2 Timothy 4:1-8 Stand and deliver

This passage must be a favorite text for many ordination service sermons. This has got to form part of our understanding of Paul’s last will and testament for us in our service to God. If there was something that Paul could have left Timothy, it was this solemn charge.

Tim 4:1-8
1I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3For 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;
4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8Henceforth 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 gives Timothy a charge. He offered exhortations (παρακάλεω – parakaleo, to strongly urge) on many other occasions, but here Paul calls for something more from those who would minister. He uses the word Διαμαρτύρομαι (diamarturomai – to attest or protest earnestly) which carries the idea of being a witness; martyr, the word for witness, is part of this word. Instead of being a mere challenge, encouraging Timothy to preach the Word, Paul is holding Timothy accountable for preaching it. He declares himself a witness before God that he has told Timothy to preach the Word. Should Timothy fail to preach the Word, Paul would be a witness against him. He then reminds Timothy that there will be a judgement at the Second Coming of Christ and the Milennial Kingdom where Timothy will be judged for what he had done with the ministry he was given.

Timothy was told to preach the word. The word for preach here is κηρύσσω (kerusso – to herald), not εὐαγγελίζω (euangelizo – to preach the Gospel). This does not infer a different kind of message; the preaching of the Gospel is part of and the capstone of the overall message of God’s Word. Paul was charging Timothy to make sure that his messages were Biblically ballanced, not filled with stories and old wives tales. The authority for any of our messages is found in God’s Word.  When we talk with people about spiritualities it is so much a sharing of opinions — which they will feel free to accept or reject because one man’s opinion is as good as the next. When we use the Word, we speak with the authority of God. For this reason, sermons are more than lectures in that while lectures inform people why they should change, a sermon demands change based upon the authority of God’s Word. It is the Word of God that makes the difference.

Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Ps 119:9-11
9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Ps 19:7-10
7The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

The word instant is ἐφίστημι (ephistemi – from ἐπί  ἵστημι, epi histemi, upon stand: stand upon, or stand by), to be on standby, ready at a moment’s notice to preach in good times or bad. All of our worldly concerns must take a back seat to the call to deliver God’s Word. Whether standing in a pulpit, in front of a Sunday School class, leading family devotions, counseling a friend or coworker, our concerns, our self-interests, our complaints, our being offended must be suppressed in order to speak for God. We are responsible to stand and deliver1 God’s Word.

Paul next identifies three aspects of the delivery of the message when he says reprove, rebuke, exhort. Reprove (ἐλέγχω – elengcho, prove false) refers to correcting those who are wrong. Rebuke (ἐπιτιμάω – epitimao, tax upon, censure, admonish) refers to condemning error. Exhort (παρακαλέω – parakaleo, strongly urge) refers to encouraging someone. Those who are mistaken, correct. Those who are deliberately in error, condemn. Those who are correct, encourage and support.

How we deal with people is to be done with longsuffering and doctrine. We must be willing to not just be patient and enduring, but willing to serve even when it is painful. We must be careful to apply doctrine (διδαχή – didache, instruction), carefully teaching people the truth.

2Tim 2:24-25
24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

One of the great failures in churches is people not learning doctrine. People who don’t take advantage of sound teaching will get tired of powerless spirituality (powerless because they failed to avail themselves of the teaching) and latch on to some passing Christian fad, new “paradigm”, heresy, cult, or idolatry that has something clever to offer. People sometimes say that they “tried” Christianity and found it lacking. This is so disengenuous; the billions of books and other writings should be an indicator that man has found it impossible to fathom all the depths of God’s Word. It would be more honest for people to say that they dabbled in Christianity, were too lazy to really study, and got bored due to their lack of appreciation, education, sincerity, and seriousness about God and His Word. Such people collect relgious notions and curiosities like a hobby, building up a stable of fables.  Churches that chase off after being culturally relevant seek to establish themselves on a constantly shifting standard. The Bible has always been relevant, speaking to the conscience of sin and righteousness, and judgement. It is relevant to politicians, lawyers, merchants, fathers, mothers, children, employers, employees…rich men, poor men, beggar men, thieves…butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers…Greeks, Jews, and barbarians. Heap (ἐπισωρεύω – episoreuo, to pile up and up) means more than to merely accumulate. People will chase off after the latest guru and literally heap to themselves teachers who will entertain their fancies. This desire for entertainmen is evident by people’s obsession with Hollywood. It was even at play in Paul’s day at Athens:

Acts 17:18-21
18Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
19And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

The word for fables is μύθος (muthos – myths). It is more than cute little fairy tales or stories with a lesson to them. Mythology represents teachings of the demonic pantheons that made up the religious thinking of Paul’s day.

The full message of God’s Word is preached when it culminates in sharing the Gospel. Thus Paul says to make full proof of his ministry by evangelizing, preaching the Gospel. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” and the proof of the ministry is in the souls saved.

Finally, Paul challenges Timothy to be able to be able to say in the end that he had finished the course laid out for him, to have fought the good fight and kept the faith. Not all fights in church and culture are worth fighting. We are to contend for the faith, not be contentious for the faith.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

1Cor 4:1-5
1Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2?Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
4For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
5Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

The scope of this passage is from the charge to a minister to the culmination of his ministry. How seriously we must take our call to serve God!

1stand and deliver was the phrase used by highway robbers to be handed people’s valuables. When the world demands an accounting of us, we deliver the most valuable thing we have — the Gospel in the Word of God.

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