Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, February 24th, 2024
the First Week of Lent
There are 36 days til Easter!
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 4

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-2


2 Timothy 4:1-2. 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; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.

RELIGION is a matter of far greater importance than men generally imagine. The appointment of an order of men on purpose to instruct mankind in the knowledge of it, and by all possible means to advance it in the world, is itself a proof, that, in God’s estimation, it is indispensably necessary for the happiness of man. In truth, there is nothing else that is of any importance in comparison of it. How St. Paul laboured to diffuse it, is well known. And here we see how earnestly he inculcated on others the duty of labouring to the utmost to excite an attention to it, throughout all classes of the community. A more solemn charge can scarcely be conceived than that which he here gives to Timothy. The age of this pious youth might render him too diffident and timid in the discharge of his ministerial office: and therefore, in this epistle, St. Paul again gives him the solemn charge which he had repeatedly given in his former epistle [Note: 1 Timothy 5:21; 1 Timothy 6:13.], to acquit himself to that God who had sent him, and to that Saviour who would judge him in the last day.

In discoursing on the words before us, I shall consider,


The charge given [Note: If this were a subject addressed, to Ministers, the first head should constitute the whole body of the Sermon; and the second head he reserved, in a way of corollary, for the conclusion of it. But, to a common audience, the present distribution is better.]—

“The word” is that which every minister must “preach.” He is not at liberty to amuse the people with the fancies and conceits of men, but must declare simply the mind and will of God. He is sent of God for that very end. He is an ambassador from God to man, authorized to declare on. what terms God will be reconciled to his rebellious subjects. And this ministry he is to discharge,


With assiduity—

[Day and night should he labour in his vocation, with all diligence. The priests under the law had their appointed seasons for sacrifice: but, for the ministration of the Gospel, and the advancement of the interests of the Redeemer’s kingdom, no time should be deemed unseasonable. A servant of God should never lose sight of the object which he is commissioned to promote. Whether in public or in private, whether on the Sabbath or other days, whether early or late, whether in a season of peace or of the bitterest persecution, he should be alike active, and alike intent on fulfilling the will of his Divine Master. He should “be instant in season, out of season” — — — ]


With fidelity—

[In his discourse, he should adapt himself to the necessities of men, and “change his voice towards them” as occasion may require. If there be errors in the Church, he must “reprove” them, and establish the truth in opposition to them. If there be any sins committed, he must “rebuke” them; and, if need be, with sharpness and severity too, “that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.” If there be any discouraged by reason of the difficulty of their way, he must exhort and comfort them; according to that injunction of the prophet, “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees; and say to them that are of a fearful heart, Fear not; your God will come and save you [Note: Isaiah 35:3-4.].” He is not to fear the face of man; but to address all, without respect of persons; and to declare to them the truth, “whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear [Note: Ezekiel 2:7.].”]


With perseverance—

[He may labour long, and see but little fruit of his labour: but, “like the husbandman, he must wait with patience for the early and the latter rain [Note: Jam 5:7].” He must be content to give “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.” And if, in return for all his kindness, he meet with nothing but reproach and persecution, he must still persist in using his best efforts, if by any means he may at last be made useful even to one. Confident that his “doctrine” is right, he must labour to inculcate it on all; and leave to God the issue, whether it be to blind and harden men, or to convert and save their souls [Note: Isaiah 6:9-10.].

All this is the bounden duty of a minister: and of his labours in it he must give account to “the Judge of quick and dead, in the great day of his appearing.”]
But, that we may adapt the subject more to the edification of all, let us consider,


The charge implied—

It is evident, that, if such be the duties of those who preach, there must be corresponding duties attaching to those who hear. On these, therefore, the charge enjoins,


A due improvement of the ministry—

[If we are to “preach the word,” you, my brethren, are to hear it: and to hear it too, “not as the word of man, but as the word of God,” and as the word of God to your souls.
Nor are you ever to become remiss in your attention to it. It should “be daily your delight,” and “more to you than your necessary food.” At all times, and under all circumstances, you should look to it, as your sure directory, and your never-failing support.
Whether read in your secret chamber, or preached to you in the public assembly, your submission to it should be deep and unreserved. Every sentiment of your heart should be regulated by it; every lust should be mortified in obedience to it; and every duty performed in accordance with it. You must, in particular, guard against itching ears and a rebellious heart; neither affecting novelty on the one hand, nor quarrelling with old-established truths on the other [Note: ver. 3, 4.].

Nor should you ever be “weary in well-doing.” Whatever it may cost you to conform to God’s blessed word, it must be done: nor should you ever rest, till your whole souls be cast into the very mould of the Gospel.]


A diligent attention to your own personal concerns—

[If ministers have their duties, so have you also yours, to which you are bound to pay all possible attention. Though you minister not in public, you should be as priests in your own houses, and perform towards your respective families all that the most faithful minister attempts for you.
But, supposing that you have none to whom you owe these friendly offices, you must at least watch over your own souls, and with all diligence and fidelity endeavour to bring them into subjection to the commands of God. You must bear in mind your responsibility to God for your every act, and word, and thought; and must so walk before your Lord and Saviour, that you may stand with boldness and confidence before him in the great day of his appearing.]

In conclusion, let me bring the “charge” more directly to your hearts and consciences—

[Almighty God is here present with us, and has heard every word that has been spoken to you. The Lord Jesus Christ, too, is present with us; and records in the book of his remembrance every word that is delivered in his name. And soon will he descend from heaven, and summon the universe to his tribunal. Then will his kingdom be complete; and every member of it, from the first to the last, shall stand before him. Now, as in the immediate presence both of the Father and of the Son, I speak unto you; and in their sacred name I charge you all. You shall all, ere long, stand at the judgment-seat of Christ, and “give an account of yourselves to God;” and receive at his hands according to what you have done in the body, whether it be good or evil. It becomes YOU, then, to “receive with meekness every word” that is delivered, as it becomes me also to “speak even as the oracles of God.” The Lord grant that I may so speak, and ye do, as those who shall be judged by God’s perfect law [Note: James 2:12.]; and that both the one and the other of us may so approve ourselves to Christ, as “not to be ashamed before him at his coming [Note: 1 John 2:28.].”]

Verses 7-8


2 Timothy 4:7-8. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 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.

CHRISTIANITY adapts its comforts to every part of our existence; but its influence is peculiarly visible at the close. St. Paul, when expecting death, was not without the most comfortable reflections,


In his review of the past—

He had had different views of life from what are generally entertained—
[Many think they have little to do but to consult their own pleasure; but St. Paul had judged, that he had many important duties to fulfil.]
He had devoted himself to the great ends of life—
[He had maintained a warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil: he had run his race with indefatigable zeal and ardour [Note: 1 Corinthians 9:26.]: he had kept the faith with undaunted courage and constancy: he had disregarded life itself when it stood in competition with his duty [Note: Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13.].]

Hence the approach of death was pleasant—
[He enjoyed the testimony of a good conscience: he could adopt the language of his Lord and Master [Note: John 17:4.]—he was a prisoner without repining, or wishing to escape: he was condemned, and could wait with complacency for the tyrant’s stroke.]

In consequence of this, he was happy also,


In the prospect of what was to come—

He had long enjoyed the earnest of eternal blessings [Note: Ephesians 1:14.]. He looked forward therefore now to the full possession of them—

[A crown of righteousness means a most exalted state of holiness and happiness in heaven; nor did he doubt but that such a reward was laid up for him.]

He did not however expect it on account of any merit in himself—
[He speaks of it indeed as bestowed in a way of “righteous” retribution; but he expected it wholly as the “gift” of God through Christ [Note: Romans 6:23.].]

Nor did he consider it as a gift peculiar to himself as an Apostle—
[The “longing for Christ’s second coming” is a feeling common to all Christians [Note: 2 Peter 3:12.]. For them also is this crown of righteousness reserved [Note: Hebrews 9:28.].]

Infer— [Note: If this were the subject of a Funeral Sermon, it might be improved in reference to the deceased and the survivors, to shew that the former resembled the Apostle, and to stimulate the latter to a due improvement of their time.] 1.

How does the Apostle’s experience condemn the world at large—

[The generality are strangers to spiritual consolations: but there is no true religion where they are not experienced. Let all consider what would be their reflections, and prospects, if they were now dying: Let all live the life of the righteous, if they would die his death.]


How amply does God reward his faithful servants!

[Poor and imperfect are the best services that they can render: yet how different is their state from that of others, both in and after death! Let all then devote themselves entirely to God.]

Verse 10


2 Timothy 4:10. Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.

TO have our minds well established with principles, is doubtless very desirable: but in matters which are confessedly beyond the comprehension of man, we should be modest and diffident in drawing conclusions from them, lest, through an excessive zeal for one principle, we subvert others which are not less true or less important. An inattention to this rule has been productive of incalculable injury to the Church of Christ: for persons giving themselves up, as it were, to some particular sentiment, have wrested the Scriptures to make every part of them speak the same language; and have indulged in most acrimonious feelings against all who did not accord with their views. But we should remember, that there are in revelation, as in all the other works of God, depths which we cannot fathom; and that our true wisdom is, not so much to be making the Scriptures a theatre whereon to display our controversial skill, as to deduce from them the great practical lessons which they were intended to convey. Were we, for instance, to take occasion from the passage before us to argue about the decrees of God, and the final perseverance of the saints, we might dispute well, but it would be to little profit! but, if we enter upon the subject with fear and trembling, and with a view to our own spiritual advantage, we shall find it replete with the most valuable instruction to our souls.
Let us consider then,


The fact here recorded—

A more melancholy fact is scarcely to be found in all the sacred records. Let us notice,


The fact itself—

[Demas was a man of great eminence in the Church of Christ. St. Paul, in the salutations which usually close his epistles, twice mentions him in immediate connexion with St. Luke; “Salute Lucas and Demas.” In one of these places he calls Demas one of his fellow-labourers in the work of the Gospel [Note: Philem. ver. 24.]: in the other, after having mentioned Demas with honour, he gives to another minister, Archippus, a most solemn warning, on account of the lukewarmness which he had manifested in the discharge of his ministry: “Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it [Note: Colossians 4:14; Colossians 4:17.].” From hence then we conclude, that he saw no occasion for such an admonition in the case of Demas. Yet behold, we find at last, that “Demas had forsaken him,” and gone to a great distance from him, and altogether abandoned the work in which he had been engaged. Had we been told, that this servant of Christ had erred in some particular, or even that he had declined in zeal for his Master’s cause, we should not have been so much surprised; because we are aware that the greatest and best of men are but weak, and that there are changes in their spiritual, as well as their corporeal, health: but, when we are informed that he forsook the Apostle, forsook him too in his greatest extremity, when by reason of his imprisoment and approaching martyrdom he needed all possible support; and that, in forsaking the Apostle, he forsook his Lord and Master also; we are confounded, almost as the Philistines were, when they saw their champion dead upon the field.

Seeing the fact, we are eager to inquire into,]


The occasion of it—

[Whence could this proceed? To what shall we trace an event so calamitous, so unforeseen? We are not left in doubt respecting it: the Apostle, at the same time that he announces the fact, declares the reason of it: “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” Alas! alas! What did he find in this world worthy of his affections? Had he never known any thing of spiritual and eternal objects, we might account for his attachment to the things of time and sense: but we are amazed, that, after having once tasted of living waters, he could ever afterwards find satisfaction in the polluted streams of this world.
But, supposing him to love this present world; is there any thing in that to draw him from Christ, and to make him cast off all concern for his eternal interests? Yes: the love of God and of the world are incompatible with each other; insomuch that, “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him [Note: 1 John 2:15.].” Light and darkness are not more opposed to each other than are the things of this world, and the things of God. “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” what have they to do with heavenly-mindedness? “The person who liveth in pleasure, is dead whilst he liveth [Note: 1 Timothy 5:6.]:” “the cares and indulgences of this world choke the good seed, and render it unfruitful [Note: Matthew 13:22.]:” and the seeking honour from men, instead of seeking it from God only, is absolutely incompatible with a saving faith [Note: John 5:44.]. The cross of Christ, if duly valued, would crucify us unto the world, and the world to us [Note: Galatians 6:14.].

Here then we see whence this deplorable evil proceeded. Demas had yielded to a concern about his carnal ease and interests. This gradually weakened his anxiety about his spiritual and eternal welfare. Then he became remiss in secret duties: then his strength to resist temptation declined: then his natural corruptions regained their former ascendant over him: then the Spirit of God, being grieved, and quenched, left him to himself: then he became the sport of temptation, and the prey of Satan: and then his abandonment of Christ and of his Gospel followed of course.]
Whilst we mourn over this unhappy man, and lament his apostasy, let us proceed to consider,


The instruction to be derived from it—

Surely we may learn from it—


That whatever attainments any man has made, it becomes him not to be too confident about the issue of his spiritual warfare—

[If we are upright before God, we need not give way to distressing fears: they are dishonourable to God, and unprofitable to ourselves. But at the same time we should guard against a presumptuous confidence: for no man knows what a day may bring forth. David, previous to his fall, if told what sins he would commit, might have replied with Hazael, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do such things?” And Peter, so far from thinking it possible that he should ever deny his Lord, was confident that nothing could ever shake his constancy. So, if Demas, when, in his better state, had been told in what it might end, he would have thought it absolutely impossible that he could ever so “make shipwreck of his faith.” Shall we then, after seeing the failure of such men presume to say, “My mountain standeth strong, I shall not be moved?” Let us never forget, that if God withdraw his hand from us for one moment, we shall fall and perish: and let our prayer to him therefore be continually, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” To every man among you, though he were as eminent as St. Paul himself, I would say, “Be not high-minded, but fear [Note: Romans 11:20.].” “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:12.].”]


That we must watch with all carefulness against the first beginnings of spiritual decay—

[Had Demas attended to the first encroachments of a worldly spirit, and resisted them as he ought, he had never been left to final apostasy. But the first breach being neglected, an inundation ensued; and the leak being disregarded, his vessel sank. Let me then put you all upon your guard against a decay in your spiritual affections, and an attempt to serve God with a divided heart. From the moment that you embrace the truth, and “put your hand to the Gospel plough, you must not so much as look back [Note: Luke 9:61-62.];” you must “forget all that is behind, and press forward to that which is before [Note: Philippians 3:13.].” O, “remember Lot’s wife [Note: Luke 17:32.].” Her sin might be thought small: but it was not so in the estimation of her God: and she is made a monument to all future generations. Be “jealous over yourselves with a godly jealousy;” and to the latest hour of your lives adopt the habit of St. Paul, who “kept under his body, and brought it into subjection, lest, after having preached to others, he himself should be a cast-away [Note: 1 Corinthians 9:27.].”]


That, if we have unhappily forsaken the Lord, the door of mercy is not yet closed against us—

[Of Demas we know no more than what is here spoken. But of Mark, who is also called John, and who was a companion of Paul and Barnabas in their travels, we do know. He, like Demas, forsook those holy men in a time of danger, and “went no more with them to the work [Note: Acts 13:13; Acts 15:38.].” But God in mercy granted him repentance unto life; so that he not only obtained mercy of the Lord, but became afterwards profitable even to St. Paul himself in the discharge of his apostolic office [Note: ver. 13. the very verse after the account of unhappy Demas.]. Let not any one therefore despair. Let it be remembered, that as long as we are in the body, God addresses us in these gracious words, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings, and love you freely [Note: Jeremiah 3:22.Hosea 14:4; Hosea 14:4.].” Be persuaded then to return to him without delay: for if you return not, “it would have been better for you never to have known the way of righteousness, than, after having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to you [Note: 2 Peter 2:20-21.].” But, if you return with penitential sorrow, then shall your Father’s arms be open to receive you, and every member of his family give thanks to him in your behalf.]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/2-timothy-4.html. 1832.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile