As Paul gives Timothy this exhortation, he admonishes him to be diligent in declaring the truth, saying, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2Tim 4:2). Those who are “sent” to preach, “must” preach. It is a great blessing to be given the TRUTH as it “is in JESUS”. (Eph.4:21) For as we read on we find that there are those who claim to be those “sent” by GOD who are nonetheless the emissaries of darkness, perverting the TRUTH and leading men astray. The LORD said that such delusions would come among the sons of GOD with such power that even the true sons of GOD would be deceived if such were a possibility. ”For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.”(Mar 13:22)
In this very same line of thought, Paul warns Timothy of the fact that the natural tendency of men is to depart from the truth, regardless of how much they profess to believe it. We see this demonstrated even in the ministry of CHRIST HIMSELF. “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”(John 6:65-66) They could not endure sound doctrine, but were content with the loaves and fishes, and rejected the plain truth which gave them no place to boast in the works of their supposed righteousness.
We see this demonstrated in the ministry of Paul as he spoke to Timothy out of experience rather than conjecture. “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” (2Tim 1:15) “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” (2Tim 4:10) John witnessed the same thing as he recounts those who gave in, to the spirit of antichrist. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1John 2:19)
The time comes in every age and in every church when sound doctrine is rejected in favor of a more palatable message which allows men to bask in their knowledge, morality, and good deeds. Paul is not telling Timothy of something which will occur far off in some future time, hundreds of years hence. Rather he is identifying the necessity of sound doctrine to build up the saints in the present tense, for days of darkness are not far removed from any ministry which declares the TRUTH of JESUS CHRIST and HIM crucified. Much seed is sowed upon the stony and thorny ground and it is difficult to discern such from that which falls upon the good and fertile soil until some time has passed. Indeed Satan has planted tares among the wheat which grow until the time of harvest, but they shall then be identified even as Paul says, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Thes 2:10-12)
Therefore, Paul begins his exhortation with a most somber note so that Timothy might not mistake the seriousness of the charge which is given to him nor of the fact that the LORD has a people to whom he is sent as an ambassador of CHRIST, to feed the sheep of the LORD in the face of those who will surely gainsay and seek to subvert the truth of GOD. As he wrote to the Galatians of this same matter; “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:6-10)
Thus, he tells Timothy to “preach” the word. To “preach” is to declare loudly, with purpose, even as one who is a herald or announcer. John came preaching repentance, not timidly but with the force of his conviction, declaring HIM whose shoes he was not worthy to unloose.
He tells Timothy to preach “THE WORD”. To “preach the WORD” is to preach CHRIST. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) “That is, the word of faith, which we preach.” (Rom 10:8) It is impossible to preach THE WORD with the mixture of any other doctrine. CHRIST is ALL. Paul described this “preaching” as “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1Cor 2:2)
He describes the manner in which he is to preach the WORD, as being “instant”. This word is literally defined as “to stand upon presently”. There is to be no equivocation in the preaching of CHRIST and HIM crucified. Nothing is to be added. CHRIST and CHRIST alone is the message upon which we stand and it is here that GOD’s people are edified, encouraged, and comforted.
He tells Timothy to preach “in season” and “out of season”. This literally means when it is “convenient” and also when it is “not convenient”. We live in a “convenience” oriented society, yet it is not always “convenient” to declare the unsearchable riches of CHRIST. The circumstances of time and place, must not dictate the preaching of the WORD. This is the same message that Paul gave Timothy, when he said, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2Tim 2:3-4) Singleness of purpose in the proclamation of the gospel is that which encourages the sons of GOD to stand fast.
Then he describes the application of the TRUTH as being, “reprove, rebuke, and exhort”. The gospel is a message which by its very nature “corrects”, “admonishes” and “encourages” the sons of GOD. This activity is not something done in addition to the preaching of the gospel but is the result of it as the LORD is pleased to empower HIS truth to the heart of those whom HE is pleased to give ears to hear it. No amount of “law work” will accomplish this, but HE who gives the law of the SPIRIT of LIFE, sees to it that it will achieve what HE sends it to do.
The fashion and attitude of those who are sent by CHRIST, is to be with, “longsuffering”. This is synonymous with patience and forbearance, remembering that we know nothing as we ought to know. “Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1Pet 5:3)
Finally, we see the whole basis upon which the true message of the Gospel rests; “doctrine”. Proper “doctrine” is also referred to as “sound doctrine”, without which there can be no true Gospel preaching and the saints cannot be edified and built up in the most holy faith.
The message of the Gospel can only be heard by those who have been given LIFE. The giving of this LIFE comes as a man is born again by the SPIRIT of GOD. Apart from that “new birth”, he will remain dead in trespasses and sins. When Paul speaks of HIM who will judge the “quick” (i.e.; those who are quickened and made to live”) and the “dead”; he contextually speaks of those who are alive and those who are lifeless. All men, whether living or dead shall stand before ALMIGHTY GOD in the day of judgment. Those who are alive in CHRIST shall stand in HIM who has borne their sins and they are judged as righteous because of HIM. Those on the other hand who come into that great assize as dead men shall indeed experience the “second death” (see Rev.20:14) for they have not the LIFE of CHRIST. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1John 5:10-12) Do you have LIFE in CHRIST?