New Defender's Study Bible Notes
Introduction to II Timothy
Paul’s second epistle to Timothy constitutes his final inspired record, written shortly before his martyrdom (II Timothy 4:6-8). After release from his first imprisonment, followed by a few more years of ministry, Paul was again arrested in the great wave of Christian persecution by the emperor Nero following the great Roman fire of A.D. 64. He was apparently accused and falsely convicted of crimes against the state, sentenced to the cruel Mamertine Prison to await execution, and was then finally beheaded some weeks or months later. This is believed to have been in about A.D. 68.
Whether Timothy was still in Ephesus when Paul wrote to him from the prison is doubtful (note II Timothy 4:12), and his location at the time remains unknown. Paul longed to see Timothy once again and urged him to come as soon as he could (II Timothy 1:4; 4:9,13,21). The main burden of his letter, however, was not in reference to his own situation, as miserable as it was. His prison cell just above the Tiber River was damp and cold, with its only access a small door in the ceiling. He had been unjustly condemned, with none of his friends or disciples able or willing to defend him (II Timothy 4:14,16). Only his beloved physician, Luke, had stayed near by, seeking to help as best as he could under the circumstances (II Timothy 4:11).
Nevertheless, he was more concerned for the future of the church and the message of Christianity than he was for his own comfort. Accordingly, the main burden of this final letter of the great apostle was to encourage Timothy (and all who would later read his epistle, including us today), to stand firm in the faith and in the integrity of God’s Word (II Timothy 1:13; 2:1,3; 4:1-2; etc.). Paul knew that he had essentially finished his own ministry and was even looking forward to meeting the Lord (II Timothy 1:12; 4:7-8).
Surely these final words of this unique man of God constitute a rich mine of spiritual treasure to all who will study them. They contain the great prophetic description of the evils of the last days, for example (II Timothy 3:1-13), indicating clearly that the preaching of the gospel, all-important as it is, will never convert the world as a whole. That must await the coming of Christ and His kingdom (II Timothy 4:1). Nevertheless, the Christian must continue believing and proclaiming God’s Word until that day, or as long as he lives (II Timothy 1:8; 3:14; 4:2,5), knowing that at least some will receive it (II Timothy 2:24-26) and be saved.
Finally, it is significant that what is probably the greatest affirmation in the Bible of its own divine inspiration, infallibility, and complete profitability has been left for us here in these last words of the great Apostle Paul (II Timothy 3:16-17). May we take this definitive proclamation as our certain guide in these last days!
1:2 dearly beloved son. This epistle was Paul’s last before his martyrdom, written from his prison cell in Rome, and it is appropriate that it was written to his faithful disciple, Timothy. In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul called him his own son in the faith; in this, he calls him simply “my dearly beloved son.” Paul had no real son of his own, and Timothy’s father was not a Christian, so they had grown to love each other like father and son.
1:4 thy tears. Timothy evidently had wept when he heard of Paul’s imprisonment (probably his second Roman imprisonment—see note on I Timothy 1:3) and coming execution. Paul himself was frequently moved to tears on behalf of those whom he was trying to help (e.g., Acts 20:31; Philippians 3:18). John also wept (Revelation 5:4), and so did Jesus (John 11:35; Luke 19:41). There is, indeed, “a time to weep” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
1:5 thy mother Eunice. Note II Timothy 3:15. There is great blessing in having a godly heritage, even when only one parent and one grandparent contribute to it. It will be a joy to meet Lois and Eunice in heaven in the age to come! Note also the testimony concerning the parents of John the Baptist. “They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6).
1:6 putting on of my hands. See note on I Timothy 4:14. Paul may have considered himself one of the presbytery (elders) who had special prayer for Timothy as he entered his ministry at Ephesus.
1:7 spirit of fear. Under the severe persecution of Nero, with Paul in prison and condemned to death, it would be natural for Timothy and other believers to be afraid and to refrain from speaking out for Christ. The same tendency to fear affects believers today as well, often for much less reason. Paul would remind us that this fearful attitude is not from God. He has given us the Spirit of power (Acts 1:8), the Spirit of love (Galatians 5:22), and the Spirit of a sound (that is “sober”) mind, that is, the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16).
1:8 ashamed of the testimony. Paul was not ashamed, in spite of suffering in prison (I Timothy 1:12) and Onesiphorous was not ashamed to minister to Paul in prison (I Timothy 1:16). Therefore Paul encouraged Timothy not to be ashamed to give testimony to Christ (I Timothy 1:8).
1:9 before the world began. This remarkable revelation is incomprehensible to finite minds. We who are “in Christ Jesus” were saved and called (note the past tense), not only before we consciously accepted Christ but even before we were born and before He created the world. See also Ephesians 1:4. While we cannot understand this with our minds, we can apprehend it with our hearts, and thank the Lord.
1:10 appearing. Depending on context, the “appearing” (Greek epiphaneia) of Christ may refer either to His first coming, as here, or to His second coming (e.g., I Timothy 6:14).
1:10 immortality. See note on I Timothy 6:16. The Greek words are different in the two verses, but the sense is the same.
1:12 know whom I have believed. One who thinks or hopes he or she is a Christian probably is not a real Christian. This greatest of all questions is one whose answer can and should be known! Such verses as I John 5:13 and John 10:27-28, among many others, make this clear. Also see footnotes on I John 2:3 and 5:13.
1:13 sound words. It is vital not only to guard the thoughts but also the very words of Scripture.