At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
— 2 Timothy 4:16
It is a heart-rending experience when friends let you down or when someone you thought to be faithful disappoints you. If this has ever happened to you, you know how upsetting this kind of situation can be. Yet this is precisely what happened to Timothy when he was serving as the senior pastor of the church in Ephesus. Leaders he thought would be faithful to the end had apparently walked out and left him in a moment of trouble. The hurt and pain Timothy felt from being abandoned by those he had trusted was so intense that he had written to Paul about it.
If you have ever felt betrayed by someone you loved, you should relate very well to the words the apostle Paul wrote in Second Timothy 4:16. Paul is referring to the time he stood before the Roman imperial court to be tried for the first time. In that moment when he needed friends to testify in his defense, Paul turned to see who would testify on his behalf — only to discover that every one of his friends had walked out and abandoned him.
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Now as Paul writes to Timothy to encourage him to stand strong in his own ordeal, he recalls that extremely difficult time when those close to him chose to walk away. Paul says, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”
The word “answer” is the Greek word apologia, which is a compound of the words apo and logos. In this case, the word apo means back, and the word logos is the Greek word for a word. When compounded, it means to answer back and depicts a reply, a response, or an answer. It was the old word used to describe a court trial where the accused was given an opportunity to respond to the charges brought against him.
Paul says, “At my first answer no man stood with me.…” The word “stood” comes from the Greek word paraginomai. It is a technical term used to describe a witness who stands forward in a court of law to support a prisoner. By selecting this word, Paul makes his point clear: When he desperately needed the support of fellow believers, not one single friend stood forward to testify in his defense. When he turned and looked to see who would be his witness, all his friends were gone!
In fact, Paul goes on to say, “…But all men forsook me….” The word “forsook” in Greek is from the word egkataleipo, which is a compound of the words ek, kata, and leipo. The word ek means out; the word kata means down; and the word leipo means to leave or to forsake. But when all three of these words are joined to form a triple-compound word, the new word carries the idea of walking out on someone; leaving someone in a terrible condition; abandoning a person at the worst possible moment; and deserting a person in the most terrible way. In other words, it conveys the idea of abandonment. By using this wretched word, Paul is saying, “Not only did they not come forward to support me and stand with me — they walked out on me and abandoned me at the worst possible moment!”
You’d think these horror stories would have made Paul bitter; however, there isn’t a trace of bitterness in the apostle. He has learned a marvelous secret: When no one else will stand with you, the Lord will always come forward to stand alongside you, support you, and help you.
Continuing in verse 17, Paul says, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”
First, Paul says, “…The Lord stood with me….” This word “stood” is the Greek word paristemi, which means to stand by one’s side. By using this word, Paul tells you that Jesus Christ is not ashamed of any faithful soldier. When no one else will come to your aid, Jesus Christ is always there to rescue you. Jesus will step forward to assist you and defend you when your friends and family have all bailed out!
Second, Paul says the Lord “strengthened” him. The word “strengthened” in the Greek is endunamoo, which always refers to an empowerment or an inner strengthening. It is a compound of the words en and dunamis. The word en means in. The word dunamis means explosive strength, ability, and power. It’s where we get the word dynamite.
Thus, this word endunamoo presents the picture of an explosive power that is being deposited into some type of container, vessel, or other form of receptacle. The very nature of this word endunamoo means that there necessarily must be some type of receiver into which this power can be deposited.
What does this tell us? In that moment when Paul felt so abandoned, he received a supernatural infilling of divine power that literally super-charged him to bravely and victoriously face one of the most difficult times in his life. The moment Paul discovered he had no friends to lean on was the exact moment that the power of God filled him anew and made him supernaturally strong for the ordeal he was facing.
This was good news for Timothy — and for every other believer who ever feels abandoned and let down by friends. If anyone needed to be reminded that the Lord would stand by him and strengthen him in the midst of every crisis, it was Timothy. The young minister desperately needed a fresh infilling of God’s power so he could victoriously walk through the ordeal that lay before him.
Just as God supernaturally strengthened Paul at a time when the apostle felt hurt and betrayed, God promised to do the same for Timothy in his hour of need. And God hasn’t changed; He is still not a respecter of persons. If He did it for Paul and Timothy, He will do the same for you today!
Are you facing a disturbing situation today? Has something happened to make you feel lonely and abandoned by those you thought would be faithful to stand by your side? If this is the case, it’s time for you to ask Jesus to stand by your side. If you will ask Him for help, He will step forward to assist you, befriend you, and fill you with the power you need to victoriously conquer this difficult time in your life. So why don’t you go ahead and ask the Lord to help you today?
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I admit that I’ve been feeling pretty lonely in the situation I am facing right now. Even though my friends try to understand, they simply can’t comprehend the emotional ordeal I am going through. But I know that You understand everything, Lord, so today I am asking You to step forward and assist me in my hour of need. Please stand at my side to help me, support me, and fill me with a fresh dose of the Holy Spirit’s mighty power so I can victoriously overcome in the midst of this challenging trial. I know that with Your Presence and power at my side, I will win this fight of faith that I’m engaged in right now.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that Jesus loves me and understands me. Even though friends may desert me or fail to understand the dilemma I am facing in my life, Jesus completely comprehends the entire situation. Not only does He understand, but He is also my biggest Helper in my time of need. When I cry out to Jesus in faith, He responds by manifesting His strong Presence at my side. His Presence is with me to assist me, support me, and give me the strength I need to conquer all the attacks that come against my life. With Jesus, I can and will endure everything I face in life!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you think of several instances in your life when you felt extremely weak, but then Jesus Christ came alongside you and filled you with all the strength you needed to victoriously make it through the predicament you were facing?
2. Do you know a friend who is struggling right now and feeling very abandoned? If so, why don’t you demonstrate your love to that friend today by taking the time to share how Jesus strengthened you in your past times of crisis? Your testimony may be the very thing that encourages your friend to let the Lord step forward as his Helper in his time of need.
3. When you were facing those hard times and the Spirit of God filled you with His power, how did you know that He had touched you? What was the immediate change you felt that let you know God had just given you a new infilling of His Spirit?