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Second Letter to Timothy
This is thought to be the last letter written by the apostle Paul. He explains to Timothy his personal condition just before his death. All Paul’s companions had forsaken him except Dr. Luke. Paul is in a cold, damp dungeon. He longs for his cloak, his books, and most of all for Timothy. If Paul did not see Timothy before winter he would never see him again.
Author: Paul the apostle (1:1). No works of Paul are more confirmed more genuine than the Pastoral Epistles, with the exception of Romans and I Corinthians. External evidence supports Pauline authorship of these personal letters. Polycarp, Clement of Rome allude to them and Irenaeus and Tertullian identify them as coming from Paul. The diversity of subjects would produce some linguistic differences as would the use of Paul's using a different secretary.
Recipient: Paul writes to his close missionary associate Timothy (1:2).
Date and Place: The trouble of dating this letter is that we know nothing about Paul after the conclusion of Acts 28. We can only guess at the order of events during the last years of his life. From Philippians 1:19, 25, 26; 2:24 we assume he was released from his first Roman imprisonment about A.D. 63. It seems Paul wrote I Timothy about A. D. 63, from Macedonia, perhaps Philippi (I Tim. 3:14, 15). Then he left Titus to continue the work on Crete (Titus 1:5). From Corinth he wrote to Titus (A.D. 63; Titus 3:12-13).
Early church tradition says Paul went to Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28), and may have been arrested later at Troas (2 Tim. 2:9; 4:13, 15, 20). We know that Emperor Nero died in June, A.D. 68 so the letter needs to be dated prior to that, for Paul’s "second" Roman imprisonment was in A.D. 66 or 67, just before his execution. Most scholars think Paul was taken back to Rome and beheaded at his second arrest. Many believe he was made the chief scapegoat for Nero's burning of Rome. Since Nero was suspected of starting the blaze, he blamed the Christians and ordered them executed. At Paul’s second imprisonment, he was charged as a criminal (2 Tim. 2:9). Paul writes to Timothy, expecting his execution, yet joyful: 2 Timothy 4:6-8 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (KJV)
Paul wrote from solitary confinement in a prison cell in a Roman Prison during his "second" imprisonment (1:8). It is said that the only entrance to his cell was through a hole in the ceiling which was 6.5 feet high. Most believe Paul was acquitted at this "first" trial. Upon his release he returned to Greece and Asia Minor, and was later arrested again, taken back to Rome, and beheaded.
Theme: The time has come for Paul’s departure, and there is in store for him a "crown of righteousness." The climax comes in 4:6-8.
Key verses: 2 Timothy 4:17-18 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. (KJV)
Purpose of the Letter: Paul writes to encourage and warn as he says a warm, heartfelt "good–bye" to possibly his closest friend. He also writes to encourage Timothy to "come before winter."
The letter is a genuine, warm, tender, loving, expression of the feelings of an old man living out his final hours before his execution in a cold, dark, damp Roman dungeon. It is a spiritual last will and testament of sorts. It is the "dying wish" of the faithful old apostle to the Gentiles saying "farewell" to a beloved traveling companion and friend. It is clear from this moving letter that he expects to be killed (4:6). It is filled with tenderness and sadness, but also victory, glory and deep thankfulness much like that expressed in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul anticipates his "crown of righteousness" (4:8). His heart is full of love for his friends.
This is a very heart-rending document as we see the old apostle facing death, as he looks back at his service for God, and his tender concern for his son in the faith, desiring that he be faithful and strong in the task to which God has called him.
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