The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Timothy

1 2 3 4

2 Timothy 4

2Ti 4:1

HIS APPEARING AND HIS KINGDOM: "Appearing" and "kingdom" are concurrent events. The Kingdom of God will be established when Christ returns: Mat 19:28; 25:31; Luk 23:42; Acts 15:16. Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father in heaven: Psa 110:1,2.

2Ti 4:2

PREACH THE WORD: A personal responsibility: 2Ti 2:15; Jude 1:3; 1Pe 3:15.

IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON: "Convenient or inconvenient" (NEB). Cp Eze 2:5: "whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear."

2Ti 4:3

Only an outward respect for God's Word, while refusing to be instructed by it: Pro 1:7; 7:15. Preaching what men desire: Isa 30:10. Cp 2Pe 1:16; 2Ti 3:7.

ITCHING EARS: A prurient longing for novelty and excitement. "In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found" (Vincent).

2Ti 4:5

DISCHARGE: Gr "plerophoreo" = lit to be covered or clothed completely; or to carry out fully (one's duties, or one's investigations): sw Luk 1:1 ("have been fulfilled"); 2Ti 4:17 ("fully proclaimed").

2Ti 4:6

THE TIME HAS COME FOR MY DEPARTURE: In using the word "departure" Paul is reinforcing his words which he gave to the elders from Ephesus when he took his leave from them on the shore (Acts 20:29). Timothy would have been acutely aware of the implications of what Paul was warning about there.

"There can be little doubt that [though he had been acquitted once] he appeared again at Nero's bar, and this time the charge did not break down. In all history there is not a more startling illustration of the irony of human life than this scene of Paul at the bar of Nero. On the judgment-seat, clad in the imperial purple, sat a man who, in a bad world, had attained the eminence of being the very worst and meanest being in it. A man stained with every crime, a man whose whole being was so steeped in every nameable and unnameable vice, that body and soul of him were, as someone said at the time, nothing but a compound of mud and blood. And in the prisoner's dock stood the best man the world possessed, his hair whitened with labours for the good of men and the glory of God. The trial ended: Paul was condemned, and delivered over to the executioner. He was led out of the city, with a crowd of the lowest rabble at his heels. The fatal spot was reached; he knelt beside the block; the headsman's axe gleamed in the sun and fell; and the head of the apostle of the world rolled down in the dust" (EBD).

2Ti 4:7

I HAVE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT: "He casts a swift glance over his past life, and sums it up in three sentences, using the figures of a Greek wrestler, a Greek runner, and a Roman soldier. He says, using the first figure, 'I have fought the good fight.' The definite article appears before the word 'fight' in the Greek. The use of the indefinite article in the English translation is unwarranted, and makes the expression appear egotistical. The word 'fight' is the translation of a word (agon) used in Greek athletics of a contest in the Greek stadium where the games were held. The word 'good' (kalos) refers to external goodness as seen by the eye, that which is the expression of internal, intrinsic goodness. It is goodness that is not moral here but aesthetic, a beauty of action that would characterize either the Greek wrestler's efforts or the Christian's warfare against evil. The words 'have fought' (agonizomai), are in the perfect tense, speaking of an action completed in past time with present results. Paul fought his fight with sin to a finish, and was resting in a complete victory. What a happy ending to a strenuous, active, heroic life. He says in his colorful Greek, 'The beautiful contest I, like a wrestler, have fought to the finish, and at present am resting in a complete victory.'

I HAVE FINISHED THE RACE: "I have finished my course." The Greek word translated 'course' (dromos) refers to a race course, the cinder path of the present day college athletic field. The words 'have finished' (teleo) are also in the perfect tense. Like a Greek runner, he has crossed the finishing line and is now resting at the goal. His life's work is over.

I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH: 'The faith' here is the deposit of truth with which God has entrusted Paul. The word 'kept' is 'to keep by guarding.' Again, the apostle uses the perfect tense. His work of safe-guarding that truth is now at an end. He has defended it against the attacks of the Gnostics, the Judaizers, and the philosophers of Athens. He has laid it down now at the feet of his Captain. He, like a soldier who has grown old in the service of his country, is awaiting his discharge. And so he writes to Timothy, 'The desperate, straining, agonizing contest marked by its beauty of technique, I, like a wrestler, have fought to a finish, and at present am resting in its victory; my race, I like a runner have finished, and at present am resting at the goal; the Faith committed to my care, I, like a soldier, have kept safely through everlasting vigilance.' All this would surge through Timothy's mind as he read Paul's Greek. Much of this is lost to the English reader, this untranslatable richness of the Greek New Testament." (Wuest)

2Ti 4:8

"Paul likens himself to the Greek athlete, who, having won his race, is looking up at the judge's stand, and awaiting his laurel wreath of victory. He says, 'Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.' 'Henceforth' is from a word (loipon) that means literally 'what remains.' 'Crown' is from the Greek word stephanos, referring to the victor's crown, a garland of oak leaves or ivy, given to the winner in the Greek games. The victor's crown of righteousness is the crown which belongs to or is the due reward of righteousness. The righteous Judge is the just Judge, the Umpire who makes no mistakes and who always is fair. The word 'judge' is 'kriteos', and refers here in this context, not to a judge on a judicial bench but to the umpire or referee at the athletic games. The words 'righteousness' and 'just' are the two translations of the Greek word used here ('dikaios'). The word 'love' is perfect in tense, and is the Greek word for a love that is called out of one's heart because of the preciousness of the object loved (agapao). The Greek word translated 'appearing' (epiphaneia), means literally, 'to become visible,' and was used of the glorious manifestation of the gods, here of the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus... To those who have considered precious His appearing and therefore have loved it, and as a result at the present time are still holding that attitude in their hearts, to those the Lord Jesus will also give the victor's garland of righteousness. The definite article is used in the Greek text. It is a particular crown reserved for these. The word 'give' (apodidoumi) can be here translated 'award'. Thus Paul, the spiritual athlete, his victory won, is resting at the goal posts, awaiting the award which the judge's stand will give him" (Wuest).

THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: "Crown" is the Greek "stephanos" -- the coronal wreath of laurel symbolizing victory, echoing the name of Stephen, whom Paul had killed years earlier! Paul's last words here echo those of Stephen: as Stephen had prayed for those who sought his death (Acts 7:60), so Paul now prayed (2Ti 4:16). Like his forerunner Stephen, Paul had now come to the intended completion of his work and witness, and the crown which he now knew would be his was that of Stephen -- the crown of martyrdom for witnessing to the truth of Jesus!

The head that rolled in the dust that somber day will one day wear a crown, and Saul of Tarsus -- Paul the apostle -- will one day rule as a king and priest with his Lord and Master Jesus Christ... forever.

But where will Nero's crown -- and Nero himself! -- be in THAT day?

See Lesson, Olympics -- ancient, modern, and "Christian".

2Ti 4:11

ONLY LUKE IS WITH ME: That is, only Luke out of his normal companions -- since there were others with him (v 21).

2Ti 4:13

CLOAK: Such prisoners as Paul might well have been stripped virtually naked (cp Christ on the cross), and in a cavernous prison of cold and wet and rats, a cloak would have been no small comfort.

But is this just ANY cloak, or a SPECIAL cloak? Sometimes, in the Bible, garments have special significance: consider Joseph's priestly garment (Gen 37:3); Jonathan's robe which he gave to David (1Sa 18:4); Elijah's mantle picked up by Elisha (2Ki 2:8,13). Or does Paul -- knowing he will soon die -- plan to bestow his own cloak upon Timothy as a token of his new "office"?

"When Timothy brought the cloak to Paul, Paul asked Timothy what he knew about the cloak. Timothy's response may have been something like: 'Paul, I remember that you were wearing that cloak when I first met you. You came to Lystra and you were stoned by the people. I had heard your preaching and became a believer in Christ, but then a short time later I watched as they dragged you out of town. And then, still wearing that cloak, dust and rips and all, you stood up. By the way, I have recently reflected upon that incident, just as you asked me to do in your epistle to me, and as I have traveled here with this cloak I have spent time reflecting on how much you and I and that cloak of yours has been through over the years. What do you want the cloak for?' 'To give to you. Timothy, I am about to be executed, and I want you to have this cloak because you of all people know how much I have labored to establish the ecclesias. And I want to give you this cloak so that you will be reminded of the responsibility that you now have to shepherd these people. Timothy, give them the scriptures. Encourage them to live by them and not to be deceived by all of the false and pernicious teaching that is being spoken even now in Christ's name. For so many years now you have been like a beloved son to me, Timothy, but now I will no longer be able to give you advice and encouragement. So please, Timothy, take this cloak and be thereby reminded of the responsibility that you now have' " (DB).

SCROLLS... PARCHMENTS: Which would comfort the spiritual man even as a cloak might comfort the natural man! (Which one would Paul have most preferred?)

Are these "parchments" the original mss of Paul's letters? Timothy was closely associated with the writing (1Th; 2Th; 2Co; Col; Phi; Rom 16:21; 1Co 4:17; Eph; Phm) or receiving (1Ti; 2Ti) of many of these letters. Paul hopes to see that the whole of his body of inspired writings will be circulated around all the ecclesias after his death (as they were?).

2Ti 4:14

DID: Gr "endeiknumi": to point out or indicate (by word or act). Possibly by providing evidence or testifying in a court of law.

2Ti 4:16

MAY IT NOT BE HELD AGAINST THEM: Paul remembers the words of Stephen (Acts 7:60), in echo of the prayer of Christ (Luk 23:34).

2Ti 4:17

THE LORD STOOD: Usually Jesus is seen sitting in heaven. He is standing in Act 7:56 as the Paraklete, or Counsel, for Stephen. Here, he is standing for Paul in the same way.


2Ti 4:18

HEAVENLY KINGDOM: Our heavenly calling (Heb 3:1), by a heavenly Father (Mat 18:35), through a heavenly word (Joh 3:12), presents to us a heavenly status (Eph 2:6), as we await a heavenly image (1Co 15:48,49), to be a heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22), in a heavenly country (Heb 11:16), within a heavenly kingdom (2Ti 4:18). All this constitutes Christ's brethren as a heavenly people of God!

2Ti 4:21

DO YOUR BEST TO GET HERE BEFORE WINTER: But even more than the cloak and the scrolls and parchments (v 13), Paul wanted Timothy to bring HIMSELF -- the son visiting the father one last time!

PUDENS, LINUS, CLAUDIA: "Some have thought that Pudens was Aulus Pudens, the soldier and husband of a British woman, Claudia Rufina" (ABD). It is also speculated that Linus was their son, and became an elder, at a later time, of the ecclesia in Rome.
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