The writer of 2 Timothy was the apostle Paul. Paul was a man that gave his everything to God. Before Christ revealed Himself to Paul, he was known as Saul of Tarsus. He was born in Tarsus in Cilicia around A.D. 1–5 in a province in the southeastern corner of modern day Tersous, Turkey. He was of Benjamite lineage and Hebrew ancestry. He was a pharisee who hunted down, imprisoned, and even murdered Christians. He participated in the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, and was possibly the overseer of that execution. This was a man who would not tolerate any disrespect to God, which is why he hated the Christians in the first place. Saul, with all his murderous hate towards Christians, requested a letter from the high priest to present to all the synagogues in Damascus that any follower of Christ was to be imprisoned in Jerusalem. On his way to Damascus to present and in force this order, the resurrected Christ appeared to him in a flash from heaven, asking Saul, “Why do you persecute Me?” Christ in all of His glory revealed Himself to Saul as the Son of God.
It is a common misconception that God changed Saul’s name to Paul once the conversion took place on that road to Damascus, like when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Cephas, which translates to Peter. In actuality, all of his life he had the dual names Saul and Paul, which was custom in those days. The reason for the switch was because before Christ, Saul, being a pharisee and obviously very proud if his Jewish heritage, chose to go by Saul. Once he began preaching Christ to the Gentiles, he decided to change it to Paul since this was a name that the Gentiles were familiar with. Paul is an amazing example of the transformation Christ can have in even the hardest of hearts, and that His grace is extended to the worst of the worst. Once Paul’s eyes were opened to the truth, he dedicated the remainder of his life to preaching the gospel to the world. Paul was very intentional with his ministry. In 2 Corinthians 11 for example, before he lists the hardships he has endured for the sake of the gospel, he points out all of his qualifications as a Jew; bringing up his lineage and accomplishments as a pharisee, in order that they will hear what he has to say about Christ. This is a man who was flogged 5 times, beaten with rods and shipwrecked 3 times, and stoned once. Paul was the greatest apostle by demonstrating his unwavering devotion to Christ under such extreme opposition. Not only that, but the grace and power that God blessed him with shows that nobody, not a single soul, is too evil or too far gone to be restored and renewed by Christ’s love, sacrifice and grace.
The letter of 2 TImothy was written approximately A.D. 66 or 67. Paul was imprisoned yet again in Rome for his preachings of Christ as the Messiah. This time though, Paul knew that his earthly mission was coming to an end and that he would soon be executed. This book contains Paul’s final words to his young protege Timothy, essentially passing the torch of leadership on to him. Timothy’s father was a heathen Greek and his mother was a Jewess named Eunice. It was Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Lois, who instilled such a strong faith in Timothy. Timothy heard the gospel from Paul on his first missionary trip in either Lystra or Derbe and believed the Truth. Based on Acts 14:6, Acts 20:4 and Acts 16:3, it can be inferred that Timothy was a native of Lystra, but that is not definite. On Paul’s second missionary trip, when he returned to Timothy’s town to preach again, Timothy joined him on his missionary journey. On this trip, they traveled to Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, Troas, Neapoils, Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth, which is when Paul wrote the book of Romans. Timothy’s faithfulness continued through Paul’s earthly ministry and he was the pastor of the church at Ephesus when this letter was written.
After Paul expressed much love for Timothy in the opening of the letter, he reminded Timothy of the qualities that would be necessary for him to continue a faithful ministry of Jesus Christ: boldness, love and self discipline. He called Timothy to join his suffering for the gospel for the sake of Christ and to always use his gifts with boldness. He reminded Timothy to always keep to the truth and to keep his eyes focused on Christ. Paul challenged him to hold to sound doctrine, to reject error and to correctly handle the word of Truth. He warned Timothy of the opposition that he and other believers would face in the last days from self-centered people who use the church for their own gain and who will teach false doctrine. Paul told him to prepare for dealing with these unfaithful people. He reminded Timothy to follow his example by emulating his way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions and sufferings. Paul continued by articulating to Timothy the proper functions of the word of God. “That all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17)
In the final chapter, Paul gave a stirring charge to Timothy to preach the Word, be prepared in every season, and to use God’s word to correct, rebuke and encourage others, with great patience and careful instruction. He forewarned Timothy that in the later days, people wouldn’t follow sound doctrine. They would begin searching elsewhere for answers that better suit their selfish desires. He encouraged Timothy to keep his head up, endure hardship, and to do the work of an evangelist.
In the closing remarks, you can really see Paul’s loneliness being revealed, his feelings of betrayal, and his strong love for his brothers and sisters in Christ. I have always really liked this letter. I have a hard time with people. Since becoming a Christian, honestly I have had a hard time loving the way that God desires of me. Throughout this letter, Paul expresses and assures Timothy that he is going to encounter extremely hateful, selfish, wicked people who will seek to harm him and his mission. Paul’s instruction is not to back down, but move forward with love, patience and endurance. A man who had experienced so much pain and persecution, insists that God will deliver us, so we must love them in the hopes that they will come to the Truth. I guess I can only speak for myself but this instruction to Timothy might as well have my name in place of him because it feels like Paul is talking directly to me. When we are confronted by the many haters, perpetrators or instigators of our faith, we must stand firm in Christ’s truth, and always respond with patience and love.
Written by: Justin Ludwig
http://www.godvine.com/bible/2-timothy/2-18 Albert Barnes’ notes
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