I’ve been studying 2 Timothy 4:1-5 the last two weeks. It’s the famous charge that Paul gives to Timothy to preach the Word. What I’ve learned is that though this letter is a pastoral epistle, which means that it’s primarily written for pastors, the underlying principles that we can take away are applicable to everyone. Every bit of the charge has a counterpart that is for the people.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching.
Everyone will be judged
Though teachers will be judged more strictly (James 3:1), all will be judged (2 Tim. 4:1).
Everyone is called to verbal gospel ministry
Here Paul charges Timothy to preach the Word, while in other places he tells entire congregations to be involved in teaching the Word. (Matt. 28:18-20, Col. 3:16, Eph. 4:15). The Great Commission is more about teaching than it is about going. And it’s a call for every disciple. Pastor should preach; laypeople should teach. Everyone is called to verbal gospel ministry.
Everyone needs to be ready
Not just pastors should be ready in season and out of season. Peter tells his people: “prepare your minds for action…” All Christians should be in a state of alertness.
Everyone has a duty to rebuke, reprove, and exhort
The charge to rebuke, reprove, and exhort with complete patience and teaching is not only for pastors either: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 61) and “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph. 5:11) and “but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today'”. This is how we build up the mature and restore the wayward. It is for everyone.
The rest of Paul’s charge:
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
All should be sober-minded
This is essentially the same thing as being ready. We must wear the “readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).
Every disciple is called to endure suffering
A few verses earlier Paul says something quite staggering: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Jesus said similar things all throughout his ministry: “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household” (Matt. 10:25), and “If any of you would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” All believers should expect suffering (1 Pet. 4:12) and endure suffering.
All Christ-followers are commissioned to make more Christ-followers
This is the essence of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. All are called to some form of evangelism. This implies a verbal message. The pithy quote attributed to St. Francis is untrue and destructive: “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” To make Christ followers, words are always necessary. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
Everyone has a ministry to be fulfilled
Not everyone will preach. Everyone has different spiritual gifts. However, regardless of your gifts, you have been commission to teach in some capacity. “Speak the truth in love.” We are here on this planet for no other reason that to teach people about God. Fulfill this ministry in your local church.