2 Timothy 4:1-8 (NIV2011)
1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8 Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.
In 2 Timothy 3 Paul instructed Timothy to be perseverant in remaining true to his calling. He warned him about what is coming and the spread of wickedness within the church. Timothy was to use Paul as an example of how to live the Christian life and thus be an example to others so that they can imitate him.
Paul now turns from what Timothy was to do in his personal life to what he was to do for others. His charge to Timothy is based upon his knowledge of scripture and what needs to be done with that knowledge so others may benefit. It is a most solemn charge and one that is to be taken with all seriousness because it involves the Sovereign God of creation and His purpose for history. The fact that God through Christ will judge the world and every man, woman and child in the world highlights the importance of Timothy’s calling. There are but two outcomes for mankind in the judgments, eternal life or eternal damnation. Everyone will be judged by Christ, both the living (those alive when he returns), and the dead (those who have died prior to his return).
Acts 10:42 (NIV2011)
42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
Romans 14:9 (NIV2011)
9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
Paul then begins his charge to Timothy by issuing five imperatives. First he is to “preach the word.” Paul has already instructed Timothy to study scripture so that he may discern apostasy from truth, now Timothy is charged to preach that truth to others. This teaching includes the preaching of sound doctrine instead of what they want to hear (vs. 3). In other words Timothy is not there to please people, but to be faithful to scripture regardless of the reaction of the hearers. Something that is lacking in today’s preachers. We are not to use the pulpit for our own gains either. We above all are to be faithful to the truth contained in all portions of God’s word.
Paul’s next imperative is to “be prepared”. He is not to worry about whether the message seems popular at the time of not. He is to be prepared to preach what is appropriate by God’s standards when God wants it preached. In season or out of season by human reasoning. He is to preach it even when his audience may not be receptive .
The last three imperatives are to “correct, rebuke and encourage”. This is to be done with all patience and careful instruction because the time will come when people will no longer be willing to hear what is right.
The time will come, and was probably already present in Ephesus, when they will not want to hear sound teaching. Apostasy enters into the church by way of those within who do not wish to have a solid foundation in the truth, but desire to hear only what is flattering to their idea of truth. Such is Hymenaeus and Philetus in 2:18. Not only do they not want to hear the truth, but they actually recruit those who do not challenge their beliefs but preach what is pleasing to their concept of truth.
Paul challenges Timothy with four more imperatives so that he can stand before the teachings of the apostates. First he is to “keep his head in all situations”. He is to be self controlled when he suffers abuse. He is to “endure hardship”. Because of the abuse he will suffer from those who reject his message the end result will be hardship as they turn against him. “Do the work of an evangelist”. In other words do not succumb to the temptation to please the congregation, but rather preach the message of salvation to all so that they can turn to the truth. Finally Timothy is to “discharge all the duties of your ministry”. Timothy was the elder of the church of Ephesus. He was not to run or ignore his responsibilities given to him by God. He was to be faithful to God no matter what the consequences. He was to use his mentor Paul as an example of how a Christian should behave.
Paul’s charge to Timothy was given because Paul was about to depart this life. He is passing on his ministry to Timothy so that his work may live after him. Timothy is to care for those whom Paul ministered to and continue to evangelize the gentiles in Paul’s absence.
Paul had no fear of death, but only a certainty of what was coming. He knew that he had been faithful to Christ in all aspects of his ministry. He was confident that he had run the race and would receive the crown that was do him. He would be given the crown of righteousness when he is finally judged, and looked forward to that day. That same crown is also promised to all those who look forward to the second coming of Christ. They are those who do not look at the hear and know, but live as if Christ is coming today. Indeed he may.
We should always examine what is being preached form our pulpits. Today you would be amazed at some of the “doctrine” that is being spewed from the pulpit. How much of it is truly biblically centered, and how much is just pleasing words that are intended to keep the peace within the church. When is the last time you have heard preachers talk about election, justification, sanctification or any of the other great doctrines of scripture. How often is the sermon designed to be inoffensive and doctrinally week. They are still giving milk instead of solid meat just like the Corinthian church.
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 (NIV2011)
1 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.
2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
The time is close to the return of Christ. The apostasy in today’s churches is rampant. Let us take up Paul’s charge to Timothy and stand up for what the truth is. Let us lift up the scripture and proclaim it’s truth no matter what the consequences.