2 Timothy 4


‘In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.’ 2 Timothy 4:1-2

In this final chapter, Paul charges Timothy to continue to do his work as an evangelist in reaching the lost, 1 Timothy 5:21. It’s possible that Timothy had stopped preaching and teaching and so, Paul encourages him to start doing what God called him to do.

It’s Christ Jesus who will judge the living, that is, all those who are still alive when He returns, 2 Thessalonians 4:16-17 / 1 Corinthians 15:51, and he will judge those who have died, John 5:28-29 / Acts 17:30-31.

This judgment will take place when Christ appears again for the final time, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 / 1 Timothy 6:14 / 2 Timothy 1:10 / Titus 2:13.

It’s very clear that Paul was living in the hope of the imminent return of Christ and he knows that when Christ returns, all shall see the full extent and majesty of Christ’s kingdom, Romans 14:11. As no one knows when Christ will return, Paul, charges Timothy to ‘preach the word’, despite any opposition he may be receiving.

This is an important lesson for all preachers and teachers to learn, especially if we believe that Christ is coming back as judge of the world, there are souls to be saved and we need to preach the Gospel to everyone we meet, John 12:48 / 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

Paul also charges him to be ‘prepared in season and out of season’, that is Timothy should be ready to preach, Romans 12:12, anytime, anywhere, not just when it’s convenient for him to do so. If his heart is full of love for the Saviour and for souls, Timothy won’t be able to help himself from doing so.

Paul also charges him to ‘correct’, that is, Timothy was to convince people of the truth of the Scriptures and allow them to see their need of the truth, John 20:30-31 / 2 Timothy 3:16 / Titus 2:15. We must remember the power is in the Word of God, not the preacher, Hebrews 4:12.

Paul also charges him to ‘rebuke’, that is, to reprove sharply, to reprimand with authority. Timothy is to rebuke those Christians who are living in sin, Matthew 8:26 / 1 Timothy 5:20 / Titus 1:13 / Titus 2:15 / Jude 1:9. Preachers and teachers should never forget Whose Word it is they are preaching and teaching from.

Paul also charges him to ‘encourage’, that is, Timothy is to encourage those who are struggling in their Christian walk, Romans 12:8. Although encouragement can come in various ways, struggling Christians are uplifted when they are encouraged by God’s Word, 1 Timothy 4:13.

Paul also charges Timothy to do all these things ‘with great patience and careful instruction’. Every preacher and teacher know if they want to change people’s behaviour and beliefs, they must do so patiently and carefully, especially if they are being opposed, Romans 2:4 / Romans 9:22 / 2 Corinthians 6:6 / Galatians 5:22 / Ephesians 4:2 / Ephesians 6:18 / Colossians 1:11 / Colossians 3:12 / 1 Timothy 1:16 /2 Timothy 2:25.

‘For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.’ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Paul now informs Timothy of a time which is coming, when people won’t put up with sound doctrine anymore, this is probably the time Paul spoke in 2 Timothy 3:1, ‘the last days’. This would be a time when those listening to God’s Word would no longer be content with God’s Word on its own, 1 Timothy 1:10 / 2 Timothy 1:13.

These same people will turn away from God’s Word to listen to preachers and teachers who say things they want to hear. These preachers and teachers will only preach things that suit the desires of their audience, Isaiah 30:10 / Mark 4:24 / Luke 8:18 / 2 Timothy 3:7-8 / Hebrews 5:11.

Preaching and teaching have almost become a profession today and sadly, some churches are buying into that mindset. They go all out to get the best preachers and teachers, pay them a fortune for wages, regardless of their abilities or beliefs but as long as they can keep people coming back, that’s all that matters.

The real danger is that these preachers don’t really preach anything of substance, it’s all feel-good stuff. You never hear words like hell, repent and judgment being used, those words are simply too offensive to some. In all of this, true preachers and teachers of God’s Word get rejected for preaching and teaching the truth, Mark 7:1-9.

These same people will turn away from truth and turn to myths, 1 Timothy 1:4-6 / Titus 1:14. Paul says they have given up the truth to satisfy their curious minds with senseless discussions about things for which there is no revelation from God.

‘But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.’ 2 Timothy 4:5

Paul now tells Timothy to ‘keep his head in all situations’, that is, he must be watchful against error and sin, and he must be faithful in his work as an evangelist, Matthew 25:13 / 1 Corinthians 16:13.

He is also to ‘endure hardship’, Acts 9:16 / Acts 14:22 / 2 Timothy 1:18 / 2 Timothy 2:3. In light of what Paul said earlier about people not putting up with the sound doctrine anymore, it’s clear that those who preach the truth will face much opposition and go through much hardship.

Paul also tells Timothy to, ‘do the work of an evangelist’, that is, he is to get on with the work of preaching the Gospel to the lost, Acts 21:8 / Ephesians 4:11. The word ‘discharge’ means to ‘fulfil’, 2 Timothy 4:17, in other words, Paul is telling Timothy to fulfil his duties as an evangelist, to be faithful, and loyal in serving the Lord as His evangelist, Acts 16:1-3.

‘For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.’ 2 Timothy 4:6-8

The time had come for Paul’s departure from this world, this was something he was always looking towards, Philippians 1:21-22 / 2 Corinthians 5:8 / 1 Thessalonians 4:14.

He was ‘already being poured out like a drink offering’, Philippians 1:23 / Philippians 2:17 / 2 Peter 1:14. He was comparing him to the drink of the wine that was poured out beside the altar in the Jewish sacrifices, Numbers 15:1-10.

The time of his death was probably around A.D. 67 and from historical wrings, we learn that Paul was beheaded in Roman imprisonment during the reign of Nero.

He has ‘fought the good fight’, that is, he won the spiritual warfare he was involved in throughout his Christian life, Acts 9:15-16 / Acts 20:23-24 / Acts 21:12-14 / 1 Timothy 6:12.

He has ‘finished the race’, that is, his mission is complete, Philippians 3:14. At the Olympics Games, the whole purpose is to win a race but there was only ever one victor’s crown which would be given out, however, the Christian race allows everyone who takes part to be winners, provided they finish the race, Matthew 20:8 / 2 Timothy 4:8.

Paul has ‘kept the faith’, that is, he remained faithful to the teachings of the Scriptures and defended them when he needed to, Jude 3.

Paul knows what lay ahead for him when he departs, he knows he will receive a crown of righteousness. This was the physical victory crown that was worn by conquering kings when they returned from battle. Because Paul remained faithful to his mission and the faith, there was reserved for him the spiritual victory crown, 1 Corinthians 9:25 / James 1:12 / 1 Peter 5:4 / Revelation 2:10.

Paul will receive his ‘crown of righteousness’, from Jesus Himself, when Christ returns, 2 Timothy 1:12. This is Judgment Day, 2 Peter 3:13, the day in which all Christians hope for when they too are awarded with their own ‘crown of righteousness’, if they remained faithful as Paul did, Revelation 1:7 / Revelation 22:20.

Personal Remarks

‘Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.’ 2 Timothy 4:9-12

Paul is about to die and he urges Timothy to come to Rome, as quickly as he can, so Paul can spend his last hours with his travelling companion and his intimate friend.

Although a man named Demas is mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 24, no one really knows if this is the same person. We do know that the Demas mentioned here deserted Paul when Paul was in need and went to Thessalonica because he loved this world.

Why he went to Thessalonica is also unknown, but it was obviously something to do with worldly business, Matthew 6:19-34 / 1 Timothy 6:6-10 / 1 Timothy 6:17-19 / 1 John 2:15.

We don’t know anything more about ‘Crescens’, except that he went to Galatia, although we’re not told why he went there.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Some translations, as a footnote give the name, ‘Gaul’ as an alternative reading. If this is correct, Crescens’ going there may have indicated that Paul on the trip to Spain which he very probably made between the first and second imprisonments, might also have established congregations in Gaul, in France.’

Titus was a Gentile, Galatians 2:20, who was led to faith in Christ by Paul, Titus 1:4. He worked alongside Paul in preaching the Gospel, Acts 15:2 / 2 Corinthians 8:6 / 2 Corinthians 8:16-17 / 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 / 2 Corinthians 7:6-7 / 2 Corinthians 7:13-14 / 2 Corinthians 8:10 / 2 Corinthians 8:17 / 2 Corinthians 8:24.

Titus and Paul travelled to Crete, where Titus was left behind to continue and strengthen the work, Titus 1:5 / Titus 3:12. Paul says that ‘Titus went to Dalmatia’, although, just like Crescens, we’re not told why he went there.

Because all of Paul’s friends left for various reasons, it’s understandable why he wants Timothy to come to him quickly. Significantly, only Demas is mentioned for leaving negatively, this implies that Crescens and Titus left him to carry on with the work of sharing the Gospel.

Paul says that only Luke is with him, that is Luke, the physician, Paul’s private doctor. He was with Paul during Paul’s first arrest in Judea and trip to Rome for his first imprisonment. Luke, for a considerable part of the ministry of Paul, was Paul’s travelling companion, Acts 16:10 / Acts 27:1.

Interestingly, Paul asks Timothy to bring Mark with him, because he is useful to Paul in his ministry. On the first missionary journey of Paul when he and Barnabas left Antioch, Paul and Barnabas got into a heated debate with each other over Mark, and Mark left, Acts 13:13 / Acts 15:36-41.

However, Paul now asks Timothy to bring him to Rome because he’s useful to Paul, this implies that Mark has now matured as a Christian.

Tychicus was Paul’s beloved brother, and faithful minister in the Lord, he worked as an evangelist in Asia Minor, Acts 20:4 / Ephesians 6:21 / Colossians 4:7 / Titus 3:12.

No one knows why he sent him to Ephesus, although some suggest that Paul was ‘in the process of sending him to Ephesus’, where he could deliver this letter to Timothy.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘But it may be asked why he did not retain him with him, or why should he have sent him away, and then call Timothy to him? The probability is, that he had sent him before he had seen reason to apprehend that he would be put to death, and now, feeling the need of a friend to be with him, he sent to Timothy, rather than to him, because Tychicus had been employed to perform some service which he could not well leave, and because Paul wished to give some special instructions to Timothy before he died.’

‘When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.’ 2 Timothy 4:13

Here we find Paul asking Timothy to bring certain items with him and as Timothy was somewhere in Asia Minor, he had the opportunity to come through Troas on his way to Rome, Acts 16:8.

As winter was fast approaching, 2 Timothy 4:21, Paul wanted Timothy to bring his travelling ‘cloak’, which would keep him warm in the colder months.

No one knows anything about Carpus, his name only appears here but he was obviously a friend of Paul, and it appears that Paul may have stayed at his house whilst in Troas, hence, that’s where Timothy would find his cloak.

Paul also asks Timothy to bring him his ‘scrolls’, these were rolls of paper made from the papyrus plant. It’s impossible to know what scrolls Paul is referring to, although it may have been portions of the Old Testament Scriptures, 2 Timothy 2:15, or scrolls written by himself.

Paul especially wanted the ‘parchments’, which were of tanned animal skins that were used for writing and were also called vellum. These parchments appear to be different from the scrolls and may refer to his own New Testament writings. Some commentators suggest that these were unfished letters, Paul, as writing and some suggest they were letters he received from other churches.

‘Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.’ 2 Timothy 4:14-15

Alexander the metalworker, is probably the same person who is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20, and possibly the same person who is mentioned in Acts 19:33.

The text doesn’t tell us what the actual ‘harm’ he did to Paul, however, if it is the same person mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20, it’s possible that he didn’t harm Paul personally, but Paul’s preaching work for the Lord, 2 Timothy 2:17-18.

In other words, because he harmed Paul’s work as a preacher, he was actually harming God’s work through Paul, and as a result, the Lord was going to punish him for the damage he caused, Deuteronomy 32:35 / Acts 19:33 / Romans 12:19 / 1 Timothy 1:20 / Hebrews 10:30.

Timothy is to be on his ‘guard’ against him too because he ‘strongly opposed the message’ of the Gospel. It’s clear that Alexander wasn’t a Christian but may have had a lot of influence and some authority within his community.

‘At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’ 2 Timothy 4:16-18

Paul here, speaks about his initial trial before Nero’s court, no one supported him and everyone deserted him, Job 19:13-17. This was clearly a time of great stress for Paul, but even more stressful for those who were with him, as it appears that Paul was abandoned by everyone because they were afraid.

Anyone associated with a prisoner would often be identified as being like them and in support of them, Luke 23:43 / Acts 7:59-60. Paul, however, didn’t hold it against them, Acts 7:60 / Romans 4:3 / Luke 23:34.

He completely understood why they left him alone but more importantly he also understood that he wasn’t completely alone, he knows ‘the Lord stood at his side’, Deuteronomy 32:6 / Psalm 27:10 / Job 5:17-19 / Isaiah 14:1-2.

No one knows how he received strength from the Lord, but we do know that the Lord strengthened him, probably through this difficult time when everyone deserted him, Acts 23:11 / Philippians 4:13. We also know that this strength from the Lord helped him preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 9:15-16 / Romans 1:10 / Philippians 1:12.

Paul says he was ‘delivered from the lion’s mouth’, this obviously isn’t a literal lion, Psalm 22:13 / Psalm 22:21 / Jeremiah 2:30, but he uses these words to describe being delivered from death, 1 Samuel 17:37 / Psalm 22:21.

This is probably a reference to him being delivered from Nero, that is, the ‘lion’, 1 Corinthians 15:32, although some people believe he’s referring to being delivered from a literal lion, which was used in the Roman amphitheatres.

Paul had absolute confidence in the Lord to deliver him from any situation, even if that meant those who can kill the body but not the soul, Psalm 121:7 / Matthew 10:28 / Philippians 1:21-24 / 2 Timothy 4:6 / 2 Peter 2:9. He also had absolute confidence that the Lord God would bring him safely into his heavenly kingdom, 2 Timothy 4:8.

Because the Lord holds such power to deliver him and bring him safely to his heavenly kingdom, Paul gives the Lord all the glory, Romans 11:36 / Galatians 1:4 / Hebrews 13:21 / 2 Peter 3:18.

Final Greetings

‘Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.’ 2 Timothy 4:19-20

Priscilla and Aquila worked very closely with Paul on many of his missionary journeys, they were instrumental in helping Paul not only establish a new church but also edifying them, Acts 18:2 / Acts 18:18-20 / Romans 16:3-5 / 1 Corinthians 16:19. Paul greets them because they were dedicated to the preaching of the Gospel with others, Acts 8:4.

We don’t know much about Onesiphorus but Paul describes him in three wonderful ways back in 2 Timothy 1:16.

1. He often refreshed Paul.

This tells us that Onesiphorus was a continual blessing to Paul and his work, Philemon 20, he looked after Paul’s needs as was imprisoned and as Paul continued to preach the Gospel to the lost. The name Onesiphorus means ‘helpbringer’, and that’s exactly what he was doing with Paul.

2. He wasn’t ashamed of Paul’s chains.

This tells us that Onesiphorus wasn’t ashamed to have a friend and brother in Christ in prison and to be associated with Paul, Acts 28:20 / Philippians 1:15-18 / Colossians 4:3 / Colossians 4:18 / Philemon 1:10 / Philemon 1:13-14 / Philemon 1:16.

3. He searched for Paul until he found him.

Rome was a huge city and filled with many prisons and it appears that Onesiphorus went from one prison to another to find Paul, Matthew 25:36.

Paul prays that Onesiphorus will find mercy on the day of judgment, Matthew 6:4 / Mark 9:41 / Matthew 25:31-40 / 2 Timothy 1:12.

Erastus was a co-worker of Paul and the city of Corinth’s director of public works, Romans 16:23. When Paul preached and ministered in Ephesus for over two years, every Jew and Greek who lived in the province of Asia had a chance to hear the Word, Acts 19:10.

Eventually, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem and on his way, he passed through Macedonia, where he saw ministry opportunities. So he sent Erastus, along with Timothy, to Macedonia while he moved on, Acts 19:22.

Because Paul mentions him here, it appears that Erastus travelled and ministered with Paul at some point before returning to his public works office in Corinth.

Trophimus accompanied Paul during a part of his third missionary journey, Acts 20:4 / Acts 21:29. He was with Paul in Jerusalem, and the Jews, supposing that the apostle had brought him with him into the temple, raised a tumult that resulted in Paul’s imprisonment.

Notice that Paul left ‘Trophimus sick in Miletus’, it’s worth noting that the miraculous gift of healing was already beginning to cease at this time, otherwise, Paul would have simply healed him, Acts 19:11-12 / Philippians 2:25-28 / 2 Timothy 4:20.

We must remember that miracles were performed by the apostles to confirm the message they preached, Mark 16:17-20 / Hebrews 2:3-4. These miracles were never meant to be ongoing but would cease when the New Testament Scriptures had been completed, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.

‘Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters. The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.’ 2 Timothy 4:21-22

Paul ends his letter by reminding Timothy to do his best, 2 Timothy 4:9, to come to Paul before winter arrives. Paul didn’t have long left to live in his physical body and he desperately wanted the companionship of his friend Timothy.

No one knows who ‘Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia’ are, but they along with ‘all the other brothers and sisters’, weren’t ashamed to be associated but were willing to be identified with Paul as a preacher of the Gospel of Christ, Philippians 1:12-18.

Paul’s final words to Timothy are heartfelt, ‘the Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all’, Galatians 6:18 / Romans 15:20.

Paul, more than most, understood the need for the grace of God in people’s lives because he received it himself. Paul had fulfilled his ministry and was ready to receive his reward, and he wanted Timothy to do the same.