Vs. 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul writes quite an intense appeal to Timothy in the wake of his impending death. Timothy was to preach the word (vs. 2) and be a messenger of the Gospel to others! Question: Why was this so important? Because in the last days, people will turn from sound doctrine and truth (vs. 3-5). Paul knew his time was coming to an end and would reflect upon his life (vs. 6-8). Paul urged Timothy to come quickly to Rome and bring Mark before winter (vs. 9-18). We see the value of the relationships God blesses us with. But we also see another sad reality of the Christian life is that some will forsake us. However, Paul knew ultimately that the Lord was always with him (vs. 17-18). Even with Paul facing death, he still thought of others as he closes his last letter (vs. 19-22)
Regarding application…Be Prepared. Vs. 2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” Question: Be prepared for what? To preach the Word of God! It may be easy to dismiss this personal exhortation and think it doesn’t apply to us. Because we too live in the last days, there will be many false doctrines. Paul and Timothy were not the only ones as we were reminded in this letter that were being prepared to stand up for the truth. The very fact that we are here today is evidence that throughout the centuries, people have been prepared to speak the truth and even die for it. Brothers and sisters, unlike athletes who prepare for a season of time in the year to compete, we must be ready in season and out of season. We are always “on call” when it comes to our duty as a soldier for Christ.
Vs. 1, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.” Yikes, quite an ominous statement that Paul gives to Timothy. Question: When are these last days? The last days were during Timothy’s time and has extended to ours too. Sadly, these descriptions are not people who are pagan idol worshippers (vs. 2-9), but they are people who are part of the church. Brothers and sisters, we should not be naïve of such things. Many people will state they are Christians, but they have no mind of God. They are imitators like Jannes and Jambres (vs. 8) the Egyptian magicians who were able to mimic a couple of the miracles Moses had done. We are to follow the example of Paul (vs. 10-13) and remember that living a life for the Lord is going to be full of persecution. If we live for the Lord, we will be persecuted.
Regarding application…Word of God. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Question: How do we combat the last days? Know God’s living word! Because of the spiritual warfare, we must be equipped (vs. 17). Paul likes the word of God to the sword of the Spirit (vs. 17) and this is our one offensive weapon we can use. We live in an information society. Information is at our fingertips; Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia. We read the word of others every day. It’s so important to ensure we are staying up to date with God’s word!
Vs. 15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” This chapter is a powerful exhortation from Paul to Timothy to keep up the fight. Paul shares images of a solider (vs. 3-4), athlete (vs. 5) and farmer (vs. 6). Each one of these illustrations asks that a person be strong (vs. 1). Question: Where does Timothy draw this strength? Through the knowledge and remembrance of Jesus (vs. 8-13). Paul also spends some time encouraging Timothy on how to deal with the quarrelling in the church at Ephesus (vs. 14-26). Some of this quarrelling had to do with the teaching of false doctrine (vs. 17-18). Paul shares an illustration of a house (vs. 19-22), which is the church. On this house is either good and faithful servants (gold & silver) or false teachers (wood & clay).
Regarding application…Avoid Quarrels. Vs. 23, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” There is a tendency to want to defend the truth. We want to get in a two cents worth and make sure people hear our side of the story. But Paul encourages Timothy to avoid those who have no desire to know the truth. Certainly, there were going to be opportunities for Timothy to dispute them through teaching and preaching. But going to them directly will not help this matter any longer. This application certainly would do well in our current lives. How we handle disputes can go a long way to showing a right testimony in our lives to our church, workplaces, school and in our own family!
Vs. 8, “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” As Paul writes this last letter to Timothy, we see his great appreciation for Timothy (vs. 3-4). He loved him dearly and really hoped and prayed that Timothy would be able to see him one last time. He recalls the power of laying on hands when he commissioned Timothy (vs. 6). Sadly there were some who were abandoning Paul (vs. 15), but Paul exhorts Timothy not to be ashamed (vs. 8-12). When we go through tough times and we look like we are losing, there can be feelings of shame. But Paul reminds Timothy that he is a part of God’s bigger and better plan. Thankfully, like Timothy, some others were also loyal to Paul (vs. 16-18).
Regarding application…Do Not Be Timid. Vs. 7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” Question: What causes timidity? When we are unsure. When we doubt. When we fear. Don’t forget, Paul was in prison and would soon die because of persecution. His admonishment to Timothy was very needed and real. It is not easy to live a Christian life. And if your life is easy, than perhaps you are not surrendering your life wholly to the Lord. Question: What does timidity look like? I would surmise it can show itself in many ways. You feel the spirit of God convict you to serve, but you are unsure of yourself and never volunteer. You want to be like Christ at work, but the negative influence of others keeps you from even wanting to pray in the break room. In my own life, I struggle with making sure I am not approaching ministry expectations with timidity. God is on our side. We will not lose. Let’s be confident in what God has given us!
Vs. 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” This records the final inspired thoughts of Paul’s Godly ministry. It is no suprise to see Paul’s strong appeal to keep the faith & ministry alive! Paul would exhort Timothy to keep preaching the word (Vs. 2)…and this is so important because we live in a time when even Christians don’t want to hear the Word of the Lord (Vs. 4)…because they just want to hear the feel good messages. Paul needed to make sure that Timothy would understand that the baton was now passed on to him. It’s touching to see Paul want to visit with Timothy one last time (Vs. 9).
Regarding application…Loving the World. Vs. 10, “for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica...” Brothers & Sisters…this is such a big thing. Demas was one of Paul’s trusted workers….Question: Why would he desert Paul in a time when Paul needed him most?” Because, Demas could not endure the hardships of following God. Because, Demas might have been scared. Because, Demas ultimately chose the world rather than God. We are not talking about the Rich Young Ruler event in Jesus’ ministry…we are talking about a man of God who served Paul & the Lord faithfully…yet when the biggest trial of his life came…he folded. It’s easy to serve the Lord when all is well…this is what separates the boys from the MEN. This is what proves whether your walk backs up your talk. In Demas’s mind, I doubt he was thinking that he was “Loving the world” more than God…but from God’s perspective…either you follow God completely, or you don’t. There is no compromise. Either we give up all that we want and follow God…or we don’t. We can’t try to follow God and follow other things…Jesus would make that quite clear (Matt 6:24). Question: Will you be Demas or will you be Paul? Will you love the world or love God? You must choose only one.
Vs. 16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Amen…what a wonderful passage of scripture to memorize =) Paul now tells Timothy of what lies ahead for the future church. Paul begins telling Timothy of the “last days” (Vs. 1). We see a very sad description of what will come as a challenge for the church in our time today! The love of self (Vs. 2) will be a dominant factor (Me, Myself & I)…perhaps no other time in history have we seen this self promotion. Just think…we live in a time where you can literally choose what you want to do! It’s all about what YOU want. It’s all about where YOU want to go. It’s about YOUR choice. Question: But is it really about You/Us? Indeed, Paul must have seen a time such as now.
Regarding application…Deception. Vs. 5, “having a form of godliness but denying itspower...” There is no denying that there are plenty of churches around these days! The Bible continues to be a world-wide best seller…yet the world is degrading before our very eyes. It’s very easy to see these type of people and assume they must be Christians. But more and more…we must do as Jesus said and identify them by the fruit they bare. True Christians are a minority…not a majority. We must be very careful not to be deceived by such people. The danger is that we assume they are Christians and then think it must be okay to act and talk like them. The pressure & danger of living in a sinful world is getting worse. We live in a crazy time. That is why all the more we must be diligent & faithful in in His Word, prayer & fellowship! We must equip ourselves in His word (Vs. 16) and be constantly aware of the deceivers! And remember…Paul is not talking about the secular world…he is addressing the church today (which should be even more alarming)!
Vs. 15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” It doesn’t matter if you are a Pastor, teacher, or just member of God’s church…we all have our responsibilities! Paul uses images of teachers, soldiers, athletes, farmers, workers, vessels, and servants…we are all God’s chosen to be examples in this world we live in. The enemies are out there…the world (Vs. 4), the flesh (Vs. 22) and Satan (Vs. 26)…but we have no excuse. We must do our best…give 100% to God!
Regarding application…Watch What You Talk About. Vs. 16, “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” We don’t necessarily think of conversation as something against the Lord…yet we are starkly reminded that our very conversations can lead us against God. Question: What is ungodly chatter? While Paul was directly speaking to the false teachers teaching lies…I think that the application is very real for us today. Just because we may not speak heresy against the Bible, does not mean our conversations can never displease God. We know that taming the tongue (James 3) is a constant thing we must do. I’ve seen kids with their ipod’s to church blasting secular music and singing along…and then they go to service and sing praise songs. Hmmmm…something is wrong with this picture. Question: How do you think God feels? It’s like your future spouse rambling on and on about all these guys/girls, and then turns to you and says how great you are. Question: How would you feel? Indeed…we must be very careful with the type of words that come out of our mouths and the type of conversations we indulge in.
Most scholars believe this letter was written right before Paul’s death. In this letter, Paul offers his final thoughts to Timothy as he again is imprisoned in Rome as a result of the persecution under the emporer Nero in about AD 66 or 67. Paul writes to remind Timothy what is truly important and means to encourage him in the faith. This is Paul’s most intimate and moving letter…and his last. He longs to see Timothy and must know his time on earth is nearing an end.
Vs. 5, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” Even in Paul’s darkest hour, his love & concern for Timothy is shown by his prayers & letter to his dear friend. In this chapter, Paul seems to insinuate that Timothy might have been a bit timid of his faith and scared to stand up in this time of increased persecution from Nero (Vs. 6-7). I love the picture of fanning the flame to make it brighter (Vs. 6). Paul was able to keep that Heavenly perspective of life and was assured that he was going to go to a better place because of Jesus (Vs. 8-11). Paul had some who deserted him (Vs. 15), but one would stand up in courage & faith!
Regarding application…Being A Faithful Friend. Vs. 16, “May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.” Question: Why would Paul write about Onesiphorus? To encourage Timothy who was a bit timid, but also praise a friend who stood up for him! Wow…I pray that we all have friends such as Onesiphorus! Not only should we hope to have such a friend as this…but we too should strive to be a faithful friend to the end! Think of those who you consider to be a friend…would you stand up for them? Perhaps some of you are thinking that you don’t have that “Best Friend”…well perhaps you don’t have that “Best Friend” because you are not being a faithful friend to those you consider to be friends. Friendship is so underrated…yet, we see the power of friendship in Paul & Timothy and most touchingly…in David & Jonathan (so tragic & sad). Friendship is one of the dearest gifts God can give to us while on earth. We must treasure that friend or friends and never take for granted that bond. I have been incredibly blessed with such friendships in life and thank God often for the people who have been there & stood up for me!