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Credit: ITV Channel TV

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books,

and above all the parchments. 

(2 Tim 4:13)

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 

(2 Tim. 4:17)

The sentiment of “just preach the gospel” sounds holy, pious, faithful, and true. For who wants to appear to be against the preaching of the gospel? Only the impious or those seemingly wishing to add to or take away from the gospel would be against the preaching of the gospel. The humility and exaltation of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King should be sufficient for everything, yes?

I suspect that even some advocates of “just preach the gospel” call for medical assistance when they are ill and are encouraged by the visits and other expressions of care from the saints of God. But if “just preach the gospel” is enough, shouldn’t such advocates discourage medical care and visitation when they are ill, for to them these things should be additions to the preaching of the gospel? In that same vein, when Paul asks Timothy to come before winter with the books and the parchments, it seems that Paul would be violating “just preach the gospel” as he faces martyrdom alone—the very gospel in which he encourages Timothy to continue after his death—according to “just preach the gospel” advocates. Paul relates that the Lord stood with him at his first defense; why would he need a cloak or Timothy?

It would seem that “just preach the gospel” is not preaching the gospel Paul portrayed or that its advocates model when ill. Why then, when the church and society have illnesses or other challenges to our faith, would we proclaim “just preach the gospel” as the answer?

The gospel of both Paul and the “just preach the gospel” advocates includes practical, direct, appropriate, proportional service to the deficiency or brokenness before us. “Just preach the gospel” has the right sentiment, but only has the right practice when that preaching brings responsible, Christ-empowered, righteous, practical, appropriate-for-the-need-help with it. To proclaim otherwise violates the preaching of the gospel in this age and would have left Paul in his prison cell facing freezing temperatures and death alone—without cloak, Timothy’s presence and friendship, books, or parchments.