II Timothy 4. Paul Passes the Torch to Timothy.

Key Notes: Four mandates. A summary of Paul's work. The problem of preaching: preachers and listeners.

This is the last known word from Paul. He gives his final charge to Timothy, the fourth in these letters. A charge is an especially heavy load laid on someone, such as a servant. (Webster)

1. "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His Kingdom..."PREACH THE WORD." (II Tim.4:1–2)

2. "This charge I commit to you in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you that, inspired by them, you may FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT." [Strategize the good strategy]. Hold to faith with a good conscience. (ITim.1:18)

3. "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, KEEP THESE RULES without favor, doing nothing from partiality." (ITim.5:21)

4. "I charge you in the presence of God who give life to all things, and of Christ Jesus who in His testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession...KEEP THE COMMANDMENT unstained and free from reproach...." (ITim.6:13–14)

Four burdens have been laid on Timothy:

Fight the Christian warfare with a good conscience.
Preach the Word in good times and bad.
Be impartial in your work with Christian people.
Do not spoil your teaching by personal sin.

Each charge is pronounced in the light of prophecy or the presence of God and Christ. The orders are not weighted by Paul but by God Himself. Timothy is not allowed to think that he is just responsible to Paul, or that he should do his ministry when people are watching, or that it doesn't matter because there are plenty of other people. He works under God.

4:2 "Preach the word, urgently, in good times and bad...."
•convince: appeal to the mind, the intellect.
•rebuke: speak to the conscience, to personal morality.
•exhort: stimulate the heart, the emotions, and the motivations.
Do it with patience and teaching. You have to keep trying; people are stubborn and refuse to listen. Don't just say it once and go away. Moral issues are critical. When people refuse the Gospel, they often have something they prefer, some secret pleasure, and the will to be autonomous.

4:3–4 In time people will turn away from listening to the Word and wander into myths of gnostics, Jewish mystics, and false teachers.
4:5 Be steady, take your share of suffering, do the work of an evangelist, and complete your service to God. He is not told to be an evangelist; but Timothy, like all of us, is to tell the good news of the Gospel whether gifted or not.

4:6 Paul is being poured out like a drink offering. Wine was poured on the ground as part of some temple offerings--a libation. (Ex.29:40). Paul had used a similar expression during his first imprisonment. (Phil.4:18). Now his blood was about to poured out on the ground but he has been pouring his life out in exhausting work before this final event.
The time of my departure (Gr."analysis": a ship leaving its mooring, or a soldier breaking camp) is at hand.

4:7 I have fought the good fight (agonized the good agony).
    I have finished the race (Gr."dromos", a race- course, career).
    I have kept the faith.

He has published thirteen letters, with instruction to seven churches; preached in the Middle East, Asia Minor, Greece and Rome, visited some 25 cities, planted many new churches, mentored ~27 people whose names are known. He has suffered physically--beatings, jail, shipwreck three times, stoning--and a "thorn in the flesh" (IICor.12:7)--as well as emotional anxiety for all the churches (IICor.11:23–28). He left a framework of doctrine, theology and ethical instruction, which has been the backbone of Christian teaching for 2000 years.

4:8 A crown or wreath is saved up to be awarded on Judgment Day, to Paul and all others who look and long for Christ's Return, His Epiphany. The laurel wreath (Gr."stephanos"), was given to the winner in the Olympic Games; this is not the "diademos", the crown given to a king. A laurel wreath may not seem like a great reward, but it depends on who gives it to you.

4:9–21 Personal business.
Timothy must come quickly, leaving Ephesus to be replaced by Tychicus. (4:11). He must come before winter (4:21), bringing the cloak from Troas, some books and parchments, and Mark.
Mark has been rehabilitated and has proven himself useful after falling from favor years before.( Acts 15:37)
Demas, on the other hand, had been a fellow-worker (Col.4:14), but had now fallen in love with the world and deserted the Cause.
Titus going to Dalmatia and Crescens to Galatia, however, are continuing to do the work.
Alexander the coppersmith, otherwise unknown, was a powerful adversary that Timothy must be aware of.
Luke is the only member of the team that is still with Paul, although there are friends--Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia- and the rest of the little church.

4:16–18 Paul was alone in his first defense, but presented the Gospel forcefully for the Gentiles to hear. He was rescued from ?Nero that time. The Lord will rescue Paul for His Heavenly Kingdom, but not from the lion's mouth this time.

PREACH THE WORD:

We think the problem of preaching is with the preachers, and it is, but Calvin also complained of Reformation audiences. Having experienced freedom from the oppression of the Roman Church, they ran amok:


"The greater part cannot endure corrections, or threatening, or even simple doctrine. When we denounce vices, though we do not employ violent language, they think that all is lost. Never was the world so obstinately wicked as it now is, and those who have made a profession of the gospel appear to endeavor, as far as they can, to destroy the grace of God."
"We see that they would wish to be like unbridled calves."
  (Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. J.Calvin; 1548. Baker; reprinted’84; p.256–7)

Although there are many ways for the Church to fall into error today, one of the longer trends is psychological self-help. It is variously called "Mind Cure" (Mary Baker Eddy;‘75); "Unity" (Charles Fillmore;‘80); "How to Win Friends..." (Dale Carnegie) "Positive Thinking" (Norman Vincent Peale;’50), and we would add, "Possibility Thinking. "(Robert Schuller; 2000).
  (The Positive Thinkers. D.Meyer; Anchor,1965)

Some of Rev. Norman Peale's titles were:
     "How to get rid of your inferiority complex."
     "How to think your way to success."
     "How to achieve a calm center for your life."
     "You can win". (Ibid.p.242)
He said "Simply accept faith. Believe you have it and you will have it. That, you see, is itself faith." (Ibid. p.243). That implies that faith is in yourself, not in God. It is lifting yourself by your shoe-strings.

It is hard to preach the Word of God when people prefer self-help for their loneliness, anger, love, fear, and anxiety. They "have itching ears". To them, it is not a question of sin. People are "hurting" and we must console them and build them up. No "put-downs", please. Paul would be appalled.

The problem of preaching is on both sides. We must demand authentic preaching of the Word, and we must listen and obey when it comes to us.

He finished well. We all start the Christian life well. The name of the game is to finish well, and win the victor's crown.  Go on. Never give up.