Inductive Bible Study on 2 Timothy 4:1-8

INDUCTIVE STUDY: Living for Christ

  1. 2 Timothy 4:1-8
    I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing. -2 Timothy 4:1-8 (ESV)
  2. Observation: What does it say?
    1. Setting Questions
      1. Who is the author or speaker?
        The author is Paul. Paul began as Saul, a Pharisee who was persecuting Christians. He is introduced at the end of Acts 7, at the stoning of Stephen, as someone who approved of persecuting Christians. We learn in Acts 8 that Saul was persecuting Christians, ravaging the church, going from house to house, dragging both men and women off and putting them to prison. Saul went to the high priest in Acts 9 and got permission to expand his persecution by bring back people from Damascus. On the way there, a light flashed around him, he fell to the ground, and God revealed himself to Saul. Others heard the voice from heaven, but did not see anything. Saul was blinded by God, and led into Damascus. For three days he neither ate nor drank. God sent Ananias to pray for Paul, for he was chosen by God to carry the gospel before Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. When Ananias prayed for Paul, the scales fell from his eyes, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul became a travelling missionary, taking the gospel to many people. He was put in jail several times and suffered much for the sake of the Gospel.
      2. Why was this book written? What was the occasion of the book?
        The book was written in order to instruct and encourage Timothy. Paul was imprisoned at the time and believed he was nearing the end of his life.
      3. What historic events surround this book? What was happening in the world at the time this was written?
        On July 19, 64 A.D., a great fire swept through Rome and raged for six days and seven nights. Other fires burned in the days to follow. Over half the city was burned to the ground. Nero was at Antium when the fire broke out, but he hurried back to enjoy the sight from his balcony and sang ‘The burning of Troy’ on his guitar. The rumour was widespread that Nero had ordered the fire. That was also the story the arsonist gave when they were caught. But when the Emperor failed to remove the suspicion from himself he blamed the Christians. He issued an edict that they should all be arrested and punished.

        As a result a savage persecution broke out against the Christians. Soon the wave of persecution spread to the provinces. When Paul returned to the east in the spring of 66 A.D. his enemies took advantage of the turn of events against Christianity and had him arrested and imprisoned.
      4. Where was it written? Who were the original recipients? What do we know about them?
        2 Timothy was written from a Roman prison. The book was named for Timothy, the original recipient. Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek man. Paul found Timothy in Lystra. He encouraged Timothy to come with him, and the two began ministering together. Timothy accompanied Paul on many missionary journeys, and was sent out from him to other minister in other places as well.
    2. Context Questions
      1. What literary form is being employed in this passage?
        This passage is an epistle, a personal letter.
      2. What is the overall message of this book, and how does this passage fit into that message?
        The overall message of this book is to serve God faithfully, willing to endure suffering as you share the Gospel.
      3. What precedes this passage? What follows? How does this passage fit the immediate context?
        • Chapter 1 of the book contains greetings, and an admonition not to be ashamed of sharing the gospel, to remain faithful in teaching the gospel, and to be willing to suffer for it.
        • Chapter 2 is an encouragement to stay strong and remain faithful no matter the circumstances, that God’s word cannot be chained. We are pursue righteousness for his sake.
        • Chapter 3 warns of difficult times opposition and persecution, of those who would turn away and oppose God’s message. Regardless, Timothy is to continue living as he has been taught and sharing the word.
        • The passage we are considering charges Timothy to be faithful, and lists his responsibilities and reward.
        • The end of Chapter 4 contains Paul’s closing requests to see people, for his scrolls and parchments to be brought to him, as well as greetings for friends.
    3. Structural Questions
      1. Are there any repeated words? Repeated phrases?
        • The phrase “his appearing” and the description of God as “judge”are used both in verse 1 and in verse 8. We look forward to his second coming, when he judges the living and the dead.
        • “I have” is repeated 3 times in verse 7, as Paul looks back on his life and describes his ministry using the metaphor of a race.
        • The word “righteous” is used twice in verse 8, the Lord is described as the righteous judge, he awards the crown of righteousness.
      2. Does the author make any comparisons? Draw any conclusions?
        Paul does make a comparison between how those who will not tolerate sound teaching act, and how Timothy is to act. Those who will not tolerate sound teaching follow their own desires and turn from the truth to myths. Timothy, in contrast, is to be self controlled, enduring hardship, doing an evangelists work, and fulfilling the ministry.
      3. Does the author raise any questions? Provide any answers?
        Paul does not raise any questions in the passage. The entire passage answers the question, “How should Timothy fulfill his ministry?”
      4. Does the author point out any cause and effect relationships?
        Paul points out that because people have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things, they will accumulate teachers for themselves, turning away from truth, and to myths.
      5. Is there any progression to the passage? In time? Actions? Geography?
        There is no progression of time, actions, or geography in this passage.
      6. Does the passage have a climax?
        The word ‘finally’ signals the climax of this passage in verse 8. If our hearts are focused on the second coming, and we live our lives as described in the first seven verses, Christ will award us the crown of righteousness.
      7. Does the author use any figures of speech?
        Paul does not use any figures of speech in this passage.
      8. Is there a pivotal statement or word?
        The pivotal statement is “For I am already being poured out as an offering.” Paul transitions from the charge to Timothy to a description of his own life and ministry.
      9. What linking words are used? What ideas do they link?
        • “And” (verse 1) –Timothy is charged by the appearing of Christ
        • “And” ( verse 1 ) – Timothy is charged by the kingdom of Christ
        • “For” ( verse 3 ) – Timothy is to do the things described in verse two because of what will happen in the coming days
        • “Instead” ( verse 3 ) – rather than follow sound teaching, people will follow their own desires
        • “Because ( verse 3 ) Paul gives us the cause of them following their own desires – they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things
        • “And” ( verse 3 ) – those who do not tolerate sound teaching will also turn away
        • “But” ( verse 4 ) – this is used as a contrast, those who will not tolerate sound teaching turn to myths and away from the truth
        • “However” ( verse 5 ) – signals a difference in how Timothy is to behave in contrast to those that turn away from the truth
        • “For” ( verse 6 ) – this is a transition from the charge to Timothy to fulfill the ministry, into the fact that Paul believes he is nearing the end of his ministry
        • “And” ( verse 6 ) – links the idea that Paul is being poured out, and that he expects to
        • “Finally” ( verse 8 ) – links the idea that Paul has finished the race with the reward he will receive – the crown of righteousness
        • “And” ( verse 8 ) links the idea that Paul has the crown of righteousness, yet he is not the only one
        • “But also” ( verse 8 ) –used to transition to the idea that all who set their affection on Christ’s appearing will be awarded the crown of righteousness
      10. What verbs are used to describe action in the passage? What is significant about these verbs?
        • Paul uses active verbs in the present tense to instruct Timothy. Paul uses “charge” in verse 1to explain his expectation that Timothy would preach, be (ready), reprove, rebuke, and exhort. His life should be characterized by being self controlled, enduring hardship, doing an evangelists work. He must do all of these things to fulfill the ministry.
        • Paul uses verbs in the past tense to refer to himself. He has competed, finished (the race), and kept (the faith).
        • Paul uses future tense in reference to what God will do. He will award the crown of righteousness to those who set their affections on his appearing.
    4. Structural Model
    5. StructuralModel

  3. Interpretation: What does it mean?
    1. Continuity of the Message – The Law of Non-Contradiction

      1. In general, what does the Bible teach on the subject addressed in this passage?
        In brief, the bible as a whole is about this subject. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17
      2. Is this passage clear on this subject? Is there another passage that more directly addresses this subject? Are there other passages by this author that address this subject? What do they teach?
        This passage is very clear and direct about what we are to do. Other passages provide detail about what it that should look like.

        • Preach the Word – “The word ‘preach’ means to preach ‘like a herald.’ In Paul’s day, a ruler had a special herald who made announcements to the people. He was commissioned by the ruler to make his announcements in a loud, clear voice so that everyone could hear. He was not an ambassador with the privilege of negotiating; he was a messenger with a proclamation to be heard and heeded. ”

          One of the best examples of preaching the word is found in Acts 10:34-43.
        • Being ready in season and out – Jesus teaches about being ready in Matthew 26:36-44 and Luke 12:25-40. We do not know the day or the hour that Christ will return. Jesus compares his second coming with the flood of Noah. We will live life as we always have, until suddenly the flood will come and sweep us away. We are told, therefore, to stay awake and to keep ourselves ready, so that when Christ comes we are doing what He has called us to do.

          In 2 Corinthians 9:1-5, we learn from Paul as he writes the church at Corinth that being ready is a continual process, there is no point that we have ever arrived. Paul and Timothy boast of the readiness of Cornith, and yet they send the brothers so that their boasting proves true.

          In Titus 3:1 we are exhorted to be ready for every good work.
        • Reprove – In Proverbs 9:8, we learn that the response of a wise man to correction is love, and in 19:25, that when a man of understanding is reproved, he gains knowledge. In Revelation 3:19, in the letter to the church at Laodecia, we see that Christ reproves and disciplines those whom he loves, and that the proper response to reproof is to be on fire for Christ and to repent of our sins.
        • Rebuke – In Proverbs we see that scoffers do not listen to rebuke (13:1) and that rebuke is to go deep into a man of understanding (17:10). We also see in verses 24-25 that those who are wicked that they are right will be cursed by the peoples, and that those who rebuke them will have delight and blessing. We are instructed that open rebuke is better than hidden love (27:5), and that if we add to God’s word that we are liars in need of rebuke.

          In Luke 17:3-4, Christ instructs us that if our brother sins, we are supposed to rebuke him, and if he repents, we are to forgive. No matter how many times he sins and then repents, we are always to forgive.

          In 1 Timothy 5:1, we are instructed not to rebuke and older man, but to encourage him as we would a Father. In 1 Timothy 5:20, Paul instructs us that those who persist in sin are to be rebuked in the presence of all, so that the rest may fear. Overseers are responsible for rebuking those who contradict sound doctrine; liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons are to be sharply rebuked (Titus 1:7-14).
        • Exhort – Peter exhorts non-believers, as he bears them witness, to save themselves from this evil generation (Acts 2:40). Barnabas exhorts the church at Jerusalem to remain faithful to the Lord, steadfast in their purpose (Acts 11:23). When Paul is asked for exhortation from the Jews, he stands up and shares the gospel with them. (Acts 13:15)

          Romans 12:8 lists exhortation as a gift that is to be used by those who possess it.

          In 1 Thessalonians, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy exhort the Thessalonian church to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls them into his kingdom and glory. Exhortation goes hand in hand with establishing (1 Th 3:2), and the Thessalonians are encouraged to be devoted to the reading of scripture, to teaching, and to exhortation (1 Th 4:13).

          The author of Hebrews, likely Paul, states that we are to exhort others so that they are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (3:13). He asks the people if they have forgotten their exhortation as sons, that the Lord loves and disciplines those He loves, so they are not to regard the discipline lightly or be weary. (12:5-6) Both the author of the book of Hebrews (13:22), and Peter (1 Peter) regard their entire letter as an exhortation.
          Paul writes to Titus that he is to exhort with authority. (Titus 2:15)
        • Be self-controlled – In 1 Cor 9:25-27 we see that to be self controlled means not to be aimless, but to discipline ourselves and to keep ourselves under control, so that we do not disqualify ourselves. This passage is tied to the race analogy used later by Paul. Earthly runners exercise self-control to win a prize that will perish, we run in order to obtain a prize that will last for eternity – the crown of righteousness that Christ will offer us. In Proverbs 25:28, the Bible teaches that to lack self-control is to be like a city that has been broken into and is without walls. The exhortation to be self-controlled is given often in the New Testament. In Galatians 5:22-23, we see that self-control is the fruit of the Spirit. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul contrasts the Spirit of fear with one of power, love, and self control. In 2 Timothy 3:3, Paul warns Timothy to stay away from those who have a lack of self control.
    2. Is this passage intended to teach a truth or simply record an event?
      This passage is intended as teaching to equip Timothy to continue to carry on the work of the ministry, even after Paul’s death.
  4. Context of the Material
    1. As you review your observations of the context of the passage (section II above), how do those observations help interpret this passage? What conclusions can you draw about the passage that are informed by the context?
      This is a personal letter between and older man and the younger one he was training. Paul has discipled Timothy. He knows he is at the end of his life, and he wants Timothy to be equipped to continue after he is gone. Paul is in prison and suffering, yet he is able to look ahead and rejoice in the second coming. Because this is his final letter to Timothy and this is the final section of that letter, we would expect him to be direct and share what is most important.
  5. Customary Meaning
    1. In a paragraph or two summarize the teaching of the passage giving the passage it most natural, normal meaning.
      2 Timothy 4:1-8 is teaching us what living for Christ as we fulfill our callings should look like. We should always be ready to preach the message, reprove, rebuke, and exhort. We should be self controlled, willing to endure hardship, and do an evangelists work. Paul’s life was an example of this. Because he did these things and lived for the promise of Christ’s return, he will be judged righteous.
    2. What issues, questions, terms, or teachings in this passage are difficult to understand? Read commentaries to help with these and then summarize your findings.
      • Does his appearing refer to Christ’s past appearing on the earth, or to his future appearing?
        “in the original the Greek kata literally means “according to” or “in accordance with.”
      • What is the significance of the drink offering in the OT?
        “He likens the shedding of his blood in martyrdom to the pouring out of a drink offering over a sacrifice (see Ex 29:40; Num 15:1-10). Paul had previously likened his death to a drink offering in Philippians 2:17. Hiebert says, ‘His whole life has been presented to God as a living sacrifice; now his death, comparable to the pouring out of wine as the last act of the sacrificial ceremony, will complete the sacrifice.’ ”
      • What is meant by the phrase “crown of righteousness?”
        “The crown of righteousness is the garland (here, not a diadem) which will be given to those believers who have exhibited righteousness in their Christian service.”
  6. Generalization: What is the big idea?
    1. Subject: What is the author talking about?
      Paul is giving Timothy a picture of what it looks like to fulfill his calling as he looked forward to Christ’s return, and what the reward will be.
    2. Complement: What is the author saying about what he is talking about?
      Timothy is to preach, be ready, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, exhibiting self control in all things, enduring hardship, doing an evangelists work, and fulfilling the ministry, as Paul has done. If he perseveres, the Lord will count him as righteous when he returns.
    3. Generalization: In a sentence, what is the exegetical idea (big idea)?
      Set your heart on the Christ’s return, faithfully completing the work that He has given you no matter the circumstances, clinging to the truth, and Christ will give you the crown of righteousness.
  7. Application: What difference does it make? (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
    1. Teaching: Is there a teaching to here to be learned or followed?
      In this passage we learn what it means to set our affections on Christ’s return: to live for him in this life. The way that we do that is to preach, be ready in season and out, reprove, rebuke, and exhort. We are to be self controlled, endure hardship, do an evangelists work, and fulfill the ministry.
    2. Rebuke: Does this passage communicate a rebuke to be heard and heeded?
      We are not to yield to insatiable curiosity by accumulating false teachers who lead us away from truth to myths, instead we should cling to the truth.
    3. Correction: Is there a correction to be noted?
      Rather than yielding to insatiable curiosity, we are to be self controlled.
    4. Training: In what way does this passage train us to be righteous?
      To be awarded the crown of righteousness by Christ, we should be living our lives in anticipation of his return.
    5. Implementation: What Must I Change?
      I have to make sure that my life and actions are not focused on the present, but on the future reality that Christ will return to judge everyone. How awesome it will be to stand before Christ and be counted righteous, because he has saved me and I have persevered by attempting to live in a way that is pleasing in his sight. In our information-saturated society, I have to be careful not to let my curiosity lead me away from the truth, accumulating teachers other than the word. The internet, scientific research, news media, movies, and the broader culture may or may not be reflecting truth, ultimately we must hold to God’s word.

      As I live life in the present, looking to the future, I should be mindful of whether I am doing all of the things that Christ has called us to do.

      • Am I preaching the message?
      • Am I ready? Am I asleep or lukewarm? Am I maintaining a strong relationship with God so that I represent him well at all times?
      • Am I correcting and rebuking in love?
      • Am I encouraging other believers, and my own teachers?
      • Am I acting with self control, or is something else controlling me?
      • How do I face hardship – in a way that glorifies God?
      • Am I doing the evangelists work?
      • Am I being faithful to share the gospel?
      • Am I living out my calling daily, or am I allowing it to be overshadowed by other things of this world that don’t ultimately matter?