V11I solemnly charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:. In the previous verses Paul pointed out to Timothy the situation in Christianity where there is no improvement to be expected, but on the contrary deterioration. In the meantime, after many ages of church history that also appeared. But he also pointed out to Timothy resources for perilous times. He did that in a way from which you also may profit.
Now Timothy is able and has to get down to work. In a penetrating way Paul places Timothy “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus”, a presence that is reality to Paul himself. He lives before the face of God and of Christ Jesus and not before the face of men. In that way he is like Elijah, who, while he stood before king Ahab, was able to say: “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand” (1Kgs 17:11Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”). He wants to give that awareness both to Timothy and also to you too.
The way Paul relates Christ Jesus and God with each other indicates that Christ is God. Then three things of Christ are said that have to do with the fact that He became Man. First of all He “is to judge the living and the dead”. That judgment is given to Him because He is the Son of Man (Jn 5:2727and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is [the] Son of Man.). Then He will visibly appear as Man. Finally He will establish His kingdom.
He will execute the judgment over the living and the dead at different times and at different occasions. He will judge the living when He has appeared on earth and is seated on the throne of His glory. The nations living on earth will appear before Him and be judged by Him (Mt 25:31-4631“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.32All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.34“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.35For I was hungry, and you gave Me [something] to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me [something] to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’37Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You [something] to drink?38And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?39When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’40The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, [even] the least [of them], you did it to Me.’41“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;42for I was hungry, and you gave Me [nothing] to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’44Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’45Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’46These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”). He will judge the dead when He is seated on the great white throne, after His millennial kingdom (Rev 20:11-1211Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.12And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.).
Allow me to recapitulate the events that are written in this verse:
1. First the Lord Jesus will appear on earth;
2. then He will judge the living, while He is seated on the throne of His glory;
3. then He will establish His kingdom and will reign for thousand years;
4. after which He, being seated on the great white throne, will judge the dead.
For the sake of completeness I mention another judgment that takes place earlier than both these mentioned, namely directly after the rapture of the church (2Cor 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.). There the reward is being paid to the believer according to the measure of faithfulness with which He served the Lord on earth.
As it is said, the charging before the face of two Divine Persons and the three events to come, underline the gravity of the order that must be fulfilled. But it also includes a great encouragement and that is that you may know that the hard times will come to an end when the Lord Jesus, Who is still being rejected, will return in power and majesty. The thought of His coming to judge makes you free from people and delivers you from the fear of men.
V22preach the word; be ready in season [and] out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.. Against the background of verse 11I solemnly charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: the order follows in verse 22preach the word; be ready in season [and] out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.. The thought of His appearance will not paralyze you, but will actually make you more diligent. When Christ returns He will come with His reward that is determined before the judgment seat. That reward is to be gained by you on earth by using all your efforts and diligence in full devotion to the Lord and to do what He asks of you.
In measured terms Paul tells Timothy what is being expected of him. The whole point is: “Preach the Word.” After the Word of God has become apparent as the equipment of the man of God in the concluding verses of chapter 3 (2Tim 3:16-1716All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.), the next step is that it has to be preached. That is a great duty in all times, but certainly when the church has fallen into decay.
‘Preach’ here means openly proclaim, like the imperial herald did. The message to be brought was not made up by the herald himself. Not listening to the message of a herald was a serious matter.
Timothy must always “be ready”. He is supposed to be inwardly always ready to transmit the Word, that is the whole revealed truth of God. He is supposed to be always ready (cf. 1Pet 3:1515but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always [being] ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;), “in season [and] out of season”, which means whether it is convenient for him or not, or whether the circumstances are favorable or not. He is also supposed to ‘reprove’, that is to deliver the convincing proof of the wrong in doctrine or life (cf. Jn 16:88And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;). When that proof has been delivered then ‘rebuke’ should follow. The rebuking or denouncing, the openly indicating, makes clear how wrong the person has spoken or acted.
Not only courage is needed for that, but also the right mindset. Acting against evil and “exhort” to prevent evil must happen “with great patience”, that is with long-suffering and self-control and not with a quick temper. That must also be accompanied by “instruction” or education. Both with reproving and rebuking and with teaching the doctrine of the Scripture has to be applied. All these actions are to be explained from the Scripture.
Acting on the basis of the Scripture has always been of the greatest importance. As time goes by the importance increases more and more. I hope you are well aware of that or become aware of that. In any case Paul is not to be blamed when you do not consider this.
V33For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but [wanting] to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,. He warns us that a time will come that men, namely ‘nominal confessing’ Christians “will not endure sound doctrine”. We have definitely arrived in that time right now. Just tell nominal Christians about ‘the sound doctrine’ of marriage for instance. There is a great chance that they will laugh at you and label you as old fashioned and that your ideas are no more adequate. In that way they reject the doctrine that is sound in itself and in its effect.
They choose for a free experience of sexuality. They do not want to realize that this has been the cause and the spread of a disease like aids. They prefer to hold a ‘Day for aids’ to focus the attention on the problem and they give money in order to overcome this disease themselves. But they have no ears for tackling the root of the problem by starting to live the healthy life in this view, meaning: in accordance with the sound doctrine.
On the contrary, they listen to teachers who say things they love to hear; who bring a message that smoothly enter into their ears. They know a lot of those. They have no lack of variation. A church may then chose or appoint a preacher who has a nice way of preaching. The truthfulness is not important to them, as long as it offers spiritual amusement and it caresses the spiritual emotions. The same happens with people who follow preachers whom they like, without asking themselves whether the preaching is biblical.
V44and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.. The result of this all will be that such people will look the other way when they really come into contact with the truth. They don’t want to hear the truth at all, but consciously turn their ear away from it time and time again.
The automatic consequence is that they turn themselves under the influence of “myths”. It is actually very ironic if you think that modern, liberal theologians are now trying to ‘demythologize’ the Bible, which means that they indicate the myths in the Bible in order to rob the Bible from its power. They label the miracles of the Bible as myths and they even consider them as fairy tales. But they take refuge in the myths themselves by turning away from the truth.
Paul dismisses all the expressions of modern thinkers and preachers, who base their allegations on science, with one word: fables. A quite recent example of a fable, a myth, is the Da Vinci Code, a book that is full of ridiculous religious mysteries, distortions of the truth and blasphemous allegations about the Lord Jesus. This book, out of which they also made a movie, has dragged millions into its grip. It has been sold more than thirty six million times and has already been translated into more than forty languages. Isn’t it shocking that such a huge number of people turn themselves to the fables? It is the preparation work for the embracement of the anti-Christ when he reveals himself.
V55But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.. For the third time you hear “but you”. Paul is warning you not to let yourself be dragged down by this strong anti-Christian movement. “Be sober in all things.” Be sure to remain free from false influences, for those will hinder you to keep a sober, biblical view on all things. Don’t be gullible and don’t let people encourage you for ideas that have no basis in the truth. Make well-considered decisions. Submit your plans to the Lord in prayer and always consult His Word.
Be willing to carry the consequences of such a way of life and to “endure hardship”. People will not thank and welcome you for your witness to the truth. Remain merciful to the lost man and “do the work of an evangelist”. Don’t hide behind the thought that you possibly don’t have the gift of an evangelist. That is not the issue. The point is that whenever you have the opportunity to point to the Savior you must do that.
The ministry of Timothy is extensive. He is supposed to fully accomplish each aspect of it, that nothing will be left undone. The Lord also expects of you to fully fulfill what He has ordered you to do. Thereby you may be sure that when the Lord orders you to do something He also gives you the strength and the means to do it.
V66For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.. Paul calls on Timothy’s attention for all these things, because he himself will soon disappear from the earthly scene. His departure is another exhortation for Timothy to fully fulfill his ministry. Now he has to work hard himself. But he can build on the foundation that the apostle himself has laid.
Paul compares his departure with the outpouring of a “drink offering”. In the offering service of Israel a drink offering was added to the burnt offering, which was the main offering (Num 28-29; Phil 2:1717But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.). His whole life in service to the Lord has been a life of full devotion and in that sense a burnt offering. Now he is close to pass away he sees his “departure” as a drink offering. A drink offering consists of wine and speaks of joy. He knows that he will enter into the joy of his Lord (Mt 25:2121His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’).
The word ‘depart’ has the meaning of ‘to unloose’ (Phil 1:2323But I am hard-pressed from both [directions], having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for [that] is very much better;) and sees upon the disconnection of an attachment. Paul doesn’t see the execution, but the liberation! That that moment has come, means joy to him.
Now read 2 Timothy 4:1-6 again.
Reflection: Do you do the work of an evangelist?