The Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy
Usually dated to the late first century due to the fact that the epistles to Timothy and Titus reflect a much more developed Church organization than found in early Pauline epistles.
Excerpts from Second Timothy:
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The Second Letter to Timothy
The Gifts Timothy Has Received.
- [1:3] As my ancestors did: this emphasizes the continuity of Judaism and Christianity; for a similar view, see Rom 9:3–5; Phil 3:4–6.
- [1:4–5] Purportedly written from prison in Rome (2 Tm 1:8, 17; 4:6–8) shortly before the writer’s death, the letter recalls the earlier sorrowful parting from Timothy, commending him for his faith and expressing the longing to see him again.
- [1:6] The gift of God: the grace resulting from the conferral of an ecclesiastical office. The imposition of my hands: see note on 1 Tm 4:14.
- [1:11] Teacher: the overwhelming majority of manuscripts and Fathers read “teacher of the nations,” undoubtedly a harmonization with 1 Tm 2:7.
- [1:12] He is able to guard…until that day: the intervening words can also be translated “what I have entrusted to him” (i.e., the fruit of his ministry) as well as “what has been entrusted to me” (i.e., the faith). The same difficult term occurs in 2 Tm 1:14, where it is modified by the adjective “rich” and used without a possessive.
- [1:15] Keen disappointment is expressed, here and later (2 Tm 4:16), that the Christians of the province of Asia, especially Phygelus and Hermogenes, should have abandoned the writer and done nothing to defend his case in court.
- [1:16–18] The family of Onesiphorus because he…of my chains: Onesiphorus seems to have died before this letter was written. His family is mentioned twice (here and in 2 Tm 4:19), though it was Onesiphorus himself who was helpful to Paul in prison and rendered much service to the community of Ephesus. Because the apostle complains of abandonment by all in Asia during his second imprisonment and trial, the assistance of Onesiphorus seems to have been given to Paul during his first Roman imprisonment (A.D. 61–63).
Warning against Useless Disputes.
- [2:1–7] This passage manifests a characteristic deep concern for safeguarding the faith and faithfully transmitting it through trustworthy people (2 Tm 2:1–2; cf. 2 Tm 1:14; 1 Tm 6:20; Ti 1:9). Comparisons to the soldier’s detachment, the athlete’s sportsmanship, and the farmer’s arduous work as the price of recompense (2 Tm 2:4–6) emphasize the need of singleness of purpose in preaching the word, even at the cost of hardship, for the sake of Christ (2 Tm 2:3).
- [2:8–13] The section begins with a slogan-like summary of Paul’s gospel about Christ (2 Tm 2:8) and concludes with what may be part of an early Christian hymn (2 Tm 2:11b–12a; most exegetes include the rest of 2 Tm 2:12 and all of 2 Tm 2:13 as part of the quotation). The poetic lines suggest that through baptism Christians die spiritually with Christ and hope to live with him and reign with him forever, but the Christian life includes endurance, witness, and even suffering, as the final judgment will show and as Paul’s own case makes clear; while he is imprisoned for preaching the gospel (2 Tm 2:9), his sufferings are helpful to the elect for obtaining the salvation and glory available in Christ (2 Tm 2:10), who will be true to those who are faithful and will disown those who deny him (2 Tm 2:12–13).
- [2:14–19] For those who dispute about mere words (cf. 2 Tm 2:23–24) and indulge in irreligious talk to the detriment of their listeners (2 Tm 2:16–19), see notes on 1 Tm 1:3–7; 6:20–21. Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tm 2:17), while accepting the Christian’s mystical death and resurrection in Christ through baptism, claimed that baptized Christians are already risen with Christ in this life and thus that there is no future bodily resurrection or eternal glory to come. The first quotation in 2 Tm 2:19 is from Nm 16:5; the other quotation is from some unidentified Jewish or Christian writing.
The Dangers of the Last Days.
Paul’s Example and Teaching.
- [3:1–9] The moral depravity and false teaching that will be rampant in the last days are already at work (2 Tm 3:1–5). The frivolous and superficial, too, devoid of the true spirit of religion, will be easy victims of those who pervert them by falsifying the truth (2 Tm 3:6–8), just as Jannes and Jambres, Pharaoh’s magicians of Egypt (Ex 7:11–12, 22), discredited the truth in Moses’ time. Exodus does not name the magicians, but the two names are widely found in much later Jewish, Christian, and even pagan writings. Their origins are legendary.
- [3:10–17] Paul’s example for Timothy includes persecution, a frequent emphasis in the Pastorals. Timothy is to be steadfast to what he has been taught and to scripture. The scriptures are the source of wisdom, i.e., of belief in and loving fulfillment of God’s word revealed in Christ, through whom salvation is given.
- [3:16–17] Useful for teaching…every good work: because as God’s word the scriptures share his divine authority. It is exercised through those who are ministers of the word.
- [3:16] All scripture is inspired by God: this could possibly also be translated, “All scripture inspired by God is useful for….” In this classic reference to inspiration, God is its principal author, with the writer as the human collaborator. Thus the scriptures are the word of God in human language. See also 2 Pt 1:20–21.
Reward for Fidelity.
- [4:1–5] The gravity of the obligation incumbent on Timothy to preach the word can be gauged from the solemn adjuration: in the presence of God, and of Christ coming as universal judge, and by his appearance and his kingly power (2 Tm 4:1). Patience, courage, constancy, and endurance are required despite the opposition, hostility, indifference, and defection of many to whom the truth has been preached (2 Tm 4:2–5).
- [4:3] Insatiable curiosity: literally, “with itching ears.”
- [4:6] The apostle recognizes his death through martyrdom to be imminent. He regards it as an act of worship in which his blood will be poured out in sacrifice; cf. Ex 29:38–40; Phil 2:17.
- [4:7] At the close of his life Paul could testify to the accomplishment of what Christ himself foretold concerning him at the time of his conversion, “I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16).
- [4:8] When the world is judged at the parousia, all who have eagerly looked for the Lord’s appearing and have sought to live according to his teachings will be rewarded. The crown is a reference to the laurel wreath placed on the heads of victorious athletes and conquerors in war; cf. 2 Tm 2:5; 1 Cor 9:25.
- [4:9–13] Demas either abandoned the work of the ministry for worldly affairs or, perhaps, gave up the faith itself (2 Tm 4:10). Luke (2 Tm 4:11) may have accompanied Paul on parts of his second and third missionary journeys (Acts 16:10–12; 20:5–7). Notice the presence of the first personal pronoun “we” in these Acts passages, suggesting to some that Luke (or at least some traveling companion of Paul’s) was the author of Acts. Mark, once rejected by Paul (Acts 13:13; 15:39), is now to render him a great service (2 Tm 4:11); cf. Col 4:10; Phlm 24. For Tychicus, see Eph 6:21; cf. also Acts 20:4; Col 4:7.
- [4:10] Galatia: some manuscripts read “Gaul” or “Gallia.”
- [4:14–18] Alexander: an opponent of Paul’s preaching (2 Tm 4:14–15), perhaps the one who is mentioned in 1 Tm 1:20. Despite Paul’s abandonment by his friends in the province of Asia (cf. 2 Tm 1:15–16), the divine assistance brought this first trial to a successful issue, even to the point of making the gospel message known to those who participated in or witnessed the trial (2 Tm 4:16–17).
- [4:19] Prisca and Aquila: they assisted Paul in his ministry in Corinth (Acts 18:2–3) and Ephesus (Acts 18:19, 26; 1 Cor 16:19). They risked death to save his life, and all the Gentile communities are indebted to them (Rom 16:3–5).
- [4:20] Erastus: he was the treasurer of the city of Corinth (Rom 16:24); cf. also Acts 19:22. Trophimus: from the province of Asia, he accompanied Paul from Greece to Troas (Acts 20:4–5).
- [4:21] Linus: Western tradition sometimes identified this Linus with the supposed successor of Peter as bishop of Rome, and Claudia as the mother of Linus (Apostolic Constitutions, fourth century).