Faithful to the Lord and to the Task — Reflections on Second Timothy

The servant of the Lord is involved in a sacred ministry. This sacred ministry is to be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. Also, this ministry is a specific ministry that demands our focus and our work.

As we think about the months ahead in 2024, Lord willing, I think it is helpful to remember the Apostle Paul's encouraging and challenging words to his son in the ministry, Timothy.

The second book of Timothy is filled with exhortations and encouragements for this son in the ministry, who may soon be alone without his mentor. It is clear that the Apostle Paul anticipates his death in the near future, and this expectation adds to the passion and power of this amazing letter.

I just want us to focus on a few key verses that will remind us of the primary responsibilities we have during these days.

  • The Apostle begins by encouraging Timothy not to fear, but to have a mindset of power and love and self-control (1:7).
  • He is exhorted not to be ashamed of the gospel nor of Paul himself (1:8).
  • Timothy is told to follow the pattern of sound words that he has received (1:13).
  • Timothy is to guard the deposit entrusted to him (1:14). This must be done with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Truth is like a treasure given to someone who now has the responsibility to guard it, and as we will see later, to pass it on faithfully. That is a primary task that we have.

A key verse in 2 Timothy is:

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2:1-2).

Verse one was given to me at my baptism by my father, and verse two is really the theme verse of our Ministry at OMI. Multiplication ministry needs to be a priority as we serve the Lord.

Our ministry is not so much a marathon as it is a relay race. We are called to pass on the truth to others who will pass on the truth, who will pass on the truth. It is important, as we minister to a possibly larger group of people, that we do not neglect to teach and train faithful men who will be able to teach others, also. Faithful women also need to be trained to teach other women the Word of God.

To “teach others also” and to pass on the truth consistently, we need to make 2 Timothy 2:15 a key verse in our ministry job description. The servant of the Lord is to seek to be approved by his Master. Ministry is always to be done to the pleasure of our Lord. Our approval comes from Him. This is especially true when it comes to the work of rightly dividing the word of truth, both in terms of preparation and communication (2:15). There is no substitute for the time involved in study, and prayer in order to communicate accurately and clearly the “Word of Truth” to others.

There are numerous other directives in this powerful epistle, but I want us to turn now to the end of chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4. Having reminded Timothy of what he has learned, and the Scriptures that are so vital not only to his life but to the communication of God's truth, Timothy receives a solemn charge. Those called to the preaching ministry will no doubt be very familiar with the words of 2 Timothy chapter 4 verses one and two.

“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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (ESV).

This is as clear a definition, as well as a charge for expository preaching as you will find in the Scriptures.

What is expository preaching? It is preaching the Word of God. It is the activity of proclaiming the Word of God itself and communicating what that Word means and its significance to those being addressed. This responsibility calls for a readiness in our lives so that we can preach as God provides opportunities to do so (2:2). This type of preaching will involve dynamic application as well as patient instruction (2:2). 

The Apostle goes on to show that the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching. It is interesting that this prophetic warning takes place right here after the charge to preach the Word. Surely this implies that the preacher is not to change the commitment to the task in the light of the loss of interest on the part of some people and even the loss of many people.  

Ultimately, our call is to be faithful in any and every circumstance. This is the example that the Apostle Paul left us himself. This is what the Apostle Paul calls Timothy to in his life and ministry. This is what we are called to in these days: faithfulness.

It is good to keep these challenges and priorities in mind as we move forward into a year that will surely be filled with crises, cultural challenges, political activities, and many causes and events that lobby for our attention. The servant of the Lord needs to be aware of what is happening in the lives of the people he is serving. It is good to know what is taking place in our churches, our communities, our countries, and in the world. Our knowledge of our people and our knowledge of events taking place should not detract from the ministry of the Word. Rather, the desperate needs of people and our awareness of circumstances should motivate us even more to preach the Word, rightly divide the Word of truth in the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s Word is relevant to the eternal destiny of all people and it is relevant to how God’s people are to live in the midst of the circumstances we face day to day.

If you view social media or other media, you will see many different styles of preachers and teachers. The style of preaching or teaching should be driven by the priorities that the Apostle Paul has given us in 2 Timothy as well as the priorities we find in other Scriptures. The goal is to communicate the Word of God accurately and clearly to whatever audience is being addressed. This must be done in the power of the Holy Spirit and not in the flesh. This must be done to the glory of the Lord and not to the glory of the preacher. We are not to depart from the “sound words” of the Scriptures, and we are to preach with a burden to see people (as my father used to say), “belief on Christ, belong to Christ, and to behave like Christ.”  


— David L. Olford


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