The letter of 2nd Timothy is written by the Apostle Paul to his pupil Timothy. Most scholars believe this letter was Paul’s last before being executed in Rome. In reading the letter, one gets a sense of the immense love Paul has for Timothy (2 Tim 1:1-2), but also concern for his faith and calling (2 Tim 1:6-7).
Paul had given Timothy charge of overseeing the church at Ephesus. This was a difficult task for Timothy, but Paul believed Timothy’s training since his youth (2 Tim 1:14-15) and his sincere faith (1 Tim 1:5) would see him through. Ephesus was a city popular for idolatry and Christians today probably can’t imagine the oppressive spiritual darkness overhanging the city. In fact, even though Paul is writing this letter to Timothy to request he come visit Paul in prison before winter, the rest of the letter is written to encourage and exhort Timothy to not be afraid or ashamed of his faith, but rather be bold in it and rely on it.
There were plenty of reasons for Timothy to be discouraged.
- He was young
- He was exposed to various trials
- Many others were straying from the faith
- Knowing Paul was in prison and was probably facing execution, it would have been easy to lose courage
It’s against this backdrop that Paul sets before Timothy all of the reasons why he should devote himself, without waiver, to his faith and not let these things which might tempt him to turn away from the Truth have an effect on his mind.
Paul begins the letter with praise for Timothy.
Ti 1:3-5 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
Paul then reminds Timothy of his prior training and rich heritage in the faith.
2Ti 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
Paul reminds Timothy of the gifts that had been given him to him by God. Timothy had been consecrated to share the gospel by the laying on of hands by Paul. God had also given Timothy a spirit of love, power, and a self control.
2Ti 1:6-7 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Paul reminds Timothy that by the Grace of God has he been called to the great work of an evangelist and that he possessed the gospel by which life and immortality are brought to light.
2Ti 1:8-11 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,
Paul had never been ashamed of the gospel even while suffering, and he expected Timothy to follow in these same footsteps, imitating Paul’s faith.
2Ti 1:12-14 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
Paul reminds Timothy that all of his other companions in Asia Minor had abandoned him and urges Timothy, therefore, to be steadfast to the principles of being a disciple, know full well Timothy could expect similar treatment while serving God.
2Ti 1:15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
When I read and studied through this chapter of 2nd Timothy, three personal observations came to mind:
1. Timothy was a young person in the midst of a crazy environment and the peer pressure to give up was tremendous. But Timothy’s love for Paul, his spiritual father, and his love for the Truth would see him through.
2. Timothy knew the Truth of the Gospel, but fear and intimidation were real temptations he needed to overcome.
3. Timothy, like all Christians, had been given a mission from God. That mission would require suffering and Timothy needed to realize his suffering was not unique, but all of his brothers and sisters in Christ were participating in the same suffering.
Fear can be overwhelming. This is why spiritual preparation is so important. Only those that spend time in the scriptures, prayer, and sacrifice during easy times will be able to overcome the temptation to cave to fear when the difficult times come.
In America right now, we are woefully unprepared as a church, as individual Christians, and certainly as young people to overcome the fear being cast onto us. I pray for those with a heart for God to return to Him and to His Word and to not be fearful, but to rejoice that we have been called to suffering like our Master was, for our reward will be great in eternity.