The closing of the letter
I. Counsels to Christian servants (verses 1, 2)
1. Give real respect to employers, whoever they may be.
2. Avoid over-familiarity if they happen to be Christians.
3. Realise that God’ s honour is at stake.
II. Plain facts about false teachers (verses 3-5)
1. They will not accept the words of Christ (v. 3).
2. They are ignorant and yet contentious (v. 4, 5a).
3. They have wrong ideas of success (v. 5b).
4. They are to be ostracised (not argued with) (v. 5c).
III. Strong warnings against avarice (verses 6-10)
1. It robs us of the true riches (godliness, etc.) (v. 6).
2. It is a futile exercise (v. 7, 8).
3. It leads to pain and sorrow (v. 9, 10).
IV. Final exhortations to ‘son’ Timothy (verses 11-21)
1. Flee, follow, and fight (v. 11, 12).
2. Stand true to the end (as Christ did!) (v. 13 , 14).
3. Keep focussed on the coming King Himself (v. 15, 16).
4. Warn the wealthy of this world and teach them the true riches (v. 17-19).
5. Be faithful, watchful, and wary (v. 20, 21a).
6. Enjoy the grace of God (v. 21b).
At all times and particularly in this present age of the apostasy (see Chapter 4:1 and 2 Thess. 2:3), God’s people do well to pay close attention to what Paul says here about false teachers (vs. 3- 5). For the present, we simply select the statement, “Supposing that gain is godliness” (v. 5), a prominent characteristic evidently of these end-time purveyors of falsehood. The context indicates that Paul is here referring mainly to those who seek pecuniary advantage for themselves along the avenue of so-called Christian work. Paul would have Timothy know that these people, by their very harbouring of such attitudes and ambitions, are only showing themselves to be false prophets, howsoever orthodox their doctrines might appear. And we, too, would ask how could such professors ever claim to be the representatives and messengers of the One “Who for our sakes became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9), the very opposite of what they themselves were doing? Paul was surely right in urging Timothy to withdraw himself from all such traffickers in the sacred things of God.
Gains, of course, could also include such things a numerical successes, increased popularity, or social advantage but not one of these is, in itself, to be regarded as a sign of godliness, or an evidence of divine favour. It is by such things that false prophets are themselves deceived and we do well to withdraw ourselves from them.
The climax of the letter seems to be reached in verses 15 and 16, where the apostle deliberately directs Timothy’s attention away from all else and on to the great living God Himself and to the ascended and soon-coming Christ. Such is the focus and the vision that Timothy will always need, and which is so important, also, to any and every servant of the Lord in any situation. We recall that when our Lord gave what is known as His ‘great commission’, He preceded His directive. “Go ye therefore,” with the statement, “All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” That is the governing assurance and the controlling vision which our blessed Lord would give to all His prospective messengers and ambassadors. They go at the bidding of the blessed and only Potentate and Paul, too, knows that if Timothy can keep his focus there, he can be assured of victory even in the midst of idolatrous Ephesus. Whatever the surrounding pressures might be and from whatever source they come, the young servant of the Lord can always be assured there is only one real Potentate Who rules over all nations and all situations. What a fitting close such a fatherly letter!