According to the salutation, Paul wrote the epistle of 2 Timothy (2 Timothy 1:1) with the apostolic authority he received from Christ, being sent by God (2 Timothy 1:11). The author relates the struggle of his personal circumstances: he was in prison and had already been on trial (2 Timothy 4:16). He knew that his death was imminent (2 Timothy 4:6), and he had “fought a good fight” and finished his course (2 Timothy 4:7). Early church testimonies of those adhering to the orthodox faith are unanimous in stating that the apostle Paul was the author of 2 Timothy. Church leaders at the end of the first century quote from 2 Timothy, which shows that this epistle has apostolic authority.
Like 1 Timothy, this epistle was written “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2). Timothy played an important role in the early church and was very special to Paul. He was Paul’s spiritual son, probably converted during Paul’s first missionary journey. Leaving his native Lystra, he accompanied Paul on his second and third missionary journeys. Paul also sent him to give direction to local churches. He seems to have been a timid person, in need of encouragement (2 Timothy 1:7-8; 2:1-6).
Scholars agree that the circumstances mentioned in 1 and 2 Timothy do not reflect any particular scenario in the book of Acts. This leads us to conclude that these two epistles were written at a later date, after Paul had been released from his two-year imprisonment at Rome. Shortly before his imprisonment Paul had been in Troas (2 Timothy 4:13), a major city in the northwest of Asia Minor, on the coast of Mysia. Because Paul left his cloak there, it can be assumed that he was there in the summer, and as he desired Timothy to come to him before the winter, we may also assume that Paul has not been in prison for a long time and that it is now fall of that same year. Paul’s first imprisonment was a house arrest (Acts 28). This second imprisonment was of a different nature. Paul felt forsaken (2 Tim. 4:16) and Onesiphorus had to search “very diligently” to find out where he was imprisoned (2 Timothy 1:17). Historians estimate that Paul was put to death around AD 67. However, the chronology of the closing events of Paul’s life is too obscure to be certain what year he wrote this epistle.
Encouragement in the ministry against hardships and false doctrines.
Paul writes to encourage Timothy to remain faithful, even as Paul has, in the ministry that has been entrusted to him, that he too might receive the crown of glory.
The Contribution of 2 Timothy to Redemptive Revelation
There appear to be similarities between the two letters written to Timothy. In both, Timothy is encouraged to be strong, to organize church life, and to be alert for false teachers. Although both epistles aim at encouraging Timothy to be faithful to the Lord, however, there are profound differences. The first letter has a more objective and business-like tone, dealing with various issues of organizing and protecting church life. The second is more personal; it is the spiritual legacy of a dying friend and brother in the Lord. Paul longs for Timothy’s presence, repeatedly asking him to come and visit him in his imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:9,21).
- Salutations and Thanksgiving (2 Timothy 1:1-5)
- Address of the Epistle (2 Timothy 1:1-2)
- Thanksgiving to God for Timothy’s Faith (2 Timothy 1:3-5)
- Encouragements and Exhortations (2 Timothy 1:6-2:13)
- Exhortation to Grasp Courage and Not to Be Ashamed of Truth (2 Timothy 1:6-11)
- Admonition to Hold Fast the Truth (2 Timothy 1:12-18)
- Encouragement to Endure Hardship in the Ministry (2 Timothy 2:1-13)
- Warnings and Exhortations to Encourage Perseverance (2 Timothy 2:14-4:5)
- Warnings against Heretics, False Doctrine, and Other Sins (2 Timothy 2:14-26)
- Warning against Falling Away in the Last Days (2 Timothy 3:1-9)
- Exhortation to Stand Firm on the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:10-17)
- Exhortation to Preach the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
- Closing Remarks (2 Timothy 4:6-22)
- Paul’s Testimony Regarding His Death and Living Hope (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
- Personal Greetings (2 Timothy 4:9-21)
- Final Benediction (2 Timothy 4:22)
Extracted from: Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes(Beeke, Joel R. 2015. Reformation Heritage Books).