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

(2 Timothy 4:5-8)

5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Departure is coming! Paul saw his approaching death as the offering of a sacrifice to God, the ending of a difficult race, and the gaining of a glorious crown. This is the victor’s crown given to winners at the Greek Olympic Games. - Warren Wiersbe [ref]

QuoteWorthy: Being Poured Out
There will be times when service seems wasted. Sometimes, being poured out will feel like being thrown out! When that happens, remember Paul's image of the drink offering and be encouraged. - Life Application Bible Commentary on the New Testament [ref]

2 TIMOTHY 4:5 - The Charge Repeated
Being Faithful

With God’s help, our goal should be to live our lives without regrets. (see 2 Timothy 4:6-8) [ref]

"Paul’s four words of command [in 2 Timothy 4:5], although different in detail, convey the same general message. Those difficult days, in which it was hard to gain a hearing for the gospel, were not to discourage Timothy; nor to deter him from his ministry; nor to induce him to trim his message to suit his hearers; still less to silence him altogether; but rather to spur him on to preach the more." [ref]

But you (2 Timothy 4:5)
Here we have both a climax and an introduction. "As a climax, it draws a contrast between Timothy and the fickle multitude described in [2 Timothy 4:3-4]. As an introduction, it draws a contrast between Timothy, still in the thick of the fight, and Paul who has fought the grand fight." [ref]

be sober in all things (2 Timothy 4:5)
It is imperative that Timothy "be steady in all things ... be sober and self-contained, like an athlete who has his passions and his appetites and his nerves well under control. ... The Christian is not to be the victim of crazes; stability is his badge in an unbalanced and often insane world." [ref]

"Be sober" refers "especially to the clearness and wakefulness of attention and observance which attends on sobriety, as distinguished from the lack of these qualities in intoxication." [ref] "[H]ere it implies free from excitement about novelties, self-controlled, vigilant." [ref] Meaning: "Be vigilant against error and against sin, and faithful in the performance of duty." [ref] "The sober person is calm, steady, and sane (cf. 1 Peter 4:7). He is not intoxicated with morbid craving for whatever is sensational or sentimental. He does not turn away his ears from the truth and turn aside to the myths." [ref]

Remaining sober in all things "is precisely what many believers in [the Ephesian] churches were failing to do. As a result, they acted rashly, with muddled thinking, uncritically accepting the false doctrine." [ref] "When men and women get intoxicated with heady heresies and sparkling novelties, ministers must keep ‘calm and sane’ (NEB)." [ref]

We may also wish to keep in mind that sober does not mean somber. Joy is a prominent theme in both the OT and the NT (joy, rejoice/d/ing, glad => Psalms & Proverbs 143x, Matthew-Revelation 140x).


When Paul advised Timothy about self-control, there were more issues involved than Timothy's ability to monitor and channel his desires and impulses. Timothy had already discovered (as almost everyone who attempts to represent Christ discovers) that one's best intentions are often misunderstood by others. Where we offer instruction, some hear only narrow-mindedness; where we offer compassionate correction, some hear only harsh judgment; where we express God's standards, some hear only legalism or arrogance. Unfortunately, their responses are based on what they perceive rather than on what we mean. The ability to "keep our head" in those moments makes the real difference between failure and faithfulness. We "keep our head" in at least two significant ways:

  1. We must not retaliate against those who reject us. To become defensive, attack the other person, or even to ignore his or her words will not help.
  2. We must maintain the truth we have learned. We must listen to what has been said, lest our method or timing is ill-chosen, but we must not deviate from following Christ.
- Life Application Bible Commentary on the New Testament [ref]

endure hardship (2 Timothy 4:5)
Meaning: Do not let sufferings make you afraid and cause you to either abandon the truth or lessen your zeal for saving the lost. [ref]

"In this coming period there will be much bad to suffer and to endure" [ref], and it is imperative that Timothy "accept whatever suffering comes upon him. Christianity will cost something, and the Christian is to pay the price of it without grumbling and without regret." [ref] "Although the people will not listen to the sound teaching, Timothy must persist in teaching it and so be prepared to ‘endure suffering’ on account of the truth he refuses to compromise. Whenever the biblical faith becomes unpopular, ministers are sorely tempted to mute those elements which give most offence." [ref]

"[I]n contrast to the false teachers (who had written suffering right out of their manual on discipleship) and their followers, God's servant must be willing to endure hardship for the sake of the gospel. This is the major theme of this letter (2 Timothy 1:8, 12; 2:3, 9, 12; 3:11, 12)." [ref]

do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5)
"The evangelist was an itinerant preacher who had not the supervising functions of an apostle, nor the inspiration of a prophet; though both apostle and prophet did the work of evangelist." [ref]

Perhaps Paul means something like: "[D]o the work of one who has a Gospel, not myths and genealogies, to teach, who lays stress on 'Jesus Christ risen from the dead' (2 Timothy 2:8), and on the whole of my Gospel." [ref] Timothy "is to do the work of an evangelist whatever the bad that he must suffer may be, do it effectively, completely." [ref]

"Because the people are woefully ignorant of the true evangel, Timothy is to ‘do the work of an evangelist’. ... Paul is bidding Timothy: ‘make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work’ (JB). The good news is not just to be preserved against distortion; it is to be spread abroad." [ref]

It is imperative that Timothy "do the work of an evangelist. In spite of the conviction and the rebuke the Christian is essentially the bringer of good news. If he insists on discipline and self-denial, it is that an even greater happiness may be attained than ever cheap pleasures can bring." [ref]

As one Bible commentator explains: "Used only two other times in the NT (Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11), this word ['evangelist'] always refers to a specific office of ministry for the purpose of preaching the gospel to non-Christians. Based on Eph. 4:11, it is very basic to assume that all churches would have both pastor-teachers and evangelists. But the related verb 'to preach the gospel' and the related noun 'gospel' are used throughout the NT not only in relation to evangelists, but also to the call for every Christian, especially preachers and teachers, to proclaim the gospel. Paul did not call Timothy to the office of an evangelist, but to 'do the work' of one." [ref]

As one renowned Bible teacher puts it: "God has given special men to the church as evangelists (Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11); but this does not absolve a pastor from his soul-winning responsibility. Not every preacher has the same gifts, but every preacher can share the same burden and proclaim the same saving message. A friend of mine went to hear a famous preacher, and I asked him how the message was. He replied, 'There wasn’t enough Gospel in it to save a flea!'" [ref]



NT term referring to one who proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are only three occurrences of the word in the NT. The apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesian church to walk worthy of their calling (Eph 4:1–12). The exhortation stressed the gifts given to each within the unity of the Spirit. Paul explained that the ascended Christ has given “some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers” (4:11 NASB). Paul was saying that Christ calls persons to these ministries and gives them to the church. The evangelist is one of Christ’s gifts to the church. The meaning of the term indicates that the task of such a person is to function as a spokesperson for the church in proclaiming the gospel to the world. An evangelist is similar to an apostle in function, except that being an apostle involved a personal relationship to Jesus during his earthly ministry (Acts 1:21, 22). The evangelist stands in contrast to the pastor and teacher. The former makes the initial proclamation, and the latter provides continuing follow-up ministry that develops maturity in the believer. The reference to Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8) supports the idea of evangelism as a gifted ministry to which Christ calls some in the church.

More than one gift or ministry may be performed by the same person. Paul charged Timothy with his responsibilities as a pastor and teacher, and also exhorted him to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tm 4:5). Therefore, evangelist can refer to a person called to that distinct ministry, and also to a function that may be performed by others.

- Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible [ref]

Though the noun euangelisté̄s occurs in the NT only three times, the verb occurs frequently. Jesus Christ was an evangelist, for He preached the gospel (Lk. 20:1); Paul was an evangelist as well as an apostle (Rom. 1:15); Philip the deacon was also an evangelist (Acts 21:8), as was Timothy the pastor (2 Tim. 4:5), and indeed all the early disciples who, upon being driven out of Jerusalem, “went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

But Eph. 4:11 teaches that one particular order of the ministry, distinguished from every other, is singled out distinctly by the Head of the Church for this work. All may possess the gift of an evangelist in a measure and be obligated to exercise its privilege and duty, but some are specially endued with it. “And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.”

It will be seen that as an order in the ministry, the evangelist’s work precedes that of the pastor and teacher, a fact that harmonizes with the character of the work each is still recognized as doing. The evangelist has no fixed place of residence, but moves about in different localities, preaching the gospel to those previously ignorant of it. As these are converted and united to Jesus Christ by faith, the work of the pastor and teacher begins, to instruct them further in the way of Christ and build them up in the faith.

At a later time the name of “Evangelist” was given the writers of the four Gospels because they tell the story of the gospel and because the effect of their promulgation at the beginning was very much like the work of the preaching evangelist. In character, the Gospels bear something of the same relation to the Epistles as evangelists bear to pastors and teachers.

- J. M. Gray [ref]

fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:5)
Meaning: Fulfill all the requirements of your ministry, leaving nothing undone. [ref] "Even if the people forsake Timothy’s ministry in favour of teachers who tickle their fancy, Timothy is to ‘fulfil’ his ‘ministry’. ... Timothy must persevere until his task is accomplished." [ref]

"Timothy was so to discharge the duties of his office as to furnish 'a fair illustration' of what the ministry could do, and thus to show the wisdom of the Saviour in its institution."  [ref

It is imperative that Timothy "leave no act of service unfulfilled. The Christian should have only one ambition -- to be of use to the Church of which he is a part and the society in which he lives. The chance he dare not miss is not that of a cheap profit but that of being of service to his God, his Church and his fellow-men." [ref]

"Paul was about to finish his course, but Timothy’s life and ministry still lay before him. 'Make full proof' [KJV] means 'fulfill, accomplish the purpose.' How wonderful it is that God has a specific ministry for each of His children (Eph. 2:10). Our task is to find His will and do it as long as we live. This involves watching, enduring, and working. ... Next to losing one’s soul and going to hell, the greatest tragedy of life would be to come to the brink of eternity and discover we had missed God’s will and wasted our lives on fruitless, transient things." [ref]



Just what is meant when the Bible speaks of ministers or of ministry? Is a specific office or function in mind?

The Hebrew words

The Hebrew word translated “minister” in the NIV is shârath. This word is used of persons who give personal service to a ruler, particularly of those who are set aside to perform some special service in the worship of God. It is of special note that such ministers, in the secular and sacred realms, are persons of high rank. They merit special respect, for they are in a very close relationship with the ruler they serve.

The NASB also translates kâhan, “to serve as a priest,” by the verb “to minister.”

Leitourgia: echoes of the past

Words of this group echo ministry in the cultic sense of service at the tabernacle or temple. They are seldom used in the NT but may be found as follows: leitourgeō, “to minister”: Ac 13:2; Ro 15:27; Heb 10:11; leitourgia, “minister”: Lk 1:23; 2 Co 9:12; Php 2:17, 30; Heb 8:6; 9:21; leitourgikos, “ministering”: Heb 1:14; leitourgos, “minister”: Ro 13:6; 15:16; Php 2:25; Heb 1:7; 8:2.

Diakonia: privilege of the present
In most instances where “minister” or “ministering” is found in English versions, the Greek has some form of diakonia (“service” or “ministry”), which occurs thirty-four times. A related noun, diakonos (“servant,” “minister,” or “deacon”), occurs thirty times. The verb diakoneō (“to serve” or “to serve as a deacon”) is used thirty-seven times.

These words are distinctive in that their focus is squarely on loving action on behalf of a brother or sister or a neighbor. A similar word, doulos (127 times in the NT) can mean either “slave” or “servant,” and it focuses attention on our subjection to Jesus. But these ministry words call us to look at our fellow human beings as objects of the loving services we extend to them for Jesus’ sake.

It was Jesus himself who set both the tone and the example for such Christian ministry. He called his disciples to find greatness through servanthood, “… just as the Son of man did not come to be served (diakoneō) but to serve (diakoneō), and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28).

A survey of NT passages using the diakoneō word group reveals how we can serve others and what “ministry” involves. It will include the following activities: caring for those in prison (Mt 25:44), serving tables (i.e., meeting physical needs) (Ac 6:2), teaching the Word of God (Ac 6:4), giving money to meet others’ needs (2 Co 9:1), and all the service offered by Christians to others to build them up in faith (1 Co 12:5; Eph 4:12). Although Paul and other apostles are called ministers, and although there was the office of deacon in the early church, there is a sense in which every believer is a minister and is to use his or her gifts to serve others.

It should be noted that in a few places the NIV has the word “ministry” where the Greek has no corresponding word of the diakoneō word group (Lk 3:23; Ac 8:21; Gal 2:8), Gal 2:8 being of special interest (in that the Greek actually mentions the “apostleship” of Peter).

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]


2 TIMOTHY 4:6 - A Death Worth Dying

Paul's message to Timothy is: "The dangers to the Church are pressing and instant; they can only be met by watchfulness, self-sacrifice, and devotion to duty on the part of the leaders of the Church, of whom thou art one. As for me, I have done my best. My King is calling me from the field of action to wait for my reward; thou canst no longer look to me to take initiative in action." [ref] "It is all the more vital for Timothy to continue and complete his ministry because the apostle’s life-work has reached completion and is about to close. As Joshua had followed Moses, and Solomon David, and Elisha Elijah, so now Timothy must follow Paul." [ref]

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering (2 Timothy 4:6)
"When Erasmus was growing old, he said: 'I am a veteran, and have earned my discharge, and must leave the fighting to younger men.' Paul, the aged warrior, is laying down his arms that Timothy may take them up." [ref]

Paul's "own work was nearly done. He was soon to be withdrawn from the earth, and whatever benefit the world might have derived from his experience or active exertions, it was now to be deprived of it. He was about to leave a work which he much loved, and to which he had devoted the vigor of his life, and he was anxious that they who were to succeed him should carry on the work with all the energy and zeal in their power. This expresses the common feeling of aged ministers as death draws near." [ref

Paul was probably thinking of "his whole life of service and devotion, culminating in his death." [ref] Paul's "converts were the sacrifice or offering, he the minister officiating, and his blood the libation to be poured on the sacrifice." [ref]

What's more, Paul may have had in mind one or more of the following ideas:

  • "the Jewish belief in the sacrificial value of a martyr’s death ... His whole life has been a sacrifice: now the libation is ready to be poured upon it." [ref]
  • "the libation connected with the daily offerings of the lambs (cf. Numbers 28:4-7)" [ref] [ref]; Just as the drink offering was poured out slowly and was the final part of the sacrifice, so Paul's life and ministry were gradually ebbing away, with this present stage of his career "being the final sacrificial act." [ref]
  • "the custom which prevailed among the pagan generally, of pouring wine and oil on the head of a victim when it was about to be offered in sacrifice. The idea of the apostle then is, that he was in the condition of the victim on whose head the wine and oil had been already poured, and which was just about to be put to death; that is, he was about to die. Every preparation had been made, and he only awaited the blow which was to strike him down." [ref]; What to the pagan Roman government was the execution of a criminal was in reality the sacrifice of a saint.
  • "Every Roman meal ended with a kind of sacrifice. A cup of wine was taken and was poured out (spendesthai) to the gods. It is as if Paul were saying: 'The day is ended; it is time to rise and go; and my life must be poured out as a sacrifice to God.'" [ref]

the time of my departure has come (2 Timothy 4:6)
"Departure" (Greek analusis) was "a traveler’s term commonly used as a euphemism for death." [ref] [ref] Beyond that, it is a vivid word containing many a picture,

and each tells us something about leaving this life.
  • It is the word for unyoking an animal from the shafts of the cart or the plough. Death to Paul was rest from toil.
  • It is the word for loosening bonds or fetters. Death for Paul was a release. He was to exchange the confines of a Roman prison for the glorious liberty of the courts of heaven.
  • It is the word for loosening the ropes of a tent. For Paul it was time to strike camp again. Many a journey he had made across the roads of Asia Minor and of Europe. Now he was setting out on his last and greatest journey; he was taking the road that led to God.
  • It is the word for loosening the mooring-ropes of a ship. Many a time Paul had felt his ship leave the harbour for the deep waters. Now he is to launch out into the greatest deep of all, setting sail to cross the waters of death to arrive in the haven of eternity. [ref] (italics added

For the great apostle to the Gentiles, "the end of this life (outpoured as a libation) is the beginning of another (putting out to sea). Already the anchor is weighed, the ropes are slipped, and the boat is about to set sail for another shore." [ref]



Cessation of life (physical death) or separation from God (spiritual death).

Old Testament View
In the OT death was accepted as the natural end of life. The goal of an Israelite was to live a long and full life, produce many descendants, and die in peace with the children and grandchildren gathered about. The OT contains many protests against an early death (e.g., Hezekiah’s, 2 Kgs 20:1–11). An early death might appear to be the result of God’s judgment; hence Job saw in the possibility of an untimely death a need to vindicate his character (Jb 19:25, 26). Only in Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20 is outright pessimism expressed in the face of death -- and that book probably shows considerable non-Hebraic influence.

Death, although a natural ending to life, was never viewed as pleasant. Death cut one off from human community as well as from the presence and service of God. God may offer comfort in the face of death (Ps 73:23–28), but he is rarely portrayed as present with the dead, and that only in later biblical literature (Ps 139:8). For that reason, suicide is rare in the OT (1 Sm 31:4, 5; 2 Sm 17:23). Death was never viewed as the threshold to a better life.

The relationship of sin to death is seen in the death penalty in the Law of Moses. A serious offender was put to death. The punitive phrase “He shall be cut off” implied that although the nation went on living, the criminal was separated from it by death. The Israelites were warned that to disobey God’s commandments could bring premature death as a consequence of breaking fellowship with God (Dt 30:15–20; Jer 21:8; Ez 18:21–32).

In the intertestamental period, as Jewish ideas of afterlife and resurrection developed more explicitly, so did Jewish thinking about death. Death itself, not just a premature death, came to be seen as an evil result of sin (2 Esd 3:7; Ecclus 25:24; 2 Bar 54:19). Sometimes all death is depicted as the result of the “first sin” (Adam and Eve’s disobedience). In other references everyone dies as a result of his or her own sin. The first clear indication in Scripture of a resurrection of the dead and a final judgment or punishment occurs in the Book of Daniel (Dn 12:2), one of the last OT books to be written. That teaching is echoed throughout the intertestamental period (2 Esd 7:31–44). During that time it was believed that the soul survived death either in some immortal form (Wis of Sol 3:4; 4:1; 4 Mc 16:13; 17:12) or awaiting the resurrection (1 Enoch 102). Some of those extrabiblical writings incorporated Greek ideas that the body was a burden to be gotten rid of, a notion foreign to Hebrew thought.

The concept of resurrection and a life redeemed from death, however, set the stage for the NT revelation focusing on Christ’s resurrection and his conquest of death.

New Testament View
In the NT death is seen more as a theological problem than as a personal event. Death goes beyond the simple ending of physical life, which the authors accept almost without difficulty. Death is seen as affecting every part of a person’s life. God alone is immortal, the source of all life in the world (Rom 4:17; 1 Tm 6:16). Only as human beings are properly related to God’s life can they live. But it has been unnatural for people to be in personal communion with the divine source of life since sin was introduced into the world (Rom 5:12, 17, 18; 1 Cor 15:22). When Adam separated himself from God, that separation brought death. Each human being has followed in Adam’s footsteps (Rom 3:23; 5:12), bringing death for everyone as the absolutely necessary result (Rom 6:23; Heb 9:27). Death, then, is not merely something that happens to people at the end of their lives; it is also the living out of their lives apart from fellowship with God.

The extent of death’s domination is vast. It affects every aspect of culture. All of human life is lived under the shadow of the fear of death (Rom 8:15; Heb 2:15). Death reigns over all that is “of the flesh” (Rom 8:6). Anyone not living in relationship to Christ lives in a state of death (Jn 3:16–18; 1 Jn 5:12). The devil, who rules the world, is the lord of death (Heb 2:14). Death is sometimes personified as a demonic power at large in the world, but finally brought to bay by Christ himself, the only one who could master it (1 Cor 15:26, 27; Rv 6:8; 20:13, 14).

Christ died, was buried, and rose again on the third day (Rom 4:25; 1 Cor 15:3, 4; 1 Thes 4:14). Through that historic event the power of death was broken. The NT in various ways expresses Christ’s subjection to death in payment for sin. He “became obedient unto death” (Phil 2:8); he died as a sacrifice for the sins of all (1 Cor 5:7; 2 Cor 5:15); he descended into Hades, the place of the dead (1 Pt 3:18, 19). The major point of all such passages is that he did not remain dead but defeated the devil, took the power (keys) of death, and ascended in victory (Heb 2:14, 15; Rev 1:17, 18). Jesus Christ worked not for his own benefit, but for those who commit themselves to him (Mk 10:45; Rom 5:6–8; 1 Thes 5:9, 10). By accepting a death he did not deserve, Christ has broken the power of death for his followers.

The Christian is thus delivered from “this body of death” (Rom 7:24) by the power of Christ. Salvation comes through being “baptized into his death” (Rom 6:3, 4), and “dying with Christ” to the world and the law (Rom 7:6; Gal 6:14; Col 2:20). That is, the death of Christ is counted by God as the believer’s death. The rebellious world’s sin (Rom 6:6) and self-idolatry (living for oneself; 2 Cor 5:14, 15) become things of the past. The death of Jesus for his people is the means by which his life is given to them (2 Cor 4:10). The result is that believers are separated from the world just as they were once separated from God. From the world’s point of view they are dead; Christ is their only life (Col 3:3).

The apostle John expressed it somewhat differently. Jesus came into the world to give life to the dead (Jn 5:24). That life-giving will not happen at the resurrection; it is already happening. All who commit themselves to Jesus pass immediately from death to life. Or, to put it another way, those who keep (obey) his words will never see death (Jn 8:51, 52). The point is that all who are outside Christ are already dead, and those trusting in Christ are already enjoying life. The radical difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is a difference between life and death.

Naturally, the NT writers knew that Christians die; their problem was to find words to explain the difference from non-Christian death. Believers who die physically are said to be “dead in Christ” (1 Thes 4:16). Or they are not dead at all, but merely “asleep” (1 Cor 15:6, 18, 20, 51; 1 Thes 4:13–15; cf. Jesus’ words, Jn 11:11–14). Although their bodies are dead, deceased believers are not separated from Christ; that is, they are not really dead. All the powers of death and hell cannot separate believers from Christ (Rom 8:38, 39). For them, death is not a loss but a gain; it brings them closer to Christ (2 Cor 5:1–10; Phil 1:20, 21). What is more, believers will share in Christ’s victory over physical death as well. Because he is the “first fruits” of those rising from the dead (1 Cor 15:20; Col 1:18), those “in Christ” will rise “on the last day” to be with him, whole and complete.

On the other hand, for those who do not belong to Christ there is a final, total separation from God. At the last judgment all whose names “were not written in the book of life” are consigned to a lake of fire, in the company of death itself and Hades. That final separation from God is the “second death” (Rv 20:14). Christians, however, have been saved from death (Jas 5:20; 1 Jn 3:14). The second death has no power over those who are faithful to Christ (Rev 2:11; 20:6). Instead they will live with God, in whose presence there can be no death, for he is life itself (Rv 21:4).

- Peter H. Davids [ref]

The Bible employs quite a number of metaphors when speaking of death and the subsequent state:

  1. Being Cut Off (Job 24:24)
  2. Being Gathered to One’s People (Num. 20:23–26; Deut. 32:48–50)
  3. The Breaking of the Golden Bowl (Eccles. 12:6)
  4. Breathing One’s Last (Gen. 25:17; Gen. 35:29; Gen. 49:33; Job 14:10)
  5. The Broken Wheel (Eccles. 12:6)
  6. The Company of the Dead (Prov. 21:16)
  7. Departing (Ps. 39:13; Eccles. 5:15; Phil. 1:23; 2 Tim. 4:6; 2 Pet. 1:15)
  8. Destruction (Job 26:6; Ps. 88:11; Prov. 15:11; Prov. 27:20)
  9. Dismissal (Luke 2:29)
  10. The Earthly Tent Being Destroyed (2 Cor. 5:1)
  11. Glory (Ps. 73:24)
  12. Going Down into Silence (Ps. 115:17)
  13. The Grave (Gen. 37:35; Job 10:19; Job 17:1; Job 17:13; Ps. 18:5; Ps. 55:15; Ps. 88:3–5)
  14. The Journey of No Return (Job 16:22)
  15. The Land of Deepest Night (Job 10:22)
  16. The Land of Deep Shadow and Disorder (Job 10:22)
  17. The Land of Gloom and Deep Shadow (Job 10:21)
  18. The Land of Oblivion (Ps. 88:12)
  19. The Last Sleep (Ps. 76:5)
  20. Lying Down in the Dust (Job 7:21)
  21. Marching Off to the King of Terrors (Job 18:14)
  22. The Night (John 9:4)
  23. One’s Life Being Demanded by God (Luke 12:20)
  24. Paradise (Luke 23:43)
  25. Passing Away (Job 34:20)
  26. The Pit (Ps. 30:9; Isa. 14:15)
  27. The Place Appointed for All the Living (Job 30:23)
  28. The Place of Darkness (Ps. 88:12)
  29. The Place of No Return (Job 10:21)
  30. Putting Aside the Tent of This Body (2 Pet. 1:13–14)
  31. Removal without Human Hand (Job 34:20)
  32. Resting with One’s Fathers (Deut. 31:16)
  33. Returning to Dust (Gen. 3:19; Ps. 104:29)
  34. The Severing of the Silver Cord (Eccles. 12:6)
  35. The Shattered Pitcher (Eccles. 12:6)
  36. Sleep (Job 14:12; Ps. 13:3; Jer. 51:56–57; Dan. 12:2; John 11:11–14; Acts 7:59–60; Acts 13:36; 1 Cor. 15:6)
  37. A Tempest (Job 27:20)
  38. A Vanishing Cloud (Job 7:9; James 4:14)
  39. Water Spilled on the Ground (2 Sam. 14:14)
  40. The Way of All the Earth (Josh. 23:14; 1 Kings 2:1–2)
  41. Withering Away (Job 14:2; Ps. 90:5–6; Ps. 102:11; James 1:10–11)

- Walter. A. Elwell and Dougals Buckwalter [ref]

QuoteWorthy: Harder & Deafer = Clearer & More Persuasive
The harder the times and the deafer the people, the clearer and more persuasive our proclamation must be. - John Stott [ref]



2 Timothy 4:6 -- When Paul speaks of being made an offering, is he speaking about indulgences to save people from purgatory?

MISINTERPRETATION: Does this verse lend support to the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory or the idea that one can atone for another’s sins?

CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION: When Paul speaks of being “poured out as a libation [offering]” he is referring to his death as a martyr. There is nothing here about purgatory, indulgences, prayers for the dead, or anything supporting the Catholic doctrine of a Treasury of Merit contributed to by good deeds from which those in need in purgatory can draw.

This Catholic dogma is biblically unfounded and contrary to the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace through faith (Rom. 3:28; 4:5; Eph. 2:8–9; Titus 3:5–6). The concept of human beings helping to atone for the sins of other humans contradicts the all-sufficiency of the death of Christ. Regarding his redemptive work for our salvation, Jesus on the cross said, “It is finished” (John 19:39; cf. 17:4). For “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:14).

- Norman L. Geisler and Ron Rhodes [ref]


2 TIMOTHY 4:7 - A Life Well Lived

Any non-believer (and even some believers) looking at Paul's current predicament would be tempted to view him as a failure. He is on the verge of being executed by the Roman government. By all appearances he has lost the fight, death is his only reward, and his faith cannot save him from his fate. "[T]hough he appears to be conquered and to be about to die a felon’s death, yet he has conquered, for he has finished the course Jesus set before him; he has kept the faith by committing it to faithful men and establishing churches." [ref] What's more, Paul is viewing his life from a much higher perspective. Yes, there have been hardships, difficulties, and obstacles aplenty. But the vital, life-altering, faith-sustaining truth is that everything in Paul's life had been by God's design, according to God's purpose, and all for God's glory.

"Now, before the great adventure of [Paul's] new voyage begins, he looks back over his ministry of about 30 years. He describes it -- factually not boastfully -- in three terse expressions." [ref] Paul says: "'I chose the right contest, I have kept on running, I have kept faith.'" [ref]

"It is heartening to be able to look back and have no regrets. Paul was not always popular, nor was he usually comfortable; but he remained faithful. That is what really counted." [ref]

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7)
"If we accept the dominance of the athletic metaphor here, we can paraphrase the verse like this: 'I have competed well in the athletic contest [of life], I have finished the race, I have kept the rules' -- not 'fouled out' and so been disqualified from winning." [ref]

I have fought the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7)
"The 'fight' is the athletic contest of his struggle for Christ." [ref]

Paul's Christian life and ministry had indeed been one prolonged fight: "It had been a fight against Satan; against the principalities and powers, the world-rulers of this darkness in the heavenlies; against Jewish and pagan vice and violence; against Judaism among the Galatians; against fanaticism among the Thessalonians; against contention, fornication, and litigation among the Corinthians; against incipient Gnosticism among the Ephesians and Colossians; against fightings without and fears within; and last but not least, against the law of sin and death operating within his own heart." [ref]

I have finished the course (2 Timothy 4:7)
Paul "had used this metaphor also of himself to the elders at Ephesus (Acts 20:24). Then the 'course' was ahead of him. Now it is behind him." [ref] "Paul's race was finished, or at least the end was clearly in sight. It is important to note that Paul made no claim to having won the race; he was content with having finished it. Marathon runners know the exhilaration of finishing the grueling miles of that race -- they are thankful just to cross the finish line. Completion is a significant accomplishment, revealing incredible endurance and determination." [ref]

"Course" "may mean a lap in a race. Paul may be thinking of the transmission of the faith through the centuries as a relay race: he has successfully finished his course and passed on the faith to others. The figure of the relay race seems to fit the following verse, for not Paul only, but the whole 'team' will receive the prize." [ref]

I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7)
Suggested interpretations include:

  • "I have carefully guarded the faith" [ref]
  • "I have kept faith with my master" [ref]; Paul "has not deserted. He has kept faith with Christ." [ref]
  • "I have been true to my promises" [ref]
  • "I have retained my personal trust in God, my confidence in all his Christ-centered promises." [ref]

The main idea is Paul's faithfulness in his stewardship of Christian truth. [ref] [ref]

"Keep means not only 'guard' but also 'observe and do.'" [ref] While interpreters understand Paul as saying either that he had remained loyal to God and followed his rules or that he had guarded the Gospel [ref], in fact both are true: Paul had remained loyal to God, including faithfully guarding the Gospel.

In this great contest of life, this is what it means for a Christian to play by God's rules: to faithfully guard the truth by both personally and persistently applying it to one's own life and sharing it with others at every available opportunity.


2 TIMOTHY 4:8 - The Reward for Faithfulness

Paul is looking past this life, gazing into eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ. His declarations are not meant for skeptics; he is longing for what awaits both he and every other faithful Christian. [ref]

in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
Meaning: "I have nothing more to do than to receive the crown." [ref]

"[A] crown, or garland, used to be bestowed at the Greek national games on the successful competitor in wrestling, running, etc. (compare 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10)." [ref] "A symbol of triumph and honor, it was the most coveted prize in ancient Rome. This is probably what Paul was referring to when he spoke of a 'crown.'" [ref]

Related: Righteous/Righteousness

in the future (2 Timothy 4:8)
This phrase (Greek loipoi) pertains "to the part of a whole which remains or continues, and thus constitutes the rest of the whole -- ‘rest, remaining, what remains, other.’" [ref] "The race had been run; the conflict had been waged; and all which was now necessary to complete the whole transaction, was merely that the crown be bestowed."  [ref

there is laid up (2 Timothy 4:8)
"This crown is laid up -- it is in view, but not in possession." [ref]

the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
That is to say:

  • "the crown that consists in righteousness and is also the reward for righteousness" [ref]
  • "the crown which belongs to, or is the due reward of, righteousness" [ref]
  • "the crown appropriate to the righteous man, and belonging to righteousness" [ref]
  • "a crown won in the cause of righteousness, and conferred as the reward of his conflicts and efforts in the cause of holiness ... the appropriate reward of his efforts to be personally holy, and to spread the principles of holiness as far as possible through the world"  [ref]

As one source explains: "[T]he context here seems to indicate that the crown represents eternal righteousness. Believers receive the imputed righteousness of Christ (justification) at salvation (Rom. 4:6, 11). The Holy Spirit works practical righteousness (sanctification) in the believer throughout his lifetime of struggle with sin (Rom. 6:13, 19; 8:4; Eph. 5:9; 1 Pet. 2:24). But only when the struggle is complete will the Christian receive Christ’s righteousness perfected in him (glorification) when he enters heaven." [ref]

Notice some of the ways in which "crown" is used in the NT:

  • Jesus' enemies mocked him with a crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2, 5).
  • Paul viewed the Philippian believers as his joy and crown (Philippians 4:1).
  • Paul viewd the Thessalonian believers as his hope and joy and crown of exultation (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
  • Paul looked forward to receiving the crown of righteousness following his departure from this life (2 Timothy 4:8).
  • The believer who persevers under trial will receive the crown of life (James 1:12).
  • At Jesus' second coming we will receive the unfading crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4).
  • Faithfulness unto death will be rewarded with the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
  • Jesus is seen wearing a crown and carrying a sharp sickle (Revelation 14:14).


Headpiece symbolizing honor or high office. The OT refers to three kinds of crowns in addition to using the word metaphorically.

One type of crown was worn by the high priest and Hebrew kings. The high priest’s “holy crown” was a gold plate engraved with the words “Holy to the Lord” fastened to the front of a turban (Ex 29:6; 39:30). It symbolized his consecration as the people’s representative before God. The Hebrew kings wore a crown light enough to be worn into battle (2 Sm 1:10), perhaps a narrow band of silk studded with jewels. Like the high priest’s, the king’s crown also indicated a divinely appointed office (2 Kgs 11:12; Ps 89:39; 132:18). A second type of crown was a massive gold and jeweled symbol of office worn by pagan kings and idols (2 Sm 12:30; Est 1:11). The prophet Zechariah placed such a crown on Joshua the high priest to indicate the union of royal and priestly functions (Zec 6:11, 14). A third type of crown was a wreath of flowers used at a banquet to symbolize joy and celebration (Sg 3:11; Is 28:1; Wisd of Sol 2:8).

The word “crown” is used metaphorically to indicate rule or royalty (Nah 3:17 KJV), glory or honor (Jb 19:9; Ps 8:5; Ez 16:12), joy (Ez 23:42), or pride (Jb 31:36; Is 28:3).

In the NT the most common word for crown means a laurel wreath worn at banquets or given as a civic or military honor. The apostle Paul alluded to its use as an athletic prize when he urged Christians to be disciplined in striving for a “crown” that would not wither (1 Cor 9:25 KJV; 2 Tm 2:5). Paul regarded his converts as his “joy and crown” (Phil 4:1; 1 Thes 2:19).

A victor’s wreath symbolizes the glory of Christ (Heb 2:7, 9) and the eternal life of Christians who have persevered (Jas 1:12; 1 Pt 5:4; Rv 2:10; 3:11). In the Book of Revelation the victories of the locusts (Rv 9:7), the woman (Rv 12:1), and Christ (Rv 6:2; 14:14) are symbolized by laurel crowns. A different Greek word, meaning a royal crown, is used for the diadems on the heads of the dragon (Rv 12:3), the beast from the sea (Rv 13:1), and Christ (Rv 19:12).

Jesus’ crown of thorns was a circlet formed from a prickly shrub, an ironic parody of a victor’s wreath (Mk 15:17, 18). Its combination with the robe, scepter (Mt 27:27–29), and satirical inscription on the cross that Jesus was “the King of the Jews” (Mk 15:26), were all meant to mock him as a defeated messianic aspirant.

- Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible [ref]


If someone were to ask you what your biggest dream is, what would you say? As a high school student, I knew the answer immediately: to play college basketball. Even though I was short and white, I was determined to play hoops at the next level. Since I grew up in a small town in the mountains of southern California, it was difficult to find a good pickup game of basketball. So to get better, I often practiced alone for hours in the morning, late into the night after practice, and many times in the blistering snow. “Whatever it takes” was my attitude, and I loved it.

But when I got to college, I had an eye-opening experience. Players were quicker, taller, and much more athletic than I was accustomed to. While I did make the team, I rarely played my first two years, to my deep discouragement. As a result, I nearly gave up. “Why keep working hard,” I reasoned, “if I’m not going to play anyway?” At this stage in my life, the cost of playing college basketball, even though it was my dream, was beginning to outweigh the benefits.

Is Following Jesus Worth It?
If you have been following Jesus for even a short period of time, you have probably experienced moments of doubt, uncertainty, and even anger at God. This is normal. Is it really worth being a Christian when the cost is so high? Like my dilemma with college basketball, you may have wondered if it’s really worth the effort to continue believing in Jesus. Maybe you have felt like the psalmist who said, “But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.… Surely in vain I have kept myself pure” (Psa 73:2–3, 13 NASB).

I remember feeling this way as a high school sophomore. Since I grew up in a Christian home, I had heard countless messages on saving sex for marriage. The consequences of ignoring God’s plan were ingrained in me since I was young. I knew the reality of sexually transmitted diseases and other consequences of not waiting. But as much as I knew these things to be true, they didn’t seem to fit my experience. Quite a few of my friends were having sex, but none of them (as far as I knew) had an STD, went through painful breakups, or were particularly miserable. In fact, many seemed quite content with their choices. I honestly wondered, “If my non-Christian friends seem to be getting along just fine without obeying God, is it that important to remain faithful?”

Embrace the Difficulty and Cost of Faith
For some people, believing and trusting in God appears to be quite simple. I am not one of them. Faith is not easy for me. In a world that emphasizes the present rather than the eternal, the powerful over the meek, and the visible rather than the invisible, I find it a struggle to live for God daily. It simply is not natural to die to myself and to live for God. For the longest time, I really thought I was alone in this struggle. But when I began to read the Bible more carefully, I realized that many of the godliest people struggled deeply with their faith.

For example, David was “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22 NASB; see also 1 Sam 13:14). He was personally chosen by God to be the king of Israel because of his humility, strength, and devotion. Yet even David experienced doubt and desperation in his relationship with God. Even though he had done nothing wrong, David had to flee for his life from King Saul. While hiding in a cave, David cried out to God. David’s honesty with God amazes me:

I cry aloud with my voice to the Lord; I make supplication with my voice to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul (Psalm 142:1-4 NASB).

Yet, despite the honest outpouring of his heart, David remained faithful to God and the call placed on him to serve God and Israel’s king. David’s commitment in this circumstance continues to fuel my faith.

Another great example is Abraham. Of all the people on earth, God chose Abraham to be the father of the nation of Israel. God promised to make Abraham’s name great, to bless him, to give his descendants land, and to protect them from their enemies (Gen 12:1–3). Abraham chose to believe God through faith and God “reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6 NASB). But then God asked Abraham to do something utterly confusing -- to sacrifice his own son. The power of this command sank home to me only when I became a father myself. I can hardly imagine anything more horrific than being asked to take the life of my own son. What must have gone through Abraham’s mind? Did faith make sense to him? Do you think he struggled with God’s command? I’m sure he did.

Almost every character in the Bible struggled with trusting God at some point in his or her life. Joseph wondered why he was sold into slavery. The disciples wondered why Jesus was betrayed, beaten, and ultimately crucified on the cross when they believed He was the Messiah who would free Israel. Job wondered why, as a righteous man, he was experiencing such acute suffering. Similarly, you may have wondered why your parents got divorced, why a close friend betrayed you, or why you are in the midst of any number of other difficult circumstances. If so, you are in good company.

Even though faith may not always make sense from a human perspective, we can trust that God is good and that He has a plan for everything. God never let go of the steering wheel while David was fleeing from Saul, while Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, or when Joseph was sold into slavery. This is why Joseph says to his brothers after revealing his identity, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result” (Gen 50:20 NASB). It’s as if Christ is saying to us, “Trust me. I’m alive and in control of every situation. I will take your struggles and change them into blessings. I will take your suffering and turn it into joy. And how can I do that? I’m the sovereign, almighty Lord of the universe, who can do all things and who causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. So trust in me, no matter what.”

Think Long Term
Imagine putting a chocolate chip cookie in front of a three-year-old and asking him not to eat it. Do you think he could resist? Recently some researchers did exactly this to study the human will. Children were given a single cookie with the promise that if they didn’t eat it for five minutes, they would be given a second cookie. While some of the children resisted the temptation, others simply could not. The researchers found that the children who resisted the cookie at three years old were far more likely to succeed in school, relationships, financially, and in their future careers. Why? The simple answer is that success requires delaying present desires for later gratification.

Esau encountered such a decision in Gen 25:29–34. Famished after a full day of hunting, he faced a difficult test: Should he wait, or should he eat a bowl of his favorite soup immediately but give up his birthright -- which granted him the majority share of his father’s estate in the distant future? Esau settled for the temporary pleasure of a tasty meal. He lived for the moment rather than the future.

Ask yourself an honest question: In what ways are your decisions like Esau’s? How are you giving up long-term good for a present thrill? Think about your decisions with money, school, and even sexual purity. Are you sacrificing God’s great plan for you by indulging in temporary pleasure? Many of my friends who were sexually active in high school are now paying a heavy price. Some have been divorced, and others have in fact contracted STDs. Even though I felt like giving in to the pressure, I am so thankful that I had the strength and support to focus on the long term. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. You may not feel like continuing to follow Jesus and doing the right thing now, but remember, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9 NIV). It will be worth it in the end. Remind yourself that God will bless you in unimaginable ways if you remain faithful now.

Never Underestimate the Difference You Are Making
When I was a freshman in high school, the senior quarterback, Eric, said something to me I will never forget. One Saturday night I was hanging out with some friends in my hometown. An older student -- a lineman on the football team -- came up to me while I was sitting on the back of my truck and tried to pressure me into having a drink of alcohol. And for some reason he wouldn’t take no for an answer. As soon as he noticed, Eric came to my defense. He walked over and got right in this guy’s face and said, “Leave him alone. I’ve decided not to drink, too. Sean has inspired me not to drink. I’ve never seen anyone stand up so strongly for what he believes. So don’t pressure him.”

To be honest, I was shocked to hear him say that. The reason I wouldn’t drink is because I had made a promise to my parents that I would not have even a sip of alcohol throughout my high school career, nor would I let someone who had consumed any alcohol get in my car. But I had never thought how my choices could influence someone else, let alone the captain of the football team. While this story worked out for good, I could also tell you stories of when I failed to live up to what I believed. I have made poor decisions at times that I know reflect poorly on me, my family, and my creator. But this experience taught me a profound truth: We can have a powerful effect on people’s lives even when we don’t realize it. Trust me, people are watching your life. If you decide to live for Jesus, you will make a difference -- even if you don’t know it.

Never Give Up
As I look back on my basketball career, I am so thankful that I did not give up. My last two years of college, I was part of two teams that went 28–6 and 30–7, with two visits to the national tournament. And my senior year I was fortunate enough to be a team captain. Had I given up too early, I would have missed out on incredible opportunities for growth and fun.

Similarly, as I look back on my spiritual life, I am so thankful that I have continued to follow Jesus. There have certainly been trials and temptations, but there is no doubt in my mind that it has been worth it. Keep the faith.

- Sean McDowell [ref]

which the Lord, the rightous Judge, will award to me on that day (2 Timothy 4:8)
Here Paul may be alluding "to the brabeus, or umpire in the Grecian games, whose office it was to declare the victor, and to give the crown." [ref] "The Lord, the righteous Judge" would soon be reversing the unjust verdict of the wicked pagan emperor Nero. [ref]

While Paul does not view righteousness as something to be earned, his use of "athletic imagery implies the need for a life of faithful response on the part of Christians; God has given salvation and righteousness and along with them the responsibility to work out, implement and perform the new life in the power of the Holy Spirit." [ref]

to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8)
"His appearing" refers to "the Second Coming of Christ. Those who love it do not fear it, for 'there is no fear in love' (1 John 4:18); they endeavour to make themselves increasingly ready and fit for it (1 John 3:3); when they hear the Lord say, 'I come quickly,' their hearts respond, 'Amen; come, Lord Jesus' (Revelation 22:20). The perfect tense is used because their love will have continued up to the moment of their receiving the crown, or because St. Paul is thinking of them from the standpoint of the day of crowning." [ref]

"Of all the indications that one loves the Lord, this earnest longing for his return is one of the best, for such a person is thinking not only of himself and of his own glory but also of his Lord and of the latter's public vindication." [ref]

"The unbeliever, being unjustified, dreads the coming of Christ (if he believes in it or thinks about it at all). Being unready for it, he will shrink in shame from Christ at his coming. The believer, on the other hand, having been justified, looks forward to Christ’s coming and has set his heart upon it. Being ready for it, he will have boldness when Christ appears (1 Jn. 2:28). Only those who have entered by faith into the benefit of Christ’s first coming are eagerly awaiting his second (cf. Heb. 9:28)." [ref]


[In 2 Timothy 4:8] Paul in his confident hope in God and in his faithful life and ministry provides a model for all believers. For the promise of God's righteousness is a promise to all, with one qualification -- who have longed for his appearing. In this qualification several things become apparent. Paul describes a life lived in anticipation of Christ's return. Christians are to be those who from the moment they learn of it live for the return of Christ. The false teaching had basically eliminated the need for Christ's return, for it taught that the resurrection had already occurred and salvation was complete. As a result, those affected by such doctrines lived either in the past or only for the moment.

Many modern Christians living in comfort and economic security are equally confused. In reality salvation is yet to be completed; sin and evil are yet to be destroyed. Christians are to carry on a struggle against sin in the flesh in full awareness that the present experience is not complete but can indeed be one of growth and victory. This understanding of the need and significance of Christ's return for God's people will transform a believer's life. Endurance, perseverance and faithfulness make perfect sense in the light of Christ's future appearance. Paul's life bore these marks, and his reward is sure. All who follow him may be assured of the same reward.

- Philip H. Towner [ref]


*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. ( | **This outline is from The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe