I really enjoyed paraphrasing this passage from II Timothy 4:1-8. It was interesting to envision Paul writing a letter to his friend and helper Timothy on the subject of staying true to God while the world around him changes. Wouldn't all of this wisdom be great advice for us today also? Because that's our challenge, too.
Alright, here's the scripture if you're just joining us. Below it you'll find my paraphrase of this passage and then my thoughts at the end. Inductive Bible study style. =)
"I charge you in the presence of God
and of Christ Jesus,
who is to judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingdom:
preach the word;
be ready in season and out of season;
reprove, rebuke, and exhort,
with complete patience and teaching.
For the time is coming when people
will not endure sound teaching,
but having itching ears they will accumulate
for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
and will turn away from listening
to the truth and wander off into myths.
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering,
do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out
as a drink offering,
and the time of my departure has come.
I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
Henceforth there is laid up for me
the crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous judge,
will award to me on that Day,
and not only to me but also
to all who have loved his appearing."
II Timothy 4:1-8
With the God of Heaven and His son, the Christ Jesus (the world's judge) looking on, I issue you a challenge: Be active in preaching the good news. Always be prepared, whether you are literally on the "mission field" or not. You will have to correct some, but do it gently and with much patience. There will come a time when many people will leave the sound teaching straight from the Bible. They will want to hear something novel...something new and different. They will find teachers to teach them these things, to fulfill their own wants, which will cause them to stray from God's wants. But you - you should always guard against these untruths, even if it involves pain and suffering. Keep being what you know you should be - an evangelist.
My time on earth may be ending, but I feel triumphant that I am able to state with assurance: "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith."
Because of the truth of that statement, I have a crown set aside for me when I enter heaven. It's a crown of righteousness that the Lord, the only righteous judge, will give me as a reward for being faithful to Him. But I am not the only one who will receive it...all of us who love him faithfully will receive one.
*Paul calls for a great deal of ACTION. Preach, Be Ready, Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort, Teach. Do the work of an evangelist. Fulfill your ministry. There's no sitting back and all that, "I'm O.K., you're O.K." jazz.
*He tells Timothy to be prepared "in season and out of season." I liken this unto being ready to answer questions/tell the good news whether one is literally teaching a Bible class...or just simply talking to a friend.
*It is entirely possible to turn away from the truth and follow our own desires. See how those don't correlate? Our fleshly desires often lead us in the opposite way of the truth.
*Some will need correction as they are no longer seeking God's truth...even if they think they are.
*Paul's statement regarding the good fight, the race, and the faith is a very powerful analogy. It's the very best feeling that any of us could express at the end of our lives. He was able to say this with assurance because he, himself, had completed the challenge he was now giving Timothy.
*We will receive a crown of righteousness if we remain faithful to Him! Not one of those fake tiaras for playing dress up. This will be the real deal. And won't it be amazing to meet Paul in Heaven??
Your turn - if you haven't participated yet, but would like to, post your own paraphrase/thoughts on your blog and link back to this one. Let me know so I can add you to the link post. =) Hope you all got as much out of this study as I have. We'll start a new one soon!
I'm off to read the other blog posts now! I didn't read them in depth before finishing my own study and I'm excited to read them today. =)