Will you love His appearing? Or will you rather that Jesus delay His coming as long as possible? This is the question that we need to ask ourselves in view of this passage before us.
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Tim. 4:1-8, NASB, bold for emphasis).
The Lord’s coming is designated in this passage (esp. in verses 1 and 8) by the Greek word epiphaneia, which means “a shining forth,” and is translated as His “appearing.” In verse one, Timothy is solemnly charged (or urgently exhorted) to preach the word “by His appearing and His kingdom.” I like William F. Beck’s translation, in the New Testament Language of Today: “—in view of His coming and ruling over us—”.
But Beck’s translation leaves out the phrase “who is to judge the living and the dead.” This phrase is quite important, because it gives us the timing of His coming—that it will be at the Bema judgment for believers. This timing is confirmed in verse 8, where Paul makes clear that His appearing in this text is for the purpose of rewarding faithful believers.
So in verse one (in the context of vv. 1-5), Paul charges Timothy to faithfully preach the word, in view of His soon appearing to judge his works. Then in verse 8 (in the context of vv. 6-8), Paul seems to present himself as Timothy’s example, saying that he has been faithful and will soon be martyred for the faith; and that he will then receive the crown of righteousness on the day of His appearing.
Paul concludes, in verse 8, by saying that not only he will receive the crown of righteousness, but it will be given to all who have loved His appearing.
What does this mean, that we have loved His appearing? It means certainly that we have loved Him and that we will love to see Him in all of His glory. It also means that we are now looking forward to His coming and that we have a love for studying prophecy, especially as it is related to how soon we will see Him.
Conversely, those who say that they would rather Jesus delay His coming—and they seem to have no interest in prophesy or in the prophetical books—I don’t think they will receive this crown. And, in some cases, we may even have reason to doubt their salvation.