I have fought the good fight…I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4: 7
The Biblical writer and teacher Paul wrote the book of 2 Timothy while under house arrest for creating a civil disturbance. Rembrandt’s painting Apostle Paul in Prison illustrates the scene.
Paul, an old man with a thinning white beard, receding hairline, bulky layers of clothing and a wrinkled face sits on his bed. Propped against the blankets is a sheathed sword, a symbol of his days as a persecutor of Christians.
Piled on the mattress are a bulging portfolio of correspondence and a worn suitcase, reminders of Paul’s prolific letter writing and widespread travels. Paul has one sandal off and one on, perhaps indicating he has one foot firmly planted in this world but is ready to step into the next.
Rembrandt creates a cold, dark room but the warm sun shines in through the window lighting up Paul’s face. He looks thoughtful and perhaps a little perplexed. Paul writes in a thick notebook he holds on his lap. One can almost imagine he is penning the words…. “ I have fought the good fight….I have kept the faith.”
I saw the residence in Florence Italy where the scientist Galileo lived the last years of his life under house arrest just as Paul was in Rome. Galileo was convicted of heresy for insisting the earth revolved around the sun. Grieving the recent death of his beloved daughter, he grew blind and died a prisoner in his own home, watched constantly by guards. He refused however to give in to those who wanted him to refute what he knew to be true. Galileo ‘fought the good fight- he kept the faith.’