2 Timothy Chapter 4: The Epiphania, Preach the Word, Crown of Righteousness

Nov 19th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Timothy, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

2 Timothy Chapter 4: The Epiphania, Preach the Word, Crown of Righteousness

2 Tim. 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;

Paul charged Timothy before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, “who shall judge the quick and the dead.” The “quick” are the fallen angels, who were never under the death penalty, even though they are in tartaroo. The “dead” embrace both the living dead and the dead dead of the human race. Jesus will judge the quick and the dead “at his appearing [bright shining—Greek epiphania] and his kingdom,” that is, when God delivers the Holy Remnant out of Jacob’s Trouble, the Ancient Worthies are resurrected, and the Kingdom is inaugurated. The epiphania refers to a revealing to the world, whereas the initial part of the parousia is a secret presence known only to the Church in the Harvest period of the Gospel Age. Stated another way, the epiphania is the dawn of the Kingdom Age. Both the parousia and the epiphania are a period of time, but each has an initial start at a definitive point in time. The epiphania, which starts at dawn, occurs within the parousia, which started at midnight. Technically speaking, our day begins at midnight.

In conjunction with verse 2, why did Paul mention the judgment of the future Kingdom in connection with his charge to Timothy to “preach the word,” etc., in the present age? Paul expected to depart the scene shortly, so he charged Timothy with the responsibility to more or less take his place in continuing the role of instruction and teaching. Paul was turning over the reins of teaching to Timothy.

Comment: The Diaglott interlinear adds the word “solemnly.” Paul solemnly charged Timothy. Instructors are responsible to God in the role they occupy, for they influence the lives of those under their tutelage. If a professed minister of the gospel of Christ does not satisfactorily perform the office he occupies, if he does not give wholesome and uplifting instruction, what he teaches could have a damaging effect upon the hearers. God and Jesus will judge the people in the Kingdom in the future, and the lives of many will be in the balance because of damaging and harmful instruction they received in the present life. To get life, they will have to undo and retrace that which they had performed unsatisfactorily. Consequently, their very lives may be in jeopardy, for what a man sows in the present life has an effect on the next life. The more improperly one sows, the more unlikely it is that, even if given another chance, he will make it. The point is that what a person does in the present life does have a bearing on his ultimate destiny—whether or not that individual is consecrated. In either case, the character developed in the present life has an effect on the future life.

With regard to consecration, Jesus said to sit down and count the cost (Luke 14:28). Many who hear the gospel do not go on to consecrate, but why not? Perhaps they do not want to give up what they now have, they may be fearful, or they may not have been properly encouraged to take the step of consecration. However, the failure to obey wholesome, sound doctrine in the present life will have a bearing on a person’s future.

Timothy had an important role as instructor, and Paul was laying on him the seriousness of this responsibility. If Timothy was faithful to his charge, he would get a greater reward.

2 Tim. 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

“Preach the word”—the instruction of Jesus and the apostles and the “gospel,” which is the good news of the opportunity to live and reign with Christ. That is even better news than restitution. When we read about our Lord’s life and listen to his sermons, scarcely anything is said about restitution. The subject matter was overwhelmingly about the future for the believer who consecrates now. The exceeding good news is the high calling. Of course many of us counted the cost prior to consecration, realizing that following Jesus would entail sacrifice, but the love of Christ constrained us. It helped us to take the “giant step” of consecration, as shown in the 36-inch-high stone at the top of the Grand Gallery in the Great Pyramid. We knew we were inherently weak as far as doing the mighty things spoken of in the New Testament, but the Lord promised his strength. Faith was a big factor, for without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). The very fact that we consecrated means we had faith. All who are called have faith, they are justified by faith if they consecrate, and they should henceforth live by faith (Rom. 1:17). Faith should increase more and more.

Therefore, down through the age, the duty of the Christian has been to “preach the word,” that is, not to keep it to oneself but to proclaim it to others. Of course restitution is a part of the gospel, but basically speaking, the promise to Abraham was, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 28:14). We should not put the cart before the horse, for the call is an invitation to be members of the multitudinous seed that will bless all the families of the earth. It is an invitation to be of the Bride of Christ.

“Be instant in season, out of season.” Why did Paul insert this thought here? How should the instruction be qualified in this context? The literal rendition is not a problem, for we know we should be ready to preach the truth whether in season to ourselves or out of season. But what does this instruction not say? If any discomfort is involved, we have to make sure it is to ourselves and not to the other party. If the time is convenient to the other individual, then we can witness, but if the time is not propitious to that person, we are to refrain from witnessing at that particular time.

Comment: The Apostle Peter said, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Reply: Yes, we should always be ready to preach the truth that Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). When we preach, we are looking for another grain of wheat, and those grains are getting scarcer and scarcer.

From another standpoint, to speak “in season” means that we should speak properly and gravely to one who is in great sorrow, not lightly and frivolously. To those who are happy and rejoicing, we can speak similarly. However, to be very joyful with someone who is mournful would be speaking “out of season.” Paul expressed this principle in several places in Scripture.

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Rom. 12:15). “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). “And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law [the Gentiles], as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:20-22). In other words, Paul adapted himself to the situation of the other individual. This principle is also stated in Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Timothy was to “reprove, rebuke, [and] exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Notice that the first three—“reprove, rebuke, exhort”—are to be accompanied with long-suffering and doctrine. A rebuke is a little stronger form of correction than a reproof. The responsibility of a teacher is to speak truth and not to agree if a wrong thought is presented. At times, a teacher has to reprove, rebuke, or exhort another Christian, although that responsibility may not be pleasing to him. Paul was showing the difference between a true teacher and a false teacher. The implication is that the rebuke of a true teacher may not be well received.

Comment: In the first epistle, Paul said, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Tim. 5:20).

Reply: Whether a rebuke is private or public depends on the nature of the sin. If a sin is committed openly and would have a harmful influence on others, there is a necessity for the correction to be issued publicly. As an illustration, when Peter, who was an outstanding leader, was sitting at the table with Gentiles, he dissembled by getting up when James, who was very strong for the Law, came into the room. Paul had to rebuke Peter before all of the others lest his action have an adverse influence on them. If Paul had not acted before they returned to their respective homes, the opportunity for correction—and for nipping the matter in the bud—would have been forever lost.

“With all long-suffering” means “with much patience.” The one doing the exhorting, for example, is not to be too hasty but is to use discretion, patience, and sound doctrine. He should employ either sanctified common sense or Scripture to encourage someone who perhaps is discouraged or depressed. “He [God] knoweth our frame” would be a good Scripture to use (Psa. 103:14). Another reason for exhortation is to encourage someone who has a great talent but is not using it because he is humble and not recognized. Barnabas stirred up Paul by showing he was needed (Acts 9:27). Thus exhortation is done under different circumstances.

“Long-suffering” is patience. A true teacher sometimes has to take guff or opposition, and if he bears it well, his patience may help reclaim the one(s) in error; that is, patience may help him to be more successful in reclaiming the souls of those who are in jeopardy. Thus it is to the benefit of those the teacher is trying to instruct that he exercise patience, even if he is misunderstood.
“Doctrine,” what the Word of God teaches on a subject, is the faithful representation of the true teaching of Scripture. If we reprove or rebuke someone, we must have a basis, or standard, for doing so and tell the individual how he is wrong. The approach would be, “You are wrong because the Scriptures teach such and such, and you are saying otherwise.” Chapter 3 shows that in the perilous times at the end of the age, some in a teaching role would have a damaging effect upon the Church. Both the teachers and those under their instruction would be deceived.

What is the best course to follow? Paul told Timothy, “Continue in the things which you have learned, knowing of whom you have learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14 paraphrase). Of course Timothy had learned from the Apostle Paul. Thus a Christian is to go back and learn the instruction as previously received. But even there, we, like Timothy, have to be careful, for the Word of God is the real standard. Timothy had known the Scriptures from his youth upward, and the Scriptures alone were sufficient to thoroughly furnish the “man of God” unto every good work. Therefore, the real basis of instruction in the perilous times at the end of the age is the Word of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

At consecration, we gave our heart to God through Jesus, but we can be weaned away if we start to lean too heavily on a human teacher. Moses, who represents Jesus, was sent of God a second time to deliver Israel out of Egypt. Just as Jannes and Jambres were imitators of Moses, so there are imitators of Jesus. We must heed the Word of God very closely and carefully.

Therefore, Paul was saying to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine, that is, with the Word of God.

For verse 2, the Revised Standard has, “Convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.” Another translation ends by saying, “With great patience and careful instruction.” Still another translation shows that the patience entails being repetitive in the instruction of God’s Word. In other words, a teacher should not get discouraged and give up too easily. Rather, he should be patient from the standpoint of not merely suffering the abuse of others but also continuing to offer the advice and instruction of the Word. In trying to faithfully teach, he should persist in the proper instruction, patiently teaching repetitively.

Teaching involves sacrifice.

Comment: With Paul telling Timothy to patiently persist in teaching, the implication is that the trend would be away from sound, wholesome instruction. Timothy would be bucking the majority, but he was to persist.

Reply: Yes, there are many nuances in the thought of long-suffering. Paul was urging Timothy to “preach the word” while he could, while he was physically able, along all these lines.

2 Tim. 4:3 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;

Generally speaking, the pronoun “they” refers to professing Christians, but here the reference is to the truly consecrated. Also, the Greek word translated “endure” has the thought of “tolerate.” In other words, the time will come when true Christians will not tolerate sound or wholesome doctrine (teaching). Paul was saying that perilous times would come in the true Church primarily at the end of the age. The implication is that certain troublesome conditions would arise in which faithful teachers of truth would be opposed by false teachers. The statement “they will not endure [tolerate] sound doctrine” suggests that true teachers will be in the minority. Not only will false teachers outnumber those who are teaching sound doctrine, but their being largely successful in stopping the sound doctrine is what causes the problem. “After their own lusts shall they [the congregation] heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” Generally speaking, the brethren will not be interested in hearing the teachers who instruct in sound doctrine. Hence the false teachers will be better received. The thought, then, is that both the teachers and the hearers will have “itching ears,” but what will be the nature of the itching ears?

Comment: For the term “their own lusts,” another translation has “inordinate desires,” indicating that true Christians who have desires along the lines of the flesh will appreciate unsound teachings because they will not want to sacrifice and obey what the Word inculcates.

Reply: That is true. We are living in an age of divorce and promiscuity. Chapter 3 mentions “silly women” who are burdened with a consciousness of sin, etc., so the espousing of a libertine gospel is pleasing to them because it salves their conscience. Chapter 4 follows along the same line, for it has to do with inordinate desires and lusts. Not only will the false teachers outnumber the true teachers, but the majority of the congregation will be more amenable to the wrong course. Only a minority will faithfully follow God’s instruction.

With their unsound doctrine and libertine thoughts, the false teachers will cater to inordinate desires, to the lusts of the flesh. The majority of brethren will want such teachers, who do not reprove their fleshly and inordinate desires. However, as shown in the previous chapter, the distinction between sound and unsound teachers will eventually be seen. In the type, Jannes and Jambres, the two magicians, repeated three of the miracles but were exposed as not being of God when they could not duplicate the next plague (Exod. 7:8–8:7).

Comment: “Itching ears” need to be scratched and thus made comfortable to the flesh.

Reply: Yes, false counsel can be very comforting to the flesh. When something itches, the person wants relief to mind and body from the distraction. Here the itching member of the body is the “ear,” which pertains to instruction, to the hearing of doctrine.

What is happening in the world slowly and insidiously filters into the Church unless the consecrated are alert and watchful. The gradual transfer of thinking, the subtle infiltration, the gray area of behavior, will be almost imperceptible until certain conditions at the very end of the age make the change obvious.

2 Tim. 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

As a result, many will turn away from truths in God’s Word and embrace other philosophies and counterfeit truths, rendered “fables” here (Greek muthos). This class will be turned to thoughts that are purportedly scriptural but that, in reality, are not taught in God’s Word. Two opposing types of instructors and two opposing types of individuals in the congregation will each claim to have the truth. One group will have sound, wholesome doctrine, or truth; the others will have counterfeit truth with misguided ideas not backed up by Scripture.

How can we distinguish a “fable”? Not a reality, a fable is a made-up story with a moral lesson. Sometimes a fable has value, but it must be recognized as a fable from which a certain lesson is drawn to bring forth a principle. A fable can be very dangerous if it is thought of as truth.

Some preachers characteristically love to tell little stories, but that technique can be dangerous, for it requires instant judgment from the hearer. To be faithful, one has to ask, “I am hearing these words for the first time—are they sound?” A story told with discretion can be very helpful, but habitual storytelling is another matter. For example, if a difficult Scripture is used and then properly explained with an illustration, the hearer benefits.

Comment: Paul was implying that some already in the truth would turn back. In the early Church, many turned away from him, so he was well aware of what could happen (2 Tim. 1:15).

Comment: Along another line, Papacy gradually brought in pagan ideas to gain control of the people.

Reply: Yes, Papacy obtained numbers by sanctifying pagan idols, thoughts, and doctrines. For example, the Trinity is a pagan doctrine. Alexander Hislop and others have wonderfully shown how this teaching existed before Papacy. The concept of a triune god started in Babylon and was incorporated into the papal church system as a cardinal belief.

The implication is that the majority ruling down through the Gospel Age would be tares, merely professing Christians. Having the numbers, Papacy dominated the so-called Christian world. Then came the Reformation with a splitting up into sects. In the different sects, the same principle operated, although to a lesser degree from a historical standpoint.

2 Tim. 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

“But watch thou in all things.” Paul was now giving generalized instruction to Timothy, telling him to be careful and watchful.

Comment: The Diaglott says, “But be thou sober in all things.”

Reply: One who is sober, as opposed to one who is drunk, has his eyes open and is alert.

Comment: We should watch ourselves “in all things,” for we are on display.

Reply: Yes, we are to watch both ourselves and others.

Paul was an outstanding example of the admonition to “endure afflictions.” It is one thing to get an affliction and another thing to endure it and not throw in the sponge.

Comment: The Amplified has, “Suffer unflinchingly every hardship.”

Reply: A good soldier suffers every hardship “unflinchingly.” He does not necessarily know when he is getting his next meal, whether he will have a bed to sleep in, etc. Soldiers who endure are “veterans” in the true sense of the word. Thus enduring afflictions makes the Christian grow strong like a tree with greater roots. Buffeting winds result in deeper roots that, where possible, entwine themselves around steady objects for firmer bracing.

“Do the work of an evangelist.” Here the emphasis is on preaching to and exhorting the public.

For a proper balance, not only is the Christian to do a work in himself and in the ecclesia, but he should do witnessing outside the ecclesia. There needs to be a balance between working on our own characters, edifying the body members, and witnessing.

“Make full proof of thy ministry.” The Diaglott has, “Fully accomplish [perform] thy service.” One’s ministry should include both public witnessing and feeding the brethren. Stated another way, not only is public evangelizing important, but the brotherhood itself should be fed with deeper truths.

2 Tim. 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

Having spent his ministry being poured out, Paul was now “ready to be offered.” He had repeatedly proven his zeal. Perhaps he even knew his execution date in advance. Elsewhere Paul cautioned against being puffed up and taking off the armor, but if we were in prison and execution was imminent, there would not be much room for our going out of the faith.

Comment: Since Paul was in prison for the second time and had escaped death the first time through the Lord’s overruling providence, he was resigned to his fate. He was summing up his ministry and trying to make sure that Timothy would continue where he left off.

Reply: Yes, he was thinking about what help he could give Timothy, whom he had likened to his “son” (1 Tim. 1:2,18; 2 Tim. 1:2; 2:1). Paul felt a responsibility for the brotherhood and could see that he was performing a work no one else was doing.

Since Paul said he was “ready to be offered,” for his time was at hand, why does his Epistle to Titus follow this Second Epistle to Timothy? Titus was written in between the two letters to Timothy, but the latter were collated together in Scripture for convenience’ sake. Moreover, Hebrews, a generalized epistle of instruction to the Jews, was composed over a relatively long period of time and was finished when Paul was in prison at the end of his life.

2 Tim. 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Paul felt that he had “fought a good fight” and had finished his course and “kept the faith.” The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, a conscience void of offense, and a sincere faith (1 Tim. 1:5; Acts 24:16). That was Paul’s experience, and he was ready for his departure.

Q: Does verse 7 indicate that those who make the Little Flock will get some kind of assurance at the end of their life of their having attained a crown?

A: Yes and no. As with Jesus, there will be vacillations. They will feel sure one minute and not the next.

2 Tim. 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: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Paul knew that he would not have an instantaneous resurrection. Henceforth a “crown of righteousness” was laid up for him, to be given “at that day [in the future]” and “unto all them also that love his [Jesus’] appearing.” Those who are truly and honestly looking forward to the appearing of the Lord in connection with his Kingdom, those who are true in conscience and spirit, will probably be especially those of the Little Flock class.

John used the same reasoning in 1 John 3:3, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” Those who really look forward to seeing Jesus will purify themselves. Paul described this attitude, the hope of seeing Jesus, as those who “love his appearing.”

“The Lord, the righteous judge,” gives the crown of righteousness. The crowns come from the Father but are given by Jesus, who said, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). The Father gives the crowns to Jesus, who then gives them personally to each member of the Little Flock. We do not believe that Jesus gives the crown at the time he says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21). As the 144,000 each come from the tomb, they go to the Lord Jesus Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:17). However, when the complete Church goes to the Father, both the Father and the Son will be there.

Q: Are the crowns literal?

A: We are inclined to think they are literal spiritual crowns. There is nothing wrong with an emblem of authority to indicate a person who is different from the ordinary, even among the angelic host.

Comment: Day after day, ministers in the nominal Church give sermons at funerals, falsely putting the deceased in heaven, even the unconsecrated. Here Paul, who was so faithful and exemplary, said he had to wait. The Scriptures state the matter in plain language, but the Adversary’s blinding influence is powerful.

Reply: Yes, Paul had fought a good fight and knew he had been victorious, but he had to wait.

Paul had astounding insight. He legally had the crown, but the crowning ceremony would not take place in a formal sense until much later.

Q: Is there a difference between the “crown of righteousness” and the “crown of life” (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10)?

A: Yes. The “crown of life” refers to immortality. The Father will give the crown, but the crown will be handed out by Jesus.

Q: Based on the Parable of the Talents, is Jesus now giving the rewards of five talents, two talents, etc., as each member of the Little Flock goes beyond the veil?

A: Yes, we think so. The risen saints are given their role, or chain of command, and their jurisdiction, but they have to be acquainted with the subjects, the individuals. Each saint is now studying the past history of those of mankind who will be under his jurisdiction. Not only has the life of every individual who has ever lived been recorded, but the acts, decisions, etc., needful to know about a person in order to provide a proper judgment in the Kingdom Age are being reviewed by the saints in earth’s atmosphere. In other words, orientation classes are going on with the risen saints with condensed records of meaningful acts and deeds of the lives of individuals they will judge. Of course Jesus is the Teacher.

At present, the risen saints are not doing Kingdom work down here. The Kingdom work will not start until the Church is complete and glorified. However, the risen saints are being oriented to become familiar with the Kingdom work of the future. Jesus and the holy angels have done a very good job all down the Gospel Age, and for the few remaining saints still down here, the help of the risen saints is not needed.

“At that day,” the Lord, “the righteous judge,” will give a crown of righteousness to Paul and to all who love his appearing. In a rather late Reprint article, the Pastor mentioned his startling observation that in the brotherhood, there was more of a happy intellectual satisfaction than a personal love for Jesus Christ. Intellectual understanding of truth is not wrong, but not enough attention was being given to the love of Jesus’ appearing. When we read Paul’s epistles, we can see that his yearning was to live and die for Christ. Christ was everything to him. Therefore, as we mature, we have to sort out what is most meaningful. We are not to fear but to yearn for and truly love his appearing. When Paul pointed out faith, hope, and love, love was both a development of the heart and a love for Christ—a desire to be in his fellowship and to be with him in the Kingdom.

2 Tim. 4:9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:

Paul wanted Timothy to visit him as soon as possible. Timothy probably got there to bring the parchments so that Paul could keep writing and also be comforted.

2 Tim. 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Paul mentioned certain brethren who were no longer with him. “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” Was Paul implying that Crescens, who departed to Galatia, and Titus, who went to Dalmatia, had also forsaken him? If the Epistle to Titus was written between 1 and 2 Timothy, this Titus could have been the same individual. Thus the three—Demas, Crescens, and Titus—seem to be linked together as having forsaken Paul. There seems to be little hope of retrieval for Demas, although it is possible he repented subsequently to become part of the Great Company. (We cannot judge destiny, unless the situation is very obvious.) However, Paul indicated that for those of the consecrated who backslide, the tendency, percentage-wise, is to continue and not stop (Heb. 2:1-3). His point was that the condition is unfavorable and generally does not result in retrieval.

While love is the desired end of the commandment, the final test is patient endurance. Several Scriptures indicate that one can lose patience and give in quickly. A person can snap, spiritually speaking. Evidently, Demas, Crescens, and Titus had been very faithful and useful to Paul, but now a radical change had taken place, especially in Demas (Col. 4:14; Philem. 24).

2 Tim. 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

The implication is that Demas, Crescens, and Titus had forsaken Paul, and only Luke was still with him in the sense of not forsaking him. However, others were also with Paul, for several in Rome sent their love to Timothy and the other brethren in Ephesus (verse 21).

Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts and the Gospel bearing his name on behalf of the Apostle Paul, was charged by the brethren to accompany Paul, whom he served as stenographer.

Although Luke frequently accompanied Paul, his name is seldom mentioned (Col. 4:14). It is our thought that after Paul’s decease, Luke was instrumental in collecting all of the manuscripts and collating them into a scriptural canon. Evidently, Luke lived quite long, to around AD 86, although not as long as the Apostle John, who died in AD 96. Not only was Luke a physician, but in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, he gave credit to Theophilus, who financially backed him (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1; Philem. 24).

It is interesting to see that some forsook Paul and others stayed with him. We are happy that Mark had now been reinstated to favor. Earlier Paul was so upset with Mark that he parted company with Barnabas, who wanted his nephew to accompany them on the second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-40). Now Paul was telling Timothy to pick up Mark along the way and bring him to Rome. Mark was somewhere west of Ephesus, and Paul wanted to see him. He had been accompanying Peter, but Peter was executed by Nero at almost the same time as Paul. As a Roman citizen, Paul could not be crucified and was beheaded instead.

However, Peter, being a Jew and not a Roman citizen, was crucified. Their deaths were probably within six months of each other, and we assume that Peter died slightly before Paul. Now Paul wanted Mark to see him because just as he had charged Timothy before God and Christ to carry on the ministry and not worry about opposition, so he wanted to assure Mark of his reinstatement to favor and to encourage him to continue on with the work. Mark subsequently wrote the Gospel bearing his name on behalf of the Apostle Peter. In other words, Paul may have encouraged both Mark and Luke to write their Gospels.

The fact that Mark was “profitable” to Paul in the ministry shows that Paul had a definite purpose in mind for him. We believe that just before his death, Paul was successful in seeing Timothy and Mark. What a joyful yet serious reunion that would have been with Paul telling them not to worry about him, for he was resigned to his death!

Incidentally, Mark’s reinstatement to favor is encouraging to those who want to make amends for past mistakes. His experiences demonstrate the possibility of retrieval.

2 Tim. 4:12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.

Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus—presumably to deliver this letter to Timothy. Then Tychicus would have stayed in Ephesus to help in the ministry. In Paul’s estimation, it would have been profitable for Tychicus to settle there, for Timothy had to leave his work to go to see Paul. Timothy’s trip to Rome and back would have taken at least six months.

2 Tim. 4:13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

Paul had left his cloak at Troas (a seaport town in Troy, Asia Minor) with a party named Carpus. Paul also asked for “the books” (the Hebrew Scriptures) and especially for blank parchments to write on. He wanted to continue writing the Book of Hebrews. Not only was the content of that book comprehensive, well thought out, and thus written over a period of time, but it was a memorial to his race, to the Jews, whom he earnestly wished had accepted Christ.

Verse 13 also tells the route Timothy would take to Rome. There were two ways of traveling, and the northern route went through Troas up toward Constantinople and then through Philippi, Thessalonica, etc., following a semicircle along the Aegean coast, and finally down into Corinth and on to Rome.

2 Tim. 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:

2 Tim. 4:15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

Q: In 1 Timothy 1:20, Alexander was remanded over to Satan so that he would learn not to blaspheme. Wouldn’t the fact that his name is now mentioned in the second epistle signify his case was hopeless? Apparently, he did not repent, and Paul was no longer praying for him but left his “reward” up to God.

A: Yes. Although we cannot be dogmatic because Alexander was a common Greek name, this was probably the same Alexander in Ephesus, who was engaged in the lucrative business of making statuary either of the goddess Diana herself or for the Temple bearing her name (Acts 19:30-34). The implication is that to preserve his business and profits, he preached the gospel softly. He caused a lot of problems for Paul—in fact, so much so that without the Lord’s overruling and using the brethren to rescue Paul, the situation could have led to the  apostle’s death in the arena.

Because there was no change, Paul properly did not forgive Alexander but said, “The Lord reward him according to his works.” Part of the Lord’s Prayer is, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matt. 6:12). In other words, as we ask God for forgiveness, so those who trespass against us should ask for our forgiveness. Repentance precedes forgiveness. Alexander’s being turned over to the Adversary had not resulted in repentance, for “he hath greatly withstood our [particularly Paul’s] words.” In speaking publicly, he would have raised his voice in order to be heard over the tumult.

Comment: Paul’s saying of Alexander, “The Lord reward him according to his [evil] works,” is similar to Michael’s words to Satan with regard to the dispute over Moses’ body: “The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 9).

Reply: Alexander’s “works” were an affront to the ministry of Paul. His example and influence were detrimental to the faith, to say the least.

Paul warned Timothy to beware of Alexander, for the coppersmith had strongly opposed the apostle’s teaching and discourses. What made the withstanding so injurious is that Alexander was in the brotherhood. When someone in the brotherhood opposes one whom the Lord is specially dealing with, that individual is more accountable. Paul wrote in the first epistle that he had turned Alexander over to Satan. To write unfavorably about him in the second epistle indicates he was continuing in the wrong course despite the disfellowshipping. Incidentally, some who go out of the truth in our day linger a long time with the brethren, trying to take others with them.

The very fact Timothy was being warned shows Paul saw that Alexander would persist in his evil course. The point was to try to rescue those under his influence. Alexander had reached the point of no return, but the hope was that those he was influencing could be pulled “out of the fire” (Jude 23).

Comment: Knowing he would soon be put to death, Paul considered it necessary to give Timothy this strong warning about Alexander.

Reply: Yes, and that was especially true because Timothy would return to Ephesus and be Paul’s successor there, reassuming the duties of elder. Since Alexander was not obeying the terms of excommunication, he would probably be the source of a continuing problem.

Moreover, Paul had said that “all” (meaning the preponderance of the leadership) in Asia had forsaken him (2 Tim. 1:15). Timothy needed encouragement and a backbone so that he could withstand what he would experience on his return to Ephesus. For him to have these instructions of Paul in writing would be of great help, for Alexander was a man of means and influence and a public speaker. Paul told Timothy to use his talent to rebuke and warn as and where necessary. Timothy was a man of real character but was not as outgoing as, say, Titus.

Comment: After two epistles in which Paul had stressed sound doctrine and wholesome and holy living, it is startling that he listed so many in each epistle who forsook the truth in one way or another. More such individuals are named in 1 and 2 Timothy than in any other epistle.

2 Tim. 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

Not enough detail is given to know which of several situations Paul was referring to. One possibility is when he was brought up for a court hearing at Ephesus, and several brethren forsook him momentarily. He prayed that their action might not “be laid to their charge.” The incident shows that people sometimes change their mind, but whether or not God forgives a Christian for a misstep is what is important. If a brother slights one of God’s true children, the offended individual might forgive him, but the blot may stand against him from the Lord’s

standpoint and thus prevent him from making his calling and election sure. The important questions are, What is the final outcome? What does God think? Does God forgive him?

Comment: The Amplified has, “At my first trial no one acted in my defense (as my advocate) or took my part or [even] stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the (Gospel) message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was delivered out of the jaws of the lion.”

Reply: Like the Amplified, many early writers applied verses 16 and 17 to Ephesus.

Comment: Paul was talking about a sin of omission when he said, “I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” With Alexander, who was guilty of a sin of commission, Paul said, “The Lord reward him according to his works” (verse 14).

Reply: Yes. For brethren not to speak up when they should is a sin of omission, for silence gives consent to opposition.

Comment: Similarly, no man stood with Jesus at the time of his apprehension. The apostles fled.

Comment: Many times brethren know right from wrong, but they do not want to create hard feelings. They like the individual whom they would have to speak out against, so they remain silent.

Reply: There is a time to keep quiet and a time to talk. We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us in each situation. We should not respond too quickly from an emotional standpoint unless the wrong is blatant, as in the example of Moses with the golden calf. When he descended Mount Sinai and saw the Israelites worshipping the golden calf, he manifested righteous indignation by smashing the two tablets with the Ten Commandments and making the people drink the powdered gold in water. The point is that we should speak up for one who is defending the truth.

We are not dogmatic about the occasion Paul was referring to, for instead of Ephesus, it could have been his trial in Rome before Nero. However, we are dogmatic about the principle of speaking up for and supporting a brother who is defending important truth, especially when that individual is in an environment of opposition.

2 Tim. 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

Paul’s statement “I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion” is usually considered to be figurative. However, Ephesus did have a stadium, and there was a place where lions were kept.

If he had received an unfavorable judgment from the court, he could have been found guilty of treason and been literally fed to the lions. The usual explanation is that Paul was delivered from the vicious, forceful, and powerful attack of Satan and his human instruments. Although we are inclined to go along with that thought, we would not rule out the literal possibility.

2 Tim. 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Evidently, Alexander the coppersmith was a strong and powerful personality. His reasoning faculties or perhaps his manner could have had a very damaging effect on Paul’s ministry, but the Lord overruled the situation.

“The Lord … will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom.” Paul was quite familiar with the Bible truth that death is a sleep. He knew that God would be with him in “every evil work” including his execution, which he felt was imminent. He was ready to die, if need be.

2 Tim. 4:19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

Priscilla and Aquila were to be greeted. “Prisca” could be an affectionate name for Priscilla. Evidently, Onesiphorus had died, but his family was still alive. Paul wanted to encourage that household in memory of what Onesiphorus had previously done.

2 Tim. 4:20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.

Paul included this information so that on the journey to Rome, Timothy could contact Erastus in Corinth and Trophimus on the isle of Miletus. At the end of this second epistle, Paul warned about the dangers of some who had forsaken him. Paul also told of the whereabouts of faithful brethren so that Timothy could visit them. Those brethren had tarried behind because of either an illness or Paul’s specific instruction.

2 Tim. 4:21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.

Paul’s urging Timothy, “Do thy diligence to come before winter,” gives us an insight into the conditions in the dungeon. In the warm months, Paul was already cold and missed his cloak. He was not complaining, but he would like to have the cloak as an extra comfort and would certainly need it by winter and before his execution. Paul also wanted the parchment, for he may have wanted to complete manuscripts and turn them over to Luke, the compiler. He was planning his departure.

Comment: What faith Paul manifested! In the darkness of the dungeon, he trusted that God would provide a sufficiency of candles and light for him to finish the work.

Other Christians living in Rome—Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren—sent greetings to those in Ephesus. Thus when Paul said earlier that Demas, Crescens, and Titus had forsaken him, and that only Luke was with him, he was talking about their having forsaken the truth (verse 10). The brethren named in verse 21 were trying to serve faithfully—at least at that time.

Comment: The fact that specific individuals are named in these two epistles to Timothy is very sobering. We are reminded of the text “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). No matter how much progress is made, one has to keep pressing on.

Comment: Paul acknowledged the importance of Christian fellowship by characteristically mentioning the names of brethren at the end of his letters.

2 Tim. 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen

1982 Study with Excerpts from 1999 Study

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