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2 Timothy 3 & 4 Ex Notes

2 Tim 3:12-17; 4:1-8 Ex Notes - Utley -


 10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

3:10-11 Verse 10 is a contrast to the lives and priorities of the false teachers. Paul lists the things that Timothy shares with him in ministry:

            1. Paul's Apostolic teaching (cf. 1 Tim. 4:6)

            2. Paul's lifestyle

            3. Paul's purpose

            4. Paul's faith (cf. 1 Tim. 6:11)

            5. Paul's patience

            6. Paul's love (cf. 1 Tim. 6:11)

            7. Paul's perseverance (cf. 1 Tim. 6:11)

            8. Paul's persecutions

            9. Paul's sufferings (cf. I Cor. 4:10-13; II Cor. 4:7-11; 6:3-10; 11:23-28)

All of the verbs in vv. 10-11 are aorist. Paul was reflecting on his missionary journeys and how the Lord had delivered him in every circumstance. He passes this encouragement on to Timothy by way of a reminder.

3:11 "Antioch, Iconium and Lystra" From Acts 13 and 14 we know that this was the area of Timothy's home.

3:12 This is a shocking verse to modern western believers. Our culture has been spared many of the persecutions related to Christianity. But with the lack of persecution has also come a lack of power and godliness! Jesus was perfected by the things He suffered (cf. Heb. 5:8). The things God uses to develop His children into Christlikeness are the very things modern westerners flee from! The health, wealth, and prosperity movement characterizes our spoiled, pampered culture.

            Notice the text says "all"! Persecution is normal for God's children seeking to live for Him in a fallen world; yes, normal (cf. Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21; 16:1-2; 17:14; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-4; 8:17; II Cor. 4:16-18; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 1:8; 2:3; 3:12; I Thess. 3:3; James 1:2-4; I Pet. 4:12-19)!

We are not to seek persecution, but we must live ready! If we die daily (cf. II Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 2:20; I John 3:16) for the cause of Christ, then physical death does not intimidate us anymore!

3:13 "evil men and imposters" These false teachers were charlatans like the false magicians (cf. v. 8).

"will proceed" This is the same verb as in 2:16.

"deceiving" This is a present active participle. They led others astray as they are led themselves by evil.

"and being deceived" This is a present passive participle. Those trapped by sin, self, and Satan tend to trap others!

3:14 "continue in the things you have learned" This is a contrast to v. 13 and continues the encouragement from vv. 10-12. This is a present active imperative (cf. 2:13; Titus 1:9).

3:15 "from childhood" This shows Timothy's religious training at home (cf. 1:5). It is uncertain whether this refers to Judaism or Christianity.

the sacred writings" This could include more than just the OT, but verse 16 shows us that the OT is what is meant here.

"which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation" This shows the primary purpose of Scripture is mankind's redemption. It also shows us the mechanism of redemption which is mankind's faith response to God's Messiah. This is the essence of Apostolic preaching (kerygma). However, verse 17 shows that Scripture (which in this text must refer to the OT because the NT was not yet complete or in circulation) has another subsequent purpose - equipping the saints for lifestyle Christlikeness. Paul often used the OT to encourage believers to live godly lives. The OT does not function for "justification" (cf. Galatians 3), but it does function for "sanctification." See Special Topic at 1 Tim. 1:8.


3:16 "All Scripture" There is no article. It could be translated "every Scripture" (NET Bible), but this may imply to some that they are isolated truths (propositions). The plague of modern Bible study is the "proof-text" method of interpretation which destroys the literary context and the intent of the inspired author.

"is inspired by God" This is literally "God-exhaled." The how is not stated, but the who and the why are very specific! In II Pet. 1:21 the Spirit is the focus of inspiration, but here it is the Father. Both are active in this area! This is such an important truth that I would like to add my comments from II Peter 1:20-21 (see  1:20 "Scripture" This is one of several verses in the NT that speak of God's self-revelation in OT and NT writings (i.e., Scripture).  1. Matthew 5:17-19, 2. I Corinthians 2:9-13, 3. I Thessalonians 2:13, 4. 2 Timothy 3:16, 5. I Peter 1:23-25, 6. II Peter 1:20-21, 7. II Peter 3:15-16

The essence of all of these is that Scripture is from God and of God, not human in origin. God inspired the writers (cf. II Pet. 1:20-21) and their writings (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16).

"a matter of one's own interpretation" This phrase surely expresses the existing tension caused by the false teachers in the churches. It is possible that they were quoting Scripture and then putting their own spin on it (which is also common today).

            In context it is difficult to know whether this phrase refers to (1) the OT writers or (2) the contemporary false teachers. If the first option, it speaks to the theological concept of inspiration (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16). The following verse seems to confirm this interpretation. If the second option, it speaks of the theological concept of illumination (i.e., that the Spirit guides believers in interpreting the Bible). It must be stated that the evangelical concept of "the priesthood of the believer " is usually understood as the Spirit-given ability to interpret the Bible for oneself. However, biblically, the phrase refers to the church as the agent of accomplishing the Great Commission, cf. I Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6. Notice in the OT (cf. Exod. 19:6) and the NT the phrase "the priesthood of believers" is plural (i.e., corporate), not individual.

            1:21 "men moved by the Holy Spirit" This is literally "carried," which is a present passive participle. This adds emphasis to the truth that the Bible is God's message, not a human message! It is true that the Bible is in human words, but humans were uniquely guided by the Spirit. The Bible is not exhaustive truth, for no human can comprehend that level of reality, but it is trustworthy, adequate truth about God, about sin, about salvation, about godly living, and about eternity.

The exact method of inspiration varies.


 1I solemnly 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: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

4:1 "I solemnly charge you" Paul continues to lay out Timothy's task and admonishes him to action (cf. 1 Tim. 5:21; 6:13; 2 Tim. 2:14; 4:1). Remember this is Paul's last letter before being martyred (late 67 or early 68)!

"in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus" The Father and Son are linked together in a grammatical form that emphasizes their equality (see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE TRINITY at Titus 3:6). Church leaders live and serve in the presence of God and His Christ.

"who is to judge" This is an OT title and function for YHWH used here for Jesus. This shows His full deity (cf. Matt. 25:31ff; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom. 2:16; I Pet. 4:5); as Christ was the Father's agent in creation (cf. John 1:3; I Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2), so too, will He be the Father's agent in judgment.

"the living and the dead" This refers to Jesus' judgment of all conscious creation (cf. Phil. 2:10). The same phrase occurs in Acts 10:42 and I Pet. 4:5. Some will be alive at the time of the Second Coming (cf. I Thess. 4:13-18; some are with the Lord (cf. II Cor. 5:8); and some (the wicked) are in Hades (cf. Rev. 20:13; Matt. 11:23; Luke 16:23). 

SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?

"by His appearing" Literally this is epiphany. It conveys the idea of "brightness, radiance, splendor, or glory." It may reflect the OT concept of God's presence in the Shekinah cloud of glory during the Wilderness Wandering Period of Israel's history after the Exodus. This is the characteristic word in the Pastoral Letters for the Second Coming (cf. 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1,8; Titus 2:11,13; 3:4; II Thess. 2:8).

            Paul admonishes Timothy to do certain things in light of the reality of Judgment Day/Resurrection Day. The Second Coming is meant to encourage believers in every age, although it will be reality to only one generation. Believers should live each day as if it were, or might be, the last!

"His kingdom" This refers to the reign of God in believers' hearts now that will be consummated over all creation (cf. Matt. 6:10). Here again, God's kingdom is assigned to the Son. Jesus Christ is described in three eschatological functions: (1) Judge; (2) the coming One; and (3) the King.


4:2 "preach the word" This is the first in a series of nine aorist imperatives. Our message (logos) is Jesus (cf. Col. 4:3). He is the gospel! He is the "Word" (John 1:1).

"be ready in season and out of season" This is an aorist active imperative. Literally it is "seasonably" (eukairōs) and "unseasonably" (akairōs). This describes the "great commission" of Christianity (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8). When in doubt share the gospel! It is always appropriate!

"reprove" It is literally "to put on trial so as to prove" (cf. 1 Tim. 5:20; Titus 1:13; 2:15).

"rebuke" This is an another aorist active imperative (cf. Luke 17:3; 23:40).

"exhort" This is another aorist active imperative. This is the same root as "encourage." To reprove or rebuke without encouragement and patience is not Christian (cf. 3:10; 1 Tim. 1:16).

"with great patience" See note at I Timothy 1:16.

4:3 "For the time will come" This reflects Paul's day, in some sense every day, and uniquely the last days (cf. 3:1; 1 Tim. 4:1-2).

"they will not endure sound doctrine" Many of the words in the Pastoral Letters are also found in Luke's writings. It is possible that Paul used Luke as a scribe to write these letters.

The term "sound" means "healthy" and was used often by Luke (cf. Luke 5:31; 7:10; 15:27, etc.). It is a very common description of doctrine and faith in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1 Tim. 4:6; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:8; Titus 1:9,13; 2:1,2,8).

"but wanting to have their ears tickled" This phrase refers to the false teachers (cf. v. 4) and their followers. They hear only what they want to hear!

"they will accumulate for themselves teachers" They just want to hear

            1. those who agree with them (cf. Jer. 5:31)

            2. those who teach new and speculative things

            3. many different teachers (always a new seminar to attend)

4:4 "turn away. . .turn aside" The first term is used of perversion in Titus 1:14 (cf. II Thess. 2:11) or desertion in 2 Tim. 1:15. The second term is used often in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1 Tim. 1:6; 5:15; 6:20; 2 Tim. 4:4).

Both of these are a play on the OT concept of righteousness as a ruler (or straight edge); all the terms for sin are a deviation from the standard. These false teachers turn away from sound doctrine and turn to myths!

"from the truth" See Special Topic: Truth at 1 Tim. 2:4.

"myths" This concept is used often in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; Titus 1:14; 3:9; II Pet. 1:16). It possibly refers to

            1. the Gnostic aeons (angelic levels between the high good god and lesser spiritual beings which would form matter)

            2. Jewish Messianic genealogies

            3. some non-canonical "gospels"

For a good discussion of the different meanings of "myth" and their connotations see G. B. Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, pp. 219-242.

4:5 "be sober in all things" This is another contrast between the actions of Timothy and the false teachers.

This is a present active imperative. This does not refer to abstinence from wine but to being even-tempered.

"endure hardship"  There is a series of three aorist active imperatives in this paragraph. This term is used three times in II Timothy (cf. 1:8; 2:3,9; 4:5). It refers to persecution and deprivation caused by being involved in the gospel ministry.

"do the work of an evangelist" This is the second aorist active imperative in this paragraph. The noun "evangelist" is used only three times in the NT.

            1. Phillip's seven daughters (cf. Acts 21:8)

            2. a gifted local church leader (cf. Eph. 4:11)

            3. and here

The term "gospel" (euangelion) literally means "good news"; an evangelist (euanelistēs) is one who shares the gospel.  An evangelist is a spiritual gift to the church (cf. Eph. 4:11) and evangelism is the responsibility of every believer (cf. I Pet. 3:15; Col. 4:6). Believers must not only affirm the mandate of Jesus (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8) but live it out day by day!

"fulfill your ministry" This is the third aorist active imperative. Gospel ministry without evangelism is not a full ministry (cf. Col. 4:17). Evangelism is the heart of God, the purpose of Christ's sacrifice, and the initial task of the Spirit.


  6For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8in 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.

4:6 "being poured out" This is a present passive indicative. This phrase is used in Phil. 2:17 of an OT wine sacrifice (cf. Exod. 29:40; Num. 15:4-7,9-10; 28:7,10,14,15,24). Paul saw his life as a sacrifice to Christ.

"the time of my departure has come" This is a perfect active indicative. This term analusis (English "analysis") is found only here in the NT, but the verb form is used several times to refer to a ship being loosed from its moorings (cf. Luke 12:36). It is used metaphorically of death in Phil. 1:23. This is the last letter Paul wrote before being beheaded, between a.d. 67-68 (Nero killed himself in a.d. 68).

4:7 "I have fought the good fight" This is the first of three perfect middle indicatives. Paul used athletic (I Cor. 9:27; Phil. 3:13-14) and military (cf. Eph. 6:10-18) metaphors to describe his ministry. What he encouraged Timothy to do (cf. 1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12) he had done himself.

"I have finished the course" This is the second perfect active indicative. Paul knew his death was imminent. He had fulfilled Ananias' prophecy in Acts 9:15 (cf. Acts 26:32). He had preached to all the categories mentioned and now Caesar.

"I have kept the faith" This is another perfect active indicative. It refers to

            1. doctrine

            2. faithfulness

            3. an athletic metaphor for keeping the rules (cf. I Cor. 9:27)

4:8 "crown of righteousness" This is either (1) not our own but Christ's imputed righteousness, and/or (2) believers' Christlike living. The term refers to an athletic victor's laurel wreath. We get the English name "Stephen" from this Greek word. There are several crowns assigned to believers in the NT:

            1. an imperishable crown (I Cor. 9:25)

            2. a crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8)

            . a crown of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10)

            4. a crown of glory (I Peter 5:4)

            5. a crown of gold (Rev. 4:4)

"which the Lord, the righteous Judge" The term "Lord" could apply to YHWH because He is called the Judge (cf. Gen. 18:25; Ps. 5:6: 94:2; Joel 3:12; Heb. 12:23; James 4:12) or to Jesus because this judgment is linked to "His appearing" (cf. 1:10; 4:1,8; 1 Tim. 6:14; Titus 2:13). YHWH has appointed Jesus as judge (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 17:31; II Cor. 5:10; see note at 4:1).

"will award to me on that day" This has an end time (eschatological) orientation (cf. 1:18; 4:1). Apparently Paul believed that believers would be with the Lord at death (cf. II Cor. 5:8), but the rewards and full fellowship awaited Resurrection Day (cf. I Thess. 4:13-18).

"but also to all who have loved His appearing" This refers to believers' eager anticipation of the Lord's Second Coming. It is no longer fearful. It is joyous! It is a sign of true Christianity!