The Man of God’s Resource in View of the Apostasy – (4:1-8)
4:1 Paul now begins his final solemn charge to Timothy. He does so in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus.
All service should be carried out with the realization that it is watched by God’s all-seeing eye.
In this verse, the Lord Jesus is spoken of as the One who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom. The Lord Jesus is the One who will judge the living and the dead but no time is specified. Christ’s appearing and His kingdom are presented by Paul as motives for faithful service.
We know from other scriptures that the Second Coming is not the time when He will judge the living and the dead. The wicked dead will not be judged until the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ, according to Revelation 20:5. The believer’s service will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but these rewards will be manifested at Christ’s appearing and his kingdom. For instance, those who have been faithful will rule over ten cities (Luke 19:17).
4:2 In view of God’s present observation of His servant and of His future reward, Timothy should preach the Word. And he should do it with a sense of urgency, availing himself of every opportunity. The message is in season at all times, even when some might think it to be out of season. As a servant of God, Timothy will be called upon to correct, that is, to prove or refute. He will have to rebuke what is false. He will be required to encourage or exhort sinners to believe and saints to go on for the Lord.
In all of this, he must be unfailing in patience and in careful instruction of sound doctrine.
4:3 In verses 3-6, the apostle gives two strong reasons for the charge he has just given. The first is that there will be a general turning away from sound doctrine. The second is that Paul’s time of departure is at hand.
The apostle foresees a time when people will show a distaste for health-giving teaching (sound doctrine). They will fully turn away from those who teach the truth of God’s word. Their ears will itch for doctrines that are pleasing and comfortable.
To satisfy their lust for new and gratifying doctrine, they will gather around them teachers who will tell them what they want to hear.
4:4 The lust for inoffensive preaching will cause people to turn their ears away from the truth to myths. It is a poor exchange – to sacrifice truth for myths – but this is the wretched reward of those who refuse sound doctrine.
4:5 But you, keep your head in all situations.
Adam Clark says: “It is possible to be overtaken in a fault, to neglect one’s duty, and to lose one’s soul. Watching unto prayer prevents all these evils.”
Timothy should be serious in his work, temperate, and well-balanced. He should endure hardship and suffer willingly whatever hardships might come to him in his service for Christ.
Do the work of an evangelist. That is: Preach Christ crucified for the sins of the whole world; for this, and this alone, is doing the work of an evangelist, or preacher of the good News of peace and salvation by Christ.
4:6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering. Paul was now about to be poured out like a drink offering. He likens the shedding of his blood in martyrdom to the pouring out of a drink offering over a sacrifice (see Ex. 29:40; Num. 15:1-10). Paul had previously likened his death to drink offering in Phil. 2:17.
The time has come for my departure. Here Paul is saying: the time of my (spirit’s) release (from the body) is at hand and I will soon go free to meet my Lord.
4:7 At first glance, it might seem as if Paul was boasting in this verse. However, such is not the case. The thought is not so much that he had fought a good fight, but rather that he had fought and was still fighting the good fight, namely, the fight of faith. He had spent his energies in the good contest. Fight here does not necessarily mean combat, but might just as well indicate an athletic contest.
Even as he wrote, he realized that the strenuous race was nearly over. He had been running on the course and was in sight of the goal. Then, too, Paul had kept the faith. This means not only that Paul himself had continued to believe in and obey the great doctrines of the Christian faith, but also that, as a steward, he had guarded the doctrine which had been committed to him and had passed it on to others in its original purity.
4:8 The Apostle, here continuing with the same figure of speech, uses the metaphor of the wreath given to the winner of a race (1 Cor. 9:25). The crown of righteousness is the reward which God, in His kindness, has promised to them who are faithful to the grace He has bestowed upon them.
The Lord is here spoken of as the righteous Judge, but the thought is not that of a criminal court judge but of one at an athletic contest whose job was to declare the victor and to give the crown.
The crown of righteousness is the wreath that will be given to those believers who have exhibited righteousness in their service. Indeed, it will be given to all those who have loved Christ’s appearing.
If a man really longs with affection for the coming of Christ and lives in the light of that event, then his life will be righteous and he will be rewarded accordingly.