The Solemnity of the Charge
1 Therefore I solemnly charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is about to judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom . . . .
Before God’s Holy Presence. This charge is “before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 1). The word, “before,” (Gk. enopion) literally means, “in sight of,”124 “in front of,”125 or “in the face of.”126 Thus, the charge is before the gaze of God, in front of God, and in the face of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. It indicates the sense of solemnity that go with their holy presence (1 Tim. 5:21).
Before Christ, the Final Judge. The charge is before the Lord Jesus Christ, “to whom Timothy was accountable for his ministry.” [Emphasis added] It is in front of Christ, from whom Timothy had received his special gifts for ministry. It is in the sight of Christ, whose Gospel he preached. It is in view of Christ, before whom he must appear someday, to give an account of his ministry.127
The charge is before Christ, “who is about to judge.” The grammatical structure of “to judge” is present infinitive active. It relates to continuing action of the subject, without regard “to when the action takes place.”128 Thus, the NASB and ESV translate it, “who is to judge.” It speaks of action without regard to time, unless indicated by the context.
Further, the verb, “is about to” (Gk. mellontos), can also mean, “to think of doing, intend to do” or “to be destined to do.”129 The charge, then, is before the Lord Jesus Christ, who is to judge, who intends to judge, and who is destined to judge everyone constantly.
The Lord Jesus Christ “is about to judge the living and the dead” (v. 1). In a court of law, a witness gives his sworn testimony before a human judge. However, Paul declares under oath before the solemn presence of Christ, “the Judge of all the heavens and the earth, of all the living and the dead.”130 In the human court of law, the judge has yet to listen to the testimonies. Yet, in the divine court, Christ the divine Judge already knows the whole truth!131
By Christ’s Appearing and By His Kingdom. The charge is not only before God and Christ, but also “by [Gk. kata] His appearing and His kingdom” (v. 1, NASB, ASV, DBY, ESV, MNT, RSV; TCNT; WNT). Other translations use the word, “at,” hence, “at his appearing and his kingdom” (v. 1, KJV, NKJV, RKJV, WEB; YLT). The choice of preposition is critical to our understanding. The latter versions would seem to infer that this judgment day is yet to come. It will occur “at” or “in view of his appearing and his kingdom” (v. 1, NIV; 1 Tim. 6:14; Titus 2:13). MacArthur notes that the grammatical construction indicates imminent judgment—“that Christ is about to judge.”132 This sense of imminence is then associated with the imminent coming of Christ.133
However, the present infinitive form of “to judge,” does not refer to a time of action. Further, kata “has the meaning of upon or by something (Matt. 26:63; Heb. 6:13, 16)” after verbs of swearing.134 As A. T. Robertson points out, kai ten epiphaneian (“by his appearing”) are “accusative of conjuration [calling up, invoking, summoning], after diamarturomai as is basileian (by his kingdom).”135 Hence, Paul is saying, “I charge you, solemnly calling upon, invoking, and swearing by the Lord Jesus Christ, by His appearing, and by His kingdom.”
Paul uses a similar phrase in the beginning of his letter. He writes about the revelation of God’s purpose and grace “by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:10, NASB). [Emphasis added] The word for “appearing” in 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1, 10 is epiphaneia, which refers to “a manifestation, i.e. (specially) the advent of Christ (past or future); appearing.”136 In 2 Tim. 1:10, the context of Paul’s use of His “appearing” refers to His earthly appearing or incarnation. 2 Tim. 4:8 also speaks of “all who love his appearing.” Robertson maintains that even this reference to epiphaneia can still refer to Christ’s incarnation.137
Thus, Paul appears to give the charge, not merely in view of the imminent coming of Christ. He gives it in light of the revelation of God’s purpose and grace by Christ’s incarnation and by His kingdom. The charge then is not only before God and before the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul gives it “by His Appearing and by His kingdom,” i.e., by the revelation of God’s purpose and grace through the incarnation of His Son and the reality of His rule (v. 1, TCNT; cf. 1 Thess. 5:27; 2 Tim. 1:10). The NASB captures the sense: “I solemnly 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.” [Emphasis added]
By the Speaker’s Actions. The directive has serious implications for Timothy. Christ will judge not only Timothy’s listeners but also Timothy himself.138 No less than God Himself and the Lord Jesus Christ—by His incarnation and rule—will be watching, observing, and judging his actions.139 Christ watches, reviews, and evaluates His preachers. That is how serious the preaching ministry is! Timothy, then, must preach the Word.
By the Listeners’ Response. This charge is also in view of a coming time of apostasy. Soon, people will no longer listen to him and his doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 13:9). The Lord uses this expression every time He stresses something of the greatest importance.140 Whenever He employs these words, He wants His hearers to give their deepest attention.141 The verb form of the word “hear” is present imperative active.142 The listeners must listen. The present tense speaks of continuing action in the present time. Hence, the hearers of His Word must hear it habitually. The mood is imperative. This means that Jesus commands His hearers to continuously listen and ponder His Word. He directs them to give serious attention to His Word constantly.
Every time somebody proclaims the Word, God expects our serious attention. He commands us to consider His Word constantly. Every moment we hear His Word, we are no less responsible to either receive it or reject it.
The Lord Jesus will judge everyone someday—believers, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and unbelievers, at the Great White Throne Judgment—according to their individual responses to His Word (1 Cor. 3:12-15; 4:1-5; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11).
Bearing Responsibility. Note that the word “your” in 1 Tim. 6:21 and 2 Tim. 4:22 is plural. This means that Paul directed these two letters not only to Timothy, but also to the whole Ephesian church.143 The charge, then, is before God and Christ, to whom both Timothy and the Ephesian church are equally accountable.
The charge applied to the whole church. It applies to us today. Every church member is responsible to hold his/her Pastor, speaker, or teacher answerable to God first, and then to the church. Sadly, too many Pastors in many churches today have failed to live up to this directive. Nevertheless, it is not solely the fault of lazy, incompetent, or untrained preachers. Apathetic, “couldn’t-care-less” believers are also accountable.144 In this matter of preaching the Word, we are all as responsible to God today as the early church back then.
114 Strong, Strong’s Greek Dictionary in Power Bible CD. See 1 Thess. 4:6 and 1 Tim. 5:21 for the same Greek word.
115 Gadiel T. Isidro, Isidro Annotated New Testament (Cebu: n.p., 2005), 388.
116 Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, 96.
117 TDNT, s. v. “martyromai, dia-, promartyromai” by H. Strathmann.
118 Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ New Testament Commentary in Power BibleCD.
119 Friberg and Friberg, Analytical in Bible Windows CD.
120 Gadiel T. Isidro, “Greek I,” (Class Notes, El Theological Seminary, Cebu City, n. d.), 12.
121 MacArthur, MacArthur, 1880.
122 William Burkitt, William Burkitt’s Notes on the New Testament in Power Bible CD.
123 Barnes, Barnes’ Commentary in Power Bible CD.
124 Friberg and Friberg, Analytical, Bible Windows CD.
125 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains in Bible Windows CD.
126 Strong, Strong’s Greek Dictionary in Power Bible CD.
127 John Gill, The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible. Cited __ Online: http://www.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=2ti&chapter=004&verse=001.
128 Zodhiates, ed., The Complete, 869.
129 Henry G. Liddell and Robert A. Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Bible Windows CD.
130 Isidro, Annotated, 389.
131 John MacArthur, “Marks of the Faithful Preacher-Part 1.” Cited __ Online: http://www.biblebb.com/file/MAC/sg55-20.htm>
132 MacArthur, MacArthur, 1880.
133 David Guzik, “Commentary on 2 Timothy 4,” David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible. Cited __Online: http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?book=2ti&chapter=004.
134 Zodhiates, ed., The Complete, 925.
135 A. T. Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures [Public Domain] in Power Bible CD.
136 Strong, Strong’s Greek Dictionary in Power Bible CD.
137 Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Power Bible CD.
138 People’s New Testament Commentary [Public Domain] in Power Bible CD.
139 Bruce V. Wietzke, “Exegesis: 2 Timothy 4.” Cited __ Online: http://www.wls.wels.net/library/Essays/authors/w/WietzkeTimothy/WietzkeTimothy. htm.
140 Barnes, Barnes’ Commentary [Public Domain] in Power Bible CD.
141 John Wesley, John Wesley’s Notes on the Old and New Testaments in Power Bible CD.
142 Zodhiates, ed., The Complete, 45.
143 Stott, The Message, 127.
144 MacArthur, “Marks of the Faithful Preacher.” Cited __ Online: http://www.biblebb. com/file/MAC/sg55-20.htm.