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Author: Ron Graham

Hard to Hear God

Preaching, Preparation, Patience
—2Timothy 4:2

Some preach only love, grace, hope, comfort, peace, and suchlike. They preach only what is positive to make people feel good. But we must also reprove and rebuke. We must do so in patience and truth, yet we must do so nevertheless (2Timothy 4:2).


2Timothy 4:2

2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”(2Timothy 4:2 NKJV).


The first words of our text say, "Preach the word!" (2Timothy 4:2).

All the World

The first Christians had to get the gospel into all the world and keep it there. They did this very well. "They went everywhere preaching the word" Their enemies accused them of having "turned the world upside down" (Acts 8:4,17:6 NKJV).

In their generation, the world’s population is thought to have been about 300 million compared to today’s 8 billion (26 times more). The world heard the word. As Paul says, "The gospel... was preached to every creature under heaven" (Colossians 1:23 NKJV).

All the Word

Paul believed not only that the gospel should be preached in all the world; he also believed that preachers should preach all the word. When Paul says, "Preach the word" he doesn't mean "preach half the word, the parts you find agreeable" does he? (2Timothy 4:2).

Further on in our text, Paul tells us what is involved in preaching."Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2Timothy 4:2).

Notice what preaching includes: it includes making convincing arguments, rebuke and exhortation, and "doctrine" (2Timothy 4:2).

Jesus instructed his preachers as to what they should teach: he said, "Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV).

Some of the commands and doctrines of Jesus, whether from his own lips or revealed through his apostles and prophets, are hard to hear. But all of them must be preached.


Our text also says, "Be ready, in season and out of season" (2Timothy 4:2). Other translations may say, "be prepared".

Some preachers make no preparation. They might say that they are prepared or ready in the sense of being willing; but they rely on the Holy Spirit to give them what to say as they are speaking.

Jesus promised that when his preachers were arrested and stood trial, they should "not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:11 NKJV).

On the Day of Pentecost, after Christ ascended into Heaven, the apostles were able to speak "as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4 NKJV).

Know the Scriptures

These passages refer to extraordinary situations. They in no way excuse preachers from studying God's word diligently so as to be prepared for the lessons they preach. Paul told Timothy that "all scripture is profitable for doctrine... that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV).

The scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit. By studying them privately and in study groups, we are learning from the Spirit’s word.

Of course, not every opportunity to preach is sheduled ahead of time so that we can prepare specifically for it. Sometimes we have to preach at a moment's notice, using what we have leared previously. That preparation allows us to preach "in season and out of season" (2Timothy 4:2 NKJV).

I once heard a preacher who was obviously unprepared for his talk. It was a mishmash of his opinions and experiences, some of which were unclear, and some even false. But every time he said something, he would finish it with a kind of amen, using the phrase, "Word of God!". He seemed to be saying that he was inspired by the Holy Spirit.


Finally, Paul tells the preacher to do his work "with all longsuffering" (2Timothy 4:2NKJV). Other translations may say, "all patience".

Timothy was a young evangelist, but well experienced having worked with Paul. So Timothy would understand the need for patience, whether it be with himself, with his fellow preachers, or with his listeners.

The circumstances of a preacher’s life and work are often not ideal. For Paul this was especially true. He lived "in perils" (2Corinthians 11:26-29 NKJV).

As for Timothy, Paul mentioned the young man’s "frequent infirmities." (1Timothy 5:23 NKJV).

The Love Behind Patience

Patience springs from love. "Love suffers long and is kind" (1Corinthians 13:4 NKJV). I'm sure Timothy loved Jesus; and loved the word of truth; and loved his ministry and his mentors; and the people to whom he preached.

That's why Timothy could show longsuffering in his preaching ministry. Patience is hard to come by without love, so Paul encouraged Timothy to "pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness." (1Timothy 6:11 NKJV).


Webservant Ron Graham

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