TEXT: “….Preach the Word….” (2 Timothy 4:2a, see also 2 Timothy 3:16 - 4:5)
THOUGHT: The Apostle Paul’s mandate to Timothy in our text serves as an example to those called to preach the Word of God. As we think about this mandate, let us notice three critical truths that are as relevant today as they were in the first century.
Our text presents a mandate with Ultimate Accountability, Basic Responsibilities, and Continuous Urgency.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that Timothy’s explicit accountability was first of all to a Sovereign God (4:1). His charge was “before God,” before whom we live and serve every moment of our lives. After all, it is God who calls and leads us to preach, and it is God’s Word that must be preached. Paul’s mandate to Timothy is a solemn charge to say the least.
Paul goes on to speak specifically of an explicit accountability to a Judging Lord (4:1). The Lord Jesus is going to return and establish His Kingdom in fullness. It is in the light of the judgment of a returning Lord and His Kingdom that we preach. The preacher goes forth to preach the Word indeed, and at the heart of that Word is “Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Cor. 4:5). But, we not only preach “Christ,” we preach in the light of the Lordship of Christ (over the living and the dead), which will be seen climactically at His return and the eschatological manifestation of His kingdom. Timothy is being reminded in these words that he needs to minister God’s Word in such a way that he will hear a “well done” from King Jesus on the day his ministry is finished and fulfilled.
The ultimate audience for any given preached message is the Divine Audience, not just the human audience. Likewise, we not only preach to our times, but we also preach in light of eternity. The preacher must remember this Vertical accountability, whatever the horizontal accountability structure may be. Our reverence for our God and our Lord must surpass any fear of man.
Paul’s charge to Timothy begins with the words, “I charge you therefore…..” (2 Tim. 4:1). The word “therefore” points back to the previous section indicating two other aspects of accountability that we need to consider. Timothy and all preachers are accountable to an inspired Word (3:16-17, 4:2). Paul has reminded Timothy of the role of God’s Word in his Timothy’s childhood (3:14-15), its role in salvation (3:15), and its sufficiency (its profitability) towards personal maturity and equipment “for every good work” (3:16-17). It is this Word that must be preached. Indeed there is accountability to this inspired Word as God’s effective Word leading to salvation and edification.
Implied also in this Apostolic charge was an accountability to a personal call received and experienced. Throughout 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul’s son in the faith is reminded of his gift (1 Tim. 4:14, 2 Tim. 1:6) and the teaching and training that Timothy had received (2 Tim. 1:13, 2:1, 2; 3:14-15 and others). Indeed, Timothy was to “continue in the things which [he had] learned and [was] assured of……” (2 Tim 3:14). Timothy was specifically accountable to God’s call, the gift given to him, the truths he had been taught, and the training he had received from his mentor the Apostle Paul. The charge to “preach the Word” did not come in a vacuum. Timothy had received a responsibility from the Lord, he had learned and experienced a lot, and he was accountable for what God had invested in his life.
APPLICATION SUMMARY: It is good to remember who you are accountable to and what you are accountable for in your Christian life and ministry. Paul’s charge explicitly was presented before a sovereign God and a judging Lord, and it calls for the preaching of an inspired Word in the light of a personal call, which must be fulfilled.
This speaks of a readiness to preach the Word regardless of circumstances, opportunities, favor, or acceptance.
I think preparation for life and readiness to minister the Word are what is in mind here. But, such preparation not only involves walking with the Lord, it involves being in the Word and doing what Paul has already told Timothy to do in 2 Tim 2:15. The preacher must be ready to “rightly divide the Word of truth” in season and out of season.
Those called to preach must seek to fulfill this mandate faithfully, depending upon God’s grace. That’s why Paul has already instructed Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1). And as he began the letter, he reminded Timothy of his heritage in the Lord and then tells him to “stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:6-7 NKJV)
The mandate has been given. But, the resources are available to fulfill the mandate. What the Lord calls us to do, he enables us to do through the gifting He has provided, through the Holy Spirit who indwells and empowers, and through a supply of grace that is adequate for every situation.