All the Bible, Every Book: 2 Timothy

Preach the Word

I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus…preach the message (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

The thirteen Pauline Epistles develop the foundational truths of Christianity introduced in the Gospels. Paul wrote nine letters to churches and four to individuals. He writes from the perspective of the Apostle to the Gentiles, church-planter, pastor, and friend. His letters contain instructions, exhortations, and corrections that were real-time—messages to real people, gathered in real churches, with real problems as they endeavored to follow Christ and make a difference in their world. One consistent theme undergirds all of Paul’s teaching—the reality of every believer’s position in Christ.

Like His Master before him, Paul gathered a group of men to be with him as he ministered the gospel. Timothy and Titus were especially close to Paul (1 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4), and he mentored them through challenging assignments. Timothy trusted Christ while Paul was ministering in Lystra (Acts 14:6-23). He then joined Paul on his 2nd missionary journey when the apostle traveled through Timothy’s homeland (Acts 16:1-3). Timothy helped Paul on this 2nd missionary journey and Paul began to view him as a faithful partner in the gospel. During the 3rd missionary journey he was with Paul in Ephesus, and then Paul began sending him on extended assignments—to Macedonia (Acts 19:22) and Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3), as he was accompanying the apostle.

Rome had burned in A.D. 64 and Nero had blamed it on the Christians. Suddenly the Roman Empire suddenly became a dangerous place for Christians. Paul was in prison and knew he would be martyred. Many believers had decided to go underground to avoid persecution. Timothy may have been tempted to follow their example and to put his ministry on hold until the storm passed. As his spiritual father and mentor, Paul exhorted Timothy to persevere, take the risk, and continue proclaiming God’s word.

In many ways this is Paul’s last will and testament. He wrote this letter to encourage Timothy to fulfill his duty as a leader of the church. It’s a message for hard times, when it spiritual leadership is costly. And it always is:

2 Timothy: Preach the Word, in spite of opposition!

Knowing that his time on earth is short, Paul encourages every Christian to persevere in his or her dedication to Christ and His Word.

I. Paul encourages Timothy to steadfastly fulfill his divinely appointed task—to lead the church by preaching the message faithfully, no matter what the cost.

A. Paul exhorts Timothy to persevere during the present testing of Christians. (1-2)

1. After expressing his thanksgiving for Timothy’s genuine faith, Paul tells him to stand firm in the face of persecution and commends those who have been faithful in spite of the dangers. (1)

2. Paul reminds Timothy of his duty to reproduce by entrusting faithful leaders with the truth. He then uses illustrations of hardship—teachers, soldiers, and farmers, to help Timothy see what it takes to faithfully reproduce and lead mature Christians. Finally, the apostle tells Timothy that he must deal wisely in relationships with others. (2)

B. Paul exhorts Timothy to endure future testing that surely will come. (1-2)

1. Paul warns Timothy that a time his coming when apostasy and wickedness will dramatically increase. People will be more susceptible to empty moralistic religion talk and false teaching. The false teachers will become more arrogant and bold, but Timothy must remain faithful to the Scriptures. (3)

2. The Scriptures are inspired by God and useful to Timothy to carry out the ministry God called him to. Finally, Paul gives a personal update on his situation in Rome with personal requests. (4)

II. 2 TIMOTHY AND YOU: Little has changed since Paul wrote his last letter to Timothy. The world is still opposed to Christianity and men and women still have itching ears for the newest, most intriguing version of religiosity and moralism. This is why Paul’s instructions to Christian leaders remain the prescription for true success in a world that hates the Lord Jesus:

A. 2 Timothy 2:2—Make disciples. “And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.” It’s the simplest plan on earth, and one that never fails. The things that mature Christians know should be poured into other faithful Christians … and on and on it should go. Unfortunately, Christian leaders and people alike tend to long for some “quick-fix” formula that will grow the church. True spiritual growth comes as faithful leaders pour into others in ways that are reproducible.

B. 2 Timothy 4:2—Preach the Word. “Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and competence.” The Word of God is the content the Holy Spirit uses to transform lives. Competent handlers of the Scriptures are what the church needs. It’s true that these teachers need to live authentically as disciples of Christ and need to shepherd the flock. But if they don’t know their Bibles, the people are in trouble.

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