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Friday, September 23, 2022

"MY JESUS, I LOVE THEE"

 

"We love Him, because He first loved us." 
1 John 4:19


This amazingly beautiful song reminds us of Jesus' love for us.  Because of Jesus' love, He became our Redeemer and Savior to save us from the slavery of sin and its consequences (1 Tim. 1:15).  He redeemed us by His own blood and reconciled us back to God so that we might receive adoption as sons of God (Gal. 4:4).  He is the Savior who takes away our sins (Matt. 1:21).  He showed the depth of His love when He laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16).  Because of such deep love for us, He purchased our pardon on Calvary's tree (Lk. 23:33, 1 Pet. 2:24).  Because of His love, He wore a crown of thorns.   

"And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters),[a] and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him."'  (Mark 15:16-20)


Since He loves us, He has promised to be with us both in life and death.  Therefore, we must love Him by living for Him and dying to self.
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  (Gal. 2:20)


Since Jesus love us and died for us, we must manifest our love for Him every step of our way whether in life or death.
"As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death."  (Phi. 1:20)

Because He loves us, we have the hope of heaven.  He's now preparing for us mansions of glory in endless delight.
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."  (Jn. 14:1-3)

Because Jesus loves us, we have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us, mansions in heaven so bright (1 Pet. 1:3-4).  

And when we get to heaven, we will sing with the glittering crown on our brow.
"Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."  (Rev. 2:10)  

This beautiful song moves me deeply and compels me to love, and to praise my Lord, saying, 

"My Jesus, I Love Thee."


My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.



 

~Luci



Friday, September 16, 2022

BE FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH

"Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."  
Revelation 2:10


The apostle John made a profound statement to the church at Smyrna in Revelation 2:10.  John’s inspired words to the church at Smyrna must compel Christians to be faithful to God in whatever they do. Sadly, God’s faithful servants are a minority in the church today.  We often forget that God commands that we serve Him heartily.  God wants us to be faithful unto death to receive our crown of life. Our faithfulness to God demands strong personal commitment.        

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men."  (Colossians 3:23

God wants us to be committed in word and deed (Colossians 1:17).  Each Christian must set a goal and strive for personal commitment. Faithfulness to God demands a strong personal choice. Each Christian must choose to be faithful to be blessed by God.  God blesses our faithfulness. God blessed the people of Joshua's day because of their faithfulness.  Hear the words of Joshua 24:13-15
"I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." 

You see, these people understood the need for personal choice, for they responded by saying, 
"The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!" (Joshua 24:24)   

Let us unite our voices with theirs and say, 
"Our God we will serve."

I.   WHY MUST WE BE FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH:

When we are baptized into Christ, we become Christians and begin walking in newness of life.  We begin a new life in which we must resolve to set aside or put to death those things that were part of our old way of life, the old man of sin (Romans 6:4; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22).  As we start crucifying the old man of sin, living and pursuing our new life in Christ, we start an intimate relationship with our Savior and Lord, walking and following His footsteps.  Jesus expects this new man or new creation to be faithful unto death to obtain the reward He promised us, our crown of life (Revelation 2:10).  But to be faithful unto death, there are some big steps to Heaven we must consider.  

Our church friends teach that once one is saved, he can never be lost, no matter our sins.  They ignore and reject God’s exhortation given in Revelation 2:10 to Christians about remaining faithful until the end of our journey here on earth.  My question is, Why did Jesus, in His letter to the church at Smyrna, instruct those Christians to “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10) Jesus said to those brethren that if they remained faithful, despite their circumstances, especially persecution, He would give them “the crown of life” (eternal life, synonymous with salvation).  God will reward our faithfulness if we remain faithful unto death, even dying for our faith.  So why “faithful unto death” if we are already saved and cannot be lost?
 
  • Faithfulness to God demands complete obedience:
    • Obey:
The Lord wants us to conform and surrender our lives to His will alone (Jas. 4:7).  He likewise wants us to walk faithfully with Him, obeying His commands (1 John 1:7; Heb. 5:9; Matt. 7:21).

Jesus said, 
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus saves those who "obey" Him.  The Hebrew writer wrote, 
"Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." (Hebrews 5:8-9


There is no salvation without obedience.  Obedience compels people to believe, repent, confess Christ, and be baptized into Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10; Romans 6:1-5).  We are saved from our past sins and added to the church because of our obedience (Acts 2:47).  Only those who obey God have the right to wear the name "Christian." (Acts 11:26)

  • Faithfulness to God demands strong commitment and earnestness to put Him first in our hearts and lives:
    • Prioritize:
 The Lord wants us to put Christ and His church first and above everything else in our lives (Col. 1:18; Matt. 6:33).  He wants us to use the time God gives us to the best of our ability, for the days are evil.  So we must be careful how we spend our God-given time here on earth (Eph. 5:16).

God must be above everything else in our lives. It is not enough to obey the Gospel and become a Christian.  It is just the beginning of our commitment to living a life devoted to serving God daily.  To be His faithful followers, the Lord must be first in our hearts and lives. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) The Macedonians were an excellent example of faithfulness and devotion to God.   "They first gave themselves to the Lord." (2 Corinthians 8:5) God is satisfied only when He has "preeminence" in our hearts and lives.   Paul wrote, "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18) Thus, Christians must forsake all and resolve to serve God faithfully. 

"So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."  (Luke 14:33)

  • Faithfulness demands an intense hunger and thirst for God’s Word:  
The Bible must be our "roadmap from earth to heaven." The Word of God is unique and powerful because it is God’s inspired Word.   
"And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by in­spiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:15-17

So, we must study God’s Word diligently, for it is our daily bread to nourish our souls to salvation.  Jesus said, 
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4

The Word of God tells us who God is and who we are. It stresses our responsibility toward God.  
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15

The right­eous delight in God's Law. 
"Blessed is the man Who walks not in the coun­sel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sin­ners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2

The Word of God tells us how to become a Christian, a faithful follower, and live holy and righteously for Him daily. Without feeding on God's Word daily, we won’t grow to maturity and make it to Heaven. Thus we must study God’s Word daily and diligently to be approved by Him and receive our crown of life.  

    • Teach:

The Lord wants us to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word (the Gospel) to show and teach others the way to Heaven (Mark 16:15).  He wants us to grow in His Word to live a faithful life and show others how to live holy lives that would honor Him.  He also wants us to grow in His Word to answer those who are not in Christ their questions concerning His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 3:15).

  • Faithfulness to God demands strong self-discipline: 
"Discipline" is mostly forgotten and neglected in the church today.  There is minimal church discipline and self-discipline among many followers of Christ. Self-discipline must be learned and practiced. Paul wrote, 
"For this is the will of God, your sanctifi­cation: that you should abstain from sexual im­morality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6

Christians must not walk “according to the flesh, but according to the spirit." (Romans 8:1) Paul spoke of self-discipline, saying, 
"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:27

Faithful and godly living demands discipline.

    • Separate:

The Lord wants Christians to set themselves apart from the ways of the world (Rom. 12:2; 1 Pet. 2:11).  He wants us to keep ourselves pure and live godly lives (1 Pet. 1:15-16; 1 John 2:15-17; Tit. 2:11-12).

  • Faithfulness to God requires strong and devoted service to Him: 
    • Serve:
The Lord wants us to look and think beyond ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4).  He also wants us to seek opportunities to serve others from the heart and to do good to them (Gal. 5:13; Gal. 6:10).  When we serve others with a loving heart, we also serve the Lord Himself (Col. 3:24; Rom. 12:10-11).

Christians must always be seeking opportuni­ties to serve.  Often these opportunities are right before our eyes. Paul declared, 

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10


Jesus served others and commands us to follow His example of servitude.  He said, 
"And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40

We confess our faith and our service to our Lord with our actions.  Our faith must have works of righteousness.  Our faith, that is, our faithfulness, must be shown not just on Sunday morning but daily.  Our service to Him demonstrates our faithfulness to God.  James wrote, 

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."  (James 1:27)  

Each Christian must seek opportunities to serve God daily, remembering that even a "cup of cold water" given as an act of service or in the name of a disciple will have its reward (Matthew 10:42).

    • Work:

Faithfulness to God demands hard work.  The Lord wants us to be busy in His kingdom, remaining steadfast and bearing abundant fruit to His glory (1 Cor. 3:9).

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58)


  • Faithfulness to God demands constant and strong spiritual growth (maturity): 
    • Grow:

The Lord wants us to increase and develop our knowledge, faith, and trust in Him (2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18).  But to grow in these areas, we must first study His Word and pray daily (2 Tim. 2:15; Col. 4:2).

Peter declared,  

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen."  (2 Peter 3:18

Christians must grow to be able to discern between good and evil. 
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Hebrews 5:12-14


Spiri­tual growth must compel us to set our minds and hearts on things above this world. And though we still live in this world, Christ’s faithful followers must acknowledge that we are not of the world, for we must live for Christ alone.  Jesus declared, 
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." (John 18:36)
 
Matthew records God's plan for spiritual growth in Matthew 16:24
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." 

Thus, Christians must set their mind on things above, not the things of this earth (Colossians 3:1).

  • Faithfulness to God demands Worship And Praise:
    • Worship:

The Lord wants us to worship and praise Him from our hearts (John 4:24; Matt. 4:10; Heb. 13:15; Eph. 5:19), especially on the first day of each week (Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:25).


  • Faithfulness to God demands Endurance:
    • Endure: 

The Lord wants Christians to persevere through their difficult times. Looking to Him as our example for strength (2 Tim. 2:3; Heb. 12:1-3).  He wants us also to press on and finish our race well to reach our eternal goal of Heaven (Phil. 3:14).

In Matthew, Jesus is quoted twice saying, 
“But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 10:22; 24:13) 

Mark recorded that same statement (Mk. 13:13).  Jesus stressed the need to live a life of endurance to the end (being patient and faithful).  Moreover,  Luke recorded Jesus saying, 
“By your patience possess your souls.” (Lk. 21:19

So, if saved followers of Jesus cannot be lost, why did Jesus stress so much the need for patient faithfulness to obtain eternal life?

James also had this same sentiment when he wrote along this line: 
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (Jas. 1:12)  

James’ message matches those stated above.  James wrote to Christians when he referred to them as “My brethren” (1:1; 2:1; 3:1).  The “man who endures temptation” is a brother or sister in Christ who endures faithfully to the end, without succumbing to whatever temptations the devil throws at them.  We will receive the crown of life at the end of our lives if we endure faithfully.   That same basic thought is expressed in Jas. 1:25.  Thus, we Christians must continue to live by the Gospel of Christ and not be just a hearer but a doer of God’s Word to be blessed.  
“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

    • Aim:

The Lord wants us to fix our eyes on the glorious reward of Heaven (Matt. 6:20; Col. 3:1-4).  As we fix our eyes on our glorious reward of Heaven, we will find joy and hope, anticipating Jesus’ return to take us His children home with Him forever (Phil. 3:20-21; Tit. 2:13).

God commands us to “be faithful,” that is, true to Him, His Word, and His church, seeking and pleasing Him above all else!  


CONCLUSION:

The Book of Revelation was written during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Domitian.  He persecuted the church for about 10 years after Nero.  The church was under extreme distress because of the persecution they had to endure.  The persecution included the slaughter of thousands of Christians, even the apostle John himself, who was exiled to the Island of Patmos.  While John was on that island, he wrote, 
"I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day."  

John saw some marvelous visions or revelations he shared with the brethren who were being persecuted to give them the hope of eternal life.  

The church in Smyrna was a group of suffering Christians and was one of only two churches the Lord had nothing bad to say against.  Some of these persecuted brethren suffered imprisonment and poverty.  Domitian, the Roman Emperor of that time, had thousands of Christians killed because they confessed their faith in Jesus Christ.  

The Lord spoke through John, urging these brethren to "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:10)

The Lord knew the works and tribulations of the church in Smyrna.  He knew they were suffering and enduring saints.  Our Lord knows our fears, infirmities, and the trials we face because He experienced the same thing at the hands of Satan.  He had been there!  (Hebrews 4:15)

The Lord tells them to "be faithful unto death." And, He will give them "a crown of life."

We must acknowledge that though this letter was written to them, we can still apply those same principles to our lives.  What will happen if we aren't faithful unto death? There will not be a crown of life for us!

In Roman culture, this crown of life, the Stephanos Crown of Life, represented the Crown of Victory. They understood what He meant.  The Lord wants us to not only be suffering saints but enduring saints.  He gave these brethren hope and gives us that same hope today.  He declared that those who overcome shall not be hurt by the second death. Suffering saints who endure win! Those suffering and enduring saints who overcome until the end will not gain just a crown but will go to Heaven forever.

How do we endure? By having our sins washed away. God washes away sin from our metaphysical body. He adds us to His church, and we become Christians.  When Christians are faithful unto death, we overcome and receive a crown of life.  Thus we must continue being steadfast and faithful unto death.  It is the only road to victory!  Faithfulness to God is not just showing up and warming a pew on Sunday.  Faithfulness is obedient faith that dies to sin and walks in newness of life.  Since we are baptized into Jesus’ death, we must repent of sins and die to sins.  Our dead body of sin must be buried. We are buried in water baptism so that our souls can come in contact with the blood of Jesus. God requires obedience to save us from the death of sin.  
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”  (Romans 6:1-4)


In Peter’s second letter, he gives the same instruction.  By the way, Peter is writing to Christians, “those who have obtained like precious faith with us…” (2 Pet. 1:1).  He instructs these Christians, saying, 
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election (their eternal salvation) sure….” 

He goes on to say, 
“For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:10-11)  

The phrase “for so” carries the meaning “as a result of.”  You see, the diligent faithfulness of these Christians would result in their being given a home in Heaven.  

Someone might ask, 
What of John, writing about a brother in Christ committing a sin “leading to death” (1 Jn. 5:16)

Do you remember what John stated earlier?  He stated, 
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9)  

Here, the word “if” is conditional.  
What if a Christian, having sinned, does not confess his sins?  

Paul declared, 
“For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23).


Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has also warned us to be sober and vigilant, 
“Because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8)  

 

But how can the devil “devour” a saved Christian if that Christian cannot be lost once he is saved?  

The warning is that a Christian can lose his/her salvation if they do not remain diligently faithful.  That is why Jesus stressed to be  “faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)  

In Hebrews 12:1, we are admonished to run our race of faith with endurance.  God expects us to run this race to the end (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Baptism is the beginning of a life lived in faithfulness or loyalty. We know and believe that God is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  We also believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 20:30, 31).  We believe that salvation from sin is available to men by the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).

Because of the preaching of the Gospel, we believe our faithfulness must become the most vital and abiding pursuit of our lives. We must love God above any person or thing.   Consider the words of Jesus to the church in Smyrna: 
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10

The context of this statement shows that our faithfulness is literally a matter of life or death.  

Therefore, each Christian must resolve to remain faithful to God until death despite persecution and death.  We must also examine our faith and evaluate everything we have been taught, every aspect of our lives to be approved by God.  We must believe that God has prepared a home for the faithful and that a crown is waiting for those who finish the race well. Faithfulness to God is vital to running the race set before us to the end.  God provides the strength to endure, get up and keep running.  Because of God’s love and sacrifice, we can live in faithfulness to Him despite Satan’s most horrifying taunts or enticing allurements, and we must if we want to receive our crown and go to Heaven.

The crown of life makes it all worth it! 


May we remain faithful to the very end.  May we keep our focus on the crown of life and Heaven. May we always remember that this world is not our home and we are just passing through.   May we set our minds on things above (Col. 3:2).  May we keep our eyes upon Heaven, for one day, all who are in Christ will be glorified with Him for all eternity!

~Luci



Monday, August 15, 2022

PREACH THE WORD!

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. 3 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, and fulfill your ministry. “ 
2 Timothy 4:1-5



The closing of this 2nd letter to Timothy is a farewell. Paul’s final words to his beloved Timothy bring tears to my eyes because I don’t like goodbyes.  Paul concludes this letter by stressing to Timothy the need to be steadfast in the faith during difficult times. He urges Timothy and us to endure and finish the race well. 
 
In the final chapter of Paul’s letter to Timothy, he charges him to continue steadfast in his work as an evangelist (1 Timothy 5:21).  Perhaps, Paul is encouraging Timothy to continue doing what God called him to do because he had stopped preaching and teaching the Gospel.  Paul warned Timothy that difficult times would come shortly because of false teachers, wicked doctrines, and ungodliness  (2 Tim. 3:1-7, 9, 13). These erring men would reach the point that they would not tolerate sound doctrine or healthy teaching.  Paul used the term “sound doctrine” in his two letters to Timothy to point out how men would not bear what is healthy because it exposes their error and ungodliness (1 Tim. 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13;  4:3). They wanted to continue living in sin.  Such brethren prefer to feel good about their sinful ways instead of the shame and guilt they should rightly feel.  They seek out those preachers and teachers who make them feel good about their sins (2 Timothy 3:6).  

Isaiah, the prophet, warned the people of his time, saying,
“For they are a rebellious people,  lying children, children unwilling to hear  the instruction of the Lord; 10 who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things,  prophesy illusions, eave the way, turn aside from the path,  let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.’ 12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word  and trust in oppression and perverseness  and rely on them, 13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you  like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse,  whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; 14 and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel  that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found  with which to take fire from the hearth,  or to dip up water out of the cistern.”’ (Isa. 30:9-14). 

These people had “itching ears” to hear something other than the Truth, so they could never come to a knowledge of the Truth. Though they were always learning, they did not love the Truth because it was not what they wanted. They “turn away their ears from the truth.”  Today is no different, for we have the same heart and mindset among brethren. 
  1. They reject the Truth because it condemns their lifestyle. 
  2. They are hard-hearted and want to continue living in sin and error. 

Men’s philosophies and manufactured doctrines do not condemn and bring shame.  They do not compel us to change or repent.  They can only comfort us for a while.  

In chapter 3 of this letter, Paul contrasts false teachers and those who oppose the Truth with Timothy.  
  1. He urges Timothy to preach the Word of God in all its purity, even though it would bring hardship to his life.  
  2. That same urgent message applies to us today.  
  3. Paul reminded Timothy about the value and power of the Scriptures.  All Scriptures are God’s breath and are profitable for reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.  
  4. Paul charged Timothy to preach the Word because Jesus will judge the living and the dead (2 Tim. 4:1-2).  

Can you understand now why preaching and teaching the Word of God is so important?   

He charged Timothy to preach the Word despite opposition and difficult times. Paul took that charge very seriously because he loved the souls of men and feared for their eternal destiny.  Thus he compelled Timothy and us to be ready to preach God’s message all the time, in season and out of season, with longsuffering! Are we doing that?  


I.   PAUL’S CHARGE TO TIMOTHY:
“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. 3 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.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

  • Jesus Will Judge The Living And The Dead:  
“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 Timothy 4:1)

The word “charge” (diamarturomai) is the same word found in 1 Timothy 5:21.   It is defined as “to make a solemn (of a serious nature) affirmation; to make a solemn and earnest charge (to entrust with a duty, responsibility, or obligation).” 
    1. Paul’s first charge to Timothy is to do the work of a sound and faithful evangelist without fail because Christ will judge the living and the dead just as sure as when Jesus came in the flesh and established His kingdom (John 5:28-29; Acts 17:30-31).  
    2. That judgment will take place when Christ appears again for the final time (2 Thessalonians 2:8;  1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:10;  Titus 2:13).  
    3. Paul lived in the hope of Christ’s imminent return.  
    4. Paul knew that when Christ returned, all humanity would see the majesty and glory of Christ’s kingdom.  
    5. Every knee shall bow to Him, and every tongue shall confess Him (Romans 14:11). 

That’s why Paul charged Timothy to “preach the word” despite opposition.  
  1. We cannot teach or preach only when it is convenient, safe, or favorable.   
  2. We must correct, rebuke, and encourage with longsuffering when we teach.  
  3. We must be willing to preach or teach the Gospel even when it is difficult.  
  4. We must not bend to our culture or government’s pressure that might prevent us from sharing the Gospel Message or the good news of Jesus. 
  5. We must not shrink back during difficult times.  
  6. Many souls need to hear the Gospel to be saved because God will judge them on the last day (John 12:48; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

  • Preach The Word:
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Paul’s second charge to Timothy is to preach the Word and be ready in season and out of season. Timothy’s preaching was to be “urgent in season.” 
    1. He must be ready to preach anytime and everywhere (Romans 12:12).  
    2. He must be willing to preach when it is not convenient for him.  

When we love our Lord, His Word, and the souls of men, we fix our minds on preaching and teaching the Gospel. Nothing will prevent us from preaching the Truth to people, even when some do not want to hear it. There is no need to apologize for teaching the Truth, for that would be an attempt to bind God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:9, 13, 19). God’s Truth must be preached no matter the circumstances.  We must not change the standards of God’s Word because we are afraid we might hurt someone’s feelings, shame them or expose their religious practices as errors.
    1. Timothy must “reprove” people. To “reprove” (elegzon) is “to put to proof, to test; to convict... to detect, lay bare, expose.” “To find fault with, correct; to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove; show one his fault, demand an explanation” (Thayer 203). He must reprove to make sinners feel the prick of their hearts.  Timothy must convince people of the Truth of the Scriptures and let them see their need for it (John 20:30-31;  2 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:15).
    2. Timothy must “rebuke” (epitimeson) - “to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, reprove, censure severely” (Thayer 245).  Paul charged him to reprove sharply, to reprimand with authority.  He must rebuke those Christians living in sin (Matthew 8:26; 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15;  Jude 1:9).  Preachers and teachers must never forget they are preaching and teaching God’s Word to others.  They must revere God’s Word.
    3. Timothy must have no fear or the favor of men to perform this charge.  
    4. Timothy must “exhort” (parakaleson) - “a calling upon... beseech, entreat, implore... incitement, persuasion...”  Paul charged Timothy to encourage those who were struggling in their Christian walk (Romans 12:8).  Struggling Christians can be uplifted when they are encouraged by the Word of God (1 Timothy 4:13).  Timothy must persuade people to live godly in Christ Jesus.
    5. Timothy must preach with “all longsuffering” (makrothumia) - “patient enduring of evil, fortitude... slowness of avenging injuries, forbearance, clemency.” He must do all things with great patience and careful instruction.  Every preacher and teacher must be patient and careful when teaching if they want to change people’s behavior and beliefs, especially our opponents (Romans 2:4;  Romans 9:22;  2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 1:11;  Colossians 3:12; 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 2:25).
    6. Timothy must be patient and endure the evil and sufferings of the wicked. Why?  Because some might come to repentance or change their sinful ways and wrong teaching.
    7. Timothy must be given to “teaching” (didaxe) - “instruction, the giving of instruction, teaching.” Those who teach the Gospel must instruct or teach all, confronting error.  
    8. We must remember that the power is in God’s Word, not the preacher or the teacher (Hebrews 4:12).

  • Sound Teaching Is Not What Itching Ears Want to Hear:
“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.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

In chapter 3, Paul warned Timothy of difficult times to happen in the near future because of false teachers and evildoers (2 Tim. 3:1-7, 9, 13).  This is most likely the time Paul spoke in 2 Timothy 3:1 as “the last days.” This would be a time when many would not be content listening to God’s Word (1 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 1:13).  There would come a time when they “will not endure the sound doctrine.” Why?  Because they would have “itching ears” (knethomenoi).  
    1. They would rather feel good about their ungodliness than feel the shame and the guilt of sin. 
    2. They would not tolerate sound teaching. 
    3. Instead, they would accumulate teachers who agree with them and teach what they want to hear to accomplish their desires or passions.   

However, Paul commanded Timothy and us to teach the Truth from the Scriptures because people will want to hear what satisfies their own desires. Sadly, this is one of the prevalent reasons we have so many different kinds of churches today.  Often, people do not leave the church because of doctrinal error or false teaching but because they want to hear what suits their sinful lifestyle.  They want teachers who give them what they want!  Paul urged Timothy to preach the Word and not surrender to these passions or desires.  The solution is more of God’s Word and not less. When people have itching ears, they seek teachers who will provide entertainment, coffee, donuts, meals, and emotional experience. Their main focus is carnal and not spiritual.  

In the Gospel of John, Jesus showed us this very problem.  After Jesus fed the 5,000, the crowds sought Him and found Him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. But listen carefully to what Jesus told the crowd when they found Him. 
“Truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.” (John 6:26–27

Jesus knows the intentions of our hearts.  He knew why they had come to Him.  
    1. They came to Him for the wrong reasons.  
    2. They did not seek Jesus because they wanted to accept the signs they saw.  
    3. They were seeking Jesus to feed them again!  

Often, people claim to believe in Jesus, but what they really want is to find someone who will satisfy their physical desiresThey seek teachers who will give them what they want.  They are not hungry and thirsty for God’s Truth.


  • They Will Turn Away From The Truth:
“And will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:4)

    1. These brethren will turn away from God’s Word because they want to listen to preachers and teachers who say things they want to hear.  
    2. They teach and preach only those things that suit the desires of their hearers (Isaiah 30:10; Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18; 2 Timothy 3:7-8; Hebrews 5:11).  
    3. These brethren will turn away from the Truth and turn to myths or fables (1 Timothy 1:4-6; Titus 1:14).   Why?  Because they have given up the Truth to satisfy their futile minds with senseless arguments about anything that is not from God’s Word.  Paul was not talking about the myths of the Greeks or anything like that, but rather about anything that is not the Truth of God’s Word.  In a few words, Paul was talking about false teaching or fabrication.  

As Paul said, these men are always learning but cannot come to the knowledge of the Truth because they don’t want to hear it, and it is not what they want in their lives.  They “turn away their ears from the truth.” 

    1. They reject the Truth and refuse to hear it because it condemns their sinful ways and actions.  
    2. These brethren are hard-hearted, fixed, and determined to have it their way.  
    3. Of course, their ways of error and wrongdoing:  the path of unrighteousness, the broad path that leads to destruction.   
    4. They are comfortable listening to fables, stories, tales, and the like instead of looking to the Truth of God.  
    5. Paul associated these myths or fables earlier with endless genealogies and profane or irreverent wives’ fables that promote empty speculations rather than God’s Truth (1 Timothy 1:3-4, 4: 7).  
    6. You see, these untruths do not condemn, cause shame or call for repentance.  They comfort where God does not.  

Sadly, many churches are buying into this carnal mindset.  
    1. They are not interested in hearing sound preaching and teaching.  
    2. They only care about numbers and people coming back.  
    3. Their preaching and teaching have no substance because they focus on making people feel good with their empty words.  
    4. Today it is rare to hear preaching about hell, repentance, and judgment.  They are just too offensive to the audience.  
    5. They are afraid of being rejected for preaching and teaching the Truth (Mark 7:1-9). 
    6. They sell the Truth and compromise it!  Think about it! 
    7. So what you get is just crumbs and nothing else.

  • Be Sober-Minded And Endure Suffering or Hardship:
“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5)

In verse 5 of our text, Paul urges Timothy to “be sober-minded.” That is, Timothy must be watchful against any false teaching and sinHe must be faithful in his work as an evangelist or teacher of the Word of God (Matthew 25:13; 1 Corinthians 16:13).  Paul repeatedly contrasted false teachers and those who oppose the Truth to Timothy and us.  Preaching and teaching the Word of God in all its purity will likely bring hardship in our lives. We have been warned. Paul warned and reminded Timothy of three things:
    1. Timothy must be “sober” (nepse).  It means "to be calm, and collected in spirit; to be temperate, dispassionate, and circumspect" (Thayer 425).  "Circumspect" is "to be self-possessed under all circumstances” (AG 538). “Heedful of circumstances or consequences” (AHD 275).  Timothy must allow people to get under his skin to the point of being discouraged or defeated. It is good and wise to be calm and collected when dealing with the erring, for it is easier to declare the Truth of the Word of God. Preachers and teachers must realize that the problem that people have is not with the messenger but with hearing and obeying the Truth.  Those who hold the Truth have nothing to fear from the erring.  As messengers of God, we must thicken our skin to be effective preachers and teachers!  
    2. Timothy must “suffer hardship or suffering” (Acts 9:16; Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 1:18;  2 Timothy 2:3).  Paul had warned Timothy earlier of hardship and persecutions as part of our walk of faith.  Why?  Because people were not going to put up with it or tolerate sound doctrine anymore.  You see, sound doctrine shames them and makes them feel guilty and in need of the Truth to repent (2 Tim. 3:12).  It is a fact that those who preach and teach the Truth will face plenty of opposition and hardship.  Timothy, as Paul said, must suffer rather than seek a way to avoid conflict, hardship, and suffering (Gal. 6:12-13). 
    3. Timothy must “do the work of an evangelist.” The word “evangelist” (euaggelistou) means one who announces glad tidings; an evangelist, preacher of the Gospel, teacher of the Gospel. The work of the Gospel preacher or evangelist has been Paul’s main focus to Timothy in his two letters to him.  
      • A good preacher and teacher studies the Word of God with diligence to present it in all its purity (1 Tim. 1:5-7; 4:13; 2 Tim. 2:15). 
      • He fights the good fight of faith.  He fights against those who teach error and false doctrines that oppose the Truth of God (1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12). 
      • He warns the brethren of the dangers of false doctrines and worldliness (1Tim. 4:6). 
      • He is a sound teacher of the Truth, for he loves the Truth (1 Tim. 4:11). 
      • He is not a hypocrite, for he lives what he preaches (1 Tim. 6:13-14). 
      • He is ready to expose error and sin, for he rebukes, corrects, and encourages with great patience and teaching (2 Tim. 4:2). 
      • He promotes godliness through his teachings (2 Tim. 4:2).
      • He is longsuffering, slow to anger, and always exercises self-control (2 Tim. 4:2). 

By doing these things, he would fulfill his ministry. The word “ministry” means service. Timothy would fulfill his ministry by teaching the Truth no matter the outcome. All preachers and teachers must fulfill this task for the Truth to remain pure and truthful. 


II.   PAUL’S EXAMPLE OF FINISHING WELL:
“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.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

  • Paul is Ready For His Departure:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” (2 Timothy 4:6)

In verse 6, Paul is ready to depart from this world. The time had come for Paul’s departure from this world.  He is aware that his life is coming to an end and that his time to die is near.  
  1. Paul looked toward this moment, for he said to die is gain (Philippians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:14).  
  2. Paul was ready to be poured out like a "drink offering"(Philippians 1:23; Philippians 2:17; 2 Peter 1:14). He describes his life as being poured out as a drink offering.  
  3. He compared himself to the wine that was poured out beside the altar in the Jewish sacrifices (Numbers 15:1-10). 

Paul’s farewell words in this verse moved me deeply!  I have seen very dear loved ones breathe their last breath.  It is hard to say goodbye, even when you know they’ll be with the Lord.  Paul is near death not because of old age but because of his work in proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord and Savior. Paul’s time of death was probably around A.D. 67From tradition, we know that Paul was beheaded in Roman imprisonment during the reign of Nero.

  • Paul Fought The Good Fight of Faith Victoriously:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Paul was ready and aware of what was waiting for him and us.  He confidently declared that in verse 7.  
    1. Paul looked at his life and said with confidence and satisfaction that he had run the race well and kept the faith. Such words move me and encourage me! Paul’s charge to Timothy was to “fight the good fight of faith...” (1 Tim. 6:12; 1 Tim. 1:18). 
    2. That fight of faith was against false teachers and evildoers and the persecution against the saints.  Paul waged war against these men, and now it was time to pass the baton to faithful and fearless men who would put pressure on the ungodly (1 Cor. 15:12; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:16; 1 Tim. 1:19- 20, etc.). 
    3. Paul’s days of warfare had come to an end as his death was approaching.  He would no longer suffer at the hands of wicked men (2 Cor. 11:22ff).  He would no longer be looked upon as a “spectacle among men... a fool... weak... suffer hunger, thirst, nakedness, and no place to sleep... defamed and counted as the filth of the world” (1 Cor. 4:9-13). 
    4. He had remained faithful to the Lord through all his trials. 
    5. Through it all, Paul was never ashamed of the Gospel message (Rom. 1:16). 

Paul’s exemplary life of service and devotion to the Lord is an inspiration to my walk with my Lord!

  • A Crown of Righteousness Awaits Paul:
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.” (2 Timothy 4:8)

Paul knew what would lay ahead for him when he departed from this life.  
    1. He knew he would receive a crown of righteousness. The crown was a metaphor.  The literal crown in his time was a laurel wreath placed upon the head of a conquering king.  This was the physical victory crown that conquering kings wore when they returned from battle.   
    2. The spiritual victory crown was reserved for Paul (1 Corinthians 9:25;  James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10). 
    3. Paul remained faithful to the work God had entrusted him to do and to his faith.  
    4. Thus, Paul was confident he would receive his “crown of righteousness” from Jesus Himself when Christ returns (2 Timothy 1:12).  
    5. This is Judgment Day (2 Peter 3:13).  
      • The day which all Christians look forward to and hope for.  
      • The day they hope to be rewarded with their own “crown of righteousness” if they remain faithful as Paul did (Revelation 1:7;  Revelation 22:20).  
      • That must be our most important goal in life!

There was no glorious crown upon Paul’s head, nor will there be upon ours while living in this world.  Paul suffered as a mad man, for the world viewed him that way (2 Cor. 5:13), inept (2 Cor. 11:5), and cowardly (2 Cor. 10:10). Despite this terrible treatment from others, the time of his glorification had now come.  
    1. This glorious crown would never be taken away by evildoers (1 Pet. 5:4). 
    2. He would now be exalted rather than debased because he had been faithful to our Lord Jesus (1 Pet. 5:6). 
    3. This crown of righteousness, exaltation, and glory would be given not only to Paul but also to all faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Those who have suffered because of persecution and evildoers as they presented the Truth and lived it out. 

Don’t we all anticipate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ anxiously to bring us home with Him and to eternal glory?!


III.   PAUL’S FINAL REQUEST TO TIMOTHY:
“Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.” (2 Timothy 4:9-12)

  • Alone:
“Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia."  (2 Timothy 4:10)

Paul’s final words to Timothy are an urgent request.  Why?  Because Paul urges Timothy to come to Rome quickly to see him before he dies. 
  1. Paul wants to spend his last hours with his beloved friend and traveling companion.  Perhaps, Paul felt lonely and distressed because brethren were falling away from the faith to avoid persecution.  
  2. Demas, mentioned in our text, deserted Paul when he needed him and went to Thessalonica, for he loved this world (Matthew 6:19-34; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; 1 John 2:15). 
  3. Demas was once a faithful brother in Christ (Colossians 4:14;  Philemon 24).  He was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment (Col. 4:14; Phile. 24).  
  4. Demas went back to the pleasures of this world because they were more dear to him than suffering for the cause of Christ.  

Titus was a Gentile (Galatians 2:1-4), who Paul led to faith in Christ (Titus 1:4). He worked side by side with Paul preaching the Gospel (Acts 15:2;  2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16-17;  2 Corinthians 2:12-13;  2 Corinthians 7:6-7; 2 Corinthians 7:13-14;  2 Corinthians 8:10; 2 Corinthians 8:17;  2 Corinthians 8:24).  Titus was left behind in Crete to continue and strengthen the work when he and Paul went there (Titus 1:5; Titus 3:12).  Paul stated in verse 10 that Titus had gone to Dalmatia, although, just like Crescens, we’re not told why he went there.  

Since all of Paul’s companions had left for various reasons, it is easy to understand why Paul wants Timothy to come quickly to see him. Demas is the only one who deserted Paul in our context.  That implies that Crescens and Titus left Paul to carry on the work of sharing the Gospel.

In verses 11-12, Paul said, 
“Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.”  

  1. Luke was the only one that was with Paul.  
  2. Luke was a Physician.  
  3. He was with Paul during his first arrest in Judea and his first imprisonment when he went to Rome.  
  4. For a considerable part of Paul’s ministry, Luke was his traveling companion (Acts 16:10;  Acts 27:1).  
  5. Luke, “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14), continued with Paul in his times of distress.  

It is interesting that Paul asked Timothy to bring Mark with him.  Why?  Because on his first missionary journey, when both Paul and Barnabas left Antioch, both got into a sharp disagreement over Mark, and both Barnabas and Mark left for Cyprus (Acts 13:13; Acts 15:36-41).  However, it is remarkable that Paul asked Timothy to bring him to Rome because he was useful to him.  It implies that now Mark has grown and matured as a Christian, and the two have reconciled their differences and become close companions.  

As mentioned in verse 12, Tychicus was Paul’s beloved brother in Christ and a faithful evangelist in the Lord.  He worked sharing the Gospel in Asia Minor (Acts 20:4;  Ephesians 6:21;  Colossians 4:7;  Titus 3:12). No one knows why he sent him to Ephesus, although some suggest that Paul was "in the process of sending him to Ephesus," where he could deliver this letter to Timothy.

In verse 13, Paul makes one more final request to Timothy.
“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” (2 Timothy 4:13)

  1. Paul had left behind his coat when he went to Troas (Acts 16:8) and was now in need of it to keep him warm in the colder months of winter ( 2 Timothy 4:21).  
  2. Paul also asked Timothy to bring the “books” (biblia) or scrolls and the “parchments” (membranas).  
    • The scrolls were rolls of paper made from the papyrus plant.  Perhaps Paul was referring to portions of the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15) or scrolls written by himself.  We are not told.  
    • The “parchments” that Paul needed were made of tanned animal skins.  They were used to write on them.  They were also called “vellum.” 
    • The “parchments” were different from the scrolls; perhaps they were Paul’s writings from the New Testament.  Some Bible students have suggested that these “parchments” were unfinished letters or letters written from churches.  Again we are not told much.

  • Hurt:
“Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.” (2 Timothy 4:14-15)

Alexander stabbed Paul in the back.  Paul mentions that Alexander did great harm to him. We are not told exactly what Alexander did to harm Paul.  The Scriptures mention four Alexanders in connection with Paul’s work.   Alexander, the coppersmith, is most likely the same person Paul mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20 and Acts 19:33.  
  1. Alexander, the kindred of the High Priest (Acts 4:6).
  2. Alexander, the town clerk of Ephesus (Acts 19:33ff).
  3. Alexanderwho refused to repent, and Paul delivered his soul to Satan (1 Tim. 1:20).
  4. Alexander of 2 Tim. 4:14who did much evil and harm to Paul and his work (2 Tim. 4:14-15). 

This brother in Christ is another example of those Paul mentioned earlier in chapter three of this same letter who claimed to be a follower of Christ but opposed Paul, his teachings, and his work (2 Timothy 2:17-18).  When someone harms us for teaching and proclaiming the Gospel, he is actually harming God’s work.  Because this man had harmed Paul’s work of proclaiming the Gospel, God was going to judge him or repay him for the damage he caused Paul and his work (Deuteronomy 32:35; Acts 19:33; Romans 12:19; 1 Timothy 1:20; Hebrews 10:30).  Paul warned Timothy to be aware or on guard against him because he strongly opposed the Gospel message.  He was an unrepentant brother who had no respect for God’s authority.  Paul firmly said to Timothy, “beware” of this man.  In a few words, Timothy must keep watch and keep guard.  

  • Deserted But Rescued:
“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:16-18)

    • Paul’s First Defense in His Roman Trial: 
“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!” (2 Timothy 4:16

Paul speaks in verse 16 about his initial trial before Nero’s court.  He was no stranger to giving defense in a trial setting (Acts 24:10; 25:8, 16; 26:2, 24). He said no one supported or stood by him at his first defense as a sympathizer, and everyone had deserted him.  It looks like even Luke was not with him during his first defense.  It was a time of high stress and distress for Paul and those few who were with him.  How sad that Paul was abandoned by almost everyone when he needed them the most, just because they were afraid to suffer the same afflictions and persecutions! It reminds me of Job (Job 19:13-17).  That had to be painful!   

Imagine feeling forsaken and forgotten when you’re going through high stress and affliction, and no one is there to encourage and strengthen you! 

Yet, this is precisely what our Lord and Savior experienced during his darkest and final moments here on earth. Everyone deserted our Lord and ran away!  

Those who claim to be Jesus’ followers and Paul’s supporters hurt them with their actions.  Despite this, Paul said, 
“May it not be charged (counted) against them!”  

  1. Although they hurt Paul and had wronged him, he did not speak ill of them and instead asked the Lord to forgive them for their wrong decisions.  
  2. He did not hold that against them!  
  3. It reminds me of Stephen and our Lord Jesus (Luke 23:43; Acts 7:59-60).  
  4. Paul understood why they deserted him.  
  5. He also acknowledged that he was not completely alone and forsaken, for the Lord stood by him, by his side (Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalm 27:10; Job 5:17-19; Isaiah 14:1-2).

In verse 17, Paul said that the Lord strengthened him even though everyone had deserted him.  
“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.“

I love this verse!  

It is uplifting and speaks of God’s lovingkindness and faithfulness during our trials and difficulties.
    1. Paul acknowledged that the Lord stood by his side and strengthened him though all had forsaken him in his hour of intense trial.  
    2. He knew he could do all things through Jesus’ strength (Phil. 4:13).  
    3. It is remarkable that though Paul was on trial for his life before Nero, he had the right presence of mind to take advantage and preach the Gospel to the Gentile audience that was present. 
    4. God’s strength helped him preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16; Romans 1:10; Phil. 1:12).  
    5. Paul was well-known for taking advantage of every open door or opportunity to preach the Gospel (Acts chapters 22, 24, 26).   
    6. He never gave up because the Lord was beside him and strengthened him.  
    7. The Lord had not only strengthened Paul to preach the Gospel, but He also rescued him “from the lion’s mouth.” That is the verdict of death by Roman judgment from Nero.  
    8. Paul encouraged Timothy previously to keep pressing forward without fear because the Lord would rescue him from evildoers or wicked men (2 Timothy 3:10-11).  
    9. He also reminded Timothy and us that God knows how to protect His children and bring them home to Him even in death.   

IV.   FINAL GREETINGS:
“Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. 21 Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.  22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” (2 timothy 4:19-22)

In verses 19-22, Paul begins with a final doxology as he contemplates the gracious and glorious heavenly Father. 
 “Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus” (2 Timothy 4:19). 

Priscilla and Aquila (husband and wife) worked closely with Paul on many of his evangelistic journeys.  
  1. They helped Paul establish a new church and were instrumental in their edification (Acts 18:2; Acts 18:18-20; Romans 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19). 
  2. Paul greeted both Priscilla and Aquila because they dedicated themselves to the preaching of the Gospel with others (Acts 8:4).   
  3. They also shared the same trade as tentmakers with Paul (Acts 18:2).  

Onesiphorus had apparently spent time with Paul in prison and had moved on (2 Tim. 1:16). We are not told much about Onesiphorus.  However, Paul describes him well in 2 Timothy 1:16.
  1. Onesiphorus means “profit bringer” or “help bringer,” and that’s precisely what he was doing with Paul. 
  2. Onesiphorus was a continual blessing to Paul and his work (Philemon 20). 
  3. He often refreshed Paul
  4. He looked after Paul’s needs as Paul continued to preach the Gospel to the lost. 
  5. He wasn’t ashamed of Paul’s chains.  
  6. Onesiphorus was not ashamed to have a friend and brother in Christ in prison and be associated with Paul (Acts 28:20; Philippians 1:15-18;  Colossians 4:3; Colossians 4:18; Philemon 1:10; Philemon 1:13-14; Philemon 1:16).
  7. He searched for Paul until he found him.  And though Rome was a huge city, Onesiphorus went from place to place to find Paul (Matthew 25:36).

 

“Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.” (2 Timothy 4:20)

Erastus was the treasurer of the city of Corinth (Rom. 16:23). 
  1. When Paul preached in Ephesus for over two years, every Jew and Greek who lived in Asia heard the Word (Acts 19:10).  
  2. When Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, he passed through Macedonia, where he saw an open door to preach the Gospel.  He sent Erastus and Timothy to Macedonia to preach the Gospel in Macedonia (Acts 19:22).  Paul mentions him here in this verse. 
  3. It appears that Erastus had returned home sick and was there at the time of this letter. 

Trophimus was a man of Asia who accompanied Paul on his third preaching journey at some point (Acts 20:4; Acts 21:29). 
  1. He is the Ephesian Gentile that was with Paul in Jerusalem.  
  2. The Jews accused Paul of bringing him unlawfully into the temple (Acts 21:29).   
  3. They raised a tumult that resulted in Paul’s imprisonment.  

 

“Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.  22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”  (2 Timothy 4:21-22)


Paul ends this letter by reminding and urging Timothy to do his best to come to him before winter arrives (2 Timothy 4:9).  Paul didn’t have much time left to live. Apparently, he wanted his long-time companion and beloved friend Timothy with him.  And though there is little known about Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia, they and all other brethren from Rome sent their greetings to Timothy.  They were not ashamed to be associated with Paul as a preacher of the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:12-18).  

Paul’s final words to Timothy are from his heart,
“The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” (2 Timothy 4:22)
  1. Paul, more than anyone, understood the need for the Grace of God because he had received it himself. 
  2. Paul’s hope is that Timothy and we would always walk in Truth to receive God’s glorious and gracious promises.  
  3. Paul had finished his race of faith and had fulfilled his ministry well.  
  4. He was ready to die and receive his reward.  
  5. He wanted Timothy and all of us to do the same.  

So, how will you finish? Will you finish like Paul? 


CONCLUSION:

The study of this second letter to Timothy from Paul has been uplifting and refreshing to my soul.  I have benefited immensely from Paul’s written wordsThey have strengthened my faith and my walk with my Lord.  In this letter, Paul reminds us of the race that God has set before us and that we must finish well.  To finish that race well, we must proclaim the Word, for they are the sacred Scriptures that can make us wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).  They can also make us complete, lacking nothing (2 Timothy 3:17).  Our teaching and instruction must come from the Word.  We cannot finish the race victoriously unless we learn and grow in that Word and teach that Word to others.  The Word must be taught because we will face the judgment of God, both the living and the dead.  We all must appear in judgment (2 Cor. 5:9-11).  The Word must be proclaimed in season and out of seasonThe Word must be proclaimed whether it is convenient or not.  

Paul warned Timothy about the need for diligence in preaching the Word of God at all times.  Why?  
  1. Because people will not endure sound doctrine.  
  2. They were going to gather themselves teachers according to their own desires.  
  3. They were going to have tickling or itching ears.  
  4. They were going to turn their ears away from the Truth and be turned aside to fables or myths.  

They will turn away from the Truth to find their own teachers to tell them what they want to hear, like Ahab in 2 Chronicles 18:7Nothing has changed today.  Why?  
  1. Because we have many, who desire to do what feels good and right to them without regard to the Truth.  
  2. Because they are enslaved to sin (John 8:34).  
  3. Sadly, they will miss heaven.  

Throughout this letter, Paul contrasts the evil false teachers and Timothy several times.  Paul has charged Timothy to do the serious work of an evangelist, though Paul knew the heartaches and pain that came with such work.  He exhorted Timothy to be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist and fulfill his ministry.  As Paul looked back on his life, he found satisfaction because he had faithfully served the Lord and accomplished what He had entrusted him to do.  Paul was confident as he looked forward to Judgment Day and the heavenly kingdom.  He could joyfully proclaim, “I am already being offered.” In other translations, it reads, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering.” As a drink offering poured upon the altar of God, Paul suffered for proclaiming the Gospel and for doing precisely the same work that he had charged Timothy to do.  Paul poured out his soul to Timothy to encourage Timothy to take his mantle and continue doing Paul’s work.  

Paul fought the good fight of faith.  He won his spiritual warfare as a good soldier of Christ.  He finished the task the Lord had given to him: to testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 9:15-16; Acts 20:23-24; Acts 21:12-14; 1 Timothy 6:12).  He finished the race, that is, the work of proclaiming the Gospel was complete (Philippians 3:14). The Christian race allows everyone who wants to take part to be winners if they finish the race well (Matthew 20:8; 2 Timothy 4:8).  Paul finished well because he kept the faith, that is, he remained faithful to the teachings of the Scriptures and defended them with all his heart and soul (Jude 3).  

Paul was confident that because of his godly life and faithful service to God, a crown of righteousness would be reserved for him and given to him on that day.  Paul also knew what was waiting for him and us, for he said, “…and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.” However, that crown of righteousness and glory can only be awarded to us if we fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.  It demands great endurance.  Paul had accomplished this in his life and was ready for the Lord’s appearing
  1.  Paul fought the good fight because he did not walk out of the ring.
  2. He did not stop fighting Satan’s work. 
  3. Paul finished the race well because he did not sit down during that race and give up.
  4. He endured and continued steadfastly in that race until he finished. 
  5. Paul kept the faith. 
  6. He did not let go of his faith when life became difficult because he held on to his faith and put his hope in that faith until his last breath.

The crown of life and glory demands great endurance and that we fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.  Paul ends this letter with some painful words.  Demas had deserted him because he loved this present world more than the world to come.  Demas labored with Paul in the preaching of the Gospel.  The pleasures of this world broke him.  We cannot finish the race if we love this world.  We cannot keep the faith, fight the good fight, and receive the crown at His appearing if we love this world. Listen to the apostle John’s words.
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. "  (1 John 2:15–17)

The love of the Father is not in us when we love this world.  When we love this world, we are going to failSatan will take our love for this world and press us to abandon the Lord.  You can rest assured of that!  Loving the world makes us weak and defenseless against the attacks of our adversary. Paul is writing this down about Demas to remind and warn us! 

In this letter, Paul also mentions Alexander. Alexander claimed to be a follower of Jesus but opposed Paul and his work, the preaching of the Gospel. Alexander stabbed Paul in the back. Alexander did great harm to him. As Paul stated earlier in chapter 3Alexander was one of those Paul described as lovers of self, only having an appearance of godliness.  That is why Paul urged Timothy to watch out for Alexander, just like he said earlier about all those false Christians Timothy must avoid (2 Timothy 3:5).

In Paul’s first defense, no one stood by him. Everyone deserted him. How painful this must have been!  They abandoned Paul when he needed them to strengthen him and be with himJesus experienced the same during his darkest moments on this earth.  Everyone deserted Him and ran away!  Yet Paul’s words in verse 16 were. “May it not be counted against them.” The brethren hurt Paul through their actions.  Although they wronged Paul, he asked the Lord to forgive them and not count it against them.  Paul was alone and hurt. How did he finish the race? Let us read 2 Timothy 4:17.
“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.” 

The Lord stood with Paul and gave him strength so he could preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16;  Romans 1:10;  Philippians 1:12).  Paul praised the Lord for rescuing him from every evil work and bringing him safely into the heavenly kingdom.  Despite all this forsaking and betrayal, it is remarkable that Paul kept his faith in God and trusted Him to help him carry him through.  It is a fact that everyone will let us down at some point!  

Indeed, our walk of faith is difficult, especially when we are persecuted for living a godly life in Christ Jesus.  However, Paul reminded Timothy and us to be faithful and loyal in serving the Lord until our last breath.  He urged Timothy to have self-control and endure hardship.  That same principle applies to us today.  So we must do the work God wants us to do and endure hardship.  God will not let us down, for He is faithful.  The Lord gave Paul the strength he needed. Paul reminded Timothy of what the Lord had done for him amid hurt and hardships so that he would be strong also.  The Lord will strengthen us also to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.

Paul wants to remind us that we are not alone even when we feel hurt, betrayed, and alone.  Paul reminds us of God’s steadfast love and protection even in death, for He wants to bring us home to Him.  We need Paul’s confidence in God.   
       
Thus, how will you finish? Will you finish like Paul? Although Paul was abandoned, alone, had no one to encourage him, and had great harm done to him, he did not allow those things to keep him from finishing the race of his faith. We must not stop fighting the fight but finish the race well when others hurt us, abandon us and let us down.  We must not fail, for we will lose what is waiting for us,  the crown of righteousness. We must not give in and let them take our reward away from us. We must not turn back and love this world, for we will lose what is laid up for us.  We must stand up in the faith, proclaim the Gospel, endure hardship and finish the race victoriously.  Let us stand up for Christ and His righteousness when it is convenient and when it is inconvenient!

May we finish our race of faith well, proclaim the Word, for they are the sacred Scriptures that can make us wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus.  May we grow in God's Word to teach it to others and finish victoriously.   May we be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, and proclaim the Gospel to others to save them.  May we look back at the end of our lives and find satisfaction as Paul did because we have faithfully served our Lord.  May we keep the faith, remain faithful to the teachings of the Scriptures, and defend them with all our hearts and soul.  May we never love this world but rather fight our good fight of faith and keep our faith to finish well and receive our crown of righteousness reserved for us in heaven.


~Luci