Personal Requests and Remarks – (4:9-22)
4:9 Paul, the aged, longs to have the companionship of his younger brother in the Lord. He therefore urges him to do his best to come to Rome in the near future. The Apostle was feeling keenly the loneliness of his imprisonment in Rome.
4:10 One of the bitterest experiences in Christian service is to be forsaken by those who were one’s fellow laborers. Demas had been a friend of Paul’s, a fellow believer and a fellow worker. But now Paul was in prison, Christians were being persecuted, and the political climate was distinctly unhealthful for Christians. Instead of loving the Lord’s appearing, Demas fell in love with this world, and so he deserted Paul and went to Thessalonica.
The Apostle then adds that Crescence had gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
4:11 The beloved Doctor Luke Was the only one who maintained contact with Paul in Rome. How much it must have meant to the Apostle to have the spiritual encouragement and professional skill of this great man of God!
Mark went with Paul and Barnabas on their First Missionary journey, but then left them at Perga to return home. When it came time to go out on the Second Missionary Journey, Paul did not want to bring Mark along because of the young man’s previous retreat. When Barnabas insisted that Mark should accompany them, the matter was resolved by Paul’s leaving for Syria and Cilicia with Silas, while Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus. Later on, Paul and Mark were reconciled, and here the Apostle specifically asks for Mark as one who is helpful to him in his ministry.
4:12 Those who believe that Timothy was in Ephesus when Paul wrote this letter to him suggest that the Apostle sent Tychicus to Ephesus as a replacement during Timothy’s approaching absence. They suggest that Paul’s meaning here is: “But Tychicus I am commissioning to go to Ephesus”.’
4:13 The cloak here may be either an outer garment or a bag used for carrying books. It is generally understood to refer to the former here.
There is no agreement as to the difference between Scrolls and the parchments. Were they portions of Scripture? Were they some of Paul’s Letters? Were they papers which he would be using at his trial? Were they blank pieces of papyrus or parchment which he wanted to use for writing? It is impossible to decide definitely. But the strong suggestion is that even in his imprisonment the Apostle wanted to keep busy with his writing and his reading.
4:14 Alexander the metalworker may have been the same one referred to by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:20 as having made shipwreck of faith. In any event, he had done a great deal of harm to the Apostle. We can only speculate as to the nature of his evil. Linking this verse with the verses that follow, it seems probable that Alexander testified against the Apostle and brought false charges against him.
4:15 This verse anticipates Timothy’s arrival in Rome. He too should be on his guard against Alexander, last he, too, suffer at the hands of this evil man. It is not unlikely that Alexander strongly opposed Paul’s message by opposing his testimony at the public hearing.
4:16 Paul is probably still thinking of the events of the past few days. His first defense means the first opportunity which he was given to defend himself at this, his last trial. It does seem sad indeed that no one came to his support. No one would come to his defense, but there is no bitterness in his heart for all that. Like the Savior before him, he prays that it may not be held against them.
4:17 He may have been forsaken by men, but the Lord stood at his side. Not only so, he was divinely strengthened to preach the gospel at his trial. The message went forth, and a Gentile law court heard the message of Salvation.
The expression “I was delivered from the lion’s mouth” is a way of saying that Paul was granted a temporary delay. The trial was continued. The danger was temporarily averted.
4:18 When Paul said the Lord will rescue me from every evil attack, he did not imply that he would be delivered from execution. He knew that the time of his death was drawing near (v.6). What then did he mean? Doubtless he meant that the Lord would save him from doing anything that would be a blot on the closing days of his testimony. The Lord would deliver him from denying His name, from cowardice, or from any form of moral breakdown.
Not only so, but Paul was sure that The Lord would bring him safely to his heavenly kingdom. And then the Apostle bursts into as ascription of glory be to God for ever and ever. Amen.
4:19 Now Paul sends greetings to a married couple who had served with him often in spreading the gospel. Priscilla and Aquila first met Paul in Corinth, and then traveled with him to Ephesus. They lived for a time in Rome (Tim. 16:3), and, like Paul, were “tent makers”.
Onesiphorus was mentioned in 1:16 as one who had often refreshed the Apostle and had not been ashamed of his imprisonment.
4:20 Perhaps Erastus is the same one who was treasurer of the city of Corinth (Rom. 16:23).
Trophimus is mentioned in Acts 20:4 and 21:29. Converted in Ephesus, he had accompanied Paul to Jerusalem. Here we read that Paul had left him in Miletus sick. This statement is important in showing that, although the Apostle had the miraculous power of healing, he did not always use it. The miracle of healing was never employed as a matter of personal convenience, but rather as a testimony to unbelieving Jews as to the truth of the gospel.
4:21 Timothy should do his best to get there before winter, and the weather made travel difficult or impossible.
Next we have greetings to Timothy from Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren. These names might seem of little consequence, but they are a touching reminder, that one of the special joys and privileges of Christian service is the ways in which friendships are created and enriched.
4:22 And now Paul brings his last Epistle to a close speaking to Timothy in particular, he says: “The Lord be with your spirit”. Then, addressing all those who were with Timothy at the time he received the letter, the Apostle adds: “Graced be with you.” Here he puts down his pen. The letter is finished. His ministry is ended. But the fragrance of his life and testimony abides with us still.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. (Phil. 4:23).