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2 Timothy

General

What was written in the previous section about the first letter of Timothy under 'General', also applies here. With the difference that the first letter of Timothy (and the letter to Titus) was written by Paul in freedom; the second letter to Timothy he wrote from captivity. This makes this letter actually a 'delayed' imprisonment letter; it is even the very last letter of Paul. That is very noticeable because this writing bears the character of saying goodbye; it is a somewhat melancholy, sad letter.

Writer, origin and destination

Paul writes to Timothy (chap. 1:2). In all likelihood, as at the time of writing the first letter to Timothy, Timothy was still in Ephesus. Indeed, Paul refers to Onesiphorus, who rendered "good offices" at Ephesus (chap. 1:16-18; cf. chap. 4:19).

What there can be no doubt about is the whereabouts of Paul; about Onesiphorus he writes: "On the contrary, when he was come to Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me also ..." (ch. 1:17). There, in Rome, he stayed - now for the second time - as a prisoner. While he enjoyed relative freedom during his first imprisonment (e.g. he was allowed to live in a rented house of his own with a soldier guarding him, Acts 28:16 and 30), there he was now treated as a criminal (chap. 2: 9).

The apostle was probably put to death in the winter (cf. chap. 4:13 and 21) of 67/68. Just before that, he must have written the letter, as a spiritual testament. About two years after Paul's death, Jerusalem was destroyed.

Structure

A. 1:1-7 Salute and Reminder.
B. 1:8-18 Paul and his message left (v. 15).
a. The Lord is his protector (v. 12).
b. Phygelus and Hermogenes turned away (v. 15).
c. Onesiphorus - the Lord showed him mercy (v. 16).
d. Paul the herald (kerux) of the Gentiles (v. 11).
C. 2:1-13 Teach what you have heard from me (vv. 1 and 2).
a. Suffering and reigning (vs. 11 and 12).
b. A good (kalos) soldier (vs. 3).
c. Receiving the wreath (stefano'o) (v. 5).
d. Suffering evil (kakopatheoo) (vs. 3 and 9).
D. 2:14-26 Hymeneus and Philetus from the track of truth (vs. 17 and 18).
a. They drive (prokopto) wickedness further (v. 16).
b. Repentance to a knowledge of the truth (v. 25).
c. Well tried (dokimos) (v. 15).
D. 3:1-9 Jannes and Jambres resist the truth.
a. They will go no further (prokopto) (v. 9).
b. Without ever coming to a knowledge of the truth (v. 7).
c. Failure to pass the test (adokimos) (v. 8).
C. 3:10-4:8 Attention to my teaching.
a. Suffering and ruling (chap. 3:11 and 12 and 4:1).
b. The good (kalos) fight (chap. 4:7).
c. The wreath (stephanos) (chap. 4:8).
d. Accept the suffering (kakopatheoo) (chap. 4:5).
B. 4:9-18 Paul and his message left.
a. The Lord is his protector (v. 17).
b. Demas has forsaken me (v. 10).
c. Alexander - the Lord requited him (v. 14).
d. Paul's proclamation (kerugma) to the Gentiles (v. 17).
A. 4:19-22 Salute and praise.

Purpose and content

The second letter to Timothy is a farewell letter. Paul hands over the proclamation to Timothy (chap. 2:1 and 2 and 4:1-5), but also writes that his ministry is over. He has "finished his course" (chap. 4:7). And his "demise" (KJV: "dissolution") was imminent. The wish he expressed in Acts 20:24, that he might finish his course, was here "fulfilled."

Yet it must not have been easy for the apostle. Those who compare Acts 19:10 with 2 Timothy 1:15 will taste the enormous tragedy. Where Paul proclaimed the prophetic message grounded in the Old Testament, many could and wanted to hear him. But the message he was allowed to proclaim in his (first) captivity - that rich Word concerning the mystery of Christ - caused "all in Asia" to turn from him.

All in all, we see an apostle (with a ministry whose effect was not humanly a success story) thrown back entirely upon his Lord and Savior (vv. 16 and 17). A penetrating lesson for us: if you want to proclaim and live the Word of God as God intended, you will ultimately only be able to rely on Him. "...I know in Whom I have put my trust..." (ch. 1:12).

core texts

"Preach the Word (...) the time is coming when men will no longer endure sound doctrine (...) I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, and moreover lay before me the wreath of righteousness..." (chap. 4:2, 3, and 6-8a).