What Was Timothy Charged to Do?
2 Timothy 4:1-5
"I charge thee..," introduces the text of 2 Tim. 4:1-5 and lays the ground work for our question: "What was Timothy charged to do?" The word "charge" means : "to conjure or appeal to by something sacred." (M.R. Vincent). The charge was made "before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ".
To understand the charge, we must first return to the third chapter and notice the statement of verses 16-17. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.". Six important things are seen in this writing:
scripture is inspired of God
profitable for teaching (doctrine)
profitable for reproof
profitable for correction
profitable for instruction in righteousness
makes the man of God (teacher) complete as he faces the task ahead.
When we understand the importance of the inspired record to the lives of men and
women, we can then understand the importance of the charge given to Timothy.
But what was Timothy charged to do? Hear the charge as recorded in 2 Tim. 4:5 "...Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." The work of an evangelist is clearly set forth in verses 2-5:
The work of an evangelist is to "preach the word". The fads, fashions, popular opinions and philosophies of the day were to be discarded and nothing but the pure unadulterated word of God was to be heralded by the servant of the Master. When one reads Rom. 1:16-17, the reason becomes obvious. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; tothe Jew first, and also to the Greek."
The work of the evangelist is to be "instant in season, out of season." The preacher must be eager and "ready" to impart the wonderful message at all times. What an extraordinary lesson we learn about the work of an evangelist from Rom. 1:14-16: Vs. 14, "I am debtor..." Vs. 15 "...I am ready..." Vs. 16 "...I am not ashamed... ." As the text reminds us, there will be times when the message will not be well received. There are times when the messenger of God will have to stand alone. There are times when his heart will ache when he sees truth rejected for the fables of men, but he must be "instant in season, out of season".
The work of an evangelist is to "reprove". This means to bring the fault home to the offender. Hendriksen rightly states, "Sin must be brought home to the sinner's consciousness in order that he may repent." One can easily see that this is a responsibility that many times would not be well received by the offender. It also reminds us that the evangelist cannot possess the spirit of timidity and be pleasing to the God of heaven.
The work of an evangelist is to "rebuke". This means to help one to understand the penalty of rejection. The student of scripture can understand the importance of this responsibility when he or she reads: "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." (2 Thes. 1:8-9) The message must be personal. It must be clear because the consequences of rejection are severe. The soul of the hearer is at stake. The work of an evangelist is to "exhort". This is a call to action in one's life. It is not enough to simply know the truth, one must make application of the principles to his or her life in order to please the Master. The evangelist is to serve as a source of encouragement in letting the sinner know that he can truly change and will be accepted by the Master when he does.
The evangelist must be "longsuffering". "The idea is slowness to wrath, gentle patience with people who have erred." (Hendriksen) The teacher must allow time for the message to be understood, digested, and acted upon. The evangelist understands that his message will be ineffective if his own attitude is not correct.
The evangelist must be willing to "endure afflictions" (kjv) "endure hardship" (nasv). One hears the echoes of Acts 5:41, "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name", also the language of Phil. 1:29: "For unto you it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for his sake." The man who approaches the work of an evangelist feeling that he will walk through fields of ease, is a man who does not know his bible. Difficulty is not always facing the evangelist, but when it does, he must be willing to endure it.
Timothy accepted this charge and serves as an example to each of us who desires to "do the work of an evangelist". May God help us with the task.
By Bill Collett
From Expository Files 5.7; July 1998