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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 4

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-22

Chapter 4

Paul said to Timothy,

I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ ( 2 Timothy 4:1 ),

Hey, that's heavy duty, man, when you charge a person before God and before the Lord Jesus Christ. Laying a charge now on Timothy.

The Lord Jesus Christ,

who shall judge the quick and the dead ( 2 Timothy 4:1 )

Now the quick is an old English word, it means alive. Someone said in L.A. traffic there are two kinds: the quick and the dead. But the word means alive.

The Lord is going to judge those that are alive and those that are dead

at his appearing and his kingdom ( 2 Timothy 4:1 );

Now there will be two judgments. The one at His coming, His appearing, will be the judgment of those who have lived through the great tribulation period. The first thing that Jesus does when He comes again, according to Matthew's gospel is He gathers together the nations for judgment and He will separate them as a shepherd separates his sheep from his goats. And He'll put on His left hand and He said, you know, Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I was hungry and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty; you didn't give me anything to drink. I was naked, you didn't clothe me. I was, you know, sick and you didn't visit me. In prison, you didn't visit. Lord, when did we see you this way? Well, inasmuch as you did not do it to the least of these, you didn't do it to me.

To those on His right hand, come ye blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you from the foundations of the world. For when I was hungry, you fed me. Lord, when did we see you like that? Well, inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you did it to me. But the judgment, which will determine those who will be allowed to go into the Kingdom Age when Jesus is going to reign upon the earth for a thousand years; after the thousand years reign, then He will judge the dead. And all of the dead, small and great, will stand before the great white throne of God and they will be judged out of the things that are written in the books.

So I charge you before God and before the Lord Jesus Christ, who is going to judge the alive and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom, the two judgments. What does He charge Him?

Preach the word ( 2 Timothy 4:2 );

Why? Because it is the word of God that can change man. It is the word of God that can inspire really the, well, bring the changes, can cleanse a man. So preach the word.

Oh, isn't it a shame that there is so little preaching of the Word of God today in the pulpits across the country? All kinds of preaching of psychology and all other kinds of things, but so little preaching of the word. "I charge you before God and before Jesus Christ, Timothy, preach the word." Paul said, "We preach not ourselves, but Christ crucified; and ourselves his ministers for your sake" ( 2 Corinthians 4:5 ). His servants. Preach the word.

And then he said,

be instant in season, and out of season ( 2 Timothy 4:2 );

In other words, be ready to go. Sometimes you feel like it, sometimes you don't. Ready to go.

reprove ( 2 Timothy 4:2 ),

The word of God is profitable for reproof.

rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine ( 2 Timothy 4:2 ).

Now Paul is emphasizing here, "Preach the word", and get the people indoctrinated in the basic foundational truths of God. "Preach the word".

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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables ( 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ).

You know, it is an interesting thing how that the Word of God seems to create an appetite for the Word of God, and it seems to spoil you for anything else. The Word of God is so exciting. There is so much there. It is so powerful, so dynamic that when you really are being taught the Word, and you really get into the meat, you begin to grow and be strengthened. You just can't be satisfied with these little, you know, beautiful days and butterflies and sparrow sermons, you know, everything is pleasant and the world is great.

So the time will come though, if the person doesn't have a diet of the Word of God, they get itching ears. Oh, he tells the greatest jokes, you know, man, the guy's a great storyteller and people have itching ears. They want to be entertained and churches have become really entertainment centers. I mean, they put on shows that will make Hollywood jealous. They want to be entertained. Itching ears desiring entertainment, turning their ears away from the truth and it opens them up to be gullible to listen to fables.

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

Now Paul was an apostle by the will of God but he was also a pastor and a teacher. Timothy had the calling of an evangelist. Paul is encouraging him to preach and to do the work of an evangelist. Now it is important to know what area of ministry God has gifted you and called you to fulfill and that you be what God has called you to be, and not attempt to be something that God hasn't made you. Because the most difficult and frustrating thing in the world is to try to be an evangelist if God has made you a pastor-teacher or to try and be a pastor-teacher if God has made you an evangelist. You know, we've got to make our calling and election sure. We've got to know what God has called us to be.

The first sixteen years or so of my ministry was totally frustrating, as I sought to be Chuck an evangelist by the will of God. God didn't call me to be an evangelist. And my endeavors to do so were just totally frustrating and unfruitful. It was not until I really acknowledged and came to the realization that God had called me as a pastor-teacher that the ministry began to be blessed, because now it's natural, now it's not forced. Now I can be what God has called me to be, comfortable with it, loving it.

So to Timothy, "do the work of an evangelist, and make full proof of your ministry." So important that we make full proof of that ministry.

For [Paul said] I am now ready to be offered, the time of my departure is at hand ( 2 Timothy 4:6 ).

Things were going bad for Paul in Rome. The trial is not looking good. He's appeared for his preliminary hearings and he's heard the charges and he has seen the attitude of the Roman government at this point, and Paul realizes his days are numbered. This is the last letter that Paul wrote, his letter, second epistle to Timothy, and he realizes that the handwriting is on the wall. "The time of my departure is at hand." You see, with Paul he looked at death as only a departure on his journey. I'm going to move in a short while from this tent into a mansion. "The building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" ( 2 Corinthians 5:1 ). The time of my departure is at hand.

And then Paul said,

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith ( 2 Timothy 4:7 ):

Oh what an important thing to say when the time of departure gets close. And I look back at my life and I can say, Well, I fought a good fight. I gave up, you know, all I had and I have finished the course. Earlier Paul had written to the Philippians and he said, "I have not yet apprehended that for which I was apprehended of Jesus Christ, neither do I count myself perfect: but this is what I'm doing, forgetting those things which are behind, I'm pressing towards those things which are before, as I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus" ( Philippians 3:12-14 ). He saw the Christian life as a race.

He said, don't you realize "that they which run in a race run all, but only one receives the prize? So run, that you might obtain" ( 1 Corinthians 9:24 ). I've fought a good fight. I've been in there. I have finished now my course and I have kept the faith.


Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, our righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all of them also that love his appearing ( 2 Timothy 4:8 ).

We are told to wait for His appearing, to look for His appearing, and now Paul speaks about loving His appearing. The crown of righteousness, Jesus said to the church of Smyrna, "Be thou faithful unto death, I will give thee a crown of life" ( Revelation 2:10 ). The various crowns of heaven, that crown of righteousness. The Lord our righteous judge shall give, not to me only but all those that love His appearing.

So do thy diligence to come shortly unto me ( 2 Timothy 4:9 ):

Hey, get here quick. I'm about to leave. Time of my departure is at hand. So hurry, get here as quick as you can.

For Demas has forsaken me ( 2 Timothy 4:10 ),

Now Demas was joined with Paul in other of the salutations of his previous epistles, but Paul had said earlier that all of those of Asia had forsaken him. Actually, it probably would have meant their own death had they associated with Paul at this point of the trial, for he was a prisoner condemned to die and their association with him now would endanger their own lives. "So Demas has forsaken me." Tragic because of the reason,

having loved the present world, and is departed to Thessalonica ( 2 Timothy 4:10 );

In other words, for his own skin, you know, wants to live on so he's departed to Thessalonica.

Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. So take Mark ( 2 Timothy 4:10-11 ),

This is the Mark that was a nephew to Barnabas who created a fight between Paul and Barnabas earlier. When Paul and Barnabas left on their first missionary journey, Mark went with them, but when they had passed through Cyprus and were heading over to some rough country, Mark got scared and went home and Paul and Barnabas went on alone.

Now as Paul and Barnabas were getting ready to take their second missionary journey, to go back into the same areas to strengthen the brethren that had been converted in their first journey, Barnabas said, Well, I want to take Mark with me again. And Paul said, Oh no, kid defected the last time, I don't want to take him again. I don't want problems. And so a big argument arose between Paul and Barnabas. The contention was so great that Barnabas took Mark and headed on out for Cyprus and Paul took Silas and headed on back into Asia Minor again.

It is interesting now, though you know within the Christian body we can have differences and we have disagreements, but the Lord always brings us back. And now Paul writes of this same Mark that he had problems with earlier, wouldn't go along with Barnabas who wanted to take him.

And he says to Timothy, "Take Mark,"

and bring him with you: for he is profitable to me for the ministry ( 2 Timothy 4:11 ).

I like that young man. Of course, Mark had matured a lot by now, no doubt. Several years had gone by, but Paul speaks about him in loving terms as being profitable unto him and all.

And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloak ( 2 Timothy 4:12-13 )

Now Paul's dealing with just some, you know, very personal kind of things but, "the cloak"

that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come, bring it with you, and also my books, but especially bring the parchments ( 2 Timothy 4:13 ).

Paul, it is said, was an avid reader. In fact, history, Gamaliel, Paul said he sat under the feet of Gamaliel, and we have an account of Gamaliel talking about Paul as a student. And as he spoke of Paul as a student, he said the biggest trouble I had with him as a student was supplying him with enough books. An avid reader, that is why when Paul was making his defense before King Agrippa, Festus cried out, Your much learning has made you mad. Paul had been there reading for two solid years in prison in Caesarea, and every time he saw him, Paul was buried in a book. And he said, hey, you studied too much, you flipped. You went one over the edge. Your much learning has made you mad.

So bring me the books, bring me the parch, especially those parchments, you know. You know I think that that's something about a teacher that you have a thirst and you'll never stop.

Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works ( 2 Timothy 4:14 ):

That's interesting, isn't it? Pray for those, the Lord said, who despitefully use you but I don't know that He intended you to pray that way.

Of whom be thou wary also ( 2 Timothy 4:15 );

Watch out for that Alexander the coppersmith.

for he has greatly withstood our words. Now at my first hearing no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray that God will not lay that to their charge ( 2 Timothy 4:15-16 ).

Interesting, Paul was totally forsaken by all of his friends. At his first hearing before Nero, they all left him. When Paul, one of his first exposures to Christianity was the stoning of Stephen that is recorded in the Bible. The first time we find Paul, he is standing there holding the coats of the men who were stoning Stephen to death. He just heard Stephen's tremendous witness before the Sanhedrin, of which he was a member. They voted, Stone him. Paul voted, Yes, stone him, you know, he voted consenting to his death. He voted with them to stone him and then he participated by holding the coats of the men who did the actual stoning of Stephen.

While Stephen was being stoned, you remember that he looked up and he said, Father, lay not this sin to their charge. Don't charge them with this one. That evidently made a pretty heavy impression upon Paul. Because later when the Lord got hold of Paul on his way to Damascus, hey, it's been hard to kick against the pricks, you know, I'm sure that that whole thing with Stephen was still in his mind and on his heart. Seeing this guy die in such a way as, Lord, into your hands I commend my spirit. Don't charge them with this sin, Lord. Rather than cursing and screaming and all at, those who were, you know, stoning him, this beautiful attitude of love and forgiveness.

Now Paul is more or less emulating that as he talks about these fellows who forsook him. Lord, I hope that the Lord doesn't charge them with that one.

Notwithstanding ( 2 Timothy 4:17 )

And this I love. All of the men forsook me but nevertheless,

the Lord stood with me ( 2 Timothy 4:17 ),

And that's all I need. 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 ( 2 Timothy 4:17 ).

Or Nero. He calls him the lion. Or perhaps he could be referring to, you know, being put in the arena with the lions, but I just thought that he's referring, it was cryptic for Nero.

Now notice this, "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". You see what happened is that when Paul stood before Nero; he just took opportunity to preach the Gospel to Nero. I mean, what a great opportunity. I've got to make my defense before this guy and so, but that was Paul's tactic all the way along. Whenever Paul was arrested and had to appear before the judges, or later before King Agrippa, he always used that opportunity to witness and try to win them to Jesus Christ.

Now Jesus said to His disciples, You're going to be persecuted and they're going to arrest you and they're going to take you before the magistrates, and you're going to stand before kings. But don't take any forethought what you're going to say, for in that hour the Spirit will give you the words that you should say and it will turn to you as an opportunity to testify.

In other words, you're going to be, you know, arrested, brought to court and all, hey, don't worry about it. It's going to be an opportunity for you to testify, to share your faith. And so Paul took every appearance before the judges and all as the opportunity to testify until he was laying such a heavy witness on Agrippa, King Agrippa. He said, Agrippa, do you believe the scriptures? I know you believe the scriptures. Agrippa said, Wait a minute. Hold on here. You mean you're trying to convert me? And Paul said, Oh, I wish I could. He really was. He was trying to convert him.

Now Paul doesn't nor does Luke give us an account of what Paul said to Nero, but you can be sure he laid on Nero one of the, he no doubt figured, boy, if I could win this guy to Christ, think of what good it would do for Christianity, if Nero could be won to Christ. And I'm sure he laid on this guy a testimony like you can't believe. And he said, they all forsook me but "the Lord stood with me". The Holy Spirit will give you the words in that hour. And He strengthened me that by me the preaching might be fully known. I mean, he laid the full witness on him and that all the Gentiles might hear. The whole court of Nero heard the Gospel. "And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion."

And the Lord shall deliver me ( 2 Timothy 4:18 )

Oh yes, He sure did. His head was whacked off and he escaped from Nero. Because Jesus said, "Don't fear them that have the power to kill the body, but after that have no more power: but rather fear him who after the body is killed is able to cast your spirit into hell" ( Matthew 10:28 ).

Yeah, I tell you, fear ye him. So I'm going to be delivered, Paul says. I know God's going to deliver me. And Paul knew exactly how because he said "the time of my departure is at hand" ( 2 Timothy 4:6 ). I'm going. The Lord is going to deliver me. I think it is wrong when we think that deliverance only comes through healing. God has many ways of delivering us. "And the Lord shall deliver me"

from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom ( 2 Timothy 4:18 ):

The world might take my life away but man, I'm going to be preserved in the heavenly kingdom.

to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Salute Prisca and Aquila ( 2 Timothy 4:18-19 ),

Now here they are again, still in Ephesus, and Paul is so bound to Priscilla and Aquila. Met them first in Corinth. And then they went with him or they went before him to Ephesus. And they were with him in his ministry there and a couple of people that I am anxious to meet, Priscilla and Aquila. Salute them, greet them.

and also the household of Onesiphorus ( 2 Timothy 4:19 ).

Now it is thought that maybe he was killed also in Rome. He looked Paul up, sought for him diligently, found him in a dungeon but it is thought that maybe because of his relationship with Paul, he was slain because he doesn't greet him but only his household. And there are some accounts that he was actually killed because of his relationship to Paul.

Erastus stayed at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum [which is Malta] and he was sick. Now do your diligence to come before winter. And Eubulus greets you, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia ( 2 Timothy 4:20-21 ),

Now, with Pudens and Claudia, couple of interesting names.

and all the brethren ( 2 Timothy 4:21 ).

Oh, I don't have time to go into the story but there are some interesting stories behind Claudia who is thought to have been a princess from the British Isles. And there are some interesting stories in the early church concerning this Claudia. And it's, that she is the same Claudia of course, is not known. But in the early church in Rome, there was a Claudia that had become converted. She was a princess from Britain and had been sent to Mary, one of the Roman leaders, as a part of the treaty and all and was converted to Christ there in Rome and became a very powerful figure in the church.

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

So Paul's last letter to Timothy and the last letter that he wrote.

May the Lord richly bless you as the Word of God is now assimilated into your life and you begin to apply it in your daily experiences, that the Word of God might have a purifying effect upon your life this week. Even as Jesus said, "Now you are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you" ( John 15:3 ). May you find the Word of God guiding you in the way of righteousness, being profitable to you in leading you in that path of righteousness, that God would have you to run.

May the Lord be with you and strengthen you in the various tests and trials that you'll be facing this week, and cause you to be victorious, more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/2-timothy-4.html. 2014.
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