Delivered By
C.C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
July 9, 2017
Central Passage
2 Timothy 4:9
Attached Document
Open Document

"Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.  Only Luke is with me.  Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.  And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus" (2 Timothy 4:9-12).

Paul's placement of Timothy as pastor-superintendent of the Christian community at Ephesus…with its complex of always difficult and sometimes very vexatious problems…was an interesting one.  Timothy had been set apart and endowed for the work of an evangelist by the laying on of the hands by

Paul and the presbytery.  He had served the apostle as his missionary companion over a considerable period…and had been sent as his trusted delegate on a variety of short-term missions to encourage and to steady churches that were facing serious internal problems…or bearing the heat of persecution.

Paul saw something in Timothy that fit him preeminently for the sort of work that Ephesus would demand.  In the second chapter of Philippians, he said of Timothy, “I have no man like-minded who will naturally care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.  But ye know him that as a son with the father he hath served with me in the Gospel.”

This tribute identified Timothy as someone possessed of unselfish and genuine Christian concern for the welfare of his fellow-believers…and equally for the furtherance of the missionary enterprises of the Church.  If we take the apostle's language literally…the description of Timothy was a “co-slave of Christ,” along with Paul himself.

With his appointment to Ephesus by Paul…Timothy faced an unusually stiff and long-term exercise in missionary organization.  Paul expected the establishment of the Ephesian church on a regular basis…the appointment and training of officials as a main step in that direction…and the combating of a particularly subtle and stubborn collection of false teachers.

And Paul expected all this from a man who was still young…timid by disposition…frequently ill…subject to depression…and deprived at this critical juncture of the benefit of the apostle's close supervision and advice.  Paul offered four of the main-line reasons as to why Timothy was to apply himself both vigorously and unfalteringly to his assignment in Ephesus.

The first was the second coming of Christ…the righteous judge.  “I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word…”

The general idea is that if Timothy faithfully discharges the duties assigned to him…he will share in the glory of Christ's coming and reign.  We are all faced with the solemn fact that we must one day give an account to Christ the righteous judge.  Our work is open to the scrutiny of heaven and stressed by

Paul’s words, “I charge thee in the presence of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Lord Jesus Christ is the unfailing Savior of His people…and their loved and respected Master.  That is incentive enough to offer our best in service.  Every good work we do belongs to Him.  The righteous never fail…although circumstances on earth seemingly frustrate their efforts.

Timothy was destined to face some dark days…and the inevitable temptation to view his work as a monotonous and meaningless round of routine procedures…and as an unavailing series of distressing encounters with the forces of evil.  It was imperative that he keep before him the truth that Christ is in undisputed charge of the Gospel's onward movement.

The second reason Paul gave for Timothy to apply himself vigorously and unfalteringly was that dark and difficult days were on the way for the apostolic church.  In Ephesus those threatening clouds were already hanging low.  So, being completely frank with Timothy, Paul said, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears:  And they shall turn away from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.”

Paul had the mind of Christ…and Christianity doesn’t operate in the his next words were “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

Paul called on Timothy to maintain unruffled and alert commitment to his Christian undertakings…to not run panic-stricken away from them.  The command is a repeat of the exhortation in chapter 2:3 where Paul urges Timothy to “…endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Christ and His followers are at war with Satan and his followers…so, austerity and hardship for Christians are a part of that war if they expect to share in Christ's victories.

In a world where the professing Christian church is seemingly unsteady and uncertain…Christians have all the greater reason for maintaining a steady witness of the Gospel…and all the greater reason for maintaining Christian teaching and promoting Christian evangelism vigorously and unfalteringly.

Whenever there is a general drifting away from solid Christian instruction…that is the very time to take special steps to defend and promote the gospel of Christ.  Paul said, “Preach the word.”  Don’t argue the word…preach the word.  And, “Be instant in season and out of season.”  It doesn’t matter what environment you’re in…and it doesn’t matter what the reaction of the listeners.  “Preach the word.”

Paul’s further advice is to not forget to “…do the work of an evangelist.”  Just because the days are becoming dark…and people just as dark in relation to gospel truth…is no excuse for abandoning an evangelistic initiative.  We’re not to stay inside a Christian fort…we’re to take Christianity outside the fort and into the world.

During dark days, the temptation is strong for the orthodox Christian community to turn in on itself…to keep the pot of churchly activity just simmering until revival takes place.  That attitude is wrong.  It’s when the dark days are upon us…and growing…that Christians must address themselves to the inalienable duty of evangelizing the world.

Timothy was warned that he would be witnessing to people who had forsaken the gospel in favor of teachers who would cater to their itching ears...succumbing to popular demand that biblical insistence on personal holiness and on the exclusive gospel way of salvation be suppressed.

Timothy was further warned not to relax his standards or efforts to obtain a cheap convert…because it would subvert his loyalty to Christ and to the true salvation of his listeners.  He was to be unrelenting with himself regarding his gospel perspectives.  To ensure genuine Gospel results he was to endure such afflictions and make full proof of his ministry.

Paul puts great emphasis on Christian doctrine…and the study of it…as a primary factor in strengthening Christians for their duty.  Spiritual strength comes to the Christian through careful attention to doctrinal considerations.  We should pray and seek the Holy Spirit’s help… but continuance of Christian courage is guaranteed only in the closest possible conjunction with the continuance of Christian Bible study.

The third reason Paul gives Timothy for applying himself vigorously and unfalteringly is that he expects to be murdered.  He said, “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry: For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”

The apostle did not conceal from Timothy that the cherished partnership between them would be broken by his death.  He did not shield Timothy from reality…nor does the Bible shield any of us from it.  Paul took solace in the fact in Christ’s strength he had fought a good fight…finished his course and kept the faith.

Paul's steady purpose throughout the epistle is the admonishment of Timothy to give his ministry in Ephesus his undivided and active attention.  Like a wounded field commander whose time on the battleground is about up…Paul is anxious to devote the short time left him to deploy the forces still on the field to maximum advantage.

If a Christian leader we admire dies…it should inspire us to take up those duties that we once depended on them to handle.  And their death should urge us to view more seriously than ever before our existing Christian work.

In Paul's martyr testimony, there is implicit the assurance that Timothy too…with the same divine help…will succeed in fighting the good fight…in finishing his own course…and in keeping the faith.

In his encouragement to Timothy to apply himself vigorously and unfalteringly…there are implications of Paul's attitude to the experience of loneliness.  Like any incarcerated human being…Paul suffered feelings of desertion and felt a great need for fellowship with other believers.

Paul wasn’t complaining in this epistle…he was simply warning Timothy that he might someday suffer in a similar fashion.  A Christian can be at his or her height of devotion to the gospel of Christ…yet deprived of helpful fellowship.  He or she might even have as a friend a Demas who walks out on them for worldly considerations.

Faced with his situation…Paul asked Timothy for three items of help…each applicable to all Christians.

The first was company.  He asked Timothy to visit…and to bring Mark with him.  Some people claim that since they have Christ they can dispense with human fellowship.  We neglect Christian fellowship at our peril.  Christ ministers to His people through their Christian friends.  And the Holy Spirit often comforts the believer through the fellowship of other Christians.

Earlier in his life…Paul had enjoyed a marvelous fellowship with the apostles and other members of the apostolic missionary establishment.  But those days were past.  Darker days of gospel fellowship had arrived.  Paul knew he could not push the clock back.  So, he was developing what fellowship he could by inviting Timothy and Mark to come and join him for that purpose.

The second thing Paul asked Timothy for was warm clothing.  He owned an overcoat…which he had left with his friend Carpus at Troas.  Why he didn’t have it with him was unknown…but he, obviously, did not expect the Lord to work some miracle to keep him warm.  As well as catering in an obvious way to his own need…Paul may have been teaching Timothy to never undervalue the factor of common-sense in the pursuit of his ministry.

What Paul asked of Timothy might not seem inspired or spiritual…but maybe he was consciously giving a lesson to Timothy on the importance of being practical in the Christian life.  Getting things done that need to be done sometimes seem unrelated to the spiritual objectives of the gospel...but they must be done.

There’s a calculus of level-headedness that must be given its proper place alongside the doctrinal and spiritual interests of a Christian’s life.  It enhances preparedness for the Lord's next call.

The third thing Paul asked Timothy for were books and parchments.  I think he was referring to Old Testament Scriptures and writing materials.  For any Christian to be twiddling his or her thumbs…or doing something else equally ineffective…is demoralizing when he or she could be doing worthwhile reading or writing.

Finally, Paul’s testimony to Timothy was that the Lord had stood by him when he had been deserted by his Christian friends at his first appearance before Nero…and that such forsaking might happen to him, too.

In that appearance before the Roman ruler…the Lord had done more for Paul than supply him with courage, protection and suitable words for his defense.  He had strengthened him so that “all the Gentiles might hear.”

In Paul’s trial before Caesar…officials of court and his military escort…there was probably a large assembly of curious onlookers.  So, during Paul’s most grievous misfortune…he probably presented the gospel to a large congregation of Gentiles.

Paul wanted Timothy to know that God made that possible…and that he was satisfied that the Lord would “deliver him from every evil work, and preserve him unto his heavenly kingdom.”

Paul didn’t allow himself to think that the successful negotiation of one severe onslaught from evil sources was the end of the story.  There would be more…and very likely worse…to come for himself and for Timothy.  But what did it matter?  The Lord had delivered his servant “in six troubles: yea and in seven there should no evil touch him."

It was for Timothy to grasp…it is for all Christians to grasp…that everlasting salvation is the birthright of every believer.  For every successive evil work…its proportions do not matter…there is more than ample deliverance held in readiness by the Lord to meet the evil.  Timothy had every conceivable reason for making full proof of his ministry in hope and confidence…as do we.             

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