“My Departure Is at Hand”

Mike Johnson

In II Timothy 4:6, while in a Roman prison near the end of his life, Paul wrote, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

The Greek word (analusis) which is translated “departure” is found only here in the New Testament. Paul uses the word here as a metaphor for death, and Greek scholars tell us that it refers to the act of releasing a boat from its moorings (Thayer). Picture a boat tied to a dock. The boat moves up and down and back and forth; the rope becomes tight and then loose. The boat strains to set itself free from the dock. Finally, its owner unties the boat, and it departs from the dock.

Paul describes living here upon this earth as, in a sense, tied to a dock. The time would soon come for the “rope” to be untied, and he would set sail upon the seas of eternity. His death would be a release.

Consider the way that Peter spoke of his death. After saying that he must shortly “put off his tabernacle,” (i.e., die) he said, “Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease (“departure” – NASB) to have these things always in remembrance” (II Pet. 1:15). The word translated decease (exodus) is the same word used by Luke (Lk. 8:31) in his account of the transfiguration. Luke says that when Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah, He spoke of his “decease” (KJV) which would happen in Jerusalem.   Various other translations use the word “departure.” Interestingly, Hebrews 11:22 says that Joseph spoke of the children of Israel “departing” from Egypt to go to the Promised Land. The Greek word is used here a third time. The children of Israel would “depart” on a literal journey.

Sometimes we refer euphemistically to a person who has died as one who has “departed.” Truly, death is not the end; it is simply a “departure” from this life. When a person dies, his spirit leaves his body (Jas. 2:26), and it departs to another place.

We can be comforted by the knowledge that death is a departure. We mourn when loved ones pass away as we know that we will miss them. Jesus even wept on such an occasion (Jn. 11:35). But, the person who is a faithful Christian, is simply going to another place which is “far better” (Phil. 1:23). Truly, death is not the end

In II Timothy 4:7-8, Paul noted that he had fought a good fight, he had finished his course, and he had kept the faith. Because of this, he could look forward to his departure, anticipating a crown of righteousness which awaited him.   He pointed out that he had a desire to depart and to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23). If we faithfully serve God, we also can favorably anticipate our “departure.” Paul pointed out that this crown would not be for him only, but is also for all those who love His appearing.

There will be a time when we will be “untied from the dock.” Will we be ready?

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