Preach the word! Be ready! 2 Tim 4:1-3

by Steven Chan

As we begin the New Year, it is appropriate that we be reminded by the words of the apostle Paul to the preacher Timothy as recorded in 2 Tim 4:1-2:
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”

1. Timothy was charged to preach the Word

God’s Word is the Truth (John 17:17) that is delivered from the Father through the Son (John 17:8) so that all may know the truth and be set free from their sins (John 8:32). God’s Word must be preached because it is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe and obey it (Rom 1:16).

We should not preach any other things other than what the Bible says. Some have grown tired of preaching the Word and seek to preach things that will please the audience. But this was precisely what the apostle Paul warned against in 2 Tim 4:3-4:
”For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

2. Timothy was charged to be Ready to Preach the Word in season and out of season.

We must always be ready to preach the Word – even when it is a period or season when the hearing of God’s Word is not very popular. Even during times of adversity, the early Christians kept on preaching the Word because the Seed which is God’s Word must be sown so that souls may respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. Acts 8:4: “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”

3. Timothy was charged to preach the Word in a manner that would involve “Convincing, rebuking, and exhorting”, with all longsuffering and teaching.

Preaching the Word is not just simply telling the story of Jesus but telling it in a way that “convinces” people, that would entail “rebuke” so that they would repent from their sins, and “exhortation or encouragement” for them to be saved from this perverse generation Acts 2:40: “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”

Such preaching must be done with great patience and longsuffering and requires lots of teaching. In other words, don’t give up easily.

4. Timothy was charged to preach.

The preaching of God’s Word is not an optional effort on our part. It is a charge or commission from God.  As Paul himself said in 1 Cor 9:16: “ For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” Likewise, we should realize our obligation to preach the Word like all the early Christians in Jerusalem when they went everywhere preaching the Word even when persecution caused them to be dispersed to all parts of the world (Acts 8:4).

5. Finally, Timothy was charged to preach the Word in view of the Coming of Jesus to judge the World (both the living and the dead).

In another epistle, the apostle Paul wrote thus:

”For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men”( 2 Cor 5:10-11)

The Coming Judgement of every soul and their final destiny pronounced (Matt 25:46: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”) should motivate us to preach the Word in season and out of season.  Jesus said in John 12:46-48:
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

God’s Word will be the standard by which every soul will be judged. Therefore it behooves us all to be ready to preach the Word at every opportunity with all longsuffering (because not all will be favourably disposed towards the gospel) and teaching.

May we all resolve to obey the Charge or Commission or Marching Orders of our Lord as recorded in Matt 28:18-20:

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.