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This letter is by all the critics located in the Mamertine prison at Rome. It is immediately contiguous to the old judgment-hall, where Nero sat upon the world’s tribunal, and tried the apostle for his life, condemning him to decapitation, the more honorable punishment of a Roman citizen in contradistinction to the ignominious crucifixion inflicted on aliens. The judgment-hall is immediately west of the old Forum, where Cicero spoke and Caesar bled; the Mamertine prison on the north, and the Coliseum on the south. In a former letter Paul speaks of his plan to spend the winter at Nicopolis. This the critics believed to have been interrupted by his arrest “as an evil-doer,” and his transportation to Rome and incarceration in the Mamertine prison, out of which he was led, perhaps, before the ink with which this epistle was written was dry, arraigned before Nero, and led away to the bloody block about one mile out from the western gate of Rome. When I was there in 1895, I visited all these places, following him from the Mamertine prison to the judgment-hall, and thence about two miles through the streets of the city to the west gate, which is still standing, the wall, gate, and stone pyramid on each side being preserved to this day, as mementos in the tragical history of the beloved apostle. From the west gate it is about one mile to the spot where he was beheaded. St. Peter’s Cathedral, built exclusively of the finest marble transported from Africa, and costing fifty-five millions of dollars, now occupies the spot where the ruthless Roman soldier drew the sword and severed from the body the noblest human head that ever moved heaven, earth, and hell. In the altar containing the tomb candles burn incessantly, radiating constantly every tint and hue of the rainbow, resultant from the decomposition of the light by the many valuable diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and other precious stones encompassing the tomb of that eminent saint. I am satisfied Dean Alford, with other eminent critics, is correct as to the second Roman imprisonment of Paul. On his first arraignment at Nero’s bar, doubtless some time in A.D. 63, he was acquitted, from the simple fact that there was not a solitary allegation against him, recognized as criminal in Roman law. This verdict had been given by Lysias, Felix, and Agrippa in Palestine, and afterward corroborated by the emperor, who, consequently, released him. Pursuant to his promise to the Asiatic saints in Ephesians and Colossians, and to the Europeans in Philippians, after his release he returned to Asia, visiting and establishing the Churches. In 65, crossing the Aegean Sea, he again visits the Churches in Macedonia; meanwhile he dictates to Luke, his faithful amanuensis, the first epistle to Timothy and the epistle to Titus. You see the chronology dates this letter in A.D. 66; doubtless in the beginning of the winter he had expected to spend at Nicopolis in Southern Macedonia, where, having been arrested pursuant to the imperial edict, condemning all the Christians in the world to die for burning Rome, he is again carried in chains a prisoner to the world’s metropolis, no longer charged with trivial allegations of Jewish superstition, but the high crime of burning Rome, the Eternal City, sacred to all the gods. As Paul was not at Rome at the time of the conflagration, of course they could not accuse him of having personal connection with it (Nero himself causing the conflagration that he might lay it on the Christians and have an excuse to kill them all); but, as a prominent leader of the Christians, of course he was implicated, and one of the first to start that river of martyrs’ blood which flowed on three hundred years, finally arrested by the conversion of Constantine.
2. “ To Timothy, a beloved child. ” Here we have the same tenderly affectionate epithet used in the introductory of the first letter.
3. “ I give thanks to God, whom I serve from my ancestors in a clean conscience. ” This is clear profession of a clean heart, as the conscience is the constituency of the heart, the specific for the generic.
5. “ Receiving the remembrance of thy unhypocritical faith, which dwelt in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded that it is in thee also. ” No wonder Timothy was a paragon preacher! How could he help it under the benedictions of a sanctified mother and grandmother? The promises of God never fail: “ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he reaches maturity, he will not depart from it. ” The saddest phenomenon of the deplorable religious apostasies of the present day is the relaxation of parental discipline, the collapse of domestic government, the desolation of family altars, the dereliction of home training, and the consequent incorrigibility of the rising generation.
REVIVAL OF LIFE AND FIRE
6. “ On account of which cause I remind thee to revive and refire the gift of God, which is in thee by the laying on of my hands. ” Regeneration gives life to the dead soul, and sanctification fire to consume all the surviving debris of the old carnal nature. Here we see that Paul reminds Timothy to revive and refire. The word “stir up,” E.V., is anazopurein, from ana, again, pur, fire, and zoe, life. Hence, you see it literally means to revive and refire the “gift of God, which is in thee by the imposition of my hands.” The normal place of the charismata, which denotes the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, is with the sanctified. (1 Corinthians 12:31.) “ Covet earnestly the best gifts. ” The Holy Ghost confers on sinners the gifts of illumination, conviction, repentance, contrition, and faith, in order to their conversion. Then in sanctification Christ imparts the gift of the Holy Ghost himself (Acts 2:38) to come into your heart, not only sanctifying you, but abiding perpetually as an indwelling Comforter. After this it is our privilege to receive these extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, which constitute the Christian’s panoply, thus arming and equipping us to press the Lord’s war and save others. We see that Timothy already had the charisma, having received it in his ordination to preach the gospel. Yet Paul reminds him to revive and refire it, illustrating the fact that we all need revivals, showers of life from the heavenly rivers to fall on us in copiously reviving irrigating floods, and showers of fire from the heavenly altars, consuming all carnal rubbish that may linger in our way, and quickening us into racehorse speed for heaven and souls.
7. “ God has not given unto us the spirit of cowardice, but of dynamite. ” Perfect love casts out fear, and makes us brave enough to fight a regiment of devils, while it is our glorious privilege to be so filled with heaven’s invincible dynamite, that “ one shall chase a thousand, and two shall put ten thousand to flight. ”
8-10. “ Destroying death, and bringing life and purity to light through the gospel. ” Life and immortality in E.V. are monotonous. Immortality is aphtharsian, from a, not, and phtheiro, to corrupt. Hence, the word means incorruption; i. e., purity; giving us a clear presentation of this great double salvation wrought by the Holy Ghost in two distinct works of grace, the one giving life to our dead spirit, and the other imparting spiritual purity.
12. “ For I know whom I have believed. ” This is a positive affirmation of Paul testifying to his personal acquaintance with Christ. This is the real deficiency in the Christian experiences of the present day. They only know Christ historically, and not really and personally. They know Jesus like they know Paul and Peter, but not as they know their comrades in life. “ And I am persuaded that he is able to keep my trust unto that day. ” Christ is not only our Omnipotent Sanctifier, but our infallible Keeper till he comes in his glory.
13. “ Hold fast the form of hygienical words. ” The very words of God are meat and drink, and all spiritual pabulum needed in the maintenance of soul life, and at the same time the panacea abundantly competent to cure all our spiritual ailments, simultaneously fortifying us against all malaria and epidemics to which we are exposed in this land of sin and sorrow.
14. “ Guard the beautiful trust through the Holy Ghost dwelling in you. ” All you have to do is to be courageous; i. e., keep saved from all cowardice (Joshua 1:0), and the Holy Ghost will do all of your fighting for you.
15-18. We see Satan was busy in Paul’s day decoying away the disciples. Here Paul reveals a deplorable apostasy.
1. “ Therefore, my child, be filled up with dynamite in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. ” If we will only heed these Pauline admonitions, to be filled with the dynamite of our Omnipotent Savior, we will all the time be more than a match for the devil.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 1". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany