SPECIAL FEATURE: “Swan Song” of the Apostle
NOTE. For more details see, McGee, 2 Timothy. This study is taken from that book with significant modifications mainly dealing with organization and method aligned to Bible principle and teaching. The study is also available online in audio at: 2 Timothy
DATE A.D. 67
The following is an approximate calendar of events which will orient us to the position that this second epistle to Timothy occupied in the ministry of the Apostle Paul.
- A.D. 58 Paul was apparently arrested in Jerusalem
- A.D. 61 This is the approximate time that Paul arrived in Rome. He had spent three years in prison, going from one trial to another before different Roman rulers.
- A.D. 61-63 Paul underwent his first Roman imprisonment. We do not have this recorded in the book of Act, which breaks off at the very beginning of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment
- A.D. 64-67 Paul was released from prison, and during this period Paul covered a great deal of territory. It was during this time that he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus from Macedonia.
- A.D. 67 Paul was arrested again.
- A.D 68 Paul was beheaded in Rome. Before his death he wrote 2 Timothy.
The 2 verses that state the theme and sound the tone of the 2nd epistle are these:
- 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
- 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
2 Timothy, (in common with 2 Peter, Jude, and 2 and 3 John) has to do with the personal walk and true testimony of a servant of Christ in a day of apostasy and declension.
You can, Dr. McGee asserts, emphasize one word here above other words: loyalty.
- Loyalty in suffering (chapter 1)
- Loyalty in service (chapter 2)
- Loyalty in apostasy (chapters 3-4.5)
- Lord loyal to His servants in desertion (chapters 4.6-4.22).
SPECIAL FEATURE: “Swan Song” of the Apostle
[These comments of Dr. McGee were made sometime before his death in 1988.]
This is the final communication of Paul. It has a note of sadness which is not detected in his other epistles. Nevertheless, there is a note of triumph: 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Because this was his last letter, Paul was very personal. He refers to 25 individuals in these four short chapters.
In this book, an ominous dark cloud is seen on the horizon. It is the coming apostasy. Today, apostasy has broken like a storm, like a Texas tornado, on the world and in the churches. Webster defines apostasy as “total desertion of the principles of faith.” So apostasy is not due to ignorance; as is a heresy. Apostasy is deliberate error. It is intentional departure from the faith. An apostate is one who knows the truth of the gospel and the doctrines of the faith, but he has repudiated them.
Paul here in 2 Timothy speaks of the ultimate outcome of gospel preaching. The final fruition will not be the total conversion of mankind, nor will it usher in the millennium. On the contrary, there will come about an apostasy which will well-nigh blot out the faith from the earth. In fact, there are two departures that will occur at the end of the age: One is the departure from the faith. Luke 18:8 “… Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” This, in context demands a negative answer. The other is the departure of believers, those who are members of the family of God, which is what we call the “rapture. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
This view is not in keeping with the social gospel today which expects to transform the world by tinkering with the social system. Such vain optimists have no patience with the doleful words of 2 Timothy. The cold and hard facts of history and the events of the present hour demonstrate the accuracy of Paul. We are now in the midst of an apostasy which is cut to the pattern of Paul’s words in remarkable detail.
Most churches have entered the orbit of an awful apostasy. A remnant of New Testament churches is not affected. All members of the family of God are on their way to glory. I believe that many true believers attend apostate churches, not knowing enough about Bible principles to know of the apostasies of the churches they attend. For example, many believers attend corporate 501c3 churches without understanding that such status grieves our Lord who “loved the church and gave himself for it.” Those pastors, leaders, “Christian” lawyers, etc. are either apostates (know the truth but depart from it) or do not know the truth.
Because of the threat of apostasy, Paul emphasizes the Word of God here more than he does in any other epistle. In fact, both Paul and Peter agree. Each of them in his “swan song” (2 Timothy and 2 Peter) emphasizes the Word of God and the Gospel.
My friend, the gospel rests upon a tremendous fact, and that fact is the total depravity of man. In other words, man is a lost sinner. Someone has put it like this:
- “Where education assumes that the moral nature of man is capable of improvement, traditional Christianity assumes that the moral nature of man is corrupt and absolutely bad. Where it is assumed in education that an outside human agent may be instrumental in the moral improvement of men, in traditional Christianity it is assumed that the agent is God, and even so, the moral nature of man is not improved but exchanged for a new one.”
Man is in such a state that he cannot be saved by perfect obedience—because he cannot render it. Neither can he be saved by imperfect obedience—because God will not accept it.
Therefore, the only solution is the gospel of the grace of God which reaches down and saves the sinner on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ. Faith in Christ transforms human life. We have a showcase today all over this land of a relatively small number of men and women who have been transformed by the gospel of the grace of God.
Liberal preaching, instead of presenting the grace of God to sinful man, goes out in three different directions. From some liberal pulpits we hear what is really popular psychology. It majors in topics such as this: “How to Overcome” or “How to Think Creatively” or “How to Think Affirmatively or Positively,” or “How to Drive Your Life Purposely.” It says we are on the way upward and onward forever! That is popular psychology, and it is not getting anyone anywhere.
A second type of liberal preaching involves ethics. It preaches a nice little sweet gospel—a sermonette preached by a preacherette to Christianettes. The message goes something like this: “Good is better than evil because it’s nicer and gets you into less trouble.” The picture of the average liberal church is that of a mild-mannered man standing before a group of mild-mannered people, and urging them to be more mild-mannered! There’s nothing quite as insipid as that. No wonder the Lord Jesus said to the church of Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor how, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3.15, 16). That would make anybody sick to his tummy. That’s another reason I call these people Alka-Seltzer Christians. They’re not only fizz, foam, and groth, but they cause you to need an Alka-Seltzer.
Then there is the third type of liberal preaching which is called the social gospel. They preach better race relations, pacifism, social justice, the Christian social order, and union of church and state (church and state working with, over or under the other; church incorporation and 501c3 are two of many manifestations of this relationship). It is Christian socialism pure and simple.
In contrast, when the true gospel is preached and men come to Christ, they all become brothers. We don’t need all this talk about better race relations. You cannot create better relationships by forcing people together. Only the gospel of the grace of God will make a man into a brother of mine. When that happens, the color of a man’s skin makes no difference at all.
The solution of man’s problems can come only through the grace of God. We need to recognize that God creates out of nothing. Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing of him. The grace fo God through Jesus Christ is the way to transform and save mankind. That is what 2 Timothy teaches, and that is why it is important to study 2 Timothy.
I. AFFLICTIONS of the Gospel, Chapter 1
A. Introduction vv. 1-7
B. Not Ashamed, but a Partaker of Affliction, 1.8-11
C. Not Ashamed, but Assured, 1.12-18
II. ACTIVE in Service, Chapter 2
A. A Son, 2.1, 2
B. A Good Soldier, 2.3, 4
C. An Athlete, 2.5
D. A Farmer, 2.6-14
E. A Workman, 2.15-19
F. A Vessel, 2.20-23
G A Servant, 2.24-26
III. APOSTASY Coming, Authority of the Scriptures, Chapter 3.1-4.5
A. Conditions in the Last Days, 3.1-9
B. Authority of Scriptures in the Last Days, 3.10-17
C. Instructions for the Last Days, 4.1-5
IV. ALLEGIANCE to the Lord and of the Lord, Chapter 4.6-22
A. Deathbed Testimony of Paul, 4.6-8
B. Last Words, 4.9-22
(AFFLICATIONS of the Gospel, Chapter 1)
v1 Paul an apostle by the will of God. In 1 Ti., Paul said “by the commandment of God,” and we saw that the commandments of God revealed the will of God, but that they were not the total will of God. “According to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” You accept a promise by faith. That is the only way you can obtain eternal life. He offers it to you as a gift. You accept a gift because you believe the Giver. The Lord Jesus gives you eternal life when you trust His as Saviour because He paid the penalty of your sin. He today can offer you heaven on the basis of your faith and trust in Him. Therefore, “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” makes it clear that through Christ is the only way you can get eternal life, my friend.
v2 Call greets Timothy as his “dearly beloved son” because Timothy was a great joy to him. v3 Timothy was on Paul’s prayer list. v4 Paul loved Timothy, and this verse makes clear that Timothy loved Paul because he was greatly affected since Paul has been arrested, is back in prison, and faces death. v5 Apparently, Timothy was brought up in a Christian home–both his grandmother and his mother were Christians. It is not known whether Timothy’s father, a Greek, was in the faith. v6 When Paul put his hands on Timothy, that meant that Timothy was a partner with Paul. He shared with him the gift of teaching the Word of God. He admonishes Timothy to “stir up the gift of God that is in thee.” v7 “Fear” here speaks of cowardice. God has given us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind. “Sound mind” means discipline; we should not be slaves to our emotions. Overcoming emotions means not letting your emotions stop you from doing something you should be doing. I am not to be a defeated Christian; I should not let my emotions control my life.
NOT ASHAMED BUT A PARTAKER OF AFFLICTION (vv8-11)
v8 The Lord Jesus made clear that we would have trouble. “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (Jn. 16.33). He warned us that the world would not like Christian. “If the world hate you, ye now that it hated me before it hated you” (Jn. 15.18). There is something wrong if you become too popular as a a Christian.
v9 “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling”–not because of who we are or what we have done–“not according to our works.” But–“according to his own purpose and grace.” God’s wonderful purpose in the gospel was hidden in ages past but is now revealed through Paul. “Which was given in Christ Jesus before the world began”–all along god had this plan for us.
v10 “Who hath abolished death.” Death means something altogether different to the child of God–Christ made if of no effect. Paul is not talking about physical death. He means spiritual death, eternal death, which is separation from God.
v11 Paul was a “preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher.” An apostle had several gifts. Dr. McGee doesn’t believe God will give us 2 or more gifts, as preaching and singing.
NOT ASHAMED, BUT ASSURED (vv12-18)
v12 Paul suffered because he was “a preacher, apostle, and teacher” as he stated in v11. Nonetheless, he was not ashamed of the gospel (see Ro. 1.16 and in 2 Ti. 1.8 he urges Timothy not to be ashamed either) although he was in prison, with sentence of death upon him. “He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.”
v12 “Hold fast the form of sound words” (the words of Scripture are inspired).
v13 The Christian life can only be lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. In v7 Paul talked about power, love, and a sound mind in v7 and all are fruit of the Holy Spirit. See Ga. 5.22, 23.
v15 Paul names Phygellus and Hermogenes who turned from him. All he says that “all they which are in Asia have turned from me. In 1 Ti. 1, Paul said some had fallen away. Here it is all – that is, all who are now in Asia who had formerly been with him in Rome. Apostasy has occurred during the entire history of the church.
vv16-18 Paul talks about Onesiphorus, a wonderful man of god.
(ACTIVE in Service, Chapter 2)
v1 “Timothy was a spiritual son of Paul – it was under Paul’s ministry that Timothy turned to Christ. Timothy is in the family of God; he is a child of God. Therefore, Paul tells him, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” You cannot live the Christian life on your own. If you feel you can grit your teeth and go out and live the Christian life on your own, you’re in for a great disappointment. If you feel you can follow a few little rules or some clever gimmicks to make you a mature Christian, then you have fallen into a subtle trap of legalism. Paul gives no rules, and the Word of God has no rules to tell the child of God how to live the Christian life. We are saved by grace, and now we are to live by the grace of God and be strong in that grace. When things go wrong, a believe should appeal to God’s grace. When I fail, I have found that when I am away from Him, the whipping He gives me hurts lots worse. I don’t want to get on the end of that switch where it really stings. I come in close to Him, and the closer I am the less it hurts. I am a son of my Heavenly Father.“
v2 Paul tells Timothy to commit the things Paul taught him “to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” It is a real concern to older men that there be young men who will be faithful in teaching God’s Word. [It is a concern to me that there will be those who will teach “separation of church and state law to others.” I am especially grieved by all those who pervert the truth as to the Bible and earthy truths concerning the relationship of Christ and His churches.]
As sons of God we ought to be concerned about our Father’s business. Perhaps you are thinking that you are disappointed in yourself. If you are, that means that you must have believed in yourself. You should not have. You are to walk by the grace of God, “by faith and not by sight.” Or perhaps you are discouraged. If so, that means you do not believe God’s Word and way of blessing. Or maybe you have said, “I hope I can do better in the future.” Then you do expect to get some good out of that old nature. Oh, my friend, be strong in the grace of God.
A GOOD SOLDIER
vv3-4 The Christian is a soldier. Ep. 6 tells us that the believer is fighting a spiritual battle, and that he needs to put on the armor of God.
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life.” “That he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” He is to establish his priorities. He is to to endure hardness, or suffer hardness, as Paul was suffering. The Christian life is not a playground; it is a spiritual battlefield.
v6 Here Paul compares the Christian to an athlete. He is to strive to win. Philippians 3:14: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul also said he wanted to keep his body under control (1 Co. 9.24-27). He is to “strive lawfully.” That is, he is to play by the rules. Thus, he should study the whole rule book, all 66 books. An athlete can’t cut the corner of the racetrack. A baseball player does not run by second base without touching it.
A FARMER – the fourth description of a believer (vv6-14)
There will be a harvest, but there has to be the sowing and laboring in the field. The Word of God is to be sown. You may (probably will) get into trouble when you sow the Word of God. Paul got in trouble. He was in prison for teaching the Word of God. Even so, he said, “But the word of God is not bound (v9); it was still going out into the Roman world and still is. “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him” (v11). When we are saved, his death becomes our death. We are identified with Him and are raised with Him in newness of life.
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (v12). Dr. McGee (and I) personally believe that not all believers will reign with Him. I have not suffered for the Lord as did the Apostle Paul. Fox says there were 5 million Christians who were martyred for Christ under Rome. Then, tens of millions, at least 50 million, died for Christ as martyrs under the rule of the Catholic Church during the middle ages.
“If we deny him, he also will deny us.” Faith without works is dead (no faith at all-one never had saving faith. See James 2.17). Paul and James never contradicted one another. James was talking about the works of faith, and Paul is saying that genuine faith produces works.
v13 God “cannot deny himself.” God cannot accept as true one who is false. He called the religious rulers hypocrits because they were pretending to be something they were not.
v14 “Strive not about words.” God’s people need to stick to essentials. Don’t argue about empty words or philosophies or our little differences.
A WORKMAN, A TEACHER (vv15-19)
2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Believers are to be diligent students of the Word of God. To rightly divide the Word, the Christian is to be a skilled workman like an artisan. The student of the Word of God must understand that the Word of God is one great bundle of truth and that it has certain right divisions. The Bible is built according to a certain law ans structure, which must be observed and obeyed as you go through the Word of God. You can’t just lift out a verse here and a verse there and choose to ignore a passage here and a passage there. It must be studied (and taught) in its entirety. Only a lost person or even a saved person ignorant of the Word of God does not believe the truth that the Bible is the most orderly book ever written, by far, since its author was God.
“Rightly dividing the word of truth.” There are certain dispensations in the Word of God, different methods whereby God dealt with man. The basis of salvation always remains the same. Man is saved only by believing in the atoning death of Christ. But man expresses his faith in God in different ways. For example, Able and Abraham brought little lambs to sacrifice to the Lord. But I hope you don’t take a lamb tochurch next Sunday morning, because you would be entirely out of order. It’s all right for Mary to have a little lamb that follows her to school, but your little lamb should not follow you to church. The reason is that the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world has already come. That Lamb is Jesus (Jn. 1.29). You see, Abel and Abraham looked forward to the Lamb of God, and we look back to His death. This is an illustration of rightly dividing the Word of truth.
Dispensations exhibit the progressive order of God’s dealings with humanity. For instance, to recognize the distinction between law and grace is basic to the understanding of the Scriptures. One has to be careful about listening or studying dispensationalists. Some are very solid on all Bible matters. C.I. Schofield was right about some things, but wrong about others, but studying his works is tremendously enlightening as to God’s dispensations as laid out in the Bible (See, Scofield’s headnote to “Ephesians” and margin notes on his false “true church” doctrine). Some dispensationalists are so far off on so many Bible matters that one should avoid referring to them. Hyperdispensationalists are in the never-never land of interpretation. No matter whose work one studies, the standard should always be a literal study of the Word of God.
v16 Avoid empty chatter that has no value whatsoever. v17 “And their word will eat as doth a cankner: of whom is Hymenaeus and Pliletus.” These men apparently were apostates. v19 “Having this seal.” In the OT, De. 6.8, 9, God told His people to take His commandment on their hand, and write them on the posts of their houses, and on their gates. This identified him as a worshiper of God. How about the believer today-how does he advertise for God? “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Separated from evil and separation unto Christ. The Lord knows his because he can look at the heart. However, the world can only look at his outward life.
A VESSEL (vv20-23)
vv20-21 A believer is pictured as a vessel. To be usable, a vessel must be clean. God does not use dirty vessels – not beautiful, but clean. v22. Again, God places together faith, love, and peace. v23 Avoid foolish and unlearned questions, because they gender strifes. We live in a world which is on fire. Lets get the Word of God to it before it is too late.
A SERVANT (vv24-26)
A believer is to be a servant, gentle to all men. The soldier was to fight, but the servant is not to fight. Is this a contradiction? No, it is a paradox. When you are standing for truth, you are to be definite and let men know where you stand. Don’t be a coward! It is said that silence is golden, but sometimes it is just yellow! “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” If you are trying to win a person to Christ, don’t argue with him. Just keep giving him the word of God.
v26 “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
(APOSTASY Coming; Authority of the Scriptures, 3.1-4.5)
APOSTASY IN THE LAST DAYS (vv1-9)
v1 The apostasy that began in the church in Paul’s day will continue.Paul warned the church at Ephesus that false leaders would enter the church after his decrease. Acts 20:29-30 “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” They won’t get out the Word of God, but will fleece the church. False teachers sheer the sheep pretty close!
“Perilous time shall come.” This does not look like the conversion of the world, does it? The church, according to this, is not going to convert the world. The Bible does not teach that it will. Instead, look what is coming in the last days. We have nineteen different descriptions given in the next few verses. It is an ugly brood. It is the best scriptural picture of what is happening today. Again, there are 19 words or phrases used to describe the last days: (1) “Lovers of their own selves.” Examples: politicians, Hollywood, public schools (teach self-esteem or self-love), churches. Churches will follow teachers having itching ears (2 Ti. 4.3); these teachers want to be complimented, they want their ears scratched. To be complimented, you have to compliment. So they complement their church members and their boards of officers. They tell people how wonderful they are.
(2) “Covetous” (lovers of money and things. Lovers of self become lovers of money. The old nature likes a lot of money spent on it. (3) Boasters. A proud man walks like a peacock. (4) “Proud.” Haughty. (5) “Blasphemers.” (6) “Disobedient to parents.” (7) “Unthankful.” Some never thank others of God for kindnesses to them. (8) “Unholy.” This means profane. They are against God. (9) “Without natural affection.” This means abnormal relationships. Sodomy is accepted as natural by many today, even in so-called churches. See Romans 1.24. (10 “Trucebreakers” are people who are impossible to get along with. They will break their word to you. They won’t let you get along with them. (11) “False accusers.” (12) “Incontinent” means without self-control. (13) “Fierce” means savage. In our day, city streets have become asphalt jungles. (14) “Despisers of those who are good.” (15) “Traitors are betrayers.” You can’t trust them. (16) “Heady” means reckless. (17) Highminded” means blinded by pride or drunk with pride. (Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Never has there been a time when so much money has been spent in order to provide pleasure. This is the same road Rome took when it went down. Athletes are money hungry. I would rather watch, in general, a ditchdigger who loves the Lord. Billions are spent on entertainment. (19) “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” They go through religious rituals but lack life and realinty. Avoid them. A believer in a dead liberal church get out of it – “from such turn away.”
v6 “Silly women.” v7 “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” v8 “Jannes and Jambres” were apparently names of the 2 magicians called in by Pharoah when Moses began the miracles and the plagues came upon Egypt. The names were revealed to Paul by the Spirit of God. We read of them in Exodus 7. The Exodus account reveals that Satan has power, super-natural power. Jannes and Jambres were able to perform miracles by the power of Satan. Satan can still imitate the power of God. 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” “Men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” Those men have corrupt minds and have discarded the truth totally. For example, I know a man whom professed authority of God, but delved into the spiritualistic. He ended up rejecting the great truths of Scripture and setting himself against one of God’s churches with the intent of taking it over. Needless to say, God did not allow it. “But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.”
AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURES IN THE LAST DAYS (3.10-4.5)
vv10-11 Paul’s life was an open book, as should be that of every believer. Timothy knew well of Paul’s suffering at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.
vv12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. It will cost you something to be a Christian. Real Christians are becoming very unpopular in America. The media, secular and “Christian,” are their enemy. If a real Bible believer gets any press, it will be distorted and misrepresented.
v. 13 “But evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” “Seducers” are imposters.
vv14-15 The only antidote against a world of apostasy is the Word of God. Salvation comes in 3 tenses. Timothy was already saved. I have been saved from sin. I am being saved from sin. I shall be saved from sin. Christ saves a believer. Then, he works out a salvation in us, but we won’t ever be perfected in this life. But there is coming a day shen “… it doth not yet appear what se shall be, but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him …” (1 Jn. 3.2). The Scriptures give us not only the modus operandi of being saved, but it saves us in this present evil world – enables us to grow and gives us deliverance down here. Dr. McGee contends that the constant study of the Word of God is the only help that any of us has.
v16. When Paul says, “All scripture,” he means all of it. The word “inspiration” means God-breathed. God used men with different personalities and thought patterns, yet got through exactly what He wanted to say. Through these men, God has given us His Word.
It “is profitable for doctrine,” for teaching. It is good “for reproof,” which means conviction. It is “form instruction,” which means discipline, thinking and acting in accordance with God’s will.
v17 “Perfect” doesn’t mean that you and I will reach the kind of perfection where absolutely everything we do is right. Rather, it means we will attain full maturation. We’ll be complete, full-grown people.
“Throughly furnished”–the Word of God can fit you out for life for every good work.
(ALLEGIANCE to the Lord and of the Lord, 4.6-22)
In this chapter, Paul gives Timothy instructions for the last days. Then we will have Paul’s deathbed testimony, which are probably his last written words. We will detect his feeling of loneliness. He is in Rome, alone and incarcerated in that horrible Mamertine prison. He is cold and asks Timothy to bring his cloak. He is lonely and the hours are long. He asks Timothy to bring his books, especially the parchments.
But with the sadness and loneliness we will also hear a note of victory as Paul gives his final charge to his son in the faith. This is his final Word from God to you and me. If you are not prepared to accept this, I (Dr. McGee) doesn’t thing that He has anything more to say to you.
v1 A very solemn charge. Jesus Christ will judge the quick (the living) and the dead at his returning. Christ’s appearing and His kingdom will not happen at the same time. Christ will judge all believers at one time or another. Our lives are going to be tested to see if we are to receive a reward or not. Paul is saying to Timothy that, in view of the fact that you are going to stand before God to be judged, this is what you are to do.” This is what God is saying to believers right now.
v2 “Preach the word,” means to proclaim it, give it out, herald it. “Be instant [diligent] in season, out of season,” means at any time you can. Preach the Word, don’t just talk about it. Paul does not say to preach from the Word. He does not say to lift a verse from the Bible and then weave a sermon around it. Someone has well said that a text is a pretext that’s taken out of it’s context. We are not to preach about the Word of God or from the Word of God, but preach the Word of God itself.
“Be instant in season, out of season.” “Instant” mean diligent or, even better, urgent. There is a compulsion upon us. We should be chafing at the bit, ready to give out the Word of God. “In season, out of season” means any time of the day or night, any time of the year, under any and all circumstances.
“Reprove” it should be given with conviction. “Rebuke” actually means to threaten. “Exhort” means to comfort. Sometimes believers really need comfort. “With all longsuffering’ means that all of us who give out the Word of God need to exercise a great deal of patience. “Doctrine” means teaching.
v3 “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” Few churches teach much doctrine. Most “churches” teach no Bible doctrine. Rather, most believers and churches “”After their own lusts heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” To quote Dr. Marvin R. Vincent: “The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found.” “Having itching ears.” They don’t go to church to hear sound doctrine, but to delight their ears with the speaking or the voice or the plays. As Dr. Warren Wiersbe has said, “They want religious entertainment from Christian performers who will tickle their ears. … The man who simply opens the Bible is rejected while the shallow religious entertainer becomes a celebrity.”
v4. They want lies, not the truth. They want to be entertained. When one preaches the Word of God, he steps on toes.
v5 In Paul’s day, an evangelist was a traveling teacher, a missionary. Paul was an evangelist in that sense, and he tells Timothy to also do the work of an evangelist.
ALLEGIANCE TO THE LORD AND OF THE LORD (vv 6-22)
PAUL’S DEATHBED TESTIMONY (vv6-8)
“I am now ready to be offered.” Paul would be beheaded in an execution room, a bloody spectacle. Paul’s life is being poured out as a libation, a drink offering. Paul used that figure of speech before in this letter to the Philippians, when he was arrested for the first time and thought death was before him. Philippians 2:17: “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” He wanted his life to be poured out.
What was the drink offering? There were not specific instructions given by God to the Israelites concerning the drink offering. However, it is mentioned again and again in Exodus and Leviticus. The wine was poured over the sacrifice which, of course, was really hot because it was on a brazen altar with fire underneath it. The drink offering would go up in steam. It would just evaporate and disappear. That is exactly what Paul is saying here: “I have just poured out my life as a drink offering on the sacrifice of Christ. It has been nothing for me, but everything for Him.” Paul’s life would soon disappear, and all that could be seen was Christ. So many Christians try to be remembered by having their names chiseled in stone or by having a building named in their memory. Paul was not interested in that type of thing. Christ, not Paul, is the One who is to be exalted.
Paul’s epitaph is divided into two sections. The first is retrospect, in which Paul looks back on his earthly life–this is right before he was executed. Then the second part of the epitaph is the prospect. He looks forward to eternal life. The earthly life and the eternal life are separated by what we call death down here.
Paul sums up his life in three different ways: “I have fought the good fight.” He has been a soldier, a good soldier. Every Christian should be a defender of the Word of God and stand for the great truths of the Bible.
“I have finished my course.” Life is not only a battle, life is a race. Paul was a disciplined athlete who was striving to win the prize. During the race, Paul kept his body under subjection. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Paul, at the end of his life, had touched all the bases; he had completed all that God had planned for Him.
“I have kept the faith.” Life has been a trust from God, and he had been a good steward. He had kept the faith. He had never veered from the great truths and doctrines in the Word of God.
“My departure is at hand.” Believers at the rapture will not depart through the doorway of death.Paul will be “untied” or “unloosed.” Paul is saying that he has been “tied down to the harbor.” That is what life is – we haven’t been anywhere yet: we’ve just been tied to this little earth. Death is a release for the child of God. Going off to be with Christ will be a great release for the believer.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” Here, Paul is looking forward to the future. He is expecting a crown of righteousness. A crown is a reward. Dr. McGee does not think it has been given to him yet.
Several crowns are mentioned in the New Testament.
The athlete’s crown for being a winner on the racetrack of life. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ‘Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”
The soul-winner’s crown mentioned in Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”
“A crown of righteousness,” the reward for a righteous life.
“Unto them also that love his appearing” does not refer to the doctrine you hold regarding His appearing (premillennialist, postmillennialist, or amillennialist). The question is: Do you love His appearing? This means you have to love Him. Do you have a close relationship with Him. Have you ever told Him you love Him?
PAUL’S LAST WORDS
v9 These words reflect that Paul is lonesome.
v10. Demas took off because he couldn’t stand the heat.
“Titus unto Dalmatia. I don’t know if these other brethren had a legitimate excuse for leaving Paul, but I think Titus did.
v11 Only Luke stood by Paul clear to the end.Paul had been wrong about Mark, and now he was able to say that Mark was profitable to him in his ministry.
v12 Paul sent Tychicus back to Ephesus because he was the pastor of the church there.
v13 Paul asks for his cloak or coat he had left at Troas. This reveals a little of Paul’s suffering. In May and June, it is cold in that prison.
“And the books, but especially the parchments.” He needed something for his mind.
v14-15 Alexander’s “reward” won’t be what Alexander would consider a reward! v15 Paul warns Timothy to be on guard against him. He is one of those laymen who will soft-soap you, then put a knife in you when you turn your back. Watch out for him.
v16 “At my first answer” was either the preliminary hearing which opened Paul’s final trial, or it was his first trial in Rome three years earlier. Paul was alone at that time.
v17 Now Paul is asking something for his spirit (as he had already asked for something for his body, for his mind (books and parchments). All of us have needs in these three areas. He was alone, but the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…” as he said.
“I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” Sparred execution at that time.
v18 Paul knew he was going to be translated to heaven.
vv19-21 Paul concludes this personal letter with references to mutual friends. He urges Timothy to come, and to come before winter. This continues the tremendous swan song of the Apostle Paul.