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:
Paul uses strong legal language here — “charge” meaning to testify under oath, and with Christ as Judge. Paul is saying, Timothy, what I am about to say is extremely important!
2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
Paul’s emphasis on the word of God has been constant. There are some 36 references to the true gospel in this letter and some 17 references to false teachings. This constant emphasis makes Paul’s point clear to Timothy:
Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord (2 Timothy 1:8)
Hold fast the pattern of sound words (2 Timothy 1:13)
The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2)
Rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
A servant of the Lord must be . . . able to teach (2 Timothy 2:24)
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16)
3 For the time will come when people 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.
Adam Clarke (British Methodist theologian and writer of a biblical commentary, died 1832) on “itching ears” — “Endless curiosity, an insatiable desire of variety; and they get their ears tickled with the language and accent of the person, abandoning the good and faithful preacher for the fine speaker.”
The Message Bible puts verse 3 this way:
You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy.
Junk food is delicious; we don’t have to cook and it satisfies our cravings for salt, sugar and fat. But it quickly empties our wallet and doesn’t nourish us.
Following a false teacher excites us, because they tell us what we want to hear. But over time it leads to disillusionment, depression and a defeated, bankrupt life.
–Maureen Hall Puccini
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.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.
For Paul the end is very near and he knows it. “My life,” says Paul, “has reached the point where it must be sacrificed.” The word he uses for sacrifice is the verb spendesthai, which literally means to pour out as a libation to the gods. Every Roman meal ended with a kind of sacrifice. A cup of wine was taken and was poured out to the gods. It is as if Paul were saying: “The day is ended; it is time to rise and go; and my life must be poured out as a sacrifice to God.” He did not think of himself as going to be executed; he thought of himself as going to offer his life to God. Ever since his conversion, he had offered everything to God–his money, his scholarship, his time, the vigour of his body, the acuteness of his mind, the devotion of his heart. Only life itself was left to offer, and gladly he was going to lay it down.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 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.
In Paul’s day winners in the world of sports received a crown of olive or ivy leaves that soon withered and died. But the crown for God’s people lasts forever (1 Corinthians 9:25, 1 Peter 5:4).
We are promised the crown of life if we will endure temptation (James 1:12).
Some people wonder if we will walk around heaven with crowns on, and everyone will notice who has the bigger and better crowns. But in Revelation 4:10, the elders surrounding the throne of God take their crowns and cast them before Jesus — giving any trophy they have received right back to Jesus.
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me.
Luke, who had traveled with Paul on many of his missionary journeys, remained with Paul. Everyone else was gone. This was a significant contrast to Paul’s first Roman imprisonment years before, where he received many visitors (see Acts 28:30-31).
Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
Paul says, “Bring Mark, for he is a useful man to have about the place.”
Mark had a curiously chequered career. He was very young when the Church began, but he lived at the very centre of its life. It was to the house of Mary, Mark’s mother, that Peter turned his steps when he escaped from prison, and we may take it that this house was the central meeting place of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 12:12).
When Paul and Barnabas set out on their first missionary journey they took Mark with them–John Mark was his full name–to be their assistant (Acts 13:5). It looked as if he was earmarked for a great career in the company of Paul and in the service of the Church. Then something happened. When Paul and Barnabas left Pamphylia and struck inland on the hard and dangerous road that led to the central plateau of Asia Minor, Mark left them and went home (Acts 13:13). His nerve failed him, and he turned back.
Paul took that defection very hard. When he set out with Barnabas on their second missionary journey, Barnabas–he was related to Mark (Colossians 4:10) –planned to take Mark with them again. But Paul absolutely refused to have the quitter a second time, and so fierce was the argument and so acute the difference that Paul and Barnabas split company and never, so far as we know, worked together again (Acts 15:36-40). So then, there was a time when Paul had no use for Mark, when he looked on him as a spineless deserter and completely refused to have him on his staff.
What happened to Mark after that we do not know. Tradition has it that he went to Egypt and that he was the founder of the Christian Church in that country. But, whatever he did, he certainly redeemed himself. When Paul comes to write Colossians from his Roman prison, Mark is with him, and Paul commends him to the Colossian Church and charges them to receive him. And now, when the end is near, the one man Paul wants, besides his beloved Timothy, is Mark, for he is a useful man to have about. The quitter has become the man who can turn his hand to anything in the service of Paul and of the gospel.
Mark is our encouragement and our inspiration, for he was the man who failed and yet made good. Still to this day Jesus Christ can make the coward spirit brave and nerve the feeble arm for fight. He can release the sleeping hero in the soul of every man. He can turn the shame of failure into the joy of triumphant service.
12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul’s imprisonment in the Mamertine prison (a bleak building, interior shown above, still standing in Rome, built 100 years before Paul’s imprisonment for political enemies of Rome) lasted until he was beheaded under Nero outside Rome’s Ostian Gate at a place called “Three Fountains.” He was martyred in the aftermath of the great fires that swept Rome in A.D. 64 — which Nero, in some manner, tried to blame on Christians. According to some traditions, Paul was beheaded on the same day Peter was crucified upside-down. Since Paul was a Roman citizen, he could not legally be crucified.
19 Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21 Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.
The End of the Book of 2 Timothy
How gladly Paul anticipated meeting Jesus! The same man who callously watched as Stephen gave his life for the Lord, soon is himself a martyr for the faith. And Jesus is worthy of every sacrifice we could ever make for him.
HERE Fernando Ortega sings his version of “Crown Him with Many Crowns.”