Solemn Charge.* 1I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power:a 2proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.b 3For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,* will accumulate teachersc 4and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.d 5But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.
Reward for Fidelity. 6* e For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7* I have competed well; I have finished the race;f I have kept the faith. 8* From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day,g and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.
IV. Personal Requests and Final Greetings
Paul’s Loneliness. 9* Try to join me soon, 10for Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia,* and Titus to Dalmatia.h 11Luke is the only one with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry.i 12I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.j 13When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments.k
16At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them!m 17But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.n 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.o
Final Greeting. 19Greet Prisca and Aquila* and the family of Onesiphorus.p 20Erastus* remained in Corinth, while I left Trophimus sick at Miletus.q 21Try to get here before winter. Eubulus, Pudens, Linus,* Claudia, and all the brothers send greetings.
22The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with all of you.r
* [4:1–5] The gravity of the obligation incumbent on Timothy to preach the word can be gauged from the solemn adjuration: in the presence of God, and of Christ coming as universal judge, and by his appearance and his kingly power (2 Tm 4:1). Patience, courage, constancy, and endurance are required despite the opposition, hostility, indifference, and defection of many to whom the truth has been preached (2 Tm 4:2–5).
* [4:3] Insatiable curiosity: literally, “with itching ears.”
* [4:7] At the close of his life Paul could testify to the accomplishment of what Christ himself foretold concerning him at the time of his conversion, “I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16).
* [4:8] When the world is judged at the parousia, all who have eagerly looked for the Lord’s appearing and have sought to live according to his teachings will be rewarded. The crown is a reference to the laurel wreath placed on the heads of victorious athletes and conquerors in war; cf. 2 Tm 2:5; 1 Cor 9:25.
* [4:9–13] Demas either abandoned the work of the ministry for worldly affairs or, perhaps, gave up the faith itself (2 Tm 4:10). Luke (2 Tm 4:11) may have accompanied Paul on parts of his second and third missionary journeys (Acts 16:10–12; 20:5–7). Notice the presence of the first personal pronoun “we” in these Acts passages, suggesting to some that Luke (or at least some traveling companion of Paul’s) was the author of Acts. Mark, once rejected by Paul (Acts 13:13; 15:39), is now to render him a great service (2 Tm 4:11); cf. Col 4:10; Phlm 24. For Tychicus, see Eph 6:21; cf. also Acts 20:4; Col 4:7.
* [4:10] Galatia: some manuscripts read “Gaul” or “Gallia.”
* [4:14–18] Alexander: an opponent of Paul’s preaching (2 Tm 4:14–15), perhaps the one who is mentioned in 1 Tm 1:20. Despite Paul’s abandonment by his friends in the province of Asia (cf. 2 Tm 1:15–16), the divine assistance brought this first trial to a successful issue, even to the point of making the gospel message known to those who participated in or witnessed the trial (2 Tm 4:16–17).
* [4:19] Prisca and Aquila: they assisted Paul in his ministry in Corinth (Acts 18:2–3) and Ephesus (Acts 18:19, 26; 1 Cor 16:19). They risked death to save his life, and all the Gentile communities are indebted to them (Rom 16:3–5).
* [4:21] Linus: Western tradition sometimes identified this Linus with the supposed successor of Peter as bishop of Rome, and Claudia as the mother of Linus (Apostolic Constitutions, fourth century).