The word of the day is “love.” Today’s reading allows us to consider what is our primary hope in life and death. In 2 Timothy 4:5-9, St. Paul says, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (vs. 9).
Paul believes that his death is near. “For I am already,” he says, “being poured out as a drink offering (vs. 4:6). The Mosaic Law required that “libations” (“drink offerings”) accompany the daily burnt offerings, the Sabbath offerings, the monthly offerings, the Paschal offering, and the Feast of Weeks offerings (Number 28:1-30).
Poured Out as a Drink Offering
Paul compares the end of his life with these libations. The hardships that he is now facing in his imprisonment are the beginning of his sacrifice to God. The final completion of his self-offering will be the libation of the flowing blood from his lifeless body.
Yet Paul faces the offering of his life with a sense of peace and fulfillment. He says, “I have fought the good fight” (vs. 7). The referee is about to raise his arm in victory. Alternatively, he says, “I have finished the race” (vs. 8). The ribbon at the finish line is already in sight. The Lord has already set out the trophy of victory, the “crown of righteousness” for him.
However, we might ask what is the thing that St. Paul most looks forward too? Is it a reward for his accomplishments? Is it the consolation for his sufferings? Is it the rest from his labors? Yes, all these things are to be his. But he suggests that these are not the most important feature of his hope. He says that Christ will give these things to him and all who love His appearing (ca. 8). They are the result of his appearing, not its goal. Christ’s appearing will bring with it the accompanying, secondary blessings
The Unveiling of His Righteousness, Majesty, and Honor
The Greek term for “appearing” is transliterated “epiphany,” that is, “manifestation” (Strong’s #2015, 101). At the end of the age, Christ Himself will make His glorious appearance. It will be the unveiling of His righteousness, majesty, and honor.
At that time, there will be those who “eagerly wait for him” “apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:26). As Isaiah prophesied, “Then it will be said in that day, ‘Behold this is our God, in which we have rejoiced exceeding, and we shall be glad in His salvation’” (Isaiah 25:9). On the other hand, there will be those who lament according to the prophecy of Revelation “Behold He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him forever and ever. Amen” (vs. Revelation 1:7).
The Difference Between Rejoicing and Mourning at His Coming
The difference between the rejoicing and the mourning is the “love of His appearing.” What’s more, the distinction rests on whether people love Him or fear Him. At his appearing, those who love Him will “see Him face to face” (vs. 1 Corinthians 13:12). There will be no greater reward. There will be no greater compensation. There will be no greater consolation. There will be no better rest that is than this—that will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
We do not love the Lord as a Santa Claus who will give us earthly or heavenly blessings. We love him for His own sake–His goodness, His grace, His lovingkindness, His righteousness, and His holiness. That is why we “love his appearing.”
Elder Porphyrios said: “Christ is joy, the true light, happiness. Christ is our hope. Our relation to Christ is love, eros, passion, enthusiasm, longing for the divine. Christ is everything. He is our love. He is the object of our desire. This passionate longing for Christ is a love that cannot be taken away. This is where joy flows from. (https://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.com/2010/07/way-of-love-christ-is-our-love-our.html)
With this in mind, may the appearing of Christ be our highest hope and may He be our greatest love throughout the coming year.
In today’s reading of 2 Timothy 4:5-8.