2 Timothy 4:1-5
Paul gives a solemn charge to Timothy in verses 1-5.
Who holds believers accountable?
I. God and Christ Jesus: (vs. 1)
Paul, at the end of his life, felt responsible to give Timothy a charge to stay committed to the Word of God and preach against false teachers. He is also reminding Timothy that there is a higher accountability to God and Jesus Christ. Living and dead refer to those who are saved and unsaved. Humanity must give an account for all of life's work on earth.
In vs. 1, 2, Paul challenges Timothy to keep four things in mind when operating under God's authority:
Simply "Preach" the gospel: Deliver the fundamental message of God's truth. Preach the entire written Word of God, the Bible, and don’t leave anything out. Paul couldn’t have said this to Timothy if he hadn’t already lived this life.
- "Be Instant": Be ready with urgency; be prepared and don’t be caught off guard. It’s like a soldier in the military preparing for battle; at any given time he may need to respond to battle with quick and precise movement. Paul says to Timothy that he has responded when it was convenient and when it was not. He says respond when you feel like it and when you don’t. Speak it when it is popular and when it is not. Don’t speak based on who likes you and who doesn't; speak it because it’s God’s authoritative and written Word, and you have a responsibility to God himself. Paul is saying, accept the call because there is no opting out. You must welcome your call.
- "Reprove and Rebuke": John MacArthur states: "This covers the negative side of proclaiming God's word because reproving and rebuking is tough; to reprove is to convince others of the danger in listening to false teachers. To rebuke means to deal with a person’s motives by giving biblical instruction to lead the person into repentance."
- "Exhort": Exhortation is apart of the "positive side" of sharing God's word. It means to encourage or comfort those in the body who are maintaining focus in Christ; those who are mature and walking in obedience to God’s will. To encourage means to "put courage into" the one who is discouraged.
- Do all of the above with great patience and instruction: Be wise and be sensitive to and led by the Holy Spirit of God.
II. Subtle Persuasion (verses 3, 4)
John Mac Arthur writes: "They have to be entertained by teachings that will produce pleasant sensations and leave them with good feelings about themselves." Paul warns Timothy that people will not tolerate the uncompromising Word of God. They will desire only what appeases their minds, rather than listen to the confrontation of Scripture. They will heap up or seek out teachers that will tell them what they want to hear rather than the truth." It’s interesting here that Paul doesn’t entertain or waste time making teachers the issue or point of interest. He concentrates on those who are receiving the Word, the people. He is reminding Timothy to preach the truth so that the people will not only understand the simplicity that is in God’s Word but also, they will repent of their sin. This Scripture reminds us that we must be aware and on guard, at all times. We must be careful of receiving everything we hear. Today, people compare God to man by seeking unwise counsel for a spiritual condition. They fail to receive their lack of sound truth and succumb to self-help remedies. 2 Peter 1:3 says that God has given us everything for life and for godliness. "They will be turned from truth to fables." Fables meaning false ideologies; viewpoints, and philosophies in many forms of what seems to be sound. 1 Timothy 4: 7 says: But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. We must base our perspective and other's opinion on Scripture.
III. Four Imperatives one must keep in mind: (vs. 5)
Paul gives Timothy four things that he must do to keep focused on his call.·
- Be Watchful: Paul tells Timothy to watch, to be aware; be alert. To abstain from intoxicating drinks; be sober at all times; When a person is intoxicated, they have lost their ability to think soundly; they can’t see things clearly. I Thess. 5: 6 says; Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. I Peter 4: 7 says: But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 1 Peter 5: 8 says; Be sober, be vigilant; your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. If we're not sensitive to the Spirit of God, we will be caught off guard by the snares of the evil one.
- Endure Hardship: Paul encourages Timothy that no matter how difficult the fight seems…keep on fighting. We must encourage each other to continue to fight and persevere through persecution or afflictions. Paul is reminding Timothy to remain cool-headed when he faces persecution. He is saying that the pressure will grow, but you Timothy must stay calm and must endure hardship as a cooperative soldier of the cross. Hebrews 12: 1 tells us to run with patience the race that is set before us. I heard someone once say to “run in a way not to survive the race, but to win the race.”
- Evangelize: Do the work of an evangelist; proclaim the gospel at every opportunity given. Evangelism is a package deal. If you are called to preach/teach, you will be prompt to evangelize. · As a matter of fact, all Christians are called to be witnesses.
- Fulfill your Commitment: Make full proof of your ministry means to fulfill your call to the ministry. Make every effort and moment count; don’t waste time; serve well.
Lord, thank You for holding us accountable to Your word. Help us to make the most of every opportunity presented to us. Help us to be bold and full of courage proclaiming the truth of your word. Help us to hold each other accountable to your standards and serve well. Help us to do the necessary things to accomplish your will, in Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Encourage and Be Encouraged!
Resources used: Bible Knowledge Commentary, John MacArthur Study Bible (NKJV), and Teacher's Critical Commentary.