II Timothy 4:17-18 “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.”
“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me” (v. 17a). In spite of what Paul wrote in the immediately preceding verses on abandonment, and those who fight against the ministry of the word (vv. 9-16), he can emphatically declare that the Lord stood with him and strengthened him. Even as members of the Sanhedrin were plotting against him, the Lord spoke to him directly. Luke wrote that “the following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome’” (Acts 23:11). The Lord always provides His servants with the grace we need in our time of need (Cf. Heb. 4:16). The Lord continues to say this to all His people. “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD” (Ps. 31:24)! “Paul had learned long ago that he could always depend upon the One who had commissioned him (2 Cor. 12:9, 10; Phil. 4:11-13)” (NGSB p.1924).
There was one reason alone given why Paul says that the Lord stood with and strengthened him-“that the message might be preached fully through” him, to the end that “all the Gentiles might hear” (v. 17b). Paul understood this to be his unique mission. No amount of opposition from men like Alexander, or the Sanhedrin, were going to dissuade him from this mission. Paul is however quick to add that, the Lord also delivered him “out of the mouth of the lion” (v. 17c), “a metaphor for a narrow escape from death” (NGSB p.1924). Furthermore, just as the Lord had been delivering him, even so He will continue to deliver him “from every evil work,” and preserve him “for His heavenly kingdom” (v. 18ab Cf. Ps. 121:7). In all his labour for the kingdom, the Lord would be with him, even to the end. We have the predestined hope of a heavenly kingdom. For these reasons he could say, and we can echo, the following. “To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”