Thursday, July 26, 2012

Preach the word, and bring me my coat back - 2 Timothy 4

Read 2 Timothy 4

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)
6 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.

Paul is coming to the end of his life and ministry, and is writing to a man he taught and mentored. He’s passing the baton to the next generation of evangelist and pastor. His words here can be read as final encouragements, the last and most important words of a great preacher to the preachers to come.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV)
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.


Paul makes no bones about it. This is probably the most commonly repeated refrain in the pastoral letters. This is our primary job as pastors. We are to know, study, live, and teach the word. The power to live as God intends is found in faith in Jesus and the empowering Holy Spirit. There are many things we can teach, none of them have any value outside of the grace and truth of Jesus. Without it, all else in the end is bondage.

That the gospel is so radical and potentially offensive is yet more reason to preach it clearly and frequently. Many people will prefer to hear that we can work for our own salvation. Never before in history have people had as many voices, so many choices as to what and to whom they will listen. Six days a week people can Youtube preachers, teachers, and documentaries that say what they want to hear. Many of us have only one day a week, maybe only an hour of that day, when we can boldly point to Jesus, the king and hope of our salvation. Don't worry about competing with all the superpreachers on TV. Preach the truth.

For those of us in the pulpit, we must not be as verses three and four describe, turning our ears to whatever teaching suits us. In a world of Television church and podcast preaching, we have so much choice in our teaching that we can pick our favourites like from a smorgasbord. We must be cautious. We need the whole counsel of scripture. We must be submitted to teaching, not pick our own teachings according to our whims. We are bombarded with a continuous stream of information, and it is easy to become passive listeners. Do not be lulled to sleep by slick and pretty packaging. We should instead use the opportunities have in this generation to get a full and thorough knowledge of truth. We should be media literate, able to discern and reason between truth and deception.

2 Timothy 4:5 (ESV)
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.


The book of 2 Timothy ends as many New Testament letters do, with greetings and messages for individuals dear to the writer. This sign off includes one of my favourite "post-script" style messages.

2 Timothy 4:13 (ESV)
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.

Hey, I left my cloak there. Could you grab that?
I think this is funny in the context of a letter that includes 2 Timothy 3:16. I'd love to hear a pastor preach a sermon about Paul forgetting his coat in Ephesus.

Read 2 Timothy 4

No comments:

Post a Comment