In the previous chapter Paul warned us about listening to false teachings, in this one Paul warned us to be sure and not preach or teach those things, even though people long to hear them. He tells Timothy to preach the Word. And he doesn’t say it lightly.
Verses 1-2 say this,
“I 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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
This is a command and a serious one which is worded almost as an oath. Paul fully expects Timothy to understand it that way as well. In the presence of God and Christ Jesus, not only as witnesses to the agreement but also as the judge of the living and dead. Teaching and preaching something other than the Word of God is not acceptable and will be punished. Remember that God doesn’t want us leading anyone away from Him and He promised that people who cause others to sin would prefer to have a millstone fastened around their neck and drowned in the depths of the ocean. (Matthew 18:6). That statement is in Matthew, Mark and Luke. For something to be in three out of the four gospels lets you know it is important to God. If it is important to God, it should be important to us.
Why should we be diligent about teaching the truth? It is too easy to give in to spirituality and the feel good stuff people want to hear. It is too easy to give in to the stuff the world wants to hear rather than what they need to hear. Verses 3-5 read,
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Paul was in prison and he knew he would soon die. The many people who had once worked alongside him and abandoned him. Only Luke had stayed with Paul. Some had left because they were too in love with the world, others had followed false teaching. So he encouraged Timothy to stay on track, so that he would not be one of those who fell away. He asked Timothy to come visit him soon and bring Mark with him. (Verses 9-18).
Parts of this letter are just heart-wrenching to read. Paul knew his death was not far off. He was in chains for the Gospel and he would die for the Gospel. But he was okay with it, because He had seen God’s work completed in him and he knew his eternity.
Verses 6-8 say this,
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing.”
Paul asked Timothy to do him several favors. Verse 13 reads,
“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.”
Although in chains, Paul wanted to study scripture. He cared about the truth and knew where to find it. We find the truth in the scriptures and via Holy Spirit. Everything He tells you can be backed up by scripture. So if you are unsure how to hear Him or if your faith doesn’t allow you to know it is God speaking to you, then check the Bible, if it isn’t in there, it is not God.
When you hear teaching and especially when you teach, make certain everything is backed up scripturally. Do not make one point without the Bible. A little wrong is still wrong. Are you careful to preach the Word of God? Do you teach from sources other than the Bible? People can write books, teach lessons, and have studies based on books that appear to be based on the Bible, but are not. Verses taken out of context can be used to fit any perspective one wants to get across. The way to make sure you are not being led astray is to know the Bible and to know the Lord. It is to stay sober-minded, endure suffering, and do the work of an evangelist.
Do you think that because you are not an evangelist, preacher, or teacher that you don’t have to be concerned with this? Wrong! Telling other people about Jesus is not a choice. It is an integral part of the command to love others and it is the heart of the great commission given to us by Jesus before He ascended to Heaven. If you are not leading others to Christ, you are not obeying Him.