II Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”
When we come to our text, Paul’s words are saying far more than he has accepted the fact that he is dying! By declaring that “I am now ready” reveals that there was a time that he wasn’t ready. While there was a time that he was “in a strait betwixt two” (Philippians 1:23), that is no longer the case. Closely studying Paul’s words reveals the strength of his declaration; I, Paul, am even now at this very moment satisfied to be poured out as a libation; my life and its blood offered as a sacrifice unto my Lord. What transpired in the life of the Apostle Paul that consoled his spirit to the point that he knew the timing was perfect? While the full answer may never be fully known, there are three things within the text that seems to suggest a state of peace.
The first thing that we recognize is a clear conscience; “I have fought a good fight . . . I have kept the faith.” Just days after Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road, the fearful Ananias is comforted with these words; “for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16). Paul knew in his heart that he had given God his best! This truth is magnified in Paul’s final testimony to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20:18-24; in verse 26, Paul said, “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.”
The second thing to recognize is a completed course, “I have finished my course.” There are two things to notice about Paul’s choice of the word “finished.” It means to complete, execute, conclude, discharge a debt, accomplish or bring to an end, but not merely to end it, but to bring it to perfection or to its destined goal so as to carry it through. Paul had not determined the course, but God did and Paul without question was faithful to the not only run, but stay within the boundaries so as to not be disqualified. The second thing is that Paul used the exact same word for his course as Christ did about His when He said from the cross, “It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30). Paul was as satisfied with his course as the Lord was His!
The final thing to recognize is a chosen comrade. Paul’s letter is addressed to a chosen comrade that is going to pick up where Paul left off. Paul had taken the time to invest in the lives of men and one such man was Timothy. Speaking to his beloved friends at Philippi, Paul said of his chosen comrade; “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel” (Philippians 2:19-22). Paul would continue to live and labor through his chosen comrade.
Night is approaching and soon the opportunity of labor will end; our race will conclude and we will be in the presence of the Savior. When that time comes will it catch us by surprise or will we like Paul say with peace and confidence; “I am now ready!”