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Second Letter to Timothy
Theme: Instructions for the last days.
There is sadness as we come to the final chapter of Second Timothy. Paul will be giving Timothy instructions for the last days. Then we will have Paul's deathbed testimony, which probably are his last written words. We can sense his feeling of loneliness. He is in Rome, alone and incarcerated in that horrible Mamertine prison. He is cold and asks Timothy to bring his cloak. He is lonely and the hours are long. He asks Timothy to bring his books, especially the parchments.
But along with the sadness and loneliness, we will also hear a note of victory as Paul gives his final charge to his son in the faith. As we hear him, we will be hearing from God the thing He wants us to hear. This is His final word to you and me. If you are not willing to accept this, I don't think that God has any more to say to you.
Paul's Charge to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (KJV)
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ . . . (1 Tim.5:21; 6:13).
Who shall judge the quick and the dead . . . meaning the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is to be the Judge of all mankind (Mat.25:31-48; 2 Cor.5:10). The word quick means living, or to make alive (Acts 19:42; Eph.2:1); and the idea is, that Jesus would be the Judge of all who were alive when He would come, and of all who had died (1 Thes.4:16-17). This proves the fact that all people, whether preachers or hearers, must give their account to the final Judge one day. For this reason, Paul charges Timothy to be faithful.
At his appearing . . . this refers to Judgment Day that shall one day take place, for the Lord Jesus has NOT yet "appeared" the second time to men. And since Jesus shall again appear a second time (Zec.14:1-5; Rev.19:11-21; 20:11-15), and then there is to be a resurrection of the dead. Jesus shall appear again: (Col.3:4; 1 Tim.6:14; 2 Tim.1:10; 4:1,8; Tit.2:13; 1 Pet.1:7; 5:4; 1 Jn.2:28: 3:2).
And his kingdom . . . at the setting up of his kingdom. Jesus shall reign and judge when His Kingdom is set up here on Earth. Rev. 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (KJV)
To realize the full force of the language used by Paul here, it is necessary to know that Jesus shall set up a visible Kingdom on the Earth, and that there shall be an glorious display of Himself as a King, and of the extent and majesty of the empire over which He presides (Ps.2:9; Dan.2:44; Rom.14:11; Phil.2:10; Rev.2:27; 19:15). BEWARE!!!
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (KJV)
Preach the word . . . the Gospel. This was to be the main business in the life of Timothy, and Paul seriously charges him, in view of the sure coming of the Redeemer to judgment. Timothy was to be faithful in his job.
Be instant . . . (Rom.12:12), meaning that he should be persistent in this duty; to stand fast, to hang in there. Timothy was always to embrace every opportunity of making known the Gospel.
In season, out of season . . . in good times and in bad times, teaching the FULL Truth of the Bible, NOT just what people wanted to hear (the good, God’s love and Heaven) AND also what the people did not want to hear (the bad, God’s wrath and Hell). Out of season . . . this is the opposite of in season, and means that a minister is to seek opportunities to preach the Gospel even at such periods as might be inconvenient to himself, or when there might be hindrances and embarrassments, or hurt feelings of the listeners, or when there was no stated appointment for preaching.
Reprove . . . he was to use such arguments as would convince men of the Truth of the Gospel, and of their own need of it (2 Tim.3:16).
Rebuke . . . scold offenders (Tit.2:15). Rebuke: (Mat.8:26; 12:16; 16:22; 17:18; 19:13; 20:31; Lk.4:35,39; 17:3; 18:15; Jude 1:9). In the New Testament, the word rebuke is used to express a judgment of what is wrong, or contrary to one's will, and means to admonish, reprove or warn. It suggests that there is something evil, or some fault in him who is rebuked. The word in this verse is rendered reprove, and does not imply this, but merely that one may be in error, and needs to have arguments presented to convince him of the truth. That word does not imply any superior authority in him who reproves.
Exhort . . . Romans 12:8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. (KJV)
With all long-suffering . . . with a patient and persevering spirit if someone opposes you (1 Tim.1:16; 2 Tim.2:25; Rom.2:4; 9:22; 2 Cor.6:6; Gal.5:22; Eph.4:2; Col.1:11; 3:12).
And doctrine . . . teaching, patiently instructing.
Far too many preachers in the pulpits today do NOT teach the WHOLE Truth of God’s Word! They simply are afraid to teach about God’s wrath and Hell. They would lose their congregation and the money they bring in. These men are really not false teachers, they bring no heresies, BUT . . . they simply do NOT preach in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (KJV)
For the time will come . . . probably referring to the time mentioned in (2 Tim.3;1).
When they will not endure sound doctrine . . . the doctrine contributing to the health of the soul, or to salvation. At that time they would seek a kind of instruction more conformable to their wishes and feelings. This is what is taking place in the majority of churches today! BEWARE!!!
But after their own lusts . . . this is being fulfilled today! People will NOT go to a church where the preacher is teaching the whole Truth . . . where he is preaching in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (verse 2). They are seeking only the kind of preaching that will agree with their carnal desires; or words that will ease the pain of their evil inclinations, and deal gently with their vices. Isaiah 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: (KJV) Also see: (Mic.2:11; Jn.7:7; 8:45; Rom.16:18; Gal.4:16).
Shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears . . . the word rendered heap does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means to heap up upon, to accumulate; and here to multiply. The word rendered itching also occurs only here in the New Testament. It means to rub, to scratch; and then to tickle, and here to feel an itching for something pleasing or gratifying. The image is derived from the desire which we have when there is an itching sensation, to have it rubbed or scratched. These persons have such an uneasiness within them, to have some kind of teaching that would put to rest their restless and uneasy desires (brought on by the Holy Spirit). They just want that uneasiness gratified. The disease of lust in their souls brings forth an itch in their ears that they want only to hear what will by scratching please them.
2 Timothy 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (KJV)
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth . . . either in contempt, or scorn of it, as being delivered in too plain of words. The people will simply turn their backs on the only Truth that can save them!
And shall be turned unto fables . . . they delight in hearing fables, any idle stories, or false discourses, provided they stay away from their lusts (1 Tim.1:4).
2 Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (KJV)
But watch thou in all things . . . be cautious against error and against sin, and faithful in the performance of duty (Mat.25:13; 1 Cor.16:13).
Endure afflictions . . . endure hardness (2 Tim.2:3).
Do the work of an evangelist . . . do the work of preaching the Gospel, proclaim the glad tidings of salvation (Eph.5:11).
Make full proof of thy ministry . . . this means to bring fully; to persuade fully; and to give full proof of (Rom.14:5). Timothy was to discharge the duties of his office as to furnish a fair picture of what the Gospel could do, and to show the wisdom of the Saviour.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions . . . Paul warned that Timothy would suffer hardships for preaching the Word of God in the last days.
Paul's Deathbed Testimony (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
Paul wrote his own epitaph.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (KJV)
For I am now ready to be offered . . . I think Paul knew that he would die a violent death, but that his death would establish and confirm the doctrine of the Gospel which he had preached.
Phil. 2:17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. (KJV)
And the time of my departure is at hand . . . Paul had been bound to the present world, like a ship to its moorings, and that death would be a release. Death is the loosening of the bands that confine us to the present world; setting us free, permitting the soul to move on to eternity (Phil.1:23; 2 Pet.1:14). Death is simply separation. With such a view of death, why should a Christian fear to die? But what about those who refuse to believe God (1 Jn.5:10-13), and reject the only Way of salvation (Jn.3:18,36; 5:24; 8:24; 14:6; Acts 4:12)? This is why preaching the whole Truth of the Bible is SO important! See articles on Death:
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (KJV)
I have fought a good fight . . . the Christian life is often represented as a warfare (1 Tim.6:12). Our battle is with sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil. Paul tells us that he had been able to persevere. He could NOT have done this without the power of Jesus! Neither can we!
I have finished my course . . . the Christian life is often represented as a race to be run (Acts 20;24; 1 Cor.9:24-26).
I have kept the faith . . . Paul had steadfastly maintained the faith of the Gospel. He had lived a life of faithfulness and loyalty to his Master. This may mean that Paul had kept his pledged faith to the Redeemer, and/or had spent a life faithfully trying to serve his Lord.
2 Timothy 4:8 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. (KJV)
Henceforth there is laid up for me . . . what remains for me, there is prepared and in safe keeping for me (Jn.14:2-3; 1 Pet.1:4; Col.1:5). It is appointed for me (Heb.9:27).
A crown . . . a different kind of crown than what the conquerors used to have in the Grecian games; a high and great reward, a glory with which my whole man shall be encompassed, as a man's head is with a crown.
Of righteousness . . . Christ's righteousness (1 Cor.1:30), and an ample reward. The giving out of this righteousness will be the effect of God's truth and justice (1 Jn.1:9).
Which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day . . . Jesus Christ, who shall show Himself a righteous judge, shall give me of His free mercy, because NOTHING Paul had done merited it. At that day, means at the Day of Judgment.
And not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing . . . all those who desire His Second Coming, not only to Paul. To believe in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus to judge the world, and to desire His return, should be a kind of a standard by which TRUE Christians are known. None but true Christians were supposed to believe this, and no others truly wanted it (Rev.1:7; 22:20).
A characteristic of a TRUE Christian, is that he sincerely desires the return of His Saviour and Lord, and would welcome his appearing in the clouds of heaven at any time.
Crown of righteousness: (1 Cor.9:25; 1 Pet.5:4; Rev.2:10).
Paul's Last Words (2 Timothy 4:9-22)
We have heard a triumphant note in the preceding verses, but now it is not so triumphant. Paul faces the reality of his situation.
2 Timothy 4:9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: (KJV)
Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me . . . Paul wanted Timothy to come as soon as he could. Timothy had been Paul's travelling companion, and was his close friend. The apostle was now nearly forsaken, and was about to pass through some severe trials. It is not known for what purpose Paul wished him to come to him, maybe he desired to give him some parting counsels; or maybe he wanted him to be near him when he died. It is evident from this that he did not regard him as the bishop of the church of the Ephesians, or consider that he was confined to that place in his labors, that he was not also to go to other places if he was called in the service of God. It appears from (Phil.2:19), that Timothy did go to Paul at Rome, according to this desire of his, and was with him while a prisoner there.
2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. (KJV)
For Demas hath forsaken me . . . Paul tells the reason why he wanted Timothy to come to him, because most of those who were with him were gone. Some think this Demas is Demetrius (3 Jn.1:12), the name being shortened. He was at Rome with Paul some time (Col.4:14). Some question whether this was the Demas.
Having loved this present world . . . this does not mean that Demas was a greedy man, or that he loved the honors and/or wealth of this world; but it does mean that he wanted to live. He was not willing to stay with Paul, and subject himself to the chances of martyrdom; so he left to a place of safety
And is departed unto Thessalonica . . . maybe his native place.
Crescens to Galatia . . . nothing more is known of Crescens than is here mentioned. To Galatia . . . It is not known to what part of Galatia he had gone, or why he went there.
Titus unto Dalmatia . . . Dalmatia was a part of Illyricum, on the gulf of Venice, or the Adriatic Sea. On the situation of Illyricum (Rom.15:19). Paul does not mention why Titus had gone there: but it is not unlikely that he had gone to preach the Gospel, or to visit the churches which Paul had planted in that region.
2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (KJV)
Only Luke is with me . . . Luke, is the author of the Gospel which bears his name, and of the Acts of the Apostles. For a bigger part of the ministry of Paul, Luke was his travelling companion (Acts 16:10), and we know that he went with him to Rome (Acts 27:1).
Take Mark, and bring him with thee . . . John Mark (Acts 15:37). He was the son of a sister of Barnabas, and had been the travelling companion of Barnabas and Paul. There had been a brief alienation between Paul and him (Acts 15:38), but this proves that had been removed, and that Paul was reconciled to him.
For he is profitable to me for the ministry . . . in what way he would be profitable he does not say; nor is it known why Mark was at that time with Timothy. Paul felt that he was now about to die. If he suspected that there was on the part of Mark any lingering anxiety that Paul was not entirely reconciled to him, Paul would want him by his side, to express towards him the kindest feelings. It would soothe any lingering irritation in the mind of Mark to receive such a message.
2 Timothy 4:12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. (KJV)
And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus . . . (Acts 20:4; Eph.6:21; Tit.3:12). Paul calls him "a beloved brother, and faithful minister in the Lord." It is not said why Tychicus did not stay with Paul, or why he would have sent him away, and then call Timothy to him. The likelihood is, that Paul had sent him before he had known that he would be put to death; and now, feeling the need of a friend to be with him, he sent to Timothy, rather than to him, because Tychicus had been employed to do some service which he could easily leave, and because Paul wished to give some more special instructions to Timothy before he died.
2 Timothy 4:13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. (KJV)
The cloak that I left at Troas . . . on the situation of Troas (Acts 16:8). It was not on the most direct route from Ephesus to Rome, but was a route frequently taken. It should be remembered, that winter was approaching (2 Tim.4:21), and such a cloak would be especially needed
With Carpus . . . Carpus is nowhere else mentioned. He was clearly a friend of the apostle, and it would seem probable that Paul had made his house his home when he was in Troas.
And the books . . . it is impossible to decide what books are meant here. They may have been portions of the Old Testament, or classic writings, or books written by other Christians, or by himself. Paul did not travel without books, and that he found them necessary for the work of the ministry.
Especially the parchments . . . dressed skins were among the earliest materials for writing, and were in common use before the art of making paper from rags was discovered. These "parchments" seem to have been something different from "books," and, probably, refer to some of his own writings. They may have contained notes, memos, journals, or unfinished letters. It is impossible to determine what they were.
2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: (KJV)
Alexander the coppersmith . . . means a worker in any kind of metals. Probably, the same person mentioned in (1 Tim.1:20; Acts 1:20).
Did me much evil . . . in what way the evil was done, is not mentioned. If this is the same person who is referred to in (1 Tim.1:20), it is likely that it was not evil to Paul personally, but rather as embarrassment to the cause of religion which he advocated (2 Tim.2:17-18).
The Lord reward him according to his works . . . (1 Tim.1:20). This need not be regarded as an expression of private feeling; and should not be understood as expressing a desire of revenge. It is the language of one who wished that God would treat him exactly as he ought to be treated. The Lord reward him: (Ps.28:4).
2 Timothy 4:15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. (KJV)
Of whom be thou ware also . . . it would seem from this, that Alexander was still a public teacher, and that his discourses were sincere and artful. The best and the wisest of men need to be on their guard against the efforts of the advocates of error.
For he hath greatly withstood our words . . . preaching, the reference is no doubt, to the public teachings of Paul. This verse makes it clear that it was no private wrong that Paul referred to, but the injury which he was doing to the cause of truth as a professed public teacher.
2 Timothy 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. (KJV)
At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge . . . this was either the preliminary hearing which opened Paul's final trial, or it was his first trial in Rome three years earlier. Paul was alone at that time.
2 Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. (KJV)
Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me . . . although all men forsook Paul, yet God did not. This expresses a universal Truth in regard to the faithfulness of God (Ps.27:10; Job 5;17-19; Isa.43:1-2).
That by me the preaching might be fully known . . . preaching here probably means the Gospel as preached by him. Might be fully known, probably means might be fully confirmed, so that others might be assured of its Truth. The apostle no doubt means that in his trial, although forsaken by all men, he was enabled to be so steadfast in his profession of the Truth, and was so calm in the prospect of death, that all who witnessed his trial, saw that there was a reality in what Paul was preaching. He had maintained as a preacher that the Gospel was able to support the soul in trial, and he was now able to illustrate its power in his own case. He had proclaimed the Gospel as the true system of religion, and he was now able to bear testimony to it with the prospect of approaching martyrdom.
And that all the Gentiles might hear . . . Paul was at this time in Rome. His trial was before a heathen tribunal, and he was surrounded by Pagans. Rome, too, was then the center of the world, and at all times there was a great gathering of strangers there. His trial gave him an opportunity of testifying to the Truth of Christianity before Gentile rulers; and in such circumstances, that the knowledge of his sufferings, and of the religion for which he suffered, might be conveyed by the strangers who witnessed it. His main object in life was, to make the Gospel known to the Gentiles, and he had a great opportunity of furthering that great cause.
And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion . . . this could mean that he was delivered from Nero, compared to a lion, or maybe literally, that he was saved from being thrown to lions in the amphitheatre, as was common in Rome (1 Cor.15:32).
2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (KJV)
And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work . . . Paul does not say saved from death, for he expected to die (2 Tim.4:6). But he was assured that God would keep him from shrinking from death when the hour approached; from apostasy, and from the manifestation of an improper spirit when he came to die (Ps.121:7).
And will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom . . . He shall keep me from evil until I shall reach His heavenly Kingdom (2 Tim.4:8).
To whom be glory for ever and ever . . . Paul was accustomed to introduce a doxology in his writings when his heart was full (Rom.9:5), and in no place could it be more appropriate than here, for he had the fullest confidence that he would soon to be brought to Heaven (2 Cor.5:6,8). If man is ever disposed to ascribe glory to God, it is on such an occasion.
2 Timothy 4:19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. (KJV)
Salute Prisca and Aquila . . . Prisca, or Priscilla, was the wife of Aquila, though her name is sometimes mentioned first (Rom.16:3). They were at Rome when Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, but afterwards went into Asia Minor, which was the native place of Aquila Acts 18:2), and where they probably died.
And the household of Onesiphorus . . . (2 Tim.1:16).
2 Timothy 4:20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick. (KJV)
Erastus . . . (Ronm.16:23).
Abode at Corinth . . . This was his home, where he filled an important office. It would seem, that when Paul went to Rome, there was some expectation that he would accompany him, but that reasons had occurred for his remaining in Corinth. His doing so is referred to without blame.
But Trophimus . . . (Acts 20:4). He was a native of Asia Minor.
Have I left at Miletum sick . . . maybe he planned to accompany him to Rome, as he had been often with him in his journeys. This was on the situation of Miletus, or Miletum (Acts 20:15).
2 Timothy 4:21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. (KJV)
Do thy diligence . . . do your best (2 Tim.4:9).
To come before winter . . . probably because of the dangers of the navigation then, and because the circumstances of the apostle were such as to want the presence of a friend.
Eubulus . . . these names are of common occurrence in the classic writers, but of the persons here referred to we know nothing.
2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. (KJV)
The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit . . . (Gal.6:18; Rom.16:20). The subscription to this letter was not added by Paul himself, nor is there any evidence that it was by an inspired man, and it is of no authority. There is no evidence that Timothy was "ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians," or that he was a "bishop" there at all. There is no reason to believe that he was even a pastor there, in the technical sense (1 Tim.1:3).
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