I solemnly charge you: With this expression, Paul seeks to impress on Timothy the seriousness of what the apostle is about to say. (See study note on 1Ti 5:21, where Paul uses the same expression.) Paul and Timothy had been doing much to strengthen the congregations and protect them from the influence of false teachers. Paul knows that his death is near (2Ti 4:6-8), so he wants Timothy to remain vigilant in carrying out the direction that follows (2Ti 4:2-5).
Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead: In the Hebrew Scriptures, Jehovah God is identified as “the Judge of all the earth.” (Ge 18:25) Similarly, in the Christian Greek Scriptures, Jehovah is called “the Judge of all.” (Heb 12:23) However, the Hebrew Scriptures prophesied that the Messiah would also serve as a judge. (Isa 11:3-5) In harmony with such prophecies, Jesus revealed that his Father had “entrusted all the judging to the Son.” (Joh 5:22, 27) Further, the Bible speaks of Jesus as “decreed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”—Ac 10:42; 17:31; 1Pe 4:5; see also study note on 2Co 5:10.
his manifestation: In this context, “manifestation” points to a future set time when Christ’s glorious position in heaven will be clearly recognizable. At that time, he will execute God’s judgments on mankind.—Da 2:44; 7:13, 14; see also study note on 1Ti 6:14.
Preach the word: The context suggests that Paul here refers primarily to preaching in the congregation. (2Ti 4:3, 4) Timothy, as an overseer, was to preach the word of God effectively in order to strengthen the faith of his listeners and to help them resist apostate ideas. False teachers stirred up debates about words and relied on personal opinions and false stories. In contrast, overseers were to preach only “the word,” the inspired Word of God. (See study note on 2Ti 2:15; see also 2Ti 3:6-9, 14, 16.) In a broader sense, this counsel may also apply to preaching outside the congregation; Paul goes on to urge Timothy to “do the work of an evangelizer.”—2Ti 4:5 and study note.
be at it urgently: Paul here uses a Greek verb that literally means “to stand upon,” but the verb is broad in meaning; it often means “to stand by or near, to be ready.” The term was sometimes used in a military setting to refer to a soldier or a guard at his post who was always ready for action. But the word could also refer to giving immediate attention to something. The idea of being zealous and persistent is included. Paul wants Timothy to stand at the ready for any opportunity to “preach the word.”—See study note on Preach the word in this verse.
in favorable times and difficult times: Or “in season, out of season.” Paul urges Timothy to keep on defending the truths of God’s Word in all circumstances. He should do so during times of relative peace, but he must persist even when facing such obstacles as opposition from false teachers and their attempts to divide the congregation.
reprove: See study note on 1Ti 5:20.
reprimand: The Greek verb here rendered “reprimand” means “to rebuke, to warn strongly, or to instruct sternly.” It could refer to a warning intended to prevent a person from taking an action or to stop him from continuing to act in a certain way.—Mt 16:20; Mr 8:33; Lu 17:3.
with all patience: Timothy had learned much about patience from Paul. (2Ti 3:10) As an overseer, Timothy would need to exercise great patience because some in the congregation had been influenced by false teachings. When reproving, reprimanding, and exhorting his fellow Christians, he would always need to show restraint, patiently appealing to their desire to do what was right. If he were to give in to annoyance or frustration, he might alienate or even stumble some.—1Pe 5:2, 3; see study note on 1Th 5:14.
with all . . . art of teaching: The Greek word here rendered “art of teaching” can refer both to the manner of teaching and to the content of the teaching. (See study note on Mt 7:28, where the same word is rendered “way of teaching.”) In this context, the focus is on the manner of teaching, and that is why the word is rendered “art of teaching.” Because Paul uses the Greek word for “all” in this phrase, some translations use such expressions as “every kind of instruction,” “all your teaching skills,” or “careful instruction.” Commenting on this verse, one scholar stated that Timothy “must always show himself a sound and resourceful teacher of Christian truth.”—1Ti 4:15, 16; see study notes on Mt 28:20; 1Ti 3:2.
wholesome: Or “healthful; beneficial.”—See study note on 1Ti 6:3.
to have their ears tickled: Or “to tell them what they want to hear.” In this vivid metaphor, Paul uses a Greek verb that can mean “to tickle; to scratch” but also “to feel an itching.” It occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The word picture apparently conveys the idea of people who feel a yearning—which some translations liken to an itch—to hear what satisfies their selfish desires rather than what would help them to stay healthy in the faith. So they select teachers who tickle their ears, so to speak, by telling them what they want to hear. Because of the foretold apostasy, there would be an abundance of such self-serving disciples and false teachers; so Timothy’s work is urgent.—See study note on 1Ti 4:1.
false stories: See study note on 1Ti 1:4.
keep your senses: The Greek verb here used literally means “to be sober.” (1Pe 1:13; 5:8; see study note on 1Th 5:6.) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the verb is used figuratively to convey the idea of being “well-balanced, self-controlled.” Paul would not be on the scene much longer. (2Ti 4:6-8) Timothy thus needed to continue doing his part as an overseer to build up the congregation and fortify it against the apostasy to come. (1Ti 3:15; 2Ti 4:3, 4) He had to remain balanced, vigilant, and watchful in all aspects of his ministry.
do the work of an evangelizer: Or “keep preaching the good news.” Jesus commissioned all Christians to do the work of evangelizing, or proclaiming the good news of salvation from God. (Mt 24:14; 28:19, 20; Ac 5:42; 8:4; Ro 10:9, 10) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the terms for evangelizing usually refer to preaching to unbelievers. As a Christian overseer, Timothy had many teaching responsibilities within the congregation, as described at 2Ti 4:1, 2. However, he and all other overseers were also to share in preaching the good news outside the congregation.
an evangelizer: Or “a proclaimer of the good news.” (See study note on Mt 4:23.) The related Greek verb often rendered “to declare the good news” appears many times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. It frequently describes the way Jesus and all his followers proclaimed the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Lu 4:43 and study note; Ac 5:42 and study note; 8:4; 15:35) However, the specific term that Paul here uses appears only three times; in each case, the context shows that “evangelizer” may also be used in the special sense of “a missionary.” (See study notes on Ac 21:8; Eph 4:11.) As a missionary, Timothy had traveled with Paul to open up the preaching work in places where the good news had not yet reached, and the apostle had also given him other special assignments. (Ac 16:3, 4; 1Ti 1:3) Now Paul encourages him to continue to fulfill any such important assignment.
fully accomplish your ministry: In order to follow this direction, Timothy could look to Paul’s example. Paul highly valued the privilege of ministering to the spiritual needs of others, both inside and outside the congregation. (See study notes on Ro 11:13; 2Co 4:1; 1Ti 1:12.) In fact, all true Christians were entrusted with a ministry. (2Co 4:1) In what may have been his parting exhortation to Timothy, Paul here encourages him to devote himself completely to his ministry and to fulfill all aspects of it.
being poured out like a drink offering: According to the Mosaic Law, a drink offering was presented along with the burnt offering and the grain offering. (Le 23:18, 37; Nu 15:2, 5, 10; 28:7) One reference work states regarding drink offerings: “As with the burnt offering, all was expended and nothing was given to the priest; the entire libation was poured out.” When writing to the Philippians, Paul alluded to such an offering to show that he was happy to expend himself completely, both physically and emotionally, for his fellow Christians. (Php 2:17 and study note) He uses the same expression here, this time referring to his approaching death.
my releasing: Paul viewed his death as a faithful anointed servant of God as a “releasing,” since it would pave the way for his future resurrection to life in Christ’s “heavenly Kingdom.” (2Ti 4:18; see also study note on 2Ti 4:8.) Similarly, Paul earlier wrote to the Philippians: “I do desire the releasing and the being with Christ.” (Php 1:23 and study note) Timothy likely remembered the expression because he was with Paul in Rome when the apostle wrote that letter.—Php 1:1; 2:19.
I have fought . . . , I have run . . . , I have observed: Using three different expressions, Paul emphatically repeats the same thought: He has faithfully completed his Christian course of life and ministry, accomplishing all that the Lord Jesus had called him to do. (Ac 20:24) Even though Paul’s life was about to end, his work would continue to bear fruit.
the fine fight: Paul compares his Christian life and ministry to a noble fight, or struggle. (See study notes on 1Co 9:25; 1Ti 6:12.) He faithfully served Jehovah in the face of many hardships. He covered long distances on land and sea during his missionary journeys. He endured all sorts of persecution, such as mob attacks, scourgings, and imprisonments. He also had to deal with opposition from “false brothers.” (2Co 11:23-28) Through it all, Jehovah and Jesus gave him the power he needed to remain faithful and to complete his ministry.—Php 4:13; 2Ti 4:17.
I have run the race to the finish: Paul compares himself to a runner in a footrace to illustrate his Christian course of life. Now toward the end of his earthly life, he is confident that he has finished his figurative race. A number of times in his letters, Paul has used athletes in the Greek games as an illustration.—Heb 12:1; see study notes on 1Co 9:24; Php 3:13.
From this time on, there is reserved for me: Paul understood that his heavenly reward was now reserved for him; it was set aside, or certain. Paul had earlier received the initial part of his sealing as an anointed son of God. (See study notes on 2Co 1:22.) However, anointed Christians receive their final sealing only when they faithfully endure “to the end.” (Mt 10:22; 2Ti 2:12; Jas 1:12; Re 2:10; 7:1-4; 17:14) Now with death so close, Paul knew that he had fully demonstrated his loyalty. By means of holy spirit, Jehovah made Paul aware that his final sealing was assured, complete. For the remainder of his earthly life, his heavenly hope was guaranteed.
the crown of righteousness: Paul used the Greek word rendered “crown” elsewhere. For instance, at 1Co 9:25, 26, he used it to refer to the literal crown, or wreath, that was awarded to victorious athletes. In that same passage, he wrote that he hoped to receive a far better reward—“a crown . . . that does not perish.” Paul here refers to that same reward as “the crown of righteousness.” When anointed Christians keep living by righteous standards until death, the Lord Jesus Christ, referred to here as “the righteous judge,” is delighted to grant them this crown—the reward of immortal life in heaven.
in that day: Paul here refers, not to the day of his death, but to the much later time when Christ is ruling as King of God’s Kingdom. Paul and all other anointed ones in the grave would be raised to immortal life in heaven.—1Th 4:14-16; 2Ti 1:12.
all those who have loved his manifestation: During his presence in royal power, Christ would turn his attention to spirit-anointed Christians who had been sleeping in death. (1Th 4:15, 16) He would reward them by resurrecting them to immortal life in heaven, fulfilling his promise to receive them home to himself. (Joh 14:3; Re 14:13; see study note on the crown of righteousness in this verse.) In this way, Christ would be powerfully manifested to them. Seeing their beloved Master in his heavenly glory is an event they “have loved,” or have longed for. Faithful Christians who hope to live on earth under the rule of God’s heavenly Kingdom are also eagerly looking forward to Christ’s manifestation when all will clearly recognize Jesus in his glorious and powerful position in heaven.—Da 2:44; see also study note on 1Ti 6:14.
Demas has forsaken me: The Greek word rendered “forsaken” can refer to deserting a person who faces danger. Demas had been one of Paul’s close companions. In letters that Paul wrote during his first imprisonment in Rome, he indicated that Demas was with him. (Phm 24; see study note on Col 4:14.) However, this time Paul’s situation was worse. A number of fellow Christians had already turned away from him. (2Ti 1:15) Paul does not imply that Demas became an opposer or apostate. Still, Demas lost out on the remarkable privilege of comforting this faithful apostle in his hour of need.
he loved the present system of things: Or “he loved the present age.” (See Glossary, “System(s) of things.”) Perhaps Demas’ love for material things and worldly pleasures became stronger than his love for spiritual things. Or his fear of persecution and martyrdom may have caused him to seek a safer place. One reference work suggests that here “the present system of things” refers to “life in this world free from the danger and sacrifice of attending on the apostle.” It may be that Demas went to Thessalonica because it was his hometown. Any of these factors may help explain why he allowed his love for “the present system of things” to outweigh his love for his special privilege of serving at Paul’s side.
Dalmatia: An area on the Balkan Peninsula, E of the Adriatic Sea. The name was used to describe the southern part of the Roman province of Illyricum. However, when Paul wrote this letter, Dalmatia was a separate province. (See App. B13.) Paul may have passed through Dalmatia, since he had preached “as far as Illyricum.” (Ro 15:19 and study note) He asked Titus to come from Crete to Nicopolis, likely the Nicopolis on the northwestern coast of modern-day Greece. (Tit 3:12) Thus, it seems possible that Titus was with Paul in Nicopolis and then moved to a new assignment in Dalmatia. There Titus may have served as a missionary and helped to keep the congregations organized, much as he had done in Crete.—Tit 1:5.
Only Luke is with me: It seems that Luke was the only one of the apostle’s fellow travelers who was able to remain in close contact with Paul during his final imprisonment. (Col 4:14; see “Introduction to Acts.”) But they apparently had some support. At 2Ti 4:21, the apostle mentions at least four others who sent greetings to Timothy and to the Ephesians. They may have been Christians from the local congregation who were able to visit Paul.
Bring Mark along with you: Paul refers to John Mark, one of Jesus’ disciples and the writer of the Gospel of Mark. (See study notes on Ac 12:12.) Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on Paul’s first missionary tour but left them and returned to Jerusalem. (Ac 12:25; 13:5, 13) For this reason, Paul refused to take Mark along on the next tour. (Ac 15:36-41) However, some ten years later, Mark was with Paul in Rome. At that time, Paul spoke highly of him, showing that they had mended the breach between them and that Paul now considered Mark to be trustworthy. (Phm 23, 24; see study note on Col 4:10.) Now showing confidence in this faithful Christian minister, Paul tells Timothy: “Bring Mark along with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry.”
I have sent Tychicus off to Ephesus: Paul chose Tychicus, a beloved and faithful companion, to visit the congregation in Ephesus, likely to serve in Timothy’s place. (See study note on Col 4:7.) Knowing that Tychicus would soon arrive and that the congregation would be in good hands, Timothy may have felt free to leave in order to visit Paul in Rome for the last time. (2Ti 4:9) This verse contains Paul’s last written mention of the congregation in Ephesus. However, some 30 years later, the same congregation was among those Jesus addressed in his revelation to the apostle John.—Re 2:1.
the scrolls: The scrolls that Paul asked for apparently contained parts of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. The Greek term used here (bi·bliʹon) is related to a word (biʹblos) that originally referred to the soft pith of the papyrus plants. (See Glossary, “Scroll”; “Papyrus.”) Papyrus was used to make writing material, so both Greek terms came to refer to a scroll or a book. (Mr 12:26; Lu 3:4; Ac 1:20; Re 1:11) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the word Paul here uses can refer to a brief written document (Mt 19:7; Mr 10:4); however, it is more often used of writings of the Hebrew Scriptures (Lu 4:17, 20; Ga 3:10; Heb 9:19; 10:7). The term “Bible” is derived from the Greek word used here.
especially the parchments: Parchment refers to the skin of a sheep, goat, or calf, which has been prepared for use as writing material. (See Glossary, “Parchment.”) Paul does not specifically reveal what he meant by this expression. He may have been referring to leather scrolls of the Hebrew Scriptures. Or these parchments may have contained his own notes or writings. According to some scholars, the Greek word for “parchments” can also refer to parchment notebooks. When Paul wrote this letter, he was confident that he had fought the fine fight to the finish. (2Ti 4:6-8) Even so, he asked Timothy to “bring . . . the scrolls, especially the parchments.” He apparently wanted to continue to strengthen himself and others by means of God’s inspired Word.
Alexander the coppersmith: Paul warns Timothy of a certain Alexander who “to an excessive degree” opposed the message that Paul and his companions were proclaiming. (2Ti 4:15) Paul calls him “the coppersmith,” using a Greek term that in the first century C.E. could refer to any kind of metalworker. It is possible that he is the same Alexander, mentioned at 1Ti 1:20, who had apparently been expelled from the congregation. (See study notes.) Paul does not specify here what kind of harm this man did to him. Some have suggested that Alexander might have been involved in Paul’s arrest and might even have given false testimony against him.
Jehovah will repay him: Paul here expresses confidence that God will repay Alexander the coppersmith according to his deeds. The apostle thus echoes several verses in the Hebrew Scriptures that refer to Jehovah God as the one who repays humans for their actions, whether good or bad. One example is Ps 62:12, where the psalmist says: “O Jehovah, . . . you repay each one according to his deeds.” (See also Ps 28:1, 4; Pr 24:12; La 3:64.) Paul makes a similar point at Ro 2:6, where he says about God: “He will pay back to each one according to his works.” And quoting Jehovah’s words at De 32:35, Paul says at Ro 12:19: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”—For the use of the divine name in this verse, see App. C3 introduction; 2Ti 4:14.
In my first defense: In Roman legal procedure, an accused person might be asked to defend himself during various stages of a trial. Paul is likely referring to an initial defense that he made during his current, second imprisonment in Rome, about 65 C.E. Some have suggested that Paul is referring to a defense that he made during his earlier imprisonment in Rome, about 61 C.E. (Ac 28:16, 30) That conclusion, however, seems unlikely; it raises a question as to why Paul would write to Timothy about events that were already familiar to him.—Col 1:1, 2; 4:3.
may they not be held accountable: Paul is apparently referring to the spiritual brothers who failed to support him during his “first defense,” which he describes as a harrowing experience. (2Ti 4:17) However, Paul had learned from Christ how to show forgiveness. Jesus was abandoned by his closest friends when he was arrested. (Mr 14:50) Like Jesus, Paul refused to harbor resentment or ill will against his brothers.—See study note on 1Co 13:5.
the Lord stood near me: Apparently, Paul here refers to Jesus Christ as “the Lord” who “infused power into” him. (See also 1Ti 1:12.) Of course, the ultimate Source of power is Jehovah God; he gives strength to his servants by means of Jesus Christ.—Isa 40:26, 29; Php 4:13; 2Ti 1:7, 8; see also study note on 2Ti 2:1.
I was rescued from the lion’s mouth: It is uncertain whether this expression is to be understood literally or figuratively. (Compare study note on 1Co 15:32.) If Paul was referring to literal lions, his rescue would likely have been similar to the occasion when Jehovah rescued Daniel. (Da 6:16, 20-22) On the other hand, a number of scholars feel that Paul’s Roman citizenship would have protected him from being thrown to the lions. The expression “the lion’s mouth” can be a metaphor for extreme danger. (Compare Ps 7:2; 35:17.) Paul’s words may echo David’s plea at Ps 22:21.
will rescue me from every wicked work: Because of his faith, Paul had endured many extremely dangerous situations, including vicious persecution; he had also faced attacks from apostates. But the Lord Jesus had always stood near him, infused power into him, and rescued him. (2Ti 3:11; 4:14-17) At this point, Paul was not expecting to avoid death. (2Ti 4:6-8) However, his past experiences reassured him that Jesus would continue to rescue him from anything that might destroy his faith or disqualify him from entering into Christ’s “heavenly Kingdom.”
Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila: Paul had known this hospitable couple for about 15 years. Prisca and Aquila had worked hard to build up the congregations in several locations. They first met Paul in Corinth after they were forced to leave Rome. (Ac 18:1-3; 1Co 16:19) Then they moved to Ephesus (Ac 18:18, 19, 24-26); back to Rome for a while (Ro 16:3, 4); and back to Ephesus, where Timothy was now serving.—See study notes on Ac 18:2; Ro 16:3.
the household of Onesiphorus: See study note on 2Ti 1:16.
Do your utmost to arrive before winter: Paul wants Timothy to travel to Rome before winter, likely because the harsh winter months could make such a journey too hazardous. In the ancient Mediterranean world, travel by sea was restricted during late autumn, winter, and early spring. Storms were more frequent and dangerous. (Ac 27:9-44; see also Media Gallery, “Acts of Apostles—Paul’s Trip to Rome and His First Imprisonment There.”) Furthermore, increased cloud cover—along with rain, snow, and fog—reduced visibility and made navigation difficult. Mariners had no compass to guide them, so they had to rely heavily on landmarks or on the positions of the sun, moon, and stars. Moreover, if Timothy were to arrive before winter and bring with him the cloak Paul had left in Troas, the apostle would have something to keep him warm during his imprisonment in the frigid winter months.—2Ti 4:13; see also Media Gallery, “Bring the Cloak.”
with the spirit you show: Lit., “with your spirit,” that is, with your dominant mental attitude. (See Glossary, “Spirit.”) Paul concludes this letter by expressing his hope that Timothy’s positive spirit, or attitude, would be blessed.—See study notes on Ga 6:18; Phm 25.
with you: When addressing Timothy, Paul had just used the Greek singular pronoun for “you.” Now he changes to the plural pronoun for “you.” So Paul likely intended that this personal letter be read to others, including the congregation in Ephesus, where Timothy apparently served at the time.