Most of this chapter forms its own chiastic structure:
2 Tim 4:1-8
1a) 2 Tim 4:1, I charge you before Christ, who will judge the living + dead at His appearing;
1b) 2 Tim 4:2, Preach the word in + out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, w/patience + teaching;
1c) 2 Tim 4:3a, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;
1d) 2 Tim 4:3b, But according to their own desires, because they have itching ears;
central axis) 2 Tim 4:3c, They will heap up for themselves teachers;
2d) 2 Tim 4:4a, They will turn their ears away from the truth;
2c) 2 Tim 4:4b, And be turned aside to fables;
2b) 2 Tim 4:5-7, Fulfill ministry + keep the faith until the end (chiasm):
— 1a) 2 Tim 4:5, Be watchful, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry;
— central axis) 2 Tim 4:6, I am poured out as a drink offering + the time of my departure is at hand;
— 2a) 2 Tim 4:7, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith;
2a) 2 Tim 4:8, Crown of righteousness from the Righteous Judge on the Day of His appearing.
As the time of Paul’s departure was approaching, he was able to say that he had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith, and that a crown of righteousness was awaiting him from the Righteous Judge. In order for young Timothy to have the same testimony at the time of his departure, Paul charged him to know and preach the truth of the Word of God. As we saw in the previous chapter, even though we will always be growing in the truth of God’s Word, there is settled doctrine, an unchanging foundation of truth upon which we build. The gullible women who are led astray by ungodly preachers never arrive that this unchanging foundation of settled doctrine.
This unchanging foundation of settled truth will fall out of fashion, and the pressure will be on to compromise preaching in the face of it. For in those days, the sound and settled doctrine of the unchanging Word of God will no longer be endured by many, but rejecting truth, they will turn aside to fables, and will desire teachers who will teach them these fables. The teachers who succumb to this pressure will be many, so that they may be heaped up by those with itching ears.
Timothy, Paul says, stick to the Word, and preach it uncompromisingly when it is in season and when it is out of season. Patiently teach the sound doctrine and the unchanging foundation of truth. Watch carefully so that your message remains true, and when affliction comes because you have not succumbed, endure it without wavering to the end, as I, Paul, have done before you. Then when the time of your departure draws near, you will also be able to say, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.