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2 Timothy chapter 4

June 2, 2010

Paul had urged Timothy to be faithful — to be passionately loyal, even if doing so would cost him his life. He had warned his son in the faith about the inevitable opposition, and instructed him how to address his opponents. He had warned Timothy about the moral corruption of the last days. And he had called Timothy to remain true to the scriptures.

Now Paul’s message reached its ultimate crescendo:

2Ti 4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
2Ti 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
2Ti 4:4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
2Ti 4:5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Paul based his plea on the most profound truths imaginable. He delivered the plea in the presence of the Father and the Son — the very ones who gave the message to Paul; the ones in whose hands we will all face judgment; and the ones from whom we hope to receive an eternal reward. How Timothy responded to this divine appeal would not be without consequences, either for good or bad. Timothy would do well to pay close attention, and to carry out everything Paul was about to say.

Preach the Word! In three words, that is the mission. He must not let anything interfere with that mission — not church administration, not his personal life, nor any other matters. If he fulfilled that mission, he would receive “Well done!” from his master. If he had not, then nothing else he did would make up for the failure.

Sometimes it would be easy to preach the word. And sometimes not. Some people would long to hear the message, and some would be infuriated by it. He must be equally urgent to deliver the full, clear message in either case. He must do so patiently, not giving up on the slow of heart. And he must do so carefully — accurately and thoroughly.

As Paul had done throughout the letter, he contrasted what Timothy must do with what others would do. People would turn aside from the pure message, preferring a less demanding standard. They would shrink from hardship, and would leave out the more difficult parts. Timothy must be different!

Again, Paul reminded Timothy of his own example. Paul was not shrinking back from paying the ultimate price. He did so because of the reward that was promised. Timothy, too, could have that reward, presented by God himself.

Paul also reminded Timothy of the unfaithful brothers who had deserted at the onset of Nero’s persecution. And he called on Timothy to be brave and to come to visit him in prison. He requested some personal effects, perhaps items that were left behind when Paul was taken prisoner. One can only wonder whether there was no one remaining in Rome who was willing to bring Paul a coat in prison.

In conclusion, Paul remembered his personal relationships and sent greetings — the last recorded words we have from the great apostle.

The message of 2 Timothy is faithfulness — a passionate loyalty that overcomes any obstacle. Do we have that kind of faithfulness?

Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Rev 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

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