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Two Timothy Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

charge thee. This charge suggests that Christ will judge the “quick” (that is, those whose mortal bodies will be quickened by the Spirit when Christ returns—see Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:36, 45) at His appearing (2 Corinthians 5:10), and the “dead” (that is, those who have never been quickened, or made alive, in Christ) when He comes to establish His eternal kingdom (Revelation 20:12-14; 22:1-5).

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Preach the word. The charge is to “preach the Word,” not just preach.

be instant. The main thrust of this command is simply to “be there” when needed, to be “on call” when God calls.

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

2 Timothy 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

turn away their ears. They cannot know the truth (2 Timothy 3:7) because they resist the truth (2 Timothy 3:8) and finally even turn away their “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3) from the truth.

from the truth. This is the last of eleven occurrences of “the truth” in Paul's two letters to Timothy. It is a very important theme running through both. He first speaks of “the knowledge of the truth” as involved in salvation (1 Timothy 2:4), then of his own teachings as “the truth in Christ” (1 Timothy 2:7), of the church as “the pillar and ground[ing] of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), of Christians as those who “believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:3), of covetous teachers as men who are “destitute of the truth” (1 Timothy 6:5), of the Scriptures as “the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), of false teachers as those “who concerning the truth have erred” (2 Timothy 2:18), of repentance as leading “to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25), of those who seem “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7), of the false prophets who “resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:8), and finally of those in the congregation who “turn away their ears from the truth” (2 Timothy 4:4). “The truth” clearly refers to the whole body of doctrine contained in the Scriptures and centered in the Lord Jesus Christ.

unto fables. These “fables” are nothing but the pagan myths (the Greek word is muthos, from which the English word “myth” is derived) which the ancients used to explain the meaning of the world and life. They were founded on a pantheistic cosmogony, which specifically rejected the truth of the transcendent personal God of creation and of the Bible. It is well known that these pagan nature myths are being revived in modern New Age cosmogonies, all of which are founded completely on evolutionism in one form or another. Modern atheistic evolutionists (i.e., Darwinists and other naturalists) may battle against these pantheistic evolutionists, but both unite (just as did the atheistic Epicureans and the pantheistic Stoics in Paul's day—Acts 17:18) against those who believe in the true God of creation.

2 Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

2 Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

finished my course. Paul's deep desire, expressed early in his ministry, to “finish my course with joy” (Acts 20:24) had been fulfilled.

2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

crown of righteousness. This is one of the crowns symbolizing rewards for faithful service, which Christ will award at His judgment seat (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:14). These include: “an incorruptible [crown]” (1 Corinthians 9:25), the “crown of rejoicing” (1 Thessalonians 2:19), “the crown of life” (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10), and “a crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).

righteous judge. The “Judge of all the earth” will “do right” (Genesis 18:25).

love his appearing. Paul had “loved His appearing” ever since his conversion. In his earlier ministry, he had thought he would be among those still living when Christ returned (see on 1 Thessalonians 4:17). As time went on, he realized he must die before that day, but he knew that, for the believer, “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). As he wrote this last epistle, he knew that “the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6).

2 Timothy 4:9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:

2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

forsaken me. Demas had once been an active helper in Paul's ministry (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24).

2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Only Luke, Luke, the beloved physician (Colossians 4:14) apparently tried to attend to Paul's health needs until near the end.

Take Mark. Mark (unlike Demas, who started out well and then left) became more useful as time went on (contrast Acts 15:37-39).

2 Timothy 4:12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.

2 Timothy 4:13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

The cloke. It is touching to note that Paul, who could have become a rich Pharisee, was willing instead to suffer the loss of all things for Christ (Philippians 3:8), ending up in a cold, filthy, damp Roman dungeon next to the Tiber River, needing a cloke just to keep warm in the coming winter (2 Timothy 4:21). But he would soon receive a crown!

the books. Note the remarkable example set by the apostle. Awaiting execution, in a dark prison cell, he still wanted to keep reading and studying, the better to serve the Lord and to prepare to meet Him.

2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:

2 Timothy 4:15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

2 Timothy 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

2 Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

2 Timothy 4:20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.

2 Timothy 4:21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.

2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

Amen. So far as we know, these were the last words written by Paul. Compare his possible first words, in 1 Thessalonians 1:1 (or else in Galatians 1:3). He still honored the Lord Jesus Christ, and wrote words of comfort to his son in the faith.