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Book chapters «The Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy»
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  • This book was written at a time when the churches established through the apostle's ministry in the Gentile world were in a trend of degradation and the apostle himself was confined in a remote prison. Many had turned away from him and forsaken him (v. 15; 4:16), including even some of his co-workers (2 Tim. 4:10). It was a discouraging and disappointing scene, especially to his young fellow worker and spiritual child, Timothy. Because of this, in the opening of this encouraging, strengthening, and establishing Epistle, he confirmed to Timothy that he was an apostle of Christ not only through the will of God but also according to the promise of life, which is in Christ. This implies that though the churches may become degraded and many of the saints may backslide in unfaithfulness, the eternal life, the divine life, the uncreated life of God, promised by God in His holy writings and given to the apostle and all the believers, remains forever the same. With and upon this unchanging life the firm foundation of God was laid and stands unshaken through all the tide of degradation (2 Tim. 2:19). By such a life those who seek the Lord out of a pure heart are able to stand the test of the church's decline. This life, which the apostle in 1 Timothy charged Timothy and others to lay hold on (1 Tim. 6:12, 19), must have been an encouragement and strengthening to the apostle in perilous times.

  • Only in 1 and 2 Timothy, among all his Epistles, did the apostle include God's mercy in the opening greeting. God's mercy reaches farther than His grace. In the degraded situation of the churches, God's mercy is needed. This mercy brings in God's rich grace, which is sufficient to deal with any degradation.

  • To serve God in worship to Him (Acts 24:14; Phil. 3:3).

  • Following in the footsteps of his forefathers to serve God in a pure conscience.

  • See note 1 Tim. 3:92d. In a time of degradation a pure conscience is needed for one to serve God.

  • Lit., indwelt.

  • This was written to encourage and strengthen Timothy in his ministry for the Lord, which might have been enfeebled by Paul's imprisonment and the degraded situation of the churches.

  • The spirit here denotes our human spirit, regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 3:6; Rom. 8:16). To fan into flame the gift of God (v. 6) is related to our regenerated spirit.

  • Of power refers to our will, of love to our emotion, and of sobermindedness to our mind. This indicates that having a strong will, a loving emotion, and a sober mind has very much to do with having a strong spirit for the exercise of the gift of God that is in us.

  • This was the reason Paul charged Timothy in vv. 6-7 to fan into flame by a strong spirit the gift of God that was in him.

  • Not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord is to stand against the downward current in the declining churches.

  • Since the gospel, personified here (cf. note Rev. 6:22, was suffering persecution, Timothy needed to suffer evil along with the gospel.

  • Our suffering of persecution along with the gospel must be to the extent that the power of God, not our natural strength, can endure.

  • God not only saved us to enjoy His blessing but also called us with a holy calling, a calling for a particular goal, in order to fulfill His purpose.

  • God's purpose is His plan according to His will to put us into Christ and make us one with Him to share His life and position that we may be His testimony. Grace is God's provision in life given to us that we may live out His purpose.

  • I.e., before the world began. The grace given to us in Christ was bestowed on us before the world began. This is a sure and unshakable foundation that stands firm against the downward current and exposes the utter powerlessness of the enemy's efforts to counter the eternal purpose of God. In order to strengthen Timothy, the apostle identified their ministry with this.

  • God's grace was given to us in eternity, but it was manifested and applied to us through our Lord's first coming, in which He nullified death and brought life to us.

  • Christ nullified death, making it of none effect, through His devil-destroying death (Heb. 2:14) and death-swallowing resurrection (1 Cor. 15:52-54).

  • The eternal life of God, which is given to all believers in Christ (1 Tim. 1:16) and which is the main element of the divine grace given to us (Rom. 5:17, 21). This life has conquered death (Acts 2:24) and will swallow up death (2 Cor. 5:4). It was according to the promise of such a life that Paul was an apostle (v. 1). This life and the incorruption that is its consequence have been brought to light and made visible to men through the preaching of the gospel.

  • Life is the divine element, even God Himself, imparted into our spirit; incorruption is the consequence of life's saturating of our body (Rom. 8:11). This life and incorruption are able to counter the death and corruption brought in by the decline among the churches.

  • Referring to the gospel of divine grace and eternal life, corresponding with the gospel in grace and life presented by the apostle John (John 1:4, 16-17). For such a gospel Paul was appointed a herald, an apostle, and a teacher.

  • A herald announces and proclaims the gospel, an apostle sets up and establishes the churches for God's administration, and a teacher gives instructions to the churches with all the saints. See note 71 in 1 Tim. 2.

  • The apostle suffered for a cause, a cause on the highest plane — the proclaiming of the glad tidings of the gospel of grace and life to establish the churches, and the directing of the saints. Such a cause must have been an encouragement and strengthening to Timothy as he faced the deterioration of the declining churches.

  • So Timothy should not have been ashamed either (v. 8).

  • The apostle believed not a thing or a matter but a living person, Christ, the Son of the living God, who is the embodiment of divine grace and eternal life. The eternal life in Him is powerful; it is more than able to sustain to the end the one who suffers for His sake, and to preserve him for the inheritance of the coming glory. The grace in Him was more than sufficient to provide His sent one with all he needed for finishing the course of his ministry unto a reward in glory (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Hence, He was able to guard that which the apostle had committed unto Him for the day of His return. Such an assurance must also have been an encouragement and strengthening to the enfeebled and sorrowful Timothy.

  • Or, that which I have committed unto Him. The apostle committed his entire being with his glorious future unto the One who was able, through His life and grace, to guard his deposit for the day of His second appearing.

  • The day of Christ's second appearing.

  • Or, example. The word in v. 12 is a pattern, an example, of healthy words.

  • This is the deposit the Lord entrusted to us, in contrast to the deposit we entrusted to Him, mentioned in v. 12. According to v. 13, the deposit here must refer to the deposit of healthy words, including the riches of life in His word, which the Lord has stored in us. See note 1 Tim. 6:201.

  • Lit., is indwelling. The Holy Spirit dwells in our spirit (Rom. 8:16). Hence, for us to guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit requires that we exercise our spirit.

  • I.e., the province of Asia. The phrase all who are in Asia points to the general situation among the believers in Asia and does not include every particular believer; for Onesiphorus is mentioned as one from Asia who often refreshed Paul and sought him out (vv. 16-18).

  • This indicates that the believers in Asia who had formerly received the apostle's ministry now forsook him. In spite of such desertion, the apostle grew stronger in the grace that was in Christ, who is the same and will never change. Not being discouraged, he exhorted his son in faith to persevere steadily in the ministry in the midst of the failure and ruin of the churches.

  • These two must be the ones who took the lead to desert the apostle because of his imprisonment (cf. v. 8).

  • He was an overcomer who surmounted the general trend and stood against the downward current to refresh the Lord's ambassador in spirit, soul, and body, not being ashamed of the apostle's imprisonment on behalf of the Lord's commission.

  • The day of the Lord's victorious appearing to reward His overcomers (2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 22:12).

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