v1-5 - There's no shortage of advice for what pastors ought to be doing, and certainly much of this advice is good. But all of Paul's advice to pastors can be summed up in two phrases:
1. Preach the Word
This is job #1, and nothing should get in the way of it.
Notice how Paul writes preach the word, not just the gospel or the good news or even just preach Christ. Certainly all of these things are necessary subsets of the Word, but none of these concepts really make sense unless they are presented in the context of the entire Bible.
Although formal preaching on the Lord's Day is certainly the primary way this is done, preachers must be prepared at any moment, in season and out, to present the Word.
The Word is a true multi-tool. It corrects, rebukes and encourages.
We must understand that most people don't want to hear the Word preached.
It's not that people don't want to hear about God or Jesus or love or things like that, but they want to reshape God's revealed truth to fit their own preconceived categories and definitions.
There will always be righteous sounding empty suits eager to fill this market with vanity and nicely decorated lies.
2. Be ready for anything
The phrase that opens v5 is one of the most awesome in the New Testament, and the fact that every translation treats it differently shows how complex it is:
NIV: "Keep your head in all situations." Don't be surprised by anything.
ESV: "Be sober-minded." Don't be intoxicated by the lies of the world.
NET: "Be self controlled in all things."
I like the way the 1984 NIV translates the same word which is used in 1 Peter 1:13 - "Prepare your mind for action."
v6-8 - Remember that this is likely the last letter Paul writes.
He's old, physically beat up and broken, and is freezing in a forgotten dungeon, "poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near."
All of us should live in such a way that the poem in v7-8 can be read describing us at our funerals.
v9-22 - From a worldly standpoint, these final words of Paul are quite depressing: He's been abandoned and double crossed by most of his associates, he doesn't even have a coat, and nobody showed up to support, much less defend, him at his trial. Yet none of that matters, because through it all the Lord enabled Paul to proclaim the Word, and he knew the Lord would "rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
A song of ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: As he writes this letter, Paul says that only one of his friends and co-workers is with him. Who is it? (See verse 11.)
What one-word adjectives would you use to best describe Paul as you see him in this chapter?
Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father and His Son, who will judge the living and the dead (v1)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will "keep your head (v5)" as you "long for his appearing (v8)"
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: