2 Timothy 1
Thanksgiving and Encouragement (1:1-18)
1 In most of his letters, Paul reminds his readers that he has been made an APOSTLE not by man’s will but by the will of God (see 1 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1 and comments).
2 See Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2 and comments.
3 Paul here gives thanks for Timothy (see Romans 1:8; Ephesians 1:15-16; Colossians 1:3-4 and comments). Paul remembers Timothy in his prayers night and day (Acts 20:31). As in his first letter to Timothy, Paul here again mentions a clear conscience. In Paul’s experience, having a clear conscience was absolutely essential for leading a fruitful and Spirit-filled Christian life (see 1 Timothy 1:5,19 and comment).
4 Paul remembers Timothy’s tears. It’s possible that Paul is thinking here of the time he gave a final farewell to the elders of the Ephesian church; Timothy was probably among those elders (Acts 20:37).
5 Many Christians testify that they first believed in Christ through the influence and example of devout parents. It was so with Timothy. Paul here recalls the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother; it was through their faith that Timothy had himself been led to believe in Christ (Acts 16:1).
One does not automatically become a Christian because of the faith of his parents. We must each believe for ourselves and receive new spiritual life (John 3:3). But even though this is true, it is still God’s desire and plan that children follow the example of their believing parents.
6 Paul exhorts Timothy to fan into flame the gift that God has given him. Timothy doesn’t need a new gift for being a church leader; he needs only to keep alive the gift he has already been given. He needs to keep its flame burning. We, likewise, must use and develop the gifts that God has given us. The man who doesn’t use his gifts is like a man who receives a lamp and then, having let it go out, remains sitting in darkness.
Timothy received his gift or anointing for leadership when Paul, together with some other elders, laid their hands on him and appointed him to be a leader in the church (see 1 Timothy 4:14 and comment).
Every Christian has been given the necessary spiritual and natural gifts to do the work that God has appointed him or her to do. God will never ask us to do a work for which He has not prepared and equipped us.
7 Timothy was by nature a timid and fearful man. Paul here reminds Timothy that in place of his natural timidity God, through the Holy Spirit, will give him a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. Throughout history, God has accomplished great and amazing things through naturally timid people who have been filled with the Holy Spirit.
For any leader self-discipline and self-control are very important. Before a leader can discipline others, he must first be able to discipline himself.
8 Therefore, Paul encourages Timothy to put away any fear and shame he might naturally feel and to testify boldly about Christ. Let Timothy be prepared to join Paul in suffering for the GOSPEL. In Paul’s day, Christian preachers and pastors were imprisoned, beaten, and even killed. But Timothy will be able to endure such suffering by the power of God—that is, by the power given to him by the Holy Spirit (verse 7).
Notice Paul’s personal request to Timothy. The great apostle, a prisoner in Rome, writes to his spiritual son Timothy and asks him not to be ashamed of him. Like Jesus before him, Paul was about to be condemned to death as a criminal. In the world’s eyes, Paul was a man to be shunned and despised. But let Timothy not despise Paul. Rather, let him follow in Paul’s footsteps and be prepared to suffer for Christ.
9 In verses 9-10, Paul briefly interrupts his teaching in order to praise God, who has saved us through Jesus Christ (see 1 Timothy 1:1 and comment). God has not only saved us, but He has also called us to a holy life (see Ephesians 1:4; 2:10; 1 Peter 1:15-16 and comments). He has called us not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and GRACE (see Ephesians 1:4-5,11; 2:8-9 and comments). This grace was given to us before the beginning of time—that is, before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
10 This grace was first revealed in the world through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus; that is, God’s grace came into the world in the person of Christ (Titus 2:11). Christ destroyed death, our last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). Now we no longer need to fear death (1 Corinthians 15:55-56; Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus has brought life and immortality—that is, eternal life—to light. This eternal life, or salvation, was at first hidden from men; it was like a “mystery.” But now for all who believe, this mystery has been revealed; it has been brought to light (see Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:4-5). This mystery has been brought to light through the gospel. Indeed, verses 9-10 themselves are a brief summary of the Gospel of Christ.
11 Paul can never forget how he had been appointed to be a herald and an apostle and a teacher of this great Gospel (1 Timothy 2:7). But now, Timothy must step into Paul’s place.
12 It is because of Paul’s preaching of the Gospel of Christ that he has had to suffer. However, there is nothing shameful in suffering for Christ; it is the highest privilege a man or woman can have (see 1 Peter 4:1216).
Paul knows the One in whom he has believed. He knows God personally; he has met Him! Paul has complete confidence in God. Therefore, Paul has entrusted his spirit, his soul, his salvation, and all his work and labor completely to God. Paul knows that God will guard all that Paul has entrusted to Him. God will guard it for that day—that is, for the day when Christ comes again at the end of the world. On that day, Paul will receive his full reward.
13 Paul has given to Timothy the pattern of sound teaching; he has passed on to Timothy the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. Now Timothy must hold on to that pattern and faithfully preach it and teach it to others with faith and love.
14 The pattern of sound teaching (verse 13) is the Gospel of Christ itself, which Paul here calls the good deposit. Timothy is to guard this Gospel, this deposit, from error and from false teachers. In guarding the gospel, as in preaching it, Timothy is to rely on the help of the HOLY SPIRIT.
15 Nowadays, when we read about Paul, we all agree that he was a great apostle—probably the greatest. But in Paul’s time, most people did not have that opinion. Most people despised Paul and did not accept his teaching or his authority. His own Christian brothers betrayed him. He writes here: … everyone in the province of Asia1 has deserted me (see 2 Timothy 4:16).
Christ was also deserted by His disciples (Mark 14:50). But let not such a thing happen in our churches today. Let us never desert or oppose our leaders, or speak evil of them. Great harm comes to the spiritual lives of Christians who oppose or speak against their leaders; many will even leave their faith.
Phygelus and Hermogenes were two such men. Nothing is known of them except what is written in this verse. They are remembered only because they deserted their leader Paul. Let this not be the reason that people remember us!
16-18 Instead, let us, like Onesiphorus, be remembered for our faithfulness, so that we too might find mercy on that day—the day when Christ comes again.