2 Timothy 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
Paul: Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15, Gal 2:9). Philippians 3:5, 6 is the way he describes himself to the church at Philippi. Paul was a Jew through and through. His love for his people is evident in his evangelistic method. In each city, Paul would first go to the Jews and teach in their synagogues in an effort to win his people, Israel, to the Lord. Only after they rejected him and Jesus, did the Apostle turn to the Gentiles.
From Scripture we learn about Paul.
- His father was a Pharisee - Acts 23:6
- He himself was a zealous Pharisee - Phil 3:6
- He was a student of Scripture, studying under Gameliel - Acts 22:3; cf. 5:34
- Paul was from Tarsus - Acts 9:11
- He was from the tribe of Benjamin - Phil 3:5
- Tarsus was a Greek/Roman city in Asia Minor. The Greek is reflected in Paul’s arguments (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12).
- He was a tent maker - Acts 18:3
- He was a Roman citizen by birth - Acts 21:39
- He describes himself as a Hebrew of Hebrews - Phil 3:5
- His love for the Hebrews is evident in his writings - Rom 3:1; 9:1-3
- As a zealous Hebrew, he persecuted the sect of Christians - Acts 8:3; 9:1-2; Phil 3:6
- He was zealous for the traditions of Judaism - Gal 1:14
- He was present at the killing of Steven, the first Christian martyr - Acts 7:58; 8:1
Timothy: His name means “honoring God.”
- Accompanied Paul on most of Second and Third Missionary Journeys
- Special envoy to Thessalonica & Corinth (1 Thess 3:1ff; 1 Cor 4:17)
- Accompanied Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 20:1-5)
- In Rome at least part of time – named as co-author letters to Philemon, Philippians, and Colossians
- Called “beloved and faithful child in the Lord” (1 Cor 4:17), “fellow-worker” (Rom 16:21), “brother and God’s servant” (1 Thess 3:2). These all show Timothy’s ministerial heart.
- Paul has “no one like him,” this part of the best single description of Timothy coming in Phil 2:20-22
- He was young (1 Tim 4:12; 2 Tim 2:22)
- Prone to illness (1 Tim 5:23)
- Timid (1 Cor 16:10-11)
- Lystra is hometown (Acts 16:1, 2)
- Paul visited Lystra on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6, 7). Most likely, Timothy was saved during this visit, for when Paul returns on his second missionary trip, Timothy is already a “disciple” (Acts 16:1, 2).
- At some point Timothy was imprisoned (Heb 13:23) but we know no details
- Tradition is that he settled in Ephesus dying there as a martyr’s grave under Domitian (Emperor 81-96) or Nerva (Emperor 96-98). If this is true, then Timothy might have been the “angel” or bishop in charge of the church at Ephesus to whom John writes in Rev 2:1-7
Ephesus: Ephesus was a leading center in the Roman Empire, a merchant capital full of paganism. Acts records two visits by Paul to the city, once on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19-22) and the other an extended stay as part of his third missionary journey (Acts 20:31). 2 Timothy 1:18 is the only internal evidence in this letter that Timothy is actually in Ephesus.
Luke’s history records several amazing occurrences in the city during Paul’s extend stay:
- A substantial number of disciples of John the Baptist were baptized (Acts 19:1-7)
- Paul was privileged to debate in the hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-10)
- Unusual miracles were performed by Paul (Acts 19:11-12) . . .
- As well as exorcisms (Acts 19:13-16)
- Sorcerers were converted (Acts 19:17-20)
- There was a riot in the city (Acts 19:23-41)
- Paul’s farewell address took place not in Ephesus but in the town of Miletus (Acts 20:13-34)
The Letter: 2 Timothy is the last of Paul’s 13 letters found in the New Testament (Hebrews may or may not have been written by Paul and would be the 14th letter if Paul is the author). It is written from Rome (1:17). Acts 26-28 records Paul’s first arrest. This would have occurred in approximately 60-62. Tradition holds that Nero beheaded Paul on the Ostean Way. Eusebius (ca. 260–340 was bishop of Caesarea and the “father of church history”) quotes Dionysius of Corinth (ca. 170) to the effect that Paul and Peter were executed at the same time, although Peter was crucified. Beheading would have been the method of execution for a Roman citizen. Nero’s persecution of the Christians occurred in 66-68, with Nero’s life ending in 68. This makes Paul’s death falls sometime within this timeframe. Since the letter talks of garments suitable for the upcoming winter (4:21), this letter is most likely written in the late summer or early fall, thus, allowing Timothy time to travel from Ephesus to Rome, stopping in Troas to pick up Paul’s clothing and books (4:13). Therefore, Paul’s death most likely comes in 67 or 68. Depending upon which commentary you prefer, these dates could be as early as 65.
All of Paul’s letters have certain characteristics that support the argument that what he writes are letters, but which also distinguish them from the letters of the day. These include:
- They average around 13,000 words in length compared to the average letter of the time that had 90 words.
- They were written on sheets of papyrus that are about the size of this page.
- Most are dictated to a secretary, who is known as an amanuensis. BASED UPON 4;10, LUKE MAY HAVE BEEN THE SECRETARY FOR 2 TIMOTHY
- They all begin the same way, with a petition for God’s blessings on the readers.
- They are all structured the same, having a greeting, a main body, and a farewell.
- Most of the time, it appears that Paul closes the letters in his own handwriting.
- They were hand delivered by Paul’s fellow servants in Christ.
Four of Paul’s letters were written to individuals, the balance to churches. Of these four, Philemon is clearly separate from 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. These latter three are written to assist Paul’s “generals” in the field and to help them establish firm, strong churches in the areas where they are ministering. These 3 letters are collectively called the Pastoral Epistles. Timothy at the time of this letter is in Ephesus.
Notwithstanding the collective name of Pastoral Epistles, it is important to keep in mind that Timothy and Titus were NOT pastors in the modern day sense. They are field commanders sent to edify, strengthen, and organize churches previously established.
“Modern scholarship” does not believe Paul wrote many of the epistles carrying his name, including 2 Timothy. They generally conclude the letters had to have been written after 100 A.D., by one of Paul’s disciples who used fragments of Paul’s teachings and non-biblical writings to compose these letters in the apostle’s name.
Paul’s 4th Missionary Journey
Nothing is actually known about Paul’s life after Acts 28 except for a few stray traditions that have survived and the wishes he expressed in his letters. It is reasonably clear that one cannot fit the events of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus into the events recorded in Acts. Therefore, it appears Paul was released from prison after Acts 28, only to be later arrested. 1 Timothy and Titus were written during this period of release and 2 Timothy written after the apostle’s second arrest. A comparison of Titus 3:12 and 2 Timothy 4:21 requires that at least two winters are involved in the time frame covered by the Pastoral Epistles. Assuming that Paul more or less kept to the itinerary laid forth in his letters, the 4th missionary journey would be approximately like this:
- Timothy is immediately sent to Philippi with news of Paul’s release (Phil 2:19-23)
- He went to Crete, leaving Titus behind (Titus 1:5)
- From there, he went to Ephesus
- Then to Colosse to see Philemon (Philemon 22)
- He then probably returns to Ephesus
- Timothy joins him either at Ephesus or Colosse and Paul asks Timothy to stay in Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3, 4)
- Then to Macedonia (1 Tim 1:3)
- This may have included Philippi (Phil 2:24), Nicopolis (Titus 3:12)
- The winter having passed, if Paul went to Spain as he wished (Rom 15:24, 28) it would have been in the spring. Clement of Rome, writing around 100, talks of Paul “come to the extreme limit of the west.” This could meanSpain. Some commentators view this as meaning Britain. There is a tradition that says Titus accompanied Paul on this journey, wherever he went.
- He would then revisit Timothy in Ephesus (1 Tim 3:14, 15).
- He would then have passed through the seaport of Miletus where he had to leave an ill Trophimus behind (2 Tim 4:20)
- Next to Troas where he stayed with Carpus and left his cloak and some books behind (2 Tim 4:13).
- From there to Corinth where Erastus left the party (2 Tim 4:20; cf Rom 16:23).
- And on to Rome from where he sits in prison and writes 2 Timothy.
- His arrest could have occurred anywhere along this route commencing perhaps at Miletus, although Troas is a better suggestion, explaining why the clothing and books were left with Carpus.
- A comparison of Acts and 2 Timothy shows the second imprisonment was not as comfortable as the first. Paul was restricted to a cell in chains (2 Timothy 1:16; 2:9) and Onesiphorus had to search him out with great difficulty (2 Timothy 1:17)
Overall Theme of the Letter
The importance of God’s Word: 1:11, 12, 14; 2:3, 8, 9 15; 3:13-16; 4:1, 2
Sound Doctrine, Consecrated Living – the application of God’s Word to one’s life
Outline of the Book
- Chapter 1 – Hold onto Sound Doctrine
- Chapter 2 – Teach Sound Doctrine
- Chapter 3 – Abide in Sound Doctrine
- Chapter 4 – Preach Sound Doctrine