In his second letter to the young preacher, Timothy, Paul gives final instructions on what he wants his “son in the faith” to do. Paul knows his time is almost through on this earth, so he spends this letter reminding Timothy of the things he thought were most important. He reminds the evangelist to be bold and stand for the truth (chapter 1), to endure hardships and have the right attitude (chapter 2), and about false teachers (chapter 3). All of this is encapsulated in II Timothy 4:5 – But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Paul warns Timothy (and by extension all of us) to watch in all things. We are to be watching out for false teachers and false doctrines. Immediately before telling Timothy to be watchful, Paul states the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but…shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…and shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables (II Timothy 4:3-4). All Christians must be aware of the importance of this command of God. There will indeed be false teachers, and they will lead people away from Christ (I Timothy 4:1)! There are too many Christians who want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that problems don’t exist. The Holy Spirit, through Paul’s letter, warns us all to keep our eyes open so we can combat false teaching.
The apostle encourages Timothy to keep going forward, even though afflictions would be continuous. Christians are to expect persecutions. Satan does not want the message of Christ taught. As such, we will face opposition. But as followers of Christ, we must endure these afflictions and continue to press on. These afflictions can be from outside of the church, but as shown earlier, they can come from those within the church as well. False teachers and those unwilling to endure sound doctrine can also afflict the faithful. The Holy Spirit encourages us to continue to endure these afflictions.
In addition to watching and enduring, the faithful Christian will continue to teach others the gospel. Paul earlier specified exactly what Timothy was to do: preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (II Timothy 4:2). The most important job we’ve been given on this earth is to teach others the gospel. God loves every soul and we must as well. The vast majority of people will not read their Bible and lead themselves to obeying the gospel. We have to teach them, for how will they hear without someone teaching them (Romans 10:14)? The Holy Spirit instructs us to spread the gospel.
Paul tells Timothy to make full proof of thy ministry. He is instructing this faithful Christian to keep living right. His life is to be a proof that he not only “talks the talk” but “walks the walk.” He is to keep showing himself as an example to others. In the same way, we are encouraged to follow the example of faithful brethren. Paul said Be followers of me, even as I am of Christ (I Corinthians 11:1). He also exhorted Christians to follow the example of other faithful Christians (Philippians 3:17). He did his best to be an example to others. He, by inspiration, told Timothy to live as an example. Therefore, we are commanded by God to live as an example for others to follow.
Paul was nearing death, and he thought these were the most important things of which to remind a faithful Christian and preacher. Let us take his words to heart. If we are to truly be the best Christian we can be, we must watch out for false doctrine, endure affliction, spread the gospel, and be an example to others. When we do that, we will be truly doing what we were designed to do: fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).