Hence ἀνάλυσις is equivalent to “departure, setting out,” and ought to be explained as the departure from this life; see Php 1:23.[60] Elsner and Wolf think that there is here a special reference to rising from table, and that the word is used in very close connection with σπένδομαι: moris olim erat, ut, qui de conviviis discederent, diis libarent; discedentes autem dicebantur ἀναλύοντες et libantes (Wolf), and that Paul means to say: se ex hac vita molestiisque exsatiatum abiturum, libato non vino, sed sanguine suo (Eisner). But, on the one hand, the allusion to σπένδομαι is not to heathen, but to Jewish ritual; and, on the other hand, there is no hint of the figure of a feast. Not less arbitrary is Beza’s explanation, that ἀνάλυσις refers specially to the departure from battle.

ἐφέστηκε] “is near at hand;” Luther incorrectly: “is ready.”

[60] Otto objects, that in Php 1:23 ἀναλῦσαι does not of itself mean the departure from the flesh, but only when connected with the co-ordinate σὺν Χριστῷ εἶναι. But his objection is made still less forcible by the fact that this meaning of the word is clearly indicated, not only by the preceding σπένδομαι, but also by vv. 7, 8.


According to the exposition which has been given here, and which, in substance, is generally accepted, this passage decidedly contradicts the hypothesis that Paul wrote this epistle at the beginning of the imprisonment mentioned by Luke. Otto, therefore, to favour this hypothesis, finds himself compelled to give σπένδομαι another signification. This he tries to obtain from a searching consideration of the passage in Php 2:17. He tries to prove that the apostle in that passage could only have used σπένδομαι in the sense of “devotion to his missionary labours.” His proof is based on the assertion—apparently to the point, but in reality erroneous—that when the particles εἰ καί are joined together, “the καί resumes the statement made under εἰ the conditional particle, at the same time marking it as an actual fact.” This assertion is apparently to the point, since εἰ καί is used often where an actual fact is under discussion; and in this way, e.g., the passage at 2 Corinthians 4:16 may be explained: “if our outward man is destroyed,—and it is actually being destroyed,—then,” etc. But the assertion is erroneous, because εἰ καί is also used in passages where no actual fact is under discussion. This, e.g., is the case in the passage 1 Corinthians 7:21, where, clearly, the explanation cannot be given: “if thou canst become free—and thou canst indeed become free.” Otto has quite overlooked the fact that εἰ καί with the indicative cannot be different from the simple εἰ with the indicative, and this does not declare the fact to be actual, but only supposes it to be actual, whether actual or not; the fact may be actual, but it may quite as well not be actual, comp. 1 Corinthians 15:12-13, where both cases stand close to one another. Hence it is not the case that σπένδεσθαι must denote something which, as the apostle said it of himself, did actually take place; it cannot therefore be understood to mean the apostle’s martyrdom, because, according to Php 1:25, he was expecting to be freed from imprisonment, but must mean simply the cessation of his missionary labours.

As for the evidence by which Otto seeks to obtain this meaning for σπένδεσθαι, it must be held erroneous, since there is no justification whatever for the assertions on which it rests—viz. (1) that by the ἐγώ contained in σπένδομαι (standing here in opposition to σύ) the apostle meant his “apostolic labours;” and (2) that in Acts 23:11, by the word of the Lord “Rome was appointed to the apostle as the goal of his apostolic calling, beyond which he was not to preach the gospel.” Though it may be said that “the apostle’s ego lived and wrought only in one thing, and that, to preach the gospel to the heathen,” it by no means follows that when he is speaking of himself, he does not mean himself, his person, but his apostolic calling. And though, according to Php 1:25-26, the apostle expects to continue his labours after the Roman imprisonment, it is a pure fiction to suppose that these labours were to be episcopal rather than apostolic.[61]

As a result of this interpretation of σπένδομαι, Otto cannot understand ἀνάλυσις to mean the departure from this life; it is quite consistent for him, therefore, to say: “ἀνάλυσις can only be the discessus, abitus from the place in which Paul then was, this place being the τέρμα of his apostolic career.” This exposition presupposes an erroneous view of Acts 23:11, and its unsuitability becomes all the clearer when Otto continues: “when the messenger has come to his destination, and executed his commission, he must return to him by whom he was sent; Paul was sent by Christ, to Christ he must return; this is what the apostle says: the time of my return home is near, for I am at the goal, and have discharged my commission.” And then Otto still thinks that the apostle might with this cherish the expectation of being able to labour among the Philippians for a longer period, since ἐφέστηκεν does not mean “is near,” but simply “is impending” (!). Finally, there is nowhere the slightest trace that the apostle thought at any time before his death of ceasing to be the apostle of the Lord.

[61] Weiss (Stud. u. Krit. 1861, p. 588) rightly says: “If it be said to the apostle that he is to testify also in Rome, there is not the slightest hint that he is to advance with his preaching only so far as Rome.”

2 Timothy 4:6. The connexion from 2 Timothy 4:3 seems to be this: The dangers to the Church are pressing and instant; they can only be met by watchfulness, self-sacrifice, and devotion to duty on the part of the leaders of the Church, of whom thou art one. As for me, I have done my best. My King is calling me from the field of action to wait for my reward; thou canst no longer look to me to take initiative in action. This seems to be the force of the emphatic ἐγώ and the connecting γάρ.

ἤδη σπένδομαι: jam delibor (Vulg.). The analogy of Php 2:17, σπένδ. ἐπὶ τῇ θνσίᾳ καὶ λειτουργίᾳ (where see Lightfoot’s note), is sufficient to prove that St. Paul did not regard his own death as a sacrifice. There the θυσία is the persons of the Philippian converts (cf. Romans 12:1; Romans 15:16) rendered acceptable by faith, and offered up by their faith. Here the nature of the θυσία is not determined, possibly not thought of, by the writer. The reason alleged by Chrys. for the absence here of the term θυσία is ingenious: “For the whole of the sacrifice was not offered to God, but the whole of the drink-offering was.” It is immaterial to decide whether the imagery is drawn from the Jewish drink-offerings, or heathen libations. Lightfoot quotes interesting parallels from the dying words of Seneca: “stagnum calidae aquae introiit respergens proximos servorum, addita voce, libare se liquorem illum Jovi Liberatori” (Tac. Ann. xv. 64), and from Ignatius, “Grant me nothing more than that I be poured out a libation (σπονδισθῆναι) to God, while there is yet an altar ready” (Romans 2).

τῆς ἀναλύσεως: There is no figure of speech, such as that of striking a tent or unmooring a ship, suggested by ἀνάλυσις. It was as common a euphemism for death as is our word departure. See the verb in Php 1:23, and, besides the usual references given by the commentators, see examples supplied by Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., 4:266. The Vulg. resolutionis is wrong. Dean Bernard calls attention to the “verbal similarities of expression” between this letter to Timothy and Philippians, written when Timothy was with St. Paul, viz., σπένδομαι, ἀνάλυσις here and ἀναλῦσαι, Php 1:23, and the image of the race; there (Php 3:13-14) not completed, here finished, 2 Timothy 4:7.

ἐφέστηκεν: instat (Vulg.), is come (R.V.), is already present, rather than is at hand (A.V.), which implies a postponement. For similar prescience of approaching death compare 2 Peter 1:14.

6. For I am now ready to be offered] The present tense is still more vivid, and so the personal pronoun for as to meI am already being offered; and the Greek word means ‘am being poured out as a drink-offering.’ St Paul recalls the thought and very phrase of his letter to Philippi in the first captivity; what was then a possibility is now a certainty; Php 2:17, ‘If I am required to pour out my life-blood as a libation over the sacrificial offering of your faith, I rejoice myself and I congratulate you all therein.’ See Bp Lightfoot, who quotes the similar metaphor recorded of St Paul’s great heathen contemporary Seneca when on the point of death, ‘respergens proximos servorum addita voce, libare se liquorem illum Jovi liberatori.’ Tac. Ann. xv. 64.

my departure]. Another thought and phrase from the same time and letter, Php 1:23, ‘I am hemmed in on both sides, my own desire tending towards this, to depart and to be with Christ.’ The metaphor of verb there and noun here is of a journey either by land or sea—loosing tent-cords, or weighing anchor, for starting up to depart; this latter part of the meaning belongs to the preposition. So in Luke 12:36, ‘he will return from the wedding’ ought to be rendered ‘he will depart.’ The servants look out eagerly not merely at the moment of his return being due, but from the moment of his departure from the feast being due. Clement of Rome connects this word, used for ‘death,’ with ‘journey,’ used for life. ‘Blessed are the elders who have taken the journey before us, in that they had their departure in mature and fruitful age’ (ad Cor. c. 44). The corresponding words for arrival at the end of a stage in the journey are the same verb and noun compounded with the preposition ‘down’ instead of ‘up’: for verb see Genesis 19:2, where Lot asks the angels to ‘tarry all night,’ and Luke 9:12, ‘lodge and get victuals,’ Luke 19:7, ‘He is gone in to lodge with a man that is a sinner’; for noun Luke 2:7, ‘no room for them in the inn,’ Luke 22:11, ‘where is the guest-chamber?’ The original meaning of the word would be ‘to loose the beasts of burden for settling down to rest.’ Our word here has become an English word, analysis, from the cognate sense of ‘breaking up’ or analysing the component parts, e.g. of a sentence.

is at hand] Rather with R.V. is come, lit. ‘stands by’ me, cf. Acts 23:11, ‘the Lord stood by him and said.’ It is altogether a word of St Luke’s, being used eighteen times by him; by St Paul above, 2 Timothy 4:2, and 1 Thessalonians 5:3, and nowhere else in N.T.

6–8. ‘I have appealed to you by the warning of the evil times and teachers that will be: I appeal to you now by the example of the good times and the good teacher that have been. Let my mantle fall on you, my days are numbered.’

2 Timothy 4:6. Ἐγὼ γὰρ, for I) A cause which should influence Timothy to the discharge of his duty,—the departure and final blessedness of Paul. The end crowns the work.—ἤδη, now by this time) As the time was indicated to Peter, 2 Peter 1:14, so also to Paul.—σπένδομαι, I am poured out as a libation [I am ready to be offered]) Php 2:17, note [His converts were the sacrifice or offering, he the minister officiating; and his blood the libation to be poured on the sacrifice].—ἀναλύσεως, of my departure) Ibid., Php 1:23, note.

Verse 6. - Already being offered for now ready to be offered, A.V.; come for at hand. A.V. I am already being offered. The ἐγώ is emphatic, in contrast with the σύ of ver. 5: "Thou, who hast still life before thee, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. I can do so no longer, for my martyrdom has already commenced, and my end is close at hand. Thou must take my place in the great conflict." Am... being offered (σπένδομαι); am being poured out, as the drink offering, or libation, is poured out. St. Paul uses the same figure in Philippians 2:17, where he couples it with the sacrifice and service (or offering up) of the faith of the Philippians by himself as the priest, and looks upon the pouring out of his own life as the completion of that sacrifice (see Ellicott on Philippians). "The libation always formed the conclusion of the sacrifice, and so the apostle's martyrdom closed his apostolic service" (Huther), which had been a continual sacrifice, in which he had been the ministering priest (Romans 15:16). So that the use of σπένδομαι here exactly agrees with that in Philippians 2:17. "My sacrificial work," St. Paul says," being now finished and ended, I am performing the last solemn act, the pouring out of my own life in martyrdom, to which I shall pass out of the prison where I now am." The time of my departure (τῆς ἐμῆς ἀναλύσεως). The word is found nowhere else in the New Testament, but St. Paul uses the verb ἀναλῦσαι, "to depart," in Philippians 1:23, where, the verb being in the active voice, the metaphor clearly is from weighing anchor, as in common use in classical Greek; hence simply "to depart." The classical use of ἀνάλυσις rather favours the sense, either of" release" or of " dissolution." But St. Paul's use of ἀναλύω in Philippians 1:23, and the frequent use of the same verb in the LXX. and by Josephus, in the sense of "to depart," favours the rendering of ἀνάλυσις by "departure," as in the A.V. and R.V. Is come; rather, is at hand (ἐφέστηκε); the same verb as ἐπίστηθι in ver. 2. (On the difference between ἐνέστηκε ("is come") and ἐφέστηκε ("is at hand"), see Alford on 2 Thessalonians 2:2, and comp. Acts 22:20.) 2 Timothy 4:6For I am now ready to be offered (ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι)

I, emphatic contrast with σὺ thou, 2 Timothy 4:5. Already. What he is now suffering is the beginning of the end. Σπένδεσθαι to be poured out as a libation, only here and Philippians 2:17 (note). In the active voice quite often in lxx.

Departure (ἀναλύσεως)

N.T.o. olxx. Comp. ἀναλῦσαι to depart, Philippians 1:23. The figure is explained by some of loosing a ship from its moorings; by others of breaking camp. In Philippians the latter is the more probable explanation, because Paul's situation in the custody of the Praetorians at Rome would naturally suggest a military metaphor, and because he is habitually sparing of nautical metaphors. Comp. 2 Corinthians 5:1, and Clement of Rome, ad 1 Corinthians 44:"Blessed are the presbyters who have gone before, seeing that their departure (ἀνάλυσιν) was fruitful and ripe."

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