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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

2 Timothy 4

Verses 1-2

Our Guide among the Wreckage

2 Timothy 1:3-5 ; 2 Timothy 2:15-17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-15 ; 2 Timothy 4:1-2 ; 2 Timothy 4:16-17

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

One of the outstanding marks of spirituality is soundness of mind, soundness in wisdom, in words, in doctrine, in faith.

There are some people who are forever mocking Christianity with the words that, "So and so went crazy on religion." It is not true. People may go crazy when they turn aside to fads and fancies and fanaticism, but not when they walk in the Spirit. People who go crazy, may talk wildly about religious conceptions and spiritual things, but it was not the Spirit nor spiritual life which made them crazy.

A real Spirit-taught and Spirit-led believer will be recognized by the sanity of his statement, and the strength of his word. Carnality gives birth to a great many things which are erratic, and which are classed by some people under the realm of spiritualities.

Whenever there is disorder in the churches, and confusion in the house of God, we may be sure that God Is not supreme, as He is the God of order. God's universe moves in a rhythmic order, that knows no jar and feels no uncanny sense of confusion.

Let us look at the words which mark spiritual life.

1. A sound speech. Young people need to show themselves a pattern in good works, and in gravity and sincerity. They need to use sound speech that cannot be condemned. Paul wrote to Timothy that young men should be sober-minded, that young women should be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and obedient to their own husbands.

Idle chatter and giddy talk should not be the assets of a believer. We recognize that a hearty laugh doeth good like medicine, but a hearty laugh and a clean joke is not contrary to "sound speech." Sound speech is speech that is sane on the one hand, and clean and incorrupt on the other. Sound speech is not polluted. It dwells upon the things that are pure, holy, clean, and of good report.

2. Sound Doctrine. A sound doctrine is a doctrine that is true to the Faith. It carries a tenet which is builded upon the Word of God. It is free from error. It is based upon the positive Word of Scripture.

People who are sound in doctrine, are ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them, with fear and trembling. They do not follow after every strange doctrine that may arise; they do not care to put forth the dreams of their own heads, as a basis for their Faith. They are unwilling to follow a creed or statement of faith, merely because it voices the convictions of some certain sect or class. Sound doctrine, must be based on a "thus saith the Lord."

3. Sound mind. A sound mind is, of necessity, an instructed mind, that is, a mind that knows the Truth. It is a mind that is taught of God, inasmuch as no other mind can be sound in the Faith, or sound in speech, or sound in wisdom.

A sound mind is one that is well balanced in the Faith. Not only a mind rightly taught, but fully taught. A mind that does not run off on hobbies, placing stress on one phase of Truth, to the neglect of other just as important Truth.

A sound mind is a mind that is not erratic, and not given to excesses in statements. A sound mind neither goes beyond, nor lags behind that which is written. A sound mind places the emphasis where God places it. Let young; people seek to be "sound" in all things.

I. THE GLORY OF UNFEIGNED FAITH (2 Timothy 1:3-5 )

1. The faith of Timothy was passed down from his mother and grandmother. The Bible does not teach that the faith of a parent will save the child. It does teach that the child will imbibe the spirit of faith which their parents held. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house," is a promise which is true to facts.

Joshua said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Abraham was approved of God because God said, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord." We cannot over-emphasize the value and the power of child-training in the home.

2. The admonition to "hold fast" to the form of sound words. Paul knew that there would be efforts made to swerve Timothy from the Faith, therefore, he urged upon him the necessity of holding the pattern which had been delivered unto him, by his mother Eunice, his grandmother Lois, and by Paul himself.

When God commits the Truth into the keeping of His saints, He wants them to guard that Truth through the Holy Ghost who dwelleth in them. The Truth is a sacred trust and we must keep our tryst.

3. The warning of some who had turned away. The Apostle warns Timothy how all they who were in Asia had turned away from him, and he specifies Phygellus and Hermogenes. This warning is particularly needed today. We are living in the times of the great apostasy, and we need to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. We would not ask young people to cling tenaciously unto decadent dogmas, but we would urge them to remain faithful to the Faith which has been given by holy men, as they were breathed upon by the Holy Ghost. We would urge them to hold fast to sound words words which are wholesome and established; words which are true and God-given.

II. THE STUDY OF THE WORD OF TRUTH (2 Timothy 2:15-17 )

4. Knowing the Truth is pre-requisite to holding to the Truth. They who leave the Truth and turn aside to fables, are they who have never known the Truth in any vital way.

The Apostle was not afraid to advise young Timothy to delve into the depths of the things of God. The Bible is not a book which cannot live through the glaring light of research. The more we study it, the more we realize its eternal verities. The more we delve into the depths of its message, the more we discover that it was written by the finger of God.

2. Rightly dividing the Truth is pre-requisite to an approved workman. Of course, we cannot rightly divide the Truth until we have studied the Truth, and have known the Truth. However, having studied the Word, and proved ourselves diligent in the acquiring of the knowledge of the Word, we want to set ourselves to the dispensing of the Word. We do not study merely to obtain knowledge, but to impart that knowledge unto others. For this cause we should be workmen who need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. We must give to every one his portion.

We must know the message of God in its relationship to various classes to the Jew, to the Gentile, and to the Church of God. We must be able, for example, to divide the prophetic Scriptures, showing that portion of Scripture which refers to Christ's first coming, and that which anticipates His Second Coming. We must understand that there are various ages, to each of which God had a special and fitting message.

In doing all of this, however, we must not fail to remember that all Scripture is profitable, and that all Scripture has a message for everybody.

3. The warning against missing the mark concerning the Truth. Verses sixteen to eighteen tell us to shun profane and vain babblings. It tells us that such babblings eat as doth a canker. It gives us the example of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who, concerning the Truth, erred missed the mark. It tells us of how these two men failed to rightly divide the Word of Truth, saying, "That the resurrection is passed already," and how they overthrew the faith of some.

Let us be just as careful in shunning error, as we are in conserving Truth. When error begins to grip the mind and to take root in the life, there is no telling to what extent it may grow, to what vagaries it may lead, and what harm it may accomplish.

The statement of verse seventeen is very graphic: "Their word will eat as doth a canker." The only thing to do with false doctrine is to immediately cut it off, as soon as it shows its head.

III. THE FAITHFUL CONTINUANCE IN THE TRUTH (2 Timothy 3:14-15 )

1. A lifelong knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. The Apostle reminds Timothy that from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures, which were able to make him wise unto salvation. He reminds him that all Scripture is God-inspired and is profitable; that the Word of God not only makes one wise unto salvation through faith in Christ, but that it also throughly furnishes him unto all good works. Timothy, from a child, had known these Scriptures. He had been taught them and was therefore well versed, at least, in the letter of the Word.

2. A plea to continue in what he had learned, and in that of which he had been assured. The Apostle reminds Timothy from whom he had obtained his knowledge of the Truth. It had come to him not only from his mother and grandmother, but it had come to him through holy men of God, and from the Apostle Paul, a peer of preachers.

Apostates need to consider how they are turning away, not only from God, and from Truth, but also from saints whose faithful lives and testimony stand unimpoverished by the march of years. Apostates are leaving the paths of light, to wander in the darkness of an impenetrable night; they are leaving Truth, for error; Christ, for the antichrist; the only hope of eternal life, for the certainty of eternal death.

Let us continue in what we have learned, not because we learned it, but because of them from whom we learned it.

3. A warning concerning the last days. The third chapter, from which we take our theme, begins with warnings of conditions which shall prevail in the last days. These conditions are now upon us. It seems almost impossible that a more accurate detailment of present-day world-attitudes could have been delineated; yet, when we remember that this detailed delineation of our day was written down in the Word of God nineteen centuries ago, we are amazed, and wonder. We know that God must have spoken.

The things written, that we want to note just now, are these:

(1) A warning of "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." This is just what we have today. Old-time creeds are still left on the books, and in many places they are still memorized in old-time creedal fashion, however, the old-time power is lacking.

The Spirit is emphasizing that it is not enough to merely hold the Truth, or even to merely rightly divide the Word of Truth: we must also hold the power of the Truth a Truth that effectually worketh in those who believe.

It is not when the Word of Truth is intellectually gripped by us, that the victory is reached; it is when the Word grips us, molds us, leads us, vitalizes us in word, and testimony, that victory ensues.

(2) A warning against resisting the Truth. The Spirit brings forth an example of two men, Jannes and Jambres, to illustrate his warning. He says, "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these men resist the Truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the Faith." Heretofore we have seen no more than a passive denial of the Faith, or, a languid failure to know the power of the Faith. Now, we have an active resistance to the Faith.

The age is fast passing by mere denials of God and of His Word; it is sweeping on toward an aggressive warfare against the Faith. The enemy is girding himself for war, and a war to the finish.

In Russia the battle against God is on in all of its fury. The State is saturated with atheism, and is setting itself, at any cost, to wipe Christianity from the face of the Russian empire, and from the world, if that is possible. It will prove to be all but possible. Christ said, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"

Antagonism to truth will finally head up in the antichrist, who will exalt himself above God, and all that is called God. They who follow with him will not receive the love of the Truth; and, for this cause, God will send them a strong delusion that they may believe a lie.

IV. THE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF TRUTH (2 Timothy 4:1-2 )

1. A solemn charge. Paul had instructed Timothy to study the Truth, and to continue in the Truth; now he tells him to preach the Truth.

The Gospel of God is not a Gospel to be hid away, or wrapped in a napkin; it is a Gospel to be preached, Paul did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, and so he had a right to urge Timothy to follow in his steps.

(1) The preaching of the Word should be accomplished in the light of the Coming of the Lord, and of the preacher's appearance before the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the raptured living and the raised dead.

(2) The preaching of the Word should be carried on in season and out of season, with all long-suffering and doctrine. Nothing should deter the one who labors in the Truth, from pressing home his mission to a happy conclusion.

2. A noble example. Paul, after urging Timothy to preach the Word under all conditions, set forth how he had, himself, fought a good fight, kept the Faith, and finished his course.

3. A prophecy of a coming time. Timothy is urged to fidelity to the Faith in view of the fact that the time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine. That time has come in many large and influential churches.

Moreover, the time will come, says the Spirit, when men will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; who will turn their ears from the Truth, and unto fables. That time has also come. The pew is given to saying, "Prophesy unto us smooth things."

Throwing of bouquets, scented with flattery, is the fad of the hour in many circles. Darkness is called light; and light, darkness. Preachers with oiled lips are prophesying peace, when there is no peace. With their mouths they speak great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration. They walk in the imagination of their hearts, saying, "No evil shall come upon you."

It is a sad day when prophets prophesy lies, and when the people love to have it so, willingly following after their pernicious ways.

V. THE LORD STOOD WITH ME (2 Timothy 4:16-17 )

We have come to the final word for today. It is a word of encouragement for young Timothy. Paul has delivered his charge to this Christian youth; he has fully warned him of the dangers in the way. In all of this the Spirit was speaking forcefully to young men and women of today.

By way of encouragement the Apostle recounts how God had stood by him in the hour of his trouble, and had strengthened him, so that through him the Gospel might be made known to the Gentiles.

Paul related how God had delivered him out of the mouth of the lion. Then, with an eye of faith, the great preacher cried, "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His Heavenly Kingdom."

There are just a few conclusions we would like to offer:

1. How many from among our young people will this day consecrate themselves to a faithful service for God?

2. Who will make plain the fact that they are distinct from those who deny the Faith?

It is more than interesting to note in the two Epistles addressed to Timothy, how the expressions are used differentiating between Timothy and those who swerve from the Faith. We will give you one or two examples of this.

"Men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith" (2 Timothy 3:8 ).

"Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse" (2 Timothy 3:13 ).

"They will not endure sound doctrine"; * * "they * * shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:4 ).

"But thou hast fully known my doctrine" (2 Timothy 3:10 ).

"But continue thou in all the things which thou hast * * been assured of" (2 Timothy 3:14 ).

"But watch thou in all things; * * make full proof of thy ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5 ).

The above contrast suffices to establish our thought. The more that others drift from the Faith, the more we should stand strong and secure and aggressive for the Faith.

3. Why should we fear? God has given us His promise that He will-stand with us and preserve us, even as He did the Apostle Paul.

Paul, having obtained help of God, continued unto the end of his journey, expounding and testifying "The Kingdom of God," and persuading men concerning the Lord Jesus.

AN ILLUSTRATION

THIRSTY MEN DRINKING WITHOUT LOOKING

"As men in a deep thirst swallow their drink before they know the nature of it, or discern the taste of it; so when we are under a great thirst, or under great famishment as to spiritual comfort, and have great troubles upon us, we take up with comfortable notions of Christ and salvation by Him, and easily drink in these and other truths, catching at them without looking into the grounds or reasons of them. Afterwards we see the need of care and watchfulness of soul, to strengthen our assent and fortify ourselves against these doubts of mind which shake us. Then we desire to settle our hearts in those supreme truths which in our necessity we accepted without discussion." "This is a very natural figure. See how the thirsty man turns up the cup and drinks the contents at a draught; he cares little what it is, so that it quenches his raging thirst. 'Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.' But now, mark him in cooler moments! He is careful of his drinking, lest he be made top-heavy, or become nauseated. A simple, receptive faith is a fine thing for the speedy removal of the soul's thirst; but if it were not soon qualified by spiritual discernment it would lead to credulity, and the man would be ready to take in anything which might be set before him. The rapid believer would soon become the victim of superstition. The more study of the Scriptures, and testing of doctrines thereby, the better. Careful investigation may save the mind from being injured by poisonous teaching, and it will certainly endear the Truth to us, and strengthen our confidence in it.

"What a draught was that which some of us had at the first! Little enough we know; but our enjoyment of what we did know was intense! Lord, thou hast now revealed to us the ingredients of that Divine cup; grant that this may give us a new and deeper joy; but do not allow us to forget the bliss of satisfied thirst because we are gifted with fuller knowledge. Such a gain would be a loss most serious."

Verses 1-8

Life's Backward and Forward Look

2 Timothy 4:1-8

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. There is a time when we should not look backward.

(1) We should not look back with a heart of longing after the fleshpots of Egypt. The Children of Israel had received from the Lord a great deliverance. They had been led forth with a mighty hand. They had been snatched away from the cruel whip of the taskmaster. At first their hearts were filled with joy and gladness. When, however, they met difficulties in their wilderness journeys they turned their faces backward, longing for the fleshpots of Egypt. God was angry with them because they forgot the One who had gone before them, and prepared the place where they should pitch their tents.

God forbid that any of the young people who read these words should turn their faces and their hearts back to the old life from which they were saved. Let us keep our faces looking on, and up.

(2) We should not look back at our achievements with the thought of resting upon our lees. Some of us seem to be satisfied when we have wrought successfully some great undertaking. We forget that there is much land yet to be possessed, and much work yet to be done.

There is no time or place for a Christian to lag, or to stop by the way. We should serve unto death, dying with our harness on. So long as there are whitened fields needing harvesting; so long as there are plowed fields unsown, we dare not cease to toil.

2. There is a time when we may look back.

(1) We may look back at the close of each day to see if we have wrought well our task. This look should never be the look of pride and of self-satisfaction. It should be a look of scrutiny, that we may learn whether we have been faithful to our calling. Every day should be so lived that at its close our hearts may not condemn us. Every day should be so lived that at its close we may have from the lips of our Master, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Every successful merchant stops now and again to take stock. He wants to know whether he is gaining or losing. He wants to know this in order that he may stop the leaks, and improve by the mistakes he has made.

(2) We may look back in order that our tomorrow may be strengthened by our yesterdays. The idea of living a life in a haphazard careless way should be beneath every saint. The young man who sowed his seed without considering the harvest which he was bound to reap, was foolish indeed. Therefore, let us review each day that we may profit by the lessons of the past and make life more effective in the future.

(3) We may look back in order that we may correct any failure which is behind. It is still true that we cannot live over again the day that is gone. It is just as true, however, that we may crowd into our tomorrow some service which we may have inadvertently overlooked in our yesterday.

3. We may always look forward.

1. We may look forward to the opportunities which arise in order that we may take them as they pass.

2. We may look forward in anticipation of the Crowning Day.

I. PAUL'S CHARGE TO TIMOTHY (2 Timothy 4:1 )

When Paul charged his son in the Gospel, he charged him in view of the Appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in view of His Kingdom. Here are the words of his charge: "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."

1. The Apostle would have the young man Timothy to keep the judgment seat of Christ always in view. When the Lord Jesus set His face steadfastly toward Calvary, He looked far past its travail, to the glory which should be revealed. As the shadows deepened about Him, He never once turned back. He pressed His way on and on. "Having loved His own * *, He loved them unto the end."

If you would ask, why did the Lord never turn back? we would answer: "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame."

The Apostle Paul knew that young Timothy would pass through many a darkened day. He knew something of the sorrow that would befall his son in the faith. Therefore, he urged him to live and to serve in anticipation of that coming Day, when his record would be received at the judgment seat of Christ.

2. The Apostle would have the young man Timothy to keep the judgment seat of Christ in view, that he might be found faithful in service. These are the words with which Paul charged him: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."

May we place before every young man, and young woman, the same admonition. If we are to stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of everything done in the body; if we are to receive from the Lord Jesus Christ, in that Day, according to that we have done, then let us preach the Word, be instant in season and out of season. There is not a moment to waste.

II. PAUL'S WARNING OF THE TIMES TO COME (2 Timothy 4:3-4 )

1. The Apostle knew the times of testing which lay ahead. The good soldier of Jesus Christ does not despair because of the anticipation of some conflict. He is ready to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Dark days with their difficulties do not turn him aside, they only inspire him to more watchfulness and to more faithfulness in his task. "What did Paul say to Timothy? "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; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

Such were the days and such were the difficulties that lay ahead of the young man Timothy.

2. What are the testings which confront the young men and the young women of today? As we glance once more at Paul's words of prophecy we cannot but recognize that the time has now fully come of which Paul wrote above, when he said, "the time will come."

(1) Men do not now endure sound doctrine. The world of today speaks from the pew and says: "Prophesy unto us smooth things." The pew is crying unto the pulpit and saying, "Tell us that tomorrow will be as today, only much more abundant."

However, tomorrow will not be as today. Evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse deceiving and being deceived. The Spirit truly wrote of the last days: "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents," etc. The worst of it is that these men shall have a form of godliness, yet denying the power thereof.

The Spirit expressly told them that in the latter times "some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and the doctrines of devils."

(2) What therefore shall our young people do? Shall they despair, shall they give up, or shall they press on through fire and flood?

III. PAUL PASSES THE TORCH TO TIMOTHY (2 Timothy 4:5 )

Here is the way our key text runs: "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."

1. Paul spoke these words knowing that he was about to lay his armor down. In the next verse he says: "The time of my departure is at hand." Do you wonder therefore that he was passing the torch to Timothy?

They pass the torch to thee,

So hold it high,

Their mantle falls on thee,

Their Master calls to thee

To do or die.

Let not the flare burn low,

Light up the sky,

For God now undergo,

For sin doth overflow;

Thy torch hold high.

The battle wages hot

And many die;

Fight on, and loiter not,

Thou shalt not be forgot

By God on high.

Thus did Paul, the aged, call upon Timothy, the youth, to take up the sword that he laid down, saying, "Fight the good fight of faith."

Paul's words called for the heroic.

(1) "Watch thou in all things." The very call to watchfulness suggests an enemy lurking near.

(2) "Endure affliction." This word suggests no roseate path lying before the servant of God.

(3) "Do the work of an evangelist." Mark you the Apostle did not urge young Timothy to attack the modernist. He urged him to save sinners. This is just what we should do in the present hour of apostasy.

(4) "Make full proof of thy ministry." In these words the Apostle was urging Timothy to do his best in his preaching and in his serving.

IV. READY TO GO (2 Timothy 4:6 )

1. "I am now ready to be offered."

(1) Paul had suffered many things for Christ's sake in the past. To recount the story of his sufferings would take a long time. He, himself, summed up for us many of the things he endured. He said, in the Spirit: "Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day."

Would that we might be able to suffer with more grace the puny persecutions and pains we have to bear!

(2) Paul had suffered much, but was ready to suffer more. He said he was ready to be offered up but how? Did he not mean as a sacrifice, or a drink offering for his Lord? He did. And shall we not bend the knee and dedicate our lives as did he?

2. "The time of my departure is at hand." There had been a time in Paul's life when he longed to go to be with his Lord. He only was willing to stay that he might further the Word and work of his Master, and strengthen the saints, or he was willing, the rather, to go. Death meant no terror to Paul. It presented no misgivings.

Why do so many saints fear the valley of the shadows? Let us stand ready to meet the Lord whensoever He may call. Let us vow at this moment that we will make our lives so pure and so true, that a call up higher will bring only joy, not fear.

V. THE BACKWARD LOOK OF OUR LORD (John 17:4 ; John 17:6-7 )

Before we set forth the backward look of Paul; let us stop for a moment in John 17:1-26 , and consider the backward look of our Lord Jesus.

1. Christ said, "I have glorified Thee on the earth." The Master stood in the Upper Room with the twelve. He was about to be offered up on Calvary, the Just for the unjust. As He prayed to the Father He said, "I have glorified Thee on the earth," Is this not our duty, and privilege? Whether we eat, or drink, or whatever we do, let us do all to the glory of God.

2. Christ said, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." Up to that moment everything had been done in His ministry that God had given Him to do. The Calvary work now lay ahead. Thus, when He had gone on to Gethsemane, and to the mock trial, and the Cross, He cried, "It is finished."

Where could we find a greater ambition than to fulfill the work which God gives to us? Let us not shift our responsibility and say we have no work to do. God has written, "To every man his work." The Book of Ephesians tells us that we are created unto good works which God hath afore prepared or mapped out. The one great ambition, therefore, of every life should be to continue, until its task is done.

3. "I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world." The Lord Jesus manifested all of those wonderful titles which belonged to the Father. In fact, He Himself wore those titles. May we also manifest His Name. We bear the name Christians "Christ-in" surely we can manifest the Name we bear.

4. "I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me." The Lord Jesus definitely claimed that His words were the Father's words. What are the words which we are commanded to speak? To the Prophet Ezekiel, God said: "Thou shalt speak My Words." We are commanded in the New Testament to "preach the Word." With this partial backward look on the part of Christ, let us now give Paul's backward look.

VI. PAUL'S BACKWARD LOOK (2 Timothy 4:7 )

Paul like his Lord, as he neared his departure, looked back over his life to review it. He epitomized the days he had spent from his conversion unto that hour under three statements.

1. "I have fought a good fight." Paul had addressed Timothy as a good soldier. He had written to Philemon about Archippus and had called him a fellow soldier. How wonderful it all is. We are in a great conflict, a great battle against sin and Satan.

Our fight is indeed a good fight. We are not seeking to kill, but to make alive. The banner which we carry over us is the banner of God's love, not the banner of hate. We go forth as soldiers of the Cross.

Our fight is a hard fight. Even though we are marching with good news, the enemy is seeking to repulse us. There is much of conflict and much of endurance which we will be compelled to bear if we are good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

2. "I have finished my course." By his course he meant the work which he had been given to do. Paul had never deviated from the course. He had never gone off on bypaths. He had gone where he had been sent. He had preached what he had been commanded to preach. There were no backslidings in his life, no turnings aside. He had set his ship to the compass of God's will, and had thus steadily plowed his way across the sea of time.

3. "I have kept the faith." The Apostle Paul himself said that he preached that which he had received from God. He did not fabricate a Gospel, nor invent a message. He did not try to create some new thing. In Galatians we read of how God had revealed His Son to him. He said: "I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Let us endeavor to be able, in our backward look, as we review our lives to say the three things above even as Paul said them.

VII. PAUL'S FORWARD LOOK (2 Timothy 2:8 )

1. "Henceforth." This is the first word of our verse. How entrancing does it sound to those who truly know the Lord and have met grace. Yet, how dark and gloomy is the word to the unregenerate. They never want to look beyond the veil of this present life and say, "Henceforth."

2. "There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." There was a time when Paul wrote, "Not as though I had already attained, * * I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling." We are not sure that when Paul wrote to Timothy, he was certain of that particular prize. He was, however, assured of the crown of righteousness.

3. "The Lord, the Righteous Judge." It was upon this ground that Paul felt assured of his crown. If he had fought the good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, he knew the righteous Judge would certainly give him the crown.

4. "And not to me only." Thank God for these words! Paul included himself, but he did not exclude you or me. How happy we should be, therefore, that the crown is open for us to obtain. We can join Paul in wearing the crown of righteousness, if we will join him in fighting the good fight of faith.

5. "Unto all them also that love His Appearing," Paul puts along with the other things which he set forth in 2 Timothy 2:7 this further basis of reward. First of all he certifies his own love of Christ's Appearing. Then, afterward he spoke also of others who love His Appearing. This is all in line with Hebrews 9:28 , which says that He "Shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation" unto all those who look for His Appearing.

AN ILLUSTRATION

Princess Eugenie of Sweden sold her diamonds that she might build a home for incurables. On one of her visits to the home she met a wicked sick woman, to whom she talked about Christ. She told the matron on leaving that she hoped special attention would be given to that poor creature, for the princess was anxious that before she died she would become a Christian. One day she found the invalid with bright face because her heart was radiant with hope, and with tears in her eyes the princess said to her husband on returning to the palace, "I saw the glitter of my diamonds today in the tears of penitence." A. C. Dixon, D.D.

Verses 16-17

Our Guide among the Wreckage

2 Timothy 1:3-5 ; 2 Timothy 2:15-17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-15 ; 2 Timothy 4:1-2 ; 2 Timothy 4:16-17

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

One of the outstanding marks of spirituality is soundness of mind, soundness in wisdom, in words, in doctrine, in faith.

There are some people who are forever mocking Christianity with the words that, "So and so went crazy on religion." It is not true. People may go crazy when they turn aside to fads and fancies and fanaticism, but not when they walk in the Spirit. People who go crazy, may talk wildly about religious conceptions and spiritual things, but it was not the Spirit nor spiritual life which made them crazy.

A real Spirit-taught and Spirit-led believer will be recognized by the sanity of his statement, and the strength of his word. Carnality gives birth to a great many things which are erratic, and which are classed by some people under the realm of spiritualities.

Whenever there is disorder in the churches, and confusion in the house of God, we may be sure that God Is not supreme, as He is the God of order. God's universe moves in a rhythmic order, that knows no jar and feels no uncanny sense of confusion.

Let us look at the words which mark spiritual life.

1. A sound speech. Young people need to show themselves a pattern in good works, and in gravity and sincerity. They need to use sound speech that cannot be condemned. Paul wrote to Timothy that young men should be sober-minded, that young women should be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and obedient to their own husbands.

Idle chatter and giddy talk should not be the assets of a believer. We recognize that a hearty laugh doeth good like medicine, but a hearty laugh and a clean joke is not contrary to "sound speech." Sound speech is speech that is sane on the one hand, and clean and incorrupt on the other. Sound speech is not polluted. It dwells upon the things that are pure, holy, clean, and of good report.

2. Sound Doctrine. A sound doctrine is a doctrine that is true to the Faith. It carries a tenet which is builded upon the Word of God. It is free from error. It is based upon the positive Word of Scripture.

People who are sound in doctrine, are ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them, with fear and trembling. They do not follow after every strange doctrine that may arise; they do not care to put forth the dreams of their own heads, as a basis for their Faith. They are unwilling to follow a creed or statement of faith, merely because it voices the convictions of some certain sect or class. Sound doctrine, must be based on a "thus saith the Lord."

3. Sound mind. A sound mind is, of necessity, an instructed mind, that is, a mind that knows the Truth. It is a mind that is taught of God, inasmuch as no other mind can be sound in the Faith, or sound in speech, or sound in wisdom.

A sound mind is one that is well balanced in the Faith. Not only a mind rightly taught, but fully taught. A mind that does not run off on hobbies, placing stress on one phase of Truth, to the neglect of other just as important Truth.

A sound mind is a mind that is not erratic, and not given to excesses in statements. A sound mind neither goes beyond, nor lags behind that which is written. A sound mind places the emphasis where God places it. Let young; people seek to be "sound" in all things.

I. THE GLORY OF UNFEIGNED FAITH (2 Timothy 1:3-5 )

1. The faith of Timothy was passed down from his mother and grandmother. The Bible does not teach that the faith of a parent will save the child. It does teach that the child will imbibe the spirit of faith which their parents held. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house," is a promise which is true to facts.

Joshua said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Abraham was approved of God because God said, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord." We cannot over-emphasize the value and the power of child-training in the home.

2. The admonition to "hold fast" to the form of sound words. Paul knew that there would be efforts made to swerve Timothy from the Faith, therefore, he urged upon him the necessity of holding the pattern which had been delivered unto him, by his mother Eunice, his grandmother Lois, and by Paul himself.

When God commits the Truth into the keeping of His saints, He wants them to guard that Truth through the Holy Ghost who dwelleth in them. The Truth is a sacred trust and we must keep our tryst.

3. The warning of some who had turned away. The Apostle warns Timothy how all they who were in Asia had turned away from him, and he specifies Phygellus and Hermogenes. This warning is particularly needed today. We are living in the times of the great apostasy, and we need to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. We would not ask young people to cling tenaciously unto decadent dogmas, but we would urge them to remain faithful to the Faith which has been given by holy men, as they were breathed upon by the Holy Ghost. We would urge them to hold fast to sound words words which are wholesome and established; words which are true and God-given.

II. THE STUDY OF THE WORD OF TRUTH (2 Timothy 2:15-17 )

4. Knowing the Truth is pre-requisite to holding to the Truth. They who leave the Truth and turn aside to fables, are they who have never known the Truth in any vital way.

The Apostle was not afraid to advise young Timothy to delve into the depths of the things of God. The Bible is not a book which cannot live through the glaring light of research. The more we study it, the more we realize its eternal verities. The more we delve into the depths of its message, the more we discover that it was written by the finger of God.

2. Rightly dividing the Truth is pre-requisite to an approved workman. Of course, we cannot rightly divide the Truth until we have studied the Truth, and have known the Truth. However, having studied the Word, and proved ourselves diligent in the acquiring of the knowledge of the Word, we want to set ourselves to the dispensing of the Word. We do not study merely to obtain knowledge, but to impart that knowledge unto others. For this cause we should be workmen who need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. We must give to every one his portion.

We must know the message of God in its relationship to various classes to the Jew, to the Gentile, and to the Church of God. We must be able, for example, to divide the prophetic Scriptures, showing that portion of Scripture which refers to Christ's first coming, and that which anticipates His Second Coming. We must understand that there are various ages, to each of which God had a special and fitting message.

In doing all of this, however, we must not fail to remember that all Scripture is profitable, and that all Scripture has a message for everybody.

3. The warning against missing the mark concerning the Truth. Verses sixteen to eighteen tell us to shun profane and vain babblings. It tells us that such babblings eat as doth a canker. It gives us the example of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who, concerning the Truth, erred missed the mark. It tells us of how these two men failed to rightly divide the Word of Truth, saying, "That the resurrection is passed already," and how they overthrew the faith of some.

Let us be just as careful in shunning error, as we are in conserving Truth. When error begins to grip the mind and to take root in the life, there is no telling to what extent it may grow, to what vagaries it may lead, and what harm it may accomplish.

The statement of verse seventeen is very graphic: "Their word will eat as doth a canker." The only thing to do with false doctrine is to immediately cut it off, as soon as it shows its head.

III. THE FAITHFUL CONTINUANCE IN THE TRUTH (2 Timothy 3:14-15 )

1. A lifelong knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. The Apostle reminds Timothy that from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures, which were able to make him wise unto salvation. He reminds him that all Scripture is God-inspired and is profitable; that the Word of God not only makes one wise unto salvation through faith in Christ, but that it also throughly furnishes him unto all good works. Timothy, from a child, had known these Scriptures. He had been taught them and was therefore well versed, at least, in the letter of the Word.

2. A plea to continue in what he had learned, and in that of which he had been assured. The Apostle reminds Timothy from whom he had obtained his knowledge of the Truth. It had come to him not only from his mother and grandmother, but it had come to him through holy men of God, and from the Apostle Paul, a peer of preachers.

Apostates need to consider how they are turning away, not only from God, and from Truth, but also from saints whose faithful lives and testimony stand unimpoverished by the march of years. Apostates are leaving the paths of light, to wander in the darkness of an impenetrable night; they are leaving Truth, for error; Christ, for the antichrist; the only hope of eternal life, for the certainty of eternal death.

Let us continue in what we have learned, not because we learned it, but because of them from whom we learned it.

3. A warning concerning the last days. The third chapter, from which we take our theme, begins with warnings of conditions which shall prevail in the last days. These conditions are now upon us. It seems almost impossible that a more accurate detailment of present-day world-attitudes could have been delineated; yet, when we remember that this detailed delineation of our day was written down in the Word of God nineteen centuries ago, we are amazed, and wonder. We know that God must have spoken.

The things written, that we want to note just now, are these:

(1) A warning of "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." This is just what we have today. Old-time creeds are still left on the books, and in many places they are still memorized in old-time creedal fashion, however, the old-time power is lacking.

The Spirit is emphasizing that it is not enough to merely hold the Truth, or even to merely rightly divide the Word of Truth: we must also hold the power of the Truth a Truth that effectually worketh in those who believe.

It is not when the Word of Truth is intellectually gripped by us, that the victory is reached; it is when the Word grips us, molds us, leads us, vitalizes us in word, and testimony, that victory ensues.

(2) A warning against resisting the Truth. The Spirit brings forth an example of two men, Jannes and Jambres, to illustrate his warning. He says, "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these men resist the Truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the Faith." Heretofore we have seen no more than a passive denial of the Faith, or, a languid failure to know the power of the Faith. Now, we have an active resistance to the Faith.

The age is fast passing by mere denials of God and of His Word; it is sweeping on toward an aggressive warfare against the Faith. The enemy is girding himself for war, and a war to the finish.

In Russia the battle against God is on in all of its fury. The State is saturated with atheism, and is setting itself, at any cost, to wipe Christianity from the face of the Russian empire, and from the world, if that is possible. It will prove to be all but possible. Christ said, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"

Antagonism to truth will finally head up in the antichrist, who will exalt himself above God, and all that is called God. They who follow with him will not receive the love of the Truth; and, for this cause, God will send them a strong delusion that they may believe a lie.

IV. THE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF TRUTH (2 Timothy 4:1-2 )

1. A solemn charge. Paul had instructed Timothy to study the Truth, and to continue in the Truth; now he tells him to preach the Truth.

The Gospel of God is not a Gospel to be hid away, or wrapped in a napkin; it is a Gospel to be preached, Paul did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, and so he had a right to urge Timothy to follow in his steps.

(1) The preaching of the Word should be accomplished in the light of the Coming of the Lord, and of the preacher's appearance before the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the raptured living and the raised dead.

(2) The preaching of the Word should be carried on in season and out of season, with all long-suffering and doctrine. Nothing should deter the one who labors in the Truth, from pressing home his mission to a happy conclusion.

2. A noble example. Paul, after urging Timothy to preach the Word under all conditions, set forth how he had, himself, fought a good fight, kept the Faith, and finished his course.

3. A prophecy of a coming time. Timothy is urged to fidelity to the Faith in view of the fact that the time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine. That time has come in many large and influential churches.

Moreover, the time will come, says the Spirit, when men will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; who will turn their ears from the Truth, and unto fables. That time has also come. The pew is given to saying, "Prophesy unto us smooth things."

Throwing of bouquets, scented with flattery, is the fad of the hour in many circles. Darkness is called light; and light, darkness. Preachers with oiled lips are prophesying peace, when there is no peace. With their mouths they speak great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration. They walk in the imagination of their hearts, saying, "No evil shall come upon you."

It is a sad day when prophets prophesy lies, and when the people love to have it so, willingly following after their pernicious ways.

V. THE LORD STOOD WITH ME (2 Timothy 4:16-17 )

We have come to the final word for today. It is a word of encouragement for young Timothy. Paul has delivered his charge to this Christian youth; he has fully warned him of the dangers in the way. In all of this the Spirit was speaking forcefully to young men and women of today.

By way of encouragement the Apostle recounts how God had stood by him in the hour of his trouble, and had strengthened him, so that through him the Gospel might be made known to the Gentiles.

Paul related how God had delivered him out of the mouth of the lion. Then, with an eye of faith, the great preacher cried, "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His Heavenly Kingdom."

There are just a few conclusions we would like to offer:

1. How many from among our young people will this day consecrate themselves to a faithful service for God?

2. Who will make plain the fact that they are distinct from those who deny the Faith?

It is more than interesting to note in the two Epistles addressed to Timothy, how the expressions are used differentiating between Timothy and those who swerve from the Faith. We will give you one or two examples of this.

"Men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith" (2 Timothy 3:8 ).

"Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse" (2 Timothy 3:13 ).

"They will not endure sound doctrine"; * * "they * * shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:4 ).

"But thou hast fully known my doctrine" (2 Timothy 3:10 ).

"But continue thou in all the things which thou hast * * been assured of" (2 Timothy 3:14 ).

"But watch thou in all things; * * make full proof of thy ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5 ).

The above contrast suffices to establish our thought. The more that others drift from the Faith, the more we should stand strong and secure and aggressive for the Faith.

3. Why should we fear? God has given us His promise that He will-stand with us and preserve us, even as He did the Apostle Paul.

Paul, having obtained help of God, continued unto the end of his journey, expounding and testifying "The Kingdom of God," and persuading men concerning the Lord Jesus.

AN ILLUSTRATION

THIRSTY MEN DRINKING WITHOUT LOOKING

"As men in a deep thirst swallow their drink before they know the nature of it, or discern the taste of it; so when we are under a great thirst, or under great famishment as to spiritual comfort, and have great troubles upon us, we take up with comfortable notions of Christ and salvation by Him, and easily drink in these and other truths, catching at them without looking into the grounds or reasons of them. Afterwards we see the need of care and watchfulness of soul, to strengthen our assent and fortify ourselves against these doubts of mind which shake us. Then we desire to settle our hearts in those supreme truths which in our necessity we accepted without discussion." "This is a very natural figure. See how the thirsty man turns up the cup and drinks the contents at a draught; he cares little what it is, so that it quenches his raging thirst. 'Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.' But now, mark him in cooler moments! He is careful of his drinking, lest he be made top-heavy, or become nauseated. A simple, receptive faith is a fine thing for the speedy removal of the soul's thirst; but if it were not soon qualified by spiritual discernment it would lead to credulity, and the man would be ready to take in anything which might be set before him. The rapid believer would soon become the victim of superstition. The more study of the Scriptures, and testing of doctrines thereby, the better. Careful investigation may save the mind from being injured by poisonous teaching, and it will certainly endear the Truth to us, and strengthen our confidence in it.

"What a draught was that which some of us had at the first! Little enough we know; but our enjoyment of what we did know was intense! Lord, thou hast now revealed to us the ingredients of that Divine cup; grant that this may give us a new and deeper joy; but do not allow us to forget the bliss of satisfied thirst because we are gifted with fuller knowledge. Such a gain would be a loss most serious."

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Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/2-timothy-4.html.