The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Timothy

1 2 3 4


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 in prison.

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 of God";
* provided, again, the alternative of truth and righteousness to wickedness.

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 teaching"
2Ti 1:13-16: Contrasts – those who deserted with him who persevered
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 hardship."
2Ti 4:8-16: Personal observations
2Ti 4:19-22: Final greetings


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