Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy
Paul left his co-worker Timothy in the city of Ephesus to deal with some renegade leaders in the community of Jesus-followers. Timothy was unable to do this, and Paul needed to go back to Ephesus himself. There he suffered a great deal of harm from Alexander, one of these leaders, and he was once again imprisoned and taken to Rome. He expected that this time he wouldn’t be released, but would be tried and executed.
Since most of his other co-workers were either on different assignments or had deserted him, Paul wrote to Timothy and asked him to come to Rome quickly. He was concerned that winter might prevent travel, or his trial might reach its conclusion, before he could see one of his most dependable co-workers again. Paul wanted both to enjoy his company and assistance and to challenge and encourage him about the uncertain future.
Paul believed Timothy was feeling discouraged and intimidated. So his letter includes challenges to stay faithful to the true message— even if this meant suffering or death— and warnings against the dangers of the false teaching.
Paul reminds Timothy that in the last days, there will be terrible times. False teachers, treacherous and insincere people, persecutions and more will all challenge the faithfulness of Jesus-followers. Paul urges Timothy to remember the gospel message: Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. He points out that the sacred writings Timothy has known since he was a child are God-breathed and will make him thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Audience: Paul gives advice to Timothy, a young preacher.
Date Written: After his fourth missionary journey, which he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus, Paul was again imprisoned. It was during this time that he wrote 2 Timothy. In contrast to his first imprisonment, when he lived in a “rented house,” he now languished in a cold dungeon. Paul knew that his work was done and that his life was nearly at an end.
Imprisoned in Rome yet again, the apostle Paul felt lonely and abandoned. Paul recognized that his earthly life was likely coming to an end soon. The Book of 2 Timothy is essentially Paul’s “last words.” Paul looked past his own circumstances to express concern for the churches and specifically for Timothy. Paul wanted to use his last words to encourage Timothy, and all other believers, to persevere in faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In this letter Paul had two major purposes in mind. He wrote
(1) to urge Timothy to come to Rome as soon as possible in view of his impending death and (2) to admonish Timothy to keep holding on to sound doctrine, to defend it against all error and to endure hardship as a good soldier.
Paul encourages Timothy to remain passionate for Christ and to remain firm in sound doctrine. Paul reminds Timothy to avoid ungodly beliefs and practices and to flee from anything immoral. In the end times there will be both intense persecution and apostasy from the Christian faith.
Paul closes with an intense plea for believers to stand firm in the faith and to finish the race strong.
Reasons for Writing
• Paul’s Concern for Timothy (1:5–14)
• Paul’s Situation (1:15–18)
• Special Instructions to Timothy (ch. 2)
o Call for Endurance (2:1–13)
o Warning about Foolish Controversies (2:14–26)
• Warning about the Last Days (ch. 3)
o Terrible Times (3:1–9)
o Means of Combating Them (3:10–17)
• Paul’s Departing Remarks (4:1–8)
o Charge to Preach the Word (4:1–5)
o Paul’s Victorious Prospect (4:6–8)
• Final Requests, Greetings and Benediction (4:9–22)