Fulfill your ministry

external-content.duckduckgo.comA couple of nights ago, we finished up our Second Timothy Bible study that we began in the Fall. I love studying the Apostle Paul’s second epistle to his protege, Timothy. I learn something new every single time I open up this epistle and study it. I have written many articles on this epistle.

This article will focus on chapter four of the epistle. The apostle Paul challenges Timothy to fulfill his ministry, the high calling that he had received from the Lord.

I. Preach the Word

This seems like a simple concept. As we dig deeper into this passage, we will discover why the Apostle Paul encourages, actually commands Timothy to preach the Word.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (II Timothy 4)

When working with people, there is always going to come a moment when a spiritual leader will have to make a choice. He will either have to tell the people what they want to hear or, he will have to share the hard truths from the Word of God. People have always wanted spiritual leaders to tell them what they want to hear. Will Timothy remain faithful to preaching the Word of God or, will he give in and tell charming stories to entertain the crowd?

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (II Timothy 4:2)

In order to fulfill his ministry by preaching the Word, Timothy has to be ready at all times. He has to be ready in season. That means Timothy must be ready when the people want to hear the Word of God. He has to be ready out of season as well. That means Timothy must be ready to preach the Word even if and when the people do not want to hear it. What does preaching the Word look like practically speaking? The word reprove means to show people where they are wrong. As we expound the Word of God, conviction will take place because the Word of God penetrates our hearts and minds. In doing so, the Word of God shows us where we are wrong in our attitude, actions, and words. I do not know about you, but I do not like it when my faults are exposed. In fact, all of us have a sin nature that does not like being exposed. This is why people would rather hear entertaining stories instead of the preaching of the Word. The next word that Paul uses in this text is rebuke. The root of the Greek word used here means “to honor“. In order to lift people up to the level of honor that the Lord created us for, the preacher has to expose faults with the Word and help the person make corrections. This brings us to the third word used here, exhort. Exhortation is the combination of correction of encouragement. A spiritual leader who only encourages and never confronts and corrects will end up encouraging people down the wrong path. A spiritual leader who only confronts and corrects yet rarely encourages, will end up beating people down. Exhortation is a healthy balance between the two extremes. As a spiritual leader walks through this process of correcting and encouraging, he will need great patience and instruction. Some people will submit to this process. Others will just go somewhere else where they can hear what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. How should Timothy respond, especially when people oppose the teaching of the Word? How about when people leave because they do not want to deal with correction?

But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (II Timothy 4:5)

Timothy is challenged by Paul to endure this hardship and continue doing what he has been called to do. The same is true for us today. Each follower of Jesus is called to make disciples. We make disciples by investing the Word of God in the lives of others. Part of that process will involved exposing faults, correcting, and encouraging. We will need great patience and there will be hardship. Will we fulfill our ministry or not?

II. Love the Lord’s appearing

What motivated the Apostle Paul to do what he did? What motivated him to keep going, even when he was done wrong.

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. (II Timothy 4)

The Apostle Paul invested everything he had, his time, his energy, his resources, his life in advancing the Kingdom of God. He was a highly motivated individual. As he writes to Timothy, he encourages Timothy to live his life the same way. What is it that can motivate a person to live like this? The Apostle Paul knows that he will be rewarded on the day that the Lord Jesus makes His Second Advent. The Apostle Paul will receive the crown of righteousness. Are there other crowns? Yes!

  • It is an imperishable prize. (I Corinthians 9:24-27)
  • It is the crown of life, eternal life. (James 1:12)
  • It is the disciples that you made while on the earth. (I Thessalonians 2:19-20)
  • It is the crown of righteousness. (II Timothy 4:8)
  • It is an unfading crown of glory. (I Peter 5:4)

These crowns will be awarded to us based on how we serve the Lord from the time that we are born again until the day we die, or until we are taken home by the Lord Jesus Christ. This reward is what motivated the Apostle Paul to get out of bed every morning. Other than your bladder, what motivates you to get out of bed every morning?

III. Negative Examples

In this section of chapter four of Second Timothy, the Apostle Paul reminds Timothy of the faithful men and women who loved the Lord’s appearing and the unfaithful people who did not love the Lord’s appearing.

10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 
11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 
12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 
13 When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. 
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 
15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching. 19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 
20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. 
21 Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren. (II Timothy 4) 

The first negative example mentioned in the text is Demas. Paul reveals who he is in the text based on what he has done. Who was he? What do other passages in the Bible teach about him? In the Timothy passage, Paul tells us that Demas loves this present world more than he loves the Gospel. He deserted Paul when things got tough. This implies that he was part of the team at one time. Demas left Paul and ran away to Thessalonica. He may have gone to the church of the Thessalonians, a church which had embraced heretical teaching and was floundering as a result. Or, he could have been the one who brought the destructive heresy to Thessalonica. Paul had to write his second epistle to the church in Thessalonica to deal with the heresy. The following two passages from other epistles from Paul shed some light on the subject of who Demas was in the ministry.

  • Colossians 4:14
  • Philemon 23-24

Demas had worked with Dr. Luke, the writer of one of the Gospels. Demas had been part of the ministry, a fellow worker in the Gospel. It seems that all was well until Paul was imprisoned by Rome. At that point, Demas seemed to count the cost of preaching the Word and decided that it was not worth it. He loved the present world too much to give it all up to follow Christ, to join in Christ’s sufferings so he left. It seems that preaching the Word was okay until it became sacrificial and Demas decided to take his mask off and reveal who he really was and who he really wasn’t. 

The second negative example revealed by Paul in the text is Alexander the coppersmith. Paul tells us in chapter four that Alexander did Paul much harm while he was with him. He did much harm by directly opposing the teaching of the Word. Again, it seems that Alexander was on the team and as Paul began to teach the Word, he did not agree with the teaching and actually began to oppose the Truth. Before mentioning Alexander, Paul taught Timothy of the fact that difficult times will come because men in the church and ministry will not be able to endure sound teaching and instead, wanting to have their ears tickled, will seek teachers who will teach according to their natural desires. Alexander seems to be one of those men. Was he in the ministry with Paul? Had he pretended to be a believer at one time? Let’s see.

  • Acts 19:33
  • I Timothy 1:20

Acts reveals to us that Alexander was part of the team. He actually stood and defended the Gospel at one time, in the midst of heavy persecution. He seemed willing to suffer for a time. Along the way something happened. First Timothy reveals that Paul had to do some church discipline with Alexander, similar to what he had to do in Corinth. The difference between what happened in Corinth and what happened to Alexander is that the man in Corinth repented and was accepted back into fellowship. Alexander obviously did not repent, or at least not during the lifetime of Paul. Alexander had begun to blaspheme. This means that he was actually speaking ill of the Lord, knowing what he was doing. He was not teaching false doctrine out of ignorance. He knew good and well what he was doing. He was slandering the Lord and His true followers.

IV. Positive Examples

We have already learned of one of the team members, Luke, who served with Demas before he (Demas) walked away. He was a doctor who came to Christ and then began researching the life of Christ. Luke was classically trained in the best schooling that the Greeks had to offer so he was very methodical in his research. That research led him to write one of the Gospels. He wrote the Gospel to share Christ with one of his friends. The person obviously came to faith in Christ because Luke follows up his Gospel with Acts, a letter of discipleship to that same friend. Luke was ready to preach the Gospel in season and out of season. He was ready to suffer for the Gospel and did so as he traveled with Paul on his missionary trips. He is in Rome with Paul. He did not run away like Demas but was ready to join in the sufferings of Christ.

The next positive example that we see is John Mark. We learn that he is Barnabas’ cousin and part of the missionary team of Barnabas and Paul. Mark’s mother is also a believer and has a church in her home. A genuine believer is ready to sacrifice and use all that he has in the furtherance of the Gospel, even his home. Peter reveals in his first epistle that he is the one who led Mark to faith in Christ, and probably his mother too. Mark has the gift of helps and he helps Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary trip. Along the way, probably as persecution began to get severe, like Demas, he deserted. The difference is that Barnabas confronted him and he repented because he comes back to the team, even though Paul does not trust him. Mark goes on with Barnabas and proves his worth as a servant of Christ. Later on, Paul reconciles with Mark and asks for him by names in Second Timothy four.

Another positive example that we see in the text is Tychicus. He is part of the team that Paul works with, maybe even a disciple of Paul. In Acts we see that he worked and traveled with Paul on his missionary trips. He is a minister of the Gospel, preaching the Word in season and out of season. Tychicus is sent by Paul to Ephesus, Colossae, and Crete. He is always ready to serve and sacrifice when and where he is needed. A genuine believer builds his life around ministering the Gospel wherever he is needed or sent. He knows how to work in a team and is obedient to the Lord and his spiritual leaders.

Finally, we see Priscilla and Aquila. They were Jews who were forced out of Rome. In their journey, probably back to Jerusalem, the meet Paul in Corinth because they all worked in the same trade, tent makers. Paul seems to be the one who led them to Christ and they join him in the ministry as he travels on his mission trips. They are well trained and have the spiritual gift of teaching. Paul leaves them in Ephesus and they start a church in their home. They confront with the Word of God and then exhort with the same Word of God, exactly what Paul teaches Timothy to do in Second Timothy four. As a result, Apollos comes to faith and becomes a minister as well.

For further reading on Second Timothy, check out these articles.

  1. Attitude toward the Word of God
  2. The authority of the Word of God
  3. Fulfill your holy calling
  4. The difference between the believers and nonbelievers in the church
  5. Compete to win the prize
  6. Trained soldiers needed
  7. Guard the Gospel
  8. Stir up your spiritual gift

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s