Purpose of the Ministry.
Preach the Word: 4:1-4.
In Chapter 4, Paul gives his final instructions to Timothy. After thirty years of faithful service Paul is about to depart from this world. In light of what has been said in chapter three, this instruction is of utmost importance. It carries also divine authority and moral obligation to obey (1:1). Paul reminds Timothy that the day of Christ's appearing is at hand. He is going to reward believers for their faithful service at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10). Timothy is entrusted with five-fold responsibilities. Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke and exhort with great patience and doctrine (4:2). Timothy should preach the Word. In ancient times the emperors used to send heralds with their messages. They had to preach when it was convenient or when it was not convenient. The emperor’s word must be respected and obeyed. They must herald the message whether the reaction will be favorable or unfavorable. They were not allowed to add their views to the formal message of the Emperor. Timothy was told to stick with the Word of God and not to be afraid to reprove or rebuke and exhort but do it with patience and doctrine. Paul gives the reasons for his command. First "the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching". They want to hear what pleases them. Many teachers are tempted to bow to people's desire. People will turn away from the truth to listening myths. When preaching lacks accuracy, clarity, relevance and simplicity, listeners will be confused and discouraged. Exhortation means to comfort and encourage. The ministry of reproof and rebuke must be balanced.
Reasons for preaching: 4:5-8.
Paul warns that people will look for teachers who would entertain and tell them what they want to hear. These false teachers reject the truth and follow strange myths. We have come to such a time now.. Those who preach sound doctrines need our prayers to remain faithful. Paul exhorts Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. Our ministry must have an evangelist purpose. If preachers don’t set an example in this area they cannot expect others to become witnesses for Christ (1 Cor 11:1). Timothy is exhorted to be watchful and willing to endure hardship to fulfill the ministry entrusted to him (4:5). There is urgency in Paul’s request because souls are at stake. The second reason for Paul’s exhortation is that his ministry was almost over and he is going to be poured out as a drink offering soon. He linked his death to a drink offering (Phil 2:17). Paul wants that the work of the gospel must continue after he is gone. For Paul death was rest from labor and a promotion and knew that he was going to be relieved of his yoke. It is a release from the curse of sin and entrance to the bliss of heaven. Reviewing his life, Paul could say that he fulfilled the ministry. He fought a good fight of faith, he finished the race God set before him and he kept the faith. Paul was a faithful guardian of the truth and he passed it on to others (4:6-7). He never drifted from the Christian faith. He had no regret of a wasted life. Paul knew that a crown of righteousness is waiting for him. Nero may declare Paul guilty but the Lord would declare him righteous at the judgment seat of Christ. This is available to all those who love the appearing of Christ. What a day that will be! (Rev 4:10, 11). Pray that you remain faithful to the unshakable word of God.
Personal Remarks: 4:9-15.
Paul longed for Timothy’s companionship. He urged Timothy to come quickly because winter may prevent him from coming if he is late. Paul is disappointed that Demas, a fellow worker has deserted him. He loved the present world and gone to Thessalonica (4:10). Do not get discouraged when someone you trained lets you down. “Only Luke is with me”. Where are the rest? The disciples did the same thing to Jesus. “And they all forsook Him and fled” (Mark 14:50). Luke was loyal servant of God. He was with Paul during those lonely days. What a beloved physician! Paul asked Timothy to bring Mark with him, for he is very useful to him for ministry. Paul and Barnabas had a strong disagreement over Mark (Acts 13:13; 15:36-41). Later on Paul and mark were reconciled. How sad believers are unable to get reconciled. Probably Tychicus was the bearer of this Epistle . Paul is in the prison with winter drawing neigh. He remembers the coat and the books he left at Troas. Paul wants Timothy to bring those items. Also Paul warns Timothy of Alexander the copper smith. Timothy knew who he was. He had done great harm to the ministry. Paul identifies him not because of any personal grudge but wants to protect Timothy from being hurt. He was confident that the Lord will repay him according to his deeds (Rom 12:19).
In Paul’s first defense no one stood with him but it did not make him bitter. The Lord stood with Paul and strengthened him to preach the gospel. In his trial the Lord delivered him temporarily from lion or from Nero’s execution. Paul was confident that the Lord will rescue him from every evil and allow him to enter the heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 1:13). At last Paul greets his close associates by name, Priscilla and Aquila, the household of Onesiphorus and Erastus. Trophimus had been left sick at Miletus. He was not healed despite the presence of a doctor and an apostle. There is a reason for that in the eternal council of God. Paul request Timothy to come before winter. Paul ends his last letter by wishing God’s presence and His grace with all who read the letter. Christian life is a journey from grace to glory (4:22, 18). Pray that we may find our comfort, encouragement and hope in Christ. May God bless you!