Does a Personal Response by Paul Disprove Inspiration?
Some have suggested that the Bible contains a lot of trivial information—e.g., Paul’s request that Timothy bring his “cloak” to Rome (2 Timothy 4:13). They say this sort of material argues against the idea of verbal inspiration. Could you comment on this?
What appears to be superficial initially, upon deeper reflection, may contain a rich depository of truth. Consider the following possibilities.
(1) Why did Paul leave his cloak in Troas? Was he forced to flee, and thus had no time to obtain it? Is this another hint of the apostle’s ongoing persecution in his declining years? Perhaps.
(2) This is another commentary on the sacrificial poverty of him who was willing to spend and be spent for the cause of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:15). Think of it—winter approaching (vs. 21), and yet the apostle’s one coat is a thousand miles away! Paul was no stranger to “cold and nakedness” (2 Corinthians 11:27).
(3) Where are the saints in Rome during the time of Paul’s physical need? Where are the enthusiastic Christians who had rushed out of the city years earlier to meet the tireless preacher as he approached the city (Acts 28:15)? Had many of them been scattered by persecution? Had some turned against the apostle (see Philippians 1:15-17)? At Paul’s first defense, no one took his part; all forsook him (vs. 16). And even as this second letter to Timothy was composed, only Luke remained with him (vs.11). People can change; love can wax cold (Matthew 24:12).
(4) The passage is revealing of the fortitude and independence of the magnificent Paul. No word of complaining or whimpering comes from his courageous lips. No brow-beating of neglectful brethren, and no pitiful solicitation from others, is here in evidence. What a man!
Let it never be said that this, or any other passage of Scripture, is meaningless or trite. Such superficial criticisms come only from those who neglect the responsibility of serious investigation. There is not an insignificant sentence in the Sacred Volume.