In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 

2 Timothy 4:1-2

In 2 Timothy 4, the apostle Paul gives his protege, Timothy, a charge. It’s almost the kind of a charge a minister would receive at an ordination ceremony. Paul is reminding Timothy of his calling and what that entails.

First and foremost, Paul wants Timothy to preach the word. Another way of saying this is, “Proclaim the message!” Paul wants Timothy to continue to proclaim the message of the gospel throughout his life.

Secondly, Paul instructs Timothy to “be prepared in season and out of season.” The way the English translators translate this phrase always reminds me of a sports analogy. I always thought Paul was saying something like, “There is no offseason when it comes to being prepared to minister to people.” In other words, I always took this to mean that ministers aren’t just gearing up for events, like Sunday morning services, but that they are called to live a lifestyle that is prepared “to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

And I still think that analogy applies. But when you dig into the actual Greek words used here, I think we get another layer of meaning.

The phrase “be prepared in season and out of season,” when translated more literally from the Greek reads, “be present when it is opportune or inopportune.”

First, the word typically translated as “be prepared” is a compound word meaning “to stand upon.” It comes from fusing the word “to stand” (histemi) with the prefix epi, meaning “upon.” So this Greek word ephistemi is the idea of being present or “to be at hand.” When angels suddenly stand before people in the New Testament, this is often the word used to describe that.

Likewise, the word for “opportune” is the Greek word eukairos and the word for inopportune is akairos. Eu is the prefix meaning “well” or “good”. Kairos is the word that means “opportune time.” So eukairos means “well-timed” or “a good opportunity.” Akairos is the opposite of that.

A more modern translation of this whole phrase could rightly be, “be present when it is convenient or inconvenient (whether it’s a good time or a bad time).” Paul is instructing Timothy to be ready to minister whenever and wherever he is, whether it is a convenient time or an inconvenient time. In other words, Paul is saying something like, “Don’t get so caught up in what you had planned to do with your day that you fail to be present to people and to God at inconvenient times.”

When you look more closely at the Greek, Paul’s instruction here goes well beyond “seasons.” This is more about being ready “moment by moment” throughout your day. You see someone who needs help and feel the Holy Spirit’s tug, you stop and help. You get a word of knowledge or prophetic word about that person next to you at the store, you ask them if you can pray for them.

Paul charged Timothy with this truth: True ministers of the gospel learn to live a lifestyle of inconvenient obedience.

Jesus Passed By

Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark 1:14-15

In the Greek language, there is two words for “time.” Chronos is the word you use when you ask, “What time is it?” This is chronological time. But when Jesus said, “The time has come…” He wasn’t using this concept of time. Kairos is the Greek word for time that means “appointed time” or “opportune time.” Kairos speaks to a moment that is pregnant with opportunity and possibility. Jesus was speaking about a kairos moment.

Part of being a follower of Jesus is developing a sensitivity to the Spirit so that we can discern when these kairos moments are happening. These are burning bush moments (like Moses had in the desert). These are moments where God’s Presence or God’s activity invites us to stop and turn aside.

In the Gospels, these kairos moments would happen as Jesus would pass by. People sensed that the moment was pregnant with possibility as Jesus walked by them. Those who had eyes to see, those who didn’t want to miss the moment, responded with spontaneous faith or quick obedience. They understood that there was a window that had been opened up to them, yet knew that the window of opportunity would be closing.

When Jesus passed by blind Bartimaeus, he didn’t let the moment slip away. Though he was blind, he had eyes to see the moment in front of him. Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, “…have mercy on me,” and it led to his physical healing. (Mark 10:47)

When Jesus passed by the woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, she didn’t want the moment to escape her. She had to try something. She had to take the risk to reach out and touch Jesus’s cloak. Because of her spontaneous faith, she received from the Lord what she had always longed for–healing in her body and restoration of her life. (Matthew 9:20-22)

While Jesus was passing by, He stopped to focus His attention on a man blind from birth. Jesus made some mud with His saliva, placed it on the man’s eyes, and told him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. It must have been a confusing moment for this man. Yet, the man sensed that it was a kairos moment. He could have pushed Jesus away. He could have ignored Jesus. Instead, the man responded with quick obedience. In doing so, he was completely healed as he washed the mud from his eyes. This is the man who proclaimed to the Pharisee investigators, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:1-34)

We too are faced with moments where Jesus is passing by. The Holy Spirit will invite us to step into these moments with spontaneous faith and quick obedience. These kairos moments are pregnant with possibility if we are willing to have eyes to see them. These moments don’t last forever. They are short windows of opportunity. Jesus is passing by, inviting us to partner with Him in bringing about His Kingdom on the earth. The Holy Spirit is prompting us to step out with a word or to take a risk with an act of obedience.

When the kairos moment is upon us, what will we do? Will we miss the moment?