Well, it has been a fun ride through the book of II Timothy. God has taught us so much about life, ministry, and discipleship through this short letter. I pray that we will continue to build our lives on what we are learning and that our ministries will flourish for the Lord’s glory as we make disciples.
This chapter focuses in on how Timothy can fulfill his holy calling to ministry. Take a moment and ready II Timothy 4 and then let’s see what we can glean from this awesome chapter.
The commands mentioned in the chapter are very important. They are there for a very specific reason and I would like to examine why.
- Preach the Word of God. When Timothy was to preach and teach, he was not to preach about the Bible or tell amazing life applicable stories. He was to preach and teach the Word. Why is that so important? In chapter 3 and verses 15-16, the Word is what gives wisdom that leads people to faith in Christ and brings about salvation in their lives. Stories will not do it. Information about the Bible will not do it. Only the Word of God will bring about life change. Once people’s lives are changed, they need the Word of God to continue working in their lives to bring about more change. The Word of God is what shows us where we are wrong and corrects us. The Word of God is what trains us to live righteously day in and day out. None of this can happen if the Word is not preached and taught.
- Be ready to preach in season and out of season. Preach and teach the Word of God, especially when the people want to hear It. That is what “in season”means. We are also to preach and teach the Word when people do not want to hear It. If you have been in a church for more that 5 minutes then you know that there are many in the church who do not come for the right reasons. Many come for selfish reasons. Many want friendship, community, children’s program, student program, choir, fellowship etc. These are not bad reasons but they are not the main reason that we come to church. We come to church for the Word of God. I am amazed Sunday after Sunday, the way I see people respond to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Some pay attention. Many play on their phones and pads (claiming to be following the preacher in their “Bibles” on the phone and tablet). Others nod off and sleep. Then, in the classrooms, some of the teachers boldly preach the Word while many talk about the Word of tell life applicable stories. If we are followers of Christ, we are to search out for the teaching and preaching of the Word. If we are honored to teach and preach, then we need to preach the Word and teach It.
- Reprove, rebuke, and exhort. As Timothy preaches and teaches the Word of God, he is to reprove the people. To reprove means to show people where they are wrong. In order to do this, he must use the Word of God. When a leader needs to correct someone, he must do it with the Word of God, not his own wisdom. If a leader uses his wisdom, not much will happen. If he uses the Word of God, real change can take place. As you reprove people with the Word of God, you will need to rebuke them. This means applying discipline when necessary. If you reprove them and they do not want to admit their mistakes, you have to discipline them. After disciplining them, you need to exhort them with the Word of God. To exhort means to build back up. The Word of God confronts us, shows us where we are wrong, disciplines us when needed, and finally builds us back up again. This is how a leader is effective and efficient in the ministry. All of this must be done with great patience and instruction.
- Be sober in all things. This means to be alert, to be on guard, to be ready for action. This leader is in the midst of spiritual warfare and he cannot take a break or he will be attacked.
- Endure all things. These attacks are going to come from within the church because there are evil men in the church who have not been born again, who do not follow Jesus as Lord. This leader must be ready and know that he can endure because of the grace of God.
- Do the work of an evangelist. He must not get too preoccupied with the attacks from within as to forget to take the Gospel to the lost people outside of the church.
- Make every effort to go to Paul soon. Paul is about to be martyred for his faith and he wants to see Timothy one last time before being put to death.
- Pick up Mark and bring him. Timothy works with Paul as part of a team and also with others. Team work is crucial for the success of the ministry. Each person knows his role and carries it out like a good soldier.
- Bring the cloak, books, and Scriptures. Timothy is a leader, yet, at the same time, he is ready and willing to serve.
- Be on guard against those who oppose the Truth. There will be those in the church and outside of the church who will oppose the Truth of the Word of God. Know that they are there. Be aware of them. Keep going to fulfill your calling.
Are you like Paul and Timothy, preaching the Word of God and teaching the Word of God at all times? As a leader, are you using the Word of God to reprove, rebuke, and exhort? Are you focusing on both the believers and nonbelievers? Do you work as part of a team? Are you a servant leader?
II. Negative Example
There are some negative examples in this text. They are the reason for many of the commands written in this chapter. I would like to take a look at them now, to learn who they are and make sure that we are not like them.
- They cannot endure sound doctrine. When they are reproved and rebuked, they lose heart and do not accept it.
- Since they cannot endure the Word of God and they want teachers to tell them what they want to hear, they seek out teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. These teachers will not reprove or rebuke them with the Word of God.
- They want their ears tickled and will church hop until they find someone who will tickle their ears.
- They go wherever they do not have to hear the Truth of the Word of God.
- They would rather have stories and myths. Some of the myths that people like to hear are things like, you can manipulate God with your prayers and words. He is forced to act based on your words, prayers, and faith. Another one would be salvation is like fire insurance. I say a prayer, receive my “salvation” and continue on with my life the way that I want to live. Another would be that if I give to “God” via a certain ministry, He has to bless me with riches and health. I can speak health and wealth into my life. If I am a believer, all is sunshine and roses. The reason that all is not sunshine and roses is because my faith is weak. There are tons of myths that people like to believe instead of the Word of God.
- Demas is given as an example of one of these people. He loved the present world more than the Word of God. He deserted Paul when persecution and suffering started.
- Alexander is another negative example given by Paul. He did much harm to Paul. His deeds were evil and he vigorously opposed the Truth that Paul was teaching.
- They scatter in the face of persecution. As long as things are going well, they love to minister. When things get tough because they preach, reprove, and rebuke with the Word, they run away.
Would it be possible to place yourself in this list? Do you wander from church to church, class to class trying to find teachers who will tickle your ears? Do you have a spiritual leader who is investing the Word of God in you, reproving and rebuking you? How do you respond when you are rebuked or reproved? Do you just ignore it or do you get angry at the one who delivered the message?
III. Positive Example
I do not want to end with the previous negative list. I would like to finish off the article with a positive note. Paul lists many positive examples in the text, many more positive than the negative ones.
- Paul – He has been and is pouring himself out into the lives of the people around him. In fact, because of that investment, he is close to death. He has spent his entire Christian life fighting the good fight and now he is about to finish the course. He kept the faith until the end. In the midst of fighting the good fight, he has been done wrong multiple times. Those wrong doings did not stop him from serving the Lord by investing in the people around him. In fact, he does not even hold a grudge against those who did him wrong. He team oriented. He did not try to do it all on his own. He raised up disciples and worked with them in the ministry and passed the torch on to them as his life was ending. He was a student of the Holy Scriptures all of his life, even until the end after he had written so many inspired letters and planted numerous churches. Paul was a great example of what it means to depend on the Lord in every circumstance of life. Paul carried his calling out to the end, fully accomplishing what the Lord had sent him to do. He has many testimonies, and has shared them, about the works of the Lord in him and through him.
- Priscilla and Aquila
- Linus and Claudia
All of these people are fellow soldiers in the furtherance of the Gospel with Paul and Timothy. They were all working together as a team. Timothy was ready to drop what he was doing to help out his mentor. All of the people mentioned here had dedicated their lives to the Gospel. They had all sat and were sitting under the teaching of the Word of God, had been rebuked and reproved. God had changed their lives and was continuing to change their lives through His Word. They had joined the team and were working with Paul to spread the Gospel by teaching people the Word of God. Are you like Paul and his team members? Would Paul place you in the list of positive examples? Are you sitting under the teaching of the Word of God? Is there a person in your life who uses the Scriptures to reprove and rebuke you? How do you respond when reproved and rebuked?
May the Lord help us to live according to the Scriptures day in and day out, preaching the Gospel in season and out.