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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

2 Timothy 4

Verse 1

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;

Charge, [ diamarturomai (G1263)] - 'adjure.'

Therefore. Omitted in 'Aleph (') A C Delta G f g, Vulgate.

The Lord Jesus Christ. 'Aleph (') A C Delta G f g, Vulgate, read simply 'Christ Jesus.'

Shall judge. His commission from God is mentioned (Acts 10:42); his resolution to execute his commission (1 Peter 4:5); the execution here.

At his appearing. So C. But 'Aleph (') A Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'and' [ kai (G2532) teen (G3588)], for [ kata (G2596) teen (G3588)], 'at.' '(I charge thee before God, etc.), and by His appearing.'

And his kingdom - to be manifested at His appearing, when the saints shall reign with Him. His kingdom is real now, but not visible. It shall then be also VISIBLE. (Luke 22:18; Luke 22:30; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 19:6). Now He reigns in the midst of His enemies, expecting until they shall be overthrown (Psalms 110:2; Hebrews 10:13). Then He shall reign with His adversaries prostrate.

Verse 2

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Preach, [ Keeruxon (G2784)] - 'Herald.' After "Scripture" (2 Timothy 3:16) comes 'preaching,' to be based on it. [The term for discourses in the synagogue was Daraschoth; the corresponding Greek, dielegeto (G1256) (implying dialectical style, dialogue, and discussion, Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4; Acts 18:19), is applied to discourses in the Christian Church]. Justin Martyr ('Apology' 2) describes public worship: 'On Sunday all meet; the writings of the apostles and prophets are read; then the president delivers a discourse; after this all stand up and pray; then there is offered bread and wine and water; the president likewise prays and gives thanks, and the people solemnly assent, saying, Amen.' The bishops and presbyters had the right to preach; but they sometimes called on deacons, and even laymen. Eusebius ('Ecclesiastical History,' 6:19): in this the church imitated the synagogue (Luke 4:17-22; Acts 13:15-16). Be instant - i:e., urgent in thy whole ministry.

In season, out of season - i:e., at all seasons; whether they regard your speaking as seasonable or unseasonable. It will be "in season" to the willing, 'out of season" to the unwilling. 'As the fountains, though none draw from them, still flow on, and the rivers, though none drink of them, still run, so must we do all on our part in speaking, though none give heed to us' (Chrysostom, 'Homily' 30, vol. 5:, p. 221). There is included the idea of times, whether seasonable or unseasonable, to Timothy himself: night as well as day (Acts 20:31), in danger as well as in safety, in prison as well as when at large, not only in church, but everywhere and on all occasions, whenever and wherever the Lord's work requires it.

Reprove - convict.

With - Greek, 'IN (the element in which the "reproving," etc., ought to have place) all long-suffering (2 Timothy 2:24-25; 2 Timothy 3:10) and teaching.' Compare 2 Timothy 2:24, "apt to teach." ["Doctrine" here is didachee (G1322); but in 2 Timothy 3:16, didascalia. Didachee (G1322) is the act; didascalia, the substance or result (Ellicott).]

Verse 3

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

For - Make the most of the present time: for the time will come when, etc.

They - professing Christians.

Sound doctrine - THE [ tees (G3588)] sound (note, 1 Timothy 1:10) doctrine [ didaskalias (G1319)]; namely, of the Gospel.

After their own lusts. Instead of regarding the will of God, they dislike being interrupted in their selfish [ idias (G2398)] lusts by true teachers.

Heap - one on another: an indiscriminate mass: a rabble of false teachers. Variety delights itching ears. 'He who despises sound teaching leaves sound teachers; they seek instructors like themselves' (Bengel). It is the corruption of the people that creates priestcraft (Exodus 32:1).

To themselves - to suit their depraved tastes [`populus vult decipi, et decipiatur: the people wish to be deceived, so let them be deceived (1 Kings 12:27-32; Hosea 4:9).]

Itching - after teachers who give pleasure (Acts 17:19-21), and do not offend by truths grating to the ears. They tickle the levity of the multitude (Cicero), who come as to a theater to hear what will delight their ears, not (Seneca, 'Ep.' 10:8 ) what will do them good. 'Itch in the ears is as bad as in any other part of the body, and perhaps worse' (South).

Verse 4

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

The ear brooks not what is opposed to the lusts.

Turned, [ ektrapeesontai (G1624 ] (1 Timothy 1:6). It is a righteous retribution that when men turn away (not ignorantly, but willfully) from the truth, they should be turned to fables (Jeremiah 2:19).

Fables (1 Timothy 1:4).

Verse 5

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

But ... thou - in contrast to the false teachers (2 Timothy 3:10). I am no longer on the spot to withstand these things: be thou a worthy successor, no longer depending on me for counsel, but swimming without the corks (Calvin).

Watch, [ neefe (G3525)] - 'with the wakefulness of one sober

In all things - on all occasions and under all circumstances (Titus 2:7).

Evangelist - a missionary bishop or preacher subordinate to the apostles (Acts 16:3).

Make full proof of - fulfill all its requirements (Acts 12:25; Romans 15:19; Colossians 4:17.

Verse 6

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

[ Eedee (G2235) spendomai (G4689)] 'For I am already being made a libation:' appropriate to the shedding of his blood. Every sacrifice had an initiatory libation on the victim's head (note, cf. Philippians 2:17): answering to Paul's present sufferings. A motive to stimulate Timothy to faithfulness-the imminent departure of Paul: it is the end that crowns the work (Bengel). As the time was indicated to Peter, so to Paul (2 Peter 1:14).

My departure, [ analuseoos (G359)] - 'loosing anchor' (note, Philippians 1:23). Dissolution.

Verse 7

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

'I have striven the good strife of faith' [ eegoonismai (G75)], includes, besides a fight, any competitive contest-ex. gr., the race-course (1 Corinthians 9:24, etc.; Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 Timothy 6:12.

I have finished my course - realizing his former resolution, Acts 20:24; Philippians 3:12-14.

Kept (inviolate) the faith - committed to me as a believer and an apostle (cf. 2 Timothy 1:14; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:10).

Verse 8

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.

A crown - rather, as Greek, 'the crown:' not of withering leaves; not awarded by human umpire, nor before human spectators, but angels. The "Henceforth" marks the decisive moment: he regards his state in a threefold aspect:

(1) The past, I have fought;

(2) The immediately present, there is laid up [reserved: apokeitai (G606)] for me;

(3) The future, the Lord will give in that day (Bengel).

A garland used to be bestowed at the Greek national games on the successful competitor in wrestling, etc. (cf. James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4).

Of righteousness - in recognition of righteousness worked in Paul by God's Spirit: prepared for the righteous: at the same time a crown which consists in righteousness. Righteousness will be its own reward (Revelation 22:11). Compare Exodus 39:30. A man is justified gratuitously by Christ's merits through faith; when he is so justified, God accepts his works, and honours them with a reward, not their due, but given of grace. 'So great is God's goodness that He wills that His people's works should be merits, though they are merely his great is God's goodness that He wills that His people's works should be merits, though they are merely his own gifts' ('Ep.' Pope Celestine I. 12).

Give, [ apodoosei (G591)] - 'award' in righteous requital as 'Judge' (Acts 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7).

At that day - not until His appearing (2 Timothy 1:12). The blessed sentence on the "brethren" of the Judge, who sit with Him on His throne, is, in Matthew 25:40, taken for granted as already awarded, when that affecting those who benefited them is being passed at the general judgment after the millennium (Bengel). The elect who reign with Christ in the millennium are fewer than the latter. The righteous heavenly Judge stands in contrast to the unrighteous earthly judges who condemned Paul.

Me - individual appropriation [ eegapeekosin (G25)].

Them also that love - have loved and do love: habitual desire for Christ's appearing: the test of faith (cf. Hebrews 9:28). They have it not who dread Christ's appearing. A sad contrast, 2 Timothy 4:10, "loved this present world."

Verse 9

Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:

(2 Timothy 4:21; 2 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:8.) Timothy should come to be a comfort to Paul; also to be strengthened by Paul, for the Gospel work after Paul's decease.

Verse 10

For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Demas - contracted from Demetrius: once a "fellow-labourer" of Paul along with Mark and Luke (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24). His motive seems to have been love of worldly ease and home comforts [ ton (G3588) nun (G3568) aioona (G165): this present world-course]: a mournful contrast to "love His appearing," and disinclination to brave danger with Paul (Matthew 13:20-22). [ Engkatelipen (G1459): left me behind in my trouble.] Chrysostom says Thessalonica was his home.

Galatia. 'Aleph (') C read 'Gaul.' But A Delta G f g, Vulgate, etc., "Galatia."

Titus. He must have therefore left Crete after 'setting in order' the church-affairs there (Titus 1:5).

Dalmatia - part of the Roman province Illyricum, on the Adriatic. Paul had written to him (Titus 3:12) to come in the winter to Nicopolis (in Epirus), intending probably in the spring to preach in the adjoining province of Dalmatia. Titus probably had gone of his own accord there to carry out the apostle's intention, which was interrupted by his arrest. "Is departed" hardly accords with supposing he was sent to Dalmatia by Paul. Paul speaks only of his personal attendants having forsaken him: he had still friends among the Roman Christians who visited him (2 Timothy 4:21), though afraid to stand by him at his trial (2 Timothy 4:16).

Verse 11

Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Luke (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24). He went with Paul on his second missionary journey, Acts 16:10; again with him to Asia, Acts 20:6, and to Jerusalem, Acts 21:15; and was with him during his captivity at Cesarea, Acts 24:23; and at Rome, Acts 28:16. Contracted from Loukanos, indicating he was a freedman.

Take, [ analaboon (G353)] - 'take up' on the journey (Acts 20:13-14). John Mark was probably in, or near, Colosse, as in the letter to the Colossians (Colossians 4:10), written two years before, he is mentioned as about to visit them. Timothy was now absent from Ephesus, somewhere in the interior of Asia Minor; hence, he would be sure to fall in with Mark on his journey.

He is profitable to me for the ministry - by his knowledge of Latin, so as to preach at Rome. He was Peter's son by conversion, and was with his spiritual father when 1 Peter 5:13 was written. He accompanied Paul and his relative ( anepsios (G431)) Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 12:25). Mark had been under a cloud for having forsaken Paul at a critical moment in his missionary tour (Acts 15:37-40; Acts 13:5; Acts 13:13), and was the cause of dissension between Paul and Barnabas. Timothy subsequently occupied the same post under Paul. Hence, Paul appropriately wipes out the past censure by high praise of Mark, and guards against Timothy's making self-complacent comparisons between himself and Mark, as though superior (cf. Philem

24). Demas apostatizes. Mark returns to the right way, and is no longer unprofitable, but is profitable for the Gospel ministry (Philemon 1:11). Egypt and Alexandria were the final field of his labours.

Verse 12

And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.

And - Greek, 'But.' Thou art to come to me, but Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus, to supply Timothy's place in presiding over the church there in his absence (cf. Titus 3:12). Ellicott explains, 'I need one profitable for the ministry: I had one in Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21), but he is gone.' Tychicus had been already sent, during Paul's first imprisonment, to Asia to comfort the hearts of believers there (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7). The omission of 'to thee' is against the view that Tychicus bore this letter.

Verse 13

The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

Cloak that I left - probably obliged to leave it in a hurried departure from Troas.

Carpus - a faithful friend, entrusted with so precious deposits. The mention of his "cloak," so far from being unworthy of inspiration, is a graphic touch which sheds a flood of light on the last scene of Paul, on the confines of two worlds: in this wanting a cloak to cover him from the "winter" cold (cf. 2 Timothy 4:21), in that covered with the righteousness of saints, 'clothed upon with his house from heaven' (Gaussen). So the inner vesture and outer garment of Jesus, Paul's master, suggest most instructive, thought, (John 19:1-42.) [ Felonee (G5341): a long, thick, sleeveless cloak, with only an opening for the head: the traveling cloak; Roman, poenula, Grecised. Some explain, a traveling case for clothes or books (Conybeare, 2:499).]

Books - which he was anxious to transmit to the faithful, that they might have the teaching of his writings when he should be gone.

Especially the parchments - containing perhaps some of his inspired letters. "The books" [ ta (G3588) biblia (G975)] were written on papyrus.

Verse 14

Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:

Alexander the coppersmith - or 'smith,' some think. Perhaps the same as the Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20; note there) at Ephesus. Excommunicated then, he subsequently was restored, and now vented his malice, because of his excommunition, in accusing Paul before the Roman judges, whether of incendiarism or of introducing a new religion. See 'Introduction.' He may have been the Alexander put forward by the Jews in the tumult at Ephesus (Acts 19:33-34).

Reward. A C Delta G 'Aleph (') read 'shall reward' [ apodoosei (G591) for apodoee]. Personal revenge certainly did not influence the apostle (2 Timothy 4:16, end: cf. Psalms 139:21).

Verse 15

Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. Withstood, [anthestee, G: antestee (G436), A C, past. But Delta withstands, anthesteeke]

Our words - the arguments for our common faith. Believers have a common cause.

Verse 16

At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

At my first answers - i:e., 'defense' in court: at my first public examination. Timothy knew nothing of this until Paul now informs him. But during his former imprisonment at Rome Timothy was with him (Philippians 1:1; Philippians 1:7). He must have been set free before the persecution in A.D. 64 AD, when the Christians were accused of causing the conflagration in Rome; for had he been a prisoner then, he would not have been spared. The tradition (Eusebius, 2: 25) that he was finally beheaded accords with his not having been put to death in the persecution, 64 AD, when burning to death was the mode of executing the Christians, but subsequently. His "first" trial in his second imprisonment was probably on the charge of complicity in the conflagration: his absence from Rome may have been the ground of his acquittal on that charge. [Non liquet] 'Not proven' was the verdict: then followed an adjournment [ampliatio], during which he writes: his final condemnation was probably on the charge of introducing a new and unlawful religion into Rome.

Stood with me, [ sumparegeneto (G4836)] - 'came forward with me' as a patron or advocate.

May (it) not be laid to their (THEIR, emphatic) charge - for they were intimidated: their drawing back was not from bad disposition so much as fearing: it will be laid to the charge of those who intimidated them. Still Paul, like Stephen, would doubtless have prayed for his persecutors themselves (Acts 7:60).

Verse 17

Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

The Lord - the more because men, even friends (Psalms 27:10), deserted me.

Stood with me - stronger than 'came forward with me' (2 Timothy 4:16).

Strengthened, [ enedunamoosen (G1743)] - 'put strength within me.'

By me - `through me:' through my means. One single occasion is often of the greatest moment. The (Gospel) preaching might be fully known, [ pleeroforeethee (G4135)] - performed (note, 2 Timothy 4:5).

That all the Gentiles - present at my trial "might hear" the Gospel. Rome was the capital of the Gentile world, so that a proclamation of the truth to the Romans, in the bar of the highest earthly tribunal, was likely to go forth to the whole Gentile world.

I was delivered out of [ ek (G1537 )] the mouth of the lion - namely, Satan, the roaring, devouring lion (Luke 22:31; 1 Peter 5:8). I was prevented falling into his snare (2 Timothy 2:26; Psalms 22:21; 2 Peter 2:9). 2 Timothy 4:18 agrees with this interpretation, "the Lord shall deliver me from [ apo (G575)] every evil work" - namely, both from evil and the Evil One, as the Greek of the Lord's Prayer means. The change from [ ek (G1537)] "out of" to [ apo (G575)] "from," points to removal from all the evil efforts [ poneerou (G4190), expressing active wickedness] against him (Ellicott). It was not deliverance from Nero (called the lion) which he rejoiced in, for he did nor fear death (2 Timothy 4:6-8) (and it is doubtful whether Nero was then at Rome), but deliverance from the temptation, through fear, to deny his Lord. Ellicott, less appositely, 'from the greatest danger' (1 Corinthians 15:31).

Verse 18

And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

And the Lord shall. Hope draws its conclusions from the past to the future (Bengel). There is no anticipation of his being delivered out of dangers (2 Timothy 4:6), but of his being through them delivered from evil forever.

Will preserve me, [ soosei (G4982)] - 'will save,' 'bring me safe into.' Jesus is the Lord and Deliverer (Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Heavenly kingdom, [ teen (G3588) basileian (G932) autou (G846) teen (G3588) epouranion (G2032)] - 'His kingdom, which is a heavenly one:' heavenly now, about hereafter to be on earth also, (Revelation 20:1-15; Revelation 21:1-27.)

To whom ... - Greek, 'to whom be the glory unto the ages of ages.' The very hope produces a doxology: how much greater will be the doxology which the enjoyment shall produce (Bengel).

Verse 19

Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

Prisca (Priscilla) and Aquila - at Ephesus (Acts 18:2-3; Acts 18:18; Romans 16:3-4; 1 Corinthians 16:19, written from Ephesus, Prisca (Priscilla) and Aquila - at Ephesus (Acts 18:2-3; Acts 18:18; Romans 16:3-4; 1 Corinthians 16:19, written from Ephesus, where therefore Aquila and Priscilla must then have been). What a life of holy zeal was theirs, at Corinth, Syria, Ephesus, Rome!

Household of Onesiphorus. If dead at the time, the "household" would not have been called "the household of Onesiphorus." He was probably absent (note, 2 Timothy 1:16).

Verse 20

Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.

To depict his desertion, he informs Timothy that Erastus stayed behind at Corinth, his residence, of which city he was "chamberlains," or city steward and treasurer (Romans 16:23); and Trophimus he left behind at Miletus sick (Acts 20:4; Acts 21:29). Erastus the missionary (Acts 19:22) can hardly be identical with Erastus the chamberlain, whose office would not admit absence on missionary journeys. This verse is irreconcilable with Paul's present imprisonment being the first; for he did not pass by Corinth or Miletus on his way to Rome to be imprisoned for the first time. As Miletus was near Ephesus, there is a presumption that Timothy was not at Ephesus when Paul wrote, or he would not need to inform Timothy of Trophimus lying sick in his neighbourhood. However, Trophimus may not have been still at Miletus when Paul wrote, though he had left him there on his way to Rome. Prisca and Aquila were likely to be at Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:19), and he desires Timothy to salute them: so also Onesiphorus' household (2 Timothy 1:18). Paul had not the power of healing at will (Acts 19:12), but as the Lord allowed him.

Verse 21

Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.

Before winter - when a voyage, in ancient navigation, would be out of the question: also, Paul would need his "cloak" against the winter (2 Timothy 4:13).

Pudens ... Claudia - afterward husband and wife (according to Martial, 4: 13; 11: 54): he a Roman knight, she a Briton, surnamed Rufina. Tacitus ('Agricola,' 14) mentions that territories in Southeast Britain were given to a British king, Cogidunus, in reward for his fidelity to Rome, A.D. 52 AD, while Claudius was emperor. In 1772 a marble was dug up at Chichester, mentioning Cogidunus with the surname Claudius, added from his patron, the emperor's name; and Pudens in connection with Cogidunus, doubtless his father-in-law. His daughter would be Claudia, who was probably sent to Rome for education, as a pledge of the father's fidelity. Here she was under the protection of Pomponia, wife of Aulus Plautius, conqueror of Britain. Pomponia was accused of foreign superstitions, 57 AD (Tacitus, 'Annals,' 3: 32) - probably Christianity. She perhaps was the instrument of converting Claudia, who took the name Rufina from her, that being a cognomen of the Pomponian gens (cf. Romans 16:13, Rufus, a Christian). Pudens in Martial and in the Chichester inscription appears as a pagan. Perhaps he or his friends concealed his Christianity through fear. Tradition represents Timothy, a son of Pudens, as taking part in converting the Britons.

Linus - put third; therefore not at this time, as afterward, bishop. His name here inserted between Pudens and Claudia implies the two were not yet married. "Eubulus" is identified by some with Aristobulus, who, with his converts, is said to have been the first evangelist of Britain. 'Paul himself,' says Clement, 'visited the farthest west (perhaps Britain, certainly Spain), and was martyred under the rulers at Rome,' who were Nero's vicegerents in his absence from the city. The greetings imply that at Rome, as elsewhere, Timothy gained the affections of those among whom he ministered.

Verse 22

Grace be with you - plural; i:e., thee and the members of the Ephesian and neighbouring churches.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-timothy-4.html. 1871-8.