Author: Ron Graham
Jesus the Righteous Judge 1
A verse by verse study in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. In this lesson we examine chapter 4 verses 1-8. These eight verses are about Jesus the Righteous Judge. The rest of the chapter closes the letter with various requests, comments, and greetings.
1 Jesus will judge the living and the dead.
Paul is charging Timothy to do the work of preaching. Paul does this in the form of a solemn declaration before God and Jesus Christ. Paul identifies Jesus as "he who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom" (2Timothy 4:1). This is the belief underlying this chapter.
¶“1I declare, in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; convict, rebuke, and exhort with all patience and instruction.” (2Timothy 4:1-2).
¶“3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will surround themselves with teachers to suit their own desires. 4So they will turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2Timothy 4:3-4).
(Verse 1) Appearing and kingdom. Paul believed in, and hoped for. the second coming (or "appearing") of Jesus. The Judgment takes place then, and those who are not condemned are gathered into the eternal kingdom of heaven. "But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever, yes, for ever and ever" (Daniel 7:18).
(Verse 1) Resurrection and Judgment. One of Paul’s basic beliefs was that there is to be a judgment of all mankind when Jesus returns. There will be a resurrection of all the dead, and they will be judged together with all the living. This is a key thought as Paul exhorts Timothy to preach the word.
(Verse 2) Preach the word. There are two things here, the work and the word.
The work. The work of preaching is urgent because Jesus might return at any time. But even if Jesus delays, death could come at any time. It makes little difference whether a person lives to see the Lord return, or is among the dead and resurrected. People need to hear the gospel, before it's too late, before they die or the Lord comes.
The word. The word of God is what must be preached, not a message made by man. There must be sound doctrine, the truth. Other teaching may attract crowds, but it won't make them ready for the resurrection and judgment day.
(Verse 2) Be ready at all times There are seasons when people hear, believe, and obey the gospel. There are other seasons when people turn away their ears from the truth and even persecute the preacher. Whether it is a season of harvest or a season of darkness, the preacher must be prepared to proclaim the gospel.
(Verse 2) Convict, rebuke, exhort. These are three ways to preach. Timothy can convince people that they are sinners in need of salvation and readiness to face the Judge. Or he can call out their sins and tell them off on behalf of the Judge. Or he can exhort to encourage and motivate.
(Verse 3) Itching ears. Paul expected that, when he was no longer in Ephesus, false teachers like vicious wolves would come in and cause a falling away. Acts 20:29). These teachers, although wolves, don't have to force their way in. They are welcomed by people who are itching to hear the lies.
(Verse 4) Turning aside to myths. This loss of truth was not unique to Ephesus. A great widespread apostasy was ahead. Paul reminds Timothy of this. Truth will not be tolerated and the gospel will be replaced by make-believe.
2 Jesus is a righteous judge
Paul also believed that Jesus is "the righteous judge" (2Timothy 4:8). This means his jugment is totally honest, totally fair, based entirely on the whole truth.
¶“5But you, be thoughtful in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2Timothy 4:5).
¶“6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure is near. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2Timothy 4:6-7).
¶“8From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day. And [he will award it] not only to me, but to all those loving His appearing.” (2Timothy 4:8).
(verse 5) Continuing the ministry The coming judgment will be a righteous judgment by the righteous Judge. People need to be prepared for it, so it is necessary to have evangelists like Timothy to spread the word. Paul has come to the end of his work in this world, so it must be continued by others. Timothy is one of those whom Paul trusts to carry on this ministry. He charges Timothy to do four things.
- Be thoughtful. By preaching the gospel, Timothy is preparing people for the Judgment to come. Timothy needs to be sober-minded, thinking seriously about his task and the sacrifices he must make.
- Endure hardship. Timothy’s task is not easy and it will get harder when Paul is dead, and evil men rise up more and more in opposition to Christ’s word.
- Do the work. There's a need to plan and a need to prepare. But there is also a need to actually "do the work".
- Fulfill the ministry. There is a need not only to start doing the work, but also to endure in it, and bring it to fulfilment. Paul goes on to describe how he has fulfilled his ministry.
(Verses 6-7) Paul’s departure (his death) is near. Paul is ready to be "poured out" as he puts it. From his conversion Paul gave his life to the work of the gospel. He says three things about that life: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith".
(Verse 8). Paul believes that he will be given a reward in the form of a crown of righteousness. It makes little difference whether this is an actual crown, or a metaphor for recognising Paul as sanctified, justified, and redeemed. It is a glorious and eternal gift, this crown, and one is laid up for each faithful Christian.