“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. “ (Reference: 2 Timothy 4:1-2 )
The first time I read this verse through, beloved, I did not pick up on where the “judge” part was. It took me by surprise that it was in the description of God and Christ Jesus because of the way I read Pauline writing. Paul is all about living wisely and well in the light of the revelation given by God and Jesus Christ. (Thank you Daniel Schipani & Jake Elias for your insights.) So if the description of God and Christ Jesus is the reason for highlighting this verse, it is an injustice to Paul. I may take Paul to task at times (one polite guffaw will do!) but I try to be fair when reading and using what he wrote. The focus of this verse, I think, is the “charge” or instruction he is giving Timothy in this second letter. You see, Paul would wax poetic about who God is and what God does, but the real meat of his letters is what we should do.
Menno Simons referenced as part of his statement of faith. He said, “I believe and confess that [Christ] was thus, without any doubt, that same flesh which had its origin in the Holy Spirit, born of the seed of the tribe of David and Abraham. Matt. 1:20. He was said to be born of a woman, under the law (Gal. 4:4), circumcised the eighth day, obedient unto His parents, increasing in all wisdom, in age and in grace before God and man. Luke 2:40. This same man, Christ Jesus, preached, was crucified, died, and was buried. He arose and ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Almighty Father, according to the testimony of all Scripture. From thence He will come to judge the sheep and the goats, the good and the evil, the living and the dead. 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1.” While we have read in the past days about judgments, and who and how it is to be done, for the most part any lasting and consequential judgment will be done by God and Christ.
But what about the rest of the verse? Can we or should we just ignore that? Is it not an important thing to take note of? And if not, why would Paul include it? The answer is, as I stated above, the description of God and Jesus Christ is just Paul’s opening to what he really wants Timothy (and the reader) to know and do, especially in light of the fact that God and Christ Jesus will be evaluating the living and the dead. First, preach. Spread God’s word, tell of Christ Jesus’ life. Tell people because it is important! Second, be ready. For any and everything. Both God’s continued blessing and instruction, and Christ’s return. Be ready to live your life for God, but be prepared for the judgment that will come at the end of all things. Third, teach. Teach what you have learned and what God has told you. Help people to know what it is they should do and support them in doing that. Recognize when someone has gotten lost or gone astray, and lead them back to God and right living. But more over, do this carefully, gently, and prayerfully asking God and the Spirit’s guidance and wisdom.
Beloved, may the God who was God to Paul be with you this day and the days to follow preparing you for the final judgment, and inspiring you to minister to others. Selah!