The Truth is in 2 Timothy…

*For ease, references to 1 Timothy are denoted 1~ch:v, eg 1~1:1 is 1 Timothy 1:1. Where a book isn’t specified, references are to 2 Timothy.

It’s been a while since I’ve done any writing on passages of the Bible, but I’m going through 2 Timothy in my one-to-ones with an older guy from church and I wanted to have some reminders of what we’ve been talking about. I just want to record some of our thoughts so there are plenty of things I won’t understand fully but hopefully will have time sometime to come back and do more work on. Basically, don’t expect polished sermons but a collection of (often wrong and probably sometimes contradictory) musings on Paul’s last letter before his death.

As always, context is key, so a moment to review the situation that Paul was writing from and into. The church was undergoing serious persecution, being driven by the leaders of the Roman Empire (1:8,12 3:10-13). In this time, many are deserting the church (1:15, 4:10a, 16) and many who are remaining are teaching things which are untrue (2:16-18, 1~1:3-7).

As for the two men, writer and reader, Paul was imprisoned –probably in Rome, after the end of the events recorded in Acts –because of his preaching (1:8, 2:9). So far he has been saved from death (4:16-17) but he knows that his execution is not far off (4:6-8). Timothy is a church leader, possibly in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3) who is Paul’s apprentice and protégé (1:2a, 3:10-11). He doesn’t seem like an obvious leader, he is timid (1:7), poorly (1~5:23) and young (1~4:12). However, it has been recognised by Paul (1:6)and “the body of elders” (1~4:14) that he has the gift of teaching.

In the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that the one theme which comes from this book again and again – indeed the whole letter seems to be soaked with it – is the future. (There are far too many references to list here, but 4:8 and 4:18 give a good appetiser for the feast inside.) In a time of immense suffering and hardship, Paul is looking forward to the resurrection, eternal glory and seeing Jesus and encouraging Timothy to look forward to. It is only in this context that he urges Timothy to follow Paul’s example, to endure suffering or to work hard for the spread of the gospel. Whatever our struggles, and with persecution and intolerance growing in this country, what better place for us to let Paul fix our eyes as well?

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