II Timothy

II Timothy 4:19-22 Farewell Greetings.

Prisca (or Pricilla), and Aquila were trusted supporters who dwelt with Timothy in Ephesus, so Paul passes along his greetings to them and the household of Onesiphorus (v. 19). In his travels Erastus was left in Corinth and Trophimus in Miletus (v. 20 Cf. Acts 20:4; 21:29; Rom. 16:23). It would appear that Prisca and Aquila were church planters. “They had come to Corinth from Rome. Later they accompanied Paul to Ephesus (Acts 20:18-19) and hosted a house church there for several years before returning to Rome (Rom. 16:3-4; I Cor. 16:19)” (NGSB p.1924). There is also a host of others who sent their greetings to Timothy (v. 21).

Paul really wanted Timothy to visit him before winter. “Winter weather would prevent travel by ship. Paul may have felt that if Timothy waited too long, he would not arrive before Paul’s execution (v. 9). In any event, he needed his cloak before winter (v. 13)” (NGSB p.1924). Paul then ends his letter with a quite remarkable statement-he prays that the Lord Jesus Christ would be with Timothy’s spirit. Only God Himself could be with Timothy in this way, and it must have been a great encouragement to Timothy, not just in word, but more importantly in deed. As always, his son in the faith would also need grace (v. 22).

II Timothy

II Timothy 4:17-18 “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.”

“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me” (v. 17a). In spite of what Paul wrote in the immediately preceding verses on abandonment, and those who fight against the ministry of the word (vv. 9-16), he can emphatically declare that the Lord stood with him and strengthened him. Even as members of the Sanhedrin were plotting against him, the Lord spoke to him directly. Luke wrote that “the following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome’” (Acts 23:11). The Lord always provides His servants with the grace we need in our time of need (Cf. Heb. 4:16). The Lord continues to say this to all His people. “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD” (Ps. 31:24)! “Paul had learned long ago that he could always depend upon the One who had commissioned him (2 Cor. 12:9, 10; Phil. 4:11-13)” (NGSB p.1924).

There was one reason alone given why Paul says that the Lord stood with and strengthened him-“that the message might be preached fully through” him, to the end that “all the Gentiles might hear” (v. 17b). Paul understood this to be his unique mission. No amount of opposition from men like Alexander, or the Sanhedrin, were going to dissuade him from this mission. Paul is however quick to add that, the Lord also delivered him “out of the mouth of the lion” (v. 17c), “a metaphor for a narrow escape from death” (NGSB p.1924). Furthermore, just as the Lord had been delivering him, even so He will continue to deliver him “from every evil work,” and preserve him “for His heavenly kingdom” (v. 18ab Cf. Ps. 121:7). In all his labour for the kingdom, the Lord would be with him, even to the end. We have the predestined hope of a heavenly kingdom. For these reasons he could say, and we can echo, the following. “To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”

II Timothy

II Timothy 4:14-16 Some Fight And Some Forsake.

Some, like Alexander the coppersmith, did Paul “much harm” (v. 14). This could be the same Alexander mentioned with Hymenaeus at I Timothy 1:20. In their case, their faith suffered shipwreck, Paul actually delivering them over to Satan “that they may learn not to blaspheme.” This was church discipline, that they might recognize their errors and repent. Perhaps by the time of the second letter Alexander still had not done so. This kind of behaviour, and dealing with these kinds of issues, surely tax any minister of the word. In the case of this Alexander, he actually opposed their words, in other words, the ministry of the word. For this reason Paul warns Timothy to beware of him (v. 15).

However, as he mentioned in the immediately preceding verses, there were even coworkers in the ministry who had abandoned him (vv. 9-13), or as he adds here-at his first defence none stood with him, but all forsook him (v. 16a). However, in the case of the latter, he in effect prays that this would not be held against them. This echoes what Jesus said on the cross-“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23:34), and later Stephen before his death (Acts7:60). The former are delivered to Satan that they might repent. The latter are forgiven, because they acted in weakness and ignorance (Acts 23:11). The lives of both groups going forward would reveal their true natures, and sadly some may never change their ways.

II Timothy

II Timothy 4:9-13 Feeling Abandoned, But Also Comforted.

Paul really wanted to see Timothy. No doubt this was part of why he wanted Timothy to train up other men for leadership, so that the church at Ephesus could eventually carry on without him. Perhaps Paul even thought of Timothy as following him in an itinerant ministry. One thing was clear, Paul felt abandoned. He longed for Timothy’s companionship. Demas was with Paul during his first imprisonment (Col. 4:14), and along with Luke and the others, was a fellow labourer (Philemon 24). Furthermore, since Titus is also listed, along with a Crescens, as also among those who had “forsaken” him, there is no reason to think that the love of this present world meant that Demas necessarily had abandoned the faith (v. 10).

It is surely the case that there are times when one feels abandoned, in Paul’s case suffering imprisonment, even though our friends and colleagues are engaged in very legitimate and necessary work elsewhere. This does not mean we should deny these feelings, nor indeed our desire for companionship in such trying circumstances.Two other people held a special place for Paul-Luke and Mark. Luke, the “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14), not only provided spiritual companionship, but he no doubt was ever present to also address Paul’s physical needs. This must have surely been a great comfort to Paul. Nevertheless, he seems to have really missed his fellow ministers. For this reason he wants Timothy to bring Mark with him since he was “useful” to him “for ministry” (v. 11).

Paul, perhaps not wanting the ministry in Ephesus to suffer from the loss of Timothy and Mark, informs Timothy that he had sent Tychicus there to serve (v. 12), whom Luke mentions along with Timothy in Acts (20:4). Perhaps it was Tychicus who was the bearer of this letter. Perhaps from the urging of Luke, in anticipation of winter coming (v. 21), he also asks Timothy to bring his cloak with him, for protection against the dampness and cold. He also wanted Timothy to bring “the books, especially the parchments” (v. 13). Ultimately the scriptures are in view, and vital for Paul to receive. These were necessary for ministry, but they would also be a source of comfort and strength. There are times when the bible is indeed our main source of strength and hope.

II Timothy

II Timothy 4:6-8 Poured Out.

Being “poured out as a drink offering” refers to a sacrificial death (v. 6). Paul already accepted that he would die soon for his faith. “This metaphor for death (cf. Phil. 2:17) is taken from the language of the Old Testament sacrificial system. A drink offering of wine was poured out in the sanctuary as an offering to God (Nu. 15:5, 7, 10; 28:7). Paul understands his impending death as an offering to Christ” (NGSB p. 1923). “My departure” is “another metaphor for death (Phil. 1:23). Paul held steadfastly to the hope and assurance of a destination beyond the grave (v. 18)” (NGSB p. 1923). To this Paul adds two more metaphors saying that he had “fought the good fight,” and had “finished the race” (v. 7). These both refer to him keeping the faith. Whether the Christian life is a marathon or for some a sprint, like the repentant thief on the cross (Cf. Lk. 23:43), the promise is of complete perfect righteousness is the same.

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote that believers should look at their persevering in the faith like a runner who runs to win the prize (9:24-26a), or as a fighter fighting to win (v. 26b). However, metaphors are never an exact replica of the thing referred to, so in this case it is not as though we earn eternal life, nor that one Christian comes in first, second, or third, and all the rest failed. The prize which Paul refers to is persevering to the end. Furthermore we are only able to persevere to the end because it is God who is at work in each of us (Phil. 2:12). What Paul has in mind when he refers to disciplining his body (I Cor. 9:27), is the ongoing process of progressive sanctification, or as he wrote to the Philippians-working out what God works in us. Every Christian will ultimately receive that finished crown of perfect righteousness at His appearing (II Tim. 4:8 Cf. 1:12; Js. 1:12). Like Paul, we are all drink offerings that accompany the Lamb, “a sweet aroma to the LORD” (Nu. 15:7 cf. vv. 5, 10).

II Timothy

II Timothy 4:3-5 “Be watchful!”

We must be earnest at all times, because in every age there will people who “will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers” (v. 3). For some people it is their desires that drive their theology (Cf. I Tim. 1:10). “Some people have an endless fascination with everything but the truth” (NGSB p. 1922). Some are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (3:7). Furthermore, it has always been true that people will seek to entrench such aberrant doctrine by seeking majority rule. There are people in every age who will seek out teachers who will scratch the itch in their ears, and they will heap up for themselves teachers who will teach what they want to hear.  Sometimes the lone voice, who is preaching the truth, often loses the democratic vote. However, the truth is never the truth because the majority says it is.

When one turns their ears to false teachers who address the itch of sinful motivations, they are also turning “their ears away from the truth” (v. 4a). There are not multiple versions of the truth. What those who are motivated by their desires seek are “fables” (v. 4b). In this context Paul wanted Timothy to “be watchful in all things” (v. 5). Every minister of the word, and indeed every Christian, needs to examine themselves that we are not simply seeking teachers who will support doctrine which is motivated by our own desires, instead of seeking the truth. Furthermore, these false teachers must be opposed, even if they are in the majority. We are to be watchful not just in some things, but “in all things.” Afflictions in this work, must be endured, because they will come. The work of an evangelist is a constant one, for there are always those who need to be converted. This is all part and parcel of fulfilling the pastoral ministry of the word.

II Timothy

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).

II Timothy

II Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given.”

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I deliberately limited the title above to “All scripture is given” for the simple reason that it is easy to gloss over this key point-all scripture is “given.” Though all scripture was obviously written through the instrumentality of humans, they wrote that which they were given. God predestined this means to accomplish His end. If God had chosen to not give us the scriptures, then we would not have them. Peter, as another human author of scripture, concurs with Paul when he says, “that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Pet. 1:20). A better word than ‘interpretation’ for the Greek word ‘epilusis’ would be ‘origin’ or explanation. In other words, the only thing which explains the phenomenon of biblical prophecy is that God has given it “by inspiration.”

How He has given the scriptures was “by inspiration,” or God-breathed. Because the scriptures are given by inspiration of God it also makes them unique, and there is no other book like the bible having sole authority over all. As a result they are infallibly true, completely trustworthy and clear, and sufficient to us for everything we need to know, not only concerning salvation and so-called “religious” matters, but they provide all the wisdom we need to govern our lives in every sphere and area of life. It is precisely because “all scripture is given by inspiration of God,” that they are “profitable.” Paul used this specific word when writing to Timothy twice, once in each letter, and once also to Titus. ‘Ophelimos’ means that something or someone is useful, helpful, serviceable, advantageous, or able to produce a profit. According to Strong’s, it is from a form of ophelos, which in turn is a form of ophello, which is the idea of benefit or accumulating as a benefit, profit, or advantage.

At I Timothy 4:8 (Cf. 6:11), Paul writes that even though bodily exercise has some profit or yields an advantage for one’s health, “godliness is profitable for all things.” To Titus Paul wrote that when believers are “careful to maintain good works, these things are good and profitable to men” (3:8). This is the fashion in which Paul views the place of the scriptures, and the very first thing which he notes that all scripture is profitable for is doctrine. Two things should be noted here, the first is the prime importance Paul placed on doctrine, and secondly that for any doctrine to be profitable it must flow from the study of all scripture (Cf. Rom. 15:4). Paul then highlights three verbal imperatives that cover a key aspect of the pastoral ministry, but which also are key to anyone reading all scripture. The scriptures, by their very nature as “given by inspiration of God,” when read or delivered to fallen human beings, will of necessity reprove, correct, and instruct.

These three words may seem like synonyms, but in fact they express a logical flow. Reprove carries the idea that something wrong has been done, including aberrant beliefs. Care-frontation, to use a word to express the care we need to take in the necessary job of confrontation, is the first thing. The second thing that is then necessary is to correct. This is the nature of repentance, turning from that which we have been reproved of, and turning in the opposite direction to walk on the correct path. Instruction is of course involved in the first two, but here, as third in our order, it carries the idea of being instructed so that reproof and correction may not required in a particular area again. If it is required again, then the same process should be applied. This process should begin first with the preacher as he studies the word. As noted above, the role of all scripture here is clearly directed to all who hear and read it.

However, in this letter to one of his pastoral protégés, Paul is saying to Timothy that only if he understands that this process begins with him as a minister of the word, will he be a man of God made complete, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The goal of the process listed above is “righteousness.” The Greek word ‘dikaiosune’ means more here than simply right acts, synonyms could be justification, or as regards a person’s character (which is what Paul is referring to here), ‘equity’ or ‘integrity.’ As regards the Christian, any sin is fundamentally a lack of integrity on our part. Repentance is to re-establish equity or integrity in doctrine and life. This is that role of scripture which Paul wishes to highlight here. To be “thoroughly equipped” is to be properly trained. The man of God must be thoroughly trained in the study of ALL scripture. To only study certain portions or to study without due diligence, is to fall short of being “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

II Timothy

II Timothy 3:10-15 Doctrine And Life Based On Scripture.

In contrast to the counterfeits of verses 1-9, Timothy provided an example of apprenticed leadership. First in order of importance, Timothy followed Paul’s doctrine, which was the apostolic witness (v. 10a Cf. I Tim. 4:6). People live out the doctrine which they believe. Timothy also followed the “manner of life” that Paul lived, and that which flowed from his doctrine (v. 10b). They also shared the same purpose. The Christian life is a purpose driven life, one that is consistent with one’s doctrine and manner of life. By the same token, our doctrine has purpose, as does our manner of life. This requires faith, both to act on what we believe, and to endure longsuffering, persecution, and afflictions (v. 11). Persecution is the opposition from others, afflictions are physical ailments, and longsuffering is the bearing with the overall task of being a minister of the word. At the centre of all these things there is love, which is the greatest of all (Cf. I Cor. 13).

Paul was able to endure persecutions because the Lord delivered him out of them all (Cf. 34:19). However, Timothy and all who would follow him, should be under no illusion, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (v. 12). “Evil men and imposters” will also progress in their beliefs and practice, in their case getting worse and worse. They deceive because they themselves are deceived (v. 13 II Th. 2:11). The point for Timothy was to continue in the doctrine and manner of life which began with the Lord, and was carried on with the apostolic witness (v. 14 Cf. 1:13). The scriptural testimony came with accompanying signs and wonders, such that those who heard could be assured of the truth, and they also had examples, like Paul and the other apostles, to follow. Furthermore, this testimony was consistent with “the Holy Scriptures,” which Timothy knew from his infancy, which are able to make one “wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 15 Cf. Jn. 5:39).

II Timothy

II Timothy 3:1-9 Powerless Opposition.

We know from other passages of scripture that ‘the last days’ is that time of transition between old and new covenant administrations, and the revelatory canonical word associated with it (v. 1 Cf. Dt. 4:30; Heb. 1:2). This period was characterized as a period of great stress. It was also populated by many who showed themselves as “lovers of themselves and lovers of money…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (vv. 2-4). Of all the descriptives which Paul used they all had one thing in common, they had “a form of godliness” but without the power. These were religious people who didn’t know the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). The sad truth is there are people who fit this description in every age. We are still called to turn away from such-those who claim to be Christians but live contrary and unrepentant lives (v. 5). These false professors seek out the weak to lead them astray (v. 6). These take great pride in their learning, but are “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (v. 7). As Jannes and Jambres opposed the new dispensation of revelation with Moses, even so these were opposed to the apostles and their witness (v. 8 Cf. Ex. 7:11-12, 22; 8:7; 9:11).* However, Paul saw their end as coming as quickly as the former-not over two thousand years (v. 9)!

* “In Jewish tradition these names were given to two Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses before Pharoah (Ex. 7;8).” (NGSB p.1921)