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The Last Letter

Paul, imprisoned in Rome as the result of persecution under Nero,

realized when he wrote his last letter to Timothy, that his death was

near. Alone and cold in his dungeon he wrote to his young friend in

the faith. Soon afterward, according to tradition, he was beheaded

on the Ostian Way. [1]

It could have been this way . . .

Swat! Buzzzz, buzzzz, buzz. Swat! Swat!

Paul unconsciously slapped at the insects buzzing around his eyes, his ears, and his mouth. In those first few days he was sure they would eventually drive him mad, but they hadn’t. They were now accepted as part of his life, as were the rodents, nightly visitors, swift and silent, searching for crumbs of bread that might have fallen into the thin layer of straw that was his bed. He expected them and would have wondered where they were if they hadn’t come. He had even adjusted to the nauseating stench. Amazing, how you can learn to live in such filth, in such unpleasant, uncomfortable circumstances, to adapt to the rats and bugs, and at times, the intense pain.

He winced as he tried to sit up. It seemed like every muscle was screaming out, refusing to move, and his bones ached from the damp, hard, dungeon floor. [2]

I’m definitely not as young as I used to be . . . all of these aches and pains . . . but . . . listen! Here they come! The guards! Who is going to be called to face death today?

“Marcus! Justinian! Jason! Today is your last day to breathe Nero’s free air you swine! Get to the door of your cell and be quick about it! Hungry lions get impatient you know, as do the people who have come to be entertained watching you run for your wretched life! Get up! Filthy rebel! Faster! You’ll find out you still have energy left when the lions start after you. Run, swine! Run! We don’t want to be late for this festive occasion now, do we?”

Paul held his breath as he listened, hearing the groans of men who were too weak, too sick to walk, and the vulgar obscenities and cruel taunts of the guards. He listened to the sound of heavy, hob-nailed boots mixed with the shuffling footsteps and moans of creatures being driven to doorways of terror and horrible death.

Oh, God! Take them quickly, please take them quickly! How I pray that some of the words I shared with them will have given them hope of eternal life, will have given them peace even as they were shoved or thrown into that bloody arena. Man’s inhumanity to man is unbelievable!

I wonder how many more days Nero will allot to me? It can’t be many. This part of the prison is being vacated rapidly. The men I knew are gone. I long to see Timothy, dear, dear Timothy. I need to see him. If only he could come before it is my turn to go to the arena. What a gift he has been to me! I thank You, precious Lord Jesus, for all that he and I have shared together. He has been like a son to me. I wonder if my crooked old fingers will work well enough to pen him a letter? Ohhh, that hurts! But the day will go faster as I talk with him and it will help to keep me from thinking about my brothers who were with me yesterday and are facing horrible death today. Oh, Lord, give them strength…give them peace…give them courage…and may this letter give dear Timothy the encouragement he needs . . .

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, by beloved son . . .. [3]

Lord, my life is so safe, so filled with abundance, so void of fear and terror, how these who were my brothers and sisters bought this for me with their blood and tears, their suffering . . . incomprehensible. Thank You, Lord, for the peace that is now theirs, for the joy that fills their hearts, and for the prayers they offer for me. Oh Lord, may I be a brave witness for You . . . everyday. I avoid rejection. I avoid ridicule. What would I do if I were called to meet the enemy as they were? Lord, give me strength . . . give me peace . . . give me courage.

[1] The Ryrie Study Bible: II Timothy

[2] Paul’s life as a witness for the Lord was far from sheltered. What with shipwreck and stoning, flogging, and imprisonment, ill-health and opposition, the misunderstanding of friends and the diabolical devices of vindictive foes, it was a life whose sheer atrocious discomfort appalls the imagination. (James Stewart: The Wind of the Spirit, p. 148)

[3] II Timothy 1: 1-2

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.