Summary: Is it winter in your life? Do you feel abandoned and without hope? Let the last words of the Apostle Paul encourage you as he prepared to cast off for the next shore.
Quite a number of years ago now I saw what was one of the most impacting presentations of my entire life. An actor – Phil Nash – performed a dramatic reading of 2nd Timothy called “Come Before Winter.” It was just him – in costume, alone on the stage with a few props, reciting the book as Paul the Apostle would have dictated it to Tertius his secretary.
What doesn’t come across in the written word but does so strongly when it is performed – is the emotion of Paul – facing death, abandoned, accused, alone – at the end of his life. He asks for nothing but the company of Dr. Luke, a favorite coat, and some parchments. “Do you best to get here before winter” Paul says in verse 21. But although he faces touch emotional and physical trials that will end up costing him his life – Paul gives one of the most encouraging messages to his young protégé Timothy – a message that ought to keep us going when the going gets tough.
1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.
There is always a bigger picture to your life when you belong to Jesus. No matter how many times people attack you or put you down, no matter what you go through in this life – remember that you are in God’s presence – the God who will judge with His ultimate truth. That He is coming back and is setting up His kingdom. You are not alone and you have a purpose.
And his charge is this: Preach the Word! You ask why we at Calvary Chapel are so focused on teaching verse by verse through the Bible? This is one of the reasons right here. And notice how important it is by the buildup!
To preach: In Greek societies at that time, this term was used of a person whose duty was to go about announcing the honors that have been bestowed on someone, hence a "herald." We are charged to proclaim the honor bestowed on us by the Word of God – namely that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners! (1 Timothy 1:15).
Part of that charge is when and how to proclaim: “be prepared” can mean to continue in something despite opposition. Do you have people or circumstances that oppose you living your life as a witness to the reality of Jesus Christ? Don’t quit and don’t be cowed.
Then he mentions three ways of preaching –
Correct – it means to call a spade a spade – sharing God’s truth means telling people that they are wrong.
Rebuke – is a stronger form of correct – to show displeasure in sin. In our society today tolerance would tell you that anything anyone does is okay – God’s truth says there are things that are wrong – and it’s not good. There are moral absolutes. Our problem is that we get caught up in legalism – focusing on things that don’t matter, like what translation of the Bible you read or whether you dance or go to movies – and it confuses the argument when we then talk about the problem of living in open sin.
Encourage – it means to appeal strongly – or “urge”. You are not just telling the truth and rebuking unbelief and sin – but urging people to repent and give their hearts to Jesus Christ. It is indeed an honor to bring the bad news of sin and the good news of forgiveness in Jesus.
All this is to be done in this spirit – “great patience and careful instruction.”
Here’s an alternate translation:
2 Tim 4:2 To preach the message. You should be persistent in doing this, whether you feel inclined to preach or not. You must show people what they have done wrong, and Rebuke them for their sins. But you must also encourage people as you teach them very patiently. (from the UBS New Testament Handbook Series. Copyright © 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies.)
Why? Because not everyone will listen:
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.