Fulfill Your Ministry—A Study on 2 Timothy (II)
Based on Bible Study Guide: Thessalonians, Timothy and Titus
Published by the True Jesus Church.
Faithfulness in Perilous Times
After encouraging Timothy to be a good worker of Christ Jesus, Paul
warns Timothy of perilous times that will come in the last days, when
wickedness and deception will abound. To prepare Timothy and the
believers for these dangers ahead, Paul reiterates the necessity to
endure affliction and to continue in the sound doctrine.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.”
Because of the prevalence of wickedness, the godly will be persecuted.
In terms of spiritual perils, the increasing influence of sin will
deceive many people and cause them to forsake the faith (cf. Mt
Hence, it is necessary to know that we are living in perilous times so
that we can be ready to face persecutions from the ungodly. When we do
come across such people in society, we need not be surprised or
disheartened, since this has been prophesied long ago.
In these last days, Paul reminds us that “men will be lovers of
themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient
to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers,
without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong,
haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (3:2–4). These
are apt descriptions of the ills of modern society. Unwittingly, we may
also be guilty of such conduct. We need to introspect and guard
ourselves against such wickedness.
Pursue True Godliness
“[H]aving a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such
people turn away!” (3:5)
In this self-centered world, many have no regard for God and His
commandments. They live according to what their hearts and flesh desire
rather than for God’s will (3:4). As believers, we must not conform to
the pattern of this world. We need to always examine the choices we make
and ask whether we are doing things to please God or to please
If we truly love God, we will deny ourselves to carry out God’s will.
Therefore, if we want to understand the truth and not be deceived by
false doctrines, we must first examine whether we have the motivation to
obey God. If we continue to indulge in our sins and do not intend to
submit to God, our superficial diligence in studying God’s word will not
bring us any closer to His will.
But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and
being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have
learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are
able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ
Paul warns Timothy that things will get worse. Evil men and impostors
will grow bolder in their deception (3:13). But Timothy must continue in
the things that he has learned and been assured of (3:14). Likewise, we
should not be disheartened, thinking God has forgotten us, when we
suffer persecution for leading godly lives or when we see more and more
evil men arising. We need to hold fast to the truth with which we have
been entrusted, and be ready to protect and defend it when evil men
attempt to distort this truth to mislead the church.
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.
Paul reminded Timothy: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God
(literally “God-breathed”) (3:16). In other words, the Scriptures were
written under God’s direction and guidance; they are not from the
writers’ own will (cf. 2 Pet 1:20–21). Just as God breathed the breath
of life into Adam to make him a living being (Gen 2:7), He has breathed
into the Scriptures and made them His living word.
What then are the roles of the Scriptures? It is to make us wise for
salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus (3:15). The Scriptures
testify about Christ (Jn 5:39). Through the Scriptures, we can come to
know the Savior and put our faith in Him for salvation. The Scriptures
also make us complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (3:17).
These are accomplished through doctrine, reproof, correction, and
instruction in righteousness (3:16). Finally, the Scriptures reveal to
us God’s will, rebuke us when we have sinned, show us where we are
wrong, and guide us unto the right path. So through learning and
applying the Scriptures, we can be transformed into clean and useful
vessels of God, equipped for every good work.
In summary, during these perilous times, when sins continue to increase
and false teachings abound, it is necessary for every servant of God to
remain true to the teachings of the Scriptures, which are inspired by
God. Then our faith will not be shaken, but we will keep our faith in
Jesus Christ for salvation. We will not fall prey to the increasing
wickedness of the world, but we will be complete and equipped for every
Paul is coming to the close of his last epistle. Soon, he will die the
death of a martyr. In previous chapters, we have seen Paul’s urgent
concern for the ministry’s continuation through Timothy. In this final
chapter, the climax of the epistle, Paul commands Timothy once again
with a most solemn charge to preach the word and fulfill his ministry as
Paul himself has faithfully done.
Preach the Word!
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince,
rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will
come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their
own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for
In Season and Out of Season
A preacher of God’s word needs to be ready “in season and out of season”
(4:2). In other words, we must have the sense of urgency to preach the
gospel at all times, even when the condition does not seem favorable.
King Solomon also encourages us to sow our seeds in the morning and in
the evening because we do not know which will prosper (Eccl 11:6). This
means that we ought to preach the word of God constantly without
worrying about the outcome of our preaching. We simply fulfill our duty
to plant and water. We can leave the rest to God because it is He who
gives the increase (1 Cor 3:6–7).
Convince, Rebuke, Exhort, Teach
Preaching includes both evangelizing to unbelievers as well as teaching
believers. With the word of God, the doubtful must be convinced, the
unrepentant rebuked, the weak exhorted and the ignorant taught. All
approaches are acceptable as long as they are applied appropriately,
according to the needs of the recipients.
Preach Sound Doctrine
Paul warns Timothy that the time will come when people will not “endure
sound doctrine” (4:3–4). Precisely because people will not endure sound
doctrine, the need to preach the gospel is all the more urgent. If the
preacher is silent at a time when false doctrines abound, falsehood will
prevail. But if we patiently convince, rebuke, exhort and teach, we can
counter the forces of evil and help some to come to their senses and
escape the snare of the devil (2:25–26). Even if no one accepts our
preaching, it is still our responsibility as preachers of God’s word to
warn people of their sins. If we have preached the word and people do
not believe, then they will be accountable for their own sins. But if we
fail to preach, God will hold us accountable (Ezek 3:16–21).
Be Willing to Listen to the Truth
People who have “itching ears” are bored with the age-old truths of
God’s word. Instead, they are attracted to new and novel teachings,
especially if these seem philosophically profound and mystical.
There are also those who do not like to hear God’s word because it
exposes their iniquity and condemns them of their sins. To avoid feeling
guilty, they would rather choose to hear soothing words that justify
their sins. People who cannot endure sound doctrine will naturally seek
false teachers who will tell them lies (Isa 30:9–11). This is what Paul
means by “heaping up for themselves teachers.” By listening to false
teachings, these people can satisfy their own desires and feel good
“But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work
of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (4:5)
As many will not endure sound doctrine, the work of preaching can be
difficult and discouraging. Only if the preacher is equipped with a
strong sense of commission and a heart of endurance will he be able to
continue in the ministry.
There are many people around us to whom we need to preach the gospel,
including our family, friends, classmates, and colleagues. In addition,
preaching the word also includes preaching to believers. We need to
instruct our brothers and sisters in Christ in the word of God, whether
through sermons, Bible studies, children classes, or personal
Fight the Good Fight, Finish the Race
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept
the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on
that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His
This is Paul’s famous song of victory. If we take “the good fight” in a
military sense, our lives are a fight against evil and our own sinful
desires. It is also a fight for the faith, to win souls and preserve
sound doctrine (1 Cor 9:26–27; Gal 5:16–17; 1 Tim 6:12).
Taken in an athletic sense, the fight refers to spiritual progress and
endeavors to fulfill our ministry. Our lives are a race, in which we
press on towards the goal, which is to gain Christ (Phil 3:12–14; 2 Tim
2:5). We have to run this race with the self-discipline, energy, and
perseverance of an athlete. We also need to keep the faith in our lives.
Like an athlete who follows the rules of the game to avoid
disqualification, we have to constantly watch our lives and our
doctrines and make sure that we conform to God’s will and commands. Then
we will be able to save ourselves as well as others (cf. 1 Cor 9:26–27).
Written in the midst of dire circumstances, Paul’s personal messages to
Timothy in this epistle reveal his unwavering faith in the Lord Jesus
Christ and his conviction in the ministry. We learn of a man who knows
whom he has believed and who knows that the Lord will not fail him.
Never is his faith shaken by his sufferings and loneliness. As we study
this epistle, we ought to examine our own faith in the Lord as well as
our commitment to evangelism.
Before his death, Paul’s utmost concern is the passing on of the
ministry. He charges Timothy to preach and be faithful to the word.
Paul’s final wish calls out to us today. Have we been faithful to the
sound doctrine? Have we fulfilled the charge to preach the word? Are we
willing to endure affliction for the gospel? We must personally respond
to the call of this epistle, as if it were written directly to us; only
then will our study of this epistle be truly meaningful, edifying and