“2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4 NASB)
Sound Biblical doctrine is desperately needed today in the body of Christ. Christianity is in crisis and has been for many years. Can you identify false doctrine? Do you know what non-Christian Cults believe? All non-Christian Cults reject essential Christian doctrines that reflect the nature of God and the Gospel that saves. All of the leaders of the various non-Christian Cults have come from a Christian background or affiliation. Christianity is in crisis and that reflects the whole body of Christ, not any particular Christian denomination. The purpose of this information is to sharpen the body of Christ and to give encouragement to grow in sound Biblical doctrine according to the word of God.
This Epistle was written to Timothy who was an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). However, I believe that each Christian is to be a witness for Jesus Christ, but most are not prepared to share their faith. Many Christians are not confident with witnessing because they have not had discipleship or training in this area. We need sound Bible teaching from the pulpits for equipping Christians to grow in their faith. Sound Bible teaching is going through the Bible, teaching the Scriptures in context, and seeing how they apply to us. Also, having Bible studies on certain topics helps Christians to be able to better understand what the Word of God teaches in those areas. May those in leadership today reach out to the body of Christ and equip them to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.
Reading carefully 2 Timothy 4:2-4 we see the following:
We are to preach the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2)
The word preach is the Greek word “kerusso” (Strong’s #2784) which means: “to herald, to publish, to proclaim openly, to preach, public proclamation.” This instruction was in reference to sharing the faith with those who are without Christ. Some people think evangelism or sharing Jesus with people is only for the Pastor, but that is a misunderstanding. The Bible teaches that those who follow Jesus are: “To be lights in a dark world (Matthew 5:13-16), to be His witnesses anywhere (Acts 1:8), to have an answer for the faith (1 Peter 3:15), contend for the faith (Jude 3).” Preaching can be done in various ways.
- Sharing your testimony of accepting Jesus
- Being a living example and letting people see Jesus in you
- Through sermons by Pastors, teachers, etc
- Purposely seeking people to share with
- Through casual conversations with people
Paul instructed Timothy to be careful of those who were teaching false doctrines, which applies to us today. Christians have a testimony and a voice for the Lord, therefore, be noticed through your words and actions.
We are to reprove with great patience and instruction (2 Timothy 4:2)
The word reprove is the Greek word “elegcho” (Strong’s #1651) which means: “to correct, to admonish, to expose, to show ones fault, to call to account, to bring to light.” Paul was a studier of God’s Word and learned how to share with people of various beliefs. In order for Christians to be able to reprove those who are not of the faith they must learn what the Word of God says. They also must take time to study various beliefs. Paul says we are to reprove “with great patience and instruction.” In order to be effective in sharing the faith with people it takes patience and instruction. It is important to have patience when you are sharing the faith someone because you want them to be able to understand what you are saying. Giving Biblical instruction means being able to show someone what the Word of God says and how it applies to them.
We are to rebuke with great patience and instruction (2 Timothy 4:2)
The word rebuke is very similar to “reprove”, but it has a stronger application. Rebuke is the Greek word “epitimao” (Strong’s #2008) which means: “to reprove, to admonish severely, to censure sharply, to charge sharply.” Rebuking is not something fun to do, but it is needed within the Christian Church today to expose false doctrines and beliefs. There were many false teachers during the times of the Apostles and there are many today. “How do we rebuke someone?”
Consider the following:
- Make sure you know what you are talking about
- Make sure you know exactly what they believe
- Make sure you have a cause to rebuke someone
- A rebuke comes in response to someone who is purposely misleading people with false information
- A rebuke comes in response to someone who has been warned repeatedly with accurate Biblical instruction. Rebuking is to be done with patience (time) and instruction (sharing accurate information from the Bible).
We are to exhort with great patience and instruction (2 Timothy 4:2)
The word exhort is the Greek word “parakaleo” (Strong’s #3870) which means: “to admonish, to beseech, to comfort, to give encouragement, to entreat.” Encouragement is needed badly in the Christian Church. Many Christians and non-Christians need encouragement because life is rough and we cannot do it on our own. True Christianity is to be demonstrated in a way which glorifies God, and gives people hope, strength, and guidance. We are to be patient with people, bearing with them in their pains, and sharing the Word of God which will give them true spiritual food for strength and direction.
A time would come that people would not endure sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3)
During the time of the Apostles there were many false doctrines concerning the identity of Jesus and the Gospel. Paul’s Epistles had warnings about false doctrines, and those same warnings have application today for the Christian Church. The following Scriptures are some of Paul’s warnings:
“8. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:8-9 NASB)
“18…”You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 “And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 24 “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. 25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26 “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” (Acts 20:18-31 NASB)
During the times of the Apostles and the early Church there were false movements claiming to be Christian. Some of those false movements have a modern day copycat.
- Ebionism – Ebionites believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the one prophesied to bring God’s message of salvation for mankind. However, they also believed that Jesus was not the literal Son of God and that He did not have an eternal existence (any existence for that matter) before taking on the form of a man. They believed that Jesus was not the Creator of all who came and took on flesh, but that He was a creation of God. Today there is a movement similar in theology compared to Ebionism known as Christadelphians. Christadelphians are a modern day movement claiming to be Christian but rejecting the eternal nature of Jesus being God. Christadelphians believe Jesus is a creation of God the Father. They reject Jesus being the very Creator who took on flesh to save mankind from their sins. Christadelphians reject salvation by faith apart from works. Christadelphians place a high emphasis on doing good works in order to be saved. Therefore, both Ebionites and Christadelphians are not Christians because they have another Jesus and another Gospel.
- Gnosticism – Gnostics believed Jesus was the Messiah to come. They also believed that flesh and material was evil. Therefore, they taught that Jesus was not God in the flesh but only divine in His spirit. Gnostics rejected Jesus as being eternal and God in the flesh, therefore they had a false theological view concerning the nature of Jesus. Today there is a movement similar to Gnosticism known as Christian Science, which claims to be Christian. Christian Science teaches that there is no sin, and that there is no need for a Savior. They teach that the Trinity is not three distinct personages (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), but that the Trinity is God (spiritual force of the universe), Christ the spiritual idea of sonship (the master who revealed to mankind how to be divine), and the Holy Spirit is the teachings of Christian Science. Christian Science rejects that Jesus was Deity or Divine in the flesh but that He was in spirit. Both Gnosticism and Christian Science have a false theological concept of who God is and the nature of man, and why Jesus came to deliver mankind from their sins. Therefore, both are not Christian.
- Arianism – Arianism came in the forth century after a man named Arius of Alexander. Arius taught that Jesus was not eternal, but that He was created by the Father. Arius taught that Jesus was adopted by the Father and it was through Him that all creation came into existence. Arianism is not Christian on the basis of it rejecting the eternal nature of Jesus and not having a true understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. (three distinct persons who are by nature the one God, revealed as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Today there is movement called Jehovah’s Witnesses which is similar to Arianism. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the first creation of Jehovah God and that it was through Him that all ‘other’ things came into existence. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the archangel, the highest of all creation. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that salvation is not by faith alone in Jesus Christ, but rather it is through their religious organization (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) in which a person must become a member in order to be saved. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a works oriented system for being saved (various things such as obedience unto the Watchtower, going door to door). Both Arianism and Jehovah’s Witnesses are un-Biblical because they have another Jesus and another Gospel. Therefore, they are not Christian.
People will not endure sound doctrine because they will have their ears tickled (2 Timothy 4:3)
This truth that Paul stated is a basic concept. People have ears to hear what they want to hear, and many do not care what the other side of the coin reveals. Sound doctrine according to Paul meant putting one’s belief in the Divine revelation of God given to us. That means going by what the Scriptures teach, but even within examining what the Scriptures teach people cling to what they think is correct and are not willing to reason together.
Within the Christian Church there are various denominations that claim to be of God and to have sound biblical doctrine. However, there are many within the various denominations who are dogmatic on what they believe concerning theology, but are not open to being corrected. This type of mentality should not be among those who are of Christ! We need to be open to being corrected, exhorted, sharpened, so that we will grow in the faith and in the Word.
Outside the Christian Church there are people who are not willing to have a reasonable discussion. Many Atheists state to Christians, “Where is your proof that God exists?” However, they are not wanting real answers but only wishing to slander and mock Christians for their faith. Many non-Christian Cults state to Christians, “The belief that Jesus was God come in the flesh is of the devil.” However, when Christians share in response what the Scriptures teach concerning the eternal nature of Jesus and His manhood many people do not want to reason together.
People will accumulate for themselves teachers of their own desires (2 Timothy 4:3)
When people only want to have their ears tickled with what they wish to hear, than they will only follow people who believe as they do. Denominations and non-Christian Cults came to be because people followed a particular person’s theology which in time became a movement.
We have to be careful of what we believe even when it comes from someone we may trust as a good teacher. We see in Acts 17:10-11 that Paul was declaring Jesus Christ to those in Berea and those in Berea were receiving what Paul had to say. However, they did not take what Paul taught as absolute truth, but examined what Paul taught by the Scriptures. Paul said, “to examine all things and hold fast to that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NASB) We are instructed through the inspiration of the Word to examine what we hear and to be careful of what we are being taught.
People will turn away their ears from truth (2 Timothy 4:4)
People turn away from truth for various reasons. Their reasons could be personal, arrogance, pride, fear, unsure, and many other possibilities. Jehovah’s Witnesses for example are told over and over not to receive information that comes against what they believe. They are told that information is all lies and to stay away from it. The reason they are told to stay away from opposing information is to keep them from leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses Organization. That is a form of mind control which Jehovah’s Witnesses have when it comes to certain information. Many atheists turn from the truth of the Scriptures because they just do not care what the evidence is, even when a person is willing to share what they believe and why. Not all atheists are like this, but many are. Many people are opposed to what the Scriptures teach because of their pride. Pride is a hard thing for many people. Pride says I am my own boss, I can do whatever I wish, and I do not need God or some book of fables. There are many reasons why people turn from the truth and it the responsibility of the Christian to do their best to share the faith in love and in truth. Pray for people, love them, and be a good example so that they will see Jesus in your life which may help lead them to Christ.
People will turn to myths (2 Timothy 4:4)
Myths can be understood as: “fables, half truth’s, fiction, man’s ideology”. People throughout history have turned to myths which was contrary to the truth of the Scriptures. Within the Christian Church people have turned to man’s ideology which has resulted in various denominations. The problem with people turning to man’s ideology is that there is to much emphasis on what a person believes or teaches. Therefore many people are not willing to examine what the truth because they are set in their ways.
It is very important for Christians to know what they believe and why, but they must be open to being corrected and at times rebuked. If we think that we have all the answers and we are without error in our theology, than we truly have not understood the basics of growing together in the Christian faith.
To those who are not of the Christian faith may you examine the Scriptures and what is contained in them, and may you come to know the Jesus of the Bible. To those who are of the Christian faith may you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ