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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 1

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

v. 1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

v. 2. to Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord.

It is a solemn address with which the apostle opens his letter: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the proclamation of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved son. As in the first letter, so Paul here calls himself an apostle of Christ Jesus, purposely placing the stress on the office of Christ, through which the apostolic office is effective. Paul belonged to those first teachers of the New Testament Church that had been enlightened and equipped with an unusual measure of gifts for the work of founding this Church in all the world. The election of Paul to this office had not taken place on the basis of his own choice and desire, but by the will of God, who had chosen him and given his entire life a different direction through his conversion and subsequent call. He therefore held this office and performed its work not for any reasons of self-aggrandizement, but for the purpose of proclaiming, of announcing the true life in Christ Jesus, the life which follows and is dependent upon the preaching of the Word of Grace. The life which God intended for men from eternity, the life which was brought down upon the earth by the only-begotten Son of God, John 1:4; 1 John 1:2, the life which we shall enjoy in its richest measure in eternity, Colossians 3:3-4; Galatians 6:8; Romans 5:17, that is the life which is proclaimed in the Word, that is the content of all apostolic preaching. It is the life in Christ Jesus, for without Him there can be no true life. Having thus characterized his office and given a summary of his preaching, Paul addresses Timothy as his beloved son, with whom he was united in the bonds of a most cordial and fatherly love, 1 Corinthians 4:17; Php_2:20-22

The greeting of the apostle is identical with that of the first letter: Grace, mercy, peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord. He that has received the reconciliation, the grace of God by faith, will also receive the assurance of the merciful love of God in Christ with full confidence, being fully convinced that the peace of God which passes all understanding is the sure gift of God to all that believe. Having been justified by faith, having become partakers of the grace and mercy of God, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1.

Verses 3-7

Paul Reminds Timothy of His Early Training and Its Obligations.

v. 3. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;

v. 4. greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;

v. 5. when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded that in thee also.

v. 6. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

v. 7. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Without further introduction the apostle broaches the matter that is filling his mind. His heart is full to overflowing, and the thoughts gush forth in the eager effort to find expression: Thanks I render to God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience (as I constantly make mention of thee in my prayers night and day, eagerly wishing to see thee, remembering thy tears, in order that I be filled with joy). This is a true Pauline beginning of a letter, for he always finds reason for thankfulness toward God, no matter how discouraging the circumstances with which he may be battling. In spite of the fact that he had long years of arduous toil behind him and was looking forward to a probable early execution, yet it is the feeling of gratitude toward God which finds expression in his case. With regard to Timothy his hopes and prayers had been more than fulfilled, he being more than satisfied with the result of his labors. But since it was his intention to remind his pupil of the obligations of his early training, he characterizes the God to whom his prayers are arising as the Lord whom he was serving from his forefathers with a pure conscience. This expression does not oppose the statement of 1 Timothy 1:13. as many commentators think. The situation rather is this: With the exception of the actual revelation of the Messiah in the flesh and the fact that we are now living in the time of fulfillment, while the patriarchs and their followers lived in the period of type and prophecy, the faith and hope of the believers of the Old Testament is identical with that of the Christians in the New Testament. In this faith and hope Paul had been instructed from his youth, as his forefathers had been before him. It was a terrible thing, of course, that he had been a persecutor and a blasphemer of Christ and the Christian religion. But, as he himself says, this attitude had been due to ignorance; his early faith in the Messiah that was to come, and that of his later years in the Messiah that had come, were the same in substance. And so his worship of God had been performed with a pure conscience, foolish as it was in view of the fact that the Messiah had already appeared; Paul offers this as an explanation, not as an excuse.

In the form of a parenthetical remark the apostle now sets forth his relation to Timothy, stating that he had his beloved pupil in remembrance continually in the prayers that were rising to God night and day. He remembered all the congregations with whom he had been connected in his apostolic capacity, but, incidentally, his cordial relation to Timothy caused him to make mention of him with particular fervor. His heart was filled with longing to see his young friend, especially since he could not get rid of the memory of the tears which Timothy had shed at their last meeting; See Acts 20:37. The field on which Timothy was working had proved almost too much for his inexperience, in consequence of which he had been bothered with faint-heartedness. As Paul, therefore, thought of this scene and of the fact that he had not been able to see Timothy since, his longing to see him and thus to be filled with joy was again aroused and increased.

After these parenthetical remarks the apostle now mentions the reason for his prayers of thankfulness: For I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice; I am persuaded, however, that also in thee. Paul had probably been reminded with great force of all these facts by a letter or by a messenger from Timothy. The impression which he had had concerning his pupil had thereby been deepened. And therefore he turns to the Lord with a grateful heart, thanking Him for preserving the faith of Timothy to the present time. It was an unfeigned faith, a faith unmixed with hypocrisy, a faith resting upon the knowledge and consisting in the acceptance of the salvation in and through Christ. Timothy had been exceptionally fortunate in having received proper instruction in the doctrine of truth. His grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, both of whom apparently belonged to the true Israelites that waited for the revelation of the Messiah, had also both embraced Christianity. But the same Christian faith which lived in them dwelt also in the heart of the grandson and son. Of that Paul was convinced, for that he had the strangest testimony.

These extraordinary advantages which he had enjoyed, however, also imposed obligations upon Timothy: For which reason I remind thee to rekindle God's gift of grace, which is in thee by the laying on of my hands. Timothy had from his early childhood received instruction in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. His conversion, therefore, had consisted in his turning from the expectation of a Messiah that was still to come to the trust in Him who had been manifested Since, then, he had received the grace of God in so rich a measure, since he had also been given the ability to teach and the willingness to teach as special evidences of God's mercy, therefore the apostle found it incumbent upon himself to remind him of the obligations attending this gift, as it had been transmitted to him through the laying on of Paul's hands at the time of his ordination. In a peculiar way, in an extraordinary measure, Timothy had at that time been given the special ability for the administration of the pastoral office in all its branches. Timothy was to rekindle the gift of grace imparted to him. The fire of faith, of love, of confidence, of courage to open his mouth in joyful proclamation of the counsel of God was still in him, but he was in danger of neglecting it; hence the admonition to rekindle it, lest the work of the Lord suffer in consequence.

In support of his admonition Paul adds: For not has God given us the spirit of timidity, but of power and of love and of sane-mindedness. The spirit that lives in the Christians and should give energy especially to the pastors is not one of timidity, of lack of courage, of faintheartedness. That is the spirit which produces hirelings, men that cater to the itching ears of their hearers; it is the spirit that finally leads to hypocrisy and denial of the faith. The true Spirit that should actuate all believers and especially the ministers of the Word is the Spirit of strength and power, of an energy rooted in the omnipotence of God, that knows no fear; the Spirit of love which enables a person not only to offer work freely, but also to make sacrifices for the cause of the Lord; the Spirit of sane-mindedness, that enables the Christian pastor to use sound common sense under all circumstances, to employ that tact and diplomacy which chooses the best methods in all situations and thus gains friends for the Gospel. This is a gift of grace, through the Spirit, and should therefore be found in all men that are engaged in the glorious ministry of saving souls, as well as in all believers that recognize their duty of placing their strength and abilities in the service of the Lord.

Verses 8-14

An Admonition to Steadfastness.

v. 8. Be not thou, therefore, ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, His prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God,

v. 9. who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

v. 10. but now is made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel;

v. 11. whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles.

v. 12. For the which cause I also suffer these things. Nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.

v. 13. Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

v. 14. that good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in us.

The knowledge of God's love in Christ Jesus and the gift of God's grace are the fundamental factors in the work of Timothy; they obligated him to show all staunchness in confessing Christ, in defending the faith. This thought St. Paul brings out with fine tact: Do not, then, be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord nor of me, His prisoner, but join me in suffering for the Gospel according to the power of God. Timothy should not dread nor fear the dishonor and disgrace which his confessing of Christ was sure to bring upon him; he should not flee from the lot which is inevitable to the followers of Christ. See Romans 1:16; Mark 8:38; Hebrews 11:26. The apostle calls the entire preaching of the New Testament the testimony of Christ, because Christ is the content of the entire doctrine of salvation; His person and work should be proclaimed from every pulpit that bears the name Christian; the message of the Gospel is that of eternal life, because it testifies of Christ, John 5:39; 1 Corinthians 1:6. Just because every person that openly professed his allegiance to the so-called sect of the Christians had to expect persecution and dishonor to strike him, therefore Timothy was not to be ashamed of his confession. But this attitude included yet another point. Timothy might be inclined to withdraw from Paul in the latter's present unfortunate situation. The apostle, however, was not languishing in prison on account of any crime committed by him. He was a prisoner of the Lord; for the sake of Jesus whom he had so freely and gladly confessed before men he had been imprisoned. His fetters thus were his badge of honor, and Timothy was to acknowledge them as such. Instead of being ashamed of Jesus and of Paul, His apostle, now bound for His sake, Timothy should rather join him in suffering for the Gospel. Should the same fate strike him which had come upon his beloved teacher, Timothy should not hesitate for a moment in showing his willingness to bear the yoke of his Lord. So much he could do, not, indeed, by his own reason and strength, but in accordance with, in the measure of, the power of God in him. Christ, the Lord of His Church, always imparts that amount of strength which is necessary for bearing sufferings for His sake.

If there is any thought which, above all others, ought to make us willing to suffer persecutions for the sake of our Lord, it is that of our redemption in Christ: Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the time of this world. The apostle uses the strongest argument at his disposal for impressing upon Timothy and every Christian the necessity of remaining steadfast in the confession of Christ unto the end. It is God that saved us, that is our Savior; the salvation is complete, ready before the eyes and hearts of all men. And so far as its application to the believers is concerned, the apostle says that God has called us, He has extended to us the invitation to accept the reconciliation made for all men. This invitation was a holy call, for it was issued by the holy God, applied by the Holy Ghost, and has for its purpose a life of consecration. In no manner does the merit of man come into consideration in this call, for it was not extended to us because of our works. God did not look upon any man with the intention of finding something in his character or attitude which would make him more willing to accept the proffered grace. At the same time, however, He did not issue an absolute call, simply on the basis of the majesty of His divine will. He called men rather according to His own purpose and grace. It was God's own free counsel and intention, a counsel of grace, of His free love and favor, whose revelation took place in Christ Jesus. Before the foundations of the world were laid, before God had created a single human being, His gracious counsel of love was formulated, which resulted in our call, by virtue of which we should be His own and live with Him world without end. In Christ Jesus His grace was given us, for His redemption earned it for us.

The grace of God in Christ Jesus was thus present and ready from eternity. Then, in the fullness of time, God made known His grace to mankind: But now manifested through the appearance of our Savior Christ Jesus, when He rendered death ineffectual, but brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. The grace which was planned and prepared in Christ Jesus was made manifest, not by a mere teaching or preaching, but by a bodily manifestation which could be conceived of by the senses, John 1:14. Through the entire life, suffering, and death of Christ the grace of God has been made manifest. In this way God's grace was brought to the attention of men in bodily, visible form, in the shape of the Redeemer, who was their brother according to the flesh. His manifestation culminated in His rendering death helpless, in taking away the power from temporal death, thus making it a mere figurehead, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, Since death, in its true essence, signifies a separation from God and from the life in God, therefore it has lost its terrors for the believers. Death can no longer conquer us, who are in Christ Jesus. Instead of that, life and immortality are our lot through the work of our Savior. We have reentered the fellowship of life with God; the true life in and with God lies before us in immeasurable fullness. The original blessed condition of Paradise has now again been made possible; the life in and with God shows itself in immortality, in incorruption. Salvation with all the glories of heaven is ours; it is no longer hidden from our eyes, but is set before us in the brightest, clearest light through the Gospel; for this is the message of the completed redemption, of the revelation of life without end. Such is the blessed glory of the Gospel, as the apostle has briefly summarized it here for Timothy as well as for the Christians of all times.

In bringing out his connection with the Gospel, the apostle now incidentally gives a reason why Timothy should not be ashamed of him: To which I have been appointed herald and apostle and teacher. Every word used by the apostle brings out a certain phase of his work. He is a herald, a proclaimer of the great and wonderful works of God. Not only the foundation of a proper Christian understanding should be laid by his preaching, but the Christians should also grow in knowledge of their Lord Jesus Christ by the same method. He is an apostle; he belongs to the number of men who for all times were to be the teachers of the New Testament Church. And finally, Paul was a teacher, as all true ministers should be, his special field being that of the Gentiles. He did not operate with the excellencies of man's wisdom, but taught the mystery of the kingdom of God, both publicly and privately. How could Timothy, under the circumstances, feel ashamed of his teacher?

But the sufferings of Paul also should not provoke this feeling of shame in him: For which reason also I suffer these things, but am not ashamed. In the ministry, in the office which God entrusted to him, with every mark of distinction, the enmity of the world had struck him; he had been subjected to misery, persecution, imprisonment. Since, however, these sufferings are to be expected in the regular discharge of the holy office, he does not in any way look upon them as a disgrace. To suffer for the sake of Christ is not a dishonor, but an honor. For this reason the apostle is able to write in the joyful confidence of faith: For I know in whom my faith rests, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. Every word here is an expression of firm trust in God. He does not rely upon his feelings, upon his own ideas and notions; his knowledge is based upon the Word and cannot therefore be shaken. He has gained a conviction which is more certain than all asseverations of mere men: he has the promise of God in His infallible Word. For the apostle has entrusted the salvation of his soul to the heavenly Father, and his faith has the conviction based upon His Word that the precious treasure is safe in His hands, John 10:28. For God is able, fully competent, to guard this inestimable blessing. We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, 1 Peter 1:5.

The admonition, then, follows as a matter of course: The example of wholesome words hold fast which thou hast heard from me, in faith as well as in love which is in Christ Jesus. The personal example of Paul was an important factor in his work; what he had done and said should be a type for Timothy to follow. It seems that he has reference to some summary or outline of the Gospel-truth which he had transmitted to his pupil, a teaching of wholesome words, entirely free from the morbid outgrowths which the errorists showed. This summary of doctrine Timothy was to use in faith and love in Christ Jesus. Having the conviction of faith that the Gospel as taught by Paul was the truth, he would not suffer himself to become apostate to that truth. Having true, cordial love toward Christ in his heart, he would know that every defection from the truth committed to his charge would deeply grieve his Savior. A simple adherence to the words of Scripture is the safest way to avoid most of the difficulties with which sectarians are always grappling; for it is only when a person goes beyond the words of divine revelation that he meets with contradictions or apparently incompatible statements.

In connection with this thought the apostle once more urges his pupil; The excellent deposit guard through the Holy Spirit, that dwells in us. Having just admonished Timothy to adhere to the form of sound doctrine for his own person, Paul now drives home the other truth, namely, that this precious deposit of the pure truth must be guarded against all contamination. In his own power, by his own reason and strength, it is true that no pastor is able to defend and guard the doctrine of Christ against the various attacks that are made against it, against the suspicions that are being spread concerning it. If a man studies the Bible just as he does any other book, if he believes that the application of mere worldly wisdom will suffice for its defense, he will soon find out just how badly in error he was with his ideas. The precious blessing of evangelical truth can be kept safe only through the Holy Ghost. Even in Baptism this Spirit has made His abode in us, and He will continue to use our hearts as His shrine as long as we continue in the words of our Savior. What comfort for the simple, faithful minister of the Word!

Verses 15-18

Paul's Sorrowful and Cheerful Experiences. 2 Timothy 1:15-18

v. 15. This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

v. 16. the Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain,

v. 17. but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently and found me.

v. 18. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day. And in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus thou knowest very well.

These historical references are closely connected with the preceding section, in which Paul had emphasized the thought that Christians will gladly suffer persecution for the sake of Christ. His first statement is a complaint of the treatment accorded Him by some of those that formerly professed friendship for him: Thou knowest this, that all those in Asia have repudiated me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. Whether this repudiation practiced by the Christians of Asia was directed merely against the person of Paul, being inspired by the fear that they might be forced to share his fate if their relation to him were known, or whether it included the actual denial of the truth, is not altogether evident. It seems that the apostle had sent word to certain influential Christians of the province of Asia to give their testimony in his favor, but that these feared an evil outcome for themselves and refused to do Paul this favor. In the case of two men, whose names he mentions, it seems that this conduct had struck the apostle with special force, and a final denial of the Gospel seemed to be only a matter of time. They had been ashamed of his bonds and might be expected soon to be ashamed of his Lord.

As a splendid contrast to this selfish behavior the apostle names the conduct of one other man from Asia: May the Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, because often he refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain, but, coming to Rome, he quickly sought me out and found me. The man whose name is here recorded on account of the shining example he gave to the Christians of all times, seems to have died meanwhile. Paul, therefore, expresses his prayer in the form of an earnest wish that God would bless his entire household for his sake. See Proverbs 14:26; Proverbs 20:7. For this man Onesiphorus had provided refreshment and comfort, both for the body and soul of Paul, for in bringing him such gifts as tended to ease the burden of his imprisonment, this good man also refreshed the spirit of the apostle. In doing so he was not ashamed of the chain which Paul bore, he did not consider it a disgrace to be known as a friend of the prisoner, he did not consider the probable danger which was connected with his visits to a Christian teacher. Rather, when his business brought him to Rome, or when he found time to make a special trip to the capital in behalf of the imprisoned apostle, he did not rest until he found out just where Paul was kept captive, in order to offer him what little service he was able to perform. Paul's wish for him is that the Lord would grant him to find mercy on the last day. So far as Paul knew, these and other evidences in good works provided sufficient ground for assuming that Onesiphorus had held the true faith, and that for that reason the reward of mercy would fall to his lot. In conclusion the apostle appeals to Timothy's own knowledge of the case: And in how many ways he served me in Ephesus thou knowest best. It was not necessary for the apostle to enumerate all the good things which he might have stated about this noble, unselfish man. His work was known sufficiently well wherever his name was mentioned. Timothy himself had been in Ephesus as a witness of some of the deeds of kindness, and was therefore able to judge for himself better than Paul, whose opinion therefore did not need to influence him. It is a special blessing of God if all the members of the congregation show proper willingness to be of service in the cause of the kingdom of Christ.


After the address and salutation the apostle reminds Timothy of his early training and its obligations; he admonishes him to steadfastness, incidentally referring to his own sorrowful and comforting experiences.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 1". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/2-timothy-1.html. 1921-23.
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