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“Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.  Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.  o him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”  2 Timothy 4:14-18

Three profiles appear on the stage at this moment in Paul’s drama.

One, a strong enemy. Alexander may have been a friend at one time, but now Paul has to warn Timothy about him. Alexander stood against Paul’s ministry (“opposed our message“). And he made it personal, about Paul himself (“did me great harm”). Paul’s response? He is blunt. “The Lord will repay him.”

Two, weak friends. “All deserted me.” When everything was on the line, when Paul most needed support and sympathy, his friends faded away. To stand up for Paul was too costly to these faint-hearts. They all caved. Paul’s response? He is gentle. “May it not be charged against them!”

Three, a strong Friend. The Lord stood by Paul as he stood before his accusers  Jesus was unseen, but Paul could feel a Presence at his side. He heard a voice reassuring his heart, “I’m here with you. You’re doing fine. Keep going. You are enlarging your witness to the gospel.” Paul’s response? Courage and worship.

There will always be strong enemies. There will always be weak friends. But there will always be a strong Friend too. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.


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One thought on “Three profiles, always present”

  1. JW says:

    Man, this is good. Really good.

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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