It is estimated that Paul wrote this letter in AD 68, the last
year of his life. He had been released from prison in about AD 63 and had gone
back to some of the places he had visited earlier. Towards the end of AD 67 he
was arrested again and placed in prison back in Rome. This time, because of the
increasing persecution of Christians, he was put into a dungeon and was barely
able to write the letter. There can be no doubt that God was at work in insuring
that such an important letter was not only written, but was delivered and kept
safe for many years until it was placed in the canon of Scripture.
For Paul, the letter was somewhat sad. He had earlier warned
Timothy of the troubled times soon to come, and he was now seeing the results.
The sadness was evident in 2Ti 1:15-18. Everyone in Asia had deserted him, even
Phygellus and Hermogenes. They were obviously two people he had respected and
had thought were strong in faith. He was surprised that they had left. Paul had
high praise for Onesiphorus because of the way he searched until he found Paul
Once again, however, even in his own reduced and perilous
state, Paul was concerned for the welfare of his associates in Christ. Right
until the last minute (almost literally) of his life, Paul was doing his best to
help strengthen Timothy, knowing that he would take the main responsibility of
continuing with the work of preaching the gospel. (It is suggested that Paul
died not long after the letter was written.)
There are some marvelous little insights into Paul and his
warmth in this letter. He was obviously touched by Timothy's upset at their
previous departure (2Ti 1:4) and wanted to see him again because that would
bring him great happiness. Paul had so much affection for Timothy.
We see in the same few verses (2Ti 1:4-7) the importance of
family values in the bringing up of children. Paul refers to Timothy's mother
and grandmother and their sincere faith. Paul obviously endorsed the principle
of a good example in the upbringing of children.
In encouraging Timothy to be "strong in the faith" (2Ti 2:1)
Paul draws attention to the fact that earthly bondage is only temporary. While
he was chained like a common criminal for the hope of the gospel of Jesus
Christ, "God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything ..." Paul had
before him the hope that "If we endure, we will also reign with him."
As always, Paul gave a lot of practical advice to Timothy. In
2Ti 2 he:
* drew attention to the disruption of quarreling and idle
chatter between Christians; warned against false teaching and "stupid
arguments", and reminded Timothy of God's sure foundation;
* advocated the need for each person to be "a workman approved
* provided, again, the alternative of truth and righteousness
In 2Ti 3; 4 Paul again refers to the troubled times that will
continue. He ends where he began, expressing sorrow at the way in which his
friends deserted him. He shows the true characteristic of Christianity by
pleading that they not be punished for this. He finishes with an absolute
certainty -- that in the face of trouble "the Lord stood at my side", surely a
great comfort to all who follow Jesus.
2Ti 1:1-2: Greeting
2Ti 1:3-7: A personal tribute to Timothy
2Ti 1: 8-12: The Gospel – a pattern of "sound
2Ti 1:13-16: Contrasts – those who deserted with him who
2Ti 2:1-7: Personal encouragement to Timothy
2Ti 2:8-13: "Remember Jesus Christ"
2Ti 2:14-21: The approved workman
2Ti 2:22-26: Practical advice
2Ti 3:1-9: A tragic picture of "the last days"
2Ti 3:10-17: "All about my teaching"
2Ti 4:1-6: "Preach the word... keep your head and endure
2Ti 4:8-16: Personal observations
2Ti 4:19-22: Final greetings