2 Timothy 4:1
1I charge thee, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ It is proper to observe carefully the word therefore, by means of which he appropriately connects Scripture with preaching. This also refutes certain fanatics, who haughtily boast that they no longer need the aid of teachers, because the reading of scripture is abundantly sufficient. But Paul, after having spoken of the usefulness of Scripture, infers not only that all ought to read it, but that teachers ought to administer it, which is the duty enjoined on them. Accordingly, as all our wisdom is contained in the Scriptures, and neither ought we to learn, nor teachers to draw their instructions, from any other source; so he who, neglecting the assistance of the living voice, shall satisfy himself with the silent Scripture, will find how grievous an evil it is to disregard that way of learning which has been enjoined by God and Christ. Let us remember, I say, that the reading of Scripture is recommended to us in such a manner as not to hinder, in the smallest degree, the ministry of pastors; and, therefore, let believers endeavor to profit both in reading and in hearing; for not in vain hath God ordained both of them.
Here, as in a very weighty matter, Paul adds a solemn charge, exhibiting to Timothy, God as the avenger, and Christ as the judge, if he shall cease to discharge his office of teaching. And, indeed, in like manner as God showed by an inestimable pledge, when he spared not his only-begotten Son, how great is the care which he has for the Church, so he will not suffer to remain unpunished the negligence of pastors, through whom souls, which he hath redeemed at so costly a price, perish or are exposed as a prey.
Who shall judge the living and the dead More especially the Apostle fixes attention on the judgment of Christ; because, as we are his representatives, so he will demand a more strict account of evil administration. By “the living and the dead” are meant those whom he shall find still alive at his coming, and likewise those who shall have died. There will therefore be none that escape his judgment.
The appearance of Christ and his kingdom mean the same thing; for although he now reigns in heaven and earth, yet hitherto his reign is not clearly manifested, but, on the contrary, is obscurely hidden under the cross, and is violently assailed by enemies. His kingdom will therefore be established at that time when, having vanquished his enemies, and either removed or reduced to nothing every opposing power, he shall display his majesty.
2 Timothy 4:1
I charge thee therefore before God – See the notes on 1Ti_5:21.
Who shall judge the quick and the dead – That is, the Lord Jesus; for he is to be the judge of men; Mat. 25:31-46; 2Co_5:10. The word “quick” means “living” (See the Act_10:42 note; Eph_2:1 note); and the idea is, that he would be alike the judge of all who were alive when he should come, and of all who had died; see the notes on 1Th_4:16-17. In view of the fact that all, whether preachers or hearers, must give up their account to the final Judge, Paul charges Timothy to be faithful; and what is there which will more conduce to fidelity in the discharge of duty, than the thought that we must soon give up a solemn account of the manner in which we have performed it?
At his appearing – That is, the judgment shall then take place. This must refer to a judgment yet to take place, for the Lord Jesus has not yet “appeared” the second time to men; and, if this be so, then there is to be a resurrection of the dead. On the meaning of the word rendered “appearing,” see the notes on 2Th_2:8. It is there rendered “brighteness”; compare 1Ti_6:14; 2Ti_1:10; Tit_2:13.
And his kingdom – Or, at the setting up of his kingdom. The idea of his reigning, or setting up his kingdom, is not unfrequently associated with the idea of his cominG; see Mat_16:28. The meaning is, that, at his second advent, the extent and majesty of his kingdom will be fully displayed. It will be seen that he has control over the elements, over the graves of the dead, and over all the living. It will be seen that the earth and the heavens are under his sway, and that all things there acknowledge him as their sovereign Lord. In order to meet the full force of the language used by Paul here, it is not necessary to suppose that he will set up a visible kingdom on the earth, but only that there will be an illustrious display of himself as a king, and of the extent and majesty of the empire over which he presides: compare the Rom_14:11 note; Phi_2:10 note.
2 Timothy 4:2
2Be instant in season, out of season By these words he recommends not only constancy, but likewise earnestness, so as to overcome all hindrances and difficulties; for, being, by nature, exceedingly effeminate or slothful, we easily yield to the slightest opposition, and sometimes we gladly seek apologies for our slothfulness. Let us now consider how many arts Satan employs to stop our course, and how slow to follow, and how soon wearied are those who are called. Consequently the gospel will not long maintain its place, if pastors do not urge it earnestly.
Moreover, this earnestness must relate both to the pastor and to the people; to the pastor, that he may not devote himself to the office of teaching merely at his own times and according to his own convenience, but that, shrinking neither from toils nor from annoyances, he may exercise his faculties to the utmost. So far as regards the people, there is constancy and earnestness, when they arouse those who are asleep, when they lay their hands on those who are hurrying in a wrong direction, and when they correct the trivial occupations of the world. To explain more fully in what respects the pastor must “be instant,” the Apostle adds —
Reprove, rebuke, exhort By these words he means, that we have need of many excitements to urge us to advance in the right course; for if we were as teachable as we ought to be, a minister of Christ would draw us along by the slightest expression of his will. But now, not even moderate exhortations, to say nothing of sound advices, are sufficient for shaking off our sluggishness, if there be not increased vehemence of reproofs and threatenings.
With all gentleness and doctrine. A very necessary exception; for reproofs either fall through their own violence, or vanish into smoke, if they do not rest on doctrine Both exhortations and reproofs are merely aids to doctrine, and, therefore, have little weight without it. We see instances of this in those who have merely a large measure of zeal and bitterness, and are not furnished with solid doctrine. Such men toil very hard, utter loud cries, make a great noise, and all to no purpose, because they build without a foundation. I speak of men who, in other respects, are good, but with little learning, and excessive warmth; for they who employ all the energy that they possess in battling against sound doctrine, are far more dangerous, and do not deserve to be mentioned here at all.
In short, Paul means that reproofs are founded on doctrine, in order that they may not be justly despised as frivolous. Secondly, he means that keenness is moderated by gentleness; for nothing is more difficult than to set a limit to our zeal, when we have once become warm. Now when we are carried away by impatience, our exertions are altogether fruitless. Our harshness not only exposes us to ridicule, but also irritates the minds of the people. Besides, keen and violent men seem generally unable to endure the obstinacy of those with whom they are brought into intercourse, and cannot submit to many annoyances and insults, which nevertheless must be digested, if we are desirous to be useful. Let severity be therefore mingled with this seasoning of gentleness, that it may be known to proceed from a peaceful heart.
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
2 Timothy 4:2
Preach — literally, “proclaim as a herald.” The term for the discourses in the synagogue was daraschoth; the corresponding Greek term (implying dialectial style, dialogue, and discussion, Act_17:2, Act_17:18; Act_18:4, Act_18:19) is applied in Acts to discourses in the Christian Church. Justin Martyr [Apology, 2], describes the order of public worship, “On Sunday all meet and the writings of the apostles and prophets are read; then the president delivers a discourse; after this all stand up and pray; then there is offered bread and wine and water; the president likewise prays and gives thanks, and the people solemnly assent, saying, Amen.” The bishops and presbyters had the right and duty to preach, but they sometimes called on deacons, and even laymen, to preach. Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 6.19]; in this the Church imitated the synagogue (Luk_4:17-22; Act_13:15, Act_13:16).
be instant — that is, urgent, earnest, in the whole work of the ministry.
in season, out of season — that is, at all seasons; whether they regard your speaking as seasonable or unseasonable. “Just as the fountains, though none may draw from them, still flow on; and the rivers, though none drink of them, still run; so must we do all on our part in speaking, though none give heed to us” [Chrysostom, Homily, 30, vol. 5., p. 221]. I think with Chrysostom, there is included also the idea of times whether seasonable or unseasonable to Timothy himself; not merely when convenient, but when inconvenient to thee, night as well as day (Act_20:31), in danger as well as in safety, in prison and when doomed to death as well as when at large, not only in church, but everywhere and on all occasions, whenever and wherever the Lord’s work requires it.
reprove — “convict,” “confute.”
with, etc. — Greek, “IN (the element in which the exhortation ought to have place) all long-suffering (2Ti_2:24, 2Ti_2:25; 2Ti_3:10) and teaching”; compare 2Ti_2:24, “apt to teach.” The Greek for “doctrine” here is didache, but in 2Ti_3:16, didascalia. “Didascalia” is what one receives; “didache” is what is communicated [Tittmann].
2 Timothy 4:2
Be instant (ἐπίστηθι)
Better, be ready. Once in Paul, 1Th_5:3. Frequent in Luke and Acts. Lit. stand by, be at hand, be present. To come suddenly upon, Luk_2:38. Hence, be ready. Instant signifies urgent, importunate, persevering. Lat. instare to press upon. Thus Latimer, “I preached at the instant request of a curate.” So N.T., Rom_12:12, “Continuing instant in prayer.”
In season (εὐκαίρως)
Only here and Mar_14:11. lxx once, Sir. 18:22. Comp. ἀκαιρεῖσθαι to have leisure or opportunity, Mar_6:31; 1Co_16:12 : εὐκαιρία opportunity, Mat_26:16 : εὔκαιρος seasonable, convenient, Mar_6:21; Heb_4:16.
Out of season (ἀκαίρως)
N.T.o. lxx once, Sir. 35:4. Comp. ἀκαιρεῖσθαι to lack opportunity, Phi_4:10. Timothy is not advised to disregard opportuneness, but to discharge his duty to those with whom he deals, whether it be welcome or not.
Rather, convict of their errors. See on 1Ti_5:20 and Joh_3:20. In Paul, 1Co_14:24; Eph_5:11, Eph_5:13. Comp. ἐλεγμόν conviction, 2Ti_3:16.
In Pastorals only here. oP. Mostly in the Synoptic Gospels, where it is frequent. It has two meanings: rebuke, as Mat_8:26; Luk_17:3, and charge, as Mat_12:16; Mat_16:20, commonly followed by ἵνα that or λέγων saying (Mat_20:31; Mar_1:25; Mar_3:12; Mar_8:30; Luk_4:35), but see Luk_9:21. The word implies a sharp, severe rebuke, with, possibly, a suggestion in some cases of impending penalty (τιμή); charge on pain of. This might go to justify the rendering of Holtzmann and von Soden, threaten. To charge on pain of penalty for disobedience implies a menace, in this case of future judgment.
See on consolation, Luk_6:24; see on comfort, Act_9:31. Tischendorf changes the order of the three imperatives, reading ἔλεγξον, παρακάλεσον, ἐπιτίμησον. In that case there is a climax: first convict of error, then, exhort to forsake error, finally threaten with the penalty of persistence in error.
With all longsuffering and doctrine (ἐν πασῃ μακροθυμίᾳ)
Πάσῃ, every possible exhibition of longsuffering, etc. For doctrine rend. teaching. The combination is suggestive. Longsuffering is to be maintained against the temptations to anger presented by the obstinacy and perverseness of certain hearers; and such are to be met, not merely with rebuke, but also with sound and reasonable instruction in the truth. So Calvin: “Those who are strong only in fervor and sharpness, but are not fortified with solid doctrine, weary themselves in their vigorous efforts, make a great noise, rave,… make no headway because they build without foundation.” Men will not be won to the truth by scolding. “They should understand what they hear, and learn by perceive why they are rebuked” (Bahnsen). Διδαχή teaching, only here and Tit_1:9 in Pastorals. The usual word is διδασκαλία. Paul uses both.
2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the word – The Word of God; the gospel. This was to be the main business of the life of Timothy, and Paul solemnly charges him in view of the certain coming of the Redeemer to judgment, to be faithful in the performance of it.
Be instant – see the notes at Rom_12:12. The meaning here is, that he should be constant in this duty. Literally, “to stand by, or to stand fast by;” that is, he was to be pressing or urgent in the performance of this work. He was always to be at his post, and was to embrace every opportunity of making known the gospel. What Paul seems to have contemplated was not merely, that he should perform the duty at stated and regular times; but that he should press the matter as one who had the subject much at heart, and never lose an opportunity of making the gospel known.
In season – εὐκαίρως eukairōs. In good time; opportunely; compare Mat_26:16; Luk_22:6; Mar_14:11. The sense is, when it could be conveniently done; when all things were favorable, and when there were no obstructions or hindrances. It may include the “stated and regular” seasons for public worship, but is not confined to them.
Out of season – ἀκαίρως akairōs. This word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It is the opposite of the former, and means that a minister is to seek opportunities to preach the gospel even at such periods as might be inconvenient to himself, or when there might be hindrances and embarrassments, or when there was no stated appointment for preaching. He is not to confine himself to the appointed times of worship, or to preach only when it will be perfectly convenient for himself, but he is to have such an interest and earnestness in the work, that it will lead him to do it in the face of embarrassments and discouragements, and whenever he can find an opportunity. A man who is greatly intent on an object will seek every opportunity to promote it. He will not confine himself to stated times and places, but will present it everywhere, and at all times. A man, therefore, who merely confines himself to the stated seasons of preaching the gospel, or who merely preaches when it is convenient to himself, should not consider that he has come up to the requirement of the rule laid down by the apostle. He should preach in his private conversation, and in the intervals of his public labors, at the side of the sick bed, and wherever there is a prospect of doing good to any one. If his heart is full of love to the Saviour and to souls, he cannot help doing this.
Reprove – Or “convince;” See the notes at 2Ti_3:16. The meaning is that he was to use such arguments as would “convince” men of the truth of religion, and of their own need of it.
Rebuke – Rebuke offenders; Tit_2:15; see the use of the word in Mat_8:26; Mat_12:16, (rendered “charged”); Mat_16:22; Mat_17:18; Mat_19:13; Mat_20:31; Luk_4:35, Luk_4:39; Luk_17:13; Luk_18:15; Jud_1:9. In the New Testament the word is used to express a judgment of what is wrong or contrary to one’s will, and hence, to admonish or reprove. It implies our conviction that there is something evil, or some fault in him who is rebuked. The word in this verse rendered “reprove,” does not imply this, but merely that one may be in error, and needs to have arguments presented to convince him of the truth. That word also implies no superior authority in him who does it. He presents “reasons, or argues” the case, for the purpose of convincing. The word here rendered rebuke, implies authority or superiority, and means merely that we may say that a thing is wrong, and administer a rebuke for it, as if there were no doubt that it was wrong. The propriety of the rebuke rests on our authority for doing it, not on the arguments which we present. This is based on the presumption that men often Know that they are doing wrong, and need no arguments to convince them of it. The idea is, that the minister is not merely to reason about sin, and convince men that it is wrong, but he may solemnly admonish them not to do it, and warn them of the consequences.
Exhort – See the notes at Rom_12:8.
With all long-suffering – That is, with a patient and persevering spirit if you are opposed; see the notes on 2Ti_2:25; compare the notes on Rom_2:4; compare Rom_9:22; 2Co_6:6; Gal_5:22; Eph_4:2; Col_1:11; Col_3:12; 1Ti_1:16.
And doctrine – Teaching, or patient instruction.
2 Timothy 4:3
3For there will be a time From the very depravity of men he shews how careful pastors ought to be; for soon shall the gospel be extinguished, and perish from the remembrance of men, if godly teachers do not labor with all their might to defend it. But he means that we must avail ourselves of the opportunity, while there is any reverence for Christ; as if one should say that, when a storm is at hand, we must not labor remissly, but must hasten with all diligence, because there will not afterwards be an equally fit season.
When they will not endure sound doctrine This means that they will not only dislike and despise, but will even hate, sound doctrine; and he calls it “sound (or healthful) doctrine,” with reference to the effect produced, because it actually instructs to godliness. In the next verse he pronounces the same doctrine to be truth, and contrasts it with fables, that is, useless imaginations, by which the simplicity of the gospel is corrupted.
First, let us learn from it, that the more extraordinary the eagerness of wicked men to despise the doctrine of Christ, the more zealous should godly ministers be to defend it, and the more strenuous should be their efforts to preserve it entire; and not only so, but also by their diligence to ward off the attacks of Satan. And if ever this ought to have been done, the great ingratitude of men has now rendered it more than necessary; for they who at first receive the gospel warmly, and make a show of some kind of uncommon zeal, afterwards contract dislike, which is by and by followed by loathing; others, from the very outset, either reject it furiously, or, contemptuously lending an ear, treat it with mockery; while others, not suffering the yoke to be laid on their neck, kick at it, and, through hatred of holy discipline, are altogether estranged from Christ and, what is worse, from being friends become open enemies. So far from this being a good reason why we should be discouraged and give way, we ought to fight against such monstrous ingratitude, and even to strive with greater earnestness than if all were gladly embracing Christ offered to them.
Secondly, having been told that men will thus despise and even reject the word of God, we ought not to stand amazed as if it were a new spectacle, when we see actually accomplished that which the Holy Spirit tells us will happen. And indeed, being by nature prone to vanity, it is no new or uncommon timing, if we lend an ear more willingly to fables than to truth.
Lastly, the doctrine of the gospel, being plain and mean in its aspect, is unsatisfactory partly to our pride, and partly to our curiosity. And how few are there who are endued with spiritual taste, so as to relish newness of life and all that relates to it! Yet Paul foretells some greater impiety of one particular age, against which he bids Timothy be early on his guard.
Shall heap up to themselves teachers It is proper to observe the expression, heap up, by which he means that the madness of men will be so great, that they will not be satisfied with a few deceivers, but will desire to have a vast multitude; for, as there is an unsatiable longing for those things which are unprofitable and destructive, so the world seeks, on all sides and without end, all the methods that it can contrive and imagine for destroying itself; and the devil has always at hand a sufficiently large number of such teachers as the world desires to have. There has always been a plentiful harvest of wicked men, as there is in the present day; and therefore Satan never has any lack of ministers to deceive men, as he never has any lack of the means of deceiving.
Indeed, this monstrous depravity, which almost constantly prevails among men, deserves that God, and his healthful doctrine, should be either rejected or despised by them, and that they should more gladly embrace falsehood. Accordingly, that false teachers frequently abound, and that they sometimes multiply like a nest of hornets, should be ascribed by us to the righteous vengeance of God. We deserve to be covered and choked by that kind of filth, seeing that the truth of God finds no place in us, or, if it has found entrance, is immediately driven from its possession; and since we are so much addicted to fabulous notions, that we never think that we have too great a multitude of deceivers. Thus what all abomination of Monks is there in Popery! If once godly pastor were to be supported, instead of ten Monks and as many priests, we should presently hear nothing else than complaints about the great expense.
The disposition of the world is therefore such that, by “heaping up” with insatiable desire innumerable deceivers, it desires to banish all that belongs to God. Nor is there any other cause of so many errors than that men, of their own accord, choose to be deceived rather than to be properly instructed. And that is the reason why Paul adds the expression, itching ears. When he wishes to assign a cause for so great an evil, he makes use of an elegant metaphor, by which he means, that the world will have ears so refined, and so excessively desirous of novelty, that it will collect for itself various instructors, and will be incessantly carried away by new inventions. The only remedy for this vice is, that believers be instructed to adhere closely to the pure doctrine of the gospel.
2 Timothy 4:3
Ground for the preceding exhortations in the future opposition to sound teaching.
Only here in Pastorals. Mostly in Paul. Comp. Act_18:14; 2Co_11:4; Heb_13:22.
Sound doctrine (τῆς ὑγιαινούσης διδασκαλίας)
Or healthful teaching. The A.V. overlooks the article which is important. The teaching plays a prominent part in these Epistles, and signifies more than teaching in general. See on 1Ti_1:10.
Shall they heap to themselves teachers (ἑαυτοῖς ἐπισωρεύ σουσιν διδασκάλους)
A vigorous and graphic statement. Ἑπισωρεύειν to heap up, N.T.o. Comp. σεσωρευμένα laden, 2Ti_3:6. The word is ironical; shall invite teachers en masse. In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found. “The master of superstition is the people, and in all superstition wise men follow fools” (Bacon, Ess. 17).
Having itching ears (κνηθόμενοι τὴν ἀκοήν)
Or, being tickled in their hearing. Κνήθειν to tickle, N.T.o. olxx. Κνηθόμενοι itching. Hesychius explains, “hearing for mere gratification.” Clement of Alexandria describes certain teachers as “scratching and tickling, in no human way, the ears of those who eagerly desire to be scratched” (Strom. v.). Seneca says: “Some come to hear, not to learn, just as we go to the theater, for pleasure, to delight our ears with the speaking or the voice or the plays” (Ep. 108). Ἁκοή, A.V. ears, in N.T. a report, as Mat_4:24; Mat_14:1; Mat_24:6 : in the plural, ears (never ear in singular), as Mar_7:35; Luk_7:1 : hearing, either the act, as Act_28:26; Rom_10:17, or the sense, 1Co_12:17, here, and 2Ti_4:4.
2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come … – Probably referring to the time mentioned in 2Ti_3:1, following.
When they will not endure sound doctrine – Greek, “healthful doctrine;” i. e., doctrine contributing to the health of the soul, or to salvation. At that time they would seek a kind of instruction more conformable to their wishes and feelings.
But after their own lusts – They will seek such kind of preaching as will accord with their carnal desires; or such as will palliate their evil propensities, and deal gently with their vices; compare Isa_30:10. “Speak unto us smooth things; prophesy deceits.”
Shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears – The word rendered “heap” – ἐπισωρεύω episōreuō – does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means “to heap up upon, to accumulate;” and here “to multiply.” The word rendered “itching” – κνήθω knēthō – also occurs only in this place in the New Testament. It means “to rub, to scratch;” and then “to tickle,” and here to feel an “itching” for something pleasing or gratifying. The image is derived from the desire which we have when there is an itching sensation, to have it rubbed or scratched. Such an uneasiness would these persons have to have some kind of instruction that would allay their restless and uneasy desires, or would gratify them. In explanation of this passage we may observe,
(1) That there will be always religious teachers of some kind, and that in proportion as error and sin abound, they will be multiplied. The apostle here says, that by turning away from Timothy, and from sound instruction, they would not abandon all religious teachers, but would rather increase and multiply them. People often declaim much against a regular ministry, and call it “priest-craft;” and yet, if they were to get rid of such a ministry, they would by no means escape from all kinds of religious teachers. The deeper the darkness, and the more gross the errors, and the more prevalent the wickedness of men, the more will a certain kind of religious teachers abound, and the more it will cost to support them. Italy and Spain swarm with priests, and in every pagan nation they constitute a very numerous class of the population. The cheapest ministry on the earth is a well-educated Protestant clergy, and if society wishes to free itself from swarms of preachers, and prophets, and exhorters, it should secure the regular services of an educated and pious ministry.
(2) In such classes of persons as the apostle here refers to, there is a restless, uneasy desire to have some kind of preachers. They have “itching ears.” They will be ready to run after all kinds of public instructors. They will be little pleased with any, and this will be one reason why they will have so many. They are fickle, and unsettled, and never satisfied. A desire to hear the truth, and to learn the way of salvation, is a good desire. But this can be better gratified by far under the patient and intelligent labor of a single religious teacher, than by running after many teachers, or than by frequent changes. How much would a child learn if he was constantly running from one school to another?
(3) Such persons would have teachers according to “their own lusts;” that is, their own tastes, or wishes. They would have those who would coincide with their whims; who would foster every vagary which might enter their imagination; who would countenance every wild project for doing good; who would be the advocates of the errors which they held; and who would be afraid to rebuke their faults. These are the principles on which many persons choose their religious teachers. The true principle should be, to select those who will faithfully declare the truth, and who will not shrink from exposing and denouncing sin, wherever it may be found.
2 Timothy 4:4
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth – The truth strips them of their vices, sacrifices their idols, darts its lightnings against their easily besetting sins, and absolutely requires a conformity to a crucified Christ; therefore they turn their ears away from it.
And shall be turned unto fables – Believe any kind of stuff and nonsense; for, as one has justly observed, “Those who reject the truth are abandoned by the just judgment of God to credit the most degrading nonsense.” This is remarkably the case with most deists; their creed often exhibits what is grossly absurd.
2 Timothy 4:5
5But watch thou in all things. He proceeds with the former exhortation, to the effect that the more grievous the diseases are, the more earnestly Timothy may labor to cure them; and that the nearer dangers are at hand, the more diligently he may keep watch. And because the ministers of Christ, when they faithfully discharge their office, are immediately called to engage in combats, he at the same time reminds Timothy to be firm and immovable in enduring adversity.
Do the work of an Evangelist That is, “Do that which belongs to an evangelist.” Whether he denotes generally by this term any ministers of the gospel, or whether this was a special office, is doubtful; but I am more inclined to the second opinion, because from Eph_4:11 it is clearly evident that this was an intermediate class between apostles and pastors, so that the evangelists ranked as assistants next to the apostles. It is also more probable that Timothy, whom Paul had associated with himself as his closest companion in all things, surpassed ordinary pastors in rank and dignity of office, than that he was only one of their number. Besides, to mention an honorable title of office tends not only to encourage him, but to recommend his authority to others; and Paul had in view both of these objects.
Render thy ministry approved If we read this clause as in the old translation, “Fulfill thy ministry,” the meaning will be: “Thou canst not fully discharge the office intrusted to thee but by doing those things which I have enjoined. Wherefore see that you fail not in the middle of the course.” But because πληροφορεῖν commonly means “to render certain” or “to prove,” I prefer the following meaning, which is also most agreeable to the context, — that Timothy, by watching, and by patiently enduring afflictions, and by constant teaching, will succeed in having the truth of his ministry established, because from such marks all will acknowledge him to be a good and faithful minister of Christ.
2 Timothy 4:5
Watch thou (σὺ νῆφε)
See on 1Th_5:6, and see on ἀνανήψωσιν recover, 2Ti_2:26.
Endure afflictions (κακοπάθησον)
Or suffer hardship. See on 2Ti_2:9, and comp. 2Ti_4:5.
Of an evangelist (εὐαγγελιστοῦ)
Here, Act_21:8 and Eph_4:11. In the last passage, a special function, with apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers. A traveling, minister whose work was not confined to a particular church. So Philip, Act_8:5-13, Act_8:26-40. A helper of the apostles. An apostle, as such, was an evangelist (1Co_1:17), but every evangelist was not an apostle. In The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (about 100 a.d.) it is prescribed that an apostle shall not remain in one place longer than two days, and that when he departs he shall take nothing with him except enough bread to last until his next station (ch. xi).
Make full proof of thy ministry (τὴν διακονίαν σου πληροφόρησον)
Better, fulfill or fully perform. In Pastorals only here and 2Ti_4:17. See on Luk_1:1. In lxx once, Ecc_8:11, is fully persuaded. Only in this passage in the active voice. Comp. πληρώσαντες τὴν διακονίαν having fulfilled their ministration, Act_12:25 : ἐπλήρου τὸν δρόμον was fulfilling his course, Act_13:25, and τὸν δρόμον I have finished the course, 2Ti_4:7. For διακονίαν ministry, see on 1Ti_1:12.
2 Timothy 4:6
6For I am now offered as a sacrifice He assigns the reason for the solemn protestation which he employed. As if he had said, “So long as I lived, I stretched out my hand to thee; my constant exhortations were not withheld from thee; thou hast been much aided by my advices, and much confirmed by my example; the time is now come, that thou shouldst be thine own teacher and exhorter, and shouldst begin to swim without support: beware lest any change in thee be observed at my death.”
And the time of my dissolution is at hand We must attend to the modes of expression by which he denotes his death. By the word dissolution he means that we do not altogether perish when we die; because it is only a separation of the soul from the body. Hence we infer, that death is nothing else than a departure of the soul from the body — a definition which contains a testimony of the immortality of the soul.
“Sacrifice” was a term peculiarly applicable to the death of Paul, which was inflicted on him for maintaining the truth of Christ; for, although all believers, both by their obedient life and by their death, are victims or offerings acceptable to God, yet martyrs are sacrificed in a more excellent manner, by shedding their blood for the name of Christ. Besides, the word σπένδεσθαι which Paul here employs, does not denote every kind of sacrifice, but that which serves for ratifying covenants. Accordingly, in this passage, he means the same thing which he states more clearly when he says, “But if I am offered on the sacrifice of your faith, I rejoice.” (Phi_2:17.)
For there he means that the faith of the Philippians was ratified by his death, in precisely the same manner that covenants were ratified in ancient times by sacrifices of slain beasts; not that the certainty of our faith is founded, strictly speaking, on the steadfastness of the martyrs, but because it tends greatly to confirm us. Paul has here adorned his death by a magnificent commendation, when he called it the ratification of his doctrine, that believers, instead of sinking into despondency — as frequently happens — might be more encouraged by it to persevere.
The time of dissolution This mode of expression is also worthy of notice, because he beautifully lessens the excessive dread of death by pointing out its effect and its nature. How comes it that men are so greatly dismayed at any mention of death, but because they think that they perish utterly when they die? On the contrary, Paul, by calling it “Dissolution,” affirms that man does not perish, but teaches that the soul is merely separated from the body. It is with the same object that he fearlessly declares that “the time is at hand,” which he could not have done unless he had despised death; for although this is a natural feeling, which can never be entirely taken away, that man dreads and shrinks from death, yet that terror must be vanquished by faith, that it may not prevent us from departing form this world in an obedient manner, whenever God shall call us.
2 Timothy 4:6. For I am now ready to be offered] The present tense is still more vivid, and so the personal pronoun for as to me—I am already being offered; and the Greek word means ‘am being poured out as a drink-offering.’ St Paul recalls the thought and very phrase of his letter to Philippi in the first captivity; what was then a possibility is now a certainty; Php_2:17, ‘If I am required to pour out my life-blood as a libation over the sacrificial offering of your faith, I rejoice myself and I congratulate you all therein.’ See Bp Lightfoot, who quotes the similar metaphor recorded of St Paul’s great heathen contemporary Seneca when on the point of death, ‘respergens proximos servorum addita voce, libare se liquorem illum Jovi liberatori.’ Tac. Ann. xv. 64.
my departure]. Another thought and phrase from the same time and letter, Php_1:23, ‘I am hemmed in on both sides, my own desire tending towards this, to depart and to be with Christ.’ The metaphor of verb there and noun here is of a journey either by land or sea—loosing tent-cords, or weighing anchor, for starting up to depart; this latter part of the meaning belongs to the preposition. So in Luk_12:36, ‘he will return from the wedding’ ought to be rendered ‘he will depart.’ The servants look out eagerly not merely at the moment of his return being due, but from the moment of his departure from the feast being due. Clement of Rome connects this word, used for ‘death,’ with ‘journey,’ used for life. ‘Blessed are the elders who have taken the journey before us, in that they had their departure in mature and fruitful age’ (ad Cor. c. 44). The corresponding words for arrival at the end of a stage in the journey are the same verb and noun compounded with the preposition ‘down’ instead of ‘up’: for verb see Gen_19:2, where Lot asks the angels to ‘tarry all night,’ and Luk_9:12, ‘lodge and get victuals,’ 19:7, ‘He is gone in to lodge with a man that is a sinner’; for noun Luk_2:7, ‘no room for them in the inn,’ 22:11, ‘where is the guest-chamber?’ The original meaning of the word would be ‘to loose the beasts of burden for settling down to rest.’ Our word here has become an English word, analysis, from the cognate sense of ‘breaking up’ or analysing the component parts, e.g. of a sentence.
is at hand] Rather with R.V. is come, lit. ‘stands by’ me, cf. Act_23:11, ‘the Lord stood by him and said.’ It is altogether a word of St Luke’s, being used eighteen times by him; by St Paul above, 4:2, and 1Th_5:3, and nowhere else in N.T.
2 Timothy 4:6
For I am now ready to be offered – This conviction of the apostle that he was about to die, is urged as a reason why Timothy should be laborious and faithful in the performance of the duties of his office. His own work was nearly done. He was soon to be withdrawn from the earth, and whatever benefit the world might have derived from his experience or active exertions, it was now to be deprived of it. He was about to leave a work which he much loved, and to which he had devoted the vigor of his life, and he was anxious that they who were to succeed him should carry on the work with all the energy and zeal in their power. This expresses the common feeling of aged ministers as death draws near. The word “ready” in the phrase “ready to be offered,” conveys an idea which is not in the original. It implies a willingness to depart, which, whether true or not, is not the idea conveyed by the apostle.
His statement is merely of “the fact” that he was “about” to die, or that his work “was” drawing to a close. No doubt he was ready, in the sense of being willing and prepared, but this is not the idea in the Greek. The single Greek word rendered “I am ready to be offered” – σπένδομαι spendomai – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Phi_2:17, where it is translated “if I be offered;” see it explained in the notes on that place. The allusion here, says Burder (in Rosenmuller’s A. u. n. Morgenland), is to the custom which prevailed among the pagan generally, of pouring wine and oil on the head of a victim when it was about to be offered in sacrifice. The idea of the apostle then is, that he was in the condition of the victim on whose head the wine and oil had been already poured, and which was just about to be put to death; that is, he was about to die. Every preparation had been made, and he only awaited the blow which was to strike him down.
The meaning is not that he was to be a sacrifice; it is that his death was about to occur. Nothing more remained to be done but to die. The victim was all ready, and he was sure that the blow would soon fall. What was the ground of his expectation, he has not told us. Probably there were events occurring in Rome which made it morally certain that though he had once been acquitted, he could not now escape. At all events, it is interesting to contemplate an aged and experienced Christian on the borders of the grave, and to learn what were his feelings in the prospect of his departure to the eternal world. Happily, Paul has in more places than one (compare Phi_1:23), stated his views in such circumstances, and we know that his religion then did not fail him. He found it to be in the prospect of death what he had found it to be through all his life – the source of unspeakable consolation – and he was enabled to look calmly onward to the hour which should summon him into the presence of his Judge.
And the time of my departure is at hand – Greek: “dissolving, or dissolution.” So we speak of the “dissolution” of the soul and body. The verb from which the noun (ἀνάλυσις analusis), is derived (ἀναλύω analuō), means to loosen again; to undo. It is applied to the act of unloosing or casting off the fastenings of a ship, preparatory to a departure. The proper idea in the use of the word would be, that he had been bound to the present world, like a ship to its moorings, and that death would be a release. He would now spread his sails on the broad ocean of eternity. The true idea of death is that of loosening the bands that confine us to the present world; of setting us free, and permitting the soul to go forth, as with expanded sails, on its eternal voyage. With such a view of death, why should a Christian fear to die?
2 Timothy 4:7
7I have fought the good fight Because it is customary to form a judgment from the event, Paul’s fight might have been condemned on the ground that it did not end happily. He therefore boasts that it is excellent, whatever may be the light in which it is regarded by the world. This declaration is a testimony of eminent faith; for not only was Paul accounted wretched in the opinion of all, but his death also was to be ignominious. Who then would not have said that he fought without success? But he does not rely on the corrupt judgments of men. On the contrary, by magnanimous courage he rises above every calamity, so that nothing opposes his happiness and glory; and therefore he declares “the fight which he fought” to be good and honorable.
I have finished my course He even congratulates himself on his death, because it may be regarded as the goal or termination of his course. We know that they who run a race have gained their wish when they have reached the goal. In this manner also he affirms that to Christ’s combatants death is desirable, because it puts an end to their labors; and, on the other hand, he likewise declares that we ought never to rest in this life, because it is of no advantage to have run well and constantly from the beginning to the middle of the course, if we do not reach the goal.
I have kept the faith This may have a twofold meaning, either that to the last he was a faithful soldier to his captain, or that he continued in the right doctrine. Both meanings will be highly appropriate; and indeed he could not make his fidelity acceptable to the Lord in any other way then by constantly professing, the pure doctrine of the gospel. Yet I have no doubt that he alludes to the solemn oath taken by soldiers; as if he had said that he was a good and faithful soldier to his captain.
The for a, A.V.; the for my, A.V. I have fought the good fight; as 1Ti_6:12 (τὸν ἀγῶνα τὸν καλόν), meaning that, however honourable the contests of the games were deemed, the Christian contest was far more honourable than them all. The word “fight” does not adequately express by agora, which embraces all kinds of contests—chariot race, foot race, wrestling, etc. “I have played out the honourable game” would give the sense, though inelegantly. The course (τὸν δρόμον); Act_13:25; Act_20:24. The runner in the race had a definite δρόμος, or course to run, marked out for him. St. Paul’s life was that course, and he knew that he had run it out. I have kept the faith. St. Paul here quits metaphor and explains the foregoing figures. Through his long eventful course, in spite of all difficulties, conflicts, dangers, and temptations, he had kept the faith of Jesus Christ committed to him, inviolable, unadulterated, whole, and complete. He had not shrunk from confessing it when death stared him in the face; he had not corrupted it to meet the views of Jews or Gentiles; with courage and resolution and perseverance he had kept it to the end. Oh! let Timothy do the same.
2 Timothy 4:8
8Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness Having boasted of having fought his fight and finished his course, and kept the faith, he now affirms that he has not labored in vain. Now it is possible to put forth strenuous exertion, and yet to be defrauded of the reward which is due. But Paul says that his reward is sure. This certainty arises from turning his eyes to the day of the resurrection, and this is what we also ought to do; for all around we see nothing but death, and therefore we ought not to keep our eye fixed on the outward appearance of the world, but, on the contrary, to hold out to our minds the coming of Christ. The consequences will be, that nothing can detract from our happiness.
Which the Lord the righteous Judge will render to me Because he mentions “the crown of righteousness” and “the righteous Judge,” and employs the word “render,” the Papists endeavor, by means of this passage, to build up the merits of works in opposition to the grace of God. But their reasoning is absurd. Justification by free grace, which is bestowed on us through faith, is not at variance within the rewarding of works, but, on the contrary, those two statements perfectly agree, that a man is justified freely through the grace of Christ, and yet that God will render to him the reward of works; for as soon as God has received us into favor, he likewise accepts our works, so as even to deign to give them a reward, though it is not due to them.
Here two blunders are committed by the Papists; first, in arguing that we deserve something from God, because we do well by virtue of our freewill; and secondly, in holding that God is bound to us, as if our salvation proceeded from anything else than from his grace. But it does not follow that God owes anything to us, because he renders righteously what he renders; for he is righteous even in those acts of kindness which are of free grace. And he “renders the reward” which he has promised, not because we take the lead by any act of obedience, but because, in the same course of liberality in which he has begun to act toward us, he follows up his former gifts by those which are afterwards bestowed. In vain, therefore, and to no purpose, do the Papists labor to prove from this, that good works proceed from the power of freewill; because there is no absurdity in saying that God crowns in us his own gifts. Not less absurdly and foolishly do they endeavor, by means of this passage, to destroy the righteousness of faith; since the goodness of God — by which he graciously embraces a man, not imputing to him his sins — is not inconsistent with that rewarding of works which he will render by the same kindness with which he made the promise.
And not to me only That all the rest of the believers might fight courageously along with him, he invites them to a participation of the crown; for his unshaken steadfastness could not have served for an example to us, if the same hope of obtaining the crown had not been held out to us.
To all who love his coming This is a singular mark which he employs in describing believers. And, indeed, wherever faith is strong, it will not permit their minds to fall asleep in this world, but will elevate them to the hope of the last resurrection. His meaning therefore is, that all who are so much devoted to the world, and who love so much this fleeting life, as not to care about the coming of Christ, and not to be moved by any desire of it, deprive themselves of immortal glory. Woe to our stupidity, therefore, which exercises such power over us, that we never think seriously about the coming of Christ, to which we ought to give our whole attention. Besides, he excludes from the number of believers those in whom the coming of Christ produces terror and alarm; for it cannot be loved unless it be regarded as pleasant and delightful.
2 Timothy 4:8
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown – This I can claim as my due; but the crown I expect is not one of fading leaves, but a crown of righteousness; the reward which God, in his kindness, has promised to them who are faithful to the grace he has bestowed upon them.
The Lord, the righteous Judge – He alludes here to the brabeus, or umpire in the Grecian games, whose office it was to declare the victor, and to give the crown.
At that day – The day of judgment; the morning of the resurrection from the dead.
Unto all them also that love his appearing – All who live in expectation of the coming of Christ, who anticipate it with joyfulness, having buried the world and laid up all their hopes above. Here is a reward, but it is a reward not of debt but of grace; for it is by the grace of God that even an apostle is fitted for glory. And this reward is common to the faithful; it is given, not only to apostles, but to all them that love his appearing. This crown is laid up – it is in view, but not in possession. We must die first.
I have several times noted the allusions of St. Paul to the Greek poets, and such as seemed to argue that he quoted immediately from them. There is a passage in the Alcestis of Euripides, in which the very expressions used here by the apostle are found, and spoken on the occasion of a wife laying down her life for her husband, when both his parents had refused to do it.
Ουκ ηθελησας ουδ’ ετολμησας θανειν
Του σου προ παιδος· αλλα την δ’ ειασατε
Γυναικ’ οθνειαν, ἡν εγω και μητερα
Πατερα τε γ’ ενδικως αν ἡγοιμην μονην·
Και τοι καλον γ’ αν τανδ’ αγων’ ηγωνισω,
Του σου προ παιδος κατθανων.
Alcest. v. 644.
“Thou wouldst not, neither darest thou to die for thy son; but hast suffered this strange woman to do it, whom I justly esteem to be alone my father and mother: thou wouldst have fought a good fight hadst thou died for thy son.”
See Sophocles and Aeschylus, quoted 1Ti_6:15.
The καλος αγων, good fight, was used among the Greeks to express a contest of the most honorable kind, and in this sense the apostle uses it.
Pulpit Commentary 2 Tim 4:8.—The for a, A.V.; to me for me, A.V.; only to me for to me only, A.V.; also to all them for unto all them also, A.V.; have loved for love. Henceforth (λοιπον); as Heb. 10:13. The work of conflict being over, it only remains to receive the crown. The crown of righteousness means that crown the possession of which marks the wearer as righteous before God. The analogous phrases are, “the crown of glory” (1 Pet. 5:4) and “the crown of life” (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10). The righteousness, the glory, and the life of the saints are conceived as displayed in crowns, as the kingly dignity is in the crown of royalty. The righteous Judge (κριτής). In Acts 10:42 the Lord Jesus is said to be ordained of God Κριτὴς ζώτων καὶ νεκρῶν, “the Judge of quick and dead;” and in Heb. 12:23 we read, Κριτῇ Θεῷ παίντων, “God the Judge of all.” But nowhere else, either in the Old Testament or the New Testament, is this term applied directly either to God or to Christ. Surely its use here is influenced by the preceding metaphor of the ἀγών and the δρόμος and the στέφανος; and “the righteous Judge” is the impartial βραβεύς, or “judge,” who assigned the prizes at the games to those who had fairly won them. And this is the proper meaning of κριτής, “the umpire,” applied, especially at Athens, to the “judges” at the poetic contests (Liddell and Scott). Thucydides contrasts the κριτής and the ἀγωνιστής: Aristophanes the κριταί and the θεαταί, the “spectators;” and the word “critic” is derived from this meaning of κιτής and κριτικός. The whole picture is that of the apostle running his noble race of righteousness to the very end, and of the Lord himself assigning to him the wellearned crown of victory in the presence of heaven and earth assembled for the solemnity of that great day. That have loved his appearing. It will be a characteristic of those who will be crowned at that day that all the time they were fighting the good fight they were looking forward with hope and desire for their Lord’s appearing and kingdom. “Thy kingdom come” was their desire and their petition. They will be able to say at that day, “To, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice, in his salvation” (Isa. 25:9). His appearing; as in ver. 2.
2 Timothy 4:8
Henceforth there is laid up for me – At the end of my race, as there was a crown in reserve for those who had successfully striven in the Grecian games; compare the notes on 1Co_9:25. The word “henceforth” – λοιπὸν loipon – means “what remains, or as to the rest;” and the idea is, that that was what remained of the whole career. The race had been run; the conflict had been waged; and all which was now necessary to complete the whole transaction, was merely that the crown be bestowed.
A crown of righteousness – That is, a crown won in the cause of righteousness, and conferred as the reward of his conflicts and efforts in the cause of holiness. It was not the crown of ambition; it was not a garland won in struggles for earthly distinction; it was that which was the appropriate reward of his efforts to be personally holy, and to spread the principles of holiness as far as possible through the world.
Which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me – The Lord Jesus, appointed to judge the world, and to dispense the rewards of eternity. It will be seen in the last day that the rewards of heaven are not conferred in an arbitrary manner, but that they are bestowed because they ought to be, or that God is righteous and just in doing it. No man will be admitted to heaven who ought not, under all the circumstances of the case, to be admitted there; no one will be excluded who ought to have been saved.
At that day – That is, the time when he will come to judge the world; Matt. 25.
And not to me only – “Though my life has been spent in laboriously endeavoring to spread his religion; though I have suffered much, and labored long; though I have struggled hard to win the prize, and now have it full in view, yet I do not suppose that it is to be conferred on me alone. It is not like the wreath of olive, laurel, pine, or parsley (See the notes at 1Co_9:25), which could be conferred only on one victor (See the notes at 1Co_9:24); but here every one may obtain the crown who strives for it. The struggle is not between me and a competitor in such a sense that, if ‘I’ obtain the crown, ‘he’ must be excluded; but it is a crown which ‘he” can obtain as well as ‘I.’ As many as run – as many as fight the good fight – as many as keep the faith – as many as love his appearing, may win the crown as well as I.” Such is religion, and such is the manner in which its rewards differ from all others.
At the Grecian games, but one could obtain the prize; 1Co_9:24. All the rest who contended in those games, no matter how numerous they were, or how skilfully they contended, or how much effort they made, were of course subjected to the mortification of a failure, and to all the ill-feeling and envy to which such a failure might give rise. So it is in respect to all the prizes which this world can bestow. In a lottery, but one can obtain the highest prize; in a class in college, but one can secure the highest honor; in the scramble for office, no matter how numerous the competitors may be, or what may be their merits, but one can obtain it. All the rest are liable to the disappointments and mortifications of defeat. Not so in religion. No matter how numerous the competitors, or how worthy any one of them may be, or how pre-eminent above his brethren, yet all may obtain the prize; all may be crowned with a diadem of life, of equal brilliancy. No one is excluded because another is successful; no one fails of the reward because another obtains it. Who, then, would not make an effort to win the immortal crown?
Unto all them also that love his appearing – That is, unto all who desire his second coming. To believe in the second advent of the Lord Jesus to judge the world, and to desire his return, became a kind of a criterion by which Christians were known. No others but true Christians were supposed to believe in that, and no others truly desired it; compare Rev_1:7; Rev_22:20. It is so now. It is one of the characteristics of a true Christian that he sincerely desires the return of his Saviour, and would weLcome his appearing in the clouds of heaven.
2 Timothy 4:9
9Make haste, to come to me quickly. As he knew that the time of his death was at hand, there were many subjects — I doubt not — on which he wished to have a personal interview with Timothy for the good of the Church; and therefore he does not hesitate to desire him to come from a country beyond the sea. Undoubtedly there must have been no trivial reason why he called him away from a church over which he presided, and at so great a distance. Hence we may infer how highly important are conferences between such persons; for what Timothy had learned in a short space of time would be profitable, for a long period, to all the churches; so that the loss of half a year, or even of a whole year, was trivial compared with the compensation gained. And yet it appears from what follows, that Paul called Timothy with a view to his own individual benefit likewise; although his own personal matters were not preferred by him to the advantage of the Church, but it was because it involved the cause of the gospel, which was common to all believers; for as he defended it from a prison, so he needed the labors of others to aid in that defense.
2 Timothy 4:9
Shortly (tacheōs). In 2Ti_4:21 he more definitely says “before winter.” Apparently the trial might drag on through its various stages.
2 Timothy 4:10
10Having embraced this world It was truly base in such a man to prefer the love of this world to Christ. And yet we must not suppose that he altogether denied Christ or gave himself up either to ungodliness or to the allurements of the world; but he merely preferred his private convenience, or his safety, to the life of Paul. He could not have assisted Paul without many troubles and vexations, attended by imminent risk of his life; he was exposed to many reproaches, and must have submitted to many insults, and been constrained to leave off the care of his own affairs; and, therefore being overcome by his dislike of the cross, he resolved to consult his own interests. Nor can it be doubted, that he enjoyed a propitious gale from the world. That he was one of the leading men may be conjectured on this ground, that Paul mentions him amidst a very few at (Col_4:14,) and likewise in the Epistle to Philemon, (Phl_1:24,) where also he is ranked among Paul’s assistants; and, therefore, we need not wonder if he censures him so sharply on this occasion, for having cared more about himself than about Christ.
Others, whom he afterwards mentions, had not gone away from him but for good reasons, and with his own consent. Hence it is evident that he did not study his own advantage, so as to deprive churches of their pastors, but only to obtain from them some relief. Undoubtedly he was always careful to invite to come to him, or to keep along with him, those whose absence would not be injurious to other churches. For this reason he had sent Titus to Dalmatia, and some to one place and some to another, when he invited Timothy to come to him. Not only so, but in order that the church at Ephesus may not be left destitute or forlorn during Timothy’s absence, he sends Tychicus thither, and mentions this circumstance to Timothy, that he may know that that church will not be in want of one to fill his place during his absence.
2 Tim 4:10. Demas] Very likely a shortened form of Demetrius; two persons of the name occur in N.T., Act_19:24, the silversmith of Ephesus, and, 3Jn_1:12, the bearer possibly of that letter, one to whose character all bore testimony, which St John himself ratified. The Demetrius or Demas here seems to occupy a middle place; a Christian believer and follower, who however had lost ‘his first love,’ and forsook the Apostle in his hour of trial, to attend to the business of the world. He had been with him in the first imprisonment, Col_4:14.
hath forsaken] Forsook, so in ver. 16. The same strong compound verb and tense occur Mat_27:46, where the rendering ‘why hast thou forsaken me?’ is more correct, because the aorist is used there of what is just happening, cf. Php_2:28, Gal_6:11.
having loved] ‘Because he loved’; this verb is chosen in half-conscious irony of contrast to ver. 8 and the love set on the future appearing of the Lord.
this present world] Lit. ‘age’; cf. note on 1Ti_6:17. The other world, the world of eternity, is under the Eternal God the King of the ages, 1Ti_1:17. Cf. Luk_20:35, Luk_18:30. ‘The Apostles speak of themselves and their generation as living on the frontier of two æons, the Gospel transferring them across the border. The distinction of time between the two becomes lost in the moral and spiritual conception.’ Bp Lightfoot on Gal_1:4.
unto Thessalonica] Why, is not known, except so far as this place suggests either home or business.
Crescens to Galatia] Before the Christian era and for two centuries afterwards the form Galatia (Galatæ) is almost universally used by Greek writers to the exclusion of Gallia (Galli), when they do not employ Celtice (Celtæ), whether speaking of the people of Gaul properly so called, or of the Asiatic colony. And ‘Galatia’ here was traditionally interpreted of European Gaul. It is thus explained by Eusebius H. E. iii. 4 ‘Of the other followers of St Paul, Crescens is recorded as having been sent to Gallia,’ and by others. It is so taken also by those mss. which read Gallian for Galatian, for the former reading may be regarded as a gloss. The Churches of Vienne and Mayence both claimed Crescens as their founder. Weight is also to be attributed to this tradition in favour of western Gaul because it is not the prima facie view. From the language of Clement ad Cor. c. 5. ‘having taught righteousness through the whole world and having come to the boundary of the west’ it appears that St Paul’s intention to visit Spain (Rom_15:24) was fulfilled, and it is not improbable that this western journey included a visit to Gaul, which would make a visit of Crescens to it afterwards as natural as the visit of Titus to Dalmatia, with which it is linked. The above, representing substantially the view of Bp Lightfoot (Galatians, pp. 2, 31, Clement, p. 50) is further illustrated in Introduction, pp. 42, 44.
Titus unto Dalmatia] Dalmatia was part of the Roman province of Illyricum on the east coast of the Adriatic, now Herzegovina or Bosnia. Its capital was Salona (now Spalatro) to which place the Emperor Diocletian retired. St Paul had preached in the neighbourhood ‘round about unto Illyricum,’ possibly near Dyrrachium, now Durazzo, the scene of the great contest between Cæsar and Pompeius, and the port from Macedonia into Italy. The mission of Titus would naturally connect itself with some such labours, which still formed a part of the ‘care of all the churches,’ see Introduction,’ Life of Titus.’
Forsook for hath forsaken, A.V.; went for is departed, A.V.; to for unto, A.V. (twice). Demas. Nothing more is known of Demas than what is gathered from the mention of him in Col_4:14 and Phm_1:24. We learn from those passages that he was a fellow labourer of the apostle, and it is remarkable that in them both he is coupled, as here, with Luke and Mark (Col_4:10). (See Introduction.) Having loved this present world. It would appear from this that Demas had not the faith or the courage to run the risk of sharing St. Paul’s imminent martyrdom at Rome, but left him, while he was free to do so, under pretence of an urgent call to Thessaloniea; just as Mark left Paul and Barnabas (Act_13:13). But there is no ground to believe that he was an apostate from the faith. The coupling together of Demas and Aristarchus in Phm_1:24 suggests that Demas may have been a Thessalonian, as we know that Aristarchus was (Act_20:4). Demas is thought to be a shortened form of Demarchus. If so, we have a slight additional indication of his being a Thessalonian, as compounds with archos or arches would seem to have been common in Thessalonica (compare Aristarchus and πολιτάρχης, Act_17:6, Act_17:8). Crescens (Κρήσκης); only mentioned here. It is a Latin name, like Πούδης, Pudens, in Phm_1:21. There was a cynic philosopher of this name in the second century, a great enemy of the Christians. The tradition (‘Apost. Constit.,’ 7.46) that he preached the gospel in Galatia is probably derived from this passage. Titus, etc. The last mention of Titus, not reckoning the Epistle to Titus, is that in 2Co_12:18, from which it appears that St. Paul had sent him to Corinth just before his own last visit to that city. How the interval was filled up, and where Titus passed the time, we know not. He is not once named in the Acts of the Apostles, nor in any of St. Paul’s Epistles written during his first imprisonment. But we gather from Tit_1:5 that he accompanied St. Paul to Crete, presumably after the apostle’s return from Spain; that he was left there for a time to organize the Church; that later he joined the apostle at Nicopolis (Tit_3:12),and, doubtless by St. Paul’s desire, went to Dalmatia, as mentioned in this tenth verse. And here our knowledge of him ends. Tradition pretty consistently makes him Bishop of Gortyna, in Crete, where are the ruins of a very ancient church dedicated to St. Titus, in which service is occasionally performed by priests from the neighbourhood (Dean Howson, in ‘Dict. of Bible:’ art. “Titus”).
2 Tim 4:11. Only Luke] Lucas is a contraction of Lucanus, which occurs frequently in inscriptions, and may indicate the position of a libertus or freedman: many such, we know, were the house physicians, the profession, as such, being in very little esteem. See Plaut. Menæchm. v. 3-5, and cf. Bekker’s Gallus, p. 207. St Luke is distinguished from ‘they of the circumcision,’ Col_4:14, and so cannot be identified with Lucius St Paul’s ‘kinsman,’ Rom_16:21. He first appears as a companion of St Paul, Act_16:1, at a time very nearly that of an attack of the Apostle’s constitutional malady or ‘thorn in the flesh,’ Gal_4:13; and the words in Col_4:14 ‘the beloved physician’ seem to breathe a feeling of personal gratitude and obligation. St Luke travelled with the Apostle on his last journey to Jerusalem (Act_21:1) and also, two years later from Jerusalem to Rome (Act_27:2). The absence of his name from the greetings in Philippians may be due to his having then left Rome for a time; but he was again with him before the close of the two years, Col_4:14, Phm_1:24; and is now at his side ‘alone’ in his last hours. See Introd. p. 44. After St Paul’s death, according to Epiphanius cont. Hær. Lev_11, St Luke ‘preaches first in Dalmatia and Gallia; in Italy and Macedonia, but first in Gallia; as Paul himself says of some of his companions in his epistles “Crescens in Gallia,” for we are not to read “in Galatia” as some mistakenly think, but “in Gallia.” ’ Bithynia and Achaia are named as the place of his martyrdom somewhere between a.d. 75 and a.d. 100…
…Take Mark] A.V. varies between ‘Mark’ and ‘Marcus’ in the different passages where the name occurs. R.V. rightly throughout ‘Mark’ (Lightfoot, N. T. Rev., p. 157). ‘Marcus’ was the Latin surname for John (Johanan, the Grace of God) the son of Mary, who lived at Jerusalem, apparently with good means (Act_12:12), and ‘cousin’ of Barnabas of Cyprus (Col_4:10). He and his mother must have been well known to St Peter, who went to her house straight from the prison; and the phrase ‘Mark my son’ 1Pe_5:13 makes it probable that he was converted by that Apostle. Compare a similar phrase in 1Ti_1:2, 1Ti_1:18. He was ‘minister’ to Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey through Cyprus, but left them at Perga (Act_13:5, Act_13:13), possibly to escape the dangers of Asia Minor; and for this reason St Paul declined to have his help on the second journey (Act_15:38) though at the cost of breaking with St Barnabas, who took St Mark again to Cyprus. A reconciliation must have taken place before we next hear of him, as he is reckoned by St Paul in the first imprisonment at Rome as one of his ‘fellow labourers unto the kingdom’ who have been ‘a comfort’ unto him, Col_4:10. After this he seems to have joined St Peter at ‘Babylon’ (1Pe_5:13) whence he must have returned to Asia Minor, so that Timothy could now ‘take him up.’ After St Paul’s death he is said to have laboured in Egypt and to have died by martyrdom. His Gospel must have been written between a.d. 63 and a.d. 70; according to Irenæus, after the deaths of St Peter and St Paul; according to Jerome, ‘Peter relating and Mark writing.’ See Maclear’s Introduction to St Mark’s Gospel, pp. 14, 15, &c. As especially in keeping (by undesigned coincidence) with what we have seen above of St Mark’s own fall and restoration and his slow advance to settled power as a ‘fellow labourer unto the kingdom’ and ‘profitable to the ministry,’ we should observe (if it has not been noticed in this connexion before) what significance the two parables and the one miracle have which are recorded only by St Mark. They are the healing of the deaf and dumb man at Decapolis, with the five stages in his gradual cure (7:31), the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida, with the four successive stages (8:22), and the parable of the seed growing secretly and slowly, ‘first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear’ (4:26). Among the many lessons learnt from Christ, through St Peter, this laid hold of St Mark; it fitted his need, gave him good hope and heart that he could indeed ‘rise on stepping-stones of his dead self’ to a new and higher life; and what he thus found so true in his own case he could not but put on record, to be a ‘profitable ministry’ through the Holy Spirit to very many ‘feeble-hearts,’ who like him have become ‘great-hearts’ and ‘lion-hearts’ for Christ.
profitable … for the ministry] Lit. serviceable for ministering. Observe the emphatic position of the verb ‘for he is,’ almost implying ‘whatever he once may have been’: primarily this ministering would be to himself, as Erastus and Timothy are designated ‘ministers unto him,’ Act_19:22.
Useful for profitable, A.V.; ministering for the ministry, A.V. Luke; probably a shortened form of Lucanus. Luke was with St. Paul in his voyage to Rome (Act_27:1; Act_28:11, Act_28:16), and when he wrote the Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon (Col_4:14; Phm_1:4), having doubtless composed the Acts of the Apostles during St. Paul’s two years’ imprisonment (Act_28:30). How he spent his time between that date and the mention of him here as still with St. Paul, we have no knowledge. But it looks as if he may have been in close personal attendance upon him all the time. if he had been permitted to write a supplement to the Acts, perhaps the repeated “we” would have shown this. Take Mark. Mark had apparently been recently reconciled to St. Paul when he wrote Col_4:10, and was with him when he wrote Phm_1:24. We know nothing more of him till we learn from this passage that he was with or near to Timothy, and likely to accompany him to Rome in his last visit to St. Paul. He is mentioned again in 1Pe_5:13, as being with St. Peter at Babylon. The expression, “take” (ἀναλαβω ́ν), seems to imply that Timothy was to pick him up on the way, as the word is used in Act_20:13, Act_20:14; and, though less certainly, in Act_23:31. He is useful to me, etc. (εὔχρηστος); as Act_2:21 (where see note). This testimony to Mark’s ministerial usefulness, at a time when his faithfulness and courage would be put to a severe test, is very satisfactory. For ministering (εἰς διακονίαν). It may be doubted whether διακονία here means “the ministry,” as in the A.V. and 1Ti_1:12, or, as in the R.V., more generally “for ministering,” i.e. for acting as an assistant to me in my apostolic labours. The words, “to me,” favour the latter rendering. The sense would then be the same as that of the verb in Act_19:22, where we read that Timothy and Erastus “ministered unto him,” i.e. to St. Paul, and that of ὑπηρε ́της applied to Mark in Act_13:5.
2 Timothy 4:11
See Introd. to Luke. His connection with Paul appears first in Act_16:10. He remained at Philippi after Paul’s departure, and was there seven years later, when Paul revisited the city (Act_20:5, Act_20:6). He accompanied Paul to Jerusalem (Act_21:15), after which we lose sight of him until he appears at Caesarea (Act_27:2), whence he accompanies Paul to Rome. He is mentioned Col_4:14 and Phm_1:24.
In N.T. mostly in Acts. See on Act_23:31, and comp. Act_20:13, Act_20:14.
Mentioned Col_4:10; Phm_1:24; 1Pe_5:13. Probably John Mark (Act_12:12, Act_12:25; Act_15:37), called the cousin of Barnabas (Col_4:10). The first mention of him since the separation from Paul (Act_15:39) occurs in Colossians and Philemon. He is commended to the church at Colossae. In 1st Peter he sends salutations to Asia. In both Colossians and Philemon his name appears along with that of Demas. In Colossians he is named shortly before Luke and along with Aristarchus who does not appear here. He (Mark) is about to come to Asia where 2nd Timothy finds him. The appearance in Colossians of Aristarchus with Mark and of Demas with Luke is probably the point of connection with the representation in 2nd Timothy.
Profitable for the ministry (εὔχρηστος εἰς διακονίαν)
Ἑύχρηστος profitable, only here, 2Ti_2:21, Phm_1:11. For for the ministry rend. for ministering or for service, and see on 1Ti_1:12.
2 Tim 4:12. Tychicus] The accent of the word shews it to be formed from the noun for ‘chance’; as with us a common surname is Chance.
Tychicus, a native of proconsular Asia (Act_20:4), went with St Paul on the third missionary journey to Jerusalem, perhaps as a delegate from his own Church; was with him towards the close of the first imprisonment at Rome (Col_4:7); after the release was again with him on the way to Nicopolis (Tit_3:12); and now just before his death is sent to Ephesus. From St Paul’s reference to him in Col_4:7 as his ‘beloved brother and faithful minister’ we see the naturalness of his going on with the Apostle and St Luke to Rome.
have I sent] Rightly, if we take the tense (as is most probable) to be the epistolary aorist. Instances of this in St Paul are 2Co_8:18, 2Co_8:22, 2Co_8:9:3, Gal_6:11, Eph_6:22, Col_4:8, Php_2:25, Php_2:28, Phm_1:11. St Paul then is sending Tychicus with this letter to take Timothy’s place at Ephesus; he had therefore finally decided to send Artemas, not Tychicus, to Crete when he wanted to have Titus with him, Tit_3:12. See Introduction, pp. 43, 44.
But for and, A.V.; sent for have sent, A.V. Tychicus was with St. Paul when he wrote the Epistle to the Colossians (Col_4:7), as was also Timothy (Col_1:1). The presence of Luke, Timothy, Tychicus, Mark, with Paul now, as then, is remarkable (see verse 10, note). I sent to Ephesus. Theodoret (quoted by Alford, ‘Proleg. to 2 Timothy,’ ch. 9. sect. 1) says, “It is plain from this that St. Timothy was not at this time living at Ephesus, but somewhere else.” And that certainly is the natural inference at first sight. But Bishop Ellicott suggests the possibility of Tychicus being the bearer of the First Epistle to Timothy, written not very long before, and this being merely an allusion to that well known fact. Another and more probable idea is that he was the bearer of this Epistle, that the object of his mission, like that of Artemas (Tit_3:12), was to take Timothy’s place at Ephesus during Timothy’s absence at Rome, and that he is thus mentioned in the Epistle in order to commend him to the reverent regard of the Ephesian Church (Wordsworth). It is argued against this that προ ́ς σε would have been the more natural expression after the analogy of Col_4:7 and Tit_3:12. But this objection would be removed if we suppose that the Epistle was sent by another hand, and that it was very possible that Timothy might have started for Rome before Tychicus could arrive at Ephesus. He might have orders to visit Corinth or Macedonia on his way. (For the arguments for and against Timothy being at Ephesus at this time, see Alford’s ‘Proleg.,’ as above.)
2 Timothy 4:13
Bring the cloak which I left at Troas As to the meaning of the word φελόνη, commentators are not agreed; for some think that it is a chest or box for containing books, and others that it is a garment used by travelers, and fitted for defending against cold and rain. Whether the one interpretation or the other be adopted, how comes it that Paul should give orders to have either a garment or a chest brought to him from a place so distant, as if there were not workmen, or as if there were not abundance both of cloth and timber? If it be said, that it was a chest filled with books, or manuscripts, or epistles, the difficulty will be solved; for such materials could not have been procured at any price. But, because many will not admit the conjecture, I willingly translate it by the word cloak. Nor is there any absurdity in saying that Paul desired to have it brought from so great a distance, because that garment, through long use, would be more comfortable for him, and he wished to avoid expense.
Yet (to own the truth) I give the preference to the former interpretation; more especially because Paul immediately afterwards mentions books and parchments. It is evident from this, that the Apostle had not given over reading, though he was already preparing for death. Where are those who think that they have made so great progress that they do not need any more exercise? Which of them will dare to compare himself with Paul? Still more does this expression refute the madness of those men who — despising books, and condemning all reading — boast of nothing but their own ἐνθουσιασμοὺς divine inspirations. But let us know that this passage gives to all believers a recommendation of constant reading, that they may profit by it.
Here some one will ask, “What does Paul mean by asking for a robe or cloak, if he perceived that his death was at hand?” This difficulty also induces me to interpret the word as denoting a chest, though there might have been some use of the “cloak” which is unknown in the present day; and therefore I give myself little trouble about these matters.
2 Timothy 4:13
The cloke (tēn phelonēn). More common form pheilonē. By metathesis for phainolē, Latin paenula, though which language transliterated the word into the other is not known. The meaning is also uncertain, though probably “cloke” as there are so many papyri examples in that sense (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary). Milligan (N.T. Documents, p. 20) had previously urged “book wrap” as probable but he changed his mind and rightly so.
With Carpus (para Karpōi). “Beside Carpus,” at his house. Not mentioned elsewhere. Probably a visit to Troas after Paul’s return from Crete.
The books (ta biblia). Probably papyrus rolls. One can only guess what rolls the old preacher longs to have with him, probably copies of Old Testament books, possibly copies of his own letters, and other books used and loved. The old preacher can be happy with his books.
Especially the parchments (malista tas membranas). Latin membrana. The dressed skins were first made at Pergamum and so termed “parchments.” These in particular would likely be copies of Old Testament books, parchment being more expensive than papyrus, possibly even copies of Christ’s sayings (Luk_1:1-4). We recall that in Act_26:24 Festus referred to Paul’s learning (ta grammata). He would not waste his time in prison.
2 Timothy 4:13
The cloak (φελόνην)
Hesychius, however, explains as a γλωσσόκομον, originally a case for keeping the mouthpieces of wind-instruments; thence, generally, a box. Γλωσσόκομον is the word for the disciples’ treasury-chest (bag, Joh_12:6). Also a box for transporting or preserving parchments. Specimens have been found at Herculaneum. In lxx, 2Sa_6:11, the ark of the Lord (but the reading varies): in 2Ch_24:8, the chest placed by order of Joash at the gate of the temple, to receive contributions for its repair. Joseph. Ant. 6:1, 2, of the coffer into which the jewels of gold were put for a trespass-offering when the ark was sent back (1Sa_6:8). Phrynicus defines it as “a receptacle for books, clothes, silver, or anything else.” Φαιλόνης or φαινόλης a wrapper of parchments, was translated figuratively in Latin by toga or paenula “a cloak,” sometimes of leather; also the wrapping which a shopkeeper put round fish or olives; also the parchment cover for papyrus rolls. Accordingly it is claimed that Timothy is here bidden to bring, not a cloak, but a roll-case. So the Syriac Version. There seems to be no sufficient reason for abandoning the translation of A.V.
Not mentioned elsewhere.
The books (βιβλία)
Βίβλος or, βιβλίον was the term most widely used by the Greeks for book or volume. The usual derivation is from βύβλος the Egyptian papyrus. Comp. Lat. liber “the inner bark of a tree,” also “ book.” Pliny (Nat. Hist. xiii. 11) says that the pith of the papyrus plant was cut in slices and laid in rows, over which other rows were laid crosswise, and the whole was massed by pressure. The name for the blank papyrus sheets was χάρτης (charta) paper. See on 2Jo_1:12. Timothy is here requested to bring some papyrus documents which are distinguished from the vellum manuscripts.
N.T.o. Manuscripts written on parchment or vellum. Strictly speaking, vellum was made from the skins of young calves and the common parchment from those of sheep, goats, or antelopes. It was a more durable material than papyrus and more expensive. The Latin name was membrana, and also pergamena or pergamina, from Pergamum in Mysia where it was extensively manufactured, and from which it was introduced into Greece. As to the character and contents of these documents which Timothy is requested to bring, we are of course entirely ignorant.
2 Timothy 4:13
The cloak that I left at Troas – On the situation of Troas, see the notes on Act_16:8. It was not on the most direct route from Ephesus to Rome, but was a route frequently taken. See also the introduction, section 2. In regard to what the “cloak” here mentioned was, there has been considerable difference of opinion. The Greek word used (φελόνης phelonēs, – variously written φαιλόνης phailonēs, φελόνης phelonēs, and φελώνης phelōnēs), occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is supposed to be used for a similar Greek word (φαινόλης phainolēs) to denote a cloak, or great-coat, with a hood, used chiefly on journeys, or in the army: Latin, “penula.” It is described by Eschenberg (Man. Class. Lit., p. 209) as a “cloak without sleeves, for cold or rainy weather.” See the uses of it in the quotations made by Wetstein, in loc.
Others, however, have supposed that the word means a traveling-case for books, etc. So Hesychius understands it. Bloomfield endeavors to unite the two opinions by suggesting that it may mean a “cloak-bag,” and that he had left his books and parchments in it. It is impossible to settle the precise meaning of the word here, and it is not material. The common opinion that it was a wrapper or traveling-cloak, is the most probable; and such a garment would not be undesirable for a prisoner. It should be remembered, also, that winter was approaching 2Ti_4:21, and such a cloak would be particularly needed. He had probably passed through Troas in summer, and, not needing the cloak, and not choosing to encumber himself with it, had left it at the house of a friend. On the meaning of the word, see Wetstein, Robinson, Lex., and Schleusner, Lexicon. Compare, also, Suic. Thes ii. 1422. The doubt in regard to what is here meant, is as old as Chrysostom. He says (Homily x. on this Epistle), that the word φελόνην phelonēn denotes a garment – τὸ ἱματίον to himation. But some understood by it a capsula, or bag – γλωσσόκομον glōssokomon,” (compare the notes on Joh_12:6), “in which books, etc. were carried.”
With Carpus – Carpus is not elsewhere mentioned. He was evidently a friend of the apostle, and it would seem probable that Paul had made his house his home when he was in Troas.
And the books – It is impossible to determine what books are meant here. They may have been portions of the Old Testament, or classic writings, or books written by other Christians, or by himself. It is worthy of remark that even Paul did not travel without books, and that he found them in some way necessary for the work of the ministry.
Especially the parchments – The word here used (μεμβράνας membranas, whence our word “membrane”), occurs only in this place in the New Testament, and means skin, membrane, or parchment. Dressed skins were among the earliest materials for writing, and were in common use before the art of making paper from rags was discovered. These “parchments” seem to have been something different from “books,” and probably refer to some of his own writings. They may have contained notes, memorandums, journals, or unfinished letters. It is, of course, impossible now to determine what they were. Benson supposes they were letters which he had received from the churches; Macknight, that they were the originals of the letters which he had written; Dr. Bull, that they were a kind of common-place book, in which he inserted hints and extracts of the most remarkable passages in the authors which he read. All this, however, is mere conjecture.
2 Timothy 4:14
14Alexander the coppersmith In this man was exhibited a shocking instance of apostasy. He had made profession of some zeal in advancing the reign of Christ, against which he afterwards carried on open war. No class of enemies is more dangerous or more envenomed than this. But from the beginning, the Lord determined that his Church should not be exempted from this evil, lest our courage should fail when we are tried by any of the same kind.
Hath done me many evil things It is proper to observe, what are the “many evils” which Paul complains that Alexander brought upon him. They consisted in this, that he opposed his doctrine. Alexander was an artificer, not prepared by the learning of the schools for being a great disputer; but domestic enemies have always been abundantly able to do injury. And the wickedness of such men always obtains credit in the world, so that malicious and impudent ignorance sometimes creates trouble and difficulty greater than the highest abilities accompanied by learning. Besides, when the Lord brings his servants into contest with persons of this low and base class, he purposely withdraws them from the view of the world, that they may not indulge in ostentatious display.
From Paul’s words, (2Ti_4:15,) for he vehemently opposed our discourses, we may infer that he had committed no greater offense than an attack on sound doctrine; for if Alexander had wounded his person, or committed an assault on him, he would have endured it patiently; but when the truth of God is assailed, his holy breast burns with indignation, because, in all the members of Christ that saying must hold good,
“The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up.” (Psa_69:9.)
And this is also the reason of the stern imprecation into which he breaks out, that the Lord may reward him according to his works. A little afterwards, when he complains that all had forsaken him, (Psa_69:9,) still he does not call down the vengeance of God on them, but, on the contrary, appears as their intercessor, pleading that they may obtain pardon. So mild and so merciful to all others, how comes it that he shows himself so harsh and inexorable towards this individual? The reason is this. Because some had fallen through fear and weakness, he desires that the Lord would forgive them; for in this manner we ought to have compassion on the weakness of brethren. But because this man rose against God with malice and sacrilegious hardihood, and openly attacked known truth, such impiety had no claim to compassion.
We must not imagine, therefore, that Paul was moved by excessive warmth of temper, when he broke out into this imprecation; for it was from the Spirit of God, and through a well regulated zeal, that he wished eternal perdition to Alexander, and mercy to the others. Seeing that it is by the guidance of the Spirit that Paul pronounces a heavenly judgment from on high, we may infer from this passage, how dear to God is his truth, for attacking which he punishes so severely. Especially it ought to be observed how detestable a crime it is, to fight with deliberate malice against the true religion
But lest any person, by falsely imitating the Apostle, should rashly utter similar imprecations, there are three things here that deserve notice. First, let us not avenge the injuries done to ourselves, lest self-love and a regard to our private advantage should move us violently, as frequently happens. Secondly, while we maintain the glory of God, let us not mingle with it our own passions, which always disturb good order. Thirdly, let us not pronounce sentence against every person without discrimination, but only against reprobates, who, by their impiety, give evidence that such is their true character; and thus our wishes will agree with God’s own judgment otherwise there is ground to fear that the same reply may be made to us that Christ made to the disciples who thundered indiscriminately against all who did not comply with their views,
“Ye know not of what spirit ye are.” (Luk_9:55.)
They thought that they had Elijah as their supporter, (2Kg_1:10,) who prayed to the Lord in the same manner; but because they differed widely from the spirit of Elijah, the imitation was absurd. It is therefore necessary, that the Lord should reveal his judgment before we burst forth into such imprecations; and wish that by his Spirit he should restrain and guide our zeal. And whenever we call to our remembrance the vehemence of Paul against a single individual, let us also recollect his amazing meekness towards those who had so basely forsaken him, that we may learn, by his example, to have compassion on the weakness of our brethren.
Here I wish to put a question to those who pretend that Peter presided over the church at Rome. Where was he at that time? According to their opinion, he was not dead; for they tell us, that exactly a year intervened between his death and that of Paul. Besides, they extend his pontificate to seven years. Here Paul mentions his first defense: his second appearance before the court would not be quite so soon. In order that Peter may not lose the title of Pope, must he endure to be charged with the guilt of so shameful a revolt? Certainly, when the whole matter has been duly examined, we shall find that everything that has been believed about his Popedom is fabulous.
Will render to him for reward him, A.V. and T.R. Alexander; apparently an Ephesian, as appears by the words, “of whom be thou ware also.” It seems probable, though it is necessarily uncertain, that this Alexander is the same person as that mentioned in 1Ti_1:20 as “a blasphemer,” which agrees exactly with what is here said of him, “he greatly withstood our words” (comp. Act_13:45, “contradicted the things which were spoken by Paul, and blasphemed”). He may or may not be the same as the Alexander named in Act_19:33. Supposing the Alexander of 1Ti_1:20 and this place to be the same, the points of resemblance with the Alexander of Act_19:33 are that both resided at Ephesus, that both seem to have been Christians (see note on 1Ti_1:20), and both probably Jews, inasmuch as 1Ti_1:1-20 relates entirely to Jewish heresies (1Ti_1:4, 1Ti_1:7, 1Ti_1:8), and Act_19:33 expressly states that he was a Jew. The coppersmith (ὁ χαλκευ ̀ς; only here in the New Testament); properly, a coppersmith, but used generally of any smith—silversmith, or goldsmith, or blacksmith. Did me much evil (πολλά μοι κακὰ ἐνδείξατο). This is a purely Hellenistic idiom, and is found in the LXX. of Gen_1:15, Gen_1:17; Song of the Three Children, 19; 2 Macc. 13:9. In classical Greek the verb ἐνδει ́κυυμαι, in the middle voice, “to display,” can only be followed by a subjective quality, as “good will,” “virtue,” “long suffering,” an “opinion,” and the like (see Alford, in loc.). And so it is used in 1Ti_1:16; Tit_2:10; Tit_3:2. The question naturally arises—When and where did Alexander thus injure St. Paul?—at Ephesus or at Rome? Bengel suggests Rome, and with great probability. Perhaps he did him evil by stirring up the Jews at Rome against the apostle at the time of “his first defence;” or by giving adverse testimony before the Roman tribunal, possibly accusing him of being seditious, and bringing up the riot at Ephesus as a proof of it; or in some other way, of which the memory has perished. Will render. The R.T. has the future, ἀποδω ́σει for the optative ἀποδω ́η, “a late and incorrect form for ἀποδοι ́η” (Ellicott, in loc.).
2 Tim 4:16. At my first answer] This should not be referred to any preliminary trial at Ephesus or elsewhere, but to the ‘prima actio’ of the main case at Rome before Nero or his representative; ‘if the matter was one of difficulty the hearing might be adjourned as often as was necessary: such respite was called ampliatio.’ See Dict. Ant. judex.
stood with me] The simpler compound is the better supported by mss., took my part, was my ‘advocatus.’ Under the emperors this word signified a person who in any way assisted in the conduct of a cause, our ‘solicitor,’ and was sometimes equivalent to ‘orator’ or ‘patronus,’ who made the speech for the client, our ‘counsel’ or ‘barrister.’ See Dict. Ant. advocatus. The verb here is generally in N. T. without any case following, in the sense of ‘to come,’ and is especially used by St Luke, occurring twenty-nine times in the Gospel and the Acts, against nine times elsewhere in N.T. The meaning of ‘support,’ with the dative, is quite classical. Cf. Æsch. Eum. 309.
all … forsook me] As in ver. 10.
laid to their charge] More exactly to their account, lit. ‘reckoned to them.’ So the line of Martial, which has been adopted as a motto for sundials and clocks, ‘horae pereunt et imputantur,’ ‘are put to our account.’
2 Timothy 4:16
At my first answer – Εν τῃ τρωτῃ μου απολογιᾳ· At my first apology; this word properly signifies a defense or vindication. To his is the meaning of what we call the apologies of the primitive fathers; they were vindications or defences of Christianity. It is generally allowed that, when St. Paul had been taken this second time by the Romans, he was examined immediately, and required to account for his conduct; and that, so odious was Christianity through the tyranny of Nero, he could procure no person to plead for him. Nero, who had himself set fire to Rome, charged it on the Christians, and they were in consequence persecuted in the most cruel manner; he caused them to be wrapped up in pitched clothes, and then, chaining them to a stake, he ordered them to be set on fire to give light in the streets after night! Tormenti genus! To this Juvenal appears to allude. Sat. i. v. 155.
Pone Tigellinum, taeda lucebis in illa
Qua stantes ardent, qui fixo gulture fumant.
“If into rogues omnipotent you rake,
Death is your doom, impaled upon a stake;
Smear’d o’er with wax, and set on blaze to light
The streets, and make a dreadful fire by night.”
I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge – How much more simple, elegant, and expressive are the apostle’s own words: Μη αυτοις λογισθειη· let it not be placed to their account! Let them not have to reckon for it with the supreme Judge at the great day!
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
2 Timothy 4:16
At my first answer — that is, “defense” in court, at my first public examination. Timothy knew nothing of this, it is plain, till Paul now informs him. But during his former imprisonment at Rome, Timothy was with him (Phi_1:1, Phi_1:7). This must have been, therefore, a second imprisonment. He must have been set free before the persecution in a.d. 64, when the Christians were accused of causing the conflagration in Rome; for, had he been a prisoner then, he certainly would not have been spared. The tradition [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2.251] that he was finally beheaded, accords with his not having been put to death in the persecution, a.d. 64, when burning to death was the mode by which the Christians were executed, but subsequently to it. His “first” trial in his second imprisonment seems to have been on the charge of complicity in the conflagration; his absence from Rome may have been the ground of his acquittal on that charge; his final condemnation was probably on the charge of introducing a new and unlawful religion into Rome.
stood with me — Greek, “came forward with me” [Alford] as a friend and advocate.
may it not be laid to their charge — The position of “their,” in the Greek, is emphatic. “May it not be laid to THEIR charge,” for they were intimidated; their drawing back from me was not from bad disposition so much as from fear; it is sure to be laid to the charge of those who intimidated them. Still Paul, like Stephen, would doubtless have offered the same prayer for his persecutors themselves (Act_7:60).
2 Timothy 4:17
17But the Lord assisted me He adds this, in order to remove the scandal which he saw might arise from that base desertion of his cause. Though the church at Rome had failed to perform its duty, he affirms that the gospel had suffered no loss by it, because, leaning on heavenly power, he was himself fully able to bear the whole burden, and was so far from being discouraged by the influence of that fear which seized on all, that it became only the more evident that the grace of God has no need of receiving aid from any other quarter. He does not boast of his courage, but gives thanks to the Lord; that, when reduced to extremities, he did not give way nor lose heart under so dangerous a temptation. He therefore acknowledges that he was supported by the arm of the Lord, and is satisfied with this, that the inward grace of God served for a shield to defend him against every assault. He assigns the reason —
That the proclamation might be confirmed The word “proclamation” is employed by him to denote the office of publishing the gospel among the Gentiles, which was especially assigned to him; for the preaching of others did not so much resemble a proclamation, in consequence of being confined to the Jews. And with good reason does he make use of this word in many passages. It was no small confirmation of his ministry, that, when the whole world foamed with madness against him, and on the other hand, all human assistance failed him, still he remained unshaken. Thus he gave practical demonstration that his apostleship was from Christ.
He now describes the manner of the confirmation, that all the Gentiles might hear that the Lord had so powerfully assisted him; for from this event they might infer that both their own calling and that of Paul were from the Lord.
And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. By the word “lion,” many suppose that he means Nero. For my part, I rather think that he makes use of this expression to denote danger in general; as if he had said, “out of a blazing fire,” or “out of the jaws of death.” He means that it was not without wonderful assistance from God, that he escaped, the danger being so great that but for this he must have been immediately swallowed up.
2 Timothy 4:17
Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me – Though all “men” forsook me, yet “God” did not. This expresses a universal truth in regard to the faithfulness of God; see Psa_27:10; compare Job_5:17-19; Isa_14:1-2.
That by me the preaching might be fully known – The word “preaching,” here probably means “the gospel as preached by him.” The word rendered “might be fully known” – πληροφορηθῃ plērophorē̄thē – means “might obtain full credence;” that is, might be fully confirmed, so that others might be assured of its truth. The apostle doubtless means that on his trial, though forsaken by all men, he was enabled to be so steadfast in his profession of the truth, and so calm in the prospect of death, that all who witnessed his trial saw that there was a reality in religion, and that the gospel was founded in truth. He had maintained as a preacher that the gospel was able to support the soul in trial, and he was now able to illustrate its power in his own case. He had proclaimed the gospel as the true system of religion, and he was now able to bear testimony to it with the prospect of approaching martyrdom.
The sentiment of this passage then is, that the truth of the gospel is made known, or that men may become fully assured of it, by the testimony which is borne to it by its friends in the near prospect of death. One of the most important means of establishing the truth of the gospel in the world has been the testimony borne to it by martyrs, and the spirit of unwavering confidence in God which they have evinced. And now, one of the most important methods of keeping up the knowledge of the value of religion in the world, and of convincing men of the truth of Christianity, is the spirit evinced by its friends when they are about to die. Men judge much, and justly, of the value of a system of religion by its power to comfort in the day of calamity, and to sustain the soul when about to enter on an untried state of being. That system is of little value to mankind which leaves us in the day of trial; that is of inestimable worth which will enable us to die with the firm hope of a brighter and better world. A Christian, having served his God faithfully in life, may, therefore, be eminently useful when he comes to die.
And that all the Gentiles might hear – Paul was at this time in Rome. His trial was before a pagan tribunal, and he was surrounded by Pagans. Rome, too, was then the center of the world, and at all times there was a great conflux of strangers there. His trial, therefore, gave him an opportunity of testifying to the truth of Christianity before Gentile rulers, and in such circumstances that the knowledge of his sufferings, and of the religion for which he suffered, might be conveyed by the strangers who witnessed it to the ends of the world. His main object in life was to make the gospel known to the Gentiles, and he had thus an opportunity of furthering that great cause, even on what he supposed might be the trial which would determine with him the question of life or death; compare the notes on Rom_1:10.
And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion – This may either mean that he was delivered from Nero, compared with a lion, or literally that he was saved from being thrown to lions in the amphitheater, as was common in Rome; see the notes on 1Co_15:32.
It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to compare tyrants and persecutors with ravenous wild beasts; compare Psa_22:13, Psa_22:21; Jer_2:30. Nero is called a “lion” by Seneca, and it was usual among pagan writers to apply the term in various senses to princes and warriors; see Grotius, in loc. The common interpretation here has been, that this refers to Nero, and there is no improbability in the interpretation. Still, it is quite as natural to suppose that the punishment which had been appointed for him, or to which he would have been subjected, was to be thrown to lions, and that in some way, now unknown to us, he had been delivered from it. Paul attributes his deliverance entirely to the Lord – but what instrumental agency there may have been, he does not specify. It seems probable that it was his own defense; that he was enabled to plead his own cause with so much ability that he found favor even with the Roman emperor, and was discharged. If it had been through the help of a friend at court, it is hardly to be supposed that he would not have mentioned the name of him to whom he owed his deliverance.
2 Timothy 4:18
18And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work He declares, that he hopes the same for the future; not that he will escape death, but that he will not be vanquished by Satan, or turn aside from the right course. This is what we ought chiefly to desire, not that the interests of the body may be promoted, but that we may rise superior to every temptation, and may be ready to suffer a hundred deaths rather than that it should come into our mind to pollute ourselves by any “evil work.” Yet I am well aware, that there are some who take the expression evil work in a passive sense, as denoting the violence of wicked men, as if Paul had said, “The Lord will not suffer wicked men to do me any injury.” But the other meaning is far more appropriate, that he will preserve him pure and unblemished from every wicked action; for he immediately adds, to his heavenly kingdom, by which he means that that alone is true salvation, when the Lord — either by life or by death — conducts us into his kingdom.
This is a remarkable passage for maintaining the uninterrupted communication of the grace of God, in opposition to the Papists. After having confessed that the beginning of salvation is from God, they ascribe the continuation of it to freewill; so that in this way perseverance is not a heavenly gift, but a virtue of man. And Paul, by ascribing to God this work of “preserving us to his kingdom,” openly affirms that we are guided by his hand during the whole course of our life, till, having discharged the whole of our warfare, we obtain the victory. And we have a memorable instance of this in Demas, whom he mentioned a little before, because, from being a noble champion of Christ, he had become a base deserter. All that follows has been seen by us formerly, and therefore does not need additional exposition.
2 Timothy 4:18
Every evil work (ἐκ ἔργου πονηρου)
Every design and attempt against him and his work. Πονηρός evil cannot be limited to evil on its active side. See on 1Co_5:13. The word is connected at the root with πένεσθαι to be needy, and πονεῖν to toil; and this connection opens a glimpse of that sentiment which associated badness with a poor and toiling condition. The word means originally full of or oppressed by labors; thence, that which brings annoyance or toil. Comp. ἡμέρα πονηρά evil day, Eph_5:16; Eph_6:13; ἕλκος πονηρὸν a grievous sore, Rev_16:2.
Heavenly kingdom (τὴν βασιλείαν τὴν ἐπουράνιον)
The phrase N.T.o. Ἑπουράνιος heavenly only here in Pastorals. Mostly in Paul and Hebrews. Heavenly kingdom, here the future, glorified life, as 1Co_6:9, 1Co_6:10; 1Co_15:50; Luk_13:29. In the same sense, kingdom of Christ and of God, Eph_5:5; kingdom of their Father, Mat_13:43; my Father’s kingdom, Mat_26:29; kingdom prepared for you, Mat_25:34; eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 2Pe_1:11.