This 2 Timothy 4 Bible study contains outlines, cross-references, commentary, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 Bible Study Commentary And Questions
- What does Paul mean “I charge you?”
- What additional reasons does Paul imply in verse 1 as to why Timothy should preach the word?
- Are we to preach the word?
- How could Timothy be ready? How can we be ready?
- What does “in season” and “out of season” refer to?
- In a world where most people preach tolerance, what is the basis for us to reprove or rebuke others? When should we do this?
- What attitude should we have when we reprove or rebuke?
- Why would someone not want to listen to sound teaching?
- What are itching ears?
- What might be some signs that we are suffering this same problem of finding teachers or counselors that “go easy on us?”
- Can you think of any examples in the Bible where the people tried to find teachers or leaders who would agree with their point of view?
- What kind of myths are taught these days in some churches?
- What is the work of an evangelist? Are you doing it?
On Being Ready
1 Peter 3:15 – But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
Proverbs 20:4 – Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
2 Timothy 3:17 – So that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Exodus 4:10-12 – Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
1 Corinthians 2:4 – My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. I solemnly charge you – Paul is getting ready to give Timothy a very serious instruction. A sheriff might charge his deputies to enforce the law. Telling someone “I charge you…” is like saying, “Listen up. The thing I am going to tell you is extremely important. You must pay careful attention and you must do it.”
The seriousness of Paul’s charge to Timothy is made even more clear by the witness he invokes. He tells Timothy that this instruction is given in the presence of God. It is something akin to a judge who makes the witness promise on the Bible or a couple who makes marriage vows before God.
Paul is reminding Timothy that God Himself is watching and will keep Timothy accountable to do what he has been instructed to do. What is more, Jesus is also a witness. And Jesus will be the one who will sit on his throne and judge Timothy as to whether he fulfilled this obligation or not. What could be of such paramount importance that Paul would emphasize it so strongly?
Preach. This was Paul’s calling. This was also Timothy’s calling. Preaching the Word was Timothy’s ministry. We have seen this theme repeated throughout the book. Again and again Paul encourages Timothy to keep pushing forward in his ministry and not to give up. What is that ministry? Many verses have pointed to it (2 Timothy 2:15). His ministry is to preach the word (and train others to do so).
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
Preaching means proclaiming and explaining and teaching and sharing. We are all called to preach (2 Corinthians 5:20, Mark 16:15.) Some might be called to preach in front of a church and some might be called to preach to our friends or to individuals one by one. But we are all messengers of God. He has entrusted His message to us. We are heralds proclaiming the good news about Christ to a lost world. Sometimes we wrongly rely on others to do this task because we think they are better at it than we are or we are not qualified.
Imagine that there is an emergency in an apartment complex (4 buildings each with 28 floors and 6 units on each floor.) The 10 of us in this room are the ones who know about it. We have a limited time to warn everybody to get out of their buildings.
What is the most efficient way to warn everyone in the fastest amount of time? Should we send the fastest runner to alert everyone while the rest of us escape? Should we split up and each take a building?
No matter who is faster and who is slower every person needs to help sound the alarm to save the maximum number of people. In fact the ten of us are not enough. We ourselves must warn others and we must quickly encourage others to do the same.
Preaching the gospel is the same. The world has billions and billions of people who need to hear the word. We cannot sit back and ask God to “send somebody else.” We must say “send me.” And then we must equip others as well.
2. Be ready in season and out of season –
Here are some times when we may feel its difficult to keep preaching or sharing, but when we still need to be ready and persevere:
- When the response isn’t what we hope it would be.
- When we face persecutions.
- When we face spiritual opposition.
- When we are tired.
- When we are sick.
- When unexpected opportunities come.
- On the bus, train, subway, etc.
- When we don’t have a Bible handy (How? Memorize verses. Put a presentation on your phone. Etc.)
- ALWAYS! To be ready we have to prepare ahead of time. Like the grandmother who seemingly carries everything in her purse “just in case.”
3. Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction – Why is great patience and instruction necessary? Every teacher knows that patience is one of the most important character qualities of a good teacher. When I taught my son to swim, ride a bike, and read it needed great patience and instruction. Mistakes were made. Progress was always slower than hoped. Attitudes were not perfect. These things trained me in patience as much as it trained him in the skills.
4. For a time will come – I believe that time is here. This is not so much a white immediately turns into black issue. Instead it is a slow gradual shift. As such, we don’t know how much worse it will get. But we can observe that this is happening all around us.
Church congregations get rid of pastors who preach too much about sin or hell or judgment. Mega churches sometimes emphasize the pleasant and attractive sides of the gospel without talking about sacrifice/persecution/sin, etc. Blatantly false doctrines like the prosperity gospel are taught and believed by tens of millions of people. Why? Because it is what they want to hear.
People want to be comfortable instead of wanting to hear the truth. One pastor even said his goal was to “make the people of his church feel comfortable.” Was this Jesus’ goal? Paul’s goal? John the Baptist’s goal? What was their goal?
At the same time, many places in the world offer many choices. In Bible times, there was likely one local church in one city. Now a large city may have hundreds or thousands of churches. When people get uncomfortable because they don’t like to face the truth their church is teaching, then they just go find another church that will be more tolerant.
Application: We must love the truth. We should embrace the truth even when it hurts. We should find a fellowship and a church that teach the truth no matter what. We should tell others the truth even though it may make them uncomfortable. We should listen to our friends and brothers and sisters in Christ when they encourage us from the Bible, even if it is not easy to hear.
5. And will turn away from the truth and to myths –
What myths are people turning aside to?
- Prosperity gospel
- Speaking tongues means you are more spiritual
- My happiness is what is most important.
- I deserve it.
- Everyone is God’s child.
- There are many ways to heaven. As long as you sincere everything will be OK.
6. But you – Timothy was not to be like these people. He was not to drift away from sound doctrine. He was not to turn away from the truth or to myths. Neither should we. How can we avoid falling into these same traps?
7. Do the work of an evangelist. Fulfill your ministry. – These again are the key theme throughout this book. Timothy was being faithful. He was doing a good job. Paul wanted to make sure that he kept it up. Are you doing the work of an evangelist (it is work)? Are you fulfilling your ministry?
A key teaching in 2 Timothy is to do what God has called us to do. We are to fulfill the ministry he has given us. We are to keep pushing forward to serve God without being distracted. We are not to fear persecution or trials, but are to be strong in God’s grace. We are to preach the Word. We are to have a goal, a vision, and faithfully move forward to accomplish this vision God has given us. Paul knew his vision. Timothy also knew his vision.
During the next week, I would like to ask you to write down a short vision statement for your own life. Prayerfully consider what God is calling you to do. Consider how He wants you to serve Him. Write down a simple vision statement and be prepared to share your vision with the group and be prepared to work to accomplish the vision.
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