The Work and Craft of Preaching

Essay 3

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he exhorted him to hold fast to the Lord’s pattern, a pattern of sound words. The word of God is our healthy medicine against spiritual sickness and spiritual death. Paul said to “hold fast” to that word; clearly, the idea is to anchor’s one soul or attach one’s soul to that which God spoke (cf. Hebrews 2:1-3). Paul also told Timothy to be strong in the Lord Jesus’ grace (2:1); an interesting concept to be sure. Perhaps it is associated with Titus 2:11-14. A.T. Robertson said it plainly that God’s grace is “where the power is located.” If the power is located in God’s grace, and the power of God is in the gospel (Romans 1:16), then it is easy to understand the importance of holding fast to the Lord’s pattern of sound words, isn’t it?

In order to hold fast to the Lord’s word, the preacher, in this case Timothy, had to be sure he presented himself to the Lord for approval; presenting himself to man for approval was not what he was to do (cf. Galatians 1:10). He presented himself to the Lord favorably by handling the word of God correctly, accurately. This takes effort and time on the part of the preacher to do such things. He did this, however, not only for himself, but for the benefit of others (2:2). If a preacher loses sight of what is important (Galatians 6:14; 2 Timothy 2:20-26) his effectiveness in the Lord’s cause is minimized, if beneficial at all.

A time is coming, Paul told Timothy, when men will not be interested in anything of the Lord, but will have a greater interest in themselves. Hasn’t this been the template of man since the days of Noah (Genesis 6:5)? Surely it has; does Paul have in view, then, some members of the church (cf. Acts 20:28-30)? Whether he does or not the point will be the same: be on guard. Though Timothy is to be on guard, the protective wall about him is not physical, but spiritual. Consequently, it may be the case that he will need to suffer physical persecution for his preaching. In fact, Paul said he and all others would (3:12).

Timothy was to proclaim God’s news of the coming judgment and His good news of Jesus overcoming Satan’s hold on man (1:10). Paul told Timothy, in his first letter, that he must fight to good fight of faith. In this second letter, Paul was able to say that he did fight the good fight of faith (6:7); he was prepared now to meet his Lord. What a joyous occasion that must have been.