And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (NLT)
Most versions of the Bible use the word charge in this verse. The Greek word is translated command elsewhere in the King James Version. Other version use instruct, direct, command, and charge. There is no way of getting around the fact that Timothy’s assignment to flee from sin and pursue a godly life is a command and therefore can be directly applied to us as well. This is not a suggestion or even something that could be viewed as optional. (Unfortunately, the New King James Version only “urged” Timothy to keep the command. While subtle, it doesn’t convey the forcefulness of being charged with an assignment. This is a good reason read more than one Bible translation when studying.)
Where or how we receive an assignment often affects how we carry it out. In school, a teacher can give the class an assignment. Each pupil is required to finish it and turn it in on a specified date. Many don’t do it. What would happen if the student’s parents were invited to class? Each child stood before the class and his or her parents while the teacher gave the assignment. Do you think the student would be more or less motivated to finish the assignment?
In a work situation, it might work the same way. An individual assignment often carries more weight when it is given in a work group and everyone else knows that you are responsible to report progress back to the group. Who is present when the assignment is given is very important.
If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us — see, God is witness between you and me! (Gen 31:50 NKJV)
There are other places in the Bible where people called on God to be a witness between them. This one acknowledges that God is always able to see whether people are living up to their end of the bargain. They would often erect some kind of monument, as Jacob and Laban did in this instance, and call upon the monument to be a witness. It may seem strange to us to say a heap of rocks or a stone altar would be a witness, but it was really God, not the inanimate object that they were recognizing. The monument only served as reminder to them and to their children.
Am I a God at hand, says the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord. (Jer 23:23-24 RSV)
There isn’t any place in this or any other universe where we can hide our activities from God. Whenever we make a promise, we are doing it before God. Whenever we tell a lie, we are doing it before God. Most people in this post-modern age have heard that God is dead. That simply doesn’t make sense to them because they don’t believe that God was ever alive or even exists. They think and act as if there is no God or can’t see what they are doing or thinking.
They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. (Ps 94:6-7 KJV)
However God does know what they are thinking and doing. Psalm 139:1-5 explains that God knows when we sit down or rise up. He knows our thoughts and even more, He knows what we are going to say even before we udder a word. David says that He know all our ways. Why wouldn’t He know them, He made us (Ps 139:14). What is even more astounding is that He hems us in before and behind. While we think that we have complete freedom to do whatever we want, the reality is that His right hand guides us. How often do we acknowledge God in this way? How often do we ask Him to make sure we are walking in His way – how often do we willingly submit ourselves to Him? This boggles the mind, or as David said, knowing this is too wonderful for us; we can’t fathom it (Ps 139:6).
When Paul charges Timothy (and us) to obey all these commands before God, it should carry a great, significant, huge force. He is very serious about it. He makes this charge before God because God gives life to all of us. The implication is that we obey these commands because He has given us life and we are accountable to Him how we use it.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21, 23 KJV)
Think about this relationship with Jesus. The Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. They are in each other. That little word “in” is “en” in the Greek. When used, as it is in these verses with regard to people, it means in the person, nature, soul, thought of the people in the verse (see Col 3:3). Jesus not only affirms that we are in God but that He is in us and that because He is in us then the Father is in us. Obviously, this is not physical or even symbolic but a spiritual description that our finite minds can’t really understand.
The point of this is that Jesus is always present with us because He is in us. Everything I’ve said about being before God applies to Jesus as well. So why did Paul include Jesus in addition to the Father? Paul charges us before God because He created us but he charges us before Jesus because Jesus gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate.
What is this testimony that Jesus gave before Pilate and why is it important? Matthew didn’t record Jesus saying anything but said He kept silent when charged (Matt 27:13). Mark and Luke record only that Jesus admitted to being King of the Jews (Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3) and that He wouldn’t speak about the other charges (Mark 15:5). But John records more of Jesus’ testimony. Jesus clarified that His kingdom was not of this world and that His purpose was to bear witness to the truth and that anyone who is of the truth listens to Jesus (John 18:33-37).
Pilate therefore said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." (John 18:37 NASB)
Another little word is “of” which is “ek” in the Greek. It denotes origin. Everyone whose origin is truth (Jesus who is Truth is God [John 14:6]) will listen to Jesus. If our origin is from God, we will acknowledge that Jesus is the only way to the Father and that salvation comes only through Jesus. That is why Jesus came.
Jesus also testified that He is King. We need to be mindful of the kingdom of which we are citizens so that we will obey these commands. One of the commands is to keep our confession of faith. Just as Jesus told the truth at His trial, we need to tell the truth about our faith and our commitment to Jesus when asked, even if it costs us everything.
The NLT does some conceptual translating when it says to keep the command without wavering. Most translations say without spot or unstained. The primary idea is not to miss any part of obedience to these commands. Wavering suggests hesitation, sometimes obeying and not at other times. Without spot or blemish is black and white in that it leaves no doubt that we are to be faithful in our obedience. We will not be accused of doing wrong if we are without spot.
The unbelieving world may accuse us of doing wrong but we will stand before God without fault and with great joy (Jude 24). Jesus made a good confession without malice and with gentleness. When we obey without spot and follow Jesus’ example, we will also make a good confession. At some point, even the world will have to admit that they were wrong about their slander (1 Peter 3:16).
Until Jesus Comes
How long do we need to keep these commandments? Until Jesus appears again. We are in this for the long haul, not just for short-term relief from pain and suffering as some preach. It doesn’t matter if the future is bleak or rosy; we are going to continue to persevere in doing right until Jesus comes.
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. (2 Thess 1:6-7 KJV)
Jesus will come at the right time. We think that He should appear very soon because we see turmoil and evilness in the world. We want Him to come and set all things straight. He will do this, but we must wait until He decides it is the right time. What will He do when He returns? He will establish justice by repaying all who have caused trouble to believers throughout the ages.
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (2 Thess 1:8 KJV)
We have been talking about our testimony and our obedience. These are the things that will point people to Jesus. But He will bring vengeance on those who do not know God even though they heard our testimony or saw our obedience. They will suffer in flame for eternity. That should motivate us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us.
 NT:1722 2. with the dative of a person, in the person, nature, soul, thought of anyone: Col 3:3 from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. PC Study Bible Version 5.0F.
 NT:1537 ek (ek) or ex (ex); a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds), from, out (of place, time, or cause; literal or figurative; direct or remote): Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc. PC Study Bible Version 5.0F.