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Bible Commentaries

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

2 Timothy 4

Verses 1-8

Preach the word

2 Timothy 4:1-8

2 Timothy 4:1 . This is an unfortunate chapter division, for our lesson must begin with 2 Timothy 4:16 of the preceding chapter. The word ‘therefore’ appropriately connects scripture with preaching. Since all scripture is God-breathed and is necessary and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction and the growth of believers, we must ‘preach the word.’ All wisdom and understanding are contained in the scriptures (Isaiah 8:19-20; 1 Peter 2:2). Neither ought we to learn, nor preachers to draw their instructions and doctrines, from any other source! The reading of the scriptures is recommended, but private reading does not hinder, nor make void the ministry of pastor-teachers! (Ephesians 4:11-14.)

Paul charges Timothy and every minister of Christ before God, who chose us, and before the Redeemer; who saved us and whose gospel we preach, to be diligent, faithful and true to his word, for we shall surely give an account of our ministry when Christ comes again (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Corinthians 3:13). ‘The quick and the dead’ are those who are alive when he comes and those who have died but will be raised (John 5:22). What does it matter what men think of us or our message? It is Christ to whom we are accountable.

2 Timothy 4:2 . There is no season for preaching the word of God; we are to be earnestly, constantly and wholly engaged in it at all times. We ate to be preparing for it or performing it in all seasons. Reprove errors of doctrine and spirit using the scriptures! Rebuke sin and error, some privately, others more publicly, according to the nature and circumstances of the offence. Exhort men to the duties of faith, to love one another, do good works, walk as becomes the gospel of Christ and hold fast their profession with gentleness and doctrine! Reproofs, rebukes and exhortations will utterly fail if they ate not based on the word of God and given in a spirit of humility, meekness and patience! No man is to obey because we say so, but because God says so. If the word is delivered in harshness, it irritates both heart and mind. All of our exhortations, rebukes and teaching are to have one source and foundation the scriptures!

2 Timothy 4:3 . This is the reason for this solemn charge. The time will come (and has come) when people will not receive the gospel of God's grace in Christ. Self-righteous by nature, free-willers in mind, proud and boastful in spirit and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, they will turn their backs on the message of grace, express their indignation at it, treat it with ridicule and contempt, and gather to themselves many false preachers and teachers who preach what men want to hear, promoting doctrines of free will and the dignity of men. Those who trust their religion, love to have their ears tickled with pleasant music, declarations of peace and words of praise for their works.

2 Timothy 4:4 . They will turn aside from hearing the truth, not being able to receive it nor to rejoice in it, and win men to vain, empty, useless and unprofitable religious fables, ceremonies and novelties. The only remedy for this wandering is for ministers to adhere closely to the pure doctrine of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

2 Timothy 4:5 . The more error and false teaching prevail, the more earnestly we must labour to preach the truth. The nearer danger and division are at hand, the more diligently we must watch, keeping calm and steady, doing the work of an enthusiastic, bold witness of Christ, fully performing the duties of our ministry, seeking not our own but the things of Christ. Preach the gospel, administer the ordinances and be a true and faithful servant of Christ, and we shall not be ashamed.

2 Timothy 4:6-7 . ‘I am ready to be sacrificed, my life is ready to be poured out (as a drink offering),’ which shows that Paul knew that he would be martyred (Acts 20:22-25). He did not fear death nor shrink from it, calling it his ‘departure’ (a removal from one place to another) (Philippians 1:21-24).

‘I have fought a good fight’ (1 Timothy 6:12). Whatever may be the opinion of the world, he declares that his fight for truth and the glory of Christ was both good and honorable.

‘I have finished my course.’ The race is over, his days and years are finished (or the course of his ministry) (Job 14:5).

‘I have kept the faith’ his profession of faith, the doctrine of faith which was committed to his trust and his faithfulness to his hearers (Acts 20:26-27).

2 Timothy 4:8 . ‘A crown of righteousness.’ The happiness, glory and future state, of all believers is signified by a crown, on account of the glory and excellency of it; in agreement with the character of saints kings; and because we are raised to sit among princes and to inherit the throne of glory.

This is called ‘a crown of righteousness’ because it is perfect holiness and comes to us through the righteousness of Christ. We shall be like him (1 John 3:2).

‘This crown is given by God, not to me only, but to every believer.’ Every believer loves him and longs for his return (2 Timothy 1:12).

Verses 9-22

And in conclusion

2 Timothy 4:9-22

2 Timothy 4:9 . ‘Make every effort to come to me soon.’ Paul knew that the time of his death was at hand. There were many things that Paul needed to teach young Timothy for the glory of God and the good of the church. No matter that Timothy must leave his place of labor for a season, what he could learn from Paul in a short space of time would be profitable for a long period to all the churches. Those true servants who would labor in the gospel need to confer with older, wiser, and more experienced preachers. Time spent in learning is not lost time.

2 Timothy 4:10 . Demas was a close companion and assistant to the apostle. He is mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24. We do not know that he denied Christ or totally apostatized; for to leave Paul (who was in prison) fearing for one's own safety or for one's physical comfort is not necessarily to leave Christ. However, the phrase ‘having loved this present world’ is alarming. Some believe that he came back. Let us always be ready to restore the fallen (Galatians 6:1-2). Crescens and Titus had gone away also but for good reasons and with Paul's consent; they evidently were sent to minister.

2 Timothy 4:11 . The beloved physician, Luke, who wrote the book that bears his name and ‘The Acts of the Apostles,’ was a constant companion to Paul in his travels and sufferings (Colossians 4:14). ‘Bring Mark with you.’ Mark was with Paul and Barnabas earlier in their travels and parted from them, causing some differences between Paul and Barnabas, even separating them. Now Paul was reconciled to Mark and was desirous of his company and assistance (Acts 15:36-40).

2 Timothy 4:12 . Tychicus was evidently sent to Ephesus to supply the place of Timothy while he came to Rome.

2 Timothy 4:13 . ‘Bring the cloak.’ Interpreters are not agreed on this, but most believe that with winter coming on (2 Timothy 4:21), the apostle needed his cloak for warmth. His books and parchments were especially important to him, for Paul was a diligent reader and student of the Old Testament and other books. Though he was old and near his end, yet he was mindful of his books and desirous of having them to read (2 Timothy 2:15).

2 Timothy 4:14-15 . Alexander may be the same person mentioned in Acts 19:33-34. Definitely he is the one in 1 Timothy 1:20. Paul said, ‘He did me great wrong, and the Lord will deal with him for his opposition to the gospel and to his servant.’ Alexander was now at Ephesus; and since he was such a malicious blasphemer, Timothy was warned to shun him because he resisted Paul's message strongly.

2 Timothy 4:16 . At his first trial in Rome, none of his friends from Judea and Asia appeared to plead his cause nor to be a witness for him. Evidently they feared for their lives, as our Lord's disciples did when he was apprehended, forsaking him and fleeing. Paul loves these friends and prayed that God would forgive them (Luke 22:32).

2 Timothy 4:17 . ‘But the Lord strengthened me.’ Paul does not boast of his courage and faithfulness but gives thanks to the Lord (Psalms 27:10). Though reduced to extremities, he does not give up nor lose heart; for he is supported by the grace and power of the Lord and is satisfied with them.

He was God's chosen vessel and instrument to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, even in Caesar's palace. Therefore, he was delivered by the power of God from the very jaws of death, from the hand of Satan, and from the hand of Nero, the Roman emperor. His deliverance was a miracle of God.

2 Timothy 4:18 . He declared that he had the same hope for the future, not that he would escape death altogether, for he must die: but he could not be vanquished by Satan nor turned aside from the ministry of Christ until his work was done and God's purpose for him was accomplished (Psalms 91:2-7). The believer does not trust in the flesh, nor stand by the power of men, nor fear what men can do. We are immortal until God calls us home, to whom be all the glory forever and ever! Salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end!

2 Timothy 4:19 . Give my greeting to Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:2-3) and to the household of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16-18).

2 Timothy 4:20 . Erastus was a steward or official in Corinth (Romans 16:23) who went with Timothy to Macedonia but returned to Corinth to stay. Trophimus was an Asian of the city of Ephesus (Acts 20:4; Acts 21:29).

2 Timothy 4:21 . Come to me before winter when traveling will be more difficult. All the brethren here wish to be remembered to you.

2 Timothy 4:22 . ‘The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit’ to counsel, and advise, to comfort under every trial, to supply with all grace, to keep from every enemy, and to fit you for every service. God's favor and blessings be with you! Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hms/2-timothy-4.html. 2013.