The New Testament book of 2 Timothy was written to give final instructions and encouragement to Timothy, the pastor of the church at Ephesus. At this time, Paul was facing death; he was imprisoned in Rome, and knew that he would not be released by the Roman authorities. The letter is comprised of several elements involving Paul and Timothy: Paul’s final thoughts to his “son” in the young Christian faith, the passing of the torch of leadership from Paul to Timothy, Paul’s reminders to Timothy of what was truly important, and solid, albeit very tender, encouragement to Timothy for the growth of his faith. 2 Timothy, because of Paul’s situation and the content of the letter itself, is the most intimate and powerful of Paul’s letters – it was also his last.
Paul’s second letter to Timothy is tender throughout, and the love that he has for Timothy exudes from every phrase (1:1-5). He then reminds Timothy of the qualities necessary for a faithful minister of Jesus Christ (1:6-2:13). Timothy should remember his call and use his gifts with boldness (1:6-12), keep to the truth (1:13-18), prepare others to follow him in the ministry (2:1, 2), be disciplined and ready to endure hardship (2:3-7), and keep his eyes and mind focused on Christ (2:8-13). Paul challenges Timothy to hold to sound doctrine, reject error and avoid godless chatter, correctly handle the word of truth (2:14-19), and keep his life pure (2:20-26). Next, Paul warns Timothy of the opposition that he and other believers would face in the last days from self-centered people who use the church for their own gain and who teach false doctrines (3:1-9). Paul tells Timothy to be prepared for these unfaithful people by remembering his example (3:10, 11), understanding the real source of the opposition (3:12, 13), and finding strength and power in the Word of God (3:14-17). Then Paul gives Timothy a stirring charge – to preach the Word (4:1-4) and to fulfill his ministry until the end (4:5-8) Paul concludes with personal requests and various items of information. In these final words, he reveals his loneliness and his strong love for his brothers and sisters in Christ (4:9-22).
There has never been another person like Paul, the apostle and missionary to the Gentiles. He was a man of deep faith, undying love, constant hope, tenacious conviction, and profound insight: inspired by the Holy Spirit to give us God’s message. If we claim to follow Christ, we must re-commit ourselves to stand courageously for the truth as we know it to be… through a thorough knowledge of the Word and being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The Layout of 2 Timothy
The Foundations Of Christian Service:
This is concentrated in (1:1-2:26) … Paul gives helpful advice to Timothy to remain solidly grounded in Christian service and to endure suffering during the difficult days to come.
Difficult Times For Christian Service:
This is concentrated in (3:1-4:22) … It is easy to serve Christ for the wrong reasons: because it is exciting, rewarding, or personally enriching. Without a proper foundation, however, it will be more than easy to quit during difficult times. All believers must have a strong foundation for their service, because Christian service does not get easier as we grow older, and it will become no easier as the time of Christ’s return grows ever closer.
Themes: Explanation and Importance
In the face of opposition and persecution, Timothy was to carry out his ministry without fear or shame. Paul urged him to utilize boldly the gifts of preaching and teaching that the Holy Spirit had given him.
The Holy Spirit helps us to be wise and strong. God honors our confident testimony even when we suffer. To get over our fear of what people might say or do, we must take our eyes off of people and look only to God.
Christ was faithful to all of us in dying for our sin. Paul was a faithful minister even when he was in prison. Paul urged Timothy to maintain not only sound doctrine but also loyalty, diligence, and endurance.
We can count on opposition, suffering, and hardship as we serve Christ. But this shows that our faithfulness is having an effect on others. As we trust Christ, He counts us worthy to suffer, and He will give us the strength we need to remain steadfast in His service.
PREACHING AND TEACHING
Paul and Timothy were active in preaching and teaching the Good News about Jesus Christ. Paul encouraged Timothy not only to carry the torch of truth but also to train others, passing on to them sound doctrine and enthusiasm for Christ’s mission.
We must prepare people to transmit God’s Word to others so that they in turn might pass it on.
In the final days before Christ returns, there will be false teachers, spiritual dropouts, and heretics. The remedy for error is to have a solid program for teaching Christians what the truth is, and Who it is centered on: Jesus Christ.
Because of deceptions and false teachings, we must be disciplined and ready to reject error. We must thoroughly know the Word of God as the defense against error and confusion.
A Closer Look… 2 Ti. 1:1-18
Paul is tender in his opening of this beautful letter to his son in the faith:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Ti. 1:1-7)
Paul puts aside any hint of shame in what he has done with his life for the sake of his Lord and Messiah Jesus Christ, and encourages Timothy to do the same, as he talks about the call of a soldier of Christ, the courage of a soldier of Christ:
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything that we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Ti. 1:8-14)
Paul knew that the souls of those who had heard the Word and believed it would be preserved unto eternal life, and he was also greatly comforted by knowing that no matter what happened to him personally, the message of the Gospel would be carried on by Timothy and countless other thousands like him. There would be no stopping the Word of God! However, Timothy was enjoined, strongly, to guard the precious gift of the truth that Paul had entrusted to him.
A Closer Look… 2 Ti. 2:1-26
Paul talks about the character of a soldier of Christ:
He is strong…
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Ti. 2:1-2)
He is single-minded…
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer. (2 Ti. 2:3-4)
He is strict…
Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all of this. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. (2 Ti. 2:5-10)
He is secure…
Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Ti. 2:11-13)
He is sound of faith…
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Ti. 2:15-19)
He is sanctified…
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. (2 Ti. 2:20-23)
He is a servant…
And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Ti. 2:24-26)
A Closer Look… 2 Ti. 3:1-26
Paul talks about the caution for a soldier of Christ, the danger of apostasy. He talks about the state of the last days, and the character of many of the people in those days:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth – men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. (2 Ti. 3:1-9)
Paul says with emphasis that the protection from apostasy is found in God, and warns not only Timothy, but all believers, of persecution for belief in Jesus Christ:
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to lead a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Ti. 3:10-12)
Paul speaks a great truth, in one of the most beloved and quoted passages of Scripture:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be equipped for every good work. (2 Ti. 3:16-17)
A Closer Look… 2 Ti. 4:1-22
Paul talks about the charge for a soldier of Christ, the duty of one who believes in Jesus Christ:
In the presence of God and of Jesus Christ, 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. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Ti. 4: 1-5)
Paul knew that his current imprisonment would end with his death at the hands of his captors, the Roman authorities. His farewell is short, but a powerful testimony to the faith he held in God and in Jesus Christ:
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing. (2 Ti. 4:6-8)
Paul concludes by thanking those who have been his good friends in life. During his first trial before the Roman authorities, how difficult it is to proclaim one’s belief in Jesus Christ before men was proved because no one stood up for Paul as a witness to his work for God and for the kingdom; Paul’s words are ones of forgiveness, and thankfulness to God for giving him his mission to the Gentiles:
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Ti. 4:16-18)