Apostasy Inside. These are the apostle’s inspired reasons for giving the charge to proclaim the Word. Alarmingly, the apostle is predicting it to happen within the Christian church itself.311 Paul is referring, not to unbelievers outside, but to church members inside. Thus, apostasy is imminent in the churches.
But As For You. Yet three times in his last letter, Paul wrote, su de, which is translated, “but you,” or “but as for you” (2 Tim. 3:14, NIV; 4:5, MNT, WNT). In closing the charge, Paul added, “But you [su de], be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5, NASB). Every time Paul writes about false teachers and apostasy, he adds, “But as for you.” Stott comments, “Timothy is called to be different. He is not to yield to the pressures of public opinion or conform to the spirit of the age, but rather to stand firm in the truth and righteousness of God.”312
God calls every preacher of the Word to be distinct. The preacher-teacher is to stand firm in biblical truth. Even against opposition from powerful church personalities with itching ears, he is to stay steadfast (1 Kings 22:1-28; Mark 6:17-18; Acts 5:1-11). He serves the church. Yet he serves the Head of the church first. He is not alone. The Spirit of God empowers him “in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:1). His duty is to protect the purity of His Gospel vigilantly (2 Tim. 1:14). He is to put forth wholehearted dedication, as he suffers for it unashamedly (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:1-4). He is to persevere in the Word faithfully (2 Tim. 3), and now, to proclaim it uncompromisingly (2 Tim. 4:1-8). He is to endure in ministry and be faithful to the truth.
Audience of One. When the servant of God preaches the Word, he speaks to an audience of One. The Lord Jesus Christ, not his listeners, will be the final Judge. At the end of the day, what matters is not so much about what his listeners think, but what God thinks about him and his ministry. Therefore, he must seek only God’s approval.
High Calling of Preaching. Martin Luther once said, “If I could today become king or emperor, I would not give up my office as preacher.”313 The high calling of God for every Pastor and church is clear—Get the Word Out! Before the presence of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, by His appearing and by His Kingdom, preach the Word! Do it urgently and immediately in these last days. Be ready to proclaim the Word whether there is an opportunity or not. Reprove, rebuke, and exhort “with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2, NASB).
311 Wietzke, “2 Timothy 4.” Cited __ Online: http://www.wls.wels.net/library/Essays/authors/w/WietzkeTimothy/WietzkeTimothy.htm.
312 Stott, 2 Timothy, Preface.
313 Piper, “Advise to Pastors.” Cited __ Online: http://www.desiringgod.org/library/topics/leadership/advice_preach.html.