II Timothy 4:1-2 “Preach the word!”
Paul delivered a charge to Timothy which would be his primary responsibility-“Preach the word!” The primary duty of any pastor is to be a minister of the word. Really he should seek to minister the word in every situation-whether it is counselling and comfort, discipline as required, and the general governance, teaching, and preaching. The scope of this ministry of the word is as far as scripture itself-which he clearly delineated at 3:16-17, and other places. It was important for Paul to write that this charge was delivered before God (the Father), and the Lord Jesus Christ, because it was ultimately a matter of life and death, therefore there is two or three witnesses (Cf. II Cor. 13:1; Dt. 17:6; 19:15; Mt. 18:16). Speaking of matters of law and the courts, Paul reinforces this point when he says that ultimately both believers and unbelievers will appear before the Lord at His second coming.
Ministers of the word should seek to ensure that what they build is made of solid materials (Cf. I Cor. 3:12). “Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (I Cor. 3:13-15). In season and out, we must preach the word. In other words, when the harvest may be plentiful or not, “in every situation, whether good or bad, the Word is to be proclaimed” (NGSB p. 1922). Paul notes three things, in particular, as goals in ministering the word. First of all he says that we must convince. At Titus 2:15 he uses the same trilogy but instead of the word ‘convince,’ he says, “speak these things.” So the first order of business is to shine the light of the word into people’s lives and educate them on the truth of scripture.
Secondly, having shone this light we need to rebuke where this truth exposes where we and they have fallen short of it. Finally, as he said in his previous letter to Timothy-“those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (I Tim. 5:20). In that previous context, it may have in fact been elders who had sinned, “(some had apparently become involved in false teaching)” (NGSB p. 1914). Finally, we are to exhort. Much like the trilogy of 3:16-reproof, correction, and instruction, here we are to exhort or instruct our hearers as a preventive, in the hopes that reproof in the specific area of which we have convinced, may be avoided in the future. We must do this “with all longsuffering and teaching.” Teaching is a constant work, and we must bear with our hearers or readers, with gentleness and patience (Cf. Eph. 4:2; Col. 1:11), with Christ as our pattern (I Tim. 1:16).