v. 6. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
v. 7. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith;
v. 8. henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.
In this paragraph the apostle gives the reason for making his admonitions to Timothy so comprehensive and explicit. He himself was about to withdraw from the field, and so his successors in the work of the Gospel-ministry should always keep his example in mind: For I am about to be poured out as a drink-offering, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. As in Php_2:17, the apostle here uses the term for making a drink-offering to designate his approaching death. He knows that he must soon die, that he must seal the testimony of the truth as preached by him with his blood. And still he speaks of his impending martyrdom with all the quiet confidence in God which knows no fear of death. His dissolution, his departure from this world, is at hand; his soul was destined soon to leave the body which had suffered so much in the interest of the Gospel. Death has not even a remnant of horror for him that trusts in Christ's death and resurrection.
A true believer may rather call out with the apostle: The good fight I have fought, my course I have run, faith have I kept. The great warfare for Christ against sin and unbelief had engaged the apostle ever since his conversion. It was a continual, hard, and fierce battle, but he had persevered to the end, he had not given way one inch, he could claim the honor of the victor. The course, furthermore, which had stretched out before him through the long years, like the track before a runner, he had finished; lie had reached the end of his life of faith. No matter whether he had often stumbled by the way, no matter whether he had often been on the brink of losing courage, the Lord had enabled him to endure to the end. He had kept the faith; he had not only been faithful in the work of his ministry, but, through the grace of God, he had held his faith in his Redeemer secure against all attacks, in all persecutions.
With this blessed assurance in his heart the apostle was able to look forward beyond death and grave into the glorious future of eternity: Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will deliver to me on that day, the righteous Judge, but not only to me, rather to all whose love was firmly placed in His manifestation. The apostle speaks so confidently, so cheerfully, as though he had death behind him and were even now about to receive the reward which had been promised to him. It is a characteristic of every Christian's faith that it trusts absolutely and implicitly in the promises of God, that the believer is altogether sure of his salvation. Of course, if the redemption of a man's soul depended upon his own works and merit, even in the most infinitesimal degree, this joyful confidence would be out of the question. But the true believer places himself altogether into the hands of the heavenly Father, knowing that no enemy can pluck us out of His hand. The prize and reward of grace is the crown of righteousness, the final declaration of righteousness by God, the final imputation of the righteousness of Jesus, by which we are free from all guilt and condemnation. This assurance is given to us before the throne of God, as the wreath was placed upon the head of the victor in the games of the Greeks. Christ, who will Himself be the Judge on the last day, will be acting in His capacity as just Judge in awarding this prize, not to works, but to faith. Since we shall appear before the judgment-throne of God with a firm reliance upon the imputed righteousness of Christ, it will be a merciful and yet a just judgment which will award to us the crown of righteousness. This is by no means a special privilege of the apostle, but, as he assures us, will be the happy experience of all those that have looked forward to the final revelation of the Lord, to His second advent, with the love that grows out of faith. All true Christians long for the redemption of their body, for the coming of their Lord to take them home. The words of the apostle therefore contain an earnest admonition to the believers of all times to be faithful and patient to the end, since the goal toward which they are striving will repay them a thousand fold for all the misery and tribulation of this short earthly life.