18 October 2012

2 Timothy 4:5-17

"As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully." (v. 5)


We are reading this passage because it mentions Luke (verse 11) whom the Christian calendar commemorates today. What is known about Luke is established here and by a reference to him in Colossians 4:14, where is described as a physician and where he is listed as a Gentile (non Jew). He is commemorated chiefly as the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, as an exponent of salvation which involved healing in the here and now, and as an inclusive theologian who focused attention on women and the poor.

2 Timothy is presented as being a letter from Paul stuck in prison in Rome to Timothy, his younger partner in the work of evangelism. Many scholars doubt that the letters to Timothy were written by Paul himself but there is no reason to suppose that Luke was not a companion of Paul. Further, whichever communities or individuals put Luke-Acts into the form we have them today they are certainly worthy of commemoration. They, Paul and whoever wrote 2 Timothy form part of the cloud of witnesses to the life of Jesus, along with the early Church who offers us a variety of ways of understanding the gospel (the good news about Jesus) and how to proclaim it.

When the author of 2 Timothy says "… always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist", these words are addressed to Timothy. They evoke, though, the ministry of others, including Luke the Evangelist - 'evangelist' being a word which means 'bringer of the good news' - Luke is celebrated for doing this by setting out an orderly account in writing, but there are many ways to be bringers of the good news: in the way we treat people; in the way we bear disappointments and disasters in our own lives; in the words we write whether on web pages or on twitter or in cards of condolence… It was not only the saints of the Christian calendar who were called to bear the good news of Jesus Christ, but all of us who follow him.

To Ponder

  • During your life who has brought the good news to you? What has made it convincing?
  • What are the ways in which you do the work of an evangelist?
  • What might it mean for you to carry out "your ministry fully"?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Jane Leach

Jane writes on ministry, pastoral supervision and pilgrimage..