Remember how I said that chapter and verse divisions were not inspired? The chapter divisions showed up in about the 12th century (1300s) and the verse divisions showed up about 300 years after that. It was done to have a very quick way to refer to very precise portions of text quickly, and to aid in memory work. Who can’t quote John 3:16, for example? The problem is that we can sometimes rely too heavily on these arbitrary divisions of thought, and they are not always correct in the sense of maintaining the integrity in units of thought. This is a case of that. I think this paragraph or unit of thought actually begins in verse 14 of the previous chapter. For the purposes of reading, or for overall study, this is where I often break up the units of thought for myself. It certainly provides the context for what begins chapter 4, so keep that in mind. I will read those verses for context here:
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Verse 1 could be seen to be breaking up the unit of thought, but I think it is still internal to the passage itself, in that Paul is making a very solemn charge to Timothy, and any who will follow in Timothy’s footsteps.
1: I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
a. See? I solemnly charge you. “Solemnly charge” is one word in Greek, diamarturomai. It means It means to testify through and through, or solemnly affirm and witness. Paul is not just suddenly going all serious here, he began this seriousness at the beginning of the last chapter. But he IS serious – as serious as a heart attack.
b. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus. Paul is not grandstanding here. He is invoking the names of two of the actual Godhead, The Father – the Ancient of Days, and Christ Jesus – His anointed one, the creator of everything. This isn’t name dropping. This is the authority Paul is invoking to confer authority! And you can’t get any higher than those two beings!
c. Who will judge the living and the dead. Paul here is taking the ink to add to the names. These two, along with the Holy Spirit, who prefers to stay in the background it seems, but who is still God, will be the grand judge of all. What is this referring to?
i. The judge of the living – This is in Scripture (Romans 14:10, 2 Cor 5:10) called the Judgement Seat of Christ, and is the place where all believers will receive their rewards and have all that is contrary in their nature to Christ burned away forever, so that they will be like Him.
ii. The judge of the dead – This is a very specific reference to Rev. 20:11, the Great White Throne judgement. Let’s look at that for a moment. The passage says, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Verse 12 says it here – “I saw the dead…” They were all dead. There are no living people there. This begs the question, where are they? They were already judged at the Judgement seat of Christ, or during Christ’s millennial rule on earth and glorified to be with Him forever. God has already sorted them out and in this particular event, which I believe is the very unmaking of the universe, only dead people remain. And these dead people are judged according to their deeds. There is no grace or mercy here. But we must remain in our text for today, 2 Timothy 4. If you want more about this, come back for our study in Revelation when we have it. I don’t know when that will be, but we WILL get there. I’ve been through it once with people already as the study leader, and it is an awesome book with a lot of blessings to give us.
d. And by His appearing and His kingdom. This judge, Christ Jesus, is coming back! And He will be establishing His kingdom the next time he comes to earth. Paul is invoking THESE beings to confer the serious charge to Timothy. What is that charge?
2: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
a. Preach. The. Word. Paul, in the full authority of Almighty God, is telling Timothy to Preach [kerusso – to be a herald, to proclaim.] And what are we to herald abroad? The WORD [logos – in this sense, it speaks of the ministry of proclaiming the scriptures with a special reference to the gospel]. Where have we seen this word “Word” before? John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word WAS THE God.” In Verse 14 of that same chapter, it tells us that that Word became flesh and walked among us, making a specific reference to Christ Jesus. So we are to be the very heralds of Christ!
b. This is a most powerful verse. When I was 20 years old, I was arrested in my tracks with this scripture. I had returned to my hometown for the summer after my first year of university. I had become a Christian two summers earlier. I was reading during my morning devotions, and I had an experience that I’m now certain isn’t entirely unique to brothers and sisters in Christ. This verse cleanly jumped off of the page (figuratively) and into my heart. I knew that God was calling me to be one of His heralds to His people, the Church. I even approached the pastor of the church I was attending, and we spoke briefly about it. Then I got myself tossed out of the church by disagreeing with a Kenneth Hagin book over his interpretation of 1 Cor. 14 by the man who taught me Grade 6. I took that as a bit of a sign from God, as providence closed that door, and I went back to Ottawa and finished my degree in evolutionary biology. I now know WHY the theory is untrue, and it was time and money well spent, because it is where God had me. There is a lot more to the story, but we’re here to study the Word, so let’s go on.
c. Be ready in and out of season. The Greek root here is kairos, meaning a time, but not time-date, a literal season like spring or summer. So what has Paul actually said? Well, there are two specific times to herald the Word – in season, and out of season. In other words, ALWAYS! At all times! Whenever it is convenient! Whenever it is NOT convenient! ALWAYS.
d. Reprove [elencho] – To convict, confute, or refute, usually with the object of putting the convicted person to shame for their behaviour (works). This is hard, because it means we must confront the person to do the “convicting.” Please not, this is in the context of preaching the word. This is not a scolding of a child. This is an adult conversation with applicable Bible passages.
e. Rebuke [epitimao] – to (with kindness from the prefix epi, to put honour upon) find fault with, to charge strictly. Again, this is in the context of preaching the Word, in all cases here with the specific aim of gently turning people back toward a loving God that is extending grace and mercy to them.
f. Exhort [parakaleo] – to call to one’s side to help. This is a strong encouragement. It is literally the bringing of energizing help, enabling spirit. And again, in the context of specific verses and principles from Scripture. And how are we to do all this?
g. With great patience and instruction. Why? Because then, like today, the church is full of immature, undiscipled, and even lost people. And please believe me when I say that they WILL test your patience. And they will attack you because of their lack of maturity and discipling. Shepherd, that’s YOUR charge. To lead and guide then into maturity in Christ. The word for patience here is translated as long suffering. Why? Because it will be an ongoing thing. And these immature people are the way they are because of a distinct lack of discipling, and they just simply revert to the flesh to deal with things. Instruction is the word didache, meaning doctrine. A derivation already used in this letter is didaktikos, skilled in teaching. And sadly, there is another reason, and I believe it is beginning to be seen today.
3: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
a. They won’t “endure” sound doctrine. The sense I get from the Greek is they just won’t put up with it. They come into the church, they hear stuff they don’t agree with, and they either leave, or worse, they stay and try to influence the place they are in in the direction of their own comfort.
b. Notice, they want to have their ears tickled. This is a very sensitive area, and done right is actually arousing in a sensual way. Worse, it is a gateway to the soul, so that it can be led astray. These people WANT the tickling. They WANT the sensuality. Guys like Joel Osteen depend on this! I was once asked to read and analyze a Joel Osteen devotional for a friend, and made notes in Microsoft Word. I got three pages in before the owner of the book asked for the book back, but I already had seven pages of notes with biblical cross references, and all I will say is that he and I disagreed on what the Bible actually means.
c. Why will they do this? Why do they WANT this? Well, they all have their own desires that they want to feel alright satisfying. This is the task of the minister of the gospel. To REMAIN TRUE to the Word. To NOT be influenced by people who want their ears tickled, or so-called elders that will threaten your paycheck if you don’t preach what they tell you (that’s a form of abuse by the way, and I would be reporting that to the denomination the first time it happened).
4: and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
a. Do you see the deliberate action here? They WILL turn away. It is an act of the WILL. All sin starts here – because WE want to be in control instead of the Creator. WE want to be God. And all false teaching starts there. All false teaching begins as the statement, “I want…” at some level. With some, it is legalism and rules to follow. With some, it is money, and how to make it by fleecing the sheep in their care. Whatever it is, their teaching is described by one single word – myth. [muthos – a fable, a tale of fiction] Romans 1:18-ff has a stern warning to those that will do this instead of following good teaching. If you do this long enough, like Pharaoh with Moses, you will harden your heart over and over until God will permanently harden it. Then God will give you over to “THE lie.” What lie? Whatever lie you choose, I suppose, but that’s a bad place – ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth, it says.
5: But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
a. But you, Timothy, but you, Man of God following in my steps, says Paul. It is YOUR sacred duty and charge to carry on. Be sober in all things. The Greek word for sober is nepho, and it means to be free from the influence of intoxicants. Woah! Stop there for a moment! You guys out there in your “reformed pub.” Do you think that all there is to being a pastor is a diploma of some kind, a personal declaration you are now a shepherd and then tattooing 1689 on your knuckles? They you drive in a car and smoke cigars (which we now know has an intoxicating effect) and drinking bourbon WHILE DRIVING (and we KNOW that has an intoxicating effect) and you post that on YouTube?!?!?! You sir, have disqualified yourself from Christian ministry as a leader or pastor, and should resign. Apparently you need a refresher on James 3:1. Timothy WAS a pastor, and it’s Paul that identified him as such. He called him “Man of God.” That title is very precious and not often bestowed in Scripture. Enoch, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others like that are the men who come to mind. When your so-called Christian liberty exceeds your actual Christian testimony, you should know it and repent. I pray that you do so. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox, but this is germane to the point. Be SOBER. Be free from things that have intoxicating effect. And you might want to think carefully on what that might be. For some it could be money.
b. Endure hardship. [kakopatheo] It means to suffer evil, or wrongs done to you. Don’t get your back up. As earlier in the chapter, have that quality of long suffering. Patience.
c. Do the work of an evangelist. Paul is telling Timothy here to keep bringing the gospel, the good news to people. Preach the Gospel! To sinners and saints alike! To sinners because they need it! To saints as a reminder and to lift their hearts!
d. Fulfill your ministry. Bring your service to full measure and supply, basically. Why? Because that’s what God called you to do.
e. One of the men I admire in the faith is a fellow named Steve Camp. He’s a Baptist pastor in Florida, I believe. He wrote a song called Guard the Trust based on this chapter. Part of the lyrics go something like, “But you – be sober in all things / buy you – endure hardship for the King.” Amen, brother Steve.
6: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
a. If you didn’t already know it, Paul is at the time of this writing in Mamartine Prison, a kind of death row for political prisoners in Rome. If you have missed the last few studies, Paul is nearing his execution date. I think what I find most remarkable about this verse is that there is no bitterness, no hostility, no fear – Paul is just – ready to go!
b. Drink Offering – First seen in Numbers 15, the drink offering is a kind of thanksgiving. It was to signify how YHWH had more than abundantly supplied for the needs of His people. And the Israelites and the aliens (Gentiles) that were to be on equal footing for this offering. This is seen by most commentators as a foreshadowing of the admission of the Gentiles into the people of God, the church, and how the partition between Jew and Gentile would be broken down and the two people made into one people by God through Christ’s sacrifice. An interesting thought. What is Paul really saying here? I think it’s “go ahead and take my life. God has supplied us in abundance.” And about 1900+ years after the date, I think we can see the truth from a very different perspective.
c. Look at it this way. The Romans believed they were the rulers of the world because they alone had the favour of the gods. This was true at the time of Christ, and was certainly true less than 50 years after that. When Constantine became the undisputed ruler of the Roman empire in about AD 320, he was looking for something that would unite his empire. When it came to religion, the choice was interesting. He chose Christianity because it was the predominant religion of his empire. And this had happened over about 250 years. During those years it was illegal to BE a Christian, punishable by death in most cases. And while it was illegal to worship Jesus, to read, publish, or own His word, it permeated the Roman empire so completely that Constantine’s own mother was a Christian before it was legal. Why? Because of the faithful witness of men like Paul, who were willing to pay the ultimate price to be ambassadors for the coming kingdom of God. No bitterness, no anger, no regret. Paul was ready to go. May it be the same for me if it ever comes down to it. It should be our prayer that we never outlive our ability to love God.
7: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
a. Paul, reflecting on His own life could say, that he struggled through the beautiful contest and had finished the course! He has kept the faith, that is, he has guarded his firmly held persuasion that Christ paid the price for Paul. We should think the same.
8: in the future 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.
a. Paul knew he had won the stephanos, the victor’s crown. And he gives us a bit of an incentive if you care for such things – the Lord will award everyone who loves His appearing the same crown!
b. Personally, I am less motivated by that than by the hand that gives the crown. Any rewards I win I will likely throw at His feet, because He is the only reason I have them. But still, it is a reward, and there are many studies on the different crowns that the Bible mentions if that interests you.
9: Make every effort to come to me soon;
a. There are likely a couple of reasons for this. The first one is that Paul has already been sentenced to death. He may have very little time left. Second, I think this speaks to the harshness of Mamartine prison. You can see all kinds of things about Mamartine prison online, by googling it. There are plenty of pictures. Both Paul and Peter spent time there before their executions. Paul would be refreshed by a familiar face, no doubt.
10: for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
a. Now we get into some sad news. Some brothers have turned back, with terrible results for Paul I think.
b. Demas loved this present age. This is kind of fatal to faith. This current age has something Paul calls the “mystery of lawlessness” at work, and even growing over time in 2 Thessalonians 2. That energy (for lack of a better word) will take any advantage it can over you to bring you down. Things like wealth, health, leisure, pleasure, even though not bad in and of themselves, can be turned into the axe that can fell the tree. So it was for Demas, Crescens, and even Titus, the young man that Paul also wrote a letter to on Crete. Does this mean these men were not saved? I don’t know. And I don’t want to find out by following.
11: Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.
a. However! Even with the bad news, there was some good news. Remember Doctor Luke? He’s still there and still faithfully serving with Paul. Paul even tells Timothy to pick up Mark and bring him with. Who is this Mark?
b. “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark.” Acts 12:25. We first meet John, also called Mark, in Acts 12. Paul and Barnabas take him on their first missionary journey. At the first situation where dark forces are encountered, Mark freaks out and leaves, returning home. After Paul and Barnabas return from the journey, they talk about going on another one, and Barnabas wants to bring Mark. Paul doesn’t think he’s mature enough, and the two split over it, Barnabas taking Mark and going his own way, and Paul choosing Silas, and then going on that second journey commended by the saint in Antioch. Yeah. THAT Mark. And that’s good news, because it shows some discipling and maturity has taken place in Mark’s life. He is now useful for service.
12: But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.
a. Tychicus was no doubt sent to replace Timothy to spell him off so he could attend Paul. Remember, Timothy at this time is in Ephesus.
13: When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.
a. What I find personally interesting here is that Paul is NOT panicking at his impending execution. He is going on with life as best he can, and even makes study plans. You know, my graduation and certification is next month. I will receive certification from the denomination that will allow a church to both hire and ordain me. I admit to more than a small quandary about what direction to take this Bible Study. What if I am hired by a congregation and have little to no time for this? This exact verse told me I cannot live my life based on what ifs. I need to do the things I need to do, regardless of what the future may hold. I must make plans to continue like this will go one forever, right up until it doesn’t. Now does that sound to you like, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, today has enough of its own problems?”
14: Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
a. There is a little of that suffering that Paul is encouraging Timothy to endure. No one is certain just who Alexander was, so I will not speculate, but he apparently did Paul some damage, probably in terms of restraint of the Gospel or restriction in terms of causing him to be jailed. What is most interesting to me is that Paul had no concept of personal revenge. When someone does me damage, my first inclination is to damage them back, and damage them better. But that is NOT what Jesus did. Paul was content to leave the vengeance to God and trust Him to do justice.
15: Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.
a. Now – we may not want to take vengeance, but that doesn’t mean we should be stupid or careless about people that wish to damage the ministry. The old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Minimize the chance of encountering this kind of issue.
16: At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.
a. Paul here is referring to his “trial” with Nero as presiding judge. According to F. F. Bruce, the best implication of that trial was that the day would come when men would name their sons Paul and their dogs Nero. No one came to Paul’s defense at all, probably because they were also afraid of Nero’s actions.
17: But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.
a. Paul is sparing with the details, but he seems to be making reference to what Nero was doing with many Christians, and that was feeding them in the Coliseum to the lions and other feral cats that they may have had around. There are some commentators that are decidedly esoteric about this, trying to make some kind of connection to the book of Daniel here, but I don’t think that was the case. It seems more likely that Paul was referring to the arena, because there is no prophetic value in what Paul is saying here to Timothy.
18: The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
a. It seems clear to me that Paul understood the sovereignty of God. He knew that God had already picked out the time and manner of his death, and how best to glorify Himself with it. How else could he sit in on death row in a horrible hole in the ground? If God delivered him, well that had happened before. If not, then Paul would be absent in the body and present with the Lord. The doxology of praise here is just a result of that recognition on Paul’s part.
19: Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
a. Some familiar names we already know to be in Ephesus.
20: Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.
a. More people that Timothy would know, mostly like a news update at this point.
21: Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.
a. Make every effort to come before winter. Why is that? Well, it gets cold in the winter. See verse 13. He had a coat coming.
b. And as was sometimes Paul’s habit, he gives named greetings to some individuals at the very end of his letter.
22: The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
And with that’s Paul closes His letter.
That’s the book of 2 Timothy.
This has been an amazing book, and I am looking forward to the next of the series, Titus. He has some interesting things to say about the Church and its leadership to Titus in Crete as well. We should be ready with that next week.