2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
2 Timothy is the last of Paul’s letters, written very close to his martyrdom by Nero in the mid-60s AD. Paul went to his death in peace, as today’s passage attests. It is a marvelous thing to face death, not only in peace, but even with a sort of eager anticipation. It’s not the same thing as the suicide, who is sick of life and wants to see the last of it. The Christian martyr loves life and wants to see the ecstatic fulfillment of it in Heaven. Paul knew that Heaven was going to be wonderful beyond all else. But, most wonderful for us, he was the messenger of a gospel that offers us the same hope. Someday, we shall see Paul with our own eyes if we remain in Christ as he did–to the end.