Daily Archives: August 25, 2017

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “The Theology of Sleep”

Mark 4:26–29

Code: B170825

The world of consumerism is in a constant state of restlessness. Manufacturers and marketers relentlessly search for improved results. Those who achieve the greatest success become the latest benchmark for results-driven methodology. And there’s no shortage of people who flock to these self-proclaimed gurus, buying their books and attending their seminars, desperate to unlock the secrets of success.

Unfortunately, many modern evangelicals presume those principles for growth in the business world will directly transfer to gospel outreach. Their desire to see more converts, along with their lack of confidence in God’s Word, causes them to seek secular wisdom and solutions.

But as John MacArthur points out, their quest ignores God’s sovereignty. It is destined for compromise and doomed to fail. In his sermon, “The Theology of Sleep,” he argues that market-driven evangelism is, in reality,

the sort of Neo-Finneyist Pelagianism that motivates so many people in evangelicalism who think that the success of the gospel is dependent on their persuasive powers and ingenuity. That kind of thinking inevitably ends up adjusting the gospel. I promise you that if I felt for one minute that anybody was going to go to hell because I failed to make the necessary adjustments in the message to persuade them to believe I would have a very hard time sleeping.

The destiny of lost souls is a very heavy burden to carry for Christians—if they think their job is to persuade sinners into God’s kingdom. Who could sleep well under the weight of such a hefty responsibility? But “The Theology of Sleep” is a soothing reminder that it is God who is sovereign over the conversion of sinners and that our job is to remain faithful to the timeless message of the gospel. John reminds us that the biblical evangelist can and should sleep well at night.

John’s sermon takes us to Mark 4, a passage he refers to as the “Magna Carta of evangelism.” One of the central characters in that chapter is a farmer who diligently sows seed and then goes to sleep—secure in the knowledge that the growth and fruitfulness of the seed is beyond his control (Mark 4:26–27).

Christians should likewise approach evangelism in the same way—be faithful planting the gospel seed in the hearts of those who hear, and rest in the knowledge that it is God who sovereignly regenerates sinners (Ezekiel 36:25–27).

Furthermore, the parables of Mark 4 combine to form a timeless pattern for how we should evangelize. This biblical approach is the only one that rightly understands the dual realities of divine sovereignty and human depravity. If we fail to take either of those eternal truths into account, our evangelism will be disobedient, burdensome, and bear only superficial fruit.

“The Theology of Sleep” is a timely reminder of how we should reach out, and how we should rest, as God’s divinely chosen messengers.

Click the play icon below to watch “The Theology of Sleep.”

https://player.vimeo.com/video/10941231

 


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Jen Hatmaker’s Revision of Truth

Lorie Alexander of The Transformed Wife tackles Emily McFarland Miller’s interview with Jen Hatmaker. Miller’s piece appeared in the progressive news site Religion News Service. Recently LifeWay Christian stores pulled Hatmaker’s books from its shelves over her very vocal and unbiblical stance on homosexuality — she believes gay relationships can be holy —  so she has some explaining to do. It’s not terribly surprising that Miller threw her this softball question: You took a stand last fall saying LGBT relationships can be holy, and it got your books banned from LifeWay stores. Why was that important to you?

Good grief.

Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, Denny Burk, recently wrote that Progressive Christians (PC) like Hatmaker have a propensity to erase 2,000-years of Church history in an effort to see that the Church becomes more inclusive, more relevant, more open-minded. “There are many voices within the North American evangelical movement,” says Burk, “that are turning away from what the church has always believed and confessed. Hatmaker is now among them.” In his view the PC agenda (yes, liberals have an agenda) is to “re-imagine” Christianity to look a lot less like historic orthodox Christianity and more like the world. (source)

So with this in mind, following is Lorie Alexander’s post:

If we don’t like parts of the Bible can we simply decide they aren’t agreeable to us and refuse to believe them? Jen Hatmaker believes she can and she does. Here are a few of her quotes from a recent article:

She was asked: “You took a stand last fall saying LGBT relationships can be holy, and it got your books banned from LifeWay stores. Why was that important to you?”

Jen replied, “I just sort of have this dream for the church where it is safe and it is wide and it is generous and it includes all of our voices. For the longest time, the church has essentially had one voice — sort of the white, male voice. I’m starting to realize how much the church is missing when we silence whole people groups, like you’re either not welcome at all, or you’re welcome but not your voice, not your experience, not your life, and I saw that with the LGBTQ community.”

View article →

Source: Jen Hatmaker’s Revision of Truth

This ‘n’ That (08/25/2017)

  • Well, at least some people are finally admitting it.
  • Let’s clean up our language.
  • I’m eager to listen to this.
  • Hey, art and beauty are in the eye of the beholder, right?
  • The National Day of Prayer continues to make me cringe.
  • “While it is true that Scripture never mingles grace and works as grounds for justification, it is not the case that grace rules out law altogether, or vice versa.” The inimitable Phil Johnson offers a helpful primer on antinomianism.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • You keep using that word, “Christian.” I do not think it means what you think it means.
  • I did not know this and I find it hilarious (thanks, Janeen!). What a creative God we serve!
  • Here are some of the best videos of Monday’s total solar eclipse.
  • Kevin DeYoung follows up with more thoughts on Game of Thrones.
  • Mr. Magoo-type theology…now, there’s an interesting concept.
  • Classic John MacArthur:

Source: This ‘n’ That

August 25, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Content of His Commission

preach the word; (4:2a)

The faithful minister of Jesus Christ is commanded to preach the word, which focuses on the content of what is proclaimed. Preach translates the first of nine imperatives Paul uses in this passage, five of them in verse 2 (Preach, be ready, reprove, rebuke, exhort) and four in verse 5 (Be sober, endure, do, fulfill).

Preach is from kērussō, which means to herald, to proclaim publicly. In New Testament times, the herald, acting as imperial messenger, would go through the streets of a city to announce special events, such as the appearing of the emperor. His duties also included public announcement of new laws or government policies and actions.

Paul himself not only was appointed an apostle but also, like Timothy, was appointed a preacher (1 Tim. 2:7; cf. 2 Tim. 1:11). But because of Timothy’s timid spirit, that task was especially challenging for him. He did not have the naturally strong and aggressive personality or constitution of his mentor. He also may not have had the formal training or intellectual skill to argue successfully on a human level with more sophisticated and experienced errorists in and around the church. He doubtless felt inadequate and intimidated when they presented arguments for which he had not yet developed a successful apologetic or polemic. And in the eyes of some believers in Ephesus, he also was handicapped because of his youthfulness, although Paul had earlier counseled him to disregard such criticism (1 Tim. 4:12). In addition to resistance within the church, Timothy faced growing hostility from unbelieving Jews and from the Roman government. It was persecution by those enemies that had put Paul in prison.

There were other reasons why Timothy might have been tempted to muffle his proclamation, especially that of evangelism, which Paul mentions in verse 5. Timothy realized that the idea of salvation solely through God’s grace runs totally counter to the thinking of natural men and is often met with anger or indifference. But when preaching to unbelievers, whether Jew or Gentile, Timothy was to be like Noah, who “was a righteous man, blameless in his time; [and] walked with God” (Gen. 6:9; cf. Heb. 11:7). Timothy also was to be like Noah in being “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Long before God made His covenant with Abraham, before He made His covenant with Israel and gave them the law at Sinai, and still longer before He made the final and perfect covenant through His Son, Jesus Christ, Noah preached God’s righteousness to the ever more wicked antediluvians. As far as we know, Noah was not persecuted, but we do know that his preaching for a hundred years while he was building the ark fell on completely indifferent ears, because not a single soul outside his immediate family trusted in God and was saved.

Like every preacher of God’s truth to unbelievers, Timothy also was to be like Jonah, who declared to the wicked pagan city of Nineveh, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). In great contrast to that of Noah, however, Jonah’s preaching produced an amazing response of repentance and faith in the true God. “The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation at the judgment,” Jesus declared, “and shall condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah” (Matt. 12:41).

Timothy was to be like “John the Baptist [who] came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ ” (Matt. 3:1–2), and who then proclaimed “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

By the word, Paul doubtless means the entire written Word of God, His complete revealed truth, which the apostle also calls “the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27) and which he has just referred to as “the sacred writings” and the “Scripture” (2 Tim. 3:15–16).

A preacher cannot continue to faithfully preach and teach God’s word unless he carefully protects its truth. “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you,” Paul had warned in his previous letter, “avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ ” (1 Tim. 6:20). Near the beginning of this second letter he admonished, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus,” and, “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Tim. 1:13–14). He also implored Timothy to handle “accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), because truth that is poorly retained, guarded, and handled inevitably will be poorly taught.

After declaring the marvelous truth first proclaimed by the prophet Joel (2:32) that “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved,” Paul asks rhetorically in his letter to the church at Rome, “How then shall they [unbelievers] call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” Again quoting from the Old Testament, this time from Isaiah 52:7, the apostle then exults, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:13–15).

Of his own preaching Paul said,

I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Col. 1:25–29)

There are gifted orators who can sway an audience with the power of their persuasive rhetoric. There are men who are erudite, knowledgeable, well-trained, and worldly wise, who can cause other men to change their minds about certain matters. There are men who can relate moving stories that tug at a hearer’s heart and move him emotionally. Throughout the history of the church, including our own time, God has chosen to endow some ministers with such abilities. But God also has chosen not to bless every faithful preacher in those particular ways. Nevertheless, He charges them with the same task of preaching His Word, because the spiritual power and effectiveness of preaching does not rest in the skill of the speaker but in the truth.

Intellectually brilliant as he was, the apostle testified to believers at Corinth: “Brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:1–5). In his next letter to that church, he said, “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).

By far the most reliable and effective way to proclaim all of God’s Word is to preach it expositorially. In his book The Ministry of the Word, the nineteenth-century Scotsman William Taylor writes,

By expository preaching, I mean that method of pulpit discourse which consists in the consecutive interpretation, and practical enforcement, of a book of the sacred canon.… Exposition is the presentation to the people, in an intelligible and forcible manner, of the meaning of the sacred writer.… It is the honest answer which the preacher gives, after faithful study, to these questions, “What is the mind of the Holy Spirit in this passage?” and “What is its bearing on related Christian truths, or on the life and conversation of the Christian himself?” ([Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975], 155, 157, 159)

Like countless men before and after his time, Taylor preached expositorially because he wanted to know the mind of the Spirit, because he wanted to know how one Scripture truth bore upon another, and he had to carefully understand what God desired for his people.

For many reasons, faithful and full proclamation of the word is the only right way to preach. First of all, such preaching lets God speak rather than man, because it declares God’s own Word. And it is an incredibly thrilling privilege to give voice to God!

Second, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because it brings the preacher into direct contact with the mind of the Holy Spirit, the author of Scripture. It is for that reason that the preacher of the Word finds the process of study and discovery to be even more rewarding than the preaching that results from it, gratifying as that can be.

It is tragic and puzzling that so many preachers who recognize Scripture to be God’s own Word spend more time investigating and interacting with the limited and imperfect minds of other men than delving into the infinite and holy mind of God. Part of the reason, of course, is that many hearers do not really want to delve into the depths of God’s righteousness and truth, because it exposes their own shallowness and sin. Paul already has warned Timothy about the danger of those who hold “to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). Later in the present passage he will warn again that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;… and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3–4; cf. Acts 20:29–30).

Third, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because it forces the preacher to proclaim all of God’s revelation, including those truths that even many believers find hard to learn or accept.

Fourth, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because it promotes biblical literacy in a congregation, not only through what is learned from the sermon itself but also through the increased desire to study Scripture more carefully and consistently on their own. The faithful pastor, and all other faithful believers, love to learn God’s Word because they love the God of the Word.

Fifth, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because it carries ultimate authority. It is the complete and perfect self-revelation of God Himself and of His divine will for mankind, which He has created in His own image.

Sixth, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because only that kind of preaching can transform both the preacher and the congregation.

The final and most compelling reason that preaching the word is the only right way to preach is simply that it is His own Word, and only His own Word, that the Lord calls and commissions His preachers to proclaim.

In the book mentioned above, William Taylor writes, “Let it never be forgotten, then, that he who would rise to eminence and usefulness in the pulpit, and become ‘wise in winning souls,’ must say of the work of the ministry, ‘This one thing I do.’ He must focus his whole heart and life upon the pulpit. He must give his days and his nights to the production of those addresses by which he seeks to convince the judgments and move the hearts and elevate the lives of his hearers” (p. 7).

The Scope of His Commission

be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (4:2b)

In order to be effective, a faithful preacher must understand the scope of his commission, which Paul here summarizes.

Like any other effective worker, he must be ready. This is the second command Paul uses in verse 2 and translates ephistēmi, which has a broad range of meanings as determined by tense, mood, and voice. It often connotes suddenness, as in Luke 2:9 (“suddenly stood before”) and Acts 12:7 (“suddenly appeared”; cf. 1 Thess. 5:3); or forcefulness, as in Luke 20:1 (“confronted”) and Acts 4:1; 6:12; 23:27 (“came upon”). In the aorist active imperative, as here, the word carries the complementary ideas of urgency, preparedness, and readiness. It could be used of a soldier who is ready to go into battle on a moment’s notice or of a guard who keeps continually alert for any threat of infiltration or attack by the enemy.

For the faithful preacher, be ready carries similar meanings of gravity and vigilance. He should feel like Jeremiah, who felt under divine compulsion to prophesy. “If I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ ” he testified, “then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it” (Jer. 20:9; cf. 5:14).

While Paul stayed in Caesarea for a few days on his way back to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, the prophet Agabus “took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘This is what the Holy Spirit says: “In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles,’ ” … the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem.” But Paul’s immediate reply was, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:11–13).

Such a sense of readiness and willingness to serve the Lord at any cost and at any time not only should characterize every faithful preacher but also every faithful Christian. Peter exhorted his readers, most of whom were suffering severe persecution from Rome, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Writing to believers in the church where Timothy now was ministering, Paul implored, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15–16).

In his classic Lectures to My Students, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “What in a Christian minister is the most essential quality for securing success in winning souls for Christ?… earnestness. And if I were asked a second or third time, I should not vary the answer.… Success is proportionate to the preacher’s earnestness” ([Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1955], 305).

Only continual study of God’s Word, fellowship with Him in prayer, and submission to His Holy Spirit can keep alive a sense of exhilarating eagerness to preach. Apart from the Word and from prayer, the most gifted and orthodox preaching will grow spiritually stale, for the preacher and for the hearers. In the book just cited, Spurgeon said, “He, who at the end of twenty years ministry among the same people is more alive than ever, is a great debtor to the quickening Spirit” (Lectures, 309).

The faithful preacher must be ready in season and out of season, when it is convenient and when it is not, when it is immediately satisfying and when it is not, when from a human perspective it seems suitable and when it does not. His proclaiming God’s Word must not be dictated by popular culture and propriety, by tradition, by esteem in the community (Or even in the church), but solely by the mandate of the Lord.

Of the next three commands—reprove, rebuke, and exhort—the first two are negative, and third is positive.

Reprove and rebuke are closely related in meaning and are the third and fourth imperatives in this passage. Paul has just declared that all Scripture is “profitable for… reproof” (3:16). As noted in the previous commentary chapter, elegmos (Reproof) carries the idea of correcting misbehavior or false doctrine. Reproving may have more to do with affecting the mind, with helping a person understand that what he believes or is doing is wrong. Rebuke, on the other hand, may have to do with the heart, with bringing a person under conviction of guilt. To reprove is to refute error and misconduct with careful biblical argument; to rebuke is to bring the erring person to repentance. The first discloses the sinfulness of sin, whereas the second discloses the sinfulness of the sinner.

The first call of the gospel reflects this reproof by calling for men to repent from sin. In preparing the way for the Messiah, John the Baptist declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). He not only preached against sin in general but against particular sins of particular people. “When Herod the tetrarch was reproved by him [John the Baptist] on account of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and on account of all the wicked things which Herod had done, he added this also to them all, that he locked John up in prison” (Luke 3:19–20).

Like John the Baptist, Jesus began His public ministry by calling sinners to repentance. After being baptized by John and spending forty days and nights in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, “from that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ ” (Matt. 4:17). Although Jesus mentioned God’s love on several occasions, He never preached a message on that theme. But He preached countless messages on God’s condemnation of sin, on His judgment of sinners, and on the sinner’s need for repentance. The unrepentant sinner has no hope in the love of God, because God’s love is inseparable from His holiness and justice. A person who refuses to be cleansed of his sin by God’s grace has no prospect of being accepted into heaven by His love.

Immediately after Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, his hearers “were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 2:37–38).

The preacher’s continuing responsibility is to expose, reprove, and rebuke sin. Sin is that which totally separates unbelievers from God and which temporarily separates believers from close fellowship with their Lord. Paul therefore counseled believers in Ephesus, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Eph. 5:11).

He warned Titus about those sinners who infiltrate the church: “There are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.… For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:10–11, 13).

Sin must be addressed among believers as well. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul commanded, “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning” (1 Tim. 5:20).

Paul next gives Timothy the positive imperative to exhort, which is from parakaleō, a common New Testament word that can range in meaning from simply calling out to someone to admonishing, which is clearly the meaning in this context. It also carries the idea of encouragement. After having reproved and rebuked disobedient believers under his care, the faithful preacher is then to come alongside them in love and encourage them to spiritual change.

That is the spirit in which Paul himself pastored those under his care. He reminded believers in Thessalonica, “You know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:11–12; cf. Col. 1:28). Later in the letter he counseled those believers to do as he had done, saying, “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men” (5:14).

Not only are the things a preacher says and does important but also the way he says them and does them. He is to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with patience. Makrothumē (patience) means literally to “abide under” and therefore is often translated “endurance” (See, e.g., Luke 21:19; 2 Cor. 6:4; James 1:3) or “perseverance” (See, e.g., James 1:12; 2 Cor. 12:12). But here Paul is speaking specifically of patience with people, with members of a flock who may have been persistently stubborn and were resisting their pastor’s admonitions. But the shepherd is not to become exasperated or angry, remembering that he himself is firmly but lovingly and patiently held accountable by the Great Shepherd, our supreme example of patience. Paul cautioned believers in Rome, “Do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:3–4). If the perfect Son of God is so kind, forbearing, and patient with sinners, how much are His people obliged to have those attitudes?

Although mentioned at the end of the verse, didachē (instruction) is foundational to preaching, reproving, rebuking, and exhortation. It is only through careful teaching of the Word that those tasks can be successfully carried out by a pastor. An unbeliever will not be convicted of his sin and come to salvation apart from some instruction from God’s Word about his lost condition and his need for saving faith in Jesus Christ. Nor will a believer be convicted of his sin and brought to repentance and restoration apart from the work of the Word in his heart.

It is not by a preacher’s personal authority or persuasiveness—no matter how well he knows Scripture or how highly he is gifted—but solely by the authority and power of Scripture itself, illuminated and applied by the Holy Spirit, that any ministry or Christian service can be spiritually effective and pleasing to the Lord. In 4:2 Paul essentially reiterates what he has just declared, namely, that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (3:16–17).[1]


2 Paul’s concluding charge to Timothy begins with a series of five imperatives in the Greek. The first is to “preach [kēryssō, GK 3062; cf. 1 Ti 3:16; cf. kēryx, GK 3061, in 1 Ti 2:7; 2 Ti 1:11] the Word” (on “the Word,” see 1 Ti 4:12; 5:17). Timothy has been thoroughly grounded in the “holy Scriptures” (2 Ti 3:15); those Scriptures are the same Word—God’s Word (2:9), the “word of truth” (2:15)—that he is solemnly called on to preach (cf. Ro 10:8; 1 Co 15:2). Notably, this preaching is not limited to the edification of believers (cf. Marshall, 800). It entails imparting to his hearers “sound doctrine” rather than telling them what they want to hear (v. 3).

Timothy’s primary motivation must not be to please people; he must take his cue first and foremost from God’s Word. As Stott (Message of 2 Timothy, 106) says, “We have no liberty to invent our message, but only to communicate ‘the word’ which God has spoken and has now committed to the church as a sacred trust.” We must proclaim the Word rather than merely cater to people’s “felt needs” or use the pulpit as a platform for pursuing our own personal agendas.

Paul’s next command is that the preacher must “be prepared” to proclaim the Word whether it seems popular at the time or not (eukairōs akairōs, GK 2323, 178, an oxymoron, “in season and out of season”; Mk 6:21; 14:11; cf. 2 Ti 4:3). This defied both Jewish and Greco-Roman wisdom. The OT Preacher wrote that there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecc 3:7). Conventional Greco-Roman rhetoric held similarly that a speaker must carefully discern whether or not certain forms of address are opportune in a given situation. According to Plato (Phaed. 272A, using the same two Greek words), “a knowledge of the times for speaking and for keeping silence” is crucial (cf. A. J. Malherbe, “ ‘In Season and Out of Season’: 2 Timothy 4:2,” JBL 103 [1984]: 236–41). Especially startling is Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to preach the Word even when his audience may not be receptive (some say the reference is merely to Timothy’s own personal convenience, but this is unlikely). Judging by the book of Acts, this was also Paul’s own practice. In the end, it is not the preacher’s task to predict his audience’s response,only to be faithful to his calling. As Theodore of Mopsuestia (Commentary on 2 Timothy: TEM 2:223) writes, “Every occasion constitutes an opportune time for preaching.”

According to Paul’s last three imperatives, the preacher must “correct” (elenchō, GK 1794; 1 Ti 5:20; Tit 1:9, 13; 2:15; cf. 2 Ti 3:16), “rebuke” (epitimaō, GK 2203; not elsewhere in Paul), and “encourage” (parakaleō, GK 4151; cf. 1 Ti 5:1; 6:2; on the entire triad, cf. 3:16) with all “patience” (makrothymia, GK 3429; cf. 3:10) and “instruction” (didachē, GK 1439).[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 170–178). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 2 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 593). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.