II Timothy 4:1-4 “What do we really need?”

Context of II Timothy is the imminent retirement of the apostle Paul and his sometimes reticent protégé Timothy.   Paul says in 4:6 that “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure” – he knows he’s close to death and he wants to make sure to convey the importance to Timothy of living out his God-ordained purpose and calling.  Timothy was a young man who was probably intimidated or a bit shy, you can glean this from the fact that Paul continually affirms his calling and gifts and acknowledges that he will experience some struggles, all in his efforts to prepare him for the ministry that lied ahead.

 Life comes from the Word (3:14-17) – Background of 4:1-4

  • Paul tells Timothy to be reliant on the Word – he’s taught him about their truthfulness and warned him that he doesn’t need to search for other novelties…
    • He tells him to continue – it means to “hold to” or “remain” and it calls for more than continuing to have right doctrine (orthodoxy) but to live and abide in what he learned (orthopraxy)
    • He says you learned this when you were young – 1:3-5. 
    • He says continue in these Holy Scriptures – the only time he uses this phrase – means sacred writings.  The context is the OT, but it’s appropriate to bring in the whole of Scripture.
    • Verse 16 is a very popular verse and one that a lot of people have memorized BUT I want you to look at verse 17. 
    • What does he say?  That the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work…
    • The word equipped suggests an abiding condition.  What Paul is telling Timothy is that if he would live his life, nurture his life in the Scriptures than he would be fully qualified and prepared to undertake whatever tasks God put before him.

 See God’s Word as your authority (4:1-2)

  • Paul gives a charge to Timothy…In light of the what he’s said concerning God’s Word Paul tells Timothy to consistently live out God’s Word…He gives him a charge a command…basically, don’t be a coward, be active, be a leader…
    • Before God – God is watching
    • And Jesus as Judge – judgment has been given to the Son.
      • Living
      • Dead

 Paul gives 5 imperatives (commands) with the first in verse 1 as the basis for the other four

  • Preach God’s Word – the overarching imperative/command
    • Kerrusso – means to herald or proclaim.  In NT times, a herald (someone who proclaims) would go through the streets of a city to announce special events, such as the appearing of an emperor (MacArthur, pp. 170).
    • Didn’t tell him to preach a social gospel, moral living, history lessons, political persuasions, preferences, pontificate about disagreements I’ve had or personal squabbles.  Didn’t tell him to rail against other preachers or denominations
    • The Word – probably the entire written Word of God (Matthew, Acts, and then an OT book).  Why preach this way?
      • Magnifies God in His Word
      • Prevents the preacher from reaching or responding to criticism – preach the Word
      • The pastor and congregation will be people of God’s Word, leads us to thinking/living biblically
      • Systematic, comprehensive explanation/application of God’s Word –prevents me from inserting my own ideas, my own preferences, manipulating a text or role/responsibility.
      • No need for creativity, in terms of trying to figure out what I’m going to preach – it’s right there.
  • In season/out of season
    • The word carrying an idea of urgency, preparedness, and readiness.  Used of a soldier who is ready to go into battle at a moment’s notice or a guard who continually keeps alert for any threat of infiltration or attack by an enemy.  When it’s convenient or inconvenient.  Popular or unpopular, when you feel like it or when you don’t.  Preaching isn’t reserved for the moments you feel ready, or feel good about the overall situation or when you’re mentally ready. (MacArthur)
  • Convincing/rebuking or correcting/rebuking
    • Correction/convincing – showing people where they are wrong or a reasoned argument
    • Rebuking – telling them to stop, rebuking a straying conscience
      • Both of which require that you not flatter people or seek to placate/please people.
  • Exhorting/encourage/give hope
  • And in doing this you’re supposed to do it with longsuffering/teaching (patience and instruction) – with endurance or perseverance. 
    • Change takes time.  Life-change takes time…and the Word of God through the Spirit of God does the changing…
      • I’d like to have spiritual change like a microwave:  one man who struggles with spending time in your Word Lord – 10 minutes in the Bible microwave and BAM.  There you go…
      • A husband who has completely abdicating his role in raising his children in the faith – there’s a 5-minute solution to that…
      • A woman who struggles with a gossiping tongue – 2 ½ minutes…
      • That’s not how ministry is, that’s not how life is…

 Commit to hear God’s Word (4:3-4)

  • “Few things are more discouraging or dishonoring to such men (who are pastors and preach/teach the Word) than a congregation inattentive to the Word of God” (Anyabwile, pp. 21).  However, that’s not always the case is it
  • Paul says three things…concerning these individuals
    • But WHO ARE THEY? In verse 3 it says, “for the time will come when they”…it implies a change of mind, as one author put it “originally an individual who was enduring, persevering in the faith and now they’re no longer enduring in the faith.” 
    • These individuals will no longer put up with sound doctrine – they would find the content of the gospel unpalatable to them.  They’ve tasted it…and they don’t want any more of that…
    • They would gather teachers to “suit their own desires.”  The context is actual teachers.  An implication is someone they know will tell them what they want to hear…
    • They’ll do this Paul said, because they want to satisfy their own desires.
  • Who is Paul speaking to?  People in the church (membership, which doesn’t necessarily equate to being a Christian)
    • And as a result, what happens? 
      • They’ll turn away from hearing the truth of the gospel
      • They’ll turn away to myths – myths being a word that references anything/everything
  • Again, he’s saying this to professing believers in the church…
    • You know what I believe Paul understood…People have a natural tendency to move away from the truth, to gravitate towards teaching, preaching, friends/family, etc., that not only condone their behavior, attitude, perspective, their desires…but affirms, applauds it….
    • “our agenda becomes secondary, the preacher’s agenda becomes secondary and God’s agenda for his people takes center stage, reorders our priorities, and directs us in the course that most honors him” (Anyabwile, pp. 20).
    • Listening to the Word and what it means is critical in following Jesus.
  • You’ll spare yourself from following false religions and wrongful thinking

 Specific points of Application (Anyabwile, pp. 22-25)

  • Meditate on the sermon passage during your quiet time
  • Invest in a good set of commentaries
  • Talk and pray with friends about the sermon after the church
  • Listen to and act on the sermon throughout the week
  • Develop the habit of addressing any questions about the text itself
  • Cultivate humility


  1. Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004).
  2. Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Heathly Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008).
  3. Mark Dever, What is a Healthy Church? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005).
  4. R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapell,  1 & 2 Timothy and Titus  of Preaching the Word. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000).
  5. Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, Jr., 1, 2 Timothy, Titus of The New American Commentary. (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992).
  6. John MacArthur, 2 Timothy of The MacArthur New Testmanent Commentary. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995).

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