Monday, November 15, 2021

Fight The Fear #6: Final Fight – 2 Timothy 4

Fight The Fear #6: Final Fight – 2 Timothy 4


Word Doc


Paul the aged apostle, writes from a prison cell to his son in the faith, his successor to instruct and encourage him before he, Paul is put to death at the hands of a Roman emperor trying to overcome negative criticism over the way he is taking care of Rome after a massive fire. He pours into this last letter, all he can think to fortify Timothy for the fight that is coming. All the letter is very personal, but the fourth chapter we will look at today is by far the most personal. You can hear the finality of Paul’s words as he prepares to fight his own final fight.


Chapter 1 Fearlessness 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Chapter 2 Faithfulness 2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Vs 2 Faithful Steward, vs 3-4 Faithful Soldier, vs. 5 Faithful Athlete, Vs 6 Faithful Farmer, Vs 8 - 11 Faithful Preacher of the Gospel. Vs. 14 - Faithful Workman, Vs. 19 -26 Faithful In The Great House (Vessels of honor and dishonor)

 Final Charge - 2 Timothy 4:1

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

The Charge

Paul begins these last thoughts with a strong statement, “I charge thee.” The idea here is a solemn passing of authority from one to another. It is Paul passing his calling and work to Timothy.

The Bible is filled with such “charges”

Moses charged Israel - Deuteronomy 29:10-12 Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water: That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day:

Moses charged Joshua - Deuteronomy 31:7 And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.

Joshua charged Israel - Joshua 23:6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left

Samuel charged Israel - 1 Samuel 12:20-21 …turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;

David charged Solomon - 1 Kings 2:1-3 …I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses,

Ezra charged Israel (Neh 8-10);

Jesus charged the apostles - John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

And Jesus charged or commissioned the church - Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

All these have the same ring and follow the same formula and serve the same purpose, authority and a calling, a purpose, a duty, a divine task is passed on. Now Paul is charging Timothy, passing on his authority and his calling to preach and spread the Gospel.

He brings the letter to a focal point with the statement, “I charge thee.” Literally, the words are “I solemnly witness.”

What Paul is proceeding to do is so serious, so grave that he calls God the Father and Jesus Christ the Lord to be witness to what he is about to say. Not only does he call the Father and Son to witness what he is charging Timothy, but he reminds Timothy of just who these witnesses are in the affairs of men. “Jesus who shall judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” It is not Paul that Timothy will answer to for quitting, it is not Paul that Timothy will be reward for be faithful, it is the judge of all the world, time and eternity. Jesus is witness and he will also be the judge one day of both Paul and Timothy.

Next Paul specifically tells Timothy what he is charging him to do, what actions he is to carry out if he is to stand one day and be found faithful before Jesus Christ. He gives him five commands of action. In English, or Greek this form of speech is called an imperative. It is a command, an order but I’ve always like the term imperative because it has the sense of do this, it is important, it is vital, it is essential.

Five Imperatives. - 2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine

Now Paul gives these five short, direct imperatives, commands, later in this chapter he will give four more, but these first five give us the basics of the work of the ministry that Timothy must continue after Paul is gone.

1st Imperative - Preach the Word. This is the first and overall task that Timothy must be faithful to carry out. Preach the word. The rest of the imperatives all flow from this first command.

The word preach in the Greek is κηρύσσω kēryssō and it means to be a herald, to  proclaim a message from the king with the gravity and bearing of one who must be heeded because he speaks with the authority of the King. The herald was commissioned and sent by the King, not to parley but to proclaim. He carried a message, and he must be heard.

2nd Imperative - Be instant in season, out of season. Timothy was to seize any and every opportunity to preach. Wherever there was a person,wherever there was a place, whenever there was a time, there and then should be a proclamation.

The first imperative told Timothy what his task was, the 2nd told him when he was to carry out that task and now the next three are about the elements of his message.

3rd Imperative, Reprove. The word means to convince of error. It is the same word used in Tit 1:9 translated “convince” and in  I Tim 5:20 as “rebuke.”

4th Imperative - Rebuke has much the same idea but here has the added element of what should take place after a person is reproofed or rebuked. It is translated charge,  in Mathew 12:16; Mark 8:30; 10:48; and Luke 9:21. It means to lay a value or charge on. The basic idea is often the implied demand for restitution when error is pointed out. Timothy reprove them and them tell them how to make it right.

5th Imperative - Exhort is the final of these first 5 imperatives. It is often translated comfort or beseech.

I like what Warren Wiersbe said about this word, “It is an earnest entreaty in any of life’s circumstances, and is possible because of the presence of the Comforter, whose name (paracletes) is a different form of the same word. (parakaleo)”  In a sense Timothy, do the work of the Holy Spirit through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The last phrase, “with all longsuffering and doctrine” is the manner in which  Timothy was to go about reproving, rebuking and exhorting. “Timothy, carry out your charge with unlimited patience and intimate instructions.”

The Fight Against the Falling Away - 2 Timothy 4:3-4

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Here is why Timothy must be God’s man, with God’s message and be ready instantly to preach that message whether it called for reproving, rebuking or exhorting. Timothy must be faithful because there would be always be the danger of apostasy, of falling away from the truth in the churches and among God’s people.  

Paul says the time is coming when they will not endure sound teaching. The word endure means to hold oneself up against, to put up with, to bear. The time was coing and certainly now is that people will not measuring themselves by the truth of God’s word, but instead, driven by lusts, by carnal, selfish desires they will they will heap, will gather up and accumulate teachers that will tell them things that will satisfy their itching ears. The ideas is they will pick and choose from those who instead of preaching the truth will tell them whatever they want to hear. These speakers will be tickling or scratching their ears.  

The problem existed in the Old Testament as well and Isaiah 30:9-11, describes it perfectly. “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”

In this future Timothy is being warning about, people who call themselves Christians will turn away from the truth and instead turn to fables, myths, and feel-good stories that have nothing to do with the truth of God’s Word.

Final Four Imperatives. 2 Timothy 4:5

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Paul turns his attention away from these fable followers and returns to Timothy the  fearless faithful follower of Christ and he give four final imperatives, four final fortifications against that fight that is coming.

6th Imperative - He tells Timothy to “Watch” Literally this is the word be sober, to abstain from intoxicating drinks, but the expression every time it is found in the NT conveys the idea of being watchfulness and alert. Just as a faithful watchman would not be drunk at his post, neither would a faithful watchman for the Lord let anything distract or impair him.

1 Thessalonians 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

7th Imperative Next, he says, “Endure afflictions.” This is the note that Paul has sounded throughout this last letter.

In 2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 2:9 Wherein I suffer trouble

The same word compounded with the preposition with in 2 Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions

8th Imperative - Then Timothy is told, “Do the work of an evangelist.” This word means “a bringer of good news.” If there is any kind difference between an evangelist and a preacher, it would be the idea that an evangelist would be someone who first brings the gospel.

There seems to be this understanding in Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;.

Here evangelists and pastor/teachers are separate. I in the New Testament and evangelist was a missionary, especially to those who had never heard the Gospel before. So not only was Timonty to pastor, but he was also to bring the Gospel to those who had never heard.

9th Imperative - The final thing that Paul tells his son in the faith is to, “Make full proof of thy ministry.” Most of the newer translations change this last command to “fulfill your ministry.” That’s not wrong, but it sure isn’t powerful, it sure doesn’t sound like the kind of phrasing that Paul would make as the final exhortation to Timothy.

The word is πληροφορέω (plērophoreo) it somes from two words πλήρης plērēs; which means complete or full and φορέω phoreō; which means to have a burden, (by analogy) to wear as clothing, to bear, wear.

To make full proof is a better translation here because it means not only fulfill but bear this ministry as one would bear an outer garment. Here is the clearly seen evidence of who and what you are, a child of God, a preacher of the truth and an evangelist of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yeah, I like that much better.

Because this phrase doesn’t stand alone, no it encompasses every command that Paul has given from preach the word, to rebuke, to exhort, to evangelize. This phrase stands as the climactic,  comprehensive command of the whole series of commands. Timothy, make full proof of your service, calling and faithfulness.

Final Fight - 2 Timothy 4:6-8

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Facing Death. 2 Timothy 4:6.

Paul now turns the letter from his empowering and encouraging Timothy for the fight of the future to Paul’s final fight as he faces death by the power of Rome. His moving and beautiful words, a kind of elegy before his own death are also a reminder of all that Paul has asked of Timothy.

He says, “ I am now ready to be offered, literally he says, I am being poured out.  He is using this verb, occurring only here and in Philippians 2:17, in a figurative sense. Being poured out was the picture of the drink offering.

After Jacob dreamed of the angels ascending to heaven, he poured oil on the stone he had slept on in Genesis 28:18. The place was then sanctified and consecrated for God had been there. Drink offerings accompanied many of the Old Testament sacrifices where the one coming to worship God would offer wine or olive oil along with the offering of an animal.

 Paul is seeing his imminent death as a drink offering a final giving that would accompany the life of sacrifice he had lived. He had been that living sacrifice that he beseeched the Romans to be in Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

The living sacrifice of his life would now be joined with his death. A drink offering poured out to completion his ministry.

Paul adds, “the time of my departure is at hand.” There is no doubt he understands this will be the last letter, written from the last prison cell he will have to endure and he is not afraid, instead he is ready.

Fulfilled His Calling - 2 Timothy 4:7.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” When Paul gives this final testimony of his life and service, it is spoken with the understanding that he has fought the battles, he has run the races and he has been faithful through them all. No matter that the world saw Paul as a prisoner locked in a prison cell, with iron shackles on his hands and feet, waiting for death at the whim of an emperor, that was not the end of the fight, no it was but the beginning of his victory. He was not defeated. Nor could he every be defeated because through faith in and faithfulness to Jesus Christ, even death cannot prevent his coming victory.

Paul writing earlier to the Hebrew Christians encouraging them to be faithful said this about the Old Testament heroes of faith in  Hebrews 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Now Paul is ready to take his place among that great cloud of witnesses, in Faith’s Hall of Fame and there among that company will be…

The Final Prize  2 Timothy 4:8.

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day:

Paul is not afraid of his own final fight, he is not depressed by the bars of his jail, or the certain knowledge of his coming death. As you listen to his words all we hear is the confidence that comes from a true child of God and servant of Jesus Christ. As one of my commentaries put it, To Paul, “the greater the trial, the clearer the promise shines”.

The Bible describes many crowns that are waiting for believers. Crowns of “righteousness,” here in 2 Timothy 4:8,  crowns of “life” in Rev 2:10, crowns of “rejoicing” in I Thess 2:19; and crowns of “glory” in I Pet 5:4. I don’t think they are  different crowns but simply different descriptions of that final prize. The final prize that the righteous judge, the Judge who is never biased, never makes a mistake, who sees and knows the heart of man, that judge, the Lord Jesus Christ will award. Jesus will stand like a judge in the ancient Olympic games and as he comes to the end of his great race, Jesus will place upon the head of Paul the victor’s crown.

At the end of this elegy, Paul thinks not just of himself and his victory but also of us. He writes this final phrase, to Timothy and to all those who have heard the call of the Gospel and answered that call with their life’s service.

For All A Crown - 2 Timothy 4:8

“and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” The victor’s crown is not only for the great heroes of the Bible. It is not a crown that is reserved only for those who suffer martyrdom or endure the worst persecutions from the hand of evil men. Paul says there is a crown for all who love his appearing. What exactly does that mean?

Robertson’s NT Word Pictures explains it like this, “the perfect active participle of ἀγαπαω [agapaō], to love, who have loved and still love his second coming.”  

Those who have loved their Savior, who came in the form of a man, was born of woman, took our sin upon himself and died for us. Those who continue to love their Lord, who now sits on the right hand of the Father, ever interceding for us in heaven. And those who in hope will always love their coming King, returning to earth to rule and reign. That perfect, complete, unceasing love will be rewarded with a crown that shines in  righteousness, life, joy and glory when we stand before Jesus our Judge.

Quote: John Jasper said it like this, “I charge you, my people fix your feet on the solid rock, your hearts on Calvary and your eyes on the throne of the Lamb” – John Jasper , 1812-1901


Illustration: The Pouring Out of Polycarp, pastor of the church at Smyrna

Polycarp was born around 69 AD and died after being stabbed and then burned at the stake around 155 AD. He wrote some of the earliest church history and letters after the apostles and it is believed that he was a disciple of John and may have met Paul or at least was very familiar with Paul’s writings.

When he was tried by the Roman authorities, he was offered his life if he would but worship the emporer and the Roman gods. His reply shows the kind of love that Paul spoke of and that every child of God must have.

“Eighty and six years have I served Him, and he never did me any injury; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior.”- Polycarp, disciple of the Apostle John, and Bishop of Smyrna

This prayer he left behind in his writings before being killed. “Lord God Almighty, Father of your blessed and beloved child Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and hosts and all creation, and of the whole race of the upright who live in your presence: I bless you that you have thought me worthy of this day and hour, to be numbered among the martyrs and share in the cup of Christ, for resurrection to eternal life, for soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. Among them may I be accepted before you today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, just as you, the faithful and true God, have prepared and foreshown and brought about. For this reason and for all things I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved child, through whom be glory to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, now and for  the ages to come. Amen. – Polycarp’s prayer before being burned and stabbed at the stake


Paul and Polycarp may be more eloquent in their words, but if you are a child of God and have known the love of Jesus Christ, then your love is just as eloquent as their love, and that love will carry us through the battles of this life and right up to that final fight. And if we love Him with that perfect, complete love, then we will be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”


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