I haven't done the research but I suspect that the second letter Paul wrote to Timothy contains the most references to losses of all of the letters that the apostle wrote. Perhaps it's just because the book is only four chapters long. Perhaps Paul is having one of those "down" days. Whatever prompted this not-so-encouraging list of losses, Paul named names in his brief letter to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy:

Phygelus and Hermogenes (among others) who deserted Paul in Asia (2 Timothy 1:15)
Hymenaeus and Philetus, who tasted the truth and then corrupted it (2 Timothy 2:17, 18)
Demas, who went back into the world (2 Timothy 4:10)
Alexander, who opposed Paul's message and did a lot of damage (2 Timothy 4:14)

At the beginning of chapter 3 and early in chapter 4, Paul mentions other nameless losses to the ministry—those who had corrupted the Gospel or persecuted the believers.

It's easy to focus on the losses in ministry. Unhappily they are many. I suppose it ought to be an encouragement of sorts to know that the early church suffered through the same challenges as the church does today. But even while Paul mentions the losses he also names other names as well—names of those who were gains, and not losses, in the ministry. Timothy, of course, is a prime example. Paul rejoices in all that his son in the faith has become, first of all because of influence of his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-17). Then there was Onesiphorus (1:16) and an impressive list of others in 2 Timothy 4:10b-12, 19-21.

All of the gains mentioned were people who put their lives on the line for the Gospel and the senior apostle encourages his younger protégé to do the same. "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry" —2 Timothy 4:5, NIV.

Funny, there isn't much mention of fun, convenience, or retirement. Paul goes on to say that he is ready to be "poured out like a drink offering" (4:6) which doesn't sound at all pleasant. On the other hand, he has said in other letters that whatever he has to give for the sake of the Kingdom is nothing compared to what he gains in Christ. He writes in Philippians 3:7--8 (NIV): "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ,"

Those who walked away from the Truth or compromised it in the hopes of greater personal gain elsewhere were, in fact, the losers, Paul knew, as he encouraged Timothy to know, that we can only keep what is eternal. Investing in Christ and his eternal mission is all gain.


  1. You always make me dig deeper into my thoughts and into His word!
    "that I may gain Christ!"


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