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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 1

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentMahan's Commentary

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Verses 1-7

Stir up the gift of God

2 Timothy 1:1-7

This epistle, addressed to Timothy, was written by Paul when he was a prisoner at Rome. It appears that it was written a short time before his death, although some believe that Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon came later, since it appears that Timothy did come to him at Rome and is joined with him in those epistles. The design of the letter is to stir up Timothy to the faithful discharge of his ministry, to encourage him to suffer patiently, and to warn him against false teachers who had already risen and would afterward arise.

2 Timothy 1:1 . ‘Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ.’ This epistle, like all others, is not intended for Timothy alone, but for all believers. Timothy knew that Paul was an apostle. But for the sake of others who would read these words, Paul lays claim to the authority which belonged to his special office.

‘By the will of God’ an apostle, not by the will of men, nor by his own will, nor was it owing to any personal merit, but God separated Paul to this office by his own will and purpose (Ephesians 1:11-12; Acts 9:15; Luke 7:13).

‘According to the promise of life.’ God, from the beginning, promised life in Christ; so now he appointed the apostle and other ministers to proclaim that promise and to bring men to Christ, that in him they may have life (1 John 5:11-12).

2 Timothy 1:2 . Timothy was not Paul's natural son; but because of his youth, because Paul was his teacher in the doctrines of the gospel, because Paul had great affection for him, and because the apostles often referred to believers as their children (Galatians 4:19; 1 John 2:1; 3 John 1:4), Paul calls Timothy his beloved son and desires for him grace, mercy, and peace from the Lord.

2 Timothy 1:3 . I serve and worship the Lord God in the spirit of my forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), or, as they did, with a clear conscience. Paul was not claiming to be without sin nor to having a conscience always pure; but being sprinkled and purged by the blood of Christ, he was without sin before God. And loving Christ, seeking only his glory, preaching truth in sincerity for the eternal good of his hearers (not for personal gain and honor), his conscience was clear before men (Hebrews 10:22; Romans 9:1-2).

I give thanks to God that I am ever mindful of you, that God has laid you on my heart at all times to pray for you. This is a good sign, both for Paul and for Timothy; for Timothy in that God must have his special grace on him, and for Paul in that prayer for others is a mark of grace in his soul. Men of God are always men of prayer! When Paul thought of Timothy, he gave thanks for him and prayed for him. Both are marks of real friendship (1 Samuel 12:23; Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

2 Timothy 1:4-5 . When Paul left Timothy at Ephesus (because of the work he had to do), there was great sadness and many tears (Acts 20:36-38). But now Timothy had served that purpose and Paul desired him to come to Rome, for he needed him there; and the sight of Timothy would fill him with great joy.

I remember the genuine and sincere faith that is in you, which was also in your mother, Eunice. This was rich family mercy, deserving special notice and thanksgiving that God should be so gracious to the house of Timothy. Paul designs it as an encouragement to stir up Timothy to the exercise of that grace and gift of faith (2 Samuel 7:18).

2 Timothy 1:6 . This is why I would remind you (for this cause I advise you) to exercise your gifts, fan the flame, and keep burning the gift of God given to you for the ministry of the word when God instructed me to lay hands upon you. The more abundantly we have received the grace of God, the more attentive we ought to be to exercising it and making progress day by day. In family mercies, in personal faith, and in godly gifts, Timothy was abundantly blessed. ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’

2 Timothy 1:7 . ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, cowardliness, and timidity to perform our work and office in a cold, lifeless, and indifferent manner! We do not fear men; we do not fear persecution; we do not fear failure; we do not fear devils. But God has given his ministers the power of the Spirit (Luke 24:47-49) to do the work of God (Zechariah 4:6). He has given the spirit of love for God, Christ, his church, and all men; and those who have it seek not their own welfare and ease, but rather the glory of Christ and the good of souls. He has given us a sound mind or self-discipline (self-control) which results in prudent conduct and behavior under all circumstances. Being of a sound mind, conviction, and principles, the believer will stand fast in the faith of Christ.

Verses 8-11

His purpose and grace in Christ

2 Timothy 1:8-11

2 Timothy 1:8 . ‘Do not be ashamed of the gospel.’ It is the testimony concerning our Lord Jesus - his person, his offices, his righteousness, his suffering for our sins, his resurrection, his intercession and his return. No preacher nor anyone who professes Christ has any reason to be ashamed before this evil world, of a gospel so great, so glorious, so true and so useful (Romans 1:16; Luke 9:26).

‘Nor of me his prisoner.’ Paul did not consider himself a prisoner of Rome, for he had committed no crime nor broken any law, and he knew that men had no power over him, nor could they hold him any longer than his Lord willed. He was a prisoner at Rome for the sake of Christ on account of professing his name and preaching his gospel! He had no reason to be ashamed himself, and none of his friends should be ashamed of him. He was setting a noble example.

Timothy should prepare himself to endure those afflictions which come upon men for preaching and professing the gospel. The gospel of Christ is the gospel of peace; yet, through the depravity of men, it brings trouble, division and persecution. The man who shrinks from the offence of the cross will always be ashamed of the gospel.

The power and grace of God will support us in trouble and affliction. If we are called to endure anything for the gospel, our Lord will be our Deliverer. His grace is sufficient.

2 Timothy 1:9 . How can we be ashamed of him who has saved us with an eternal salvation, who has called us by his Holy Spirit into his righteousness and to a participation of all his grace, who redeemed us and made us his children, not according to our works (at any time, either before or after our calling), but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ before the foundation of the world? The Lord God chose us in Christ, gave his beloved Son to redeem us, would not leave us in our sins, but called us to himself, accepting us in the Beloved and keeping us by his power. To be ashamed of him and his gospel would be unthinkable. To prefer the praise and comforts of the world to the praise and glory of such a gracious Lord would reveal an unregenerate heart (Romans 8:18). Note the sovereignty of God in our redemption: he saved us! He called us! His purpose was fulfilled in our calling! His grace provided the way! All of this was freely ‘given’ (not earned) ‘in Christ’ before the world began (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 1:3-4).

2 Timothy 1:10 . Salvation is in Christ. Since the beginning, the grace, gifts, mercy and love of God for the elect have all been in Christ. First it lay hid in the heart and counsel of God, then it was revealed in the promises and prophecies, then in the types, shadows and sacrifices of the law. But now it is made manifest in the freeness and clearness of it by the appearance of Christ as our Redeemer in human flesh (Galatians 4:4-5). Were the Old Testament believers ignorant of this grace in Christ? Certainly not! (John 5:46; John 8:56; Luke 24:44; Acts 10:43). Abraham and others placed their confidence in his appearance (Hebrews 9:26-28).

‘Christ has destroyed death.’

1. He has destroyed the law of sin and death, which is the cause of death.

2. He has destroyed Satan, who has the power of death.

3. He has taken away the sting of death for his people, and that is sin.

4. He has abolished the second death, so that it has no power over us.

‘He has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.’ Christ was the first who rose again from the dead to an immortal life. Immortal life was brought to light (or understanding) by him. The doctrine of the resurrection was known by the Old Testament believers (Job 19:25-27), but not as clearly as it is now revealed in the gospel (1 Thessalonians 4:13-16; 1 John 3:2-3), or as fully as it is revealed in the resurrection of our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:11 . ‘I am appointed a preacher (of this gospel) (Acts 9:15; Acts 13:2), an apostle of Jesus Christ, and a teacher of the Gentiles.’ His chief work was among the Gentiles (1 Timothy 2:7).

Verses 12-18

Hold fast the pattern of sound doctrine

2 Timothy 1:12-18

2 Timothy 1:12 . This is why I am suffering as I do. Hated, beaten, imprisoned, and called a mad-man, Paul preached the gospel of Christ; and he preached it to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews! The Gentiles were stirred up against him for introducing a new religion among them to the destruction of their idolatry. The Jews were angry because he preached salvation, righteousness, and resurrection in Christ, making vain their ceremonies, self-righteousness, and traditions. ‘Nevertheless I am not ashamed.’

Here is a definition of the faith that saves knowledge, confidence, and committal!

1. ‘I know whom I have believed.’ A spiritual knowledge of Christ is necessary to faith in him (Romans 10:13-14). Those who know Christ (who he is, what he did, why he did it, where he is now) believe in him; and the more they know him, the more strongly do they believe.

2. ‘I am persuaded he is able.’ Confidence in the Saviour's willingness to save and power to save is necessary to faith (Romans 4:20-21; Hebrews 7:25; Jude 1:24).

3. ‘I have committed unto him.’ Where there has been no genuine and complete committal of all things to Christ, there is no true saving faith. One cannot separate faith and conduct. Committal to Christ involves our trusting him, casting ourselves upon him, and leaving ourselves totally in his hands to save, sanctify, and glorify (1 Corinthians 1:30).

2 Timothy 1:13 . Paul knew how ready men are to depart from pure doctrine and the gospel of God's glory and grace, so he exhorts Timothy to hold fast both in head and heart to the wholesome words and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word ‘form’ is the ‘pattern’ set by Paul and the other apostles. Preach the unsearchable riches of Christ (imputed righteousness, repentance toward God, and faith in Christ) as you have heard me preach it (Acts 20:20; Romans 8:29-34).

Hold the truth of Christ ‘in faith and love.’ These are the marks of sound doctrine, and he places them both in Christ. In the exercise of faith from a principle of love, these two graces always go together and have Christ as their object. No man can persevere in sound doctrine unless he is endued with true faith and genuine love.

2 Timothy 1:14 . Guard and keep with the greatest care the precious and excellent gospel (which has been entrusted to you) by the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you (1 Timothy 1:11; 1 Timothy 6:20). The gospel is a treasure indeed. It contains the riches of grace, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and is a trust requiring faithfulness in those who are stewards of it, who shall give an account of their stewardship (1 Peter 4:10; Hebrews 13:17). It must be kept pure and free from traditions and mixtures of men. Whereas the apostle knew that neither Timothy nor any other man is sufficient for these things, he directs the keeping of it to the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit who dwells in all believers.

2 Timothy 1:15 . Timothy, being at Ephesus, which was in Asia, was well aware of the apostasy and departure from the gospel in that area (2 Timothy 4:11). We are grieved by apostasy, but not discouraged; rather, seeing so many depart from the faith, we are more determined to hold fast the gospel of substitution and keep the treasure committed to us. Evidently Phygellus and Hermogenes were ministers of the word who had shone for a while but erred from the faith and deceived the people.

2 Timothy 1:16-17 . The apostle prays for his friend, Onesiphorus, and for his household. I believe that we can infer that the blessings of the Lord rest not only on a devoted servant of Christ, but also on his household. The love of Christ for a faithful believer is so great that it diffuses itself over all who are connected with him. Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul's chains and sufferings for Christ. He not only identified himself with the afflicted apostle, but visited him and supplied him with the necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and money.

2 Timothy 1:18 . ‘Mercy of the Lord in that day.’ Too many are interested in a return on their works of charity and their investments right now, in this life. This prayer deals with the real blessings of God toward true believers the mercy of the Lord in that day. How much richer a reward awaits those who, without the expectation of earthly reward from the hand of men, are kind to the people of God, constrained only by the love of Christ! Nothing can compare with the mercy of the Lord in that day (Romans 8:16-18).

Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 1". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hms/2-timothy-1.html. 2013.
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