21 March 2015

2 Timothy 4:1-18

“Endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.” (v. 5)

Psalm: Psalm 127


Today's passage is an appeal to remain true to what we believe, even in the face of hardship and persecution. It comes at the end of a letter seemingly written to an early Church leader, Timothy. We are not sure exactly who wrote the letter but many of the events and people mentioned, like those in verses 9-14, seem to relate to the life of the apostle Paul.

The writer is facing a great ordeal and possibly death because of his faith. He describes himself being poured out as a "libation" (v. 6) - a kind of sacrifice made to God by pouring out a liquid (Genesis 28:18; 2 Samuel 23:16-17). Here, though, it means that the writer is sacrificing his life, literally pouring out his own blood, for the sake of bringing people the good news of Jesus (ie the gospel). In this, he is emulating what Christ did for our sakes when he bled and died on the cross, something we remember at Holy Communion. The writer of 2 Timothy seems to be one of the long list of people (or 'martyrs') who have died for the sake of the truth of the gospel, a list that sadly continues to grow even in our own day. Many of those martyrs have found great comfort in these words that encourage them to remain firm to what they know is good and true in this world.

Fortunately, not many of us are called to be martyrs to our faith, but the passage reminds us of the vital role that we have in God's plans. Christ came that we might know the truth and that the truth would set us free (John 8:32). Many people do not want to hear the truth, though, and prefer "myths" and the kind of teaching that tells them what they want to hear (verses 3-4). The writer reminds all Christians that it is their duty to witness to the truth at all times, even when people hate and abuse them. The task of an evangelist - literally a 'bringer of good news' - is one that all Christians share.

To Ponder

  • In our own times, what might a "teacher to suit their own desires" (v. 3) look like?
  • Many people today are suffering greatly because of their faith, and not because of anything they have done. How can we help and support them?
  • Looking back on your life, when have been the times when you have felt the Lord standing by you and giving you the strength to carry on (verse 17)? Give thanks for God's support.


Bible notes author

The Revd Geoffrey Farrar

Geoffrey Farrar is currently a Methodist presbyter in the West Hertfordshire and Borders Circuit of the Methodist Church, where he has pastoral charge of three churches in the Watford area. He trained at Wesley House in Cambridge and has recently completed an MA in Ancient History with the University of Trinity Saint David.