19: Preach the Word (Introduction to
The apostle Paul
fellow worker and “beloved son” (1:2).
According to the
testimony of the early church, Paul was imprisoned in Rome a second time and put to death by the
Roman Emperor Nero. It was during this second Roman imprisonment (A.D. 66-67)
that Paul penned his second epistle to Timothy. This was also the last of
Paul’s epistles. It was written at the end of the apostle’s life.
Paul was writing
from a prison in Rome
(cf. 1:16-17), probably inside a cold, dark dungeon (cf. 4:13). We do not know
whether Timothy was still at Ephesus
when he received the letter.
By this time,
Paul, a prisoner in chains (1:16; 2:9), knows that his execution is pending
(4:6). He earnestly hopes to see Timothy and Mark soon (4:9-11,21). He also asks Timothy to bring him the cloak he has
left at Troas, the books, and the parchments
(4:13). Apparently, Paul needs the cloak to keep him warm in the dungeon, and
he wants to spend his remaining days reading and studying.
This epistle to
Timothy is Paul’s last will to his beloved fellow worker. He urges Timothy not
to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord but share with him in the sufferings
for the gospel. Knowing that false teachers will rise to resist the truth,
Timothy must hold fast the pattern of sound doctrine and be strong. Finally,
Paul gives Timothy the solemn charge to preach the word and endure afflictions.
With these last words of exhortation, the apostle passes on the legacy and the
divine commission to his son in the faith.
1. Compared to
the other two pastoral epistles, 2 Timothy is more
personal, as it is Paul’s farewell address to his dear friend. The epistle also
makes numerous personal references, mentioning the names of over twenty different
“But you be
watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist,
fulfill your ministry” (4:5).
1. Read the
entire epistle once for general impressions and the prevailing tone. Then go
through each section as listed in chart C and record a heading for each
Minister of the Gospel
Timothy to stir up the gift of God, which is the ministry of the gospel, and
not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord (1:7-8). This gospel is the power
of God, bringing life and immortality through the Savior Jesus Christ (1:9-10).
Timothy to hold fast the pattern of sound words which he had heard and keep
what has been committed to him by the Holy Spirit (1:13-14). Moreover, Timothy
has the responsibility to entrust the same commission to other faithful
ministers (2:2). As a worker approved by God, Timothy needs to rightly divide
the word of truth, shun profane and idle babblings, and cleanse himself of all
iniquities (2:15,16, 19-21,22). Just as he has carefully followed Paul’s
doctrine, Timothy must continue in it and be faithful to the Holy Scriptures
With a most
solemn charge, Paul urges Timothy to preach the word (4:2). Despite the
hardships, Timothy must be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the
work of an evangelist, and fulfill his ministry (4:5).
For the sake of
the gospel, Paul has suffered greatly (1:12), even to the point of being in
chains, as if he were an evildoer (2:9). Not only so, he suffered the harm of
opponents (4:14,15), and was forsaken by his fellow
worker and others (1:15; 4:10,16). In the end, he will suffer death, being
poured out as a drink offering (4:6). But Paul knows that he has been appointed
to suffer afflictions, and he knows that he must endure all things for the sake
of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation of Christ Jesus (2:10).
He also firmly believes that his faithful endurance means eternal glory
encourages Timothy to share with him in the sufferings for the gospel (1:8).
Timothy needs to be strong in the grace of Christ Jesus and endure hardship as
a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2:1,3). He must
continue to imitate Paul’s longsuffering in persecutions and afflictions (3:10,14). He needs to endure afflictions, especially when men do
not put up with sound doctrine (4:2,5). Only with such
attitude would he be able to fulfill his ministry as an evangelist.
Apostasy and Deception
Timothy to shun profane and idle babblings, which promote ungodliness (2:16).
He names two individuals, Hymenaeus and Philetus, as preachers of such false teachings (2:17). Paul
also mentions the opposition of those who resist the truth (3:8), particularly
that of Alexander the coppersmith (4:14-15). Thus, it is clear that the church
is already facing the works of deceivers and apostates.
Timothy to be aware of the coming of even greater threats. He points out that perilous times will come in the last days, when men will
become increasingly evil even though they may carry an appearance of godliness
(3:1-5). Timothy must turn away from such people. Paul also predicts that men
will not endure sound doctrine but will heap up for themselves teachers
according to their own desires (4:3-4). Timothy’s task will grow increasingly
difficult. For this reason, he must be ready to preach the word at all times,
convince, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and teaching (4:2).
Although Paul is
in chains expecting his execution, and many have deserted him, he is not
despondent. He is being surrounded by adversity, but he is far from defeated.
His epistle is full of words of conviction, triumph, and glory.
Timothy that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love
and of a sound mind (1:7). He tells Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel
because of his chains, for the gospel is the power of God that brings eternal
life (1:8-10). Paul is not ashamed, for he knows whom he has believed and is persuaded
that He is able to keep what he has committed to Him until that Day (1:12). He
looks forward to eternal life and reign with Christ,
and gladly suffers for the gospel (2:10-13).
Even though he
had been forsaken by others, Paul remains strong because the Lord has stood
with him, strengthened him, and delivered him (4:17). Paul is confident that
the Lord will never forsake him, but will deliver him from every evil work and
preserve him for His heavenly kingdom (4:18).
Having passed on
the commission to Timothy, Paul sings the song of Triumph (4:7-8). He has
faithfully carried out the ministry, and he is certain that he will receive the
crown of righteousness from the Lord.
Not be ashamed,
gospel, good, suffer, endure, the word, truth.
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, it will
certainly be beneficial to examine our own faith in the Lord as well as our
commitment to the preaching of the gospel.
Before his death,
Paul’s utmost concern is passing on the ministry. He charges Timothy to preach
the word and be faithful to the word. Paul’s final wish serves as a clear
calling to all Christians today. Have we been true to the sound doctrine? Have
we fulfilled the charge to preach the word? Are we willing to endure affliction
for the gospel? Only if we personally respond to the call of this epistle, as
if it is written to each of us, will the study of this epistle be meaningful