„Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (2 Timothy 2:8-10/NIV).
When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, he was held captive by Roman authorities. In fact, he says, he was kept in chains. This was a treatment for criminals.
Yet Paul was not a criminal. He had been preaching the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. For that he had left behind many comforts, he could otherwise have enjoyed. He had been travelling to proclaim this good news in many places. In several cities of Asia Minor and Greece Christian churches had come into existence due to St. Paul’s preaching.
There is reason to believe that Paul’s second epistle to Timothy was his last one. In chapter 4:4 he says: “For I am already poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.”
He also speaks of a legal hearing. He mentions that several friends had left him alone. Possibly a decision had been taken for Paul to be executed.
How could he cope with all this? What helped him to retain his inner peace and not to sink into despair?
First of all he trusted in God. God was greater than all his difficulties.
Secondly, he also kept to his calling. He wanted Christian believers to retain the benefits of that faith. He says:”Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (2:10). In other words, his loving heart and his loving concern for other believers (and for those who might yet become believers) helped him to endure.