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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Timothy 4

Introduction

A.M. 4070. A.D. 66.

The apostle

(1,) Most solemnly charges Timothy to be diligent in his ministrations, as an apostacy from the truth was advancing, 2 Timothy 4:1-5 .

(2,) Encourages him, from his own approaching but glorious and happy martyrdom, 2 Timothy 4:6-8 .

(3,) Desires him to come to Rome as quickly as possible, and bring Mark and certain things with him, as his brethren there were generally gone, or sent off from him, 2 Timothy 4:9-13 .

(4,) Cautions against Alexander the coppersmith; complains of the brethren’s deserting him at his first trial; but trusts that God, who had stood by him, would always preserve and support him, 2 Timothy 4:14-18 .

(5,) Concludes with salutations and his usual benediction, 2 Timothy 4:19-22 .

Verses 1-4

2 Timothy 4:1-4. Having, in the preceding chapter, explained to Timothy the duties of his office, as an evangelist, the apostle now proceeds solemnly to charge him, in the presence of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be diligent and faithful in all the duties of the ministry; by preaching the true doctrine, confuting gainsayers, rebuking sinners, and exhorting both the teachers and people under his care to conduct themselves properly in every respect. His words are peculiarly solemn, I charge thee, therefore This is an inference drawn from the whole preceding chapter; before God and the Lord Jesus Christ Now and always present with us, observing our whole behaviour; who shall judge the quick and the dead. Bringing every work into judgment with every secret thing, and rendering unto every man according to his deeds, Romans 2:6; at his appearing and his kingdom That is, at his coming, when he shall most manifestly exercise his kingly and judicial power in the sight of all intelligent beings. Preach the word The pure gospel doctrine, in all its branches. Be instant Importunate, pressing; insist on and urge the great truths and duties of the religion of Jesus; in season, out of season That is, continually, at all times and places. The Greek, ευκαιρως , ακαιρως , may be rendered, when there is a good opportunity, and when there is no opportunity, or, not only when a fair occasion is given, but even when there is none, one must be made. Reprove Ελεγξον , convince the consciences of men, and endeavour to reclaim them from their erroneous principles and practices; rebuke Them, for their impieties and immoralities, without fearing the face of any man; and exhort to zeal and diligence in the pursuit of every grace, and the performance of every duty; with all long-suffering Though thou mayest not immediately see the desired success; and doctrine That is, still continue to warn and teach. And the rather seize the present opportunity with all earnestness; for the time will come And is fast approaching; when they Even the professors of Christianity; will not endure sound doctrine Wholesome, salutary, healing doctrine Doctrine calculated to save them from their errors and sins, and to heal their spiritual disorders. But after their own lusts According to their own desires; shall they heap to themselves teachers As smooth as they can wish; having itching ears Fond of novelty and variety; which disposition the number of new teachers, as well as their empty, soft, or philosophical discourses will please. Such teachers and such hearers seldom are much concerned with what is strict and searching, or calculated to excite them to aspire after a conformity to the Lord Jesus. Not enduring sound doctrine, they will reject the sound preachers, and gather together all that suit their own taste. And So greatly will their minds be perverted, that they shall turn away their ears from the truth From the true, genuine doctrine of the gospel; and be turned unto fables Unto vain, idle stories, and uncertain opinions and traditions. See on 1 Timothy 1:4.

Verses 5-8

2 Timothy 4:5-8. But watch thou Both over thyself and flock, and withstand the beginnings of all these corruptions; let thy mind be awake and watchful; in all things Whatever thou art doing, let this be thy earnest, constant, persevering exercise. Observe, reader, the Scripture watching or waiting implies steadfast faith, patient hope, labouring love, unceasing prayer; yea, the mighty exertion of all the affections of the soul that a man is capable of: endure afflictions Or adversity, as κακοπαθησον signifies. Expect ill- treatment from the enemies of the gospel, and other trials, and bear them patiently. Do the work of an evangelist Which was next to that of an apostle. Make full proof of thy ministry So perform all the duties of thy calling, as fully to approve thyself to be a faithful minister of Christ. For, &c. And the rather do these things, considering how soon the world will lose whatever advantage it may now receive from my personal labours. For I am now ready to be offered Or poured out, as σπενδομαι means, as a libation upon God’s altar. See on Philippians 2:17. And the time of my departure is at hand So undoubtedly God had shown him. I have fought a, rather the, good fight Greek, τον αγωνα τον καλον ηγωνισμαι , I have contended the good contention; or, as Macknight renders it, I have combated the good combat. I have finished my course Of duty and of suffering: or, I have finished the race; for he likens his labour in the gospel not only to fighting and wrestling, but also to a race, which was likewise one of the Olympic exercises. I have kept the faith Committed to my trust, and with the strictest fidelity have endeavoured to preserve it free from all additions and corruptions. Henceforth Λοιπον , what remains; there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness Namely, of that righteousness which God has imputed to me, and wrought in me, and enabled me to practise. Having compared his labours as an apostle to the exertions of the combatants, wrestlers, and racers, in the Grecian games, he represents his reward under the idea of a crown, because a crown was the reward bestowed on the victors in those exercises. It was not, however, a crown of leaves like theirs, but of righteousness, which he expected Christ to bestow on him, counting his faith to him for righteousness, and rewarding him for all the fruits brought forth by this righteousness. See on Philippians 1:11. Which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day This text evidently proves, that the great and most glorious reward of faithful Christians is referred to the day of general judgment. But, as Doddridge observes, “it would be very precarious to argue from hence, that there shall be no prelibation and anticipation of this happiness in a separate state. And when the many texts, which have been so often urged in proof of that intermediate happiness, are considered, it is surprising that any stress should be laid on the objection which has been drawn from such passages as this.” And not to me only This increases the joy of Paul, and encourages Timothy; but to all that love his appearing Which only a true Christian can do. Many of those Paul himself had gained, and he rejoiced to think, that through his having gained them, they should receive an unutterable and eternal reward of felicity and glory.

Verses 9-11

2 Timothy 4:9-11. Do thy diligence Endeavour by all means; to come shortly unto me The apostle, now about to leave the world, wished to enjoy Timothy’s company and conversation for a little while, both that that evangelist might comfort him, and might be comforted and strengthened by him, so that he might suffer death courageously when called to do so. Accordingly, it is said by some, that he actually suffered martyrdom at Ephesus. For, &c. As if he had said, I have the more need of thy company and assistance, because I have been deserted by some who ought to have acted in a very different manner: Demas Once my fellow- labourer, (Philemon 1:24,) hath forsaken me By calling the departure of Demas to Thessalonica a forsaking him, the apostle intimates that he departed without his permission. Having loved this present world And gone where his secular views invited him. Crescens Probably a preacher also, is gone with my consent to Galatia. Titus to Dalmatia Having now left Crete. These either went with him to Rome, or visited him there. Only Luke Of my fellow-labourers; is with me For, from 2 Timothy 4:21, where the salutations of some of the Roman brethren by name are mentioned, it appears that the apostle had many friends still in Rome, members of the church there, with whom he was allowed to have some intercourse, but his chief support was, that God was with him. Of the character of Luke, see on Colossians 4:14, and the preface to his gospel, Take Mark and bring him Who, though he once departed from the work, is now profitable to me for the ministry Mark, mentioned in this passage, is by some thought to be a different person from the writer of the gospel which bears his name.

Verse 13

2 Timothy 4:13. The cloak Perhaps the toga which belonged to him as a Roman citizen, or an upper garment, which might be needful as winter came on. The word φαιλονη , however, so rendered, also signifies a bag, in which sense the Syriac translator understood it, paraphrasing the expression, a bag containing books; or a kind of portmanteau, the contents of which might be more important than the thing itself. Which I left at Troas with Carpus Who was probably his host there; when thou comest bring with thee, and the books, especially the parchments What the books here referred to were, commentators nave not attempted to conjecture: but Dr. Benson fancies the parchments were the letters which he received from the churches, and the autographs of his own letters to the churches. For that he employed persons to transcribe his letters is probable from Romans 16:22, where the name of the amanuensis of that epistle is inserted. In those fair copies the apostle wrote the salutations with his own hand, (1 Corinthians 16:21; Galatians 6:11; Col 4:18 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:17,) and thereby authenticated them as his letters.

Verses 14-15

2 Timothy 4:14-15 . Alexander the coppersmith Or brasier; did me much evil This seems to have been the person mentioned 1 Timothy 1:20: probably he was one of the Judaizing teachers, who violently opposed the true doctrine of the gospel. The Lord reward him The Alexandrian, and six other MSS., the Syriac and the Vulgate versions, and some of the Fathers, read here, αποδωσει , the Lord will reward him: and it is probable the words ought to be considered as spoken prophetically. At least, as Doddridge observes, “what we know of Paul’s character must lead us to conclude, that if he did not mean the words as a mere prediction, he did not, however, wish evil to him as evil, but only that he might be so animadverted upon as to prevent the contagion of his bad example from spreading in the church, and to bring him to repentance and reformation, that so he might be preserved from final destruction.” Of whom be thou ware also Be thou upon thy guard wherever thou happenest to meet with him; for he hath greatly withstood our words Hath used every means in his power to prevent the progress and advancement of the true gospel.

Verse 16

2 Timothy 4:16. At my first answer Απολογια , apology, or defence, before the emperor, or, as is more generally thought, the prefect of the city in his absence; no man None of the Christians here at Rome; stood Appeared in court; with me, but all Either through treachery or cowardice; forsook me “Many circumstances make it astonishing that Paul should have been deserted by the Christians at Rome in this extremity. When he wrote his epistle to the church there, which must have been almost ten years before this, he speaks of their faith as celebrated through the world, Romans 1:8. He salutes a vast number of illustrious persons by name, and mentions many of them as his particular friends, Romans 16:3-15; and we may assure ourselves that during the two years he spent there in his hired house, when access was granted to all that desired it, the number, and probably the zeal of the Christian converts would be greatly increased, as indeed he expressly assures the Philippians that it was, and that some of Cesar’s palaces were added to them, Philippians 1:12; Philippians 4:22.” How then did it happen that he was thus forsaken? The true answer seems to be, that the cruel persecution which Nero had raised against the Christians at Rome, (in which they were worried in the skins of wild beasts, wrapped up in pitched clothes, and then chained to stakes, and set on fire to give light in the streets by night,) had taken place before this; and it is probable that many of the excellent persons above mentioned had suffered death for their religion; and that others, according to our Lord’s advice, had retired to a distance from Rome, while some were so terrified that they concealed themselves; or at least had not courage to appear with him before the tribunal. For these last mentioned the apostle prays, May it not be laid to their charge He was sensible of the danger to which his friends would have exposed themselves by appearing with him at his trial; he knew likewise the infirmity of human nature; and therefore he made great allowance for their yielding in such circumstances, and prayed that they might be forgiven, as Christ prayed his Father to forgive those who crucified him.

Verses 17-18

2 Timothy 4:17-18. Notwithstanding I was not left entirely destitute; for, though men forsook me, the Lord stood with me According to his promise, Luke 21:15; and strengthened me With that inward fortitude of mind which no human support could have inspired; that by me the preaching The gospel which we preach; might be fully known Πληροφορηθη , literally, might be carried with a full sail; that is, fully and boldly declared. That the apostle could thus courageously bear witness to the gospel when all his friends forsook him, and his enemies were so fiercely raging against him, was a glorious testimony to the honour of Christianity. And that all the Gentiles might hear This implies that he made his defence in a manner which he was persuaded would be taken notice of and reported abroad, much to the honour of that sacred cause which was dearer to him than his life. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion By the lion Nero is generally thought to be meant, or rather his prefect, Helius Cesarianus, to whom Nero committed the government of the city in his absence, with power to put whomsoever he pleased to death. But the expression may be understood proverbially, as denoting an escape from the greatest danger; in which sense it is used Psalms 22:21. And the Lord Whose power and faithfulness are always the same; shall deliver me from every evil work From all sin, and especially from doing any thing inconsistent with the honour of the gospel, and the salvation of my own soul; which is of far greater consequence than delivering me from death. And preserve me to his heavenly kingdom An infinitely better kingdom than that of Nero.

Verses 19-22

2 Timothy 4:19-22. Salute Prisca This word is a contraction of the name Priscilla; or, as Estius supposes, Priscilla may be the diminutive of Prisca. Erastus abode at Corinth When I came from thence, being chamberlain of the city, Romans 16:23. He is likewise mentioned, Acts 19:22, as one who administered to Paul. But Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick It has been very justly argued from this text, that a power of working miracles did not always reside in the apostles; and indeed if it had, one can hardly imagine that any good and useful man would have been sick and died under their notice; which would have been quite inconsistent with the scheme of Providence. Timothy’s frequent infirmities afford a further argument to the same purpose. Do thy diligence to come before winter Sailing being then dangerous. Some, comparing Heb 13:23 with this text, have concluded that Timothy did come, and was seized at Rome, and confined longer than Paul himself. But it seems much more probable that the epistle to the Hebrews was written during Paul’s first imprisonment, and consequently several years before this. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens Though these persons, like the other Roman brethren, did not appear with the apostle at his first answer, they did not flee from the city, nor desert him altogether; but visited him in his prison, and desired him to send their salutation to Timothy. Linus is said, by some of the ancients, to have been the first bishop of Rome, after the apostles Paul and Peter. But Theodoret speaks of this only as a tradition. Claudia is said to have been a British lady, whom Paul was the instrument of converting, and that she first carried the gospel into Britain. But of this there is no evidence. According to tradition, the Apostle Peter was now in Rome, and suffered martyrdom at the same time with St. Paul. But seeing Paul says, 2 Timothy 4:11, Only Luke is with me, and 2 Timothy 4:16, At my first answer no one appeared with me; also, seeing Peter’s salutation was not sent to Timothy, his being in Rome at the time this letter was written may justly be doubted. If he suffered martyrdom along with Paul, as the ancients affirm, he must have come to Rome after Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy. Grace be with you This being a benediction distinct from the one bestowed on Timothy in the preceding clause, it must have been designed for such of the brethren where Timothy was, as maintained the truth of the gospel in purity.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 4". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/2-timothy-4.html. 1857.