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2 Timothy

2 Timothy 4

By Pastor Doug
There is a time coming.......that's why we need to be ready.

Chapter 4 Introduction

The final words of a person are significant.  The last words of a person might reveal how they lived life.  Their words also may reveal how they view death.  As we finish this book, remember these are the last words of Paul.  He wrote this from a Roman prison.  He was in chains and on death row awaiting execution at the hands of Nero.

Paul was a 70 year old man whose life was radically changed by the Lord in his younger days.  Early in life he was a religious fanatic persecuting Christians.  He had a brilliant career in front of him as a Pharisee until the Lord knocked him to the ground on the road to Damascus.  Paul had a confrontation with Jesus and his life was changed forever.  He went from being an up and comer in the world of Jewish religion to being considered of no value in this world.

Paul walked with the Lord, staying on the narrow path.  It was a hard way full of suffering and persecution.  Yet, he knew that's what the Lord called him to. 

As Paul began this letter to Timothy you almost felt an urgency to it.  It was the old man Paul telling the young man Timothy how to keep walking with the Lord.  How to stay on the narrow path, staying in the truth, rooted deep, solid in doctrine, never wavering; yet, knowing it was hard, persecution would come, and affliction was inevitable.

From the beginning of the letter Paul encouraged Timothy to stir up the gift he once had, to remember, and to press on.  These are all the words of a spiritually mature man who has been through some stuff in life, saying to the young man don't get drawn away by the things of the world; don't get frightened away by the persecution or suffering; don't get lulled into a place of comfort.  Keep growing, keep abiding in the Lord, press on to a higher calling in your life, and continue to grow in holiness and righteousness in a world that is going the other direction just as fast.

There will always be an alternative to the obedient life we are called to.  It will look appealing and comfortable and it will seem right to us.  The depravity of the world will always be packaged up to look like it will give you what you need.  It even looks religious and offers a form of godliness about it.  Paul said, in spite of how bad things get, we press on.  We continue on, even though all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  All the while evil men and imposters will grow worse, their deceptions grow worse by the day.

God’s word is our tool for living godly lives and being able to discern real godliness from a form of godliness.  The bible makes you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  At the end of chapter 3, Paul said:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

NKJV; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1982, Thomas Nelson

Scripture gives us all we need to know to have right beliefs; to be able to recognize wrong beliefs.  It coaches us in the correction of that which is wrong and it encourages us to continue on in right beliefs.  All this equips us for every good work of the Lord.

That brings us to.......

2 Timothy 4:1-2

Like an oath that was dangerous to break, a charge witnessed by God was considered dangerous also.  God enforced oaths and charges.  Timothy had been called, gifted, ordained and sent.  Paul placed this charge on Timothy before the Lord who would judge all mankind.  The charge was nothing new, but a reaffirmation of what Timothy knew.  Paul is stoking the fire.

The 'therefore' links this to the previous passage.  All scripture was the source of Paul’s authority.  The complete and thoroughly equipped is the man of God full of the word of God.

Paul charges Timothy.  This word for 'charge' is a testimony or a solemn vow given before a judge.  Paul gave these words of truth and encouragement and exhortation to Timothy before the eternal judge that will judge all men. Paul intended these words to be taken very serious by Timothy.  By this charge Timothy could never say, well I didn't know or realize.  He's heard it, he's been charged before God and the Lord Jesus to do what he's been called to do.

This wasn't Paul just putting the pressure on Timothy to respond in what Paul deemed a favorable way.  This was the older man Paul, near the end of his life, knowing and understanding the cost, having lived through persecution, affliction and suffering.  He's already traveled the path that is before Timothy.  And he's telling this younger man, don't run away because of suffering or persecution.  Don't stop doing what you've been called to.

As we've said all through this letter, we are hearing things that require a response.  Hearing the words of this study, requires a response.  To hear them and fail to move, or respond in apathy, is like those Paul spoke about last chapter who hear the truth but never come to the knowledge of it.  It never makes its way in the ears to the brain and then to the heart and no change occurs.  We simply have to respond.

Paul's charge to Timothy is to answer the call and do it well.  That same charge is put to us.  Respond.  Answer the call on your life.  That call is the ministry you are to be engaged in.  For some that may be the ministry of evangelism, mercy, giving, administration, or teaching.  Whatever it is, Paul said, do it well.  Spend your life at it.

Timothy was called to preach the word.  This was a call to herald it, to call it out with his mouth, with his life, with all that he had and all that he was.  He was to be ready to do this in season and out of season, which is another way of saying all the time, any time, whether it was convenient for the hearer or not.  There wasn't a season of preaching and a time when he didn't need to be ready.  Opportunity came at God's prompting and in God's time.  We are all called to be ready to respond.

Timothy was to convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 

  • To convince is to bring conviction and establish a shortcoming.
  • To rebuke is to admonish and warn.
  • To exhort was to edify them, support and encourage. 

These things were to be done with patient endurance.  This was how Timothy was to perform his duties.

Each of us are called.  We need to respond.  Not waiting for a better time or when we feel better about it or when we have more time.  The time is now, the season is now.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

If Paul were writing this to our culture, he would likely say, “The time has come when mankind will not endure sound doctrine!”  Instead of humbly sitting before an open bible and instead of listening to sound bible teaching and instead of learning doctrine and filling your life with truth, men and women will find churches or so-called churches that will keep them entertained.  They will seek teachers who tell lots of jokes and keep the message short so they can be first to the cracker barrel.  Instead of the truth, they will find people that will tell them something more palatable.  They will shun correction and conviction that comes from truth to embrace words that make them feel good about themselves.  Men and women will reject truth and real faith to believe in fables.

The idea of itchy ears is having a curiosity that looks for something interesting.  This is the desire to hear something new that pleases them.  The world will gather those who tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.  This is very much like the times of the judges in the bible.  The people did what was right in their own eyes.  And the result was God sold them to their enemies. 

Paul reminded Timothy the importance of preaching and teaching because a time was coming when sound doctrine won't be allowed.  I think we live in a time when sound doctrine is becoming rarer by the day.  In some places any doctrine that appears biblical is frowned upon.  One of the most prevalent thoughts among some evangelical churches and denominations right now is this thought that we can't really know truth.  They attempt to dismiss any kind doctrine as if it is bad.  This is just another trick of Satan.  He's trying to disqualify the word of God in our life.  Sadly enough, the church is falling for it.  And it's really ridiculous because saying there can be no doctrine is its own doctrine.  It's like saying I believe that no one can have their own beliefs.  You've violated your own rule when you open your mouth.  Yet, these guys that preach this are rarely called on it.

The unregenerate heart is deceitful and wicked.  Left to our sinful nature, we don't desire sound doctrine.  Left to our self, we'd much rather have someone tell us how good we are and how spiritual we are and that all our sins really don't amount to that much.  We'd really like to hear that God loves us and will overlook all we've done and continue to do to offend him.  But the truth is we have offended him.  We have broken His laws.  And a penalty is due for that sin, that's why we need Christ because He already paid the sin debt.

The miracle that happens when we are born again is that God gives us a new heart and new desires.  When we deny our self and yield to those new desires, we desire the things of God.  We desire the bible, it's truth and wisdom.  That desire isn't because you're so awesome and special.  It's because God has given you that desire.  You now desire sound doctrine and biblical truth.  You pursue sound teaching and exposition that reveals God through the scriptures.

As Christians our lives are to be defined by the truth of God.  We live and move and operate in the flesh while trying to walk in the spirit.  Those things by themselves are a lifelong journey.  But in our time, we embark on that same journey in a time and in a world that denies truth exists.   The truth will no longer matter.

Jesus stood before Pilate and Pilate asked, “Are You a king then?”  Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”  Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”  Even though the very embodiment of truth stood right in front of him, Pilate agreed with the world and said there is no one truth.  The thinking of Pilate is becoming prevalent in the world we live in.

2 Timothy 4:5

As a pastor, Timothy also had to be watchful in all things.  This meant he had to have a serious and sober approach to what he did.  It was being a good shepherd and keeping an eye out for danger.  In his calling Timothy had to endure afflictions.  These afflictions can be many different things.  They involve pain, suffering, sickness, persecution, heartbreak and much more.  Timothy also had to do the work of the evangelist.  His ministry was preaching the word to believers but he also had to offer the gospel to unbelievers.  That's what the evangelist did and anyone called to preach or teach will have some passion for evangelism.

Paul called for Timothy to fulfill his ministry.  This is simply a call to walk it all the way to the end.  Don't quit, don't get discouraged, don't allow the stuff of the world to interfere, don't let unbelief stifle you and don't let fear paralyze you.  Stay close to the Lord and walk your walk all the way to the end.

2 Timothy 4:6-8

These are the words of a man who knows he is nearing the end of his life.  His race is nearly finished and he can say he ran it well.  He has fought all the good fights.  He has kept the faith, lived it out, and walked it to the end.  And Paul knows by faith, those who finish it will be awarded the crown of righteousness.  This isn't a reward for our righteousness but an award for holding fast to the righteousness of Christ all the way to the end.  On that day, the righteous judge will not look on us and see our sin.  He will look on us and see the righteousness of Christ.  That's when we will truly understand what all this means to us.

Paul said he was already being poured out as a drink offering.  A drink offering was poured out on the altar as an offering to God.  Jacob poured out a drink offering to God in Genesis (35:14).  The Mosaic law outlines a drink offering.  See also Hosea 9:4.  This showed up in other cultures also.  The Romans also had a ritual after a meal of pouring out a drink offering. 

Paul is saying everything is done.  He has given all that he has to give.  His very life is nearly over.  He will give everything right up to that last breath to God; when his very life is poured out in sacrifice to the last drop.  The fragrance of the drink offering was pleasing to God. Paul's desire was always to be obedient and found pleasing.  Even with his last words.

2 Timothy 4:9-13

There are some amazing little tidbits in this paragraph.  We can see the people who were moving in and out of Paul's life.  Demas was running away, maybe in fear.  He apparently abandoned Paul, having loved this present world.  He had previously been with Paul during his first imprisonment (Philemon 23; Col 4:14).  In the book of Philemon, Demas is listed with Mark and Aristarchus and others as a faithful servant.  Now we sadly see him running away.

Others left Paul also, either out of necessity or they were being sent somewhere.  Luke is the only one at his side and Paul called for Timothy to come and bring Mark with him.  In verse 9, he's saying hurry up and get here.  Paul wanted his son of the faith and his friend at his side.  He knew his days were short.  A son was to be at his father’s side when he passed.  The son would see to burial as well.  If they didn't get their soon, they might not see him at all.  We don't know if they made it before Paul was executed.

Timothy was also to bring Paul's cloak, books and parchment that he left in Troas.  The books would be papyrus scrolls.  These might be Old Testament scrolls.  The parchments would be books made of animal skins.  Even on death row Paul wanted to read and study, remaining a scholar to the end.

Timothy had to swing by Troas to get these things.  That's probably where Paul was when he was arrested.  In the Roman Empire if you were arrested by a Roman soldier, he had a right to your cloak and possessions.  Remember the Romans soldiers at the cross; they tore one of Jesus's garments into 4 pieces.  Then his tunic which was seamless they cast lots for rather than tear it up.  The fact that Paul's cloak and books were with Carpus may show Paul knew he was going to be arrested and he left them in the care of Carpus rather than have them confiscated by a soldier.

2 Timothy 4:14-15

Paul wrote about Alexander in 1st Timothy.  He was one who suffered a shipwreck of faith.  We don't know if this is the same Alexander or not.  The implication here is that he was a traitor, possibly informing the Romans about Paul or testifying against him.

Remember there are about five years between first and second Timothy.  In first Timothy Paul delivered Alexander to Satan.  This means he set him out of the fellowship; kicked him out until he repented.  Now, a man named Alexander possibly testifies against him at his hearing.  It could be Alexander was getting back at Paul.  Paul warned Timothy to watch out for him.

2 Timothy 4:16

At his first defense was Paul's first hearing in a Roman court.  Paul stood alone.  Here's a man who's given all he has in service of the Lord.  He has nothing in his possession and little to his name.  He's surrendered it all for the Lord.  He didn't even have his freedom any longer in this world.  And when it came to his defense in the courts of this world, in his defense, no one stood with him.  Even then, he wasn't bitter about it.  He was forgiving and hoped it wouldn't be charged against them.

2 Timothy 4:17-18

This was the second time Paul preached the gospel to a Roman Tribunal.  And once again, at least for the time being, he was delivered from mortal danger.  But you can see in Paul's writing that he knew it was just a matter of time before his execution came.

Nero wasn't taking anything from Paul.  Paul was giving it up, not for Nero but for the Lord.  They could do whatever they wanted to Paul's body but his life was secure in the Lord.  He was preserved from any evil work of Rome and his eternity was secure in the Lord.  He was heaven bound.  And this man, sitting in a awful prison, praised God even though the day that Rome would behead him was drawing nearer.

2 Timothy 4:19-22

Priscilla and Aquilla were longtime friends and faithful workers in the ministry.  Then there was Onesiphorus, Paul talked about him at the beginning of this letter.  He wasn't afraid of coming to Rome and seeing Paul.  He went there and ministered to him when others ran away.  Erastus was the city Treasurer in Corinth.  His name shows up in Acts and Romans.  Trophimus shows up a couple times also.  He was from Ephesus and had also traveled with Paul

Winter would hinder travel.  As winter drew closer that jail cell would grow colder with no cloak.  And the daylight hours for reading would grow shorter.

We don't anything about these first 3 folks.  Claudia was a close friend of Paul's.  Even though we don't know all that much about most of these people, I love reading their names.  They authenticate what we already know to be true.  They bring real life and real people into the picture.  In the book of acts and Paul's epistles, he mentioned over a hundred people.

Sometimes we can get focused on doctrine and theology in the scriptures and forget these were real people just like us trying to figure it out.  I can just imagine this guy named Pudens.  He was probably a nobody in the world's eyes.  Maybe he struggled with health, bad eyesight or achy knees.  He probably had doubts at times.  Maybe he struggled with some sin in his life.  Maybe he spent his entire life pursuing the Lord and never really thinking he had anything figured out, other than, he was saved by grace, through faith, and he held on to that simple fact his entire life; making the Lord Jesus the center of his life and not himself.

I'm sure Pudens had no idea his name would be recorded in the eternal word of God.  Yet, here he is.  His humble life had eternal influence.  His name is part of scripture.  I wonder what Puden's last words were.  I wonder who heard them.  I wonder whose life was impacted by Pudens' life and testimony.

Here are Paul's Famous last words:

The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

At least, this is the closest we know to be Paul's last words.  We don't know what words he spoke before they beheaded him.  But I bet they were memorable to those that heard them.  What will your famous last words be?  How will your words and life inspire or affect those who come after you?  What does your life say about the God you proclaim?

All through this book of Timothy we've seen Paul recognizing that Timothy was at place in his life when he needed a nudge.  He needed encouragement.  He needed to know that fear was from Satan; faith was from the Lord.  Timothy needed to know that persecution didn't mean failure and affliction was normal.  We all need to know those things.  We all need to hear them because we all have doubts and fears and feelings of failure come over us.

As Paul encouraged Timothy, he encouraged us.  Finish the race, remain faithful all the way.  Fight the good fight because at the end of the fight was rest.  At the end of the race is victory.

Those who are in Christ can proclaim that victory now while we are still in this body.  When we do that with all our life; when all our words and all our actions are defined by Jesus; our famous last words will reflect the God we serve and be a testimony to Him.

©2011, 2023 Doug Ford