10. Preachers, Teachers, and Holy Scripture (2 Timothy 3:14-4:5)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio 41:05 |

Valentin de Boulogne (ca 1594-1632) or Nicolas Tournier (1590-1638), 'Saint Paul Writing His Epistles' (1620)
Valentin de Boulogne (ca 1594-1632) or Nicolas Tournier (1590-1638), "Saint Paul Writing His Epistles" (1620), oil. Blaffer Foundation Collection, Houston, TX. Larger image.

3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

4:1 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: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men 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. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 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 3:14-4:5)

 

In the previous paragraphs Paul has been warning his associate Timothy that "there will be terrible times in the last days" (3:1), resulting in persecution for everyone who seeks to live a godly, Christ-centered life (3:12), "while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse" (3:13). Now he turns again to Timothy, and what he must do.

Be Confident in Those Who Taught You (3:14-15a)

The false teachers had twisted the Old Testament and corrupted the Gospel, passing on to their disciples a perverted Christianity. But, you, Timothy, can be confident in your doctrine because you know personally the life and character of those who taught you: myself, a faithful apostle and your mother and grandmother.

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures...." (3:14-15)

Paul is harkening back to a theme with which he began this letter, that of careful transmission of the teaching he has received. Timothy knows personally those who taught him the word. He knows both them and their character. First, Paul:

"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you...." (1 Corinthians 11:23)

"What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus." (1:13)

Then also his mother and grandmother:

"I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." (1:5)

From his childhood, he has been taught the Scriptures from people he knows and trusts -- in contrast to the false teacher upstarts who are causing confusion in the church.

The Legacy of Holy Scripture (3:15-17)

Now Paul launches into one of the most instructive passages about Scripture that we find in the Old and New Testaments:

"15... From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures (gramma), which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture (graphē) is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (3:15-17)

We're going to spend some time thinking through and digesting this teaching, since it is so foundational to what we should believe about Scripture. Two words are used for Scripture in our passage:

Gramma (from which we get our word "grammar") means "letter, document," here, "a relatively long written publication, writing, book." In verse 15 Paul speaks of the "Holy Scriptures,"449a phrase that also occurs in Romans 1:2. See also Romans 2:27; 16:26; and 2 Peter 1:20. Clearly, in our passage "Holy Scriptures" refer to the books of the Old Testament. As we will see below, Christians now consider both the Old and New Testaments as Holy Scripture.

Graphē (from which we get our word "graphic") means "writing." When graphē is used in the New Testament, it refers exclusively to "sacred scripture."450

Scripture Is God-Breathed (3:16)

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...." (3:16)

Portion of Leviticus in the Dead Sea Scrolls (MS 4611; ca. 30 BC - 68 AD). Ink on parchment.
Portion of Leviticus in the Dead Sea Scrolls (MS 4611; ca. 30 BC - 68 AD). Ink on parchment. Larger image

"God-breathed" (NIV), "inspired by God" (NRSV), "given by inspiration of God" (KJV) is theopneustos, "inspired by God,"451from theos, "God" + pneō, "breathe, blow." It is often translated "inspired," influenced by the Latin Vulgate translation's inspirate, but the NIV's translation "God-breathed" probably expresses the idea best -- "breathed out by God." Of course, the words for breath and wind in both Hebrew and Greek are translated "Spirit" in English; certainly the Holy Spirit was involved in the formation of Scripture. As Knight puts it,

"Paul appears to be saying, therefore that all scripture has as its source God's breath and that this is its essential characteristic. This is another way of saying that scripture is God's word." 452

  • God breathes and creates the Word
  • God speaks and forms the Word

The point here is that all scripture comes from God directly and can be considered his breath, his word, his communication to us.

Excursus: The Inspiration of Holy Scripture

Let's pause here to consider an important doctrine: the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, and discuss what we mean by these terms. Of course, this doctrine is hotly debated and all Christians don't agree on every detail, but it is worth discussing. However, in the short scope of this lesson it is impossible to cover all the aspects in detail. For that, I refer you to a one-volume systematic theology text or a book length treatment of this subject. Two systematic theologies I have found helpful are: Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Second Edition; Baker Academic, 1998; ISBN 0801021820), pp. 224-265; and Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994, 2000; ISBN 0310286700), pp. 47-140. I've largely followed Erickson's discussion and conclusions here.

First, let's consider the parameters of this rather large subject. To understand inspiration we need to:

  • Define what the Bible seems to mean by inspiration,
  • Examine various theories of the nature of inspiration,
  • Understand why the books in our Bibles are considered inspired,
  • Consider the implications of inspiration on the inerrancy of the Bible, and
  • Realize the implications of inspiration for the authority of the Bible

What Do We Mean by "Inspiration"?

Two verses in the New Testament directly discuss the idea of inspiration of Scripture.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

"No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20-21)

In addition, a number of verses from the mouths of Jesus and his apostles indicate how they viewed Scripture:

"David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared...." (Mark 12:36)

"The Scripture cannot be broken...." (John 10:35)

"Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." (Matthew 5:18)

"The Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David ...." (Acts 1:16)

"But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets...." (Acts 3:18)

"The prophets ... searched intently ... trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow." (1 Peter 1:11)

It is clear that Jesus and the apostles saw Scripture as divinely inspired. Millard J. Erickson defines this doctrine as follows:

"By inspiration of Scripture we mean that supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Scripture writers which rendered their writings an accurate record of the revelation or which resulted in what they wrote actually being the Word of God."453

Q1. (2 Timothy 3:16) What does inspiration of Scripture mean? What does the term "God-breathed" tell us about the source and authority of Scripture? Why is the doctrine of inspiration of Scripture important?
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Is Inspiration a Circular Argument?

But can't inspiration be considered a kind of circular argument? We believe that Scripture is God's Word because it claims to be that. And we believe its claims because Scripture is God's Word.

Yes, in a sense there is a circular argument. But consider that all arguments for absolute authority must ultimately appeal to that authority for proof, otherwise the authority would not be an absolute or highest authority. Moreover, circular arguments are not explicit; they are often hidden:

"My reason is my ultimate authority because it seems reasonable to me to make it so."

"I know there can be no ultimate authority because I do not know of any such ultimate authority." 454

Having said this, the truth of the Bible is certainly supported by many other disciplines: such as history, archeology, sociology, and linguistics. They do not make it true, but they support its claim to truth. And in any court of law the defendant's testimony is duly considered as admissible along with other evidence. In addition, the Bible is persuasive because it is truthful; the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13). Many people have come to faith by reading the Bible as an historical document, allowing it to plead its own case, and -- becoming convinced of its truth -- have come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Theories of Inspiration

Erickson outlines five theories of inspiration:

  1. Intuition theory, that inspiration refers to a high degree of spiritual insight.
  2. Illumination theory, that inspiration refers to a heightening of one's normal powers.
  3. Dynamic theory, that inspiration involves a combination of divine and human elements in the process of inspiration and writing.
  4. Verbal theory, that the Holy Spirit's influence extends beyond the direction of thoughts to the selection of words used to convey the message.
  5. Dictation theory, that God actually dictated the Bible to the writers.455

Notice that these are theories, since the Scripture doesn't state specifically how the phenomenon of inspiration by the Holy Spirit actually operates -- only that what is written is inspired. However, from the various verses that allude to this process, I see both a dynamic and verbal inspiration of the Holy Spirit, without going as far as dictation (in most instances).

Inspiration of both Old and New Testaments

It is clear that when the New Testament speaks of the inspired Scriptures, it is referring to the Old Testament books -- the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings -- though sometimes "law" or "prophets" can be used to designate the entire body of Old Testament Scripture. The 37 books that make up the canon of Old Testament Scriptures were completed by about 435 BC and recognized by the rabbis as constituting the canon of Scripture within a couple hundred years, certainly by Jesus' time.

The Rylands Library Papyrus p52 is the earliest known New Testament manuscript.
The Rylands Library Papyrus p52 is the earliest known New Testament manuscript. It measures 3.5" x 2.5", a fragment from a papyrus codex. It contains lines from the Gospel of John 18:31-33 in Greek on the front and John 18:37-38 on the back. It is dated ca. 125-160 AD.

However, does our understanding of inspiration extend to the New Testament, as well? Yes. Clearly, Christians have regarded the teachings of Jesus as inspired! After all we believe Jesus to be God in the flesh.

The office of apostle, ones designated by Christ to found his church claimed an authority in the early church at least equal to the Old Testament prophets (2 Peter 3:2; Acts 5:2-4; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Corinthians 13:3). Paul's writings are referred to by Peter in the same category as Holy Scripture.

"... Our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:15-16)

Jesus' teaching, too, is referred to as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:17-18, citing Jesus' teaching in Luke 10:7. The gospels and letters not written by apostles themselves were attested to as true by the apostles living at the time, and affirmed by the early church.

Inerrancy and Authority of Scripture

So the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are inspired. Does that mean they are without error? Some kind of doctrine of inerrancy is a necessary corollary of the doctrine of inspiration: Since the Scriptures are inspired by God, they are true. Erickson defines the doctrine as follows:

"Inerrancy of Scripture is the doctrine that the Bible is fully truthful in all of its teachings."456

Though the word "inerrancy" wasn't used concerning Scripture until the last century, inerrancy has been the historical position of the church since earliest times. In stating such a doctrine, however, it is important to qualify the term. Erickson observes:

  • Inerrancy pertains to what is affirmed or asserted, rather than what is merely reported.
  • We must judge the truthfulness of Scripture in terms of its meaning in the cultural setting in which its statements were expressed.
  • The Bible's assertions are fully true when judged in accordance with the purpose for which they were written.
  • Reports of historical events and scientific matters are in phenomenal rather than technical language -- what appears to the eye rather than scientific explanations.

The Authority of Scripture

Because we believe the Bible is true in what it teaches, then it follows that it is authoritative. By authority, we mean the right to command belief and or action. Erickson says:

"By the authority of the Bible we mean that the Bible, as the expression of God's will to us, possesses the right supremely to define what we are to believe and how we are to conduct ourselves."457

Of course, there is much more that could be said. But this gives you in short scope what Jesus, the apostles, and prophets taught about the inspiration, truth, and authority of Scripture.

The Effect and Function of Scripture (3:15-17)

"15... From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (3:15-17)

Let's look at the effect and functions of Scripture:

Personal Blessing (3:15b)

First, the Scriptures bring to Timothy (and us) a personal blessing of making us wise regarding salvation through faith. "Make wise" (NIV, KJV), "instruct" (NRSV) is the verb sophizō, "to cause a person to develop understanding to a relatively sophisticated degree, make wise, teach, instruct."458Through the Scriptures we gain the faith required to come to God (Romans 10:17) and come to a personal relationship with the Lord and salvation from our sins.

There is always the danger that those who teach and preach to others somehow miss out themselves on the blessing of salvation. We preachers and teachers can get so busy preparing lessons and sermons for others, that we don't take time to nourish our own souls in the Word. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we are somehow close to God because we know the Scriptures (James 1:22-25). But their ultimate purpose is not to provide head knowledge only, but to lead us to salvation through faith in Christ and help us grow in our own relationship to him.

Ministry Blessing (3:16-17)

But after we have drunk deeply of the Scriptures to refresh our own souls, we find that the Scripture is "useful" for our ministry to others. "Useful" (NIV, NRSV), "profitable" (KJV) is ōphelimos, "useful, beneficial, advantageous for someone or for something."459

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...." (3:16)

Paul lists four ways that Scripture is useful in ministry:

  1. "Teaching" (NIV, NRSV), "doctrine" (KJV) refers to "the act of teaching, teaching, instruction."460Scripture is vital for basic instruction of people in the truths of salvation and Christian living.
  2. "Rebuking" (NIV), "reproof" (NRSV, KJV) refers to an "expression of strong disapproval, reproach, rebuke, reproof."461There are times when unrighteousness and false doctrine must be confronted with the Word and rebuked, even if the individuals are unrepentant.
  3. "Correcting/correction" refers to "restoration," here "improvement."462When people have strayed and need to return to the truth of the Lord and appropriate conduct, the Word can bring them back and make them stable in Christ once again.
  4. "Training" (NIV, NRSV), "instruction" (KJV), is "the act of providing guidance for responsible living, upbringing, training, instruction," in our literature chiefly as it is attained by "discipline, correction."463The word refers particularly to the kind of training and discipline that parents give children to train them to be strong, upstanding adults when they grow up. In the case of children, sometimes this involves verbal instructions; sometimes it involves physical punishment to enforce discipline. The idea here is raising up baby Christians to maturity.

Scripture Is Your Essential Equipment (3:17)

"16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (3:16-17)

The phrase "man of God" (NIV, KJV) is probably better rendered in our day as the NRSV, "everyone who belongs to God," since anthrōpos that Paul uses here is the generic word for human being, not speaking of males only.

The result is described by two words based on the same root: the first meaning, "complete, capable, proficient = able to meet all demands."464The second word (at the end of the sentence in Greek) means "made ready for service, equipped, furnished."465The NIV has put them together as amplifying each another: "thoroughly equipped." A man or woman of God who knows and uses the Scripture in his or her ministry will be fully prepared for any demands that will be faced in the course of ministry.

So, Timothy, don't be afraid, you have not only God's command to fulfill your ministry, but also the equipping of the Word to fit you for your task.

Q2. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) In what ways does Scripture equip a Christian for ministry? In what different ways can the Scriptures function, according to verse 16?
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The Divine Observers of Ministry and Calling (4:1)

Paul has explained the divine inspiration of Scripture. Now he gives Timothy a solemn charge to preach the Word with all diligence. I find this command tremendously challenging and inspiring. It is often used at ordination services as a charge to new preachers.

"1 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: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction." (4:1-2)

Paul begins by calling upon ultimate divine Persons to be witnesses to and sanctions to his solemn command. Notice how Paul highlights the role of Christ, which means "Messiah," the expected coming conqueror:

"In the presence of

 

God and of

 

 

Messiah Jesus

 

 

 

who will judge the living and the dead, and,

 

 

in view of his appearing and

 

 

his kingdom.... (4:1)

1. Jesus the Messiah Is Judge of All

First, Messiah Jesus is Judge of all. I think we sometimes forget that "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" will judge the living and the dead when he comes.

"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." (Matthew 16:27)

"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father....  And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man." (John 5:22-23a, 27b)

"He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead." (Acts 10:42)

"For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed...." (Acts 17:31)

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10)

"But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (1 Peter 4:5)

When I think about this awesome judgment, I shudder. You and I will be called to account in a solemn way on that Day. Thank God for grace that covers my sin! But when I am asked on that Day, what did you do with the gifts I gave you, I want to be able to be judged as someone who obeyed -- even though I have fallen short in many ways. As Paul gives Timothy a solemn call, he wants him to know the stakes.

2. Jesus the Messiah Will Come in His Glory

Paul charges Timothy "in view of his appearing," a reference to Christ's Second Coming. "Appearing" is epiphaneia, generally, "appearing, appearance," especially also the "splendid appearance."466When you study what the New Testament says about the hour of Christ's Return you see the overwhelming glory and majesty of this occasion, with ten thousands of angels in great glory!

In some branches of Christianity an expectation of the Second Coming is quite alive. In other quarters it seems almost forgotten. But it is clearly a central Bible doctrine. For example, in the Pastoral Epistles alone we see it several times in addition to this verse:

"I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time...." (1 Timothy 6:13b-15a)

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 4:7)

"... While we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:13)

Of course, there are references and allusions to this event throughout the New Testament (Matthew 16:27; 24:36, 44; Mark 13:32-37; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Hebrews 9:28; 10:37; James 5:8; Revelation 1:7; 22:20; and many other places).

3. Jesus the Messiah Will Reign as King

"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...." (4:1)

What does it mean, "in view of ... his kingdom"? The ancient understanding of the Son of David, the promised Messiah, was that he would come and re-establish the Kingdom of Israel, even to exceed its glory under David and Solomon. The Messiah was expected to come, defeat all enemies and oppressors, and reign in righteousness. Of course, Jesus spoke a lot of the Kingdom of God (or the "Kingdom of Heaven" in Matthew -- "heaven" is a way of referring to God without uttering the divine name). Consider these verses which are a few of many in Jesus' teaching:

"Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people." (Matthew 4:23)

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-10)

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

"I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3)

"Then [the thief on the cross] said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'" (Luke 23:42)

A Solemn Charge (4:1)

Now let's examine the charge itself:

"1 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: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction." (4:1-2)

The phrase "give a charge" (NIV), "solemnly urge" (NRSV), "charge" (KJV) is diamartyromai, "to exhort with authority in matters of extraordinary importance, frequently with reference to higher powers and/or suggestion of peril, solemnly urge, exhort, warn."467Notice that twice when Paul uses this word, he calls on heavenly powers to witness:

"I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels...." (1 Timothy 5:21)

"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus ... I give you this charge." (2 Timothy 4:1)

Preach the Word! (4:2)

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction." (4:2)

"Preach" (NIV, KJV), "proclaim" (NRSV) is kēryssō, "to make public declarations, proclaim aloud."468We also saw this word at 1 Timothy 3:16. Declaring the gospel is vital to bring people the truth of salvation.

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel469of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:14-15)

Preaching doesn't need to be formal oratory. It can include the idea of teaching, too, as the end of verse two indicates -- "with ... careful instruction" (4:2). "Careful instruction" (NIV), "teaching" (NRSV), "doctrine" (KJV) is didachē, "the activity of teaching, teaching, instruction."470Paul describes laying the doctrinal foundation of the church at Thessalonica.

"Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you." (1 Thessalonians 2:9)

Be Prepared, Be "Instant"! (4:2)

The next phrase is translated variously:

"Be prepared in season and out of season." (NIV)

"Be instant in season, out of season." (KJV)

"Be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable." (NRSV)

The verb is ephistēmi, "to be present in readiness to discharge a task, fix one's mind on, be attentive to."471Robertson explains the basic meaning as: "'take a stand, stand upon it or up to it, carry on, stick to it.' The [Latin] Vulgate [translation] has insta,"472which influenced the King James translation "instant." Timothy is to declare God's word when it is convenient or inconvenient, in season or out of season.473Be ready! He isn't referring to the hours of preparation it takes to create a finely crafted sermon (as good as that may be). We must be ready to share, ready to declare when the opportunity presents itself -- convenient of not.

Convince, Rebuke, Exhort (4:2)

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction." (4:1-2)

Paul outlines three functions of preaching that complement the functions of Scripture that we saw in 3:16 above.

1. "Correct" (NIV), "convince" (NRSV), "reprove" (KJV) is elenchō, "to express strong disapproval of someone's action, reprove, correct." It also can mean, "to bring a person to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, convince."474We live in a tolerant time in which preaching against sin is considered "judgmental." No matter. That is part of our task. We must preach winsomely, but we must declare truth, even though truth may be difficult for our world to receive.

2. "Rebuke" is epitimaō, "to express strong disapproval of someone, rebuke, reprove, censure," also "speak seriously, warn in order to prevent an action or bring one to an end."475We examined the importance of rebuke in chapter 3 above, when we examined the words in Titus 1:9 about elders:

"[The elder] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." (Titus 1:9)

As I've studied the gospels, I've noticed how often Jesus used rebuke to train and correct his disciples. We commonly rebuke our children -- not because we don't love them, but because we do -- to help them mature into upstanding people. Many preachers don't rebuke -- especially they don't rebuke individuals -- because they fear the reaction of hurt feelings. My dear brothers and sisters: members of the congregation are not your boss, Jesus is. Your responsibility under God is to attempt to "present everyone perfect in Christ" (Colossians 1:28). Don't let fear keep you from your duty.

3. "Encourage" (NIV, NRSV), "exhort" (KJV) is parakaleō, can mean "to urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort, encourage," as well as "to instill someone with courage or cheer, comfort, encourage, cheer up."476We've seen this word before, also, in chapter 3.

Then Paul provides a caution:  "... with great patience and careful instruction" (4:2).  "Patience" (NIV, NRSV), "longsuffering" (KJV) is makrothymia, "the state of being able to bear up under provocation, forbearance, patience."477Preaching, for Paul, was not delivering 20 minute sermons. It was his life of declaring, explaining, discussing, and teaching in order to produce disciples worthy of the name of Christ. This preaching and teaching ministry must be conducted with patience, since it is not easy and requires a firm vision of the task and the endurance to continue in it when people aren't as responsive as we'd like.

Q3. (2 Timothy 4:1-2) Why do you think Paul has to resort to the command in verses 1-2? Why does he have to talk about being ready when it's inconvenient and when it is convenient? What problem is Paul trying to overcome here? How do these verses speak to you in particular?
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Don't Assume Openness from Your Hearers (4:3-4)

We need to be wise and know our culture well so we can communicate well, using whatever communication style that best suits our own gifts and is most effective in the culture. But we are not to take our cue from the culture -- what we think they can "handle." Paul warns:

"3 For the time will come when men will not put up with478sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around479them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears480want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (4:3-4)

Do the Work of an Evangelist (4:5)

In spite of the fickleness of the hearers, the church leader is to be faithful to his task. Paul commands Timothy:

"But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." (4:5)

"Keep your head" (NIV), "be sober" (NRSV), "watch" (KJV) is nēphō. The word means literally to keep from getting drunk, "be sober." Here Paul uses it figuratively, "be well-balanced, self-controlled."481

"Endure hardship/suffering/afflictions" is a word we explored at 2 Timothy 2:9: kakopatheō, "bear hardship patiently."482Throughout this letter Paul provides encouragement for Timothy to continue in his ministry in spite of opposition and even persecution.

"Evangelist" is euangelistēs, "proclaimer of the gospel, evangelist."483We use the word as a technical term to describe a person who preaches salvation with the purpose of winning people to Christ. That is included, of course, but I think Paul uses the word broadly here to include preaching and teaching, both to bring people to salvation and to train them in righteousness. We find this word two other places in the New Testament: Acts 21:8 regarding Philip the Evangelist and Ephesians 4:11 as one of the five-fold ministry gifts.

Carry Out Your Ministry Fully (4:5)

From Paul's tone it almost sounds like Timothy has slacked off a bit. It is possible when you've been in a pastorate for years or in a position of church leadership for a long time to lose your sense of urgency. You have a history of things that didn't work. Perhaps you are tired, discouraged. However, Paul exhorts Timothy and us to gather ourselves afresh to give the ministry our all.

"But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." (4:5)

"Discharge all the duties" (NIV), "carry out fully" (NRSV), "make full proof" (KJV) is plērophoreō, "fill (completely), fulfill."484"Ministry" (diakonia) is not necessarily some formal call to pastor a church or official assignment from your church, but that "service" which God has put on your heart to do for him. Each of is called to "ministry," to "service."

Q4. (2 Timothy 4:5) Why does Paul command Timothy to "discharge all the duties of your ministry"? What is the work of an evangelist that Timothy is to do? What does the command in verse 5 mean to you personally?
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1 & 2 Timothy: Leadership and Discipleship Lessons, by Ralph F. Wilson
Available in Kindle and PDF e-book formats

Dear friends, we are in this for the long haul. It's time to stir ourselves, seek God's face afresh, and find new inspiration in him to carry on.

Prayer

Father, thank you for your Word of truth that you have given us by inspiring prophets and apostles of old. Thank you for training us up in your Word. Help us now to use it as a powerful tool in the hands of skilled workers. Help us to be persistent, available, and faithful. Help us not to shrink from your call. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2)

"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)

References

449. Gramma, BDAG 205, 2c.

450. Graphē, BDAG 206, 2a.

451. Theopneustos, BDAG 449.

452. Knight, p. 447.

453. Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Second Edition; Baker Academic, 1998), p. 225.

454. This section in large part quotes from Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994, 2000), pp. 78-80.

455. Erickson, pp. 231-233.

456. Erickson, p. 247.

457. Erickson, p. 267.

458. Sophizō, BDAG 935.

459. Ōphelimos, BDAG 1108.

460. Didaskalia, BDAG 240, 1.

461. Elegmos, BDAG 314. Our English word "reproof" means, "criticism for a fault, rebuke" (Merriam Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary).

462. Epanorthōsis (BDAG 359), from epi, "toward, up, upon" + anorthoō, "set up, make erect."

463. Paideia, BDAG 749, 1, from paidion, "child."

464. Artios, BDAG 136.

465. Exartizō, BDAG 346, 2.

466. Epiphaneia, BDAG 385.

467. Diamartyromai, BDAG 233, 2.

468. Kēryssō, BDAG 543, 2bβ.

469. Euangelizō, "declare good news."

470. Didachē, BDAG 241, 1.

471. Ephistēmi, BDAG 418, 5.

472. Robertson, Word Pictures.

473. "In season" (NIV, KJV), "whether the time is favorable" (NRSV) is eukairōs, "conveniently" (BDAG 407). "Out of season" (NIV, KJV), "whether the time is ... unfavorable" is akairōs, "untimely" (BDAG 34).

474. Elenchō, BDAG 315, 3 and 2.

475. Epitimaō, BDAG 384, 1. Originally it meant, "to award to honor or to blame," later "to blame, reprove." (Ethelbert Stauffer, epitimaō, ktl., TDNT 2:623-627).

476. Parakaleō, BDAG 765, 2 and 4.

477. Makrothymia, BDAG 612, 2a.

478. "Put up with" (NIV, NRSV), "endure" (KJV) is anechō, "to regard with tolerance, endure, bear with, put up with" (BDAG 78, 1bα).

479. "Gather around" (NIV), "accumulate" (NRSV), "heap to" (KJV) is episōreuō, "heap one thing upon another," here figuratively, "heap up, accumulate" (BDAG 383).

480. "Itching" is knēthō, "itch." Figurative of curiosity, that looks for interesting and juicy bits of information. This itching is relieved by the messages of the new teachers. With the same components as a background, one might translate: "to have one's ear tickled" (BDAG 550).

481. Nēphō, BDAG 672.

482. Kakopatheō, BDAG 550, 2.

483. Euangelistēs, BDAG 403.

484. Plērophoreō, BDAG 827, 1a.


 

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