13. Paenulam, quam Troade reliqui apud Carpum, quum veniens, affer, et libros et membranas.
9. Make haste, to come to me quickly. As he knew that the time of his death was at hand, there were many subjects — I doubt not — on which he wished to have a personal interview with Timothy for the good of the Church; and therefore he does not hesitate to desire him to come from a country beyond the sea. Undoubtedly there must have been no trivial reason why he called him away from a church over which he presided, and at so great a distance. Hence we may infer how highly important are conferences between such persons; for what Timothy had learned in a short space of time would be profitable, for a long period, to all the churches; so that the loss of half a year, or even of a whole year, was trivial compared with the compensation gained. And yet it appears from what follows, that Paul called Timothy with a view to his own individual benefit likewise; although his own personal matters were not preferred by him to the advantage of the Church, but it was because it involved the cause of the gospel, which was common to all believers; for as he defended it from a prison, so he needed the labors of others to aid in that defense.
10. Having embraced this world. It was truly base in such a man to prefer the love of this world to Christ. And yet we must not suppose that he altogether denied Christ or gave himself up either to ungodliness or to the allurements of the world; but he merely preferred his private convenience, or his safety, to the life of Paul. He could not have assisted Paul without many troubles and vexations, attended by imminent risk of his life; he was exposed to many reproaches, and must have submitted to many insults, and been constrained to leave off the care of his own affairs; and, therefore being overcome by his dislike of the cross, he resolved to consult his own interests. Nor can it be doubted, that he enjoyed a propitious gale from the world. That he was one of the leading men may be conjectured on this ground, that Paul mentions him amidst a very few at (<510414>Colossians 4:14,) and likewise in the Epistle to Philemon, (<570124>Philemon 1:24,) where also he is ranked among Paul’s assistants; and, therefore, we need not wonder if he censures him so sharply on this occasion, for having cared more about himself than about Christ.
Others, whom he afterwards mentions, had not gone away from him but for good reasons, and with his own consent. Hence it is evident that he did not study his own advantage, so as to deprive churches of their pastors, but only to obtain from them some relief. Undoubtedly he was always careful to invite to come to him, or to keep along with him, those whose absence would not be injurious to other churches. For this reason he had sent Titus to Dalmatia, and some to one place and some to another, when he invited Timothy to come to him. Not only so, but in order that the church at Ephesus may not be left destitute or forlorn during Timothy’s absence, he sends Tychicus thither, and mentions this circumstance to Timothy, that he may know that that church will not be in want of one to fill his place during his absence.
Bring the cloak which I left at Troas. Asto the meaning of the word felo>nh, fb67 commentators are not agreed; for some think that it is a chest or box for containing books, and others that it is a garment used by travelers, and fitted for defending against cold and rain. Whether the one interpretation or the other be adopted, how comes it that Paul should give orders to have either a garment or a chest brought to him from a place so distant, as if there were not workmen, or as if there were not abundance both of cloth and timber? If it be said, that it was a chest filled with books, or manuscripts, or epistles, the difficulty will be solved; for such materials could not have been procured at any price. But, because many will not admit the conjecture, I willingly translate it by the word cloak. Nor is there any absurdity in saying that Paul desired to have it brought from so great a distance, because that garment, through long use, would be more comfortable for him, and he wished to avoid expense. fb68
Yet (to own the truth) I give the preference to the former interpretation; more especially because Paul immediately afterwards mentions books and parchments. It is evident from this, that the Apostle had not given over reading, though he was already preparing for death. Where are those who think that they have made so great progress that they do not need any more exercise? Which of them will dare to compare himself with Paul? Still more does this expression refute the madness of those men who — despising books, and condemning all reading — boast of nothing but their own ejnqousiasmoufb69 But let us know that this passage gives to all believers fb70 a recommendation of constant reading, that they may profit by it. fb71
Here some one will ask, “What does Paul mean by asking for a robe or cloak, if he perceived that his death was at hand?” This difficulty also induces me to interpret the word as denoting a chest, though there might have been some use of the “cloak” which is unknown in the present day; and therefore I give myself little trouble about these matters.