The principal design of 2 Timothy 1:1-2, he proceeds to present these considerations to the mind of Timothy:
(1) He commences the chapter with “delicate praise” of his young friend - one of the most happy methods of inducing him to persevere in the course of life on which he had entered; 2 Timothy 1:3-5. We naturally desire to perfect that in which we already excel; we feel encouraged for future efforts in a cause in which we have already been successful. The apostle, therefore, reminds Timothy of the manner in which he had been trained; of the piety of his mother and grandmother, and assures him of his belief that their efforts to train him up in the ways of religion had not been in vain.
(2) he urges various considerations to induce him not to turn away from that holy purpose to which he had devoted himself. The considerations which he urges, are these:
(a)he had been solemnly consecrated to the work of preaching the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:6;
(b)God had imparted to him, as to others, a spirit of love and power, and a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1:7;
(c)the grace of God had called him to his great work, and he possessed that gospel by which life and immortality are brought to light, 2 Timothy 1:8-11;
(d)Paul urges his own example, and says that, amidst all his own trials, he had never seen occasion to be ashamed of the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:12-14; and,
(e)he reminds Timothy that all his other friends in Asia had turned away from him, specifying two of them, and urges him, therefore, to maintain a steadfast attachment to the principles which he had professed, 2 Timothy 1:15.
(3) the chapter closes with the expression of an earnest prayer that the Lord would bless the family of Onesiphorus, and with a grateful mention of his kindness to him, 2 Timothy 1:16-18.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, - See the notes at Romans 1:1.
By the will of God - Called to be an apostle in accordance with the divine will and purpose; see the notes at Galatians 1:1.
According to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus - In accordance with the great promise of eternal life through the Saviour; that is, he was called to be an apostle to carry out the great purpose of human salvation; compare Ephesians 3:6. God has made a promise of life to mankind through faith in the Lord Jesus, and it was with reference to this that he was called to the apostleship.
To Timothy, my dearly beloved son; - See the notes at 1 Timothy 1:2.
Grace, mercy, and peace - see the notes at Romans 1:7.
I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers - Paul reckoned among his forefathers the patriarchs and the holy men of former times, as being of the same nation with himself, though it may be that he also included his more immediate ancestors, who, for anything known to the contrary, may have been distinguished examples of piety. His own parents, it is certain, took care that he should be trained up in the ways of religion; compare the Philippians 3:4-5 notes; Acts 26:4-5. The phrase “from my forefathers,” probably means, after the example of my ancestors. He worshipped the same God; he held substantially the same truths; he had the same hope of the resurrection and of immortality; he trusted to the same Saviour having come, on whom they relied as about to come. His was not, therefore, a different religion from theirs; it was the same religion carried out and perfected. The religion of the Old Testament and the New is essentially the same; see the notes at Acts 23:6.
With pure conscience - see the notes at Acts 23:1.
That without ceasing - compare the Romans 12:12 note; 1 Thessalonians 5:17 note.
I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day - see the notes at Philippians 1:3-4.
Greatly desiring to see thee; - see 2 Timothy 4:9, 2 Timothy 4:21. It was probably on, account of this earnest desire that this Epistle was written. He wished to see him, not only on account of the warm friendship which he had for him, but because he would be useful to him in his present circumstances; see the introduction, Section 3.
Being mindful of thy tears - Alluding probably to the tears which he shed at parting from him. The occasion to which he refers is not mentioned; but nothing is more probable than that Timothy would weep when separated from such a father and friend. It is not wrong thus to weep, for religion is not intended to make us stoics or savages.
That I may be filled with joy - By seeing you again. It is easy to imagine what joy it would give Paul, then a prisoner, and forsaken by nearly all his friends, and about to die, to see a friend whom he loved as he did this young man. Learn hence, that there may be very pure and warm friendship between an old and young man, and that the warmth of true friendship is not diminished by the near prospect of death.
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee; - notes, 1 Timothy 1:5. On the faith of Timothy, see the notes at 1 Timothy 4:6.
Which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois - That is, the same faith dwelt in her; or, she was a sincere believer in Christ. It would seem probable, from this, that she was the first of the family who had been converted. In the Acts of the Apostles Acts 16:1, we have an account of the family of Timothy: - “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra; and behold a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek.” In this account no mention is made of the grandmother Lois, but there is no improbability in supposing that Paul was better acquainted with the family than Luke. There is, at any rate, no contradiction between the two accounts; but the one confirms the other, and the “undesigned coincidence” furnishes an argument for the authenticity of both. See Paley‘s Horae Paulinae, in loc. As the mother of Timothy was a Hebrew, it is clear that his grandmother was also. Nothing more is known of her than is mentioned here.
And in thy mother Eunice - In Acts 16:1, it is said that the mother of Timothy was “a Jewess, and believed;” but her name is not mentioned. This shows that Paul was acquainted with the family, and that the statement in the Epistle to Timothy was not forged from the account in the Acts. Here is another “undesigned coincidence.” In the history in the Acts, nothing is said of the father, except that he was “a Greek,” but it is implied that he was not a believer. In the Epistle before us, nothing whatever is said of him. But the piety of his mother alone is commended, and it is fairly implied that his father was not a believer. This is one of those coincidences on which Paley has constructed his beautiful argument in the Horae Paulinae in favor of the genuineness of the New Testament.
That thou stir up the gift of God - Greek, That thou “kindle up” as a fire. The original word used here denotes the kindling of a fire, as by bellows, etc. It is not uncommon to compare piety to a flame or a fire, and the image is one that is obvious when we speak of causing that to burn more brightly. The idea is, that Timothy was to use all proper means to keep the flame of pure religion in the soul burning, and more particularly his zeal in the great cause to which he had been set apart. The agency of man himself is needful to keep the religion of the heart warm and glowing. However rich the gifts which God has bestowed upon us, they do not grow of their own accord, but need to be cultivated by our own personal care.
Which is in thee by the putting on of my hands - In connection with the presbytery; see the notes at 1 Timothy 4:14. This proves that Paul took part in the ordination of Timothy; but it does not prove either that he performed the duty alone, or that the “ordaining virtue,” whatever that was, was imparted by him only; because:
(1) it is expressly said 1 Timothy 4:14, that he was ordained by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, of which Paul was doubtless one; and,
(2) the language here used, “by the putting on of my hands,” is just such as Paul, or any other one of the presbytery, would use in referring to the ordination of Timothy, though they were all regarded as on a level. It is such an expression as an aged Presbyterian, or Congregational, or Baptist minister would address to a son whom he had assisted to ordain. Nothing would be more natural than to remind him that his own hands had been laid on him when he was set apart to the work of the ministry. It would be in the nature of a tender, pathetic, and solemn appeal, bringing all that there was in his own character, age, and relation to the other, to bear on him, in order to induce him to be faithful to his trust. On other occasions, he would naturally remind him that others had united with him in the act, and that he had derived his authority through the presbytery, just as Paul appeals to Timothy, 1 Timothy 4:14. But no one would now think of inferring from this, that he meant to be understood as saying that he alone had ordained him, or that all the authority for preaching the gospel had been imparted through his hands, and that those who were associated with him only expressed “concurrence;” that is, that their presence there was only an unmeaning ceremony. What was the “gift of God” which had been conferred in this way, Paul specifies in the next verse 2 Timothy 1:7. It is “the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The meaning is, that these had been conferred by God, and that the gift had been recognized by his ordination. It does not imply that any mysterious influence had gone from the hands of the ordainers, imparting any holiness to Timothy which he had not before.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear - A timorous and servile spirit. This is said in order to encourage Timothy, who was not improbably modest and diffident.
But of power - Power to encounter foes and dangers; power to bear up under trials; power to triumph in persecutions. That is, it is the nature of the gospel to inspire the mind with holy courage; compare, however, Luke 24:49.
And of love - Love to God and to the souls of men. The tendency of This, also, is to “cast out fear” 1 John 4:18, and to make the mind bold and constant. Nothing will do more to inspire courage, to make a man fearless of danger, or ready to endure privation and persecution, than “love.” The love of country, and wife, and children, and home, makes the most timid bold when they are assailed; and the love of Christ and of a dying world nerves the soul to great enterprises, and sustains it in the deepest sorrows.
And of a sound mind - The Greek word denotes one of sober mind; a man of prudence and discretion. The state referred to here is that in which the mind is well balanced, and under right influences; in which it sees things in their just proportions and relations; in which it is not feverish and excited, but when everything is in its proper place. It was this state of mind which Timothy was exhorted to cultivate; this which Paul regarded as so necessary to the performance of the duties of his office. It is as needful now for the minister of religion as it was then.
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord - Do not be ashamed to bear your testimony to the doctrines taught by the Lord Jesus; John 3:11, John 3:32-33; John 7:7; compare Acts 10:22; Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 1:6; Revelation 22:16. Paul seems to have apprehended that Timothy was in some danger of being ashamed of this gospel, or of shrinking back from its open avowal in the trials and persecutions to which he now saw it exposed him.
Nor of me his prisoner - Of the testimony which I have borne to the truth of the gospel. This passage proves that, when Paul wrote this Epistle, he was in confinement; compare Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 6:20; Philemon 1:13-14, Philemon 1:16; Colossians 4:3, Colossians 4:18; Philemon 1:9. Timothy knew that he had been thrown into prison on account of his love for the gospel. To avoid that himself, there might be some danger that a timid young man might shrink from an open avowal of his belief in the same system of truth.
But be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel - The sufferings to which the profession of the gospel may expose you; compare the notes at Colossians 1:24.
According to the power of God - That is, according to the power which God gives to those who are afflicted on account of the gospel. The apostle evidently supposes that they who were subjected to trials on account of the gospel, might look for divine strength to uphold them, and asks him to endure those trials, relying on that strength, and not on his own.
Who hath saved us; - See the notes at Matthew 1:21. He has brought us into a state in which salvation is so certain, that Paul could speak of it as if it were already done.
And called us - see the notes at Romans 8:28, Romans 8:30.
With an holy calling - A calling which is in its own nature holy, and which leads to holiness; compare the Ephesians 4:1 note; Philippians 3:14 note; Hebrews 3:1 note.
Not according to our works - Titus 3:5; notes, Ephesians 2:8-9. The idea is, that our own works have nothing to do in inducing God to call us. As, when we become Christians, he does not choose us because of our works, so the eternal purpose in regard to our salvation could not have been formed because he foresaw that we would perform such works as would be a reason why he should choose us. The whole arrangement was irrespective of our deserts.
But according to his own purpose and grace - see the Romans 9:11-13 notes, 16; Ephesians 1:4-5 notes.
Which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began - That is, which he intended to give us, for it was not then actually given. The thing was so certain in the divine purposes, that it might be said to be already done; compare the notes at Romans 4:17.
But is now made manifest - The purpose to save us was long concealed in the divine mind, but the Saviour came that he might make it known.
Who hath abolished death - That is, he has made it so certain that death will be abolished, that it may be spoken of as already done. It is remarkable how often, in this chapter, Paul speaks of what God intends to do as so certain, that it may be spoken of as a thing that is already done. In the meaning of the expression here, see the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:54; compare the notes at Hebrews 2:14. The meaning is, that, through the gospel, death will cease to reign, and over those who are saved there will be no such thing as we now understand by dying.
And hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel - This is one of the great and glorious achievements of the gospel, and one of the things by which it is distinguished from every other system. The word rendered “hath brought to light” - φωτίζω phōtizō- means to give light, to shine; then to give light to, to shine upon; and then to bring to light, to make known. Robinson, Lexicon. The sense is, that these things were before obscure or unknown, and that they have been disclosed to us by the gospel. It is, of course, not meant that there were no intimations of these truths before, or that nothing was known of them - for the Old Testament shed some light on them; but that they are fully disclosed to man in the gospel. It is there that all ambiguity and doubt are removed, and that the evidence is so clearly stated as to leave no doubt on the subject. The intimations of a future state, among the wisest of the pagan, were certainly very obscure, and their hopes very faint.
The hope of a future state is styled by Cicero, Futurorum quoddam augurium saeculorum - “a conjecture or surmise of future ages. Tusc. Q. 1. Seneca says it is “that which our wise men do promise, but they do not prove.” Epis. 102. Socrates, even at his death, said, “I hope to go hence to good men, but of that I am not very confident; nor doth it become any wise man to be positive that so it will be. I must now die, and you shall live; but which of us is in the better state, the living or the dead, only God knows.” Pliny says, “Neither soul nor body has any more sense after death, than before it was born.” Cicero begins his discourse on the subject with a profession that he intended to deliver nothing as fixed and certain, but only as probable, and as having some likelihood of truth. And, having mentioned the different sentiments of philosophers, he concludes, - “Which of these opinions is true, some god must tell us; which is most like to truth, is a great question.”
See Whitby, “in loc.” Such doubts existed in regard to the immortality of the soul; but of the resurrection and future life of the body, they had no conception whatever; compare the notes at Acts 17:32. With what propriety, then, may it be said that these doctrines were brought to light through the gospel! Man would never have known them if it had not been for revelation. The word “life,” here, refers undoubtedly to life in the future world. The question was, whether man would live at all; and that question has been determined by the gospel. The word “immortality” means, properly, “incorruption, incapacity of decay;” and may be applied either to the body or the soul. See it explained in the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:42. It is used in reference to the body, in 1 Corinthians 15:42, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54; in Romans 2:7, it is applied to the future state of rewards, without special reference to the body or soul. Here it seems to refer to the future state as that in which there will be no corruption or decay.
Many suppose that the phrase “life and immortality,” here, is used by hendiadys (two things for one), as meaning immortal or incorruptible life. The gospel thus has truths not found in any other system, and contains what man never would have discovered of himself. As fair a trial had been made among the philosophers of Greece and Rome as could be made, to determine whether the unaided powers of the human mind could arrive at these great truths; and their most distinguished philosophers confessed that they could arrive at no certainty on the subject. In this state of things, the gospel comes and reveals truths worthy of all acceptation; sheds light where man had desired it; solves the great problems which had for ages perplexed the human mind, and discloses to man all that he could wish - that not only the soul will live for ever, but that the body will be raised from the grave, and that the entire man will become immortal. How strange it is that men will not embrace the gospel! Socrates and Cicero would have hailed its light, and welcomed its truths, as those which their whole nature panted to know.
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher - That is, I am appointed to make these truths known; see the notes at Ephesians 3:7-8.
For the which cause I also suffer these things - That is, I suffer on account of my purpose to carry the gospel to the Gentiles; see the notes at Colossians 1:24.
Nevertheless I am not ashamed - compare the notes at Romans 1:16.
For I know whom I have believed - Margin, “trusted.” The idea is, that he understood the character of that Redeemer to whom he had committed his eternal interests, and knew that he had no reason to be ashamed of confiding in him. He was able to keep all that he had intrusted to his care, and would not suffer him to be lost; see Isaiah 28:16.
And am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him - That is, the soul, with all its immortal interests. A man has nothing of higher value to intrust to another than the interests of his soul, and there is no other act of confidence like that in which he intrusts the keeping of that soul to the Son of God. Hence, learn:
(1) that religion consists in committing the soul to the care of the Lord Jesus; because:
(a)We feel that we cannot secure the soul‘s salvation ourselves.
(b)The soul is by nature in danger.
(c)If not saved by him, the soul will not be saved at all.
(2) that the soul is a great and invaluable treasure which is committed to him.
(a)No higher treasure can be committed to another;
(b)In connection with that the whole question of our happiness on earth and in heaven is entrusted to him, and all depends on his fidelity.
(3) it is done by the true Christian with the most entire confidence, so that the mind is at rest. The grounds of this confidence are:
(a)what is said of the mighty power of the Saviour;
(b)his promises that he will keep all who confide in him (compare the notes at John 10:27-29;
(c)experience - the fact that those who have trusted in him have found that he is able to keep them.
(4) this act of committing the soul, with all its interests, to the Saviour, is the true source of peace in the trials of life. This is so because:
(a)having done this, we feel that our great interests are secure. If the soul is safe, why need we be disturbed by the loss of health, or property, or other temporal comforts? Those are secondary things. A man who is shipwrecked, and who sees his son or daughter safe with him on the shore, will be little concerned that a casket of jewels fell overboard - however valuable it might be:
(b)All those trials will soon pass away, and he will be safe in heaven.
(c)These very things may further the great object - the salvation of the soul. A man‘s great interests may be more safe when in a prison than when in a palace; on a pallet of straw than on a bed of down; when constrained to say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” than when encompassed with the wealth of Croesus.
Against that day - The day of judgment - called “that day,” without anything further to designate it, because it is the great day; “the day for which all others days were made.” It seems to have been so much the object of thought and conversation among the early Christians, that the apostle supposed that he would be understood by merely referring to it as “that day;” that is, the day which they were always preaching about, and talking about, and thinking about.
Hold fast the form of sound words; - see the notes at 1 Timothy 1:3. On the Greek word here rendered “form,” see the notes at 1 Timothy 1:16, where it is rendered pattern. The word means a form, sketch, or imperfect delineation - an outline. Grotius says that it here means “an exemplar, but an exemplar fixed in the mind - an idea.” Calvin says that the command is that he should adhere to the doctrine which he had learned, not only in its substance, but in its form. Dr. Tillotson explains this as meaning the profession of faith which was made by Christians at baptism. There seems to be an allusion to some summary or outline of truth which Paul had given to Timothy, though there is no evidence that it was written. Indeed, there is every presumption that, if it refers to such a summary, it was not committed to writing. If it had been, it would have been regarded as inspired, and would have taken its place in the canon of Scripture. It may be presumed that almost none of the sacred writings would have been more sacredly preserved than such a condensed summary of Christian truth. But there is no improbability in supposing that Paul, either at his ordination, or on some other occasion, may have stated the outlines of the Christian religion to Timothy, that he might have a clear and connected view of the subject. The passage, therefore, may be used as an argument for the propriety of some brief summary of doctrine as a matter of convenience, though not as having binding authority on the consciences of others. “Of sound words;” compare the notes at 1 Timothy 6:3. The Greek is the same in both places.
Which thou hast heard of me - This proves that he does not refer to a written creed, since what he refers to was something which he had heard.
In faith and love which is in Christ Jesus - Hold these truths with sincere faith in the Lord Jesus, and with that love which is the best evidence of attachment to him.
That good thing which was committed unto thee; - see the notes at 1 Timothy 6:20. The reference here in the phrase, “that good thing committed to thee,” is to the sound Christian doctrine with which he had been intrusted, and which he was required to transmit to others.
Keep by the Holy Ghost - By the aid of the Holy Spirit. One of the best methods of preserving the knowledge and the love of truth is to cherish the influences of the Holy Spirit.
This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me - That is, in that part of Asia Minor of which Ephesus was the capital. The name Asia was often given particularly to that part of Asia Minor; see the notes at Acts 2:9; Acts 16:6. This passage proves that Timothy was somewhere in that region when this Epistle was written to him, for otherwise he could not be supposed to Know what is here said. When Paul says that “all” were turned away from him, he must use the word in a general sense, for he immediately specifies one who had been faithful and kind to him.
Of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes - We know nothing of these individuals but what is here mentioned. It would seem that they were prominent persons, and those from whom the apostle had a right to expect other treatment. “The ecclesiastical traditions allege that they were of the seventy disciples, and in the end became followers of Simon Magus. We imagine that this is little more than conjecture.” It is a sad thing when the only record made of a man - the only evidence which we have that he ever lived at all - is, that he turned away from a friend, or forsook the paths of true religion. And yet there are many men of whom the only thing to be remembered of them is, that they lived to do wrong.
The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus - The family of Onesiphorus - for so the word house is often used. He was himself still living 2 Timothy 1:18, but not improbably then absent from his home; compare the notes at 2 Timothy 4:19. He was evidently of Asia, and is the only one who is mentioned from that region who had showed the apostle kindness in his trials. He is mentioned only in this Epistle, and nothing more is known of him. The record is entirely honorable to him, and for his family the apostle felt a warm interest on account of the kindness which he had showed to him in prison. The ecclesiastical traditions also state that he was one of the seventy disciples, and was ultimately Bishop of Corone. But there is no evidence of this. There is much force in the remark of the Editor of the Pictorial Bible, that “the pretended lists of the 70 disciples seem to have been made out on the principle of including all the names incidentally mentioned in the sacred books, and not otherwise appropriated.”
For he oft refreshed me - That is, showed me kindness, and ministered to my needs.
And was not ashamed of my chain - Was not ashamed to be known as a friend of one who was a prisoner on account of religion. Paul was bound with a chain when a prisoner at Rome; Philemon 1:13-14, Philemon 1:16; Colossians 4:3, Colossians 4:18; Philemon 1:10; see the notes at Acts 28:20.
But when he was in Rome - What was the employment of Onesiphorus is not known. It may have been that he was a merchant, and had occasion to visit Rome on business. At all events, he was at pains to search out the apostle, and his attention was the more valuable because it cost him trouble to find him. It is not everyone, even among professors of religion, who in a great and splendid city would be at the trouble to search out a Christian brother, or even a minister, who was a prisoner, and endeavor to relieve his sorrows. This man, so kind to the great apostle, will be among those to whom the Saviour will say, at the final judgment, “I was in prison, and ye came unto me;” Matthew 25:36.
The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day - The day of judgment; notes at 2 Timothy 1:12. This proves that Onesiphorus was then alive, as Paul would not offer prayer for him if he was dead. The Papists, indeed, argue from this in favor of praying for the dead - assuminG from 2 Timothy 4:19, that Onesiphorus was then dead. But there is no evidence of that. The passage in 2 Timothy 4:19, would prove only that he was then absent from his family.
And in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus - This was the home of Onesiphorus, and his family was still there; 2 Timothy 4:19. When Paul was at Ephesus, it would seem that Onesiphorus had showed him great kindness. His affection for him did not change when he became a prisoner. True friendship, and especially that which is based on religion, will live in all the vicissitudes of fortune, whether we are in prosperity or adversity; whether in a home of plenty, or in a prison.
This chapter is full of interest, and may suggest many interesting reflections. We see:
(1) A holy man imprisoned and about to die. He had nearly finished his course, and had the prospect of soon departing.
(2) he was forsaken by his friends, and left to bear his sorrows alone. They on whom he might have relied, had left him; and to all his outward sufferings, there was added this, one of the keenest which his Master endured before him, that his friends forsook him, and left him to bear his sorrows alone.
(3) yet his mind is calm, and his faith in the gospel is unshaken. He expresses no regret that he had embraced the gospel; no sorrow that he had been so zealous in it as to bring these calamities upon himself. That gospel he still loves, and his great solicitude is, that his young friend may never shrink from avowing it, though it may call him also to pass through scenes of persecution and sorrow.
(4) in the general apostasy, the turning away of those on whom he might have relied, it is refreshing and interesting, to find mention made of one unshaken friend; 2 Timothy 1:16. He never swerved in his affections. He had been kind to him in former years of comparative honor, and he did not leave him now in the dark day of adversity. It is always interesting to find true friendship in this world - friendship that survives all reverses, and that is willing to manifest itself when the great mass turn coldly away. There is such a thing as friendship, and there is such a thing as religion, and when they meet and mingle in the same heart, the one strengthens the other; and then neither persecution, nor poverty, nor chains, will prevent our doing good to him who is in prison and is about to die; see the notes at 2 Timothy 4:16.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter