2 Timothy 4:1-4
1 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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Immediately following his affirmation that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable” for every aspect of a believer’s life (3:16-17), Paul explains why he is bringing this up. He looks into the future and sees a time when people have lost interest in the gospel and in the Word of God. “They will not endure sound teaching,” he says (v. 2) — whether they are bored by it, don’t find it relevant, or flat out dislike it. Their passions are not for the gospel that Paul treasures; rather, they would rather spend time hearing and discussing vain myths unsubstantiated by the Word.
Sadly, the harsh reality Timothy faced still remains today. The most popular teachers are not the ones who teach truth from the Bible; rather, they tell people what they want to hear — that God wants you to be rich; that the Christian life is about getting a better job and living a life of ease and comfort; that we can safely ignore Jesus’ call to reject the world, taking up our cross daily and following him. They are also the ones who value the latest philosophy and popular thinking over the Word of God.
Paul’s solution was not to repackage the Word into a convenient, consumerist form. It was not to update the gospel message to fit the culture. Rather, it was to persevere in doing more of the same: preaching the truth of God’s Word, regardless of whether it was “in season or out of season”; and patiently reproving, rebuking, and exhorting those who had gone astray (v. 2). Timothy was to be armed with the Word and to wield it expertly.
This is such an important ministry that Paul powerfully insists on it, saying, “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” (v. 1). Recently, I believe I have failed to properly prepare for opportunities to teach from the Word. This is such a serious ministry that I need to spend much more time studying, meditating, and above all, praying that the power of God would transform the lives of those who hear. May they see the true Christ in my teaching.