What does 2 Timothy 4 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
Chapter 4, the final chapter of 2 Timothy, includes two major sections. The first section develops the importance of preaching the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:1–5). The second section offers concluding thoughts to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:6–22).

Verses 1–5 include Paul giving a charge to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:1). Paul's reason for using this strong, commanding language is his own impending death. As later verses will show, Paul knows that he will not survive his current run-in with Roman law. After all of the encouragement and coaching he has offered in this letter, Paul wants to leave a clear impression on his friend to continue the work they have done so far.

Timothy is to "preach the word" (2 Timothy 4:2). In the future, people would not endure sound teaching, but select teachers who speak what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3), turning from the truth to myths (2 Timothy 4:4). Timothy, in contrast, is commanded to fulfill his calling (2 Timothy 4:5). Rather than being distracted by bickering and errors, Timothy is to hold to the truth. As the prior chapter indicated, the anchor point of this truth is the written word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).

In verses 6–18, Paul speaks about his perspective on the end of his life (2 Timothy 4:6–7), his future with Christ (2 Timothy 4:8), and his friends in this world (2 Timothy 4:9–18).

Many had left Paul, with only Luke remaining (2 Timothy 4:11). Some of these friends had left on good terms, in order to continue Christian work. Others, like Demas, had abandoned the faith completely in order to return to "this present world." Even those who had stayed with Paul, because of the hostile Roman government, were not able to vouch for him during his trial (2 Timothy 4:16). Despite this, Paul felt the help and presence of the Lord (2 Timothy 4:17–18).

Paul asks for Mark and Timothy to visit him (2 Timothy 4:11), bringing his coat, books, and parchments (2 Timothy 4:13). Paul warned against Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14–15). While we are not exactly sure of who this Alexander is, he was clearly enough of a threat that Paul felt the need to name names.

Paul's brief conclusion included greetings to friends (2 Timothy 4:19), information about Erastus and Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), and another plea for Timothy to come to him in Rome before winter (2 Timothy 4:21). Others in Rome send their greetings (2 Timothy 4:21), and a concluding word is given, the final words left in the New Testament before Paul's death: "The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you" (2 Timothy 4:22). This spotlight on grace is a fitting conclusion to both Paul's writings and his earthly life.
Verse Context:
Second Timothy 4:1–8 contains Paul's last ministry instructions to Timothy. Paul knows that he will not survive his current imprisonment. So, he clearly and boldly charges Timothy—commands him—to hold to the faith he has seen and lived. He can do this knowing that Paul has faithfully served God, expecting the heavenly rewards given to all of God's followers. The poignant tone of this passage is made even more bittersweet by the long friendship these two men have shared.
Second Timothy 4:9–18 updates Timothy on Paul's ministry partners, as well as his antagonists. Some of Paul's friends have been sent out on missionary causes. Others, such as Demas, have turned their back on Paul and abandoned him. Only Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, is still with him. Paul specifically warns Timothy about Alexander the coppersmith. Paul knows full well that he will not survive this trip through the Roman legal system. Rather than despair, he still rejoices in his salvation and praises God.
Second Timothy 4:19–22 wraps up Paul's last letter to his dear friend, Timothy. Paul has already asked Timothy to quickly make a trip to see him. Despite one successful trial, Paul knows he will not leave Rome alive. Here, he once again asks Timothy not to delay in making one last trip. Paul also gives some final greetings, both his own and from others in Rome. Paul ends the letter with the same emphasis marking his life and ministry work: the grace of God.
Chapter Summary:
Paul summarizes his instructions to Timothy, through a practical application of his prior teachings. Timothy is "charged" by Paul to defend his faith, against all error and false teaching, at all times. Timothy will face resistance. Paul also openly admits that his life is nearly over, so Timothy will need to soldier on without him. After this, Paul gives some personal updates about his situation, giving Timothy a few instructions and advice about particular people. Paul makes a final appeal for Timothy to visit him, then closes his letter—as he will close his life—focused on the grace of God.
Chapter Context:
Paul summarizes his instructions to Timothy, through a practical application of his prior teachings. Timothy is "charged" by Paul to defend his faith, against all error and false teaching, at all times. Timothy will face resistance. Paul also openly admits that his life is nearly over, so Timothy will need to soldier on without him. After this, Paul gives some personal updates about his situation, giving Timothy a few instructions and advice about particular people. Paul makes a final appeal for Timothy to visit him, then closes his letter—as he will close his life—focused on the grace of God.
Book Summary:
Second Timothy is the last New Testament letter written by Paul. Paul writes these words while awaiting execution by Rome. At this time, around AD 67, Timothy was leading the church in Ephesus. Paul writes to Timothy in order to encourage him. Paul is facing the worst of all hardships: his own impending death. So, he encourages Timothy to stand strong in his faith, with a reliance on the written Word of God. This letter echoes many of the themes Paul uses in his other letters.
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