2 Timothy 1
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
2To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul begins his second letter to Timothy almost identically to the first, emphasizing his apostleship by the will of God and because of the true gospel in Christ. He speaks again of Timothy as his beloved son in the faith, and he wishes him grace, peace, and mercy from Christ, all of which we as believers need to persevere in the faith.
3I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,
4longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.
Paul begins thinking of how the Christian faith is not a new thing, but that there have been many true worshippers of God since the beginning of time. Paul’s forefathers are those who trusted in Christ from generations past (c.f. Hebrews 11), and these, like Paul, served God with a clear conscience. He says that he prays for Timothy day and night and that he longs to see him because of the joy it would bring him.
5For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.
6For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
7For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
As Paul is carrying on the baton of truth faithfully and with sincerity rather than false, sinful, or selfish motives, he says that he desires Timothy to do the same. He reflects on how Timothy has a sincere faith in his heart which was shared by his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice. Eunice was able to train her son in the way he should go, believing in God and receiving Christ’s gospel, even though Timothy’s father was likely unbelieving (Acts 16:1-2). Timothy had a literal familial heritage of faith in addition to the heritage that all believers possess of the many faithful men and women who have served the Lord in times past. God has worked in the world since the beginning, and Paul is reminding Timothy that his faith is part of a long history of faithful service and carrying out of the work of God in the world. Timothy must be faithful to fulfill his calling and utilize his gifts, carrying on the baton of faith with grace, boldness, and courage. To be timid, fearful, or cowardly is not consistent with how God desires us to serve Him, and it is a disservice to the many who have walked strongly and powerfully in faith before us. God has made it possible for Timothy and all believers to serve Him with the power, strength, courage, boldness, love, ability, and self-control which He supplies. Timothy must kindle his gifts afresh by placing his faith and confidence in the power of Christ as He works in and through him. He has a tough calling as a young person to have to speak truth to those much older than he, and he needs to persevere in faithfulness, boldness, and in his own godliness.
8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
9who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,
10but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
11for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.
Paul does not want Timothy to shrink back in shame at standing for Christ or being associated with Paul. He wants to be sure that Timothy stands firm for Christ and in allegiance for the gospel even if it means suffering as it did for Paul. Timothy needs to be willing to accept the consequences and persecution that will certainly arise as he continues to preach the truth of the Bible. Even suffering for the sake of the gospel is by the power of God. It is a purpose of God (1 Peter 4:12), it brings glory to God, and God can use it to accomplish great things for the kingdom (Philippians 1:12). But we need His power in order to withstand the difficulties of suffering. We must remember what Christ has accomplished on our behalf so that we remain motivated and focused to stand for Him, to preach His gospel, and to suffer with Him when necessary. Christ saved us as believers so that we would live in holiness and be made holy in God’s sight. This holiness is not a result of works, lest we should boast, but it is a gift of grace from God based on the work and merit of Christ on our behalf (Ephesians 2:8-9). God had planned from eternity past to send Christ to save man from his sins, and at the right time, He appeared to abolish the penalty of spiritual death and bring the opportunity to have eternal life by believing the gospel. Salvation by faith was God’s way from the beginning, but now in Christ, God’s full and complete purpose for redeeming man was brought to light (c.f. 1 Peter 1:10-11). Christ appointed Paul a preacher, teacher, and apostle (one commissioned by Christ who had seen the risen Christ) specifically to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8), though he preached and taught God’s Word to all people.
12For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Paul understands that his suffering is directly related to his being willing to obey Christ and preach and teach His gospel. Yet he is not ashamed, and nothing will keep him from continuing to preach the truth. He knows Christ personally, and He is convinced that His testimony is true. He is also sure that Christ will reward him for his faithfulness and willingness to suffer for His sake (Matthew 5:10).
13Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
14Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
Paul wants Timothy to hold fast to sound doctrine and to the preaching and teaching of the Word to which he was called. Just as Paul continues to herald the truth, Timothy is to do the same. He is not to give into any different doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3), but he is to guard the truth about Christ which is in his own heart. Timothy has a responsibility and stewardship before God to defend the body of truth that he knows. He has been called to shepherd and teach the flock over which he has been entrusted, and he must be faithful in using his God-given gifts to fulfill his ministry and uphold the truth. Timothy will be able to do this by the Spirit’s help, empowering, and leading such that he will be able to retain sound doctrine, godliness, and courage. He is one in a long line of faithful men and women, and it is now his turn to guard the treasure of the gospel of Christ, passing it on fully and accurately to the next generation.
15You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains;
17but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me--
18the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day--and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.
Though Paul had continued to stand for Christ even though it meant suffering, there were many who turned away from acknowledging Christ and preaching the gospel, perhaps being unwilling to face the impending persecution. All who were in Asia had turned away from serving alongside Paul, including Phylegus and Hermogenes. This had to be greatly discouraging to Paul to see so many fail under pressure, but he continued to look forward to the reward and backward to the love of Christ which saved him. Onesiphorus, on the other hand, had been faithful to Paul. He had done much good in the name of Christ and for him personally, refreshing and encouraging him and not being intimidated by his imprisonment. He even purposed to seek Paul out in prison while Paul was in Rome. He had also done much faithful service to the church in Ephesus, where Timothy served as elder. Thus, Paul wishes him mercy in the day of Christ because he did show himself to be a faithful and true follower of Christ. Those who left either were unbelievers who demonstrated that they were never of the true family of God (1 John 2:19), or they were believers who succumbed to the pressure and the pull of the flesh. Unbelievers, unlike Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 4:19), will not receive mercy on the Day of the Lord.