Paul is coming to the close of this last epistle. Soon, Paul will die the death of a martyr. In the previous chapters, we have seen Paul’s urgent concern that the ministry will continue through Timothy. In this final chapter, the climax of the epistle, Paul commands Timothy once again with a most solemn charge to preach the word and fulfill his ministry as Paul himself has faithfully done.
Did You Know...?
- “Drink offering” (4:6): “The offering of wine poured around the base of the altar (see Num 15:1-12; 28:7,24).” [ref]
- Demas (4:10) was Paul’s “fellow laborer” (Philem 24) who accompanied Paul during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment (Col 4:14). But, as we will see in this passage, he later forsook Paul because he loved the world (4:10).
- “Dalmatia” (4:10): “Present-day Albania and a portion of Yugoslavia, also known in scripture as Illyricum (Rom 15:19).” [ref]
- Mark (4:11) was from Jerusalem. He was one of the earliest believers. His mother’s house was their gathering place (Acts 12:12). Paul and Barnabas took him along on their first missionary journey, but the young Mark quit and went back home (Acts 12:25, 13:13). Because of this, Paul refused to take Mark on his second journey and had a serious dispute with Barnabas over this matter (15:36-38). However, Mark later became an important fellow worker of Paul (Phm 24). When Paul was imprisoned in Rome the first time, Mark was by his side (Col 4:10). In this chapter, we see that one of Paul’s last wishes was to see Mark.
- “Cloak” (4:13): “For protection against dampness…It was probably a heavy, sleeveless, outer garment, circular in shape and with a hole in the middle for one’s head.” [ref]
- “Scrolls and parchments” (4:13): “The scrolls…were made of papyrus, and the parchments were made of the skins of animals. The latter may have been copies of parts of the OT.” [ref]
- “Erastus” (4:20): “A Corinthian and one of Paul’s disciples whose salutations he sends from Corinth to the church at Rome as those of “the city treasurer” (Rom 16:23). The word so rendered is oikonomos (Vulg., arcarius) and denotes an officer or steward of great dignity in ancient times (Josephus Ant. 7.8.2); the conversion of such a man to the faith of the gospel was proof of the wonderful success of the apostle’s labors in that city. We find Erastus with Paul at Ephesus as one of his attendants or deacons, and he was sent along with Timothy into Macedonia while the apostle himself remained in Asia (Acts 19:22). They were both with the apostle at Corinth when he wrote, as above, from that city to the Romans; at a subsequent period Erastus was still at Corinth (2 Tim 4:20), which would seem to have been his usual place of abode.” [ref]
- “Trophimus” (4:20): If you come across the mention of riots in your study of the Book of Acts, you can expect the mention of Trophimus in either the preceding or following passages. He is first mentioned after the riot at Ephesus when he, among a few others, leaves the area with Paul (Acts 20:4). This happened during Paul’s third missionary trip. Upon its completion, Paul brought Trophimus with him to Jerusalem. The non-believing Jews quickly identified him as a “Greek.” When Paul was at the Temple, they thought he had Trophimus with him and caused a riot that resulted in Paul’s arrest (Acts 21:27-36). In this chapter, we read that Trophimus fell ill and Paul had left him in Miletus (2 Tim 4:20).
- “You” (4:22): “As at the end of 1 Timothy, ‘you’ here is plural, showing that the letter wa intended for public use. The word “your” in the first part of the verse, however, is singular, indicating that it was addressed to Timothy alone.” [ref]
- Charge to Timothy (4:1-5)
- Paul’s Song of Victory (4:6-8)
- Personal Notes (4:9-12)
What is Paul’s main charge to Timothy?Hide Answer
Preach the word!
What is the significance of the words “before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom”? What does this say about Paul’s charge to Timothy?Hide Answer
Paul’s charge to Timothy is before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge all men and will come in His kingdom. This is the most solemn and binding charge. Knowing that the commission to preach the word is from God Himself, and knowing that he will have to give an account before the Lord at His appearing and judgment, Timothy must faithfully fulfill his ministry.
When is a good time to preach the word?Hide Answer
A preacher of God’s word needs to be ready “in season and out of season” (2). In other words, we must have the sense of urgency to preach the gospel at all times, even when the condition does not seem favorable. King Solomon also encourages us to sow our seeds in the morning and evening because we do not know which will prosper (Ecc 11:6). This means that we ought to preach the word of God constantly without worrying about the outcome of our preaching. We simply need to fulfill our duty to plant and water. We can leave the rest to God because it is He who gives the increase (1Cor 3:6-7).
What different approaches can we use in preaching the word?Hide Answer
Convince, rebuke, exhort with longsuffering, teach (2 Tim 4:2). Preaching includes both evangelizing to unbelievers as well as teaching believers. The word of God is living and hence, allows a relevant approach to be adopted which is applicable to the situation. The doubtful must be convinced, the unrepentant must be rebuked, the weak must be exhorted and the ignorant must be taught. All approaches are acceptable as long as they are used in a relevant way.
What does Paul warn Timothy about the future?Hide Answer
Paul warns Timothy that the time will come when people will not “endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (3-4).
Why should we preach the word if we already know that people will not endure sound doctrine? Wouldn’t our preaching be a waste of time?Hide Answer
Because people will not endure sound doctrine, the need to preach the gospel is all the more urgent. If the preacher is silent at a time when false doctrines abound, then falsehood will prevail. But if we convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching (2), then we can counter the forces of evil and help some people come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil (2:25-26).
Even if no one accepts our preaching, it is still our responsibility as preachers of God’s word to warn people of their sins. If we have preached the word and people do not believe, then they will be accountable for their own sins. But if we fail to preach, God will hold us accountable (Ezek 3:16-21).
What condition is described by “having itching ears” and “heap up for themselves teachers”?Hide Answer
People who have “itching ears” are bored with the age-old truths of God’s word. Instead, they are attracted to new and novel teachings, especially if they seem philosophically profound and mystical, because they find great excitement in these things. There are also those who do not like to hear God’s word because God’s word exposes their iniquity and condemns them of their sins. In order not to feel guilty, they would rather choose to hear soothing words that justify their sins.
People who cannot endure sound doctrine will naturally seek false teachers who will tell them lies (Isa 30:9-11). This is what Paul means by “heaping up for themselves teachers.” By hearing these false teachings, these people can satisfy their own desires and feel good about themselves.
How can we guard ourselves from falling into this tendency?Hide Answer
We must be watchful in what we hear and not be excited by new and novel teachings. God’s word may seem plain and old-fashioned on the surface, but it is the word of life. False teachings may be pleasing to the ear, but they have no value and lead to death.
Therefore, we need to personally experience the preciousness of God’s word through diligent study and practice. We must accept the truths we hear with faith and act upon what we have heard instead of listening to God’s word as if we are listening to a speech and merely enjoying the speaker’s eloquence. If we can go beneath the surface and discover the value and power of God’s word, we will not be lured by the fashionable ideologies of this world.
We also ought to approach the word of God with the humility to be taught, reproved, corrected, and instructed in righteousness (3:16). It is difficult to accept teachings that condemn us of our sin, but it is such teachings that can bring us spiritual health and life. With this understanding, we will not reject the rebukes of God’s word and fall for false teachings that are pleasing to the ear.
What attitudes should we have when we preach the word? How do such attitudes relate to the condition described in verses 3-4?Hide Answer
Ready to preach at all times, longsuffering (2), watchful, enduring in afflictions, resolved to do the work of an evangelist and to fulfill the ministry (5).
Because many people will not endure sound doctrine, the work of preaching can be very difficult and even discouraging. Only if the preacher is equipped with a strong sense of commission and patient endurance will he be able to continue in the ministry.
Do you believe that you have been entrusted with the commission to preach the word? In what ways are you fulfilling your ministry?Hide Answer
There are many people around us that we need to preach the gospel to, including our family, friends, classmates, and colleagues. Keep in mind also that preaching the word also includes preaching to believers. We need to instruct the word of God to our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether through sermons, Bible studies, children classes, or personal counseling.
Based on Paul’s words, how would you describe Paul’s feeling as he comes to the end of his life? What can you learn from this?Hide Answer
Paul is not fearful of his impending execution, nor is he in despair. In fact, he boldly faces his death with the attitude of a victor. For to him, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Php 1:21). He has lived a Christ- centered life, and is now eagerly looking forward to being with Christ and receiving the crown of righteousness.
How we view death is an indication of our relationship with the Lord and how we have lived our lives. If we have been faithfully pressing on towards the goal, then we will have confidence when we are about to reach the finish line. Death will be the final moment of victory rather than something to be dreaded.
What is Paul’s song of victory?Hide Answer
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (7-8).
What does Paul’s song of victory remind us about what a Christian’s life should be?Hide Answer
If we take “the good fight” in a military sense, our lives are a fight against evil and our own sinful desires. It is also a fight for the faith to win souls and preserve sound doctrine (1Cor 9:26-27; Gal 5:16-17; 1Tim 6:12). Taken in an athletic sense, the fight refers to spiritual progress and endeavors to fulfill our ministry.
Our lives are a race, in which we press on towards the goal, which is to gain Christ (Php 3:12-14; 2Tim 2:5). We need to run this race with the self-discipline, energy, and perseverance of an athlete.
We also need to keep the faith in our lives. Like an athlete who follows the rules of the game in order not to be disqualified, we also need to constantly watch our lives and our doctrines and make sure that we conform to God’s will and commands. Then we will be able to save ourselves as well as others (cf. 1Cor 9:26-27).
Do you view your life as fighting the good fight, running the race, and keeping the faith? How would you rate yourself right now?
Who are those who love the Lord’s appearing? Are you one of them?Hide Answer
Loving the Lord’s appearing means living our lives in eager expectation of the Lord’s return. If we love the Lord’s appearing, we will live in holy conduct and godliness, and we will faithfully carry out the Lord’s commission (4:1; 2Pet 3:11; 1Jn 3:3; ).
Considering Mark’s history (See “Did You Know…”), what lesson can we learn from Paul’s comment about him here?Hide Answer
Although Mark once deserted Paul and was therefore deemed to be a hindrance to the ministry, he later made much progress and eventually became a useful worker of God. Thus, we need to train younger workers with much patience. Even when they do not meet our expectations or make mistakes initially, we ought to encourage them, help them, and offer them opportunities to improve. If we can provide such nurture to them, they may very likely become useful in the ministry.
What does Paul ask Timothy to bring to him (13). What does this possibly show?Hide Answer
Paul asks for his cloak, books and especially the parchments (13). Paul needs the cloak probably to keep him warm in the cold and damp dungeon, and he asks Timothy to do his utmost to come before winter (21). Paul also asks for books probably because he wants to spend his quiet time reading and studying. The parchments are most likely OT Scriptures. If so, this shows that Paul indeed esteems the Scriptures. Even though he is at the end of his life, he still wants to spend time learning and meditating on the word of God.
How does Paul demonstrate his quiet confidence in the Lord even though he has been forsaken by others?Hide Answer
Although no one stood by him at the first defense and all have forsaken him, Paul is not angry or resentful but forgives those who deserted him (16). He is able to remain strong because He knows that the Lord stood with him and strengthened him. He is also confident that the Lord will deliver him from every evil work and preserve him for His heavenly kingdom (17-18). Paul’s complete trust in the Lord leaves us an excellent example of the peace and confidence we should have in our loneliness and suffering.
How did Paul use his first defense (the first hearing in court) to continue his ministry?Hide Answer
Even though his life was at stake, Paul did not forget his mission to preach the word. His overriding concern was to preach the gospel (cf. Acts 20:24). With the Lord’s help, he took the opportunity of the trial to preach the message fully to all the Gentiles in the court (2Tim 4:17).