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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

2 Timothy 4

Verses 1-5

  1. Intro:
    1. J. I. Packer said, "Certainty about the great issues of the Christian faith and conduct is lacking all along the line. The outside observer sees us staggering on from gimmick to gimmick and stunt to stunt like so many drunks in a fog, not knowing at all where we are or which way we should be going. - Preaching is hazy; heads are muddled; hearts fret; doubts drain strength; uncertainty paralyzes action....Unlike the first Christians who in three centuries won the Roman world, and those later Christians who pioneered the Reformation, and the Puritan awakening and the Evangelical revival, and the great missionary movement of the last century, we lack certainty. Why is this? We blame the external pressures of modern secularism, but this is like Eve blaming the serpent. The real truth is that we have grieved the Spirit...we stand under divine judgment.

      For two generations our churches have suffered from a famine of hearing the words of the Lord."
    2. Transition of chapters: Paul telling Timothy to continue in the Word in his own personal life; now he exhorts him to share it with others!
      1. We must receive before we can transmit.
      2. We’ve said, “get it straight & give it straight!” [Kent Hughes]
  2. PREACH THE WORD & REACH THE WORLD! (1-5)
    1. (1) I charge you before…!
      1. This isn’t a man to man charge, but in the very presence of God the Father & Jesus Christ.
      2. Paul calls upon Christ to witness his charge to Timothy, reminding Timothy that Christ would one day return & test his ministry! (Warren Wiersbe; Outlines of NT.)
    2. Before God & the Lord Jesus!
      1. Christ is coming again. In view of this you better know your task, & be faithful to it!
    3. His Appearing! Epiphaneia was used in two special ways.
      1. It was used for the manifest intervention of some god; and it was specially used in connection with the Roman Emperor.
      2. His accession to the throne was his epiphaneia; and - it was used of his visit to any province or town.
      3. Obviously when the Emperor was due to visit any place, everything was put in perfect order. The streets were swept and garnished and all work was brought up-to-date so that the town might be fit for epiphaneia.
      4. So Paul says to Timothy: “You know what happens when any town is expecting the epiphaneia of the Emperor; you are expecting the epiphaneia of Jesus Christ. Do your work in such a way that all things will be ready whenever he appears.”
        1. 2.3.4.1. So we should so order our life that at any moment we are ready for the coming of Christ. Daily Study Series
    4. PREACH THE WORD! (2)
    5. Preach the Word!
      1. It implies knowing the word, rightly dividing it, & making it understandable & applicable to the lives of people.
      2. Not preach your words!!!
      3. The story is told about an old American Indian who attended a church service one Sunday morning. The preacher's message lacked real spiritual food, so he did a lot of shouting and pulpit pounding to cover up his lack of preparation. In fact, as it is sometimes said, he "preached up quite a storm." After the service, someone asked the Indian, who was a Christian, what he thought of the minister's message. Thinking for a moment, he summed up his opinion in six words: "High wind. Big thunder. No rain."
    6. WHEN? – Be ready in season & out of season.
      1. Be ready – be prepared, take a stand, carry on, stick to it.
      2. In season & out - Urgently, & at all times. [When it is convenient & inconvenient] {when you feel like it or don’t!}
        1. We should Always be on duty; & take advantage of every opportunity for service.
    7. HOW? – Convince, rebuke, exhort.
      1. And do these with His Inspired Word, not your own!
      2. CONVINCE!
      3. Correct error.
      4. Alcibiades used to say of Socrates, “Socrates, I hate you, because every time I meet you, you make me see what I am.” (William Barclay)
        1. Our 1st order of business then, we must compel a man to see himself as he is.
      5. REBUKE!
      6. Not a people pleaser, nor a popularity seeker, nor a flatterer.
      7. To not speak so plainly about sin is like placing a label that reads “Essence of Peppermint” over the true label of the bottle that reads “Poison”!
        1. The milder the label, the more dangerous the poison!
      8. Q: How many brothers & sisters could we have saved from sin & shipwreck had we warned them?
      9. EXHORT!
      10. Give hope to the fainthearted by giving tender encouragement.
        1. Early in ministry: Pastor Gary Ansdel; Chuck letter.
        2. No rebuke should ever be such that it drives a man to despair & takes the heart of hope out of him.
        3. We must rebuke, but they must also be encouraged!
      11. Spurgeon reminds us that Aarons Rod & the pot of Manna always go together (both are in the Ark of the Cov). And he who is God’s servant will be both to your soul!
      12. WITH ALL LONGSUFFERING & TEACHING!
      13. All three of these must be carried out with great patience & careful instruction.
        1. Meaning, with a spirit which never grows irritated, never despairs & never regards any man beyond salvation.
        2. We hold to the unconquerably changing power of Christ! (Ibid)
      14. No one is capable for this task. - We need a life of profound dependence on Him!
    8. Don’t BREACH THE WORD! (3,4)
    9. Note the word “they” – Paul is warning “professing” believers.
      1. You know Christendom is moving towards an appetite for error rather than truth.
      2. As R. G. Lee said, “We live in a world of invertebrate theology, jellyfish morality, seesaw religion, rubber convictions, somersault philosophy, and a psychology that tells us what we already know, in words which we do not understand.” [Bread from Bellevue Oven, p. 9]
    10. Turn from sound doctrine –
      1. Itching ears – to tickle, to scratch, to feel an itching.
        1. It’s curiosity that looks for interesting bits of information.
        2. This itching is relieved by the messages of the new teachers. (LKGNT; pg. 648)
        3. They’re Like my Doberman Rambo: he runs up to me & stretches out his front legs, & puts his head down to the ground…he knows I’ll rub his ears.
        4. They prefer sermons that tickle their ears instead of cut their hearts.
        5. “If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found.” [Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the N T]
      2. Read Ezek.33:30-32
      3. Many today prefer “Entertainment”!
        1. I’m not an actor (though I pray I’m not boring!)

          I’m not here to give inspirational speeches (yet I pray they inspire)
          I’m not a Playwright (Not going to put on productions Sunday morn)
          I’m not in the Religious Entertainment Industry. I’m not a Christian Performer.
          1. The day it requires more than “Preaching the Word” is the day I step aside, & bid my adieu.
        2. I seek to be like Ezra as he “They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.” Neh 8:8
      4. They will heap up for themselves teachers – They raise up pastors to suit their own desires.
        1. All this to satisfy their itching ears, like “Rambo”.
        2. There is such a love for novelty in the churches today.
        3. Too often the pastor who just opens the word of God & teaches is ignored, while the shallow religious entertainer becomes a celebrity.
    11. Turn to satanic doctrine –
      1. Turn their ears away from the truth!
        1. Vs.4 tells us that “Itching ears” soon become “deaf ears”.
        2. Saints, Don’t fall victim to the latest crazes! [Have stability, be balanced]
        3. Remember, it is a revelation of Jesus Christ!
    12. Plato summed up these men best well. “Hunters after young men of wealth & position, with shame education as their bait, & a fee for their object, making money by a scientific use of quibbles in private conversation, while quite aware that what they are teaching is wrong.”
    13. REACH THE WORLD! (5)
    14. Be watchful in all things!
      1. "Seek an opportunity of doing them a kindness; let no fair occasion slip, through your negligence. Watch your work; Watch against the temptations of Satan by which you may be diverted; Watch over the souls of those who are committed to your charge.’’ (Henry, M. (1996, c1991). Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one)
    15. Endure afflictions!
      1. Christianity will cost something!
        1. Pay the price w/o grumbling or regret!
      2. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Death and sorrow will be the companions of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valor our only shield. We must be united, we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible.”
    16. Do the work of an evangelist!
      1. The Christian is essentially the bringer of Good News!
      2. History records a remarkable account of the destruction of an ancient town. The watchmen on the walls would call out whenever they thought they saw a foe approaching. Sensing that the people had begun to resent them for giving these false alarms, they decided to remain quiet. Regrettably, not long afterward the enemy actually did come. The city that could have been saved was assaulted and devastated, and nothing was left but smoking ruins. Later someone erected a small memorial inscribed with the following epitaph: "Here stood a town that was destroyed by silence."
        1. Q: Can God's people afford to be silent about the sin that surrounds them?
      3. Q: What is the greatest threat to the church? - "It is not communism, atheism, or materialism; the greatest threat is Christians trying to sneak into heaven incognito without ever sharing their faith."
      4. The church today for the most part has become The Submarine Church in which 1 day we just shut the hatch on the outside world and submerged into its own sea. And only on occasion does it run up the periscope to even see where it is going. [#4214 7700 Illus.]
      5. Lyman Beecher of Boston Church was once asked how he was able to accomplish so much in his church. He replied: “Oh, I preach Sundays, and four hundred of my church members preach every day.”
        1. See folks, it’s all of us making the move from the church to the un-churched.
        2. We are all to do the work of an evangelist.
        3. It’s befriending a neighbor.
      6. Peter Wagner(Prof of church growth @ Fuller)defines Evangelism w/3 words:
        1. [1] Presence – It’s helping people to fulfill their needs. A cup of cold water I Jesus name. Lending a helping hand.
        2. [2] Proclamation – goes beyond that & makes known the message of Jesus, so people hear it & understand it.
          1. Whether they accept it or not.
        3. [3] Persuasion – goes beyond both of those & insists on making disciples.
        4. The great commission says, “go, baptize, teach” but with one imperative to make disciples!”
        5. When Jesus the Good Shepherd discovers that 1 sheep is lost, He leaves the 99 who are safe in the fold, & searches for the lost sheep until it is found.
          1. Today we do not have 99 in the fold & 1 outside.2.16.6.5.2.Today we have at best 30 in the fold & 70 outside. (Peter Wagner; Perspectives; pg.533.)
    17. Fulfill your ministry! – fulfill = accomplish the purpose.
      1. Shun no area of ministry. Discharge all the duties of your ministry.
      2. This did not mean that Timothy was required to do the same things Paul was called to do.
      3. God has a specific purpose for each of His kids.
      4. Q: What challenge should we find here concerning our own Christian service?
      5. Have this ambition:
        [1] To be of use to your church of which you are apart!
        ​​​​​​​[2] To be of use in the society in which you live!
        1. In this way you will be of service to your God, to your Church, & to your fellow-man.
    18. When you awake each day remind yourself:
      I will be watchful in all things;
      I will endure afflictions that come my way;
      I will do the work of an evangelist;
      I will fulfill my ministry!
    19. If God wrote a Want Ad perhaps it would read like this: Kingdom workers need immediately. Urgency of task and shortage of workers makes it mandatory that we expand our labor pool immediately. Recent resignations have left many openings. Frequent absenteeism will force us to make unwanted cutbacks in services unless we expand work force immediately. Ability not as essential as availability plus an excellent training manual is available. Training manual has been tried and proven over the past two thousands years. We hire regardless of sex, race or age. Diverse backgrounds welcome and even helpful. In the past we have used peasants and poets, kings and fig pickers, fishermen and doctors, harlots and queens, young lads and wise old men. Main qualifications: firm faith in Christ, a soft heart and a thick skin. Work not suitable for everyone.
      ​​​​​​​
      Must be able to withstand criticism of fellow workers and shirkers who often insist on their rights while ignoring their responsibilities.

Verses 6-22

  1. Intro:
    1. You’ve heard old soldiers compare their battle scars & stories of war when they get together. When we arrive at our heavenly home, I’m sure we will tell of the goodness & faithfulness of God, who brought us through every trial along the way.
      1. Now, can you imagine being singled out as the only one to have never experienced sorrow?
      2. During the American Civil War, at the battle of Lookout Mountain, Tenn., a surgeon asked a soldier where he was hurt. The wounded soldier replied, “Right near the top of the mountain”.
      3. He was not thinking of his gaping wound but was only remembering that he had won the ground near the top of the mountain.
      4. In the end God will examine your life not for medals, diplomas, or degrees, but for battle scars. (Streams of the Desert; Dec.12; pg.461) (scars of service)
    2. Outline: 3 Accomplishments; 3 Appeals; 3 Requests; 3 Problem People; 3 Promises; 3 Important Words.
  2. COME BEFORE WINTER! (6-22)
    1. 3 ACCOMPLISHMENTS! (6-8)
    2. [1] I have fought the good fight – I’ve done the best in my life’s contest.
      1. At the height of WWII, Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for taking a stand against Hitler. Yet he continued to urge fellow believers to resist Nazi tyranny. A group of Christians, believing that Hitler was the Antichrist, asked Bonhoeffer, “Why do you expose yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return any day, and all your work and suffering will be for nothing.” Bonhoeffer replied, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it’s finished.” (Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.)
    3. [2] I have finished the race – I’ve faithfully followed the course the Lord set before me.
    4. [3] I have kept the faith – I’ve maintained the sound doctrine of Christianity.
      1. This isn’t Paul boasting of his accomplishments, but instead a confident reflection of his life & ministry.
      2. Here’s what the grace of God has produced in me!
    5. (6) Paul saw his approaching death as:
      1. {Do you see death in the same way? why or why not?}
      2. [1] The Offering of a sacrifice to God.
      3. [2] The Ending of a difficult race.
      4. [3] The Gaining of a glorious crown.
        1. This is the Victor’s crown given to winners at the Greek Olympic Games.
        2. The Indians have a wonderful saying: "When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries, and you rejoice."
    6. Note: Past(fought), Present(finished, kept), & Future(crown).
    7. (6) Departure – (LKGNT) Euphemism for death. Used of a ship drawing up anchors; or a soldier or traveler pulling up camp.
      1. Lit. translation “I am ready to be poured out like a drink-offering, & the time is at hand for loosing the anchor & setting sail, for taking down the tent & moving on.” (2 Cor.5)
      2. This is Paul’s “Anchor Aweigh” speech - "Weigh" comes from the archaic word meaning to heave, hoist or raise. "Aweigh" means that that action has been completed. The anchor is aweigh when it is pulled from the bottom. This event is duly noted in the ship's log.
      3. Paul had his preliminary hearing before Nero, & was expecting the final one. It wouldn’t be crucifixion, as roman citizens were not crucified.
        1. If the death penalty was demanded it would be decapitation, hence the figurative ref. to a drink offering being poured out.
    8. (8) Q: What kept Paul going for more than 30 yrs of tough ministry?
      1. He loved Christ’s appearing! (2nd Coming)
      2. He crossed the line as the Victor, & was assured the emblem of Victory!
      3. What do they race for at the Tour de France?
        1. Why do they prepare some 22,000 miles a year for it?
        2. What do they endure this grueling 2000 mile race for? 2.8.3.2.1.A yellow Jersey!
        3. Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle summed up the purpose, “Why, to sweep through the Arc de Triomphe on the last day. To be able to say you finished the Tour de France!”
        4. Regarding Lance Armstrong’s 7th win this year they say, “It’s the end of an era!”
      4. Vince Lombardi said, "The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field or endeavor.... I firmly believe that any man's finest hour -- his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear -- is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle, victorious."
      5. High in the Alps is a monument raised in honor of a faithful guide who perished while ascending a peak to rescue a stranded tourist. Inscribed on that memorial stone are these words: HE DIED CLIMBING. [May it be said of us Christian!]
    9. 3 APPEALS! (9-16)
    10. [1] Timothy come (9,11) – Christian companionship. His son in the faith.
      1. Walter Winchell, A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.
    11. [2] Timothy, bring Mark (11) – He’s useful – same as 2:21. Mark is “suitable” for the Masters use!
      1. Paul was willing to forgive & forget, the mark of a great man.
    12. [3] Timothy, I have Ephesus covered (12) – 1 Tim.1:3 “remain”.
    13. 3 REQUESTS! (13)
    14. A cloak to warm his body & the Scriptures to warm his soul!
    15. [1] His Cloak – (LKGNT) It was a large sleeveless outer garment, made of a single piece of heavy material, w/a hole in the middle through which the head passed.
    16. [2] His Books – were probably some of his own writings.
    17. [3] His Parchments – a piece of skin prepared for writing. (OT Scriptures)
      1. While awaiting trial, Paul would spend his time studying the Word. What an example to follow!
    18. 3 PROBLEM PEOPLE! (10; 14-15; 16)
    19. [1] Demas (10) –
    20. [2] Alexander (14,15) –
    21. [3] Roman friends (16) –
    22. (16) Defense – The verb is technical for a witness or advocate standing forward in court on a prisoner’s behalf. (LKGNT)
    23. 3 PROMISES! (17,18)
    24. [1] God stood with & strengthened him –
    25. [2] God delivered him –
    26. [3] God preserved him –
    27. (17) No matter what your enemies do, no matter what people do, no matter what your friends do…the Lord will never leave you or forsake you! (see Is.49:14-16)
    28. Lions? – Maybe the literal lions of the amphitheater, or the Emperor Nero, or maybe Satan?
    29. 3 IMPORTANT WORDS! (19-22)
    30. Wow! Facing certain death, Paul still thought about others. (like Christ)
    31. (20) Trophimus I have left…sick! – Indicating to us that not all saints are to be healed, & that the absence of healing doesn’t necessarily prove a lack of spirituality.
    32. (21) Come before winter!
      1. This is dungeon talk! Paul, hidden beneath the streets of century-one Rome. Isolated in that grim & grimy home. Stone blocks black w/age. A cold lonely prisoner whose days were numbered.
      2. Why? – Once winter begins ships couldn’t travel the Mediterranean.
      3. Come Timothy - Before the unbearable cold. Before the final sentencing. Before the executioner’s blade ends my earthly sojourn & sends me home. (Chuck Swindoll; Bible Study Guide; pg.27)
      4. See, more than a cloak, books, or parchments, he wanted him!!!
      5. Read – Swindoll’s Intro to “Come before Winter”!
    33. Reminder: Opportunities don’t last forever!
      1. It’s before winter or Never!
        1. There are some things that will never be done unless you do them before winter.
      2. Q: Are there opportunities you are neglecting today that may soon vanish? People you should contact? Decisions you should make?
      3. Q: Do you hear a voice calling from an old friend? A strained relationship? A family member you’ve been shunning? An elderly family member or friend in their twilight years whispering Come before winter?
      4. Q: What about Christ’s voice calling you to come before winter?
        1. He never calls for anyone to come tomorrow but it is always today! “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”
      5. Today is yours; Tomorrow may be too late…Come before winter!
    34. ​​​​​​​Grace be with you! – Grace was the key word in his ministry.
      1. May it be the key word in our lives as well!
    35. Bonhoeffer said, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it’s finished.”
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/2-timothy-4.html. 2017.