A Bible study through 2 Timothy
As we round the corner and head down the homestretch in our 2 Timothy study, we find a series of short, power-packed exhortations. It’s almost like Paul started running out of parchment but still had a lot he wanted to say. So he condensed and delivered his instructions in rapid fire sequence. However, even though these exhortations may be very short in word count, they hold much weight in personal application and practice. Therefore, we are going to take our time going through these final charges God gives us through Paul’s letter to Timothy. And as we do, may we have open and receptive hearts to receive these instructions and put them into daily practice.
2 Timothy 4 opens with a statement by which Paul declares whose authority he is writing and giving out exhortations under: Jesus Christ. In the power and direction of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells Timothy that the following exhortations are to be treated as a divine charge. While we know that the entire letter has been divinely inspired and ought to be treated as the Word of God, Paul wanted Timothy to pay special attention to these final instructions. Therefore, we also should listen up and see what the wise, mature Apostle felt was God’s marching orders for the next generation.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
~2 Timothy 4:1-2
Preach the Word
Paul’s first command is “preach the word.” The Greek word for preach literally means “to herald (as a public crier), proclaim, publish” (Strong’s Dictionary). This definition denotes the fact that while preaching does include verbal sharing, it can also include other modes of communication. The synonym of “publish” reminds me of the power of the written word. So in short, when Paul says “preach the word,” he means to proclaim, declare, and speak of God’s Word.
The commands in the Bible are for everyone; therefore, this exhortation to “preach the word” applies to you! Preaching is not just relegated to pastors; we are all called to preach. Therefore, you can do this from a pulpit, living room couch, driver’s seat as you shuttle or carpool kids, or grocery store by giving someone a word of encouragement from Scripture. This declaration of God’s truth can also be done through song as we worship and through the written word as we communicate with people on an individual level (emails, text messages) or publicly (blogging, article writing). There are many different ways we can fulfill this mandate to preach, proclaim, and herald the good news of God.
However, also note the second half of this command. “Preach the word, in season and out of season.” Paul wants us to always be ready to preach God’s Word. In season and out of season conveys preparedness, alertness, and readiness to be called upon at a moment’s notice. You never know when someone might need to hear a word from God; therefore, always be ready to share God’s Word, in season and out of season.
Be Patient and Teach
Paul’s second instruction for Timothy regards how to deal with people. As a pastor leader in the church, Timothy was dealing with a lot of different people, some were easy and others were difficult. However, despite the challenges of working with other sinful, human beings, Paul exhorts Timothy to always be patient and never give up teaching.
The context of this command is correction. Paul tells Timothy to exercise patience and teaching when reproving, rebuking, and exhorting. So this verse isn’t really speaking to the nice, perfect Christians, but those who need correction, rebuking, and to be shown the correct path. These are the people Paul tells Timothy to specifically use complete patience and teaching with. However, these qualities are also important when working with anyone and everyone, in a correction setting or not.
Therefore, the servant of God must be patient. Frustration, unbridled anger, and irritation have no place in the life of the believer because they do not reflect God’s nature. God is loving, gracious, merciful, patient, and kind. Therefore, as followers of Christ and citizens of heaven, we ought to reflect these qualities. So may we note and heed God’s command through Paul to always be patient.
The servant of God must also teach. We must not tear down, but always build up. Even those who need correction should always be approached with the attitude of a teacher. An attitude that is firm and unshakable with truth, but gentle and loving in spirit, seeking to show sinners the error of their ways. This will demonstrate the grace and love of God and also make the words you share more palatable and receivable by others.
In conclusion, Paul’s two commands are this: preach the word and be patient with teaching. How are you doing on these fronts? Are you prepared to proclaim the truth of the gospel at a moment’s notice? If someone asked you what you believe and why, would you be able to articulately answer? How patient are you? Do you get easily frustrated when trying to correct or point out the error of someone else? Are you gentle with others, having the attitude of a loving teacher as you work with people?
These are areas we always can improve in. Patience does not come naturally, but takes work to obtain and maintain. Therefore, may we resolve to be more patient and loving people. May we seek to always teach with the goal of building others up and not just tearing down. And may we prepare ourselves so that we can preach the Word of God in season and out of season, always ready to give a reason for the hope that we have so that God may be glorified and others may know the truth.