Paul’s Song of
Preach the word,
in season and out of season, sound doctrine, watchful, endure, evangelist,
fulfill your ministry, fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the
faith, crown of righteousness, be diligent to come to me quickly, deliver,
preserve, do your utmost to come before winter.
1. Preach the
2. Paul’s charge
to Timothy is before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge all men and
will come in His kingdom. This is the most solemn and binding charge. Knowing
that the commission to preach the word is from God Himself, and knowing that he
will have to give an account before the Lord at His appearing and judgment,
Timothy must faithfully fulfill his ministry.
3. A preacher of
God’s word needs to be ready “in season and out of season” (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 evening because we do not know which will prosper
(Ecc 11:6). This means that we ought to preach the
word of God constantly without worrying about the outcome of our preaching. We
simply need to fulfill our duty to plant and water. We can leave the rest to
God because it is He who gives the increase (1Cor 3:6-7).
rebuke, exhort with longsuffering, teach (2 Tim 4:2).
Preaching includes both evangelizing to unbelievers as well as teaching
believers. The word of God is living and hence, allows a relevant approach to
be adopted which is applicable to the situation. The doubtful must be
convinced, the unrepentant must be rebuked, the weak must be exhorted and the
ignorant must be taught. All approaches are acceptable as long as they are used
in a relevant way.
5. Paul warns
Timothy that the time will come when people will not “endure sound doctrine,
but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will
heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the
truth, and be turned aside to fables” (3-4).
6. 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, then
falsehood will prevail. But if we convince, rebuke, exhort, with all
longsuffering and teaching (2), then we can counter the forces of evil and help
some people 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).
7a. 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 they seem
philosophically profound and mystical, because they find great excitement in
these things. There are also those who do not like to hear God’s word because
God’s word exposes their iniquity and condemns them of their sins. In order not
to feel guilty, they would rather choose to hear soothing words that justify
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
hearing these false teachings, these people can satisfy their own desires and
feel good about themselves.
7b. We must be watchful in what we hear and not be excited by
new and novel teachings. God’s word may seem plain and old-fashioned on the
surface, but it is the word of life. False teachings may be pleasing to the
ear, but they have no value and lead to death.
need to personally experience the preciousness of God’s word through diligent
study and practice. We must accept the truths we hear with faith and act upon
what we have heard instead of listening to God’s word as if we are listening to
a speech and merely enjoying the speaker’s eloquence. If we can go beneath the
surface and discover the value and power of God’s word, we will not be lured by
the fashionable ideologies of this world.
We also ought to
approach the word of God with the humility to be taught, reproved, corrected,
and instructed in righteousness (3:16). It is difficult to accept teachings
that condemn us of our sin, but it is such teachings that can bring us
spiritual health and life. With this understanding, we will not reject the rebukes
of God’s word and fall for false teachings that are pleasing to the ear.
8. Ready to
preach at all times, longsuffering (2), watchful, enduring in afflictions,
resolved to do the work of an evangelist and to fulfill the ministry (5).
Because many people
will not endure sound doctrine, the work of preaching can be very difficult and
even discouraging. Only if the preacher is equipped with a strong sense of
commission and patient endurance will he be able to continue in the ministry.
9. There are many
people around us that we need to preach the gospel to, including our family,
friends, classmates, and colleagues. Keep in mind also that preaching the word
also includes preaching to believers. We need to instruct the word of God to
our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether through sermons, Bible studies,
children classes, or personal counseling.
10. Paul is not
fearful of his impending execution, nor is he in despair. In fact, he boldly
faces his death with the attitude of a victor. For to him, to
live is Christ, and to die is gain (Php 1:21).
He has lived a Christ-centered life, and is now eagerly looking forward to
being with Christ and receiving the crown of righteousness.
How we view
death is an indication of our relationship with the Lord and how we have lived
our lives. If we have been faithfully pressing on towards the goal, then we
will have confidence when we are about to reach the finish line. Death will be
the final moment of victory rather than something to be dreaded.
11a. “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 appearing” (7-8).
11b. 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 (1Cor 9:26-27; Gal 5:16-17; 1Tim
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 (Php 3:12-14; 2Tim 2:5). We need 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
in order not to be disqualified, we also need 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. 1Cor 9:26-27).
12. Loving the
Lord’s appearing means living our lives in eager expectation of the Lord’s
return. If we love the Lord’s appearing, we will live in holy conduct and
godliness, and we will faithfully carry out the Lord’s commission (4:1; 2Pet
3:11; 1Jn 3:3; ).
13. Although Mark
once deserted Paul and was therefore deemed to be a hindrance to the ministry,
he later made much progress and eventually became a useful worker of God. Thus,
we need to train younger workers with much patience. Even when they do not meet
our expectations or make mistakes initially, we ought to encourage them, help
them, and offer them opportunities to improve. If we
can provide such nurture to them, they may very likely become useful in the
14. Paul asks for
his cloak, books and especially the parchments (13). Paul needs the cloak
probably to keep him warm in the cold and damp dungeon, and he asks Timothy to
do his utmost to come before winter (21). Paul also asks for books probably
because he wants to spend his quiet time reading and studying. The parchments
are most likely OT Scriptures. If so, this shows that Paul indeed esteems the
Scriptures. Even though he is at the end of his life, he still wants to spend
time learning and meditating on the word of God.
15. Although no
one stood by him at the first defense and all have forsaken him, Paul is not
angry or resentful but forgives those who deserted him (16). He is able to
remain strong because He knows that the Lord stood with him and strengthened
him. He is also confident that the Lord will deliver him from every evil work
and preserve him for His heavenly kingdom (17-18). Paul’s complete trust in the
Lord leaves us an excellent example of the peace and confidence we should have
in our loneliness and suffering.
16. Even though
his life was at stake, Paul did not forget his mission to preach the word. His
overriding concern was to preach the gospel (cf. Acts 20:24). With the Lord’s help,
he took the opportunity of the trial to preach the message fully to all the
Gentiles in the court (2Tim 4:17).