The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “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; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
The last verse is particularly striking. After reading it, everyone will say: this is our time! We are looking for something unusual – from the East or the West. We are looking for an “elder” to say everything about us and for us, and do everything for us. And if we do not like him, we go to another one, who would flatter our ears, and would talk to please our hearts.
The love of “fables”, i.e. fascinating fiction, is also characteristic of our time. At the end of a “fable”, of course, there is always the “morale”. But until you get to the punishment of the vice, how much you will enjoy its highly artistic description! For those brought up on fables, the air of truth is unbearable. As in the joking picture: tourists came to the forest, and a man greedily grabs the exhaust pipe of the car to breathe, breathe in his usual poisoned air.
The fresh air of truth is the Holy Scripture. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” It is “profitable for doctrine”, and reveals what is truth. It is useful “for reproof” because it shows that everything said about the truth applies directly to you and reveals that you are far from the truth. It is also helpful “for correction,” as it helps bring yourself into conformity with the truth. And “for instruction in righteousness” to help maintain the new, God-pleasing life.
But why does the apostle warn against the dangers of the future, as if his time is perfect, and all men are converted to the truth, despise fables, and do not seek teachers by their own whims? We think that if we were in his time, we would be struck by the hopeless gloom of paganism and the insurmountable obstinacy of the Jewish world. And if the apostle found himself in our time, he would be amazed at how favorable it is for Christian preaching. For a true preacher, there is always the “good time” and the “day of salvation”. For him, “now” is the only, most blessed time.
This letter was sent from the dungeon. The apostle knew he wouldn’t be released.
So the time for him seemed to have thickened. Just like the Lord Himself, entering Jerusalem, feels that the time has shrunk for him too, the time of passion has begun. And that is why he not only exhorts, but also denounces and even takes the scourge in his hands. In the same way, Paul unwittingly tries to convey this feeling to Timothy, to encourage him to do all that is possible, and even more. He even invokes God: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
We, too, should be able to sense Paul’s feeling that time is running out, and that everything possible and impossible must be completed. We are not yet in prison, however, and the days of passion seem to have not yet come. We must be quick, for tomorrow will certainly be a very different and unfavorable time.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds