In today’s passage, Paul the apostle’s last letter to the younger Timothy reaches its high point: “preach the word,” Timothy. (I—who am but weeks, maybe, from seeing Jesus—remind you—who are sometimes shy in your leadership—of where your courage will come from).
The word “preach” has about it the idea of heralding some objective truth publicly, in some open place, like a marketplace—and that toward the end of changing thought, attitude or behavior. While Timothy pastored the church in Ephesus then, Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is no less valid for all of us today. That’s because real courage is found in stating publicly the objective truth of who Jesus is, and what Jesus has done. That’s the gospel at the heart of God’s Word we’re all to proclaim.
In the rest of 2 Timothy 4.1-8, Paul then reminds Timothy of what proclaiming of God’s Word will look like. The herald will be “ready,” at all times (ESV). He’s to “reprove,” “rebuke” and “correct.” (As John Stott notes, these speak to the intellectual, moral and emotional needs of people—needs the gospel addresses). More, God’s Word must be preached with “patience” and with “teaching” that includes careful instruction in sound doctrine.
Paul concludes his challenge to Timothy by reminding him why he proclaims the gospel. This is because of Jesus Himself, who will appear to judge the “living and the dead” (:1), the times that will include those who tickle the “itching ears” of those content with untruth (:3-5), and, finally, the fact that the great apostle is leaving the scene (:6-8).
Courage for living comes from proclaiming the gospel, Timothy.
Gather up some others and have a look at the following questions about proclaiming the gospel, from 2 Timothy 4.1-8.
- The Apostle Paul’s basic command for the younger pastor Timothy is to “preach the word.” The word “preach” has about it the idea of proclaiming or announcing objective truth in a public way. But, does this mean only preaching in a church? What four qualifications does Paul then make to tell Timothy how the proclamation should be made?
- The gospel includes both the specifics of specific of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, along with every blessing we have in Christ (See 1 Cor 15.3-5). Why is proclaiming these objective facts not just the business of full-time evangelists or pastors in a church?
- What reasons does Paul give Timothy for preaching the gospel? (Hint: these involve Jesus, the times, and Paul’s career).
- Where do you have opportunity in your weekly routine to simply speak (“proclaim,” “announce,” “preach”) the truth of the gospel? What might this “preaching” look like?