Preach the Word: The Antidote to False Doctrine Part 1–the Context of False Doctrine

The call to action of every pastor is summed up by Paul’s words to Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2).  Yet this is no small matter for both a pastor and his congregation. 


We can better understand the weight and wisdom of Paul’s admonition by examining five things about false doctrine addressed in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:  the context, crisis, charge, command, cure, and conclusion.


Context of False Doctrine

Along with 2 Timothy, 1 Timothy and Titus are considered pastoral epistles or letters written to offer spiritual reminders and guidance.  Today’s text is 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB) whose theme is a continuation of what was established in 1 Timothy–admonition to teach sound doctrine, proclaim the Gospel, and defend the Christian faith.  More specifically, these verses point out that teaching, preaching, and living the Word of God are the only true antidotes to false doctrine in the church.

What events led to Paul writing 2 Timothy and why do they matter?
Here’s a brief summary of events leading up to this book.   2 Timothy was written between 66 and 67 AD by the Apostle Paul to Timothy during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome. 


At the time, Nero was Emperor of Rome.  In July of 64 AD, he set the city on fire in order to make room for expanding one of his building projects.  As is the case with many despots, Nero needed a villain; he needed someone to blame for the rising tensions among Romans so he set his sights on Christians.  And the most obvious target was Paul. In fact, Nero ordered Paul to be beheaded approximately two months after Paul writes 2 Timothy.   1

So who was Timothy? 


Timothy was a mentee of Paul and pastor of the church in Ephesus located in modern day Turkey.  Acts 16:1-3 tells us other important things about Timothy: He had a good reputation by those who knew him and Paul specifically chose him to assist in Paul’s missionary journeys.  


Timothy was not immune to challenges as a pastor just because he was a disciple of Paul.  In fact, Paul addresses one challenge regarding church instruction and discipline: “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12).


Knowing the context of 2 Timothy is important because it captures Paul’s last will and testament to his protege and son in the Gospel, Timothy.  It also provides the foundation for the next blog which will focus on the crisis about false doctrine.

1   Richards, Lawrence O. The Teacher’s Commentary.  Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987. Digital.

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