The Apostle Paul knew he was about to die, so he left Timothy, and all of us, his last will and testament.
With the Apostle Paul’s departure, he knew that soon enough, wolves in sheep’s clothing would subtly move in and try and fill the vacuum, but instead of focusing on Christ and repentance and faith, they would “devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Tim 1:4), as he warned in his first letter to Timothy. For decades, Paul had given stability to the churches in Asia and the Roman Empire, but with his departure, the old proverb rings true: “When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue” (Prov 28:2), so with Paul’s soon departure, the church would need to be prepared for an “enemy within,” and that’s what 2 Timothy is all about.
The best way to discover money is counterfeit is to know what the original looks like so well that you can spot a fake in an instant. When we are regularly studying our Bible, we’re more armed with the Word of Truth to see error when we encounter it. If there’s something that appears to be contrary to Scripture, we would do well to look closer at the Word of God. The Word is the standard for all teaching and preaching, so Paul commands Timothy to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Apparently there were some, and there have always been some, who wrangle over words, so Paul tells Timothy to stay out of “quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers” (2 Tim 2:14). He also wants Timothy to “void irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness” (2 Tim 2:16). Christians often get into debates (some are arguments!) about the tribulation, the rapture, the millennium, tongues, and…the list goes on. Even in Paul’s day, some had “swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some” (2 Tim 2:18), so Paul is reminding Timothy to stay out of these things, because they only lead to “more ungodliness.”
Paul gives a host of things that the world will look like in the days leading up to Christ’s return, although Paul and many in the church expected Jesus to return that century, but Paul warned that “there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim2:3:1b-4). They might not look like Satan’s ministers on TV or the Internet, but Paul warned that in the last days, many would have “the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Tim 3:5). These are the kind of “religious” people that “creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:6-7). The number of ministers that have fallen by sexual immorality is innumerable, but only God knows whether these are only professing faith in Christ without actually knowing Christ. It’s not so much as them knowing Jesus that is vital, but rather, does He know them (Matt 7:21-23)! Apparently, many will be shocked that Jesus doesn’t even know them!
Preach the Word
Paul tells Timothy to stick to Scripture, saying that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16), so he must stick to preaching out of the Word, so “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:17). Paul told Timothy that “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness” (2 Tim 3:10), so “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:14-15). Before God and others, Paul says, “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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim 4:1-2). Paul knew it wouldn’t be long “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” (2 Tim 4:3-4).
The Apostle Paul is now concluding his letter to Timothy, knowing that these would be his last words recorded on earth before he saw the Lord. He writes, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:6-7). Was Paul discouraged by this? Absolutely not! He said, “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 Tim 4:8). Paul did feel a little like Christ at Calvary, writing, “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them” (2 Tim 4:16)!
When all others had abandoned Paul, he said only “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” (2 Tim 4:17). Paul says with confidence and boldness that “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 Tim 4:18). Yes and amen…to Him be all the glory, and “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is a Pastor and Prison Minister in the State of Kansas. Jack is also a writer at Christian Quotes and Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.