BIBLE STUDY


Paul's Letters To Timothy
by Greg Williamson (c) 2014, 2019
Featuring the text of the New American Standard Bible *
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Intro | 1 Timothy 1:1-11 / 1:12-17 / 1:18-20 | 2:1-8 / 2:9-15 | 3:1-7 / 3:8-13 / 3:14-16 | 4:1-6 / 4:7-12 / 4:13-16 | 5:1-16 / 5:17-25 | 6:1-2 / 6:3-10 / 6:11-21 | 2 Timothy 1:1-7 / 1:8-12 / 1:13-18 | 2:1-7 / 2:8-13 / 2:14-18 / 2:19-26 | 3:1-9 / 3:10-12 / 3:13-17 | 4:1-4 / 4:5-8 / 4:9-22 ** | Articles & Definitions | Sources

PREACH THE WORD
(2 Timothy 4:1-4)

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.


 
Christ is coming! In view of this, we must know our task and be faithful to do it. Review 2 Corinthians 5:9–11, and read 1 John 2:28–3:2. Apostasy is coming! Indeed, it is now here. Many professed Christians have no “ear” for the Word of God. They prefer religious entertainment and sermons that will tickle their ears instead of cut their hearts. - Warren Wiersbe [ref]
 

QuoteWorthy: Ever In Season
The Word [of God] knows no difference as to seasons; it is proper for all seasons, everlastingly in season; there is never a time in which it is not needed. - R. C. H. Lenski [ref]

2 TIMOTHY 4:1 - The Witnesses
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Fulfilling Our Ministry

Since we will all appear some day before God and Jesus Christ, we are to diligently fulfill our ministry. (see 2 Timothy 4:1-5) [ref]

"[T]he aged apostle, expecting martyrdom, puts upon the shoulders of Timothy, the great responsibility which he himself had carried these many years, and solemnly charges him in the presence of God, even the Lord Jesus, and by His glorious appearing and kingdom." [ref]

I solemnly charge (you) in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 4:1)
Paul has used this solemn charging language twice before, in 1 Timothy 5:21 and 2 Timothy 2:14. "I solemnly charge you" (Greek diamarturomai) actually "has legal connections and can mean to ‘testify under oath’ in a court of law or to ‘adjure’ a witness to do so." [ref] [ref]

"The idea of charging or commanding the passing on of the testimony is emphasized in outstanding Scriptures: Moses charged Israel (Deut 29:1, 10; 30:11, 16); Moses charged Joshua (Deut 31:7, 8, 23); Joshua charged Israel (Josh 23:2, 6; 24:1, 26, 27); Samuel charged Israel (I Sam 12:1-25); David charged Solomon (I Kgs 2:1-9; I Chr 28:2-10, 20); Ezra charged Israel (Neh 8-10); Jesus charged the apostles (Jn 13:34; 14-17)." [ref]

"Paul delivered this solemn charge to Timothy, conscious of the fact that he was doing so in the sight of God, and he wished Timothy to ever so regard the charge." [ref] "Perhaps the strongest of all incentives to faithfulness is the sense of a commission from God. If Timothy can only be assured that he is the servant of the most high God and an ambassador of Jesus Christ, and that Paul’s challenge to him is God’s challenge, then nothing will deflect him from his task." [ref]

"I solemnly charge" could also be translated "I solemnly witness." [ref] or "I am earnestly testifying." [ref] "This is Paul’s last, most earnest, and solemn testimony to Timothy." [ref]

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SOME FAITH REQUIRED

If Christians were able to grasp the fact fully that God is with them, really and continually present, and that they live their lives in his presence, their zeal to live holy lives would be far more evident. But the invisibility requires faith. And with so much that is visible clamoring for our attention, we think and act as if the invisible were unreal or blind.

This is not a modern problem. While the Israelites were in the wilderness, the emblems of God's presence with them were the pillar of cloud and the ark of the covenant. They still lived as if God were far away. But a clear look at God is a life-changing experience, as Moses (Ex 34:6-8) and Peter (Lk 5:1-9) discovered. Even as they needed to be reminded of God's promise -- "I will be with you" -- we need to take the truth of the presence of God and Christ down from the shelf, dust it off and meditate on it. Perhaps it will awaken in us "the fear of the Lord," a powerful inspiration to holy living and faithfulness.

- Philip H. Towner [ref]

who is to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1)
"Judge the living and the dead" is "a clause found in all the early creeds of the church." [ref]

The word "judge" "is from a construction which speaks of action going on. Thus, the various judgments are in the apostle’s mind, the judgment of the Church, of the Nations, and that of the Great White Throne, a series of judgments, not one judgment." [ref]

"Christ Jesus will judge 'the living,' that is, those who will still be living on earth at the moment of the Second Coming, and 'the dead,' that is, those who will have died by that time. (See also Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 18:8; John 5:27-29; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians4:13-18; Revelation 20:11-15.)" [ref]

It is Christ's judgment, and not that of those around Timothy ("whether opponents or faithful believers" [ref]), that is of ultimate importance. Because Christ will return, his kingdom is "the ultimate reality with which Timothy should be concerned." [ref]

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ALL FOR JESUS!

Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead. Some day Timothy's work will be tested, and that by none other than Jesus himself. A Christian must do every task in such a way that he can offer it to Christ. He is not concerned with either the criticism or the verdict of men. The one thing he covets is the "Well done!" of Jesus Christ. If we all did our work in that spirit, the difference would be incalculable. It would save us from the touchy spirit which is offended by criticism; it would save us from the self-important spirit which is concerned with personal rights and personal prestige; it would save us from the self-centred spirit which demands thanks and praise for its every act; it would even save us from being hurt by men's ingratitude.

- William Barclay [ref]


It would do us all good to occasionally reflect on the fact that one day we will face God and our works will be judged. For one thing, this realization would encourage us to do our work carefully and faithfully. It would also deliver us from the fear of man; for, after all, our final Judge is God. Finally, the realization that God will one day judge our works encourages us to keep going even when we face difficulties. We are serving Him, not ourselves.

- Warren Wiersbe [ref]

and by His appearing and His kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1)
Meaning: "His coming, at which we shall stand before Him; His kingdom, in which we hope to reign with Him." [ref]

"Appearing" (Greek epiphaneia) "was used of [the Roman Emperor's] visit to any province or town. Obviously when the Emperor was due to visit any place, everything was put in perfect order. The streets were swept and garnished and all work was brought up-to-date so that the town might be fit for epiphaneia. So Paul says to Timothy: 'You know what happens when any town is expecting the epiphaneia of the Emperor; you are expecting the epiphaneia of Jesus Christ. Do your work in such a way that all things will be ready whenever he appears.' The Christian should so order life that at any moment he is ready for the coming of Christ." [ref]

Timothy's present obedience will allow him to share in the glory of those future events. [ref]

It is worth noting that "Paul still believes in Christ’s personal return. He wrote of it in his earliest letters, especially those to the Thessalonian church. Although he now knows that he will die before it takes place, yet still at the end of his ministry he looks forward to it, lives in the light of it and describes Christians as those who love Christ’s appearing [2 Timothy 4:8]. He is sure that Christ will make a visible ‘appearing’ (the word is epiphaneia in verses 1 and 8), and that when he appears he will both ‘judge the living and the dead’ and consummate ‘his kingdom’ or reign." [ref]

"[A]t his second advent, the extent and majesty of [Christ's] kingdom will be fully displayed. It will be seen that he has control over the elements, over the graves of the dead, and over all the living. It will be seen that the earth and the heavens are under his sway, and that all things there acknowledge him as their sovereign Lord."  [ref

Related: Parousia/Second Coming

Christ's kingdom is both already and not yet:

 
[The Second Avent of Christ] will mark the arrival of his kingdom -- we might add, in a full and final way. God's kingdom is God's power, and here Paul conceives of an existence characterized by this dynamic power. On the one hand, Jesus declared and demonstrated its arrival, and its presence in the world is seen wherever and whenever God's people become instruments of God's power. But on the other hand, as with our experience of salvation, the final and full manifestation of God's kingdom awaits the return of Christ. Then God's power will be our pure and never-ending environment. Now this remains a promise, a matter of hope, and most importantly a hope whose fulfillment is also contingent upon the completion of the church's evangelistic mission. God's people must work faithfully and diligently in view of the End. [ref]
 

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KINGDOM

When we read the word “kingdom” in the Bible, we must not import modern notions of a geographical area. The word simply indicates a realm in which a king exercises his power to act and control. The OT knows two different forms of God’s sovereign rule, or kingdom. (1) There is a universal kingdom. God controls all events in the universe but does so nearly always through providence, so that his rule is hidden. (2) There is to be a visible earthly kingdom. In the future, Jesus will return to earth to rule in person over the whole world.

The NT adds another, previously unknown, form of the divine kingdom. This form, like that of the prophetic kingdom, is intimately linked with Jesus, for he is its king. When Jesus was on earth, this kingdom existed here. Although Jesus did not take up earthly political power (Jn 18:36), the miracles he performed showed his authority over every competing power. But Jesus the king was rejected and crucified, as his enemies struggled to force his kingdom out of history.

But Jesus’ death was not the end. During his days on earth, Jesus explained what life under his rule (i.e., in his kingdom) would be like. It is best to take most Gospel descriptions of the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God (which should be treated as synonyms) as explanations of life in Jesus’ present kingdom. Here we are given powerful insights into how we can live today as Jesus’ subjects and experience his power. Because the new birth brings us into union with Jesus and brings Jesus in a unique way into our experience here on earth, we live in a day in which the king is present, though still disguised. Because Jesus is present, the unmatched power of God can find supernatural expression in and through our lives.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)


KINGDOM OF GOD

The heart of Jesus’ teachings centers around the theme of the kingdom of God. This expression is found in sixty-one separate sayings in the Synoptic Gospels. Counting parallels to these passages, the expression occurs over eighty-five times. It also occurs twice in John (3:3, 5). It was once popular in certain circles to argue that the expressions “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” referred to two different realities. It is now clear, however, that they are synonyms. [see Matthew 19:23–24; Mark 11:30; Luke 15:18, 21]

Various Interpretations
Despite the centrality of this expression in Jesus’ teachings, there has been a great deal of debate over the years as to exactly what Jesus meant by it. One reason for this is that neither Jesus nor the Evangelists ever defined exactly what they meant by this expression. They simply assumed that their hearers/readers would understand.

  • The Political Kingdom. According to this view Jesus sought to establish a Davidic-like kingdom in Jerusalem. This kingdom was political in nature and sought to free Israel from the Romans. Jesus was in essence a political revolutionary who sought to arm his disciples (Luke 22:35–38), entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as a king (Mark 11:11), challenged the political establishment by cleansing the temple (Mark 11:15–18), urged people to rebel by not paying their taxes (Mark 12:13–17 is reread to teach the opposite of its present meaning), enlisted zealots as disciples (Mark 3:18), used the taking up of the cross (which was a symbol of zealot sacrifice for enlisting disciples; Mark 8:34), and was crucified as a political rebel (Mark 15:26) between two other rebels (Mark 15:27).
  • The “Liberal” or Spiritual Kingdom. During the height of theological liberalism the kingdom of God was understood as God’s rule in the human heart. One of the favorite passages used to support this was Luke 17:20–21, “the kingdom of God is within you.” Any eschatological thoughts associated with this expression were seen as unrefined, primitive, Jewish apocalyptic thinking that Jesus never outgrew and that was only the “husk” and not the “kernel” of his teachings. Or they were interpreted as symbols of the inner rule of God in the heart. The kingdom of God was God’s spiritual reign in the life of the believer that resulted in an inner moral ethic. This ethic focused on Jesus’ teachings concerning the universal Fatherhood of God, the infinite value of the human soul, and the love commandment.
  • The “Consistent” or Future Kingdom. At the turn of the nineteenth century the eschatological dimension of Jesus’ teachings was rediscovered. It became evident that Jesus was not a nineteenth-century liberal but a first-century Jew. As a result it was clear that Jesus must have thought to a great extent like a first-century Jew. Since the kingdom of God was seen by most Jews in Jesus’ day as a future, supernatural kingdom that would bring history to a close, it was logical to think that Jesus thought similarly. Jesus’ sayings concerning the kingdom of God would have been understood by his audience as referring to such a kingdom, and since Jesus made no radical attempt to correct such thinking, we must understand his teachings on the kingdom of God as eschatological.
  • The “Realized” or Present Kingdom. In response to the former view, which arose in Germany, there arose in England an opposing view. According to this view Jesus did announce the coming of the awaited kingdom. However, he did not announce that it was coming in the near future. On the contrary, he announced that it had already arrived. Now in Jesus’ ministry the kingdom of God had already come. There was therefore no need to look for something in the future. The Son of Man had already come, and he had brought with him the kingdom. Nothing is still awaited. In its entirety the kingdom of God was realized in the coming of Jesus.

The Biblical Evidence
It is evident that there is biblical evidence to support both the “consistent” and “realized” views. In certain passages, for example, it is clear that the kingdom of God is future. [see Matthew 5:19-20; 7:21-23; 8:11-12; 25:31-46; Mark 14:25; Luke 11:2; 13:22-30] It cannot be denied therefore that there are numerous passages in the Gospels that indicate that Jesus understood the kingdom of God to be still future. In other passages, however, it is equally clear that the kingdom of God is already present. [see Mathew 11:4-6; 12:28; 13:16-17; 19:28; Mark 2:21-22; 3:13-19; Luke 11:20; 14:15-24; 16:16; 17-20-21; 1 Corinthians 11:25]

How should one deal with this apparently contradictory data? How is the term “kingdom” to be understood? Should it be understood statically as denoting a realm or place? If this is correct and “kingdom” refers to a territory or piece of real estate, then it is evident that the kingdom of God cannot have arrived. On the other hand, should we understand the term dynamically as referring to the rule or reign of a king?

Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament the term “kingdom” (malkut and basileia) is understood as dynamic in nature and refers primarily to the rule or reign of a king. It is seldom used in a static sense to refer to a territory. As a result, in the vast majority of instances it would be better to translate the expression “kingdom of God” as the “rule of God.”

Understood as the “reign of God” it is possible for Jesus to announce that in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises the reign of God has arrived. In Jesus’ coming Satan has been defeated (Luke 10:18; 11:20–22), the outcasts of Israel are being gathered as predicted (Mark 2:15–16; Luke 14:15–24), the Old Testament promises are fulfilled (Luke 10:23–24), the resurrection of the dead has begun (1 Cor. 15:20), a new covenant has been inaugurated (1 Cor. 11:25), the promised Spirit has come as the prophets foretold (Mark 1:8). Indeed the kingdom is “already now” realized in history.

However, the consummation of the “already now” still lies in the future. The coming of the Son of Man, the final resurrection, faith turning to sight, are “not yet.” The kingdom of God is both now and not yet. Thus the kingdom of God is “realized” and present in one sense, and yet “consistent” and future in another. This is not a contradiction, but simply the nature of the kingdom. The kingdom has come in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. A new covenant has been established. But its final manifestation and consummation lie in the future. Until then we are to be good and faithful servants (Luke 19:11–27).

Implications
If the kingdom is both already now and not yet, the believer must be on guard against the danger of emphasizing one aspect of the kingdom at the expense of the other. A one-sided emphasis on the “already now,” which emphasizes miracles, healing, victory over sin, and gifts God has given his church, and ignores the “not yet” may lead to an optimistic triumphalism that will result in disillusionment. Jesus’ teachings concerning the tribulation(s) that lay ahead (Mark 13; Matt. 24–25; Luke 21) warn against such optimism. The symbol of discipleship Jesus gave to his disciples is that of bearing a cross! The crown awaits the consummation. The enjoyment of the firstfruits of the kingdom must be tempered by the fact that we still live by faith and not sight. We still long for the perishable to become clothed with the imperishable, the mortal with immortality (1 Cor. 15:53). In the meantime we are called to endure to the end.

On the other hand, a one-sided emphasis on the not yet may lead to defeatism and despair in this life and a neglect of the joy and victory over sin and death in the Spirit’s having already come. The “gates of Hades” (Matt. 16:18) shall not overcome the church! Even in this life because the kingdom has come, we can be “transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). The now and the not yet must be held in tension. Believers can rejoice in having passed from death into life and in the abiding presence of the Spirit of God. But the victories in the present life, are also accompanied with all too many defeats.

Believers are thus encouraged both by the victories of the already now and the defeats of the not yet. The former having provided a taste of the glory which is to be revealed (1 Peter 5:1) causes us to long all the more for the not yet. Similarly, because of the experience of defeat, sorrow, and in seeing the corruption of the world around us, we also long all the more for the not yet that awaits. Thus Christians continue to look longingly toward the blessed hope (Titus 2:13), when the Son of Man will return and bring the kingdom to its consummation. Having tasted of the firstfruits that are already realized, the believer prays all the more earnestly “your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10) and “Marana tha” (1 Cor. 16:22; cf. Rev. 22:20).

- Robert H. Stein [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)


CHRIST AS KING

The Old Testament
Beginning with Genesis 1:1, the Bible portrays God as the Lord and Sovereign over all creation, God Most High (Gen. 14:18; cf. Pss. 24:1; 93:1; 95:3–7). The central theme of the covenant God made with Abraham was the promise that the land of Canaan would be “an everlasting possession” to him and his descendants (Gen. 17:8). The land is the gift of God (Exod. 32:13; 33:1; Deut. 1:8, 25). Yet it “must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants” (Lev. 25:23). God owns the land and lives among his people in a covenant relationship (Lev. 26:11–12; Deut. 4:1; 6:5–15). He is the ideal King, the Lord Almighty, over the kingdoms of mortals (Isa. 6:5; Jer. 46:18; Dan. 4:25).

In Deuteronomy 17:14–20 Moses prophesied that a time would come, following the settlement of the land, in which the nation would want a king like all the nations around them. From the anointing of Saul on, the monarchy developed as a secondary institution alongside the priesthood and temple cult. One can discern two views of the anointed monarchy in the Old Testament: it was either the gift and servant of God, or it was God’s rival and a symbol of Israel’s rejection of the reign of God.

In David the Lord found a person after his own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), one to whom he made a solemn and everlasting promise [of a house/kingdom] (2 Sam. 7:11–13, 16). When Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C., this promise seemed to end in failure.

After the united kingdom of Israel was divided in 931 B.C., the prophets of the Old Testament increasingly interpreted the promise made to David in spiritual terms, rather than in political, terrestrial ones. [see Isaiah 7:14; 9:2-7; 11:1-10; Micah 5:2-5; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15]

The fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. intensified the hope of witnessing the kingdom of God, but in apocalyptic terms -- the anticipation of a divine warrior, a messianic king who would appear as God’s deliverer (Zech. 9:9–17; 12:8–10; 14:3–9). [see Daniel 2:44, 47; 7:13-14; also Psalm 110:1; Mark 12:36; cf. Acts 2:34–35; Heb. 1:13]

The New Testament
In the time of Herod king of Judea (Matt. 2:1; Luke 1:5) and Caesar Augustus who reigned over the Roman world (Luke 2:1), Jesus was born. Magi came to Jerusalem looking for “the one who has been born king of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2; cf. Luke 2:11). The genealogies of Matthew 1:1–17 and Luke 3:23–38 confirm Jesus’ human descent from David, a prominent motif in Matthew. After Jesus fed the 5,000, the crowd wanted to force him to become king (John 6:15). Blind Bartimaeus saw what others had missed, as he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:46–52). Jesus entered Jerusalem like a king, riding on the colt of a donkey (Matt. 21:5; Luke 19:38; John 12:13, 15; cf. Zech. 9:9). When Jesus was on trial, the high priest questioned him, asking, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus responded prophetically, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:61–62; cf. Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10). Similarly, the governor Pilate asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” To which Jesus answered, “Yes, it is as you say” (Mark 15:2). Throughout the balance of the New Testament Jesus is described as the Son of David, a king.

The Kingdom of God (Heaven)
The devil tempted Jesus by taking him to a high mountain and showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. He promised to transfer his usurped authority to Jesus, if Jesus would bow down and worship him. Jesus corrected the devil’s theology, reaffirming that the Lord alone has power over the kingdoms of the world and he alone is worthy of worship (Matt. 4:8–10; Luke 4:5–8). God Almighty is the Great King (Matt. 5:35; cf. 1 Tim. 1:17). Consistently in the parables of the kingdom, God is understood as the master and owner or the King.

After receiving the divine anointing at his baptism (Mark 1:9–11), Jesus begins to proclaim the inauguration of the kingdom in Galilee: “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). This becomes the central theme in all that Jesus preaches. The disciples, however, persistently misunderstood the nature of the kingdom to the very end. The kingdom remained a mystery, hidden from the understanding of the disciples.

The kingdom is present in the person, ministry, and miracles of Jesus (Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20). Jesus likens himself to the narrow gate (Matt. 7:13–14; Luke 13:24; John 10:7, 9), the one who has the key to open the way for people to enter the kingdom. When he is present, the kingdom of God is present (Luke 11:20; 17:21; 1 Tim. 4:1), but it is not a visible, political, or temporal kingdom (Luke 17:20–25). As in the Old Testament, the kingdom is the gift of God (Luke 12:32), but now the emphasis is on the universal opportunity open to all who believe (Matt. 16:19; 21:43; Luke 12:32; John 3:3–8, 15–16).

The kingdom, on the other hand, is also described by Jesus as eschatological, and will be consummated at a future time. Frequently, Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God (heaven) is near” (Matt. 4:17; 10:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9, 11). This reference to time is debated among scholars, as the perfect tense of the Greek verb (ēngiken) can be interpreted to mean that the kingdom has come at some point in the past and is now present, or it is imminently near and will be realized sometime in the future. There are, however, other statements that are less ambiguous. [see Matthew 6:10; 20:1-16; Mark 9:1; Luke 11:2]

The motif of Christ as King and the kingdom is less common outside the Gospels in the New Testament, except in Revelation. As the church grew beyond Palestine and the synagogues of the Jews, the Gentiles preferred other metaphors to refer to their relationship and the supremacy of Christ, such as bridegroom and bride and Christ the head of the body.

“Jesus is King” became the confession of the early Christian community. Nathanael declares, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49). With the same profound meaning, the early church adopted the baptismal confession, “Jesus is Lord!” (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3). This emphasis upon Jesus Christ the King brought persecution to the church, for Jesus was viewed as a rival to Caesar and the laws of the Roman Empire. But the church persisted in her belief that Jesus was the “King of the ages!” (Rev. 15:3), “King of kings and Lord of lords!” (Rev. 17:14; 19:16; cf. 1 Tim. 6:15).

- Melvin H. Shoemaker [ref] (condensed/extraced from longer article)

BackToText

2 TIMOTHY 4:2 - The Charge

"Paul’s charge to Timothy ... is to preach the word, and as he announces the God-given message to be urgent in his approach, relevant in his application, patient in his manner and intelligent in his presentation." [ref]

preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2)
"This was to be the main business of the life of Timothy, and Paul solemnly charges him in view of the certain coming of the Redeemer to judgment, to be faithful in the performance of it."  [ref] "The preacher is not to air his own opinions but to proclaim God's eternal, authoritative Word of truth." [ref] Timothy "is to lift up his voice without fear or favour, and boldly to make [God's word] known." [ref]

To "preach" is to "proclaim as a herald" [ref] -- that is, to publicly declare an authoritative message. [ref] As one source explains:

 
The English word “preach” brings to our mind at once the picture of the ordained clergyman standing in his pulpit on the Lord’s Day ministering the Word. But the Greek word here (kērussō) left quite a different impression with Timothy. At once it called to his mind the Imperial Herald, spokesman of the Emperor, proclaiming in a formal, grave, and authoritative manner which must be listened to, the message which the Emperor gave him to announce. It brought before him the picture of the town official who would make a proclamation in a public gathering. The word is in a construction which makes it a summary command to be obeyed at once. It is a sharp command as in military language. This should be the pattern for the preacher today. His preaching should be characterized by that dignity which comes from the consciousness of the fact that he is an official herald of the King of kings. It should be accompanied by that note of authority which will command the respect, careful attention, and proper reaction of the listeners. [ref]
 

"The word" is "the word of God" (NLT), "the message" (HCSB, ISV, NRSV), "God's message" (CEV). It "refers to the whole body of revealed truth ... The preacher must present, not book reviews, not politics, not economics, not current topics of the day, not a philosophy of life denying the Bible and based upon unproven theories of science, but the Word. The preacher as a herald cannot choose his message. He is given a message to proclaim by his Sovereign. If he will not proclaim that, let him step down from his exalted position." [ref]

As one commentator explains well:

 
We observe at once that the message Timothy is to communicate is called a ‘word’, a spoken utterance. Rather it is the word, God’s word which God has spoken. Paul does not need to specify it further, for Timothy will know at once that it is the body of doctrine which he has heard from Paul and which Paul has now committed to him to pass on to others. It is identical with ‘the deposit’ of chapter 1. And in this fourth chapter it is equivalent to ‘the sound teaching’ [2 Timothy 4:3], ‘the truth’ [2 Timothy 4:4] and ‘the faith’ [2 Timothy 4:7]. It consists of the Old Testament Scriptures, God-breathed and profitable, which Timothy has known from childhood, together with the teaching of the apostle which Timothy has ‘followed’, ‘learned’ and ‘firmly believed’ [2 Timothy 3:10, 14]. The same charge is laid upon the church of every age. We have no liberty to invent our message, but only to communicate ‘the word’ which God has spoken and has now committed to the church as a sacred trust. [ref]
 

The "herald" of Paul's day "was not an ambassador with the privilege of negotiating; he was a messenger with a proclamation to be heard and heeded." [ref] Similarly, regardless of how much our contemporary culture changes for the worse, today's Christian minister is still responsible to proclaim not a partial or diluted message based on fallible human thoughts and opions but, rather, the full counsel of God which, when heard, is still to be heeded.

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PREACH/PREACHING

Two Greek words are translated “preach.” One is euangelizō, “to announce good news.” It is usually translated “preach the gospel” or “preach the good news” in the NIV and NASB. The other word is kēryssō, which means “to proclaim, to announce publicly.”

When we study passages that speak of preaching, it is important to notice indications of the content preached. Often in the Gospels the subject is the “good news of the kingdom.”

The best examples of preaching by the early church are found in sermons recorded in Acts, especially two by Peter (Ac 2:14–41; 3:11–26) and two by Paul (Ac 13:16–43; 17:22–31). The common elements in these sermons reveal basic truths that were preached as believers in the early church set about evangelizing the world: Jesus, the historical person, was crucified and raised in accordance with Scripture. He, the promised Messiah, must be received by faith with repentance.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]


The act of communicating (Gk. angéllō “announce, proclaim”; kērýssō, originally the activity of an official herald but later used more broadly) the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ (esp. euangelízō and related verbs). Related nouns indicate the person who preaches (euangelistēs, kēryx) and the activity or content of preaching (euangélion “gospel, good news,” kērygma, lógos “word, message, preaching”).

One constant feature of the message of Jesus and the early Church is its expression and embodiment most of all as preaching. Indeed, the message has its power only as that which is publicly preached (Rom. 10:14).

An absolute distinction cannot be made between public “preaching” and private “teaching” in the ministry of Jesus. However, he did give only to his close disciples instruction concerning what he was to experience in Jerusalem (Mark 8:31), explanations of his parables (4:10–12), and instruction for their missionary work (Matt. 10). His public preaching was centered on the proclamation of the coming of the kingdom and the call to repentance (4:17). In the early Church also was evident a distinction between, on the one hand, the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus, God’s work of salvation in him, and the call to repentance (Acts 2:22–39; 17:30–31; 1 Cor. 2:1–5) and, on the other hand, the teaching of those who have responded to the call and joined the Christian community (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 2:6–7). These two tasks did overlap considerably, depending on the needs of the community (3:1–3; Col. 1:28; Heb. 6:1–2).

Questions arise repeatedly in the New Testament concerning the authority upon which preachers act. Jesus and the apostles faced such questions from the Jewish leadership (Matt. 21:23; Acts 4:7). Paul faced such questions in the Church, even in congregations that he had founded (2 Cor. 12:11–12). Such authority could be charismatic (Matt. 10:1; Luke 24:49) or institutional (Titus 1:5). With all this it appears that Jesus and the Church generally had little concern for the proper authorization of preachers; he deflected such questions when put to him by his disciples (Mark 9:38–40). When preachers set themselves up in competition with Paul, he did not inquire as to the source of their authority, but was merely pleased that they proclaimed Christ (Phil. 1:15–18); he saw his authorization in God rather than anything human (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10; Gal. 1:1). Nonetheless, Jesus did authorize particular persons to preach (Matt. 10:1–5; Luke 10:1), and Paul did assume that preachers were “sent” (Rom. 10:15).

- The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary [ref]


Human presentation, through the Holy Spirit’s power, of God’s acts of salvation through Jesus Christ. This proclamation of God’s revelation functions as God’s chosen instrument for bringing us to salvation by grace, although its message of a crucified Messiah seems to be foolishness to people of worldly wisdom and a scandalous offense to Jews (1 Cor. 1:21–23). True Christian preaching interprets the meaning of God’s acts into contemporary contexts. A sermon becomes God’s word to us only as God’s servant reconstitutes the past realities of the biblical revelation into vital present experience.

Old Testament Traditions
The great prophets of the OT heralded God’s direct messages against the sins of the people, told of coming judgments, and held out future hope of the great Day of the Lord. God’s revelation to families, regularly shared as private instruction (Deut. 11:19), became the foundation of the public reading of the law every seven years to all the people (Deut. 31:9–13). During periods of special revival, natural leaders traveled about sharing the revelation in great assemblies (2 Chron. 15:1–2; 17:7–9; 35:3). Nehemiah 8:7–9 records that Ezra and his associates interpreted the “sense” of what was read in such gatherings. The continuing need for such public interpretation and instruction led in the faith gave rise to an expository tradition of OT revelation. This continued after the exile in the regular services of the local synagogues that arose in dispersed Judaism as substitutes for temple worship.

New Testament Practice
Jesus began His ministry in the synagogue by announcing He was the Herald who fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the preaching of the kingdom and its blessings (Luke 4:16–21). By the time Peter and the other apostles preached, their emphasis focused on the person and work of Christ as the central point of history certifying the presence of God’s kingdom on earth today. In the NT this message concerned a summation of the basic facts about the life, character, death, burial, resurrection, and coming again of Christ. It continues today as the main word of revelation to the world through the church. Although the NT uses some 30 different terms to describe the preaching of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles, those most commonly used can be grouped under either proclamation (to herald, to evangelize) or doctrine (to teach). Many scholars define these emphases as either gospel preaching (proclaiming salvation in Christ) or pastoral teaching (instructing, admonishing, and exhorting believers in doctrine and lifestyle). In practice each function melds into the other. Thus 1 Cor. 15:1–7 not only represents the “irreducible core” of the gospel message, but it also includes clear doctrinal teaching on the substitutionary atonement and the fulfillment of messianic prophecies. The same passage forms a foundation for the exposition of the extensive doctrine of general resurrection and its Christian dimensions taught in the following verses. Stephen’s address in Acts 7:1–53 represents the best of the OT tradition, weaving narrative and historical portions of Scripture together with contemporary interpretation and application to the present situation. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 affirms the atoning nature of Jesus’ death and the reality of His resurrection together with a clear call to faith and repentance forming a balanced argument framed around the central proposition that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Special Perspectives
Paul firmly believed that proclaiming the full glory of Christ not only warns men and women of the need for salvation but that through this preaching believers can grow towards spiritual maturity (Col. 1:28). He wrote that the ministry of God-called leaders equips believers in each local assembly for service through mutual ministries to one another and leads to the healthy up building of Christ’s body (Eph. 4:11–16). He defined his content as including “the whole plan of God” and his practice as being “to Jews and Greeks,” and “from house to house,” as well as “publicly,” and “in all seasons” (Acts 20:17–21, 27).

Homiletics
Paul underlined the need for careful attention to principles of communication in preaching. While he refused to adopt some of the cunning word craftiness of the secular rhetoricians of his day (2 Cor. 4:2; 1 Thess. 2:3, 5), nevertheless, he adapted his preaching well to a variety of audiences and needs. In the synagogue Paul spoke to Jews about the special dealings God has with His people (Acts 13:16–41) but to the Greek philosophers he presented a living God as a challenge to their love for fresh ideas, quoting from their own writers as he did so (Acts 17:22–31). To Agrippa and Festus Paul molded the gospel message in lofty and legal terms (Acts 26:2–23). When meeting a charge of apostasy from the Jewish faith, he addressed the people in their own tongue concerning his origins and his experiences in Christ (Acts 21:40–22:21). Paul also counseled young pastor Timothy to be conscientious about himself as well as his teaching (1 Tim. 4:16). Paul advised the need for diligent practice to improve Timothy’s skills in the public reading of the Scriptures and in motivational teaching (1 Tim. 4:13–15). Paul noted that such responsibilities involved “hard labor” (1 Tim. 5:17).

- Craig Skinner [ref]

be ready (2 Timothy 4:2)
Meaning: "take a stand," "stand upon it or up to it," "carry on," "stick to it." [ref] "Here the form of the verb suggests the complementary ideas of urgency, preparedness, and readiness. It was used of a soldier prepared to go into battle or a guard who was continually alert for any surprise attack -- attitudes which are imperative for a faithful preacher (Jer. 20:9; Acts 21:11–13; Eph. 5:15, 16; 1 Pet. 3:15)." [ref]

Timothy "was to be pressing or urgent in the performance of this work. He was always to be at his post, and was to embrace every opportunity of making known the gospel." [ref] One commentator explains well the need for a sense of urgency:

 
Certainly it is no good preaching in a listless or lackadaisical manner. All true preaching conveys a sense of the urgent importance of what is being preached. The Christian herald knows that he is handling matters of life and death. He is announcing the sinner’s plight under the judgment of God, the saving action of God through the death and resurrection of Christ, and the summons to repent and believe. How can he treat such themes with cold indifference? ‘Whatever you do,’ wrote Richard Baxter, ‘let the people see that you are in good earnest … You cannot break men’s hearts by jesting with them, or telling them a smooth tale, or patching up a gaudy oration. Men will not cast away their dearest pleasures upon a drowsy request of one that seemeth not to mean as he speaks, or to care much whether his request be granted.’ [ref]
 

Along these same lines: "The teachers who really get their message across are those who have the note of earnestness in their voice. [Charles] Spurgeon [1834-1892] had a real admiration for [James] Martineau [1805-1900], who was a Unitarian and therefore denied the divinity of Jesus Christ which Spurgeon believed in with passionate intensity. Someone once said to Spurgeon: 'How can you possibly admire Martineau? You don't believe what he preaches.' 'No,' said Spurgeon, 'but he does.' Any man with the note of urgency in his voice demands, and will receive, a hearing from other men." [ref]

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SHARING OUR FAITH: WHEN?

A famous evangelist once ended a revival meeting in Chicago by advising the unbelievers who were present that night to go home and seriously consider the claims of the gospel, and then return on the following night prepared to make a decision for Christ. But on that same night, October 8, 1871, the tragic Chicago fire broke out. Before it was finally extinguished, nearly four miles of buildings were consumed and 250 people had died. The evangelist then vowed never to end a service without giving an invitation to accept Christ immediately.

The question as to when we should share our faith is directly tied to when a sinner should accept Christ. The Bible is clear that God’s accepted time is today. See Heb. 3:15; 4:7; 2 Cor. 6:2; Is. 55:6. The reason for this is very simple -- sinners have no assurance whatsoever that they will live to see tomorrow. See Prov. 27:1; Luke 12:19; James 4:13–15.

Thus, we are to witness any time, all the time, in any place and in all places. The apostle Paul shows us how this should be done. He witnesses everywhere, in a prison at midnight (Acts 16:25–31), and even on a sinking ship during a dark and stormy day (Acts 27:20–25).

- The Open Bible [ref]

in season (and) out of season (2 Timothy 4:2)
The main idea here is that of availability: "Timothy must be always on duty and ready to serve, whether or not the opportunity was right." [ref] "It brings to mind the doctor on call in the emergency room, or an obstetrician whose schedule must be determined by need, where readiness and availability might be the difference between life and death. It is 'available' Christians who will be able to seize the moment and win people for Christ or come to the aid of struggling brothers and sisters in the church." [ref] For our part: "It is easy to make excuses when we ought to be making opportunities. Paul himself always found an opportunity to share the Word, whether it was in the temple courts, on a stormy sea, or even in prison." [ref]

Timothy is to proclaim the truth whether or not it is welcomed or accepted. [ref] [ref] "The preacher is to proclaim the Word when the time is auspicious, favorable, opportune, and also when the circumstances seem unfavorable. So few times are still available for preaching that the preacher must take every chance he has to preach the Word. There is no closed season for preaching." [ref] As the early church father John Chrysostom (c.347-407) put it: "Just as the fountains, though none may draw from them, still flow on; and the rivers, though none drink of them, still run; so must we do all on our part in speaking, though none give heed to us." [ref]

"In season" means "when it could be conveniently done; when all things were favorable, and when there were no obstructions or hindrances. It may include the 'stated and regular' seasons for public worship, but is not confined to them."  [ref

"Out of season" is the opposite of "in season." As one commentator explains, it:

 
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 when there was no stated appointment for preaching. He is not to confine himself to the appointed times of worship, or to preach only when it will be perfectly convenient for himself, but he is to have such an interest and earnestness in the work, that it will lead him to do it in the face of embarrassments and discouragements, and whenever he can find an opportunity. A man who is greatly intent on an object will seek every opportunity to promote it. He will not confine himself to stated times and places, but will present it everywhere, and at all times. A man, therefore, who merely confines himself to the stated seasons of preaching the gospel, or who merely preaches when it is convenient to himself, should not consider that he has come up to the requirement of the rule laid down by the apostle. He should preach in his private conversation, and in the intervals of his public labors, at the side of the sick bed, and wherever there is a prospect of doing good to any one. If his heart is full of love to the Saviour and to souls, he cannot help doing this. [ref
 

reprove, rebuke, exhort (2 Timothy 4:2)
Timothy was tasked with: correcting those in error ("reprove), rebuking those who were sinning ("rebuke"), and encouraging those who were doing well ("exhort"). [ref] One source suggests changing the order to "reprove, exhort, rebuke," resulting in: "first convict of error; then, exhort to forsake error; finally threaten with the penalty of persistence in error." [ref] As one commentator aptly puts it: "To quote an old rule of preachers, 'He should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.' If there is conviction but no remedy, we add to people’s burdens. And if we encourage those who ought to be rebuked, we are assisting them to sin. Biblical preaching must be balanced." [ref]

Reprove
Meaning: "to state that someone has done wrong, with the implication that there is adequate proof of such wrongdoing -- ‘to rebuke, to reproach, rebuke, reproach.’" [ref]; to "convict of their errors" [ref]; "a rebuke which results in the person’s confession of his guilt, or if not his confession, in his conviction of sin." [ref] Timothy "was to use such arguments as would 'convince' men of the truth of religion, and of their own need of it."  [ref] This would be especially appropriate when directed toward "sinners, who are always in season." [ref]

Rebuke
Meaning: "to express strong disapproval of someone -- ‘to rebuke, to denounce.’" [ref]; "[t]o charge on pain of penalty for disobedience." [ref] "This word implies a sharp, severe rebuke with possibly a suggestion in some cases, of impending penalty. Even where the preacher has experienced failure after failure in bringing sinners or saints to forsake their sin, or where there seems little hope of so doing, yet he is to sharply rebuke sin. He has discharged his duty, and the responsibility is upon his hearers to deal with the sin in their lives." [ref] "The idea is, that the minister is not merely to reason about sin, and convince men that it is wrong, but he may solemnly admonish them not to do it, and warn them of the consequences."  [ref] This would be especially appropriate when directed toward "Christians who get into sin or error." [ref]

One commentator recalls an incident from early Church history as an example of fearless rebuke:

 
Ambrose of Milan [c.339-397] was one of the great figures of the early Church. He was an intimate friend of Theodosius [347-395], the Emperor [379-395], who was a Christian, but a man of violent temper. Ambrose never hesitated to tell the Emperor the truth. "Who," he demanded, "will dare to tell you the truth if a priest does not dare?" Theodosius had appointed one of his close friends, Botherich, as governor of Thessalonica. Botherich, a good governor, had occasion to imprison a famous charioteer for infamous conduct. The popularity of these charioteers was incredible and the populace rose in a riot and murdered Botherich. Theodosius was mad with anger. Ambrose pled with him for discrimination in punishment, but Rufinus, his minister of state, deliberately inflamed his anger and Theodosius sent out orders for a massacre of vengeance. Later he countermanded the order, but too late for the new order to reach Thessalonica in time. The theatre was crammed to capacity with the doors shut, and the soldiers of Theodosius went to and fro slaughtering men, women and children for three hours. More than seven thousand people were killed. News of the massacre came back to Milan and when Theodosius presented himself at the Church service the next Sunday, Ambrose refused him admission. The Emperor pled for pardon. Eight months passed and again he came to Church. Again Ambrose refused him entry. In the end the Emperor of Rome had to lie prostrate on the ground with the penitents before he was allowed to worship with the Church again. In its great days the Church was fearless in rebuke.

In our personal relationships a word of warning and rebuke would often save a brother from sin and shipwreck. But, as someone has said, that word must always be spoken as "brother setting brother right." It must be spoken with a consciousness of our common guilt. It is not our place to set ourselves up as moral judges of anyone; nonetheless it is our duty to speak that warning word when it needs to be spoken. [ref]
 

Exhort
Meaning: "to cause someone to be encouraged or consoled, either by verbal or non-verbal means -- ‘to encourage, to console, encouragement.’" [ref] Within the NT this word often carries the meaning of "appealing," "pleading," "urging," "encouraging," and "comforting." [ref] This would be especially appropriate when directed toward "slow and lagging Christians." [ref] "Here is the other side of the matter. No rebuke should ever be such that it drives a man to despair and takes the heart and the hope out of him. Not only must men be rebuked, they must also be encouraged." [ref]

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CONVICT/CONVICTION

The Greek word is elenchō, which is used in the NT to express both the convicting work of God’s Spirit and the ministry of rebuke within the Christian community.

Generally elenchō means “to convince” or “to refute.” It gradually took on additional meanings: “to correct,” often by accusing, and “to convict.” Elenchō is used in the Septuagint to translate the OT term the NIV and the NASB translate “to correct.”

God’s correcting is a powerful ministry; it confronts human beings in their sin (Jn 16:8; Jude 15). The Holy Spirit is the active agent in this ministry. John 16:8 gives us Jesus’ promise that when the Spirit comes, “he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.”

This active ministry of the Spirit carried out since his “coming” at Pentecost does not guarantee conversion. A person may hear the gospel, recognize his or her personal sin and need, and yet may choose not to believe. Even the brilliant light of God’s revelation, directed by his Spirit to reveal an individual’s heart, does not release that individual from the responsibility of personal choice.

Within the Christian community, believers are to exercise some responsibility for one another (cf. Jas 5:19–20). This responsibility is expressed by the other meaning of elenchō: “to correct” or “to reprove.” The theme of reproof is often seen in the Pastoral Epistles (e.g., 1 Ti 5:20; 2 Ti 4:2; Tit 1:9, 13; 2:15). The process outlined in Mt 18:15–17 is to be followed.

Scripture makes it clear that the ministry of reproof cannot be undertaken by a person with the wrong attitude. Paul provides this guideline: “Those who oppose [the Lord’s servant] he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Ti 2:25). In our ministry of rebuke, performed when we see a brother or sister turn from the pathway that God’s Word marks out, as in the Spirit’s ministry of conviction, it is the knowledge of God’s Word alone that will bring understanding and lead to life-transforming change.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]

with great patience and instruction (2 Timothy 4:2)
This is "the element, the temper in which [the reproving, rebuking, and exhorting] are to be performed." [ref]

Opposition is to be met with "a patient and persevering spirit."  [ref] "Patience" (Greek makrothumia) "describes the spirit which never grows irritated, never despairs and never regards any man as beyond salvation. The Christian patiently believes in men because he unconquerably believes in the changing power of Christ." [ref]

"Longsuffering is to be maintained against the temptations to anger presented by the obstinacy and perverseness of certain hearers; and such are to be met, not merely with rebuke, but also with sound and reasonable instruction in the truth." [ref] "Whether our proclamation is intended primarily to convince, rebuke or exhort, it must be a doctrinal ministry." [ref]

Here we find a blend of subjective and objective. "[Patience] is subjective: brave, steady remaining under all that this work with the Word will entail; the latter is objective: the sum of the entire doctrinal content of the Word which is to be conveyed by 'teaching.'" [ref]

QuoteWorthy: Badge of Stability
The Christian is not to be the victim of crazes; stability is his badge in an unbalanced and often insane world. - William Barclay [ref]

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2 TIMOTHY 4:3 - The First Reason (vv. 3-4)

"Paul’s main focus in [2 Timothy 4:3-4 is] on the inclinations of the audience rather than, as was more his custom (but cf. 2 Timothy 3:6-7), the evil intent of the false teachers. For error to flourish both sides of the transaction must cooperate." [ref] "Because of the presence of false teachers and apostasy in the church, Timothy's undivided attention and sustained service are required" [ref], and Timothy must proclaim Gospel truth while he still can. [ref]

Here Paul describes "weak, sinful believers who are willing to be duped. ... [They] have surrendered to worldly values and sinful passions of various sorts, so much so that these things determine the kind of teaching they will listen to. Sound doctrine, which produces whole Christians, is opposed to a life based on worldly values and passions, for it calls for rejection of them. The picture Paul gives is of weak believers who, unwilling to break free from the old life and give themselves fully to the new, grew dissatisfied and curious (with itching ears) for a 'spiritual' answer that is more convenient. The false teachers were only too ready to provide a satisfying alternative. [ref]

For the time will come (2 Timothy 4:3)
Here "Paul is giving a second basis on which to ground his charge [to Timothy]. It is another future event, not now the coming of Christ but, before that end point, the coming of dark and difficult days ... [during which people] cannot stand the truth and refuse to listen to it." [ref] "[F]uture heresy is viewed as the outgrowth of present error. The coming apostasy is a further stage in the development of the already present deviation from the truth." [ref]

when they will not endure sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3)
Timothy must stand ready to patiently instruct ("with great patience and instruction" [2 Timothy 4:2]) those who are willfully ignorant. This self-imposed empty-headedness is the natural result of rejecting the truth and validity of correct and accurate Bible teaching. [ref] They will consider "sound doctrine" to be offensive [ref] and will refuse to put up with it.

"Sound doctrine" is "healthy, wholesome" teaching [ref] -- that is, teaching that promotes or contributes "to the health of the soul, or to salvation."  [ref] "Sound doctrine" "is probably the key phrase of the pastoral Epistles." [ref] ("Doctrine" occurs 9x in 8 verses, including "sound doctrine" 4x in 4 verses [1 Timothy 4:6; 6:1, 3; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1, 7, 10].) "Timothy's major responsibility in Ephesus was to defend and proclaim sound doctrine." [ref]

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DOCTRINE

The term “doctrine” is derived from the Lat doctrina, based on the verb doceo, “teach.” Both didachē and didaskalía can refer to “teaching” either in the active sense of “instruction” or in the passive sense of “what is taught.” The use of “doctrine” for “teaching” in the former sense, now obsolete, is found in the AV (e.g., for didachē, Mk. 4:2; Acts 2:42; for didaskalía, 1 Tim. 4:13, 16; 5:17; 2 Tim. 3:10, 16); the RSV uses the term only in the latter sense.

The meaning of these words varied as the apostolic proclamation of the message of Christ (kērygma) and the “teaching” began to assume certain more fixed forms and to have a certain recognizable content. (1) The doctrines of the Pharisees were a fairly compact and definite body of teaching, a fixed tradition handed down from one generation of teachers to another (Mt. 16:12, AV “doctrine”; cf. Mt. 15:9; Mk. 7:7). (2) In contrast with the Pharisaic system, the teaching of Jesus was unconventional and occasional, discursive and unsystematic, so that His contemporaries were astonished at it and recognized it as a new teaching (Mt. 7:28; 22:33; Mk. 1:22, 27; Lk. 4:32). So we find it in the Synoptic Gospels, and the more systematic form given to it in the Johannine discourses is undoubtedly the work of the Evangelist, who wrote rather to interpret Christ than to record His ipsissima verba (Jn. 20:31).

The earliest teaching of the apostles consisted essentially of three propositions: (a) that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 3:18); (b) that He was risen from the dead (Acts 1:22; 2:24, 32); and (c) that salvation was by faith in His name (Acts 2:38; 3:16). While proclaiming these truths, it was necessary to coordinate them with OT revelation. The method of the earliest reconstruction may be gathered from the speeches of Peter and Stephen (Acts 2:14–36; 5:29–32; 7:2–53). A more thorough reconstruction of the relating of the Christian facts not only to Hebrew history but to universal history, and to a view of the world as a whole, was undertaken by Paul. The type of “doctrine” which simply related the basic truths and coordinated them with the OT is found in Paul’s speech at Antioch (Acts 13:16–41), while the type which presented the events in a more general context is illustrated in his speeches at Lystra (14:15–17) and Athens (17:22–31). The ideas given in outline in these speeches are more fully developed into a doctrinal system, with its center moved from the resurrection to the death of Christ, in the Epistles, especially in Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. But as yet this reconstruction is the theological system of one teacher, and there is no sign of any attempt to impose it by authority on the Church as a whole. As a matter of fact the Pauline system never was generally accepted by the early Church. (Cf. James and the Apostolic Fathers.)

In the Pastoral and General Epistles a new state of things appears. The repeated emphasis on “sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:10; 4:6; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1) implies that a body of teaching has now emerged which is generally accepted, and which should serve as a standard of orthodoxy. The faith has become a body of truth “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The content of this “sound doctrine” is nowhere formally given, but it is possible that it corresponded very nearly to the Roman formula that became known as the Apostles’ Creed.

- Thomas Rees [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)

(wanting) to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Timothy 4:3)
"Men in the days of Timothy were beset by false teachers hawking round sham knowledge. Their deliberate policy was to find arguments whereby a man could justify himself for doing what he wanted to do. Any teacher, to this day, whose teaching tends to make men think less of sin is a menace to Christianity and to mankind." [ref]

"To have their ears ticked" refers to "hearing for mere gratification." [ref] They are itching to hear "something pleasing or gratifying."  [ref] Theirs were ears "which were always pricking with an uneasy desire for what would gratify the taste of a carnal, self-willed heart." [ref] "Their notion of a teacher was not one who should instruct their mind or guide their conduct, but one who should gratify their æsthetic sense." [ref] "This is the temptation of the merely 'popular' preacher, to furnish the latest tickle." [ref]

One commentator explains well the intended effect of God's Word: "Good law and gospel crush and heal and do not scratch a little in order to tickle. Law and gospel eradicate the flesh, the old Adam, and build up the new man 'for every good work' (2 Timothy 3:17); tickling itchy ears does not do this. The law severely boxes those ears until the itch is gone, and the terrores conscientiae make them burn; the gospel pours in the power that pardons, regenerates, renews. There will be those, Paul says, who want tickling instead." [ref]

"They will accumulate" (Greek episōreuō) "means 'to accumulate in piles.'" [ref] "The desire for pleasure is insatiable, and is increased or aggravated by indulgence; hence the heaping up of those who may minister to it." [ref]

"In accordance to their own desires" means that "[t]hey will seek such kind of preaching as will accord with their carnal desires; or such as will palliate their evil propensities, and deal gently with their vices."  [ref] "[T]hey do not first listen and then decide whether what they have heard is true; they first decide what they want to hear and then select teachers who will oblige by toeing their line." [ref]

"In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found." [ref]

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THE LATEST & GREATEST

"We have a love for novelty in the churches today. Too often the person who simply opens the Bible and teaches it is ignored, while the shallow religious entertainer becomes a celebrity." [ref]

Paul rightly condemns people who want to be entertained with lies rather than challenged with the truth. But, lest we too quickly ascribe that to someone else, we should ask if we are in the habit of following the latest and greatest evangelical rock star. The people condemned by Paul "are not interested in the truth itself, but only in the way in which it is presented, the preacher's 'style,' 'oratory,' … the preacher himself, his voice, bearing, looks, mannerisms." [ref] Sadly, this is true of many of the folk sitting under sound Bible teaching on a regular basis. They are not there to be challenged; they are there to be entertained. And, as a result, they miss what would otherwise be life-changing truth.

While God certainly can (and does) raise popular Christian teachers to prominence and use their teaching to help countless believers grow in their Christian walk and witness, we must constantly guard against the very real tendency to put preachers on pedestals. Instead, whenever we hear (or read) God's truth being taught, we should praise God for both the message and the messenger ... and then determine to draw ever closer to God through daily personal study and application of his Word, the Bible.

- AC21DOJ

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CREATING YOUR OWN DOCTRINE

Many speakers, teachers, and writers talk about the pursuit of knowledge. But often they don't want knowledge, but power.

  • They will not tolerate the truth. They have no interest or respect for absolute truth or any standard for judgment.
  • They reject truth for sensationalism. They want truth that fits their situation and makes sense for them. What they feel, what works for them, what seems compelling -- that is their truth and they claim an absolute right to it. No one should even attempt to tell them differently.
  • They gather viewpoints to suit their selfish desires. Although they profess objectivity, their only defense for their viewpoints is that they suit their desires.
- Life Application Bible Commentary on the New Testament [ref]

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2 TIMOTHY 4:4 - The First Reason (vv. 3-4)

and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:4)
"Those who starve their understanding and heart have no use for the truth." [ref]

"Will turn away" carries "the idea of 'averting.' That is, those who follow these heretics, not only turn away their ears from the truth, but see to it that their ears are always in such a position that they will never come in contact with the truth, like a country windmill whose owner has turned its vanes so that they will not catch the wind." [ref]

Whereas "will turn away" is active, indicating something the people do to themselves, "will turn aside" is passive and thus is something that is done to them. In medical terminology, "will turn aside" (Greek ektrepō)

 
means, “to wrench out of its proper place,” as of the limbs. It is used of a dislocated arm, for instance. When people avert their ears from the truth, they lay themselves open to every Satanic influence, and are easily turned aside to error. Instead of being in correct adjustment to the truth, namely, that of seeking it for the purpose of appropriating it, these people have put themselves out of adjustment and have been consequently wrenched out of place. They have become dislocated, put out of joint. Like a dislocated arm which has no freedom of action, they have given themselves over to a delusion which incapacitates them for any independent thinking along religious lines which they might do for themselves. [ref]
 

Truth is a a foundational concept in the pastoral epistles, occuring a total of 14 times: 6x in 1 Timothy (1 Timothy 2:4, 7; 3:15; 4:3; 6:5); 6x in 2 Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15, 18, 25; 3:7, 8; 4:4); and 2x in Titus (Titus 1:1, 14).

Related: Truth | The Prosperity Gospel

myths (2 Timothy 4:4)
"These myths were legendary tales characteristic of the false teachers in Ephesus and Crete" (cf. 1 Timothy 1:4; 4:7; Titus 1:14). [ref] The idea, however, would encompass any "fable full of falsehoods and pretenses." [ref]

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MYTH

Myth as a Form of Religious Communication
Antiquity uses myth to teach children (the fairy story) and then to teach adults (philosophical allegorizing). The NT, however, is from first to last the narration of facts. The form may vary (cf. the Synoptists and John), but the theme is always what God says and does.

Myth as parable
In its later stages paganism uses myths as parables. The NT, too, is full of illustrations, but these are pure parables that never lay claim to historical truth but are likenesses of the kingdom. In the long run, they can be dispensed with (Jn. 16:25).

Myth as Symbol
Paganism finally regards myth as a symbol of eternal realities. In the NT, however, the central symbol is the harsh reality of the cross, which cannot be divorced from its personal representative and its historical setting, with which no myth can be integrated, and on which no myth can be imposed.

A New Use of the Term?
In two ways an attempt might be made to bring myth into the context of the biblical data. The first is by construing myth as an account of facts in the divine realm. But this involves an almost impossible reorienting of the term. It also carries with it the risk of a dehistoricizing which will negate the incarnation, i.e., the intersection of divine and earthly history, on which everything depends. The second way is to regard the gospel as fulfilled myth. But this is to presuppose that myth is not just a product of human longing and to bring the mythical theologians of paganism into dubious proximity to the prophetic theologians of the old covenant. Can one truly say, in the light of Jn. 14:6, that there are traces of the Logos in myth?

- Gustav Stählin [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)


[While the Bible unrelentingly uses "myth" as a synonym for lies and falsehood, this is ironic] given the present positive valuation put on the term. While the common person still uses the word as the Greeks did, to describe something that is untrue, this is not the way sociologists of religion use it. With the rediscovery of the ancient world, especially in the nineteenth century, there arose a certain fascination with the stories of the gods and with the power of those stories to convey a meaningful vision of reality to those who accepted them. A number of studies of myth were undertaken, one of the most famous being Frazier’s The Golden Bough. These studies suggested that myth should be understood as a vehicle by which extrascientific truth may be expressed. Of course, this represents an almost complete reversal in the understanding of myth. Instead of being false because of its failure to conform to a scientifically derived view of reality, it is true precisely because it does not!

According to this view, whenever a people express their views of reality in other than mechanistic and naturalistic terms, they are speaking mythically. Thus, to speak of God as a person who causes the rain to fall is to speak in mythical terms. While the statement may be “true” in some sense, it is false, scientifically speaking, because it cannot be verified. Used in this way, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a myth” would say that while the body of Jesus remained in the tomb and was not seen by the disciples, the narrative serves to express the Christian conviction that the human spirit perseveres after the death of the body. This point of view would argue that ultimate truth has no connection with historical facts.

As this way of defining myth has become more popular, it has become increasingly common, even among some Christians, to refer to the Bible as part of the world’s great mythic literature. The reasons for this are not hard to find. First, there are the questions about the historical reliability of the Bible. If it can be granted that historical reliability is really of no consequence to the meaning or value of the Bible, those questions are no longer troublesome. A second reason is the growing distaste for exclusivism of all sorts. If the Bible can be defined as one more of the world’s religious tales, then its embarrassing particularity can be disposed of. Finally, although the death of the enlightenment is frequently announced, the idea that there is a personal deity who transcends all our means of containing him, and to whom we are accountable, is still unacceptable to many. If the language can be reduced to a merely figurative expression for a generalized life force that inhabits the universe, it is more palatable.

The response of Paul or Peter -- or Isaiah -- to the idea that the Bible is myth is unmistakable. They insist that their theology is true precisely because it has been validated in the world of time and space, the world of facts. They would vigorously resist any attempt to make their assertion about what God has done in this world merely figurative. But beyond this, the Bible is at odds with the ancient stories of the gods at every point. This is not an enclosed, cyclical existence where the forces of nature have been turned into deities. It is not a shadowy stage where timeless, placeless stories of the gods must be acted out in order to appropriate divine power for an otherwise meaningless existence. Rather, God has broken into the world of time and space in unique, nonrepeateable events that have revealed his character and his grace. Real human persons have seen the evidence, have received divine interpretations of that evidence, and have recorded it all under supernatural guidance. As Peter would tell us, these are not myths; they are the reports of people who have been visited by the holy God. Whatever the Bible is, it is not a myth.

- John N. Oswalt [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)

At what point does sincerity become rebellion? As one source explains well: "At what point does a person become responsible for errors in belief? We tend to think that sincerity covers a multitude of sins, but does God look at us that way? Often he gives us warnings that we might be headed in the wrong direction, and he gives us the ability to know and understand key doctrines of our faith. If we do not follow his leading, we're guilty of more than ignorance or error. We're guilty of rebellion." [ref]

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MYTHS & FABLES

False teachers replace the truth of the gospel with fables or myths. In his book, In My Soul I Am Free, Paul Twitchell, the man behind Eckankar, taught his students the so-called ability to separate soul and body, enabling them to engage in astral travel to all parts of the world and transcend the various spheres of the universe until they attain ultimate salvation. Scientologists believe that spirit beings called Thetans, living 74 trillion years ago, used the evolutionary process to create human beings, whose bodies they now inhabit. Whenever a human dies, the indwelling Thetan reincarnates into another body. Urantia, embracing a combination of Seventh-day Adventist and New Age doctrines, is another new religious movement that teaches a fanciful creation story. According to its scenario, planet earth, originally called Urantia, was created by Michael of Nebadon one trillion years ago. Michael eventually came to earth as the man Jesus. The Apostle Paul predicted a day when many will reject the truth and turn to fables.

- The Apologetics Study Bible [ref]


Once people have rejected the truth, they turn to fables (myths). It is not likely that man-made fables will convict them of sin or make them want to repent! The result is a congregation of comfortable, professing Christians, listening to a comfortable, religious talk that contains no Bible doctrine. These people become the prey of every false cult because their lives lack a foundation in the Word of God. It is a recognized fact that most cultists were formerly members of churches.

- Warren Wiersbe [ref]

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*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org) | **This outline is from The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe