Ready in All Seasons
“Preach the Word: be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (v. 2).- 2 Timothy 4:1–2
Having finished our brief look at the doctrine of revelation, we return today to Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Thus far in his epistle, the apostle has encouraged the young pastor not to be afraid of suffering for the gospel (chap. 1) but to present himself to God as one whom the Lord would approve even if such devotion brings Timothy pain (2:1–21). Therefore, the man of God must flee unrighteousness (vv. 22–26) even as difficulty attends faithfulness in these last days (3:1–9). Only by continuing in the faith once delivered to the saints and recorded in the God-breathed Holy Scriptures will Timothy or any other Christian withstand trials for the sake of the Savior (vv. 10–17).
Paul continues in today’s passage to give his charge to the young man who will be one of many individuals to preach the apostolic word after the apostles are gone. Though he could have, in 2 Timothy 4:1 the apostle does not list his own authority as the motivation for Timothy’s faithful teaching and preaching of the Word of God but rather the knowledge that Jesus will “judge the living and the dead.” All people will stand before the Savior to give a final account of what they did in their lives (Rev. 20:11–15), and if Timothy is going to be reckoned as a good and faithful servant, he must keep this truth in mind because it will spur him to action. Just as knowledge of final judgment encouraged Paul to remain faithful (2 Cor. 5:9–10), so too should it offer the same encouragement to Timothy and every other believer, no matter their particular vocation.
Timothy is told to be ready to preach the Word of God in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2), that is, both when he is expected to preach and those times when he is called upon unexpectedly. Matthew Henry aptly notes that all of us must be ready to share the gospel at all times and to all people “because you do not know but the Spirit of God may take hold of them.” This means that the reproving, rebuking, and exhorting involved in this calling must be done with all patience, since people do not often respond approvingly the first time they hear the challenge and call of God’s Word. Let us patiently share the gospel and not get discouraged if the Lord seems to delay in doing His work.
We do not appreciate enough those pastors who consistently proclaim the Word of God. It can be frustrating to deliver the same message over and over again to a congregation that just does not get it, but our leaders continue to labor even when little fruit is visible. May we not be those with whom our leaders are forced to have patience; rather, let us respect their decisions and seek to apply straight away the message of God’s Word that they deliver to us each week.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 4:5