The Apostle Paul’s Last Charge

I am teaching Bible fellowship on May 26th and here are my teaching notes. It is from an amazing section of Scripture where Paul gives his last charge to Timothy during tough times in and outside the church.


       Paul’s last solemn words and exhortation in II Timothy ring loudly to the church and men and women who want to stand and serve the Lord Jesus Christ in our times. It is his final charge to the young pastor Timothy on whose shoulders he was placing the care of all the churches. 

II Timothy 4

1 1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge.

Walter Lock – International Critical Commentary-You have followed me loyally thus far: I charge you to follow me further, and to remain true to the truth until the end. As in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus who shall come to judge us all whether living or dead, as you would be ready to welcome His Appearing, as you would hope to share His Kingdom.

Solemnly charge (diamarturomai from diá = intensifies meaning conveying idea of “thoroughly” + martúromai = witness, bear witness) means to bear witness, testify earnestly or repeatedly, to charge as it if before witnesses (here God and Christ Jesus), to exhort earnestly and with authority in matters of extraordinary importance (here the integrity of the message proclaimed). It carries the idea of giving a forceful order or directive. In the Greek it was used to call the gods and men to witness.

Paul is seeking Timothy’s undivided attention to the matter at hand.

Presence(enopion – from en = in + ops = face, eye, countenance) and so literally meaning in the face of, in front of, before or in the presence (sight) of and used primarily by Luke, Paul and John (in the Revelation). Being in sight. Before the face and thus the idea of face to face! Of doing something in someone’s presence. 

It is as if Paul is summoning his young protégé into the very presence of God the Father and the glorified Son of God to receive this solemn charge. Face to face

The phrase in the presence of parallels a common format used in Roman courts and legal documents and would have been familiar to Timothy and others of that day. A typical summons might have begun: “The case will be drawn up against you in the court at Hierapolis, in the presence of the honorable judge Festus, chief magistrate.”

What an awesome solemn charge in the presence of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a like a solemn charge and order sounding out from the court of God.

Verse 2:

2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

Phillips: to preach the Word of God. Never lose your sense of urgency, in season or out of season. Prove, correct, and encourage, using the utmost patience in your teaching.

Wuest: make a public proclamation of the Word with such formality, gravity, and authority as must be heeded. Hold yourself in readiness for this proclamation when opportunity presents itself and when it does not; reprove so as to bring forth conviction and confession of guilt; rebuke sharply, severely, and with a suggestion of impending penalty. Pleadingly exhort, doing all this with that utmost self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong, and accompany this exhortation with the most painstaking instruction.

Amplified:  Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.

Preach (kerusso or kerysso from kerux/keryx = a herald – one who acts as the medium of the authority of one who proclamation he makes; kerugma = the thing preached or the message) means to proclaim (publicly) or to herald or a public crier – the town official who would make a proclamation in a public gathering.

It means to proclaim a message as a herald did in the ancient days before radio and television. The Imperial Herald would enter a town in behalf of the Emperor, and make a public proclamation of the message which his Sovereign ordered him to give, doing so with such formality, gravity, and authority as must be heeded. He gave the people exactly what the Emperor bade him give, nothing more, nothing less. This should be the example and pattern for present day preachers of the gospel. We are not to add to or water down the Gospel of God!

The original meaning of the root word kerux was a “herald at the royal court.” Homer used kerusso and kerux in this connection. They not only announced the coming of the prince, but they also carried his commands to the uttermost corners of his realm. As the government of Greece became more republican, these heralds came to serve the state rather than the court. Certain qualities were required of heralds. They must have powerful voices, so voice auditions were often held. The herald was to make his announcements in a loud, clear voice so everyone could hear. This brings to mind the picture of the herald crying loudly and clearly “Hear ye, hear ye”.

The word is in a construction (Aorist imperative) which makes it a summary command to be obeyed at once. It is a sharp command as in military language

Ray Pritchard writes…

In a world of itching ears, Preach the Word!
To a generation gone astray, Preach the Word!
In a time of moral crisis, Preach the Word!
When people don’t want to hear you, Preach the Word!
When false teachers abound, Preach the Word!
In good times and in bad times, Preach the Word!
When people listen and when they don’t listen, Preach the Word!

BE READY: epistethi : (Acts 13:5; Ro 12:12; 1Ti 4:15, 16)

Be urgent (ASV)

Be persistent (NLT),

preach the word of God urgently (TLB),

be prepared (NIV)

Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], (Amp)

insist on it (NJB)

be on hand with it (JNT)

be zealous (WNT)

be earnest (YLT)

Urgent is the Authorized Version translation which vividly conveys the idea of pressing on with necessity.

Be ready (ephistemi from epi = upon + histemi = stand) means to stand by, be at hand, be present. Hold yourself in constant readiness to proclaim the Word.

The KJV “be instant” emphasizes the ideas of urgent, importunate (pressing or urging in request or demand) and persevering.

In the the aorist imperative, ephistemi conveys the ideas of urgency, preparedness, and readiness, as of a soldier ready to go into battle on a moment’s notice or  a guard who stands continually on alert for threat of enemy infiltration or attack. In broadcasting terms the idea would be “Stand by –You’re on the Air'”.

Paul is commanding Timothy to “take a stand, to stand upon it or up to it, to carry on, to stick to it”, proclaiming the truth regardless of whether the circumstances are difficult or easy.

Be at your work, attend to it always, in and out of season, letting nothing stop you  Be always ready and always at hand. Like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. We must always be on duty.

Like a good soldier, Timothy (and us) was to always be at his post, alert to embrace every opportunity of making known the gospel (not just the gospel that saves the first time [justification], but the gospel as it pertains to present tense salvation or sanctification).

The idea here is that a preacher is not just to play at preaching. Rather, it must be a life consuming passion. He is never off duty. All his life and his walk with God go into the preaching of the Word, because biblical preaching is God’s truth imparted through a man who walks with God. “Be ready” imparts a further sense of urgency. Picture a paramedic unit on call, ready to save someone’s life. Souls are perishing without Christ. Christians are straying from the fold. Proclaim God’s Word whenever and wherever you can!

In season (2122) (eukairos from eu = good + kairos = season, opportune time, “window of opportunity”) is an adverb modifying “preach” and means opportunely (the “right time”) or conveniently.

Out of season (171) (akairos from a = without + kairos = opportune time) which as an adverb (modifies “preach”) means inopportunely, unfavorably, unseasonably, inconveniently, untimely. This is the only use of akairos in Scripture.

REPROVE-means to bring to the light (to reveal hidden things) with the implication that there is adequate proof of wrongdoing. To expose, to convict, to reprove, to shame or disgrace and thus to rebuke another in such a way that they are compelled to see and to admit the error of their ways. To show someone that they have done something wrong and summon them to repent.

A preacher must make an appeal to the reason of the hearers: “Reprove.” The word is a legal term that means to present your case in such a manner as to convince your opponent of his wrong. A preacher must not simply give an emotional harangue. He must present his case in a logically convincing manner from the Word so that his hearers are persuaded that what it is saying is right even when their behavior is wrong.

Barclay adds that…

Demosthenes said that (elegcho) describes the situation in which a man unanswerably demonstrates the truth of the things that he has said. Aristotle said that (elegcho) means to prove that things cannot be otherwise than as we have stated them. Christian rebuke means far more than flinging angry and condemning words at a man. It means speaking in such a way that he sees the error of his ways and accepts the truth.  (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

REBUKE Epitimao is stronger than the previous word reprove implying more authority and less argument, thus conveying the idea of censure, including a sharp, severe reprimand with possibly a suggestion in some cases, of impending penalty. It also is used of speaking seriously or warning in order to prevent an action or bring one to an end. To rebuke in English means to criticize sharply (reprove sternly) while reprove means to scold or correct more gently or with kind intent.

BDAG says epitimao means “to speak seriously, warn in order to prevent an action or bring one to an end.”

Exhort (parakaleo from para = beside + kaleo = call) (aorist imperative – Do this now! Don’t delay! It’s urgent!) conveys the basic idea of calling one alongside to help or give aid. Because a person can be called alongside for many purposes, the meanings include admonish, comfort, or encourage. In the context admonish may be nearest the original meaning. The patience preacher must give tender, sympathetic admonition and encouragement to the fainthearted and the discouraged.

Steven Cole

a preacher must make an appeal to the will and emotions of the hearers: “Exhort.” The word has the nuance of encouraging someone to right behavior. Some people need rebuke and some need encouragement. If you encourage those who need rebuking, you assist them to go on sinning. But if you rebuke those who need encouragement, you’ll discourage them. Someone has said that the preacher’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.


Patience (makrothumia [word study] from makros = long, distant, far off, large + thumos = temper, passion, emotion or thumoomai = to be furious or burn with intense anger)  is literally long-temper (as opposed to “short tempered), a long holding out of the mind before it gives room to action or passion. It describes a state of emotional calm or quietness in the face of provocation, misfortune or unfavorable circumstances.

Makrothumia is the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. It is the ability to hold one’s feeling in restraint or bear up under the oversights and wrongs afflicted by others without retaliating. It is manifest by  the quality of forbearance under provocation. It is used of God’s patience toward sinful men (Ro 2:4) and of the attitude which Christians are to display.

Patience is the spirit which never gives up for it endures to the end even in times of adversity, exhibiting self-restraint such that it does not hastily retaliate a wrong.

Vine says makrothumia is the opposite of anger. It follows that a lack of patience often leads to wrath or revenge.

. The preacher of the word is to exhibit emotional calm in face of provocation, injustice or unpleasant circumstances without complaint or irritation. Such an attitude is possible only one allows “the Word of Christ to richly dwell within” (Col 3:16-), which makes us “adequate equipped for every good work” (2Ti 3:17) and brings forth “the fruit of the Spirit” which includes “patience” (makrothumia) (Gal 5:22).

Barclay adds that these men are to have a

spirit which never loses its patience with its fellowmen. Their foolishness and their unteachability never drive it to cynicism or despair; their insults and their ill-treatment never drive it to bitterness or wrath”. Every way of strengthening and establishing souls in the fear and love of God is to be tried. If you do not see the effect of your labor immediately, do not become discouraged and give up the cause, for “the wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8)

Instruction (didache [word study] from didasko = to give instruction in a formal or informal setting with the highest possible development of the pupil as the goal; English = didactic = intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive) is a noun which describes the activity of teaching (instruction). Didache means instruction by mouth with intent to influence the understanding and thereby to shape their will.

Great (all)..instruction is to be the aim of our teaching, the whole counsel of God’s word and especially the pure Gospel, not just a few bits of doctrine here and there. All proclamation must include sound doctrinal teaching for without it there is no conviction of sin and no repentance. By applying human reason, logic, and wisdom, gifted orators can move audiences by the power of their persuasive speech. But no man can be a faithful preacher without preaching the Word. 

Verses 3,4:

3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Time (kairos ) is not merely a succession of minutes as in the word chronos (chronological referring to clock or calendar time), but instead refers to a season, a decisive epoch, an era or a fixed, definitive period of time when events are brought to a crisis. Kairos refers to those strategic times in the calendar of God during which events come to a culmination and ripen to usher in a new age. Therefore kairos can refer to a period of opportunity and when the period of time passes so does the opportunity.

Trench defines kairos as

a critical, epoch-making period foreordained of God when all that has been slowly, and often without observation, ripening through long ages, is mature and comes to the birth in grand decisive events, which constitute at once the close of one period and the commencement of another.

Jeremiah saw a similar season writing

An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it? (Jer 5:30; 31)

Isaiah described as

“a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the LORD” and who say “Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa 33:9; 11

Not endure sound doctrine

will not put up with (NIV)

will not listen to accurate teachings (GWT)

they will not endure our wholesome doctrine in that they will hold themselves firmly against it (Wuest)

will no longer listen to right teaching (NLT)

will not tolerate wholesome instruction (Berkley).

Endure-“to hold one’s self upright or firm against a person or thing.”

Sound (5198)  (1Ti1:10, 6:3, 2Ti1:13, Titus 1:9,2:1) (hugiaino [word study] from hugies = healthy) is used literally of physical and mental health (both being sound) and then figuratively as used by Paul to refer to doctrinal teaching which is “healthy” and good “soul food” because it is free from error and adulterants. There is a modern movement toward “organic foods” as they are surmised to be healthier than non-organic. How we pray that the Spirit would spur the modern church to exhibit a similar movement back toward sound, healthy, “organic” doctrine of the “pure milk of His Word” knowing that it is only by this diet that the body of Christ will grow in maturity in respect to salvation (cp 1Pe 2:2note)

Our derivative words in English include hygiene or hygienic which define the conditions or practices conducive to good health…ponder that fact in the context of Paul’s use in this verse.

Sound doctrine is teaching which continually (because the verb is present tense indicating continuous action) protects and preserves the spiritual life of the one who partakes and which makes the whole man healthy, “equipped for every good work” (2Ti 3:16, 3:17note).

The definite article, “the“, in Greek modifies “sound doctrine”

Will turn away (apostrepho from apo = away from, a marker of dissociation, implying a rupture from a former association and indicates separation, departure, cessation, reversal + strepho = turn quite around, twist, reverse, turn oneself about) means literally to turn back or away

Wuest adds that apostrepho conveys…

the idea of “averting.” (Webster = avert: to turn away or aside (as the eyes or ears) in avoidance”) That is, those who follow these heretics, not only turn away their ears from the truth, but see to it that their ears are always in such a position that they will never come in contact with the truth, like a country windmill whose owner has turned its vanes so that they will not catch the wind. Notice the active voice of the verb “turn away,” and the passive voice of the verb “shall be turned.” The first named action is performed by the people themselves, while in the case of the second one, they are acted upon by an outside force.”

Will turn aside (ektrepo  from ek = out + trope = a turning) means literally to turn out (of the course) and so to turn aside (so as to avoid being involved). To turn away from, to swerve, to shun, to avoid meeting or associating with one. To turn a person off the road.

It can literally mean to twist out (He 12:13note). In secular Greek medical literature described a dislocated joint, one that is sprained or wrenched! This meaning gives one a picture of the minds and hearts of those who reject God’s Truth as ending up  spiritually “dislocated”, knocked out of joint, a far worse state than a physical dislocation!

Verse 5-But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.


 you must keep a clear head in everything (GWT)

be self-controlled (BBE)

you be constantly in a sober mood calm, collected, wakeful, alert in all things. (Wuest)

you must exercise habitual self-control, and not live a self-indulgent life (WNT)

keep your head in all situations (NIV)

but amid it all, keep your head (Berkley)

but you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances (TEV)

be calm and cool and steady (Amp)

be watchful in all things (NKJV)

you should keep a clear mind in every situation (NLT)

you should control yourself at all times (ICB)

be steady in all things (Barclay).

Be sober (nepho) means literally to abstain from wine and as used metaphorically here means to be free from every form of mental and spiritual ‘drunkenness’, from excess, passion, rashness, confusion, etc. and so to be well-balanced and self-controlled so as to keep a keep a cool, calm, and collected mind.

The present imperative commands Timothy to make this his standing so that he is continually on alert, yet calm and circumspect regardless of the season.  This alert wakefulness and calm assurance would protect him from being surprised and confused when those who professed Christ turned away from the word of Christ and unto myths of men. 

to be in a vigilant, wakeful, considerate frame of mind, taking heed of what is happening and pursuing a course with calm and steady aim.

Wuest adds that endure hardship

is aorist imperative which speaks of a sharp command given with military snap and curtness. Timothy needed just that….


make full proof of thy ministry (KJV)

fill your ministry to the brim (Williams)

completing the work which has been given you to do (BBE)

Do all the duties of a servant of God (ICB)

discharge to the full your duties as a minister (Berkley)

carry out to the full the commission that God gave you (Phillips)

leave no act of your service unfulfilled  (Barclay)

discharge all your duties as a minister (Moffatt)

fulfill the service asked of you (NJB)

I especially like the Darby translation 

fill up the full measure of thy ministry..

Fulfill (plerophoreo  from pleres = full + phoréo = fill) is literally to fill full and here is a command for Timothy to accomplish his ministry fully and wholeheartedly. Timothy was to carry out his ministry to its end, completing all its demands and requirements. Again the the aorist imperative is a command calling for Timothy to carry out this order with immediacy and effectiveness.

Diakonia speaks of Christian work in general, every mode of Christian service and does not have the “specialized” meaning which the English word “ministry” conveys. This is not referring to a group of professional, seminary trained individuals. In the first letter Paul wrote

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service (diakonia).

This verse clearly teaches that ministry (or “service”) is not just something we do for God but is something we have received from God, Who does His work through us. Our attitude in this service is to be wholehearted as was Paul’s who wrote that

Verses 6-8

6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

BBE: I have made a good fight, I have come to the end of my journey, I have kept the faith

Phillips: The glorious fight that God gave me I have fought. The course that I was set I have finished, and I have kept the faith. 

Wuest: The desperate, straining, agonizing contest marked by its beauty of technique, I like a wrestler have fought to the 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, and have delivered it again to my Captain.

Fought (agonizomai from agon = conflict or the place of assembly for the athletic contests and then a reference to the contests which were held there)

Agonizomai was a familiar term in writings of both military and athletic endeavors and was used to emphasize the concentration, discipline, conviction, and effort needed to win in both arenas. It pictures a runner straining every nerve to the uttermost towards the goal. Agonizomai was used in secular Greek meaning to contend for the prize on the stage, both of the poet, etc., and of the actor. Agonizomai was used in secular Greek in the context of public speaking meaning to contend against, as law-term, to fight a cause to the last and  to fight against a charge of murder.

Agonizomai  means to exert oneself, to fight, to labor fervently, to strive (devote serious effort or energy = implies great exertion against great difficulty and suggests persistent effort), to struggle, to contend with an adversary – all of these actions picturing an intense struggle for victory. When we find that the gloves of the Greek boxer were fur lined on the inside, but made on the outside of ox-hide with lead and iron sewed into it, and that the loser in a wrestling match had his eyes gouged out, we come to some appreciation of what a Greek athletic contest consisted of and of the effort such a contest would motivate!

Agonizomai here in second Timothy 4 is in the perfect tense which indicates a past completed action with ongoing effect and thus pictures the contest as having begun with intensity (the moment Paul was saved the “bell rang” beginning “round one”!) and which persisted to the end of his life. The use of this verb implies hindrances in the development of the Christian life. Paul is reminding us that faithful Christian ministry is not easy. It takes courage and expenditure of great effort to run the Christian race successfully, albeit that effort ultimately being in the power God supplies.).

Paul’s entire life had been given fully to the struggle even as Olympic athletes give their body, mind and spirit full to their specific sport.

Finished (teleo from telos = goal, consummation, the end or final purpose to which all the parts tend and in which they terminate) means to make an end of, to accomplish or to complete something. Teleo is in the perfect tense emphasizing the permanence of the finish. The finish line has been crossed and the results would last forever.

The idea Paul is conveying to Timothy and to all saints is not for us to merely end our life, but to bring our life (in Christ) to it’s destined goal, bringing to completion the individually unique and specific “course” that God has laid for each of His children to run.

Wuest- Verse 8: Henceforth there is reserved for me the victor’s laurel wreath of righteousness, which the Lord will award me on that day, the just Umpire [the umpire who is always fair and never makes a mistake], and not only to me but also to all those who have loved His appearing and as a result have their love fixed on it.

He Read His Own Obituary! –Alfred Nobel opened his newspaper one morning in 1888 and was shocked to read his own obituary. The fact was that Nobel’s brother had died, and a careless reporter had put the wrong man in the story. The incident left Nobel deeply disturbed for more than the obvious reasons. Through the erroneous obituary, he saw himself as the world saw him–a wealthy Swedish industrialist whose most enduring legacy was the invention of dynamite. Resolving to do something that would uphold his cherished ideals, Nobel used a portion of his great wealth to establish prizes that would reward people whose work benefited humanity. The Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901, and today they are still considered the most esteemed prizes in the world. The soul-searching that Alfred Nobel underwent as he reviewed his life is the same kind of self-examination Christians need to make regularly. Paul urged the Corinthians, “Examine yourselves” (2Cor. 13:5).

Isaiah records that

the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice. How blessed are all those who long for (wait for Septuagint = remain true to, hold fast to) Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

Agapao is in the perfect tense which indicates they had fixed their love on His appearing at some time in the past and as a result were still in that condition, so it speaks of the permanence or steadfast maintaining of their love of His appearing. The idea is that they had fallen in love with His appearing and were still in love with it!

Appearing (epiphaneia  from epiphaino in turn from epi = upon + phaino = shine) means literally to “shine upon” a fitting description of the glory which will become visible when “the Sun of Righteousness arises with healing in His wings” (Mal 3:2, Mt 24:30, Rev 1:7)

Edwards has an interesting way to gauge if you love His appearing:

A significant question to ask ourselves in this regard is, “WHAT THINGS DO I DESPERATELY WANT TO EXPERIENCE OR ACHIEVE BEFORE CHRIST RETURNS?” The length of our answer to this question is an unerring gauge of our love and devotion to Christ and His eternal kingdom. The more answers we have, the more things we deeply crave before Christ returns; the less affection we will have for Him and His appearing. The heart which is captivated by the allurements of this age will feel little interest for the inauguration of a new age in which the present allurements will be utterly stripped away. But the servant whose heart is captivated by the person of Christ and His work will call out with the apostle John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Re 22:20)

20He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

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1 Response to The Apostle Paul’s Last Charge

  1. Vcoin says:

    Nice blog thanks forr posting

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