2 Timothy 1

v1-2: These are fairly typical of the introductions of Paul’s letters. What stands out, though, is the phrase “beloved child” – Paul’s affection for Timothy was obvious. There is also the first hint of the book’s great theme – “the promise of life”.

v3: Why does Paul refer to his “ancestors”? Is the approaching end of his life encouraging him to look back? Or is he setting up a similarity between the two men, which will be completed when he refers to Timothy’s mother and grandmother (v5)? Either way, it is clear that though they didn’t know Jesus they did serve God. The old covenant believers weren’t serving God any less (or differently?) than Paul and Timothy, they just didn’t know as much. Paul remembers Timothy “constantly” in his prayers – he had a massive prayer list! The clear conscience could belong to Paul or his ancestors, but I think it more likely that Paul is explaining that his constant prayers for Timothy give him a clear conscience – after all, what better can he do for his ‘child’ than to life him to God?

v4: Paul remembers Timothy’s tears – presumably when they last parted. It seems that they would both be overjoyed to see each other.

v5: The roots of Timothy’s faith were in the faithfulness of his grandmother and mother, who seem to have taught him well (3:15) despite Timothy having a Gentile father (Acts 16:3). An encouragement for those in the same position – and all who seek to promote the gospel through their lives and words.

v6-7: The “gift of God” here is easier to understand in 1 Timothy 4:14 where it appears that the elders laid their hands on Timothy (to appoint him to his role) and one of them prophesied that he had the gift of teaching (based on 1~4:13 that’s what the gift is) so they “gave” him the gift by telling him that he had it. Now Timothy is told to use and grow this gift for two reasons. One is because of his sincere faith (“For this reason”, beginning v6) and the other is because we haven’t been given a spirit of fear (“for”, beginning v7). On the contrary, his teaching is to be marked with power, love and self-control. Power, because his teaching should be authoritative. Love, because otherwise he will be distant, lacking grace and a “noisy gong” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Self-control, because otherwise he will be a hypocrite. I guess that teaching today should be marked by the same.

v8: (v8-12a form one long sentance, and it’s important not to lose the flow because of the verse breaks.) The “therefore” could look back to the ancestors of v5 (because your ancestors have believed this don’t be ashamed of it!), but I think it’s saying ‘because we have a spirit of power, love and self-control’. Indeed, the “power of God” is referred to again in this verse. Why would Timothy be tempted to be ashamed? The fact that many were deserting the church and there was great persecution would make it easy to “be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord”, while Paul’s imprisonment and seeming failure and defeat would make it easy to be ashamed of him as Timothy’s leader. But no! Because you have a spirit of power, share in that suffering by God’s power. This wasn’t a call to seek out hardship, but to gladly endure it if it came and certainly to hold the gospel more valuable than Timothy’s own life. Paul doesn’t ask Timothy to do something that Paul wouldn’t do – he has!

v9-10: Two further reasons to share in suffering are that God “saved us” and that he “called us to a holy calling”. Timothy is then reminded that we have not been saved by works but by God’s own “purpose and grace”. The surprising thing is that though we have only seen God’s grace since the appearing of Jesus, we’ve had it since “before the ages began” — “before times eternal” in the Greek.  That’s hard to fathom, but a great joy! The references in v10 to death and life are more striking in the context of the suffering Paul and Timothy were facing.  Many Christians were being killed but because of Jesus’ work that can only bring them to “life and immortality”.

v11-12a: Paul reminds Timothy of his credentials, that he was “appointed a preacher and teacher and apostle” for the gospel”. It seems that preacher and teacher are distinct roles. This appointment (by Jesus) is important as Paul will encourage Timothy to stick with Paul’s gospel not another, and has caused him to suffer. (“As I do” cannot be referring to Paul’s conduct in suffering – joy, hope, etc – as then the temptation in the next sentence would be pride not shame.)

v12: As Paul urged Timothy (v8), so Paul is not ashamed despite his sufferings.  This is because he is able to say that he knows Jesus, and he is convinced that Jesus will be to guard until “that Day” (the day of judgement — the end of time) the deposit (the gospel) entrusted to Paul.  In other words, the promise that Paul will be vindicated on the last day will be guarded by Jesus until then.  The alternative translation, “what I have entrusted to him”, may be easier to interpret but seems less likely as it is out of step with the end of verse 14.

v13: Timothy is not simply to repeat what had Paul said, he is to say it the way the Paul said it — that is in “faith and love”.

v14: The “good deposit” seems to be the gospel message and gift of teaching and, as in v12, Timothy has God’s help to guard it.

v15-18: Surrounded by instructions to Timothy in v13-14 and 2:1 are human examples of what and what not to do. Phygelus and Hermogenes abandoned Paul, while Onesiphorus travel to Rome, searched hard for Paul and visited him often — as well as all of his help at Ephesus!  In the light of these examples Paul exhorts Timothy to keep going.

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