Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:16-4:4, read on the 28th Tuesday after Pentecost.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-4:4 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 

 

“All Scripture” (vs 3:16) – at the time of writing, “Scripture” was the Old Testament. The full canon of the NT was not ratified by the church until the fourth century. Certainly, however, the letters of the Apostle’s were held in special reverence and were treated like Scripture.

 

That the man of God may be perfect” (vs 3:17) – This is why I say so often that scripture is ABOUT YOU. The purpose of reading it is perfection – your perfection. To read it for any other purpose is wasteful.

 

“throughly furnished unto all good works” (vs 3:17) – We all need instructions in how to do things. Scripture contains commands – many “dos” and “do nots” but it would not be effective for salvation if this was all it contained. The attentive reading in Scripture, by the grace of God, changes a man, and makes him better. We may not understand the mechanism – in one case we may apprehend a dogma more clearly, in another, we may feel a stinging rebuke about something we have been neglecting, in another, we may feel consoled and feel the zeal to do good welling up within us because of something we have read. Whatever the mechanism, it is absolutely clear that reading Holy Scripture with attention is a primary way in which we change and become perfected.

 

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12 KJV)

 

We must read scripture with the intent of being empowered to change. This is the meaning of this verse.

 

“who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom…” (2 Timothy 4:1) This refers to the Final Judgment, when those still living and all who have died will be judged. The Apostle expounds on the this doctrine more fully here:

 

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  (14)  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  (15)  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  (16)  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  (17)  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  (18)  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1Th 4:13-18 KJV)

 

 

Preach the word; be instant[1] in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.(2 Timothy 4:2)

 

 

The Apostle is telling his son Timothy to be ready to preach no matter what circumstances he is in.

 

“What means "in season, out of season"? That is, have not any limited season: let it always be your season, not only in peace and security, and when sitting in the Church. Whether thou be in danger, in prison, in chains, or going to your death, at that very time reprove.” (St John Chrysostom, Homily 9 on Second Timothy)

 

A pastor must remember St John’s instruction regarding exhortation, which he likens to consolation:

 

“And if you convict and rebuke, but vehemently, and do not apply exhortation, all your labor will be lost. For conviction is intolerable in itself if consolation be not mingled with it. As if incision, though salutary in itself, have not plenty of lenitives[2] to assuage the pain, the patient cannot endure cutting and hacking, so it is in this matter.” (Ibid)

 

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 

This time is well upon us. In secular society, bad is called good and good bad. People call themselves Christians and do all manner of immoral things, and even garner praise for their actions and make laws justifying them! Even in the Orthodox church, we have some weak willed bishops who preach a watered down ecumenism, or prattle about the environment or other topics with political cachet, and are friends of “important” people who are enemies of the truth. Many people have bizarre and unchristian ideas and morals, and will not tolerate a priest correcting them.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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[1] “instant” – another rendering is “ready”

[2] “lentives” – drugs or substances used for soothing or alleviating pain or distress





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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas