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II Timothy

Author: Paul of Tarsus

Date Written: 67 or 68 AD

 

2 Timothy is a deeply personal letter.  Paul is imprisoned in Rome for the second time (1:17).  His first imprisonment apparently ended with his release (Acts 28:30).  But now under the Emperor Nero, Paul is more certain of his fate.  He has completed his last missionary journey and is close to execution.  Timothy is probably still in Ephesus (4:12), but Paul wants him to come to Rome to be near him in his last days (4:9).  Though in prison, Paul still coordinates the movements of the missionaries under his authority (4:10-12) and he is concerned about the condition of the churches.  He has been deserted by his close associates (4:10, 16) and he is combating false teachers (1:15, 2:17).  Paul's purpose for writing the letter is to encourage, exhort and uphold his disciple Timothy and to summon him to Rome.  For more on the person of Timothy see Introduction to 1 Timothy.

 

Though Paul is pessimistic about his fate (4:6), he is not discouraged.  Instead, he continually affirms the significance of his life and witness (1:8, 11; 4:7).  He hopes in God in the midst of a human disaster.

 

Paul calls on Timothy to be steadfast in the midst of doctrinal confusion and violent persecution.  He is to guard the deposit of faith (1:14) and to hand on what he has learned from Paul (2:2).  Paul is trusting in Timothy to carry on the mission.  Timothy is to embrace his vocation as a good soldier of Christ and embrace the suffering that it entails (2:4).  Paul is enduring persecution in prison and yet is confident that the word of God is not limited by any suffering (2:9).  Paul wants Timothy to prevent heresies in his congregation by limiting the amount of meaningless disputes (2:14).

 

Paul struggled against false teachers throughout his career.  At the end of his life, he feels free to name the people who have departed from his teaching or harmed him, which he has not done before.  He cites Phygelus, Hermogenes (1:15), Hymaneus, Alexander (2:17), Demas (4:10) and Alexander (4:14).  He wants Timothy to be aware of the challenges he will face after Paul's death.

 

Paul mentions wicked people who will dominate the "last days" (3:1), which refers to the period beginning with Christ's life on earth.  Paul presents his endurance of persecution as a model to be imitated by Timothy and the Ephesian believers (3:10-14).  Paul endured much suffering in his life for the sake of the gospel and he fully expects other Christians to undergo similar trials of faith.  He beautifully defines Scripture as the breath of God, showing his respect for the Old Testament as God's word (3:16-17).

 

Paul charges Timothy to continue his evangelistic work of preaching and teaching the congregation at Ephesus (4:1-5).  He reflects on his own plight, giving witness of his hope for heaven after his immanent martyrdom (4:6-8).  He gives Timothy a run-down of the movements of his missionary delegates (4::10-12).  He asks him to come to Rome and bring Mark and several items (4:9-13).  He reiterates his hope in God for salvation after death and his fearlessness regarding his fate (4:16-18).  Finally, he asks Timothy to greet a few others in Ephesus for Paul (4:19-21).

 

This letter is filled with all the thoughts of a great saint on his way to martyrdom.  In this way, the Epistle of St. Ignatius to the Romans has a very similar tone.  Yet Paul's humanity shows when he asks Timothy to visit him in order to alleviate his loneliness.

 

By Mark Giszczak

 

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