[This is part of a running series on translating Second Timothy. See the introductory post for more information — RB] 

Phrasing/Translation: 2Ti 4.1-8

1 Διαμαρτύρομαι
1 I solemnly urge
    ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ
    in the presence of God and Christ Jesus,
        τοῦ μέλλοντος κρίνειν ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς,
        the one who will judge the living and the dead,
    καὶ τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ
    and by His appearing
    καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ·
    and His Kingdom.

2 κήρυξον τὸν λόγον,
2 Preach the word.

Be ready
    when convenient
    or untimely.



and encourage,
    ἐν πάσῃ μακροθυμίᾳ καὶ διδαχῇ.
    with complete patience and instruction.

3 Ἔσται γὰρ καιρὸς
3 For there will be a time
    ὅτε τῆς ὑγιαινούσης διδασκαλίας οὐκ ἀνέξονται
    when they will not put up with sound doctrine
        κατὰ τὰς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας
        according to their own desires
    ἑαυτοῖς ἐπισωρεύσουσιν διδασκάλους
    they will accumulate for themselves a great many teachers
        κνηθόμενοι τὴν ἀκοὴν
        to tickle their ears
    4 καὶ
    4 and
        ἀπὸ μὲν τῆς ἀληθείας τὴν ἀκοὴν ἀποστρέψουσιν,
        indeed they will turn their ears away from the truth,
        ἐπὶ δὲ τοὺς μύθους ἐκτραπήσονται.
        and turn aside toward myths.

5 Σὺ δὲ νῆφε
5 But you be self-controlled
    ἐν πᾶσιν,
    in all things.

Endure hardship.

ἔργον ποίησον εὐαγγελιστοῦ,
Do the work of an evangelist.

τὴν διακονίαν σου πληροφόρησον.
Fulfill your ministry.

6 Ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι,
6 For I am already poured out as a drink offering,

καὶ ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἀναλύσεώς μου ἐφέστηκεν.
and the season of my departure is imminent.

7 τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα ἠγώνισμαι,
7 I have fought the good fight.

τὸν δρόμον τετέλεκα,
I have finished the race.

τὴν πίστιν τετήρηκα·
I have kept the faith.

8 λοιπὸν ἀπόκειταί μοι ὁ τῆς δικαιοσύνης στέφανος,
8 Henceforth the crown of righteousness is reserved for me,
    ὃν ἀποδώσει μοι ὁ κύριος
    which the Lord will award to me
        ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ,
        on that day,
    ὁ δίκαιος κριτής,
    the righteous judge,
        οὐ μόνον δὲ ἐμοὶ
        not only to me,
        ἀλλὰ καὶ πᾶσι τοῖς ἠγαπηκόσι τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ.
        but also to all those who have loved his appearing.


On this passage generally, Craig Smith, $amz(1905048297 Timothy’s Task, Paul’s Prospect) (Sheffield Phoenix, 2006) has excellent information on the “charge form” and background to these sorts of statements in associated literature. I’m not sure I agree with all of his conclusions (Is this a charge, or is it a testament?) but his discussion on the background of this passage from the perspective of epistolary form criticism is excellent. For background on the supposed “charge form” and other epistolary forms, see my paper Syntax Searching and Epistolary Form Criticism. While in the below I may refer to this as a “charge”, that does not mean I necessarily agree with Smith’s conclusions. “Charge” is just a handy way to refer to the structure.

Verse 1

Διαμαρτύρομαι] syntactically very similar to 1Ti 5.21. Some (Craig Smith) see this as a charge, utilizing a “charge verb” (διαμαρτυρομαι, παραγγελλω, μαρτυρομαι, ενορκιζω, εχορκιζω, ορκιζω, κελευω, παρακαλεω, εντελλοωμαι) with an appeal to authority (“before God and Jesus Christ … and by His appearing, and by His Kingdom”) to underscore the seriousness of the charge. See notes on 2Ti 2.14 above. Others see this as a testamentary statement, Paul passing the baton to his lieutenant.

ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ] prepositional phrase. This brings the ones whom the charge is being made before into the discussion as witnesses. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy (vv. 2-8) is consciously made with God and Jesus Christ as authoritative witnesses.

τοῦ μέλλοντος κρίνειν ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς] A participial clause that contains an infinitival clause. This modifies “Christ Jesus”, further specifying the authority by whom Paul gives the charge as one who judges the living and the dead. Serious stuff.

καὶ τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ] This links back to “Christ Jesus” above; the charge is also given in the context of “his appearing” and “his kingdom”.

Verse 2

κήρυξον τὸν λόγον] Simple clause with imperative verb and object. This is a second person singular imperative; thus directed to Timothy, the recipient of the letter. This begins a section that is crammed with finite verbs, thus analyzed as a series of rather short clauses; each an exhortation from Paul to Timothy.

ἐπίστηθι] imperative verb, two adverbs (rounding out the clause) follow.

εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως] Two adverbs that each modify ἐπίστηθι. Traditionally translated something like “in season and out of season”, but wanting to go more with a “in good times and in bad” vibe, I’ve mostly followed BDAG’s glosses, to be ready “when convenient or untimely”.

ἔλεγξον, ἐπιτίμησον, παρακάλεσον] Three imperative verbs, each second person singular (thus addressed to Timothy).

ἐν πάσῃ μακροθυμίᾳ καὶ διδαχῇ] prepositional phrase, modifying παρακάλεσον. This provides guidance on how Timothy is to encourage those he is ministering to: with complete patience and instruction. He is to patiently instruct them in the truth, Paul’s gospel and doctrine.

Verse 3

Ἔσται γὰρ καιρὸς] Here we have explanation for the previous charge. This clause runs from vv. 3-4; a bit of a jolt from the very short series of clauses that comprise v. 2. The γαρ typically marks explanatory content, offering support for the previous material.

ὅτε τῆς ὑγιαινούσης διδασκαλίας οὐκ ἀνέξονται] relative clause; this is providing more information as to the “time” mentioned previously. Note that this is also the “counterpoint” to a point-counterpoint structure that hinges on the αλλα in v. 3. (cf. Runge). This marks contrast; this present portion of the structure (“when they will not put up with sound doctrine”) will be contrasted, and correction or replacement will be offered in the next portion (the “point”) of the structure.

ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὰς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας] The prepositional phrase is preposed, giving vital information as to motive of the false teachers and their adherents. Whatever it is that they’re doing, they’re doing it because they are following their own strong desires.

ἑαυτοῖς ἐπισωρεύσουσιν διδασκάλους] The verb ἐπισωρεύσουσιν (“they will accumulate”) is what the preposed prepositional phrase modifies.

κνηθόμενοι τὴν ἀκοὴν] participial clause, modifying ἐπισωρεύσουσιν, giving further reason for the accumulation of teachers: “to tickle their ears”.

Verse 4

καὶ] Here καὶ connects the previous unit (with the base of “they themselves will accumulate …”) with the two-part μεν/δε counterpoint/point that follows.

ἀπὸ μὲν τῆς ἀληθείας τὴν ἀκοὴν ἀποστρέψουσιν] prepositional phrase, use of μὲν indicates that this prepositional phrase acts in tandem with the following prepositional phrase (itself marked as participating in the structure by use of δὲ). The prepositional phrase is again fronted in this dependent clause (respecting word order, “from the truth the ears the will turn away”) here marking “truth” as the axis on which the progress of the structure turns (away from truth and toward myths).

ἐπὶ δὲ τοὺς μύθους ἐκτραπήσονται] prepositional phrase, the use of δὲ constrains the dependent clause to function with the previous μὲν-instantiated clause. Again, the prepositional phrase is fronted in the dependent clause, noting provision of important information, with verb following. Here the information completes the motion begun in the previous clause (the counterpoint). On a spectrum with “truth” at one extreme and “myths” at the other, these people with their itching ears, who disdain sound doctrine, will turn from seeking truth to seeking myths.

Verse 5

Σὺ δὲ νῆφε] note again the superfluous Σὺ (cf. 2Ti 3.10, 14 and previous comments), bringing Timothy back into focus. After focusing (once again) on the problems of the false teachers, Paul gets back to exhorting Timothy. In this analysis I’ve broken verse five into several small clauses, each with a second person singular imperative verb, thus addressed to Timothy. Here the verb is νῆφε, “be self controlled”.

ἐν πᾶσιν] prepositional phrase, providing circumstance to the verb νῆφε.

κακοπάθησον] imperative, “endure hardship”.

ἔργον ποίησον εὐαγγελιστοῦ] Here the object (“work”) is fronted in the clause, drawing attention. It is the most important information of the clause. Also note the use of εὐαγγελιστής (“evangelist”), which is used in Eph 4.11-15, a list of roles and responsibilities in the nascent Christian community (cf. also Acts 21.8; FragPapias 3.5; 13.1; 16.1).

τὴν διακονίαν σου πληροφόρησον] The imperative verb is out of place at the end of the clause and thus is in a place of prominence. There may be an appositional relationship between this clause and the clause that precedes; Timothy is to fulfill his ministry, which is to do the work of an evangelist.

Verse 6

Ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι] Here note the use of Ἐγὼ (instead of Σὺ) to again switch the topic, this time back to Paul. The conjunction γὰρ marks support or explanation; here it clues us in that Paul now is explaining the reasons for his charge to Timothy.

καὶ ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἀναλύσεώς μου ἐφέστηκεν] Here the topic shifts from Paul himself to “the time of my (Paul’s) departure”.

Verse 7

τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα ἠγώνισμαι] The next three clauses are formulaic, each with similar Object-Verb syntax. The fronted object serves to shift topic with each clause. Again, this whole clause complex (starting in v. 6) is Paul giving reason for his exhortation of Timothy in verse 5 (and the whole charge, going back to vv. 1-2). This particular clause hearkens back to 1 Ti 6.12, where Paul adjures Timothy to “fight the good fight”; which itself hearkens back to Paul’s initial charge to Timothy in 1Ti 1.18, to “wage the good warfare”. Here Paul is looking back upon his evangelistic career (though his career is not finished yet) and offering himself as a model to Timothy, as encouragement to Timothy. Paul isn’t so much saying, “take my place” as he is saying “be like me” while he looks forward to his coming reward. He knows the end is near, but he also knows he’s not yet at the end (as v. 8 clearly shows).

τὸν δρόμον τετέλεκα] Here the fronted object indicates a new topic, that of “the race”. Paul’s example of running the race is reason for his exhortation to Timothy.

τὴν πίστιν τετήρηκα] Again a new topic, here “the faith”. Paul has lived up to what he has been entrusted with; he implores Timothy to do the same with the deposit he has been given.

Verse 8

λοιπὸν ἀπόκειταί μοι ὁ τῆς δικαιοσύνης στέφανος] Here λοιπὸν indicates a temporal shift (cf. Runge LDGNT); Paul is looking ahead from the present into the future, to his reward, which is being held for him.

ὃν ἀποδώσει μοι ὁ κύριος] relative clause, giving further information about the “crown of righteousness”.

ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ] prepositional phrase. The use of ἐκείνῃ, the “far demonstrative” (Runge) notes something that is somewhat removed (thus “far”) from the present context. This is speaking of a day in the future. Paul has not received his reward already. He is not finished. He is looking forward to the day of the reward.

ὁ δίκαιος κριτής] appositionally related to “the Lord”; here further describing the Lord (the one who will give Paul his crown) as “the righteous judge”.

οὐ μόνον δὲ ἐμοὶ] The conjunction δὲ marks this as a development connected to the previous clause; it is thus related to the “awarding” on “that day”. This is the counterpoint of a counterpoint/point structure. The “not only … but also” (οὐ μόνον .. ἀλλὰ καὶ) is frequently used in this manner. The reward is not only for Paul.

ἀλλὰ καὶ πᾶσι τοῖς ἠγαπηκόσι τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ] The point of the counterpoint/point structure. The reward is also for “all who have loved his [the Lord, the righteous judge] appearing”. This is a correction with underlying contrast between the single person Paul and (the correction) everyone who “has loved his appearing” will receive the reward. Commentators (Marshall, Knight, etc.) traditionally associate ἐπιφάνειαν with Christ’s return. See also 2Ti 4.1, above.