2 Timothy 3–4: Be Ready in Season & Out of Season

Read the Bible in 2011Week 36: Sunday

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6–8

Sunday’s Bible reading is 2 Timothy 3–4. In these last two chapters Paul warns Timothy that in the last days difficult times will come, telling him what people will be like and what they will do. In his work with Paul, Timothy had witnessed persecution, but in this final charge to his son in the faith Paul summarizes what Timothy will face.

If you want to retain the standard of sound words of the Gospel, pay attention to what Paul writes. We continue in difficult times and we face the same opposition. Who are these people? What are they like? How do they operate? What characterizes those upon whom they prey? Read and remember so you won’t be taken in or taken by surprise.

Each time he gives his descriptions and warnings Paul immediately contrasts for Timothy who he is and how he is to live; look at 3:10ff, 3:14ff and 4:5.

Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings…
3:14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them…
4:5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

I have an interlinear Greek-English New Testament, and I noticed the same two Greek words at the beginning of 3:10, 3:14 and 4:4: σὺ δὲ: “but you,” The repeated phrase isn’t seen in English, and it marks the contrast. George Knight explains in his book, The Pastoral Epistles:

3:10 σὺ δὲ combines the personal pronoun σὺ, used for emphasis in contrast to others, and the contrasting particle δὲ, but (…also in 1 Tim. 6:11; Tit. 2:1; 2 Tim 3:14; 4:5…Rom. 11:17, 20; 14:10)….

3:14 With contrasting δὲ and especially with emphatic σὺ and the verb μένε, remain, set in opposition to προκόψουσιν, they will progress, Paul places Timothy and what he should do in sharp contrast with the progressive error of the false teachers. Timothy is to remain in the sense of continuing…in the things he has learned….

4:5 In this concluding verse of the subsection, Paul returns to his direct charge to Timothy (which marked the first two verses) with a series of four imperatives. He contrasts Timothy with those described in the preceding verse with σὺ δὲ, but you…”1

When I read these chapters I keep seeing that contrast: “but you”—“but you”—“but you.”

Paul closes his letter with personal remarks  and personal requests. His words about his ministry spur us on to be faithful.

We Gentile believers owe so much to this man who endured so much to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who were strangers to the covenant of promise.

In his final words he remembers all believers:

“…in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:6–8

But you: Fight the fight. Finish the course. Keep the faith.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Tail-piece to the second epistle of Paul the apostle to Timothy, Phillip Medhurst: vignette with a crown with flame above resting on a palm branch and cross, against clouds (2 Timothy 4); letterpress in two columns above and on verso. 1800. Inscriptions: Lettered below image with production detail: “P J de Loutherbourg RA del et invt.”, “J Heath direx.” and publication line: “Pubd. by T Macklin, Fleet Street London”. Print made by James Heath. Photograph by Harry Kossuth: Public Domain.
1George W. Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles: The New International Greek Testament Commentary, pp. 438, 442, 456.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

2 thoughts on “2 Timothy 3–4: Be Ready in Season & Out of Season

  1. I hope it was encouraging. I checked out your post and left a comment. Paul certainly liked using that comparison of the Christian life to a fight. I’d guess he frequently used it in his sermons—a practice I think needs to be imitated.

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