Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Ti 4:1-22. Solemn Charge to Timothy to Do His Duty Zealously, for Times of Apostasy Are at Hand, and the Apostle Is near His Triumphant End: Requests Him to Come and Bring Mark with Him to Rome, as Luke Alone Is with Him, the Others Having Gone: Also His Cloak and Parchments: Warns Him against Alexander: Tells What Befell Him at His First Defense: Greetings: Benediction.
1. charge—Greek, "adjure."
therefore—omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
the Lord Jesus Christ—The oldest manuscripts read simply, "Christ Jesus."
shall judge—His commission from God is mentioned, Ac 10:42; his resolution to do so, 1Pe 4:5; the execution of his commission, here.
at his appearing—The oldest manuscripts read, "and" for "at"; then translate, "(I charge thee before God … ) and by His appearing."
and his kingdom—to be set at His appearing, when we hope to reign with Him. His kingdom is real now, but not visible. It shall then be both real and visible (Lu 22:18, 30; Re 1:7; 11:15; 19:6). Now he reigns in the midst of His enemies expecting till they shall be overthrown (Ps 110:2; Heb 10:13). Then He shall reign with His adversaries prostrate.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
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, Ac 17:2, 18; 18:4, 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 (Lu 4:17-22; Ac 13:15, 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].
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
3. they—professing Christians.
sound doctrine—Greek, "the sound (see on 1Ti 1:10) doctrine (didascalias)" or "teaching," namely, of the Gospel. Presently follows the concrete, "teachers."
after their own lusts—Instead of regarding the will of God they dislike being interrupted in their lusts by true teachers.
heap—one on another: an indiscriminate mass of false teachers. Variety delights itching ears. "He who despises sound teaching, leaves sound teachers; they seek instructors like themselves" [Bengel]. It is the corruption of the people in the first instance, that creates priestcraft (Ex 32:1).
to themselves—such as will suit their depraved tastes; populus vult decipi, et decipiatur—"the people wish to be deceived, so let them be deceived." "Like priest, like people" (1Ki 12:31; Ho 4:9).
itching—like to hear teachers who give them mere pleasure (Ac 17:19-21), and do not offend by truths grating to their ears. They, as it were, tickle with pleasure the levity of the multitude [Cicero], who come as to a theater to hear what will delight their ears, not to learn [Seneca, Epistles, 10.8] what will do them good. "Itch in the ear is as bad in any other part of the body, and perhaps worse" [South].
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
4. The ear brooks not what is opposed to the man's lusts.
turned—Greek, "turned aside" (1Ti 1:6). It is a righteous retribution, that when men turn away from the truth, they should be turned to fables (Jer 2:19).
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
5. I am no longer here to withstand these things; be thou a worthy successor of me, no longer depending on me for counsel, but thine own master, and swimming without the corks [Calvin]; follow my steps, inherit their result, and the honor of their end [Alford].
watch thou—literally, "with the wakefulness of one sober."
in all things—on all occasions and under all circumstances (Tit 2:7).
endure affliction—suffer hardships [Alford].
evangelist—a missionary bishop preacher, and teacher.
make full proof of—fulfil in all its requirements, leaving nothing undone (Ac 12:25; Ro 15:19; Col 4:17).
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
6. Greek, "For I am already being offered"; literally, as a libation; appropriate to the shedding of his blood. Every sacrifice began with an initiatory libation on the victim's head (compare Note, see on Php 2:17). A motive to stimulate Timothy to faithfulness—the departure and final blessedness of Paul; it is the end that crowns the work [Bengel]. As the time of his departure was indicated to Peter, so to Paul (2Pe 1:14).
my departure—literally, "loosing anchor" (see on Php 1:23). Dissolution.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
7. "I have striven the good strife"; the Greek is not restricted to a fight, but includes any competitive contest, for example, that of the racecourse (1Ti 6:12 [Alford]; 1Co 9:24, &c.; Heb 12:1, 2).
kept the faith—the Christian faith committed to me as a believer and an apostle (compare 2Ti 1:14; Re 2:10; 3:10).
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
8. a crown—rather as Greek, "the crown." The "henceforth" marks the decisive moment; he looks to his state in a threefold aspect: (1) The past "I have fought"; (2) The immediate present; "there is laid up for me." (3) The future "the Lord will give in that day" [Bengel].
crown—a crown, or garland, used to be bestowed at the Greek national games on the successful competitor in wrestling, running, &c. (compare 1Pe 5:4; Re 2:10).
of righteousness—The reward is in recognition of righteousness wrought in Paul by God's Spirit; the crown is prepared for the righteous; but it is a crown which consists in righteousness. Righteousness will be its own reward (Re 22:11). Compare Ex 39:30. A man is justified gratuitously by the merits of Christ through faith; and when he is so justified God accepts his works and honors them with a reward which is not their due, but is given of grace. "So great is God's goodness to men that He wills that their works should be merits, though they are merely His own gifts" [Pope Celestine I., Epistles, 12].
give—Greek, "shall award" in righteous requital as "Judge" (Ac 17:31; 2Co 5:10; 2Th 1:6, 7).
in that day—not until His appearing (2Ti 1:12). The partakers of the first resurrection may receive a crown also at the last day, and obtain in that general assembly of all men, a new award of praise. The favorable sentence passed on the "brethren" of the Judge, who sit with Him on His throne, is in Mt 25:40, taken for granted as already awarded, when that affecting those who benefited them is being passed [Bengel]. The former, the elect Church who reign with Christ in the millennium, are fewer than the latter. The righteous heavenly Judge stands in contrast to the unrighteous earthly judges who condemned Paul.
me—individual appropriation. Greek, "not only to me."
them that love—Greek, "have loved, and do love"; habitual love and desire for Christ's appearing, which presupposes faith (compare Heb 9:28). Compare the sad contrast, 2Ti 4:10, "having loved this present world."
Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:
9. (2Ti 4:21; 2Ti 1:4, 8.) Timothy is asked to come to be a comfort to Paul, and also to be strengthened by Paul, for carrying on the Gospel work after Paul's decease.
For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
10. Demas—once a "fellow laborer" of Paul, along with Mark and Luke (Col 4:14; Phm 24). His motive for forsaking Paul seems to have been love of worldly ease, safety, and comforts at home, and disinclination to brave danger with Paul (Mt 13:20, 21, 22). Chrysostom implies that Thessalonica was his home.
Galatia—One oldest manuscript supports the reading "Gaul." But most oldest manuscripts, &c., "Galatia."
Titus—He must have therefore left Crete after "setting in order" the affairs of the churches there (Tit 1:5).
Dalmatia—part of the Roman province of Illyricum on the coast of the Adriatic. Paul had written to him (Tit 3:12) to come to him in the winter to Nicopolis (in Epirus), intending in the spring to preach the Gospel in the adjoining province of Dalmatia. Titus seems to have gone thither to carry out the apostle's intention, the execution of which was interrupted by his arrest. Whether he went of his own accord, as is likely, or was sent by Paul, which the expression "is departed" hardly accords with, cannot be positively decided. Paul here speaks only of his personal attendants having forsaken him; he had still friends among the Roman Christians who visited him (2Ti 4:21), though they had been afraid to stand by him at his trial (2Ti 4:16).
Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
11. Take—Greek, "take up" on thy journey (Ac 20:13, 14). John Mark was probably in, or near, Colosse, as in the Epistle to the Colossians (Col 4:10), written two years before this, he is mentioned as about to visit them. Timothy was now absent from Ephesus and somewhere in the interior of Asia Minor; hence he would be sure to fall in with Mark on his journey.
he is profitable to me for the ministry—Mark had been under a cloud for having forsaken Paul at a critical moment in his missionary tour with Barnabas (Ac 15:37-40; 13:5, 13). Timothy had subsequently occupied the same post in relation to Paul as Mark once held. Hence Paul, appropriately here, wipes out the past censure by high praise of Mark and guards against Timothy's making self-complacent comparisons between himself and Mark, as though he were superior to the latter (compare Phm 24). Demas apostatizes. Mark returns to the right way, and is no longer unprofitable, but is profitable for the Gospel ministry (Phm 11).
And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.
12. And—Greek, "But." Thou art to come to me, but Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus to supply thy place (if thou so willest it) in presiding over the Church there in thy absence (compare Tit 3:12). It is possible Tychicus was the bearer of this Epistle, though the omission of "to thee" is rather against this view.
The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
13. cloak … I left—probably obliged to leave it in a hurried departure from Troas.
Carpus—a faithful friend to have been entrusted with so precious deposits. The mention of his "cloak," so far from being unworthy of inspiration, is one of those graphic touches which sheds a flood of light on the last scene of Paul's life, on the confines of two worlds; in this wanting a cloak to cover him from the winter cold, in that covered with the righteousness of saints, "clothed upon with his house from heaven" [Gaussen]. So the inner vesture and outer garment of Jesus, Paul's master, are suggestive of most instructive thought (Joh 19:2).
books—He was anxious respecting these that he might transmit them to the faithful, so that they might have the teaching of his writings when he should be gone.
especially the parchments—containing perhaps some of his inspired Epistles themselves.
Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
14. Alexander the coppersmith—or "smith" in general. Perhaps the same as the Alexander (see on 1Ti 1:20) at Ephesus. Excommunicated then he subsequently was restored, and now vented his personal malice because of his excommunication in accusing Paul before the Roman judges, whether of incendiarism or of introducing a new religion. See my Introduction. He may have been the Alexander put forward by the Jews in the tumult at Ephesus (Ac 19:33, 34).
reward—The oldest manuscripts read, "shall reward," or "requite him." Personal revenge certainly did not influence the apostle (2Ti 4:16, end).
Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
15. our words—the arguments of us Christians for our common faith. Believers have a common cause.
At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
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 (Php 1:1, 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 (Ac 7:60).
Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
17. the Lord—the more because men deserted me.
stood with me—stronger than "came forward with me" (Greek, 2Ti 4:16).
strengthened—Greek, "put strength in me."
by me—"through me"; through my means. One single occasion is often of the greatest moment.
the preaching—"the Gospel proclamation."
might be fully known—might be fully made (see on 2Ti 4:5).
that all the Gentiles—present at my trial, "might hear" the Gospel proclaimed then. Rome was the capital of the Gentile world, so that a proclamation of the truth to the Romans was likely to go forth to the rest of the Gentile world.
I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion—namely, Satan, the roaring, devouring lion (Lu 22:31; 1Pe 5:8). I was prevented falling into his snare (2Ti 2:26; Ps 22:21; 2Pe 2:9); 2Ti 4:18 agrees with this interpretation, "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work," namely, both from evil and the evil one, as the Greek of the Lord's Prayer expresses it. It was not deliverance from Nero (who was called the lion) which he rejoiced in, for he did not fear death (2Ti 4:6-8), but deliverance from the temptation, through fear, to deny His Lord: so Alford.
And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
18. And the Lord shall, &c.—Hope draws its conclusions from the past to the future [Bengel].
will preserve me—literally, "will save" (Ps 22:21), "will bring me safe to." Jesus is the Lord and the Deliverer (Php 3:20; 1Th 1:10): He saves from evil; He gives good things.
heavenly kingdom—Greek, "His kingdom which is a heavenly one."
to whom, &c.—Greek, "to whom be the glory unto the ages of ages." The very hope produces a doxology: how much greater will be the doxology which the actual enjoyment shall produce! [Bengel].
Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
19. Prisca and Aquila—(Ac 18:2, 3; Ro 16:3, 4; 1Co 16:19, written from Ephesus, where therefore Aquila and Priscilla must then have been).
household of Onesiphorus—If he were dead at the time, the "household" would not have been called "the household of Onesiphorus." He was probably absent (see on 2Ti 1:16).
Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.
20. In order to depict his desertion, he informs Timothy that Erastus, one of his usual companions (Ac 19:22, possibly the same Erastus as in Ro 16:23, though how he could leave his official duties for missionary journeys is not clear), stayed behind at Corinth, his native place, or usual residence, of which city he was "chamberlain," or city steward and treasurer (Ro 16:23); and Trophimus he left behind at Miletus sick. (On his former history, see on Ac 20:4; Ac 21:29). This verse is irreconcilable with the imprisonment from which he writes being the first: for he did not pass by Corinth or Miletus on his way to Rome when about to be imprisoned for the first time. As Miletus was near Ephesus, there is a presumption that Timothy was not at Ephesus when Paul wrote, or he would not need to inform Timothy of Trophimus lying sick in his immediate neighborhood. However, Trophimus may not have been still at Miletus at the time when Paul wrote, though he had left him there on his way to Rome. Prisca and Aquila were most likely to be at Ephesus (2Ti 4:19), and he desires Timothy to salute them: so also Onesiphorus' household (2Ti 1:18). Paul had not the power of healing at will (Ac 19:12), but as the Lord allowed him.
Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.
21. before winter—when a voyage, according to ancient usages of navigation, would be out of the question: also, Paul would need his "cloak" against the winter (2Ti 4:13).
Pudens … Claudia—afterwards husband and wife (according to Martial [Epigrams, 4.13; 11.54]), he a Roman knight, she a Briton, surnamed Rufina. Tacitus [On Agriculture, 14], mentions that territories in southeast Britain were given to a British king; Cogidunus, in reward for his fidelity to Rome, A.D. 52, while Claudius was emperor. In 1772 a marble was dug up at Chichester, mentioning Cogidunus with the surname Claudius, added from his patron, the emperor's name; and Pudens in connection with Cogidunus, doubtless his father-in-law. His daughter would be Claudia, who seems to have been sent to Rome for education, as a pledge of the father's fidelity. Here she was under the protection of Pomponia, wife of Aulus Plautius, conqueror of Britain. Pomponia was accused of foreign superstitions, A.D. 57 [Tacitus, Annals, 3.32], probably Christianity. She probably was the instrument of converting Claudia, who took the name Rufina from her, that being a cognomen of the Pomponian gens (compare Ro 16:13, Rufus, a Christian). Pudens in Martial and in the Chichester inscription, appears as a pagan; but perhaps he or his friends concealed his Christianity through fear. Tradition represents Timothy, a son of Pudens, as taking part in converting the Britons.
Linus—put third; therefore not at this time yet, as he was afterwards, bishop. His name being here inserted between Pudens and Claudia, implies the two were not yet married. "Eubulus" is identified by some with Aristobulus, who, with his converts, is said to have been among the first evangelists of Britain. Paul himself, says Clement, "visited the farthest west [perhaps Britain, certainly Spain], and was martyred under the rulers at Rome," who were Nero's vicegerents in his absence from the city.
The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
22. Grace be with you—plural in oldest manuscripts, "with YOU," that is, thee and the members of the Ephesian and neighboring churches.