Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Preach the word.—The language of the original here is abrupt and emphatic, written evidently under strong emotion and with intense earnestness. St. Paul charged his friend and successor with awful solemnity, as we have seen, “preach,” or proclaim. loudly and publicly, as a herald would announce the accession of his king. The exact opposite to what St. Paul would urge on Timothy is described by Isa. (Isaiah 56:10), when he speaks of God’s watchmen as “dumb dogs, who cannot bark, sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.”
Be instant in season, out of season.—Some difference exists between commentators respecting the exact meaning to be given to the Greek word translated “be instant.” Some would give it the sense of drawing nigh to, and as it is not specified in the text to whom Timothy should draw nigh, they supply from the context “the brethren,” those to whom the word is preached: “draw near to Christian assemblies.” It seems, however, best to understand this rather difficult word as an injunction to Timothy to be earnest and urgent generally in the whole work of his ministry: “Press on, in season, out of season.”
In season, out of season.—In other words, “For thy work, set apart no definite and fixed hours, no appointed times. Thy work must be done at all hours, at all times. Thy work has to be done not only when thou art in church, not merely in times of security and peace, but it must be carried on, in the midst of dangers, even if thou art a prisoner and in chains, even if death threaten thee.”
So Chrysostom—who also uses St. Paul’s words here as an urgent call to ministers to labour on in spite of discouragement and apparent failure—telling them in his own bright, eloquent way, how fountains still flow on, though no one goes to them to draw water, and rivers still run on, though no one drinks at them.
Augustine asks and answers the question to whom “in season” and to whom “out of season” refers: “in season” to those willing, “out of season” to the unwilling. This, however, only touches a portion of the thought of St. Paul, who urges on God’s true servants a restless, sleepless earnestness, which struggles on with the Master’s work in spite of bodily weakness and discouragement, in face of dangers and the bitterest opposition.
Reprove.—Not merely those erring in doctrine, but generally those who are blameworthy: “Was tadelnswerthist.”
Rebuke.—A sharper and more severe word than the preceding. It is used by St. Jude 1:9, in his report of the words addressed by St. Michael to the devil: “The Lord rebuke thee.” It frequently occurs in the Gospels. (See, for instance, Matthew 17:18, “And Jesus rebuked the devil.”)
Exhort.—Not only is he to remember ceaselessly to watch over the flock, and to reprove and rebuke the erring and sinners, but also with no less diligence to speak comfortable words of encouragement and hope to all, especially the dispirited and sad-hearted.
With all longsuffering and doctrine.—The word translated “doctrine” signifies, rather, teaching. He must reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all gentleness and patience; and in all this he must take care that “teaching”—the teaching which is right, and true, and full of hope—accompanies his rebuke and his words of comfort.
Be instant - see the notes at Romans 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 Matthew 26:16; Luke 22:6; Mark 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 2 Timothy 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; Titus 2:15; see the use of the word in Matthew 8:26; Matthew 12:16, (rendered "charged"); Matthew 16:22; Matthew 17:18; Matthew 19:13; Matthew 20:31; Luke 4:35, Luke 4:39; Luke 17:13; Luke 18:15; Jde 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 Romans 12:8.
With all long-suffering - That is, with a patient and persevering spirit if you are opposed; see the notes on 2 Timothy 2:25; compare the notes on Romans 2:4; compare Romans 9:22; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 1:11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Timothy 1:16.
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 (Ac 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.
with, &c.—Greek, "IN (the element in which the exhortation ought to have place) all long-suffering (2Ti 2:24, 25; 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].Preach; proclaim like a herald, cry like a common crier in the hearing of a multitude. Thus God to Isaiah, Isaiah 58:1: Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet. The word; the word of truth, Isaiah 2:15, or the gospel, called the word by way of emphasis: see Matthew 4:23 24:14 Mark 1:14 13:10 16:15. The word of God, not old wives’ fables, endless genealogies, perverse disputings, unedifying questions, &c. This precept reflects upon unpreaching ministers, and impertinent, vain preachers.
Be instant; be earnest and diligent. This reflects upon a cold and perfunctory preaching. God bid Isaiah cry aloud, lift up his voice like a trumpet. Sinners are like deaf adders.
In season, out of season; that is, at all times, not on the Lord’s days only, but any other time when thou hast opportunity; not in times when thou mayst do it with safety, but when the wisdom of the flesh tells thee it is out of season. This reflects upon such as preach rarely, and consult their flesh, whether they should perform it at all, or no.
Reprove; elegzon, convince such as gainsay the truth.
Rebuke all sinners, all that live an ill life. This reflects upon those effeminate preachers, against whom Ezekiel denounced the woe, Ezekiel 13:18, that sew pillows to all armholes; that prophesy smooth things instead of the right things of the word.
Exhort; persuade or comfort, (the word signifies both), as thou seest occasion.
With all longsuffering; but do what thou doest prudently, with meekness. God needeth not thy passion, though he makes use of thy art in instruction.
And doctrine; do it so as to join instruction with thy reproof. This reflects upon flattering, fawning, unfaithful preachers, and such as vent their own passion, rather than pursue their due end for instruction and reformation of souls.
be instant in season, out of season; that is, be constant and assiduous in the work of the ministry; be always and wholly in it, either preparing for it, or performing it; or doing those things which are annexed to it, or follow upon it; redeem time, and take every opportunity of dispensing the mysteries of grace, as a faithful steward of them; not only make use of the common and stated seasons for the ministration of the word and ordinances, but embrace every other that offers; make use not only of those seasons which may seem commodious and advantageous both to preacher and hearer, and promise usefulness and success, but even such as may seem incommodious and disadvantageous to flesh and blood; such as times of persecution and opposition; but none of these things should deter and move from the preaching of the Gospel. Several parts of the ministerial function to be insisted on and attended to are next mentioned, as being within the solemn charge given before God and Christ:
reprove; errors, and men for their errors and heresies; make use of convincing arguments taken out of the Scriptures, which are profitable for reproof of this kind; and which reproof sometimes is to be given with sharpness, as the case requires, that men may be sound in the faith.
Rebuke; or chide for sin; some privately, others more publicly, according to the nature and circumstances of the offence; some more gently, others more roughly, as is needful.
Exhort; to all the duties of religion respecting God and man; to show love, and to do good works; to hold fast the profession of faith, and walk as becomes the Gospel of Christ; and to persevere in faith and holiness: or "comfort", as the word may be rendered; for as the ministers of the Gospel are in some cases to be "Boanergeses", sons of thunder, so other cases they should be Barnabases, sons of consolation; and comfort distressed minds, by preaching the comfortable doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness and salvation by Jesus Christ:
with all longsuffering: or patience. The success of the Gospel ministry should be patiently waited for as husbandmen do for the fruits of the earth. Those that give into error, and oppose themselves to the truth, should be instructed in meekness; and those who are overtaken in a fault should be gently rebuked, and restored in such a spirit; and every exhortation should be pressed as persons are able to bear it:Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Timothy 4:2. κήρυξον: In 1 Timothy 5:21 διαμαρτ. is followed by ἵνα with the subj.; in 2 Timothy 2:14 by the inf. Here the adjuration is more impassioned; hence the abruptness; this is heightened also by the aorists.
ἐπίστηθι: Insta, Be at hand, or Be ready to act. ἐπίστ. εὐκ. ἀκ. qualifies adverbially κήρυξον; while the following imperatives, ἔλεγξον, κ.τ.λ., are various departments of “preaching the word”.
εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως: opportune, importune (Vulg.). So few καιροί remain available (see next verse), that you must use them all. Do not ask yourself, “Is this a suitable occasion for preaching?” Ask rather, “Why should not this be a suitable occasion?” “Have not any limited season; let it always be thy season, not only in peace and security and when sitting in the Church” (Chrys.).
Similar expressions are cited by Bengel, e.g., digna indigna; praesens absens; nolens volens. We need not ask whether the reasonableness, etc., has reference to the preacher or the hearers. The direction is to disregard the inclinations of both.
ἔλεγξον: Taking this in the sense convict, Chrys. comments thus on the three imperatives, “After the manner of physicians, having shown the wound, he gives the incision, he applies the plaister”.
ἐπιτίμησον: “The strict meaning of the word is ‘to mete out due measure,’ but in the N.T. it is used only of censure”. So Swete (on Mark 1:25), who also notes that with the exceptions of this place and Judges 1:9, it is limited to the Synoptists.
παρακάλεσον: See on 1 Timothy 4:13.
ἐν πάσῃ μακροθυμίᾳ καὶ διδαχῇ: This qualifies each of the three preceding imperatives; and πάσῃ belongs to διδαχῇ as well as to μακρ., with the utmost patience and the most painstaking instruction.
διδαχῇ: “(teaching) seems to point more to the act, διδασκαλία (doctrine) to the substance or result of teaching” (Ell.). In the only other occurrence of διδαχή in the Pastorals, Titus 1:9, it means doctrine.2. preach the word] The unconnected aorist is emphatic; so is the aorist, to indicate the ‘verb thought’ standing out with prominence; ‘I adjure thee, remember—preaching, persisting, reproving, rebuking, rousing,—to it, in God’s name!’ If the tenses had been present, the stress would have been different; ‘Go on with each, keep on at it, form the habit of it.’
be instant] The other uses of the word in N.T. are either in the sense (of person) ‘coming and standing by’ or (of time) ‘being present,’ cf. Acts 17:5; as below 2 Timothy 4:6. Here the sense is the classical one of giving attention,’ ‘applying oneself to a thing. Compare Dem. De Cor., 305. 7, ‘what means and resources our country possessed when I entered on the administration, what when I applied myself to it I collected for her.’
in season, out of season] An oxymoron, not to be pressed literally any more than the familiar nolens volens, but implying, as we should say, ‘constant application.’ Vulg. ‘opportune,’ ‘importune.’
reprove] The same word as in 2 Timothy 3:16, ‘reproof’; less strong than the following ‘rebuke,’ which St Paul has nowhere else; it is frequent in the Gospels, and occurs Judges 9.
exhort] Or here perhaps ‘rouse’; see note on 1 Timothy 5:1. The order of the verbs in some mss. is ‘reprove, rouse, rebuke’; so Vulg. ‘argue obsecra increpa in omni patientia et doctrina,’ which the English Prayer-Book follows in the last prayer for the consecration of a Bishop ‘that he may be earnest to reprove, beseech and rebuke with all patience and doctrine.’
longsuffering] See 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:10.
doctrine] Rather teaching; this word only occurs in Titus 1:9 besides, of the Pastoral Epistles, though it is used by all the Evangelists and by St Paul four times in his other Epistles. The distinction, drawn Titus 1:9, holds equally here between this word and the word translated ‘doctrine’ in 2 Timothy 4:3.2 Timothy 4:2. Ἐπίστηθι) be instant, be urgent.—εὐκαίρως, ἀκαίρως) Pricæus understands the word as it were proverbially, for assiduously, or at every time; and brings in support of his view the examples which follow:—Nicetus Choniates: παιδαγωγῷ ἐμβριθεῖ ἐοικὼς, εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως ἀπέπληττεν, “like a severe schoolmaster, he was always beating, in and out of season.” Such is that expression of the Tragic writer Seneca: Incipe quicquid potes, Medea, quicquid non potes, “Medea, attempt whatsoever thou canst do and whatsoever thou canst not do;” i.e. anything whatever. Of Plautus: qui comedit quod fuit, quod non fuit, “one who eats up what there was, what there was not;” i.e. who devours everything. Of Terence: cum milite isto prœsens absens ut sies, “that whether present or absent, thou mayest be with that soldier.” Of Catullus: Hoc facias, sive id non pote, sive potest, “Do this, whether it be impossible or possible;” i.e. it must be done. Of Julian: ἐπορεύετο ἐπὶ τὰς τῶν φίλων οἰκίας ἄκλητος κεκλημένος, διαλλάσσων τοὺς οἰκειοτάτους ἀλλήλοις, “he went to the houses of his friends, whether invited or not, reconciling those most nearly related to one another.” Of Aristophanes: δικαίως καὶ ἀδίκως, “justly and unjustly,” where the Scholia say, “for in every way.” Of Virgil: digna, indigna pati, “to suffer things, worthy and unworthy;” where Servius says, it is a proverbial expression for all things. Of Terence: justa injusta, “things just or unjust;” where Donatus says, expressions of this kind are proverbial—“fanda nefanda,” right or wrong; “digna indigna,” worthy or unworthy. Pricæus has collected these examples, and more, all of which do not rest on the same footing as the example in the text. This is the meaning of the apostle: Be instant at ordinary and proper times, and beyond these, whether it be convenient for thyself and thy hearers or not, night and day; Acts 20:31.—ἔλεγξον, ἐπιτίμησον, reprove, rebuke) The want of the conjunction is here appropriate. All these things do no violence to long-suffering [ch. 2 Timothy 3:10, 2 Timothy 2:24-25], but require it.—διδαχῇ, in doctrine) ch. 2 Timothy 2:24, note.Verse 2. - Teaching for doctrine, A.V. Preach the Word (κήρυξον τὸν λόγον). It is impossible to exaggerate the dignity and importance here given to preaching by its being made the subject of so solemn and awful an adjuration as that in ver. 1 (compare the designation of κήρυξ which St. Paul gives to himself in 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11). Be instant (ἐπίστηθι). The force of the exhortation must be found, not in the verb itself taken alone, but by coupling εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως closely with it. Be at your work, attend to it always, in and out of season; let nothing stop you; be always ready, always at hand. Reprove (ἔλεγξον); see 2 Timothy 3:16, note (comp. Matthew 18:15; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Timothy 5:20). Generally with the idea of bringing the fault home to the offender. Rebuke (ἐπιτίμησον); a stronger word than ἔλεγξον, implying more of authority and less of argument (Matthew 8:26: 17:18; Luke 19:39; Jude 1:9, etc.). Exhort (παρακάλεσον). Sometimes the sense of "exhort," and sometimes that of "comfort," predominates (see 1 Timothy 2:1; 1 Timothy 6:2, etc.). Every way of strengthening and establishing souls in the fear and love of God is to be tried, and that with all long suffering and teaching. (For μακροθυμία, see ch. 3:10, note.) For "teaching" or "doctrine" (διδαχή), St. Paul more frequently uses διδασκαλία in the pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 4:6, 13, 16; 1 Timothy 5:17; ch. 3:10, 16, etc.); but there does not seem to be any great difference of meaning. Possibly διδαχή points more to the act of teaching. The use of it here, coupled with "long suffering," directs that the man of God, whether he preaches, reproves, rebukes, or exhorts, is always to be a patient teacher of God's Word and truth.
Better, be ready. Once in Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Frequent in Luke and Acts. Lit. stand by, be at hand, be present. To come suddenly upon, Luke 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., Romans 12:12, "Continuing instant in prayer."
In season (εὐκαίρως)
Only here and Mark 14:11. lxx once, Sir. 18:22. Comp. ἀκαιρεῖσθαι to have leisure or opportunity, Mark 6:31; 1 Corinthians 16:12 : εὐκαιρία opportunity, Matthew 26:16 : εὔκαιρος seasonable, convenient, Mark 6:21; Hebrews 4:16.
Out of season (ἀκαίρως)
N.T.o. lxx once, Sir. 35:4. Comp. ἀκαιρεῖσθαι to lack opportunity, Philippians 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.
In Pastorals only here. oP. Mostly in the Synoptic Gospels, where it is frequent. It has two meanings: rebuke, as Matthew 8:26; Luke 17:3, and charge, as Matthew 12:16; Matthew 16:20, commonly followed by ἵνα that or λέγων saying (Matthew 20:31; Mark 1:25; Mark 3:12; Mark 8:30; Luke 4:35), but see Luke 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, Luke 6:24; see on comfort, Acts 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 Titus 1:9 in Pastorals. The usual word is διδασκαλία. Paul uses both.
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