Nero, the fifth emperor of Rome, ruled the Roman Empire from A.D. 54-68. The year following Paul’s release from prison, probably A.D. 64, a great fire consumed more than half the city of Rome. The fire burned fiercely for six days, then slowly burned for three more days. Although it was never proven for certain, many people believe Nero started the fire, and then placed the blame on Christians. It was after this fire that Paul was imprisoned a second time. Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy while in prison, awaiting his death. Notice Paul’s words in II Timothy 4:6-8: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
What enabled Paul to face death with such confidence? First, Paul stated he had fought a good fight. The fact that Paul called the Christian life a fight indicates there is a conflict that is taking place. There is a conflict between right and wrong, good and evil. Also consider Ephesians 6:10-13 and I Peter 5:8.
The second reason Paul was able to face death with confidence was he had finished his course. Paul is drawing a parallel between the Christian life and an athletic event. Paul lived the Christian life with endurance, persevering to the end. Also notice I Corinthians 9:24-27 and Galatians 6:9.
The third reason Paul was able to face death with confidence was he had kept the faith. Paul is not referring to his personal faith, but rather the faith, the system of the gospel and all those teachings included therein. Other scriptures also refer to the gospel as the faith. Consider Acts 6:7 and Romans 1:5. After his conversion, Paul devoted his life to defending the gospel of Christ.