In Season - Out of Season

By Dr. Ken Matto

2 Timothy 4:2 (KJV) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

The Bible teaches us that every believer, from the most timid to the most outgoing, are to be faithful in all situations. 2 Timothy 4:2 negates the idea that Christians are not to “offend” unbelievers. It is the sting of the Gospel that causes the Christian to be the salt of the earth. Matthew 5:13 (KJV) Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

2 Timothy 4:2 is a very important verse in that it is our marching orders in this world. Let us look at some of the words and their meanings.

2 Timothy 4:2 (KJV) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Preach - Proclaiming the word of God by any means available, which could be by the spoken or written word. We are to proclaim the full counsel of God and not just pick and choose those parts which seem very palatable to the unbeliever and even the believer. The word “proclaim” is in the Imperative Mood making it a command. There is much laziness on the part of many believers because they all claim they are waiting for the rapture. These rapture watchers have ceased to become the salt of the earth. In ancient times, salt was a very important item. Soldiers were actually paid in salt instead of money. Salt was used to preserve food. Fishermen would salt their catch to prevent them from spoiling. Metaphorically speaking, a Christian who would be the salt of the earth, would challenge the sinful ways of the world and attempt to bring about godly living, in themselves first and then in society. This is not just an afterthought but even in ancient times, God blessed those nations who were godly. The blessing of God is off those nations who have turned their backs on God.

Be instant - Be urgent, Stand by, near, or be present - Here we have another word in the Imperative Mood making it a command. We are to be vigilant in the face of ungodly opposition. This is what caused the martyrs of the first century and those in the middle ages to oppose the evil teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The true Christians were ready to challenge the false teachings and even give their lives to bring the truth of God’s word to the masses. We are not to fade in the background or wait for a convenient time but wherever there is a false teaching being taught, it is to be challenged as soon as the believer hears it, even in the church, and if they get kicked out of the church, they are not to compromise so they can get back in but are to remain faithful to the word of God. It also does not matter who is bringing the false teaching, they are just pawns in the hand of Satan to divert the true believer and we must help deliver them out of that snare, to the best of our ability.

In season - Conveniently or appropriately - There were two conditions by which Timothy was to be ready to preach and that means all Christians. The first one, was that of an appropriate setting which could be a church or a home where he had been called to proclaim the word. Today we would include Bible studies or Sunday School. This would be considered in season because normally those who attend are the saved. This would be considered in season like snow in winter or heat in summer, both of them are normal for their appointed seasons and we could expect believers to show up at church or Bible studies.

Out of season - Inappropriately timed, not convenient, or untimely - The second condition for preaching was an inconvenient time such as defending the Word of God, challenging a false teacher when he hears one teaching, maybe he would be put in jail for his testimony and from there, like the Apostle Paul, he would proclaim the word. We are not only to challenge false teachings but those actions which are against the Word of God such as abortion, homosexual marriage, drinking alcohol, drugs or anything which is forbidden by the word of God. If the present society a believer lives in endorses something evil, then they are to cry out against that according to the word of God. Being out of season means you are going against the grain or the direction of a river. The martyrs who opposed Roman Catholicism were out of season because they challenged the false teaching of the Roman institution. Many believers in present day are out of season because they oppose the evils of Islam and they make their beliefs known and normally are martyred for their beliefs. Many Christians chose to teach the Gospel under repressive regimes such as Red China, North Korea, Viet Nam, Cuba, and others who have made the state their god. They were out of season because they taught that the state is not god but are but are to worship Christ. Out of season means to oppose what God opposes in His word.

Both in season and out of season means that a Christian is to be ready at all times to proclaim and defend the truths of God’s word, in any situation, even if it costs him something, even his life. Then Paul gives Timothy three subjects which he is to preach. Notice how these three are tied to this verse supporting the fact that proclaiming God’s word out of season is to rebuke and reject those teachings and actions which are contrary to God’s word. All three of these words are in the Imperative Mood which means they are not an option but a command.

Reprove - To convict or refute - Paul charges Timothy that he is to refute or convict anyone who is teaching God’s word incorrectly or to confront and challenge the false teachers and their teachings. He is also to confront those who are living a life of sin while claiming to be Christians since this would bring shame on the name of Christ and the Christian community. Timothy is not just to proclaim sweet words but must proclaim the word of God with the authority it carries. Even the government, both local and national are not above being reproved.

Rebuke - Paul charges Timothy that he must also rebuke, which carries with it the meaning of warn or admonish. If someone is holding on to a false teaching, then they are to be rebuked, that holding to false teachings will cause both the speaker and the hearer to face condemnation. Timothy is also to warn his hearers about the false teachers and that it is not a joking matter when someone takes the word of God and teaches it in error. Christians must be warned not to entertain any of the teachings of the false teachers.

Exhort - Paul also charges Timothy with not only rejecting the false teachers but also to exhort the Christians, which carries with it the meaning of encouraging them. Churches who constantly condemn their people are the ones you want to stay away from because while there are things we must be aware of, we are also to encourage the brethren in their endeavors. We are also to bring comfort and edification to the brethren so they may grow. If you consistently hit somebody over the head, they will always remain at the same height but our responsibility is to help them grow in the Lord. This theme is also to be remembered if you are called to proclaim or defend the word of God out of season. Christianity is not comprised of rebuke and rejection only, but there is much encouragement in the Bible for Christians and that must be brought to light. Unbelievers are to be told that they are on the path to Hell but there is hope for them as long as they are still alive but they need to stop engaging in evil actions or false teachings.

Paul ends this verse by telling Timothy that he is to proclaim these things from the word of God, but he is to have much patience with those who are hearing, since it is a good possibility that many are hearing the truths for the first time. He is also to teach the doctrines of the Bible and not his own personal opinion. It is the personal opinion of the false teachers which has caused them to stray and their hearers to stray. So when Timothy begins to refute the false teachings, it must be done from the scriptures and with much patience toward his hearers. It is Bible doctrine which changes a person and not our commentary.

To be in season is to teach and preach the word of God those who already believe, although there may be some listening who are unbelievers. To be out of season is to go against the secular teachings or actions of the day such as abortion or drugs or things like that. Especially, the new age teachings which are so prevalent today like Zen, spirit guides, aliens from space, abductions, ghosts, etc. These people need to know they are being deceived by demons and that is a hard sell, especially when someone is at the center of attention but even so, we are to be relentless in bringing biblical truth.