Photo via goodsalt.com
It was a massive fire. It started around the merchant shops near the Circus Maximus on the windy night of July 19, 64 AD. The conflagration lasted a total of nine days and destroyed more than 60,000 buildings, including 90% of all the homes in the municipality. In its aftermath, more than two-thirds of Rome was left in charred ruins.
Angry citizens blamed the maniacal twenty-six-year old Emperor for the blaze. In an effort to exonerate himself, Nero claimed Christians were responsible instead.
Sometime thereafter, the apostle Paul, as the veritable “firebrand” (pun intended) of the church, was arrested, imprisoned and awaited execution. He would be one of many saint-scapegoats who were unjustly put to death for the city-wide fire.
Knowing his death was imminent (2 Tim. 4:6-8), and that that his own demise would leave a void in the life of his beloved son in the gospel, Paul penned his last inspired words from “quarantine”, not to a congregation, but to an individual. As Paul “greatly desired” (ESV) to see Timothy (2 Tim. 1:4), we also long to be in company of fellow-Christians and to worship with them in person once again.
What did Paul say and do, while in quarantine, for Timothy that we can emulate today (2 Tim. 1:3-5)? Note:
Rather than being overwhelmed by his circumstance and looming death, Paul chose instead a) to hold tenaciously to an attitude of thanksgiving (cf. 1 Thes. 5:18), b) to continually petition the Father (cf. 1 Thes. 5:17) on Timothy’s behalf, and c) to lift up the young evangelist as he kept, and further spread, the gospel flame (cf. Heb. 3:13).
If Paul could do that then, why can’t we do similarly today…?