King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Timothy 4

The apostle solemnly charges Timothy to be diligent, though many will not bear sound doctrine. (1-5) Enforces the charge from his own martyrdom, then at hand. (6-8) Desires him to come speedily. (9-13) He cautions, and complains of such as had deserted him; and expresses his faith as to his own preservation to the heavenly kingdom. (14-18) Friendly greetings and his usual blessing. (19-22)

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The apostle solemnly charges Timothy to be diligent, though many will not bear sound doctrine

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Enforces the charge from his own martyrdom, then at hand

6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Desires him to come speedily

9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:

10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.

13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

He cautions, and complains of such as had deserted him; and expresses his faith as to his own preservation to the heavenly kingdom

14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:

15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Friendly greetings and his usual blessing

19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.

21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.

22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. I charge thee (lit. testify to thee) before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead; i.e. all those that have been dead for so many ages since the beginning of the world; and the living, i.e. those who shall be found living at the end of the world, but who shall die, and be presently raised again. See 1 Cor. xv. 52. — By his coming.[1] The sense by the Greek seems to be, who shall judge them at or by his coming, rather than I charge thee by his coming, as others translate. Wi.

Ver. 2. In season,[2] out of season; i.e. whether the hearers are willing to hearken to thee or not. Or, as others understand it, whether it be convenient or inconvenient for thee to signify that the ministers of God must not desist from preaching, whatever troubles they are under. Wi.

Ver. 3. Having itching ears;[3] i.e. the hearers have such ears, running after novelties and such doctrine as favours their passions. Wi.

Ver. 5. Be thou vigilant, &c. It may either be expounded, watch in all things; or, take pains in all things. The latter seems the true construction. Wi. — An evangelist; a diligent preacher of the gospel. Ch. — Fulfil thy ministry.[4] So even Dr. Wells, in his amendments to the Prot. translation, which hath, make full proof of thy ministry. See Luke i. 1. See also S. Chrys. on this place. — Be sober. There is nothing for this in the Greek, nor in S. Chrysostom. The Latin interpreter seems to have added it, as being contained in the other Greek words in this verse. Wi.

Ver. 6. I am even now ready to be sacrificed.[5] Lit. to be immolated. See Philip. ii. 17. — The time of my dissolution (lit. resolution) is at hand. This makes many judge that this letter was written during his last imprisonment; but the sense perhaps may be, that being old and worn out with labours, he could not live long. Wi.

Ver. 7. I have fought a good fight, or strived a good strife.[6] The Latin and Greek may signify any kind of striving for a prize. — I have kept the faith, not only the Christian faith, but been faithful in my office. Wi.

Ver. 8. A crown of justice, which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me. These words confirm the Catholic doctrine, that good works performed with the assistance of God’s grace, deserve and are meritorious of a reward in heaven: it is what is signified, 1. by a crown of justice, 2. from a just judge, 3. which he will render or give as a reward. Yet we own with S. Aug. that we have no merit, but what is also a gift of God from his grace and mercy, and grounded on his promises. Wi. — “A crown of justice,” which the Protestants translate, of righteousness; but let us see how the learned S. Austin, 1400 years ago, expounds the apostle’s meaning: “How should he repay as a just judge, unless he had first given as a merciful Father?” De grat. et lib. arb. c. vi. See Heb. vi. 10. God is not unjust, that he should forget your works; this the Protestants change into, God is not unrighteous.

Ver. 9. Demas hath, &c. The Demas here mentioned, is the same that was at Rome with S. Paul in his first voyage, in 61 or 62, and of whom he makes mention in his epistle to the Colossians, (iv. 14.) also in that to Philemon, v. 24. He was perverted in this last voyage, in 65, and abandoned his master in the time of danger. It is not ascertained whether he entirely renounced his faith, or whether God gave his grace to rise from his fall; or whether the love of the world, with which S. Paul here reproaches him, was only a passing fault, and an effect of pure human infirmity. S. Epiphanius (hæres. 51.) presumes that he renounced the faith, and was engaged in the heresies of Cerintus, Ebion, and others, who held Jesus Christ to be no more than a mere man. Many moderns, Grotius, Men. Cornel. &c. believed that he returned with S. Paul: and Estius himself seems to think that he was the same Demas of which S. Ignatius speaks, writing to the Magnesians, calling him a worthy bishop of God. But this is founded on a false supposition, that this letter was written during his first confinement at Rome, or at least before S. Paul wrote his epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon. Calmet. — Loving this world; i.e. his safety, and to avoid persecutions. Wi.

Ver. 10. Crescens into Galatia, Titus, &c. These two did not abandon the faith, but only left S. Paul to preach the gospel, with his consent. Crescens went from Rome into Galatia, or into Gaul, as it is found written in the Greek. Theodoret, Eusebius, Epiphanius, &c. say that Galatia, in the Greek, is often put for Gaul, in profane authors. On this account it is said by some, that Crescens preached in Gaul. Adon makes him founder of the Church of Vienne, in Dauphinè; an opinion still prevalent in that city. The feast of S. Crescens is kept by the Latin Church, on the 27th of June. Calmet. — As to Titus, it cannot be doubted but he went into Dalmatia for the purpose of the ministry, and by the order of S. Paul. Thence it seems most probable that he went into Crete, where he governed the Church as bishop, and there died. Theod. S. Chrys. Theophyl. Est. &c.

Ver. 11. Luke. S. Luke was always much attached to S. Paul. It is thought he accompanied him to the time of his martyrdom. When S. Paul says Luke alone was with him, we must understand that no other disciple was at that time with him; not that the faithful of Rome, whose faith was so lively and charity so ardent, had abandoned him in this time of danger. S. Chrys. hom. x. p. 610. — Mark. This is John Mark, cousin of Barnabas, of whom mention was made, Acts xiii. 12. &c. also Coloss. iv. 10. He rather wavered in faith at the beginning, but was afterwards much attached to the apostle. Calmet.

Ver. 12. Tychicus. Theodoret and some others have inferred from this verse, that Timothy was not at Ephesus at this time; otherwise S. Paul would have here said, I have sent Tychicus to thee. Timothy, in quality of bishop of Ephesus, had the inspection of the whole province of Asia; hence S. Paul might have presumed, that Tychicus would not be able to find him in that city. But these reasons do not appear sufficiently convincing. Tychicus might have been the bearer of this epistle; then S. Paul might say, I have sent him to carry it. Or S. Paul might have sent him before, and here tells Timothy of it; because, on account of the distance of Rome from Ephesus, he might not have yet heard of his arrival. Mention has been made of Tychicus before, Acts. xx. 4. Ephes. vi. 71. Coloss. iv. 70. Calmet.

Ver. 13. The cloak[7] which I left at Troas. It is expounded a cloak by S. Chrys. S. Jerom, &c. Others think he may mean some coffer, or trunk, in which were his books and some things that he valued. Wi.

Ver. 14. The Lord will render[8] to him. We read shall render, not only in the Latin and Syriac, but also in divers Greek MSS. which Dr. Wells again prefers before the ordinary Greek copies, in which we read, The Lord render or reward him, as in the Prot. translation. If that was the true reading, we must take the words by way of a prophecy, and not as an imprecation or curse. Wi.

Ver. 16. At my first defence, or trial, when I appeared before Nero and my judges, no man stood with me; all, or almost all, abandoned me in that danger: may it not be laid to their charge. Wi.

Ver. 17. The Lord stood, &c. All agree that Nero is here meant by the lion. S. Chrys. thinks that S. Paul was set at liberty after this first justification of his conduct, but that having afterwards converted the cupbearer of Nero, he was by him beheaded. S. Chrys. hom. x. p. 611. — But the Lord assisted and fortified me on this occasion by a vision, in which he assured me that he would prolong my life for the more perfect preaching of the gospel. V. — The times predicted by the apostle in this epistle, (v. 3. and 4.) are now arrived; and the warnings he gives to Timothy and to all preachers of the word, should be sedulously attended to: preach the word: be instant in season and out of season; reprove, entreat, rebuke with all patience and doctrine. There will arrive a time when men will not bear sound doctrine; eager in the extreme to hear what flatters, they will have recourse to a variety of teachers not lawfully sent or ordained, calculated to tickle their ears: Assentatores populi, multitudinis levitatem voluptate quasi titillantes. Cic. In the same sense Plutarch says: ta ota apoknaiousin. It is yours, adds S. Paul, os kalos stratiotes Christou Iesou, as a valiant soldier of Jesus Christ, to oppose yourself as a wall to all these evils, to attend to every branch of your ministerial duty, not to yield to either opponents or dangers, and to see that the gospel is both preached and practised in all its purity. Thus may the Church find in you, and in her other ministers, what she is soon to lose in me, knowing as I do that my course is nearly run. — That by me the preaching may be accomplished, (or fulfilled) and that all the Gentiles may hear it. This is an argument that he wrote this letter in his first imprisonment. — And I was delivered from the mouth of the lion; that is, according to the common exposition, from Nero. Wi.

Ver. 22. The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. These words are a fervent prayer, with which S. Paul divers times concludes his epistles; such is the prayer of the priest, when he turns about at mass, with Dominus vobiscum, the people answering, et cum Spiritu tuo. Wi.


[1] V. 1. Per adventum, kata ten epiphaneian.

[2] V. 2. Eukairos akairos, Tempestivè, intempestivè.

[3] V. 3. Prurientes auribus, knethomenoi; if it agreed with teachers, it should be knethomenous.

[4] V. 5. Ministerium tuum imple, plerophoreson. S. Chrys. (log. th. p. 371.) toutesti, pleroson; and so again, (v. 17) prædicatio impleatur, plerophorethe, toutesti, says C. Chrys. p. 376, plerothe. S. Chrys. doubtless understood Greek as well as Erasmus or Mr. Legh, who therefore need not have accused the Latin interpreter as if he knew not Greek, so as to distinguish betwixt plerophorein and pleroun.

[5] V. 6. Jam delibor, ede spendomai. See S. Chrys. (om. th. p. 372) that sponde, libamen, is more than thusia, hostia.

[6] V. 7. Certamen certavi, ton agona egonismai. It is not expressed by machomai and mache.

[7] V. 13. Penulam, phelonen, some MSS. phailonen, and phailonen. S. Chrys. (om. 1. p. 375.) entautha ton imation legei; though he takes notice, that some understood glossokomon, entha ta biblia.

[8] V. 14. Reddet, apodosei, in some MSS. though in more, apodoe. The commentary of S. Chrys. agrees with the Latin.