October 31, 2021
Rev. Angel Tong
Title: Fulfill Your Ministry
Text: 2 Tim 4:1-5
Timothy is identified as the son of Eunice, a Jewish mother, and an unnamed Gentile father. He is described as a co-worker and companion of Paul. Paul himself identified Timothy as “brother” and “beloved child, Paul sent him on a variety of missions. When the two letters were written to him, Timothy was envisioned as still a young man, but he is prototypical, an example of the kind of person the Christian evangelist ought to be. Paul urges Timothy to continue in faithfulness for the sake of the gospel in spite of hardship.
Most scholars have suggested that this letter may have been intended to serve as Paul’s farewell testament or last will, as Paul is about to die and therefore is asking for Timothy to join him immediately so that he might pass the baton of apostolic ministry to Timothy.
- Paul’s charge to Timothy before God
In verse 1, Paul charges Timothy before God, he says: “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.”
The reason for the charge in this section Paul puts the focus of the problem on the people who listen to the false teachers and not the false teachers themselves. Paul recognized that it is a time of intolerance of truth.
The time refers to the last days there will come times of difficulty, at that time, people turn their ears away from the truth, those have the itching ears driven by their own desires rather than the orthodox teaching
(v3-4). This literary form is called a “charge form”, in which Paul gives a strong command to Timothy to stay the course amidst a very difficult situation. In other words, Paul commands Timothy to fulfill his ministry, this command comes from Paul but is rooted in the authority of God the Father and Jesus the Son.
Indeed, Paul’s charge “fulfill your ministry” is not only appropriate to Timothy, but also to anyone who seeks to undertake the work of the Christian proclamation.
- Preach the Word
To fulfill the ministry, first of all, as Paul says: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (v2) The word includes proclaiming the “good news” of the gospel in a broad. “Gospel” for Paul is not only an evangelistic presentation; but also the core message which can apply to the unbelievers or to all believers. Thus, there is no question that word is. It is the Word of God written. We are always to be proclaimers of the Word of God.
“Be ready in season and out of season.” The verb here translated “be ready” is also translated as “be urgent” and “be instant.”
Reprove The word “reprove” is also translated as “Convince.” Whatever way Timothy confronts the false teachers, he cannot ignore them hoping the problem will go away on its own. He will have to convince them or change them.
Rebuke Although people tend to rebuke inappropriately, Jesus requires his believers to rebuke a brother or sister who is sinning and he expects believers to be alert to confront sin among members. In the case of the false teachers who are elders, Paul hopes that Timothy can win them over through warning and gentle correction.
Exhort the original meaning of ‘exhort’ is “to encourage” or “to bring comfort.” Rebuke without encouragement can be deadly. To be patient with others as God is patient with us is the environment of all Christian ministry.
- Content of the Charge Continued
Verse 5 constitutes the second half of the content of Paul’s charge section. Paul uses “As for you” “but you” to set up the contrast between Timothy and the straying Ephesians.
The appeal of Paul to Timothy, and to us, his successors, is finalized in verse 5, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Therefore, every potential ear-tickler must:
1) to be sober-minded means be watchful in all things.
2) endure suffering
3) do the work of an evangelist Paul does not typically distinguish between “evangelism” and “discipleship”,
thus it can also be applied in the broader sense of sharing the Good News as everyone’s vocation.
Accordingly, this is not only Timothy’s ministry but our ministry. Share the good news is the Great Commission Jesus gave us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:19-20)
How about Paul’s ministry?
Paul affirms at the close of his life that he has engaged himself in the one event truly worth one’s life, he is simply saying: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (v7)
How about our ministry?
By God’s grace, I have the opportunity to do a church plant in 2022, around Burnaby area. Sharing the gospel to Asian immigrants has always been my vision and passion. Since Canada is a multicultural society, mission is already at our doorsteps. Honestly, establishing a new church plant is a very challenging mission, especially in
the new normal. But I truly believe that with God all things are possible!
Finally, to “fulfill the ministry” is to complete the task already begun. Life and ministry are a journey based upon our marching orders from God. To follow the orders is to fulfill the ministry.
Paul doesn’t promise us comfort or an easy way, but Christ will give a victory crown not only to Paul but also to all true believers who set their heart on the return of Christ (v8).
Therefore, I pray that the Holy Spirit will help us to become a good and faithful servant, to do the work as Paul’s charge: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; be watchful; endure suffering, like Jesus carry the cross; I believed God’s ministry in our hands will be fulfilled.