Overcoming the Fear of Death

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“I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” (2 Timothy 4:6)

When you read the Pastoral Epistles carefully, you will find that Paul mentions cities that are not mentioned in Acts. The inference is that after he was released from prison in Rome, he revisited Ephesus and also visited a few other places. At the end of that time, he was imprisoned once again, and he then wrote his final letters.

Second Timothy is believed to be the last of them—which is surely no surprise when you read 2 Timothy 4. In this chapter, you will notice a significant shift in tone compared to Paul’s words in Philippians 1. In writing to the Philippians, he was convinced that he would be released from prison, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to live longer or die. He was content, regardless of the outcome, and he made the remarkable declaration that “for me to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). But now, in 2 Timothy 4, Paul writes as a prisoner who seems sure that he soon will die.

As Christians, once we’ve settled the issue of death, there is really nothing else for us to worry about. Death is the ultimate enemy and “the last enemy to be destroyed” (1 Cor. 15:26). Once we reach the point where we actually believe that “to die is gain,” then we’re able to say, “What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6).

It’s one thing to affirm Philippians 1:21, making it a nice little verse that we put on a dashboard or on a shaving mirror; it’s quite another to face our demise and rest in it. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul has moved from the theoretical to the actual. He is “already being poured out as a drink offering,” and he recognizes that the time of his death is near. He has lived his life for Christ, and now he says, I’m looking forward to a crown of righteousness, which is not exclusively mine but will actually be enjoyed by all who long for Christ to appear.

Christ has conquered death, and He’s made a way for you to conquer it as well. That’s surely good news in a world that is afraid of death and has no other eternal hope. Like Paul, you’ll one day realize and say, “the time of my departure has come.” Will you, too, embrace it?

This article was adapted from the sermon “The End of the Beginning” by Alistair Begg. Subscribe to get weekly blog updates.

 

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