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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 4

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

2Ti 4:1. To charge means to make an earnest plea to the evangelist; and to do so before God, etc., signifies that He is a witness to the charge, and that to Him the preacher will have to give an account. The name of Christ is connected with the charge because He is the one who will have direct handling of the judgment, at which all men will receive the final sentence that will announce their eternal state. The quick and the dead mean the living and dead when Jesus comes. At his appearing tells when the final judgment is to take place. This completely sets aside the notion that Christ is first to appear, and that the judgment will be a thousand years later. And his kingdom. Not that the kingdom will then begin, for 1Co 15:24-26 shows that Christ is now reigning in his kingdom, but will cease to do so after the judgment. The phrase means that the authority of Christ as head of the kingdom will fully appear, when He is shown executing final judgment on the world.

Verse 2

2Ti 4:2. Preach the word. This is consistent with the declarations in the closing verses of the preceding chapter. Since the word is inspired and complete, it is logical that it should be preached. Be instant means to be at hand and ready for the work when any opportunity occurs. In season, out of season. There are times when the prospect is apparently more favorable than at others, but the true preacher of the word should not wait until he finds it more convenient (for himself) to press the claims of the Gospel. Reprove and rebuke are virtually the same in effect, and means to disapprove of the wrongs committed by professed disciples of Christ. Exhort means to insist on one's doing what he has learned to be his duty, and in order that men may be ready for exhortation, the preacher must first deliver the doctrine (teaching) that is applicable in the case. He will need to be longsuffering or patient in all this work, because of the conditions to be described next.

Verse 3

2Ti 4:3. Among the things predicted to get worse (chapter 3:13), was the growing dislike for the teaching of the word, especially that part of it that condenms a sinful life. When the term sound is used with reference to the physical body, it means to be in good health. When used of doctrine or teaching, it signifies the kind of in struction that will result in good moral and spiritual health. But evil men are not interested in that kind of health, hence they will not endure or put up with such teaching. They want the kind that will allow them to feel comfortable in the midst of their corrupt practices. To do so, they seek to obtain men who will give them that kind of teaching. A faithful pro-claimer of the word will not try to tickle the itching ears of these lustful pretenders, hence they seek for the kind of teachers who are as bad as they--men whose lives are also fashioned after the lusts like those of the hearers with itching ears. This verse might seem clearer if the construction would be arranged as follows: "They will not endure sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, they will heap to themselves teachers who practice their own lusts."

Verse 4

2Ti 4:4. These teachers with lusts like the people who employed them, would naturally be disposed to furnish the kind of speeches that were acceptable. Hence they (the lustful teachers) will turn away their (the people with itching ears) ears from the truth. In place of the truth, they will entertain them with fables or fictions.

Verse 5

2Ti 4:5. Watch thou is a kindly warning for Timothy to maintain his composure under all circumstances, for many tests of his perseverance were likely to come. Encouraged by the example of Paul, he should be equal to the occasion even when persecutions come. Do the work of an evangelist. We may learn two important items of information by this statement. One is that Timothy was an evangelist, which has sometimes been questioned. Paul certainly would not tell anyone to do a work that did not belong to his position in life. The other is that an evangelist has a work to perform that is peculiar to his office. By consulting 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, we will learn that an evangelist is the one to appoint elders and deacons, and in 2 Timothy 5 it is shown that an evangelist is the one to discipline an elder when charges are preferred against him. It is also taught in Tit 1:5 that an evangelist is to take charge of churches that have not been established, and hold that charge until matters are set in order and elders are appointed to take oversight of the congregation, at which time the evangelist is to go to other fields of labor. Make full proof of thy ministry is rendered "fully carry out thy service" by the Englishman's Greek New Testament.

Verse 6

2Ti 4:6. For I am now ready to be offered. The Englishman's Greek New Testament renders this as follows: "For I already am being poured out," and the Greek text justifies the translation. The word for offered is defined "poured out" by Thayer, and Paul used it because he knew he was actually to have his blood poured out of his body on the executioner's block. Of course the execution was not actually started, and was not to start at once, for Paul still expected to do some writing (verse 13). But he was a captive in chains, condemned to die for the Gospel's sake, and he regarded his sacrifice as having been started. One item in the Mosiac system consisted of pouring blood out about the altar of sacrifice (Exo 29:12; Lev 4:7), and Paul compares the pouring out of his blood, to those sacrifices. In other words, here is one instance where an act (pouring out) is used in both a literal and a spiritual sense, since his death was to be occasioned by his religious devotion to God. Departure is from ANALUSIS, which Thayer defines, "An unloosing, a dissolving, departure." The unloosing refers to the separation of the soul from the body, and departure pertains to the flight of the soul to the intermediate region after it leaves the body. At hand denotes it is comparatively near only, for the apostle expected still to do some more work for the Lord as the chapter will later show.

Verse 7

2Ti 4:7. A good fight is one that is waged on behalf of a good cause and against a bad one. A course means one's career or race of life, and finish means to complete or make full. Paul's active work was over because of his chains, and in that sense his race was run. But the teaching of the scripture is that Christians must be faithful until death in order to gain the crown (Jas 1:12; 1Pe 5:4; Rev 2:10). That is true, but a man can be faithful even when prevented by unavoidable circumstances from further activity in the work. Paul's activities were stopped by the enemy, and in that sense his course was finished. Kept the faith. The law of God, which is the basis of the faith, will live until it has accomplished its divine purpose, hence it. is not left for man to "keep" the faith in the sense of pre serving its existence. So the phrase means that Paul had kept himself true to the law of divine faith, always advocating it whenever he had the opportunity.

Verse 8

2Ti 4:8. Henceforth means "hereafter" or "from now on." It is equivalent to the preceding thought that the prospect of a crown is held out only to those who complete a life of righteousness. The last word denotes that the crown is a "medal of honor" to be bestowed upon a person who has lived a righteous life. Lord, the righteous judge is significant, because in earthly contests the judges are sometimes influenced to decide with partiality, while He will decide strictly on the basis of faithfulness. That day refers to the day of judgment, and it is often referred to in such indefinite language because of its unequalled importance, for which reason it needs no other specification. Love his appearing. The first word is defined by Thayer, "To welcome with desire, long for." If a man has not been living a righteous life, he will dread to see the Lord come. But a faithful servant (Luk 12:41-46) will be glad to look forward to the coming of Christ (Rev 22:20).

Verse 9

2Ti 4:9. Though he was an apostle, Paul had the same craving for companionship that any Christian will have for another. He knew he was not to live much longer (how much longer is not stated), and he wished to have his son (in the Gospel) with him again before he left this world.

Verse 10

2Ti 4:10. According to Col 4:14 and Phm 1:24, Demas had been associated with Paul in his travels, and for a while even after the apostle was taken to Rome in chains. But he failed to stand the test when persecution threatened, being more interested in the pleasures of this world than in the cause of Christ. No unfavorable comment is made about the departure of Cresens and Titus, hence we may conclude they left with Paul's consent. Such a conclusion is reasonable since verse 12 expressly says that the apostle sent another disciple away for some purpose (not stated).

Verse 11

2Ti 4:11. Only Luke is with me means of the ones who had traveled with Paul, for verse 21 shows that several brethren were still associated with him in his trials and labors for the Lord. Mark is the disciple who deserted Paul, recorded in Act 13:13 Act 15:36-41. But he seems to have reclaimed himself in Paul's confidence, for he calls for him that he might he of use in the 'ministry or service.

Verse 12

2Ti 4:12. This is referred to and commented upon at verse 10.

Verse 13

2Ti 4:13. A cloke is a loose outer garment, especially needed in winter. Books means the documents already composed and the parchments are writing materials. His calling for all these articles indicates that while death was "at hand," yet he expected to be able to do some more reading and writing, and as a faithful servant (even "unto death"), he determined to "die fighting."

Verse 14

2Ti 4:14. Alexander the coppersmith. The last word is given merely to identify the one Paul means, as there were several men with the same name. We have very little information about him except what is given here, that he did the apostle much harm. The last sentence denotes that Paul expects Alexander to receive punishment from God.

Verse 15

2Ti 4:15. Alexander evidently was going about since Paul warns Timothy about him. This verse indicates that the "evil" he was doing against Paul was .to oppose his teaching; he was doubtless a Judaizer.

Verse 16

2Ti 4:16. First answer means Paul's first defense before Caesar's court. It may be learned by history as well as by Act 28:30, that when Paul arrived in Rome from Caesarea, he was turned over to the Roman authorities who placed him in chains, but permitted him to live in a house which he rented. After this two-year period he was released, and traveled out among the churches a short while, then came back to Rome and was again arrested and brought before the court and made his own defense (called his first answer in our verse), but was not further punished as yet. (See next verse.) He was still held in chains and was soon to be condemned to die. It was at this first answer that all his associates deserted him or failed to stand by him. He was unresentful over it, though, and prayed God not to hold it against them.

Verse 17

2Ti 4:17. The Lord stood by Paul as he faced the Roman court, and for the time being prevented him from being slain. The purpose was that the apostle might round out his work of preaching to the Gentiles of that city, thus making fully known the Gospel for which cause he was there in chains. Christians were sometimes thrown to the lions, literally, to die for their faith. That fact is used figuratively of Nero, who threatened to have Paul executed immediately. But he was given a temporary respite, and in that sense he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

Verse 18

2Ti 4:18. Shall deliver inc. Not that he was to be prevented from being slain at last, but that his death would not keep him from enjoying the heavenly kingdom, which is the same as the "everlasting kingdom" of 2Pe 1:11.

Verse 19

2Ti 4:19. Prisca is another form for Priscilla. She and her husband Aquila had been faithful friends of Paul, and he is here "speaking a good word" for them. See chapter 1:16 for comments on the household of Onesiphorus.

Verse 20

2Ti 4:20. Erastus had been with Paul (Act 19:22), but later came to Corinth to reside (Rom 16:23). On his way back to Rome, Paul left Trophimus at Miletum because of his being sick. Not that the apostle was unable to heal him miraculously, but neither Christ nor his disciples were to perform miracles when there was no question of testimony at stake.

Verse 21

2Ti 4:21. Come before winter. (See the comments at verse 9.) It might have been an additional reason for this instruction in the fact that sailing was difficult in the winter season. The other persons named were friends and disciples who joined with Paul in sending their greetings to the evangelist.

Verse 22

2Ti 4:22. This verse is Paul's affectionate benediction to his "son in the Gospel."
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/2-timothy-4.html. 1952.
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