A solemn charge: Devotional Commentary for October 27-November 2
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
1I solemnly 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:
2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Paul dedicated the first three chapters of his second letter to Timothy to preparing him for the solemn charge he conferred upon him as his mentor and spiritual father. In these three chapters, Timothy was sufficiently acquainted with the world around him, the church, the Lord Who saved him and called him to service, and ultimately with himself: a sinner saved by Grace and strengthened by the Spirit. He was equipped to do every good work ordained by God.
It was impressed upon Paul by the Holy Spirit that Timothy was brought into a reliable maturity in faith, knowledge, and understanding. It was time to thrust Timothy into an active ministry of preaching the Gospel and teaching the flock.
Paul did not issue the charge in his own name or authority as Timothy's mentor. However, there was something different and powerful about this charge. First, the charge was solemn. It was earnest and serious. It was of the highest value and utmost significance. Second, it was a charge issued in the presence and in the Name of God and His Son Jesus Christ the coming Judge.
This was very important. Timothy must have known by now that the charge was actually from God. It was delivered by Paul but not given by him. It was a solemn charge and a direct commission from God.
Timothy had to preach the Word now. That is, he had to courageously proclaim the Gospel: the God-breathed living Word of God, given by His inspiration through sacred Scriptures and the body of doctrines he received from Paul's teachings. Convenient or not, he had to boldly declare the Truth at all times without fear or shame.
Paul made sure that Timothy understood what preaching-the-Word meant. Preaching-the-Word is also to teach it and make it spiritually, morally, intellectually, and emotionally practical and profitable. He was urged to exhort the believer, rebuke the disobedient, and encourage the struggling, as he called the lost to salvation. He must always be ready to do that convenient or not. Not only ready, but also teach with patience and with wisdom.
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Paul had another profound reason for speaking to Timothy with such forceful implications. The world in which he lived and served would persist in its hostility to the Gospel. The people would not welcome him as their shepherd or teacher. They would not give him their attention. They would turn away from the Truth and choose teachings that suited their own corrupt ways.
Even though dark and difficult days were upon him, Paul encouraged Timothy to regard his ministry in light of his commission from the Lord and the desperate spiritual needs of the lost and struggling believers, knowing that the people would not bear the Truth nor endure sound teaching. But as for him, Timothy had to be composed and steady in all things as he ministered to the unstable and the obstinate. Even though both he and his message are rejected, he should nevertheless persist in teaching the Truth and fulfill his ministry with patience, wisdom, and endurance. Because the people were ignorant of the Truth, he should do the work of a diligent evangelist thoroughly explaining the Gospel. He was not answerable to the world. He was accountable to God.
6For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
8in the future 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.
Although Paul's instructions to Timothy seemed somewhat strenuous, he had his reasons for urging him to answer God's call with a solid commitment to persevere to the end. Paul's life was about to end in martyrdom. He said he was about to be poured out as a sacrifice. His race of a great life had come to a glorious end. He fought a good and a victorious fight. He fulfilled his ministry and his time to receive his crown had come. But the crown of righteousness was not just for him only, but also for those who anticipate Christ's glorious coming.
In a few words of joyful anticipation, Paul told Timothy that he would no longer be available to stand with him in his ministry. Just as Moses, David, and Elijah charged their successors, Paul also told Timothy that his point of death was near, therefore, he had to be ready and committed to succeed him and stand firm in the Power and Grace of God. Paul's paternal care of mentorship was complete. It was time for Timothy to come of age and preach the Word; reproving, rebuking, and exhorting the flock with great patience and godly wisdom. It was time for Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. It was time for Timothy to come of age.
Paul's final words to Timothy were profound and replete with meaning and significance. He gave Timothy a powerful summation of the task that lay before him, along with a candid assessment of the world’s condition in which he was called to serve. But he also assured him that his wisdom and strength will continue to flow from the inexhaustible Fountainhead of God's Grace and His Power. He should fear no one or nothing. He should be ready and committed to answer the call with passion, patience, wisdom, and understanding.
The same exhortation is imparted to all who call upon the Name of the Lord. Every believer is not a Timothy. But every redeemed child of God needs the sustaining power of the Word of God. We must feed upon the Word and live by its precepts.
Clearly, the Scriptures are necessary for affirming the truth and for refuting error. The Word of God is absolutely indispensable for right living, reformation of character, for discipline, and for refining our conduct as we seek to live for the Glory of God. The Word of God is the only effective weapon in our spiritual armor suitable for overcoming error and maturing in truth, and for rejecting evil and growing in holiness. We turn to the Scriptures so that we might become proven workers, trusted stewards, committed servants, and sanctified believers saturated with the joy of glorifying God our Father through every good work He ordained for us to do.
Just like Timothy, we will also see our mentors go and our teachers move on. We are left with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the living Word. Jesus promised that He will be with us to the end. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truths from within our hearts. The Word of God is etched on the tablet of our redeemed hearts. Therefore, we share the solemn charge with Timothy to be ready and committed to be witnesses for Truth, convenient or not.
We can appreciate Paul's description of the times to Timothy. Our own time is hijacked by the insatiable appetite of a permissive society. It is distressing. Sometimes one wonders if the church had gone altogether spiritually deranged along with the world. Views and standards have become strange and lax. The voice for truth is faint and withdrawn into the background. Some believers are drawn away from faith by the rising tide of ungodliness while others simply retreat into hiding because of fear and confusion.
But neither of these is the Christian way. But as for you, says Paul to us as he did to Timothy, stand firm. So what if the pressure to conform is very strong, if you are young, inexperienced, timid and weak, and if you find yourself alone in your witness? The Word of God is the Power of God in us. We must continue in what we have come to believe by the leading of the Holy Spirit and by the teaching of the Word of God. We know the biblical credentials of our faith. Scripture is God-breathed and profitable in all things and for all things. Even in the midst of these grievous times in which evil men and impostors go from bad to worse, God's Word will make us complete and equipped for the work He had given us to do. Let the word of God make us a man or a woman of God.
Paul speaks to us from his own experience through his last words to Timothy. He tells us to remain fully focused on the Word of God. The Word of God will lead us to Christian maturity. He knows because he had done it and lived it. He had fought the good fight and had finished his course. He had kept the faith and had received the crown of righteousness which also awaits us, when Jesus our Lord welcomes us to our eternal home which he prepared for us in His Father's House. Let the word of God flourish in us and make us a man or a woman of God.