Second Timothy 4:1-11 is part of one of the last letters the apostle Paul wrote before he was put to death. In this letter, Paul gave his apprentice Timothy instructions about how to do his work as a minister. These instructions also apply to all Christians.

Timothy was told to continue the work Paul had begun, just as Joshua did after Moses and as Elisha did after Elijah. Timothy was told to not only preach the word in all situations, but be ready to properly address his audiences, persuading with a clear presentation of the truth, rebuking in the face of sin, and course-correcting with patient exhortation and instruction as needed.

First, we are to preach the Word, which means spreading the Good News. If all communicators of God’s Word will treat it as a priority, all other reforms and godly missions can be accomplished. If the Word is neglected, however, very little of eternal significance will be produced. God’s final judgment will assess eternal value, not personal achievement.

Second, we must be ready in season and out of season. We must have a sense of urgency and forcefulness. This urgency and forcefulness must be controlled with common sense. Urgency and forcefulness are no excuse for insensitivity. We are called to speak the truth in love, but never tear someone down for the sake of making a point. We must not be surprised to see the world fighting as it is, but we must refuse to enter fleshly battles as a believer. Civility, reason, and dignity must reign supreme in our encounters with people, and we must affirm in them the same God-given value He has ascribed to us. We must stand firm in our beliefs and convey them as clearly as we can, but we must also surrender our need to win at all costs. We must allow ourselves to be hurt for the sake of expanding the Kingdom of Heaven.

Third, we must convince people that they are sinners who need salvation. This goes along with rebuking people when necessary and encouraging and inspiring them. This can be difficult because some listeners will turn their ears from the truth, regardless of a preacher’s faithfulness. Nevertheless, sound doctrine must be taught, and God’s workers must fulfill their ministry because they will be accountable to Him.

All of these instructions are to be carried out in a climate that includes longsuffering and teaching. We must be patient with others as God is patient with us. That is the environment of all Christian ministry. This is made more difficult because people tend to have the strange illness of “itchy ears.” Ministers who tickle the ears of their audiences have existed in every generation, and as long as people want to have their ears tickled instead of having their hearts and souls pierced, such teachers will have followers. We live in a time of “designer doctrine,” when people pick and choose what to believe, based on their desires and preferences.

In the Levitical system, the drink offering concluded the sacrificial ceremony. Paul’s life was his sacrificial offering. Paul’s exit from this life will mean a new life ahead in eternity.  Sooner or later, the time comes when each of us must “hang up the spikes.” Paul’s time had come, and he gave one helluva farewell speech. He faced many enemies in his ministry, and he successfully opposed them. He kept to the same path of Christian discipleship for a long time, and successfully completed the course Christ laid out for him-and so can we.

Paul has no regrets about his past. The three images of “fought the good fight,” “finished the race,” and “keep the faith” have involved sacrifice, labour, and danger. Now they represent the successful completion of Paul’s earthly ministry. Those who are eager for Christ’s return are usually eager to fulfill His calling before He returns. They persevere because they know that their final salvation and righteousness are sure.

Anyone who chooses to be on God’s side will be in for a fight from the devil and his followers. We must either fight or suffer defeat. We will either gain ground or lose ground, but we must be involved in this spiritual fight. If we try to avoid this fight, we will be knocked down, so we had better put on our spiritual armour. We have to learn principles from God’s Word that teach us how to be more than conquerors in Christ.

Everyone who ministers the Word of God is under the scrutiny of Christ. One day He will judge the works of all believers. Everything we do and say in our earthly lives has an impact on our lives in eternity. God-given opportunities accepted and honoured make a difference for us in the world to come.  In the case of our Christian race, the crown goes not only to Paul but to all who have done Christ’s work in our world. Any thought that only “superChristians” get special rewards is abolished. All Christians will get the same crown as Paul.

Serving God often produces loneliness. Although the Lord ultimately strengthens His servants, human friendship provides further courage to face the hardships and disappointments of ministry. Paul named 17 people, indicating how important his friendships are to him. Timothy and Onesiphorus were among the few people who widely ministered to Paul and remained true in his darkest hours. Paul was separated from some of his co-labourers (including Crescens, Titus, Mark, Tychicus and Carpus) simply because they were fulfilling the ministry duties he had assigned them. We need other Christians not only for fellowship but also for spiritual support as we work together for God’s kingdom.

Today, many Christians struggle to understand the challenges they are facing. So much is happening in the world today. People are facing heavy financial burdens and family issues. Others are experiencing deep grief. The challenges of life can bring a person down to the point where he or she can lose hope in God. It is in these times that people must keep their eyes on Jesus and look at their circumstances in the view of eternity.

What are we longing for? It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life or caught up doing what God has called us to do. Sometimes we get caught up in life’s pursuits or focus on God’s blessings. While there is nothing wrong with these things, sometimes they crowd out what our true longing should be. More than anything else, our desire should be for Christ and for His presence.


  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1435)
  2. Demarest, G.W., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 32: 1,2 Thessalonians/1,2 Timothy/Titus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1984, pp. 290-299)
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1678-1679)
  6. Pastor Allen Jackson, “Well Defined Eternity.” Retrieved from
  7. Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Needing Others.” Retrieved from
  8. Bibby Schuller, “How We Fight.” Retrieved from
  9. Raul Ries, “A Soldier’s Spiritual Victory.” Retrieved from
  10. Clarence L. Haynes Jr.: “What is the Longing of Your Heart?” Retrieved from
  11. Greg Laurie, “A Very Real Spiritual War.” Retrieved from

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