The first design of this epistle seems to have been, to apprize Timothy of what had occurred during the imprisonment of the apostle, and to request him to come to Rome. But being uncertain whether he should be suffered to live to see him, Paul gives a variety of advices and encouragements, for the faithful discharge of his ministerial duties. As this was a private epistle written to St. Paul's most intimate friend, under the miseries of imprisonment, and in the near prospect of death, it shows the temper and character of the apostle, and contains convincing proofs that he sincerely believed the doctrines he preached.
Paul expresses great affection for Timothy. (1-5) Exhorts him to improve his spiritual gifts. (6-14) Tells of many who basely deserted him; but speaks with affection of Onesiphorus. (15-18)
Verses 1-5 The promise of eternal life to believers in Christ Jesus, is the leading subject of ministers who are employed according to the will of God. The blessings here named, are the best we can ask for our beloved friends, that they may have peace with God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Whatever good we do, God must have the glory. True believers have in every age the same religion as to substance. Their faith is unfeigned; it will stand the trial, and it dwells in them as a living principle. Thus pious women may take encouragement from the success of Lois and Eunice with Timothy, who proved so excellent and useful a minister. Some of the most worthy and valuable ministers the church of Christ has been favoured with, have had to bless God for early religious impressions made upon their minds by the teaching of their mothers or other female relatives.
Verses 6-14 God has not given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, of courage and resolution, to meet difficulties and dangers; the spirit of love to him, which will carry us through opposition. And the spirit of a sound mind, quietness of mind. The Holy Spirit is not the author of a timid or cowardly disposition, or of slavish fears. We are likely to bear afflictions well, when we have strength and power from God to enable us to bear them. As is usual with Paul, when he mentions Christ and his redemption, he enlarges upon them; so full was he of that which is all our salvation, and ought to be all our desire. The call of the gospel is a holy call, making holy. Salvation is of free grace. This is said to be given us before the world began, that is, in the purpose of God from all eternity; in Christ Jesus, for all the gifts that come from God to sinful man, come in and through Christ Jesus alone. And as there is so clear a prospect of eternal happiness by faith in Him, who is the Resurrection and the Life, let us give more diligence in making his salvation sure to our souls. Those who cleave to the gospel, need not be ashamed, the cause will bear them out; but those who oppose it, shall be ashamed. The apostle had trusted his life, his soul, and eternal interests, to the Lord Jesus. No one else could deliver and secure his soul through the trials of life and death. There is a day coming, when our souls will be inquired after. Thou hadst a soul committed to thee; how was it employed? in the service of sin, or in the service of Christ? The hope of the lowest real Christian rests on the same foundation as that of the great apostle. He also has learned the value and the danger of his soul; he also has believed in Christ; and the change wrought in his soul, convinces the believer that the Lord Jesus will keep him to his heavenly kingdom. Paul exhorts Timothy to hold fast the Holy Scriptures, the substance of solid gospel truth in them. It is not enough to assent to the sound words, but we must love them. The Christian doctrine is a trust committed to us; it is of unspeakable value in itself, and will be of unspeakable advantage to us. It is committed to us, to be preserved pure and entire, yet we must not think to keep it by our own strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us; and it will not be gained by those who trust in their own hearts, and lean to their own understandings.
Verses 15-18 The apostle mentions the constancy of Onesiphorus; he oft refreshed him with his letters, and counsels, and comforts, and was not ashamed of him. A good man will seek to do good. The day of death and judgment is an awful day. And if we would have mercy then, we must seek for it now of the Lord. The best we can ask, for ourselves or our friends, is, that the Lord will grant that we and they may find mercy of the Lord, when called to pass out of time into eternity, and to appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
That this epistle was written to Timothy, while he was at Ephesus, where the apostle in his former epistle had desired him to stay, is evident from his making mention of some persons in it, who were Ephesians; as Onesiphorus, whom he commends, and Alexander the coppersmith, of whom he complains: and that this epistle was written by the apostle, when he was at Rome, is no less evident; for he expressly calls himself a prisoner, 2Ti 1:8 and speaks of being then in trouble, and in bonds, 2Ti 2:9,10 and the persons that send their salutations in it to Timothy were Romans, 2Ti 4:21 but at what time it was written is not so certain: it seems by 2Ti 4:7 that it was but a little time before his martyrdom; though those words may only signify, that he was now very much on the decline of life, was now grown an old man, and in continual expectation of death, and was in a constant readiness for it, come when it would; having faithfully discharged his duty, and his warfare being as good as accomplished, and his race almost run out; for he afterwards presses Timothy to come to him, and that before winter; and desires him to bring with him his cloak, books, and parchments, which one would think he would have little occasion for, if just upon his martyrdom: besides, he says he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion, that by him the preaching of the Gospel might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear it; and expresses his confidence, that he should be again delivered, 2Ti 4:9,13,17,18. And it looks as if this epistle was written before the epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, since it appears that Timothy did come to him at Rome; as here desired, and is joined with the apostle in those epistles. Some, therefore, have placed this epistle in the year 58, or 59, about the fourth or fifth of Nero's reign. The design of it is to stir up Timothy to the faithful and diligent discharge of his duty, as a minister of the Gospel; to abide constantly by the truths of it, and to animate him to suffer patiently, cheerfully, and courageously for the sake of it; and to warn him against false teachers, and their errors, who were already risen, and would afterwards arise, and be followed by such who had itching ears, and could not bear sound doctrine; but this should be no discouragement to him in the prosecution of his work; and lastly to desire his presence with him at Rome, being now destitute of his several assistants.
\\INTRODUCTION TO 2 TIMOTHY 1\\
In this chapter, after the inscription and salutation, the apostle expresses his great affection for Timothy, and highly commends him; exhorts him to various things relating to his office, as a preacher of the Gospel; and concludes with taking notice of the kindness shown him by Onesiphorus. The inscription and salutation are in 2Ti 1:1,2 and then follows the preface to the epistle, in which the apostle testifies his great love to Timothy, and commends him; by declaring his thankfulness to God, that he had reason always to remember him in his prayers; by his desire to see him again, who had shed so many tears for him, that his joy might be filled; and by taking notice of his unfeigned faith, the same with that which had dwelt in his ancestors, 2Ti 1:3-5. And then he proceeds to exhort him to the exercise and improvement of his ministerial gift; to show a fortitude of mind, and a manly spirit in the cause of Christ; and to suffer cheerfully for the sake of it, 2Ti 1:6-8 and in order to animate and encourage him to the same, he gives a summary of the Gospel, as containing in it the great doctrines of salvation, and eternal life, according to the free grace of God through Jesus Christ, 2Ti 1:9,10 and observes, that he himself was appointed a preacher of it to the Gentiles, 2Ti 1:11 and instances in himself, as suffering for it, without being ashamed; and as having a strong confidence in Christ, as able to keep him, and what he had committed to him, 2Ti 1:12 and then returns to his exhortation to Timothy to hold fast the Gospel of Christ; to which he urges him from the consideration of the nature and value of it, being a form of sound words, and that famous good thing, and of the means and manner in which he came to the knowledge of it; and chiefly from its being committed to him by the Holy Ghost, that dwelt in him; and also because of the general defection of the Asian professors from it, 2Ti 1:13-15 but he excepts one person, Onesiphorus by name, whom he commends for his kindness to him both at Ephesus and at Rome; and therefore entreats of the Lord mercy, both for him and his house, at the great day, 2Ti 1:16-18.