“Fully Accomplish Your Ministry”
1. What was the relationship between Paul and Timothy?
WHEN the apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, Paul had been pursuing his goal as a minister of God for some 30 years. He had received many blessings from Jehovah. (2 Timothy 1:2) Paul had chosen Timothy to work in close relationship with him in the traveling work, serving congregations. They enjoyed years of fruitful experiences together.—Acts 16:1-5.
2. What is the significance of Paul’s words at 2 Timothy 4:6-8?
2 Now the time had approached for Paul’s ministry to end. He wrote: “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the due time for my releasing is imminent. I have fought the fine fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith. From this time on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me as a reward in that day, yet not only to me, but also to all those who have loved his manifestation.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8) This implied that Paul’s death was imminent. It is understood that Paul suffered death under Nero’s persecution in 66 C.E. When faced with death, what thoughts would run through Paul’s mind? Perhaps these: Did I perform my service well? Did I complete my ministry successfully? Yes, Paul could express his conviction that he had! His faith was very strong, and he was confident that he would gain the prize of the upward call. What satisfaction he must have had because he never deviated from his assignment!
3. Before his death, what good thing could Paul do for Timothy?
3 Paul still had a little time left to do something good. Before falling asleep in death, what good thing could Paul do for Timothy? Under inspiration he gave important counsel. We read his thoughts and words in the book of Second Timothy. These are his last writings in the Scriptures for our benefit as well.
4. What exhortation did Paul give Timothy?
4 Timothy had not yet finished his assignment in the ministry, so Paul wrote: “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is destined to judge the living and the dead, and by his manifestation and his kingdom, preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and art of teaching. For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories. You, though, keep your senses in all things, suffer evil, do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.”—2 Timothy 4:1-5.
5. Why is Paul’s counsel of special interest to us?
5 That fine counsel must have considerably benefited Timothy, but will we, too, benefit from it? We are living in “the last days” about which Paul wrote. Many people today have ‘a form of godly devotion but prove false to its power.’ (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Such ones are inclined to listen only to “teachers” who will tickle their ears. Yet, in addition to preaching the word in a congregational setting, true Christians have an obligation to preach to all publicly, seeking those who will respond to “the word.” So this counsel is relevant today to Christian witnesses of Jehovah.
How to Accomplish the Ministry Fully
6. (a) Why should we “preach the word”? (b) What benefits come from paying attention to how we perform our ministry?
6 The ministry has varied facets; there are many things for the minister to do. First, Paul mentioned, “preach the word.” This is the word that Jehovah has chosen to reveal to his servants. It is the word of truth about which Jesus spoke. Jehovah lets it be known what his message is for mankind at a given time, having his witnesses upon the earth to present his side of the issue. Jehovah’s way is to give the message of warning before he takes action. (2 Chronicles 36:15, 16; Isaiah 42:9; 43:12; Jonah 3:2-4) His message will result in good for those who listen to it; they can gain a place of safety. Those who do not give heed have to pay the consequences when Jehovah goes into action to execute his judgment. They must bear their own responsibility. (Acts 20:20, 21, 26, 27) Yet, the course of wisdom for a minister of God is: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Timothy 4:16.
7. Why is it an urgent work even if conditions seem unfavorable?
7 The preaching work is done under varying conditions, but it must go forward. “Be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season,” Paul wrote. The message can mean life for people. Therefore, in whatever circumstances the faithful minister finds himself, he views the message as urgent and finds ways to let the word be heard, even if some opposition to the preaching work arises. We can see this clearly by the example of Jesus and the record in the Bible book of Acts.
8. (a) What can help the minister to preach the word? (b) Why may reproving be part of the ministry?
8 In order to preach the word, whether inside or outside the congregation, the minister must be familiar with the Word of God, being a student of it. He must give time to study, reflection and meditation, seeking to understand it well. The preaching must be on the basis of familiarity with the teachings of truth. Paul told Titus that the overseer must be “holding firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict.” (Titus 1:9) God’s Word serves as a means of giving reproof to those out of line with what Jehovah requires, correcting the offender for his own good. This is all part of fully accomplishing the ministry.
9. Why is Christian exhortation needed?
9 Sometimes reminders are needed for those who may not be doing everything they should or who lack appreciation and zeal for Jehovah’s worship. Christian exhortation is very much appreciated by those who have love for Jehovah. They are glad to hear what Jehovah says and regard it as rich spiritual food. (Isaiah 55:3; Hebrews 12:5, 6) So it is a good service to our fellow workers—and also to people who are inclined toward worshiping Jehovah—to exhort them with God’s Word. Paul himself gave much exhortation.—Romans 15:30; 16:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10, 11; 1 Timothy 4:13; 6:11, 12; Hebrews 10:24.
10. Why is long-suffering required in connection with giving exhortation?
10 The dedicated minister must know also how to cultivate the fruitage of God’s spirit. It may take much patience and endurance to try to exhort those who do not respond readily. Some could even show a lack of appreciation for the efforts put forth to give them exhortation and encouragement. Nevertheless, it must be done, especially by all Christian elders. The art of teaching comes into play. The more a person uses Jehovah’s Word, the more adept he becomes in its use. When a teacher gets to know a student, he should be able to impart information to that one. Paul well describes the proper method in 1 Thessalonians 5:14: “We exhort you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all.”
Turn Away From Apostates
11. What should we do about apostates?
11 Paul wanted Timothy to be able to maintain his balance, or to keep his senses in all things. He must not let himself become like those who do not put up with the healthful teaching and turn their ears away from the truth. The true minister of God today does not become unduly anxious and disturbed in his activities when he finds that some turn away from the Word of God and its healthful teaching. We have been forewarned that there will be apostates and people who just like to have their ears tickled. Counsel such as at 2 John 9-11, 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and 2 Timothy 3:5 allows no room for associating with those who turn away from the truth. Nor do we purchase or read their writings. There are many others who love to hear the truth, and it is with these that we have our Christian association.—1 Timothy 6:20, 21.
12. Why does the Christian minister take this firm stand?
12 Paul advised: “Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.” (2 Timothy 3:13) In the light of that advance warning, the Christian minister does not go along with such ones. He heeds the apostle’s good advice: “You, however, continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from what persons you learned them and that from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through the faith in connection with Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17) Regular study of the Word of God is a boon to those seeking to accomplish their ministry.
Blessings From Christian Association
13. How was working in the ministry with Paul a benefit to Timothy, and how can we benefit?
13 It was a real blessing to Timothy to have had years of association with Paul, being able to observe how a faithful, mature minister of God conducts himself. Paul used their experiences as a good reminder for Timothy: “You have closely followed my teaching, my course of life, my purpose, my faith, my long-suffering, my love, my endurance, my persecutions, my sufferings, the sort of things that happened to me in Antioch, in Iconium, in Lystra, the sort of persecutions I have borne; and yet out of them all the Lord delivered me. In fact, all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:10-12) Though we today are not in direct contact with Paul, the extensive record of his ways found in the Bible can help us too.
14. Why must we be prepared to suffer evil?
14 Paul mentioned his persecutions and sufferings, and his advice to the Christian minister is to be willing to suffer evil. (2 Timothy 4:5) It often is necessary to pass through some sort of persecution in fully accomplishing our ministry. It is a privilege to keep integrity under test and to make Jehovah’s heart glad. (Proverbs 27:11) A witness can result to Jehovah’s praise!
The Work of an Evangelizer
15. Why must evangelizing be shared in as we fully accomplish our ministry?
15 Evangelizing takes up a good part of the faithful Christian minister’s time. Jesus said: “In all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) He made it clear that the end will not come until the good news has been sufficiently preached. Paul was privileged to share the good news with many believers throughout the Roman Empire. This resulted in new congregations being formed and overseers being appointed. They, in turn, participated with their Christian brothers and sisters in the evangelizing work and so extended the preaching work far and wide. Much of the work is done as Paul described it, ‘teaching publicly and from house to house.’ (Acts 20:20) There were good results then, and there are excellent results today when the Christian preaching is being done worldwide.—John 14:12.
16. What evidence shows that many are applying Paul’s counsel at 2 Timothy 4:5?
16 With faith, many are taking hold of opportunities to enlarge their activities in the evangelizing work. Thousands have entered the missionary field, and hundreds of thousands share in forms of the pioneer service. In 205 lands there are now more than 2,650,000 serving as evangelizers in over 46,000 congregations, and the numbers are increasing. These wonderful things are evidence that Jehovah’s dedicated servants take to heart the divine charge to them and “fully accomplish” their ministry.
Accomplishing the Work
17. What does Jehovah desire to see his servants do regarding the work assigned them today?
17 Jehovah has assigned his anointed ones to a ministry, and the “great crowd” work side by side with them. Prophetically, in Ezekiel chapter 9, the work is likened to putting a mark on the foreheads of those sighing and groaning. We know from that prophecy that the time will come when the man with the secretary’s inkhorn will say: “I have done just as you have commanded me.” Jehovah is pleased with his servants when they do as he commands them.—Ezekiel 9:4, 11; Genesis 6:22; 1 Corinthians 4:2.
18, 19. What are some ways you can now apply Paul’s exhortation at 2 Timothy 4:1-5?
18 As we watch world conditions developing in line with the prophecies concerning these last days, we cannot help but feel the urgency of the preaching work assigned to us. Lives are involved. The ingathering is taking place and Jehovah is speeding it up in its time. (Isaiah 60:22) Therefore, whatever your responsibility as a dedicated servant of Jehovah, work at it to please him fully. (Colossians 1:10; 3:23, 24) Keep in mind the work that you have been given to do and try to accomplish it fully. If you are looking after some duties at the Kingdom Hall, do the work thoroughly. If you are assigned to activities with a Congregation Book Study group, work closely with it and exhort and encourage one another. If you are a pioneer or a missionary, be sure to work hard to meet your service goals.—Romans 12:6-9.
19 You can also ask yourself, Can I be doing something more to help other Christians, especially new ones in the congregation, to be upbuilding to them? If part of your ministry is being an elder in the congregation, know the appearance of “the flock” and take good care of all those associated. Pay attention so that none will be inactive or unfruitful regarding the accurate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8) Above all, be alert to what you are doing in the evangelizing work to the end that you “fully accomplish your ministry.”
Do You Recall?
□ What was Paul’s situation when he wrote Second Timothy?
□ Why is it vital to preach the word?
□ Why is exhortation important?
□ How should false teachers be dealt with?
□ Why is evangelizing so important today?
[Picture on page 16, 17]
Paul’s second letter to Timothy helped him ‘to accomplish his ministry fully’