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Thursday, November 30th, 2023
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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 4

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-5

A Charge to Timothy

According to Thomas, the word charge means, "to testify earnestly, warn, adjure." The serious nature of this charge can be seen in Paul's calling upon the Father and Son as witnesses. Christ will judge both those who are dead and those yet alive at the time of his return ( Joh_5:22-23 ; Joh_5:28-29 ; 2Co_5:10 ).

When Jesus comes again, he will be in the middle of his final acts as king and preparing to deliver the kingdom to his Father ( 1Co_15:23-26 ). Paul charged Timothy to herald, or proclaim, God's word to all men at all times. The herald should be ready with his message whether people are receptive or not. This will mean the preacher will have to exhibit a readiness to confront people about their wicked ways and try to convince them of their errors. Then, he will also have to warn against wrongdoing and urge them to stop sinning. This should be followed by an earnest urging to do what is right. All of this can only be accomplished through patient preaching of God's truth.

Like Moses, preachers sometimes face situations where they are tempted to add a few words of their own. Such should be resisted since, as was seen in 3:16-17, God's word is fully able to direct us in the right paths ( 2Ti_4:1-2 ).

Paul said the day was coming when some would not readily listen to healthy teaching. Instead, they would collect a group of teachers who would say what they wanted them to say, thereby scratching their ears. The words of false prophets sound good to their ears but go no deeper ( Isa_30:9-10 ). Determined to satisfy their own desires, the people would look for teachers who would approve of their excesses instead of warning against them. Spain says the word for "turn away" literally means to reject. They would reject God's true will and begin to accept all manner of made up stories.

Instead of preaching what people wanted to hear, Paul urged Timothy to exercise self-control, which would avoid desires outside of God's will. Because of his faithfulness to the truth, Timothy would have to suffer persecution ( Joh_15:18-19 ). He was urged to keep on openly proclaiming the truth until he had finished his mission ( 2Ti_4:3-5 ; Luk_9:62 ).

Verses 6-8

Paul’s Farewell Address

As Paul saw the end of his life approaching, he said, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering,” which is an allusion to the drink offering poured out on the altar under the law of Moses (see Num_15:1-10 ). So sure was Paul of his coming death that he spoke of it as already taking place. Using another figure, he said he was being loosed from the harness like a weary animal at the end of a hard trip or day of ploughing ( 2Ti_4:6 ; Php_1:21-23 ).

Using the image of either an olympic contest or a great battle, Paul also said he had overcome the obstacles placed in front of him in the contest with Satan over the faith ( 1Ti_6:12 ). He also had run the race of life in accord with the rules laid out by the Lord ( 1Co_9:26-27 ; Heb_12:1-15 ). Further, the apostle said he had been a faithful steward who properly kept that with which the Lord entrusted him ( Act_9:15 ; 1Co_4:1-5 ). Since Paul had done the Lord's will, he could confidently say a victory crown awaited him ( Jam_1:12 ; 1Pe_5:4 ; Rev_2:10 ). The crown was the reward for living in accord with the Lord's will which ultimately is available because of the Lord's supreme sacrifice. It will be given to the faithful by the Lord who judges truly in contrast to earthly judges like those Paul faced. The crown will be given to the righteous, who have anxiously awaited the Lord's return ( 1Co_16:22 ; Rev_22:20 ), in the very day the Lord comes again ( 2Ti_4:7-8 ; Joh_5:28-29 ).

Verses 9-15

Paul’s Desire for Companionship

Paul asked Timothy to make it his business to come to him as soon as he possibly could. Demas loved the world instead of the Lord’s coming, so he forsook the Lord’s servant. Both Crescens and Titus were apparently on business for the Lord, since no unfavorable remark is made about them. According to the A. S. V., Crescens was in Gaul, or France, which is an alternate reading for Galatia in other translations. Timothy was in Dalmatia, a part of Illyricum which was across the Adriatic Sea from Rome ( 2Ti_4:9-10 ).

Luke frequently traveled with Paul and was the only one who remained with the apostle at the time of this writing. Paul’s desire for Timothy to bring John Mark is a remarkable example of the changes which can occur in one’s life. Mark had left Paul and Barnabas at Pamphylia on the first missionary journey. Paul refused to take such a deserter with them on a second journey ( Act_13:13 ; Act_15:37-40 ). However, by the time the apostle pens these words to Timothy, he describes John Mark as profitable, which is the same word he used for vessel unto honor in 2:21 ( 2Ti_4:11 ). Tychicus, who Paul says he sent to Ephesus, was the man who carried the apostle’s letters to Ephesus and Colossae ( Eph_6:21 ; Col_4:7 ). He was in Paul’s company in Act_20:4 and is mentioned in Tit_3:12 . Roberts says the Greek tense here is epistolary and suggests Paul “is now sending him,” so it may be that he took this letter to Timothy and stayed at Ephesus in his absence. With winter approaching, Paul asked Timothy to stop in Troas and get his coat from Carpus. While he was being held prisoner, Paul also wanted something on which to work, so he asked Timothy to bring books and parchments. If the parchments did not already contain writing, the apostle to the Gentiles may have been planning to do some writing ( 2Ti_4:12-13 ).

Since Alexander was a fairly common name, it is difficult to tell which one Paul is speaking of in 2Ti_4:14-15 . For instance, there was an Alexander associated with the high priest in Act_4:6 . Another was the son of Simon, who bore the cross of Christ ( Mar_15:21 ). Yet another spoke to the multitude at Ephesus, while still one more made a shipwreck of his faith ( Act_19:30-41 ; 1Ti_1:20 ). The man mentioned by Paul in this verse could have been any of these, or one not mentioned in any other verse. No matter who he was, Paul viewed him as a threat to preachers of the gospel because he had so strongly opposed the apostle’s preaching. In these verses, Paul gives us a good example of our treatment of and thinking about our enemies. He leaves it to the Lord to repay this man for his deeds in the day of judgment ( Rom_12:17 ).

Verses 16-18

The Lord Stood with Paul

Though we do not know precisely when he made his first answer to the charges pressed against him, it is sad to hear this great man of God had not one friend to stand by him at that time. It appears the friends who refused to stand with Paul were afraid, so the apostle prayed the great judge would not hold it against them ( 2Ti_4:16 ).

Despite having no man to stand beside him, Paul was not alone. The Lord stood with his aged apostle just as he promised he would ( Mat_10:19-20 ; Mat_28:18-20 ). In fact, he gave him strength to go through the first defense. Ironically, his enemies had placed him in a position, with the Lord’s help, to present the gospel to a large audience of Gentiles as they listened to the trial in the forum. Those assembled might well have come from all over the known world. Though Paul soon expected to die, he had already been delivered by the Lord from a severe trial. Like the apostle, all Christians can confidently say the Lord will deliver them out of every trial because death could not hold our King ( Rom_8:28-39 ; 1Th_4:13-18 )! Only a Christian can think of death as a means of victory. When his tormentors at last succeeded in getting him executed, they gave Paul his longed for opportunity to go home ( 2Ti_4:17-18 ; Php_1:23 ; 2Co_5:8-9 ).

Verses 19-22

Closing Thoughts

Paul sent greetings to his tentmaking friends, Prisca and Aquila, who did so much to further the gospel ( Act_18:1-3 ; Act_24:1-27 ; Act_25:1-27 ; Act_26:1-32 ; Act_27:1-44 ; Act_28:1-31 ; Rom_16:3-5 ). Erastus, a companion who helped preach the gospel, stayed in Corinth, perhaps even making it his home ( Act_19:22 ). Trophimus was an Asiatic Christian who made the journey with Paul to Jerusalem at the end of the third missionary journey. He was one of the Gentiles Paul was accused of taking into the temple ( Act_21:28-29 ). Paul had left him sick at Miletus, which shows us the miraculous gifts the apostles possessed were not used for personal purposes but for the furtherance of the gospel.

Paul knew he would soon die and urged Timothy to come before winter. Travel in the winter was extremely difficult. If Timothy did not reach Paul before winter, he might have to wait another season. In spite of the persecution the church was enduring at the time of this writing, Paul was able to name several specific Christians and then the brethren in general as those who sent greetings to Timothy.

Paul’s final written prayer was that Jesus would be with the spirit of Timothy, a fine gospel preacher. The “you” in the closing words of the prayer is plural and may well be the apostle’s prayer for the church with which Timothy was working, likely Ephesus ( 2Ti_4:19-22 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/2-timothy-4.html. 2014.
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