Christ, the Faithful Lord
But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (4:17–18)
Empire-wide persecution of the church had begun and Paul was on trial for his life. He stood before the dreadful Roman tribunal, perhaps before Nero himself. The court would have been jammed with spectators, much as in the trials of famous people in our own day, except that none of the spectators in Rome was on Paul’s side (cf. Acts 23:11).
Verses 17–18 form the apex of this passage, testifying to the faithfulness of Christ, the Lord [who] stood with [Paul] and strengthened [him]. He stood there not only or even primarily for Paul’s sake but that through the apostle the proclamation of the gospel might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Paul was the unique and divinely appointed apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13), and it was above all for their salvation and for the Lord’s glory that the apostle himself ministered (cf. Acts 9:15; 22:21; 26:17).
Paul often had been delivered out of the lion’s mouth, a common figure of mortal danger (see Ps. 22:21; 35:17). It also was the specific danger into which the Lord allowed Daniel to be placed and from which He miraculously delivered the prophet (Dan. 6:16–23). An immeasurably greater threat—for Paul and for every believer—comes from Satan himself, our “adversary, the devil, [who] prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Yet even the devil has no ultimate power over those who belong to Christ.
Paul did not fear physical danger. Many times he had faced death, and at least once was left for dead (see Acts 14:19). “Whatever I face,” he declared, the Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. He knew that the completion of his own salvation was nearer than when he first believed (cf. Rom. 13:11) and preferred “rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). For Paul, as for every believer, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). And although the apostle would not give up the battle until the Lord took him home, his loneliness, pain, deprivation, and desertion made the prospect of heaven all the more appealing.
For that and for everything the Lord had done, was doing, and was yet to do, Paul exulted, To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
18 Although Paul was clearly hurt by the fact that no one in the Roman church stood by him at his first defense, he is convinced that the Lord (Christ, cf. vv. 8, 14; cf. Ac 23:11) will not fail him: he will “rescue [him] from every evil attack” (cf. Mt 6:13)—whether by physical deliverance or spiritual preservation—and “bring [him] safely [sōzō, GK 5393; cf. 1 Ti 2:15; 4:16] to his heavenly kingdom [basileia, GK 993; cf. v. 1].” Earthly kings may persecute him, but the apostle knows his eternal destiny in Christ’s heavenly kingdom (cf. 1 Th 4:13–18). As he waits for Timothy during the delay in legal proceedings against him, Paul reaffirms that his entire life and ministry are dedicated to the glory of Christ: “To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (a standard doxology: cf. Ro 9:5; Php 4:20; 1 Ti 1:17; 6:15).
4:18 / In typical fashion the recent rescue from immediate peril is reflected on theologically. The Lord who rescued me will always rescue me, not from death necessarily, but from every evil attack (cf. the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer), and will bring me safely to (better, “save me for,” or “unto”) his heavenly kingdom. The phrase from every evil attack (lit., “every evil deed,” the opposite of “every good deed,” 2:21; 3:17) can scarcely mean “from the effects of every evil machination,” as the eschatological conclusion of the sentence makes clear, but “from any real power of evil to destroy me.” The reason is simple; the Lord will save me for his own heavenly kingdom. Once again the focus of the letter is on eschatology, in the form of one of Paul’s triumphant certainties: What God has already accomplished in Christ, he will see through to final consummation; the salvation he has begun he will indeed complete.
Such a note of eschatological triumph, not to mention past victories, calls for a doxology (cf. 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:15–16): To him be glory forever and ever. Amen. Both the location and the language of this doxology are reminiscent of Philippians 4:20. What a fitting note on which to conclude, given the continuing urgencies of his and Timothy’s present situation!
4:18. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and will save me into his heavenly kingdom; to him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
God’s faithfulness during his trial assures Paul that the Lord will be faithful to the end of his life. Paul has made it clear that he expects to be martyred (cf. 4:6). When he says that ‘The Lord will rescue [him] from every evil deed’, he is not talking about physical deliverance from imprisonment and death. Rather, he is referring to the spiritual evils of apostasy, denying the faith and turning from the proclamation of the truth—real temptations when one is faced with the choice of physical life or death. This interpretation is clear from the next line, where Paul employs the language that he typically uses with respect to spiritual salvation: ‘… and [the Lord] will save me into his heavenly kingdom.’ He fully expects that God will preserve him spiritually and that he will be with the Lord for ever. He certainly knows the promises of Jesus that no one will snatch his sheep from his hand. He has experienced God’s strengthening and faithfulness time and again. This faithfulness gives him confidence for the future. This latter phrase also reflects Paul’s abiding conviction that, from beginning to end, salvation is wholly the work of a sovereign God. It is not based on any merit in Paul.
This thought causes Paul to break into doxology: ‘To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’ We have seen similar doxologies in 1 Timothy, where the thought of God’s saving work brings forth praise to God (cf. 1 Tim. 1:12–17; 6:14–16). If salvation is the work of man, then man is exalted. But if salvation is wholly the work of God, then man is humbled and God alone is glorified for all eternity. Paul’s letters consistently teach the latter of these two options: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast’ (Eph. 2:8–9).
Ver. 18.—The Lord for and the Lord, A.V. and T.R.; will for shall, A.V.; save for preserve, A.V.; the glory for glory, A.V. Deliver me … save me (see preceding note). The language here is also very like that of the Lord’s Prayer: Ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸτοῦπονηποῦ σοῦ γὰρ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία … καὶἡ δόξα, εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν (Matt. 6:13). Every evil work. Alford goes altogether astray in his remarks on this passage. Interpreted by the Lord’s Prayer, and by its own internal evidence, the meaning clearly is, “The Lord, who stood by me at my trial, will continue to be my Saviour. He will deliver me from every evil design of mine enemies, and from all the wiles and assaults of the devil, in short, from the whole power of evil, and will bring me safe into his own kingdom of light and righteousness.” There is a strong contrast, as Bengel pithily observes, between “the evil work” and “his heavenly kingdom.” A triumphant martyrdom is as true a deliverance as escape from death. Compare our Lord’s promise, “There shall not an hair of your head perish” (Luke 21:18 compared with ver. 16). St. Paul’s confidence simply is that the Lord would, in his own good time and way, transfer him from this present evil world, sad from the powers of darkness, into his eternal kingdom of light and righteousness.
18. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work. He declares, that he hopes the same for the future; not that he will escape death, but that he will not be vanquished by Satan, or turn aside from the right course. This is what we ought chiefly to desire, not that the interests of the body may be promoted, but that we may rise superior to every temptation, and may be ready to suffer a hundred deaths rather than that it should come into our mind to pollute ourselves by any “evil work.” Yet I am well aware, that there are some who take the expression evil work in a passive sense, as denoting the violence of wicked men, as if Paul had said, “The Lord will not suffer wicked men to do me any injury.” But the other meaning is far more appropriate, that he will preserve him pure and unblemished from every wicked action; for he immediately adds, to his heavenly kingdom, by which he means that that alone is true salvation, when the Lord—either by life or by death—conducts us into his kingdom.
This is a remarkable passage for maintaining the uninterrupted communication of the grace of God, in opposition to the Papists. After having confessed that the beginning of salvation is from God, they ascribe the continuation of it to free-will; so that in this way perseverance is not a heavenly gift, but a virtue of man. And Paul, by ascribing to God this work of “preserving us to his kingdom,” openly affirms that we are guided by his hand during the whole course of our life, till, having discharged the whole of our warfare, we obtain the victory. And we have a memorable instance of this in Demas, whom he mentioned a little before, because, from being a noble champion of Christ, he had become a base deserter. All that follows has been seen by us formerly, and therefore does not need additional exposition.
The forward look (4:18)
18. The key to the understanding of this verse lies in the obvious associations in thought between the aorist I was delivered of verse 17 and the future The Lord will rescue me. If these two verbs are both taken in the literal sense of deliverance in this life, there can be no doubt that Paul had a firm conviction that he would be released. But this seems contrary to the resignation to his fate in verses 6–8. The deliverance in this verse is reminiscent of the Lord’s prayer, which is clearly intended in a spiritual manner, and it seems most reasonable, therefore, to suppose that a similar meaning is attached to the words here. The past physical deliverance reminds him of constant spiritual deliverances and raises his confidence for the future.
Not only is he confident that the Lord will deliver, but that he will also bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. The verb used is the usual word ‘to save’ (sōzō), but here in the more specific sense of ‘keeping safe’. The use of the adjective ‘heavenly’ (a characteristic Pauline word) draws attention to the emphatic contrast between God’s kingdom and the present earthly circumstances of sorrow and suffering. It is strongly reminiscent of the Lord’s teaching about the kingdom of heaven. It is no wonder that contemplation of it raises in the apostle’s mind a doxology in which he ascribes eternal glory to the Lord. His mind is clearly centred more on eternal realities than on any hopes of further release.
4:18 “the Lord” In this verse (and v. 14), this could refer to YHWH, but in verse 17 (and v. 1) it refers to Jesus. Jesus is the best option for all the occurrences in chapter 4.
|“rescue me from every evil deed”
|“deliver me from every evil work”
|“rescue me from every evil attack”
|“rescue me from all evil”
|“rescue me from all evil attempts on me”
Paul knew that the Lord was with him, for him and in him. He also realized that human opposition had a Satanic or demonic origin. The proclamation of the gospel is always accompanied by evil opposition!
This phrase is all the more striking and paradoxical when it occurs so close to Paul’s execution!
© “will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom” See Special Topic: This Age and the Age to Come at 2 Tim. 3:1.
© “to Him be glory forever and ever” Paul often breaks into doxologies of praise (i.e. two good examples, Rom. 11:36; Eph. 3:14–21).
© “Amen” See Special Topic at Titus 2:12.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 213–214). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Köstenberger, A. (2006). 2 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 599). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 298). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Barcley, W. B. (2005). A Study Commentary on 1 and 2 Timothy (pp. 301–302). Darlington, England; Webster, NY: Evangelical Press.
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). 2 Timothy (p. 62). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 271–272). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Guthrie, D. (1990). Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, pp. 195–196). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Utley, R. J. (2000). Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey: I Timothy, Titus, II Timothy (Vol. Volume 9, p. 176). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.