2 Timothy 4:1-5
Continue in the work: Preach the Word!
Paul instructed Timothy in 3:14 to continue in what he had learned and had firmly believed. So Paul encouraged Timothy that this learning had come from the Scriptures that are breathed out by God and profitable for equipping the man of God for every good work.
Now, Paul charges Timothy and the church at Ephesus to take that word and preach it since it’s that profitable.
So, let’s take a look at the passage.
We are charged by the Coming Judgment of Jesus, the Return of Jesus and Jesus’ Kingdom Rule v. 1
In view of the fact that he is facing the end of his life, Paul wants to express himself with the utmost solemnity. The charge is connected with three facts—the reality of the judgment of Christ, the certainty of his return and the establishment of his kingdom.
Take note of the fact that Timothy, the Ephesians and all of us are “charged”. That is that we are given a duty and responsibility.
The charge is based on the unchanging fact of Jesus as the coming and reigning judge of all things.
Therefore, our duty and responsibility requires attention and execution. This is not something to play with. This is an eternal and vital task.
What follows is the duty and responsibility of every pastor especially and every follower of Jesus particularly.
This charge is the “why” to the “what”. The “what” is going to be to preach the word. Why?
- Jesus is going to judge the living and the dead
– Revelation 20:11-15
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 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.”
– Followers of Jesus are judged for reward
– Colossians 3:23-25
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”
– 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
– Those who did not follow Jesus are judged and sentenced to hell
– Revelation 20:15
“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
- Jesus is coming in person to do this judging
– 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
- Jesus is Judge and King, so he rules with absolute authority and power…we better be telling folks.
Charged to be Ready to Preach the Word (command) v. 2 (see Romans 10:14)
- In season and out of season
(eukairos – convenient and akairos – not convenient)
This is when it’s convenient and when it’s not convenient. In other words, always be ready to preach!
– We must be saturated with the word
– We must be ready to communicate what we are saturated with
– We must practice telling what we have learned.
– This can happen in RL groups as we lean on each other to be gifted by the Spirit to share what we have been taught.
“…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” – 1 Peter 3:15
- Reprove (command) – To convict (show one to be in the wrong and thus have to change)
– Pointing to the truth to show one to be in the wrong
- Rebuke (command) – To strongly warn with urgency and authority
– Perhaps the strong challenge to debatable decision-making
- Exhort (command) – To aid or comfort (same word used by Jesus to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit)
– In exhorting we may be ministers of grace and tangible evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
- Preach with patience and teaching
Preaching is not teaching and teaching is not preaching, but when pastors preach they had better be teaching.
In other words preaching is the vehicle and the content is the substance of instruction.
Preaching is a passionate and urgent and content rich diet of truth that will nourish a soul.
– Preach patiently – realize that we are working against the grain and that the Kingdom works like yeast in dough and takes time. So don’t always expect instant results!
– Preach with content – don’t just be passionate, but passionately have something of value to convey.
– Busy yourself with knowing the truth and its application.
– Think hard on knowing your times and how to engage your time in history.
Why Preach the Word? Many People Will Not Endure Sound Teaching v. 3-4
- They have itching ears
This is presented in the future tense, but only in the sense that it will be in the future of the completion of his letter. Paul had already encountered that junk and this is why he had to pen so many letters to correct the results of itching ears gathering soothing teachings.
– We never are to preach to satisfy the masses.
– We are to preach to exalt the King and his Kingdom that those with
itching ears may hear and be rescued from darkness.
- They accumulate teachers who tell them what they want to hear
Be wary of the popularity of “preachers” whose message contains on reproof or rebuke or biblical exhortation (like “suffer well for the kingdom”, “make disciples of the nations”).
- They turn from truth to myths
They prefer “myths” to “the truth” as some today turn away to “humanism,” “bolshevism,” “new thought” or any other fad that will give a new momentary thrill to their itching ears and morbid minds.
Paul may have in mind the “myths” from the extra-biblical sources about Old Testament figures that he referred to in 1 Timothy. We may also have in mind any number of alternative metanarratives that stand opposed to the faith (naturalism, transcendentalism, unorthodox teachings about Jesus).
Charged to Fulfill the Ministry v. 5
- Be sober-minded
- Endure suffering
- Do the work of an evangelist
“Praise the Lord! It is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”
 D. A. Carson et al., eds., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1309.
 A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), 2 Ti 4:4.