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2 Timothy

The Beloved Son

2 Timothy 1:1-5
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
NKJV

Theme:

Memories of faithfulness bring joy

Verse:

2 Timothy 1:3 (NKJV)
3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,

Teaching Comments:

Paul writes in “typical” first-century format with the name and brief description of the sender comes first, the name and description of / salutation to the recipient next, followed by a thanksgiving section. Here, v1 is the description of Paul, the sender, v2 is the description of Timothy, the addressee of the letter, and the thanksgiving commences with v3. Paul makes the content of his letters distinctively Christian, both in their content and purpose.

Paul (v1) describes himself as an “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” An apostle is “one sent with a mission” (Luke 6:13). As we read this letter it is clear that Paul’s mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know from Acts that it was Jesus who gave Paul this commission (Acts 9:15, 16; Rom 11:13; Gal 1:15, 16; 2:9) and we will also learn that Paul appears to believe he has accomplished this mission. 

This apostleship was given “by the will of God.” God’s purpose is found throughout all Scripture. That purpose might be summed up by saying that God desires that all mankind come to a loving, knowing relationship with Jesus Christ in order to bring glory and honor to God. Another translation for “will” is “pleasure” so we might translate this portion of the verse as meaning that Paul was chosen at the pleasure of God. Isn’t this true of each of us? God has chosen us at His pleasure.

While God is the origin of Paul’s apostleship, Jesus is its object.  “according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus”is the Gospel message that Paul has been entrusted to preach. Because this is an addition to the messages of the Old Testament prophets, it was necessary for God to appoint New Testament messengers (apostles) to go forth with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul, as well as the other irst generation apostles, are nearing the end of their ministry. It is now time to pass the torch onto the second generation (Timothy, Titus, et. al.) and to prepare and encourage them to train the third generation (chp 2).

“Promise” looks to the Messianic salvation offered by God’s word, while “life” points to eternal life in Jesus Christ (1:9, 10; 1 John 5:12)

V2 introduces us to Timothy – Paul’s “beloved son.” It appears that Paul’s use of the term son or child refers to a spiritual child. Timothy first accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3). Most likely Paul led Timothy to Christ, although Paul may have ‘simply” become Timothy’s mentor and the spiritual relationship developed from there. Titus is referred to by similar terms. 

This letter is Paul’s final will and testament, his reminiscing about his life, his ministry, and his spiritual son Timothy. This makes 2 Timothy the most personal of all of the New Testament letters. 

The balance of v2 is really in the form of a short prayer by Paul for Timothy. All 13 of Paul’s letters refer to grace and mercy. Only the 2 letters to Timothy include “mercy.” 

Grace is God’s underserved kindness toward a sinner (Eph 2:8-10). Grace is initially bestoed for salvation and is continually bestowed upon us for our spiritual growth (Heb 4:16). Grace looks to our wholeness and deals with sin and guilt. Grace is about forgiveness and enabling. Because Timothy is already a believer, the ongoing nature of grace is in view here.

Mercy is God’s compassion to the helpless. It is the bestowing grace when judgment is deserved. Mercy, then, deals with the pain, misery, and distress caused by sin. Mercy is about sympathy and concern. God is cares about the pain suffered by mankind.

Peace is harmony with God. Peace deals with stability, health, welfare, and tranquility. While it is true that God bestows peace “in” the life of a believer (John 14:27; Rom 8:6; Phil 4:7), harmony with God is the result of God’s grace and mercy. Enmity with God no longer exists in the life of a believer (Rom 5:1, 2). As such, the believer may draw upon God’s ongoing grace, mercy, and peace to find peace in his own circumstances of life.  This internal peace allows, in time, the believer to extend peace to others (Rom 14:19; Eph 2:14-18; 2 Tim 2:22).

Paul tells Timothy that grace, mercy, and peace come from “from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Salvation is the work of the entire Trinity. Here Paul highlights the actions of the Father and the Son. In fact, while the action of the Holy Spirit lies in the background of this letter, the Holy Spirit is not directly referred to except at 1:14. This is an unusual feature of all three Pastoral Epistles where direct references to the Holy Spirit are found in the other two letters onlyat 1 Tim 4:1, possibly 1 Tim 3:16, and Titus 3:5.

Verses 3-5 contain the Thanksgiving section of this letter. In the Greek, these three verses are one long sentence. One of the themes of this letter is the concept that the God of the Old Testament is the same God as found in the preaching of Paul. In other words, the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. This idea occurs here in the thanksgiving section with the phrase “my forefathers” and will be found within concepts elsewhere in the letter such as in 3:16. Paul’s teachings are following the same beliefs as those of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah, and John the Baptist. Where all of the Old Testament prophets looked forward to the coming Messiah, Paul has been blessed to see him on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-9). Paul was given the task of proclaiming this great news, that Jesus is the Christ. 

Paul thanks God for Timothy. It may be inferred from the letter that Paul’s thanks for Timothy relate to Timothy’s upbringing, his spiritual friendship, his spiritual gift(s), and his personal discipleship (vv6, 7, next week’s lesson).

In his earlier letter to Timothy, Paul speaks of persecuting the church (1 Tim 1:13, 14). He can rejoice after his encounter with Jesus because it was his own view of the church and Jesus that were out of sync, not his God. He is still following the same God, just with a proper view of what his traditions actually meant. As such, Paul may speak of following God “with a pure conscience” because since his conversion Paul’s actions have been from a wholesome understanding of Who God is and what God’s work in the world is to accomplish. 

Can your conscience be your guide? Is it Jiminy Cricket sitting on your shoulder? 

Our conscience is our moral sense. It is guided, however, by what we believe is our moral base. If the Bible is not the moral foundation of your beliefs, then you conscience will not be “pure,” “clean,” or “wholesome” in God’s eyes and your decisions will not be based upon the truth. In the Greek, the word “conscience” carries the concepts of being free from corrupt desire, free from sin and guilt, free from every mixture of what is false, and, on the positive side, being sincere genuine, blameless, and innocent.

A good question for your class would be to reflect on whether or not they might say this about their own conscience.

Romans 2:14-15 (NKJV)
14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them

So, your conscience can be for you or against, if, in fact, you have the Truth of God in your heart. Paul’s statement that his conscience is pure is a clear indication of the level of this truth that resides in his heart.

In addition, we learn that part of the reason Paul has such a pure conscience is that “without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day.” Paul continually prays for his spiritual son. Night and day would be, at least, one normal pattern for prayer of one faithfully brought up in the Jewish religion. As such, this phrase may be interpreted to mean that Timothy is on Paul’s daily prayer list. Just as our children, parents, and spouse should be on our daily prayer list, this would not be that unusual considering Paul’s view of the relationship. 

At the same time, it is possible that the phrase “night and day” is a Hebrew or Greek idiom for a “day” or “daily.” In other letters, Paul speaks of praying continually or “without ceasing” for a certain group. Such a reference would most likely mean that the person or group was on Paul’s heart continually and on his prayer list in some regular manner, such as praying for our missionaries or a good friend once a week, or every other day, or on some other frequent, regular basis. 

Either way, this is a valuable lesson for our prayer life.

Whatever else we might say about Paul, it is clear that at this point in his life he is lonely and longs to see Timothy one last time before the apostle’s death. Paul knows his time is near (4:9, 21) and he desires to see his spiritual son one last time. 

At v4 Paul makes mention of Timothy’s tears from their last parting. This parting would have occurred during Paul’s first imprisonment in Roman (Acts 28:16, 30) and may be the one mentioned in 1 Tim 1:3. Paul clearly misses his young friend. Indeed, as we read chapter 4, we will discover that Paul is without much friendly companionship in these final days of his life. Timothy appears to be the one he misses the most and is also the one the apostle probably believes is mostly likely to respond to his pleas. 

We should not read too much into a reason for Timothy’s tears since Paul gives us no further information. Combined with other Scriptural statements about Timothy, we can be certain that he is tender-affectioned, perhaps being too emotional to the point of being timid about himself. The translation from The Message may sum up the thoughts of Paul:

I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful goodbye and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion. (1:4).

Paul looks forward to this reunion with great “joy” or personal gladness. Paul’s joy brings to mind more memories. Included in these memories is not only Timothy, but also his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois (v5). What is unique is the trigger in Paul’s mind for these memories. It is not Timothy’s tears or even Paul’s great joy, but rather Timothy’s “faith.” This faith is found first in Eunice and Lois. Timothy’s father was a Gentile while his mother Eunice was Jewish (Acts 16:1). It is a reasonable assumption since Eunice and Lois are mentioned together, that Lois is Eunice’s mother and also Jewish. 

Paul refers to the faith being in Timothy twice in this one verse calling it “genuine” or “sincere.”

Faith means trust or belief. This definition might be expanded to mean a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it, as relating to God that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ, as relating to Christ, a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.

“Genuine” or “sincere” means without hypocrisy, unfeigned, or undisguised.

These statements would mean that Timothy had learned the Old Testament Scriptures at the knees of his grandmother and mother. They would have taught him the Old Testament for these were the only Scriptures available to a good Jew while Timothy was a child. Timothy learned that the Messiah would come. Lois, Eunice, and Timothy all came to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament. Paul returns to this theme in the second half of chapter 3 of this letter.

It should be noted there exists no record of how or when Lois and Eunice became followers of Jesus. It is possible this occurred prior to Paul coming to Ephesus, in which event it is possible they led Timothy to the Lord. On the other hand, Paul may have been responsible for the salvation of all three.

The last point to note is that Paul states he is “persuaded” of Timothy’s faith. This persuasion would come from a long-term observation of both Timothy’s words and actions in dealing with many situations on the mission field. Timothy’s walk of life matched his verbally professed beliefs. We should all strive for this goal.

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