1 & 2 Timothy - Lesson 12

By John Harrison

God's Servants Who Make it to the End

(2 Timothy 4:1-22)

Objectives: By the end of this lesson the learner will be able to:

  1. List the three key things that Timothy will need to do to be a faithful servant to the end.
  2. Explain an OT metaphor Paul used to depict his life of service to Christ.
  3. Describe the confidence Paul had as he faced impending death.

Teaching Aids and Materials:

  1. Easy to understand Bibles for every student (CEV, RSV, NAV, NIV, NRSV, etc.).
  2. A marker board and/or overhead projector and laptop.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (5-8 minutes)

  1. Begin class by welcoming members and any visitors; make all necessary class announcements.
  2. Have the class led in prayer. The prayer should include a request that God helps us to live sacrificial lives that worship and honor him.
  3. Discuss last week's assignment
  4. Explain to the class what this lesson will focus on:
    1. It will stress the work that Timothy had to do and how he was to do it.
    2. It will explain how Paul looked at his own life of ministry.
    3. It will show how Paul viewed his impending death.

Learning Experiences: (35 minutes)

Part I: Doing the work of an evangelist to the end

Have someone read 2 Timothy 4:1-8

Q: What does Paul call on Timothy to do to fulfill his ministry?

A: In this section, Paul gives his final charge to Timothy to fulfill his ministry by doing the work of an evangelist (euangelistou).

This task will require three key things from him:

  1. To preach the word (v. 2): Timothy is to be ready at all times to herald God's message to the world and to the Christian community. God's message has the ability to correct behavior. It can do this either by "rebuking" (negatively) or"exhorting" (positively) people's behavior. Paul may be using the word "rebuke" because he has in mind the false teachers whose teaching will need to be rebuked harshly. But both the ministry of rebuking and exhorting is going to have to be done with patient instruction. There is no simple single response that Paul has in mind. He envisions Timothy taking great time and care to proclaim God's message to both his opponents and his congregations.
  2. To be self-controlled (v. 5):  The idea of self-control involves keeping one's head in all situations. Instead of allowing the immoral false teachers feel the full brunt of his outrage, Timothy is to attack their teaching with a clear head and a focus on dispensing God's truth.
  3. To endure hardship (v. 5): As Paul has taught Timothy previously, false teachers are not going to disappear quietly or quickly. He will have to endure hardships that they will bring upon him and they will fight for a long time because their own profit and self-indulgence is at stake. So Timothy is going to need courage and tenacity to stay the course, finish the race and defeat the deceivers.

Teacher's Note: In non-biblical ancient literature the term "evangelist" refers to a person who is sent to bring good news (usually news of a military victory or the birth of a significant individual) to citizens who benefit from the event being announced. In the NT, the "evangelist" is a role in which a person shares with Christians the implications of the good news (i.e. the gospel) for their life and their future (see Eph. 4:11).

Q: In this section Paul gives two reasons (both are introduced with the word "for") that explains why he must preach the word and do the evangelist's work. What are those two reasons?

A: The first reason is found in verse 3. People will become intolerant of healthy teaching and instead will want to follow whatever desires they have. The second reason is found in verse 5. Paul anticipates his death and he will no longer be around to be the evangelist for the Ephesians. It is now up to Timothy.

Q: What do you think Paul means by saying he is being "poured out as an offering"(v. 6)?

A: Paul is likening himself to a drink offering (see Num. 15:5-10; 28:7) which is used to worship God. Also, the phrase "pouring out" was often used as a figurative description of death (think of Jesus' words at the institution of the Lord's Supper in Mark 14:23-24). So Paul sees his life and impending death as a sacrifice he is willing to make to worship and honor God.

Q: Paul has confidence that he has lived faithfully and will be rewarded by the Lord. Do you think most Christians today live with a similar confidence? Why or why not?

A: There are lots of possible answers that could be given. Allow enough time for 2 or 3 responses.

Q: What do you think will continue to motivate you to serve God faithfully?

A: Be sure to respond affirming the learners and allow enough time for at least 3responses.

Part II: Paul's closing words and greetings

Have someone read 2 Timothy 4:9-22

In this section Paul explains why he wants Timothy to come to him. Paul has been abandoned by one colleague (Demas) and two others (Crescens and Titus) have gone off(presumably to evangelize) Galatia and Dalmatia. He only has Luke to comfort him. He wants to see Timothy and wants Timothy to bring John Mark because he is a great help to Paul. This is the same John Mark whom Paul refused to have accompany him and Barnabas on their 2nd missionary journey (see Acts 15:36-40). This is also the same Mark who is responsible for writing the Gospel of Mark, sometime in the mid-60s.

Q: What encouragement do you get from this picture of Paul calling for John Mark's help?

A: Some may appreciate seeing that Paul could reconcile himself to Mark whom he had rejected long ago. Others may appreciate seeing that even if Mark had failedPaul earlier, he didn't allow failure to define him and won a place back in Paul's heart. Allow 2 or 3 people to give their thoughts.

In his closing words, Paul remembers that the Lord Jesus stood by him in his distress (i.e. his defense before the Emperor?) and strengthened him. All this was done sothat the proclamation of the gospel to Gentiles could be accomplished. He was "delivered from the lion's mouth" (i.e. from death).

Q: But what does Paul mean when he says that the Lord Jesus will deliver him from"every evil deed" (v. 18)? Does Paul think he will escape death this time or is he referring to something else?

A: There are several possible answers to this question. One answer that may make most sense is that Paul is stating that no evil deed done to him (including dying as a criminal) will keep him from entering into God's kingdom and eternal life.

Q: How can we keep our hope strong as Paul did?

A: Study God's promises to us. Observe those among us who are strong when they endure hardships.

Application: (5 minutes)

This is a good time for people to reflect on what Paul has to say in this section as well as in all of 1st and 2nd Timothy. There may be some point that Paul has made to Timothy that has not been mentioned but which has encouraged someone in their faith. This would be an appropriate time for them to share what encouragement they have received by studying in this series Paul's personal and intimate letters to Timothy.

Assignment: (2 minutes)

This week read through 1 & 2 Timothy and come to class with any final questions you may have for our final review in lesson 13.

Lesson Wrap Up: (about 2 minutes)

We learned that for Timothy to be a faithful evangelist he will have to 1. preach the word. 2. be self-controlled. 3. Endure hardship.

We also learned that Paul viewed his life and his impending death as a worshipful sacrifice to God, much like the drink sacrifice required by the law.

Finally, we learned that Paul had confidence that despite his death, his life of service would be rewarded and he would enter into the eternal kingdom of God.

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