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Introduction (2 Timothy 1:1-2 ).
‘Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus,’
With his coming death in mind Paul open his letter with a declaration of bold defiance against the forces of death and darkness that are around him. For he first boldly states that he is an Apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and then declares that that is in terms of ‘the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus’. Death may be facing him, but it will only be as the gateway to life. Beyond death, for him and for all who truly belong to Christ, lies the promised life of the ages to come, the ‘life which is in Christ Jesus’.
So as he regularly did Paul reminds Timothy, and all who read or hear his words at this time of emergency, that he is an Apostle, one of those especially ‘sent forth’ from God, an ambassador of Jesus Christ, and that in His case at least it is by the will of God. For as he had said elsewhere, ‘He -- had set me apart before I was born, and had called my by His grace, (and) was pleased to reveal His Son in me’ (Galatians 1:15-16). He had no doubt that God had chosen him, and that what he was now facing was within the will of God. As he was facing probable death nothing gave him more comfort than the fact that His life was safe in God’s eternal will (compare Romans 9:19; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:1; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 1:1; 1 Peter 4:19; James 1:18). But why should Paul inform Timothy of what he knew only too well? The answer is simple. It was precisely because Timothy may have become too used to the idea that he needed to be reminded of it. He needed to recognise that it was not just his beloved and revered Paul who was speaking. It was one of the Apostles of Christ appointed by the will of God.
In the face of the threat of death Paul also wanted him to call to mind again that as an Apostle appointed by the will of God, he had come to offer the life that was in Christ Jesus. For his appointment as an Apostle in the will of God was ‘in accordance with the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus’. Rome might put him to death, but for him there would be a resurrection, for he would then enter into the fullness of life in Christ. It was a reminder, in the words of James, that ‘of His own will He begets us by the word of truth’ (James 1:18), so that we have eternal life within us (John 5:24) and the promise of it for the future (John 5:28-29). This reference to life takes us back to the promises of life in 1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Timothy 6:12; 1 Timothy 6:19, and there it is made clear that the promise had to be laid hold of. But here, in contrast, the life will lay hold of him. And that is what Paul’s message is all about. His message is one of life from God, both now and in the future (1 Timothy 4:8), and that a life which is found ‘in Christ Jesus’. It is as one who has been made one with Christ that he has this life (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 2:20). ‘He who has the Son has life, while he who has not the Son of God, does not have life’ (1 John 5:11-13, compare John 5:24; John 20:31; Galatians 2:20). He is thus already basking in that promised life, and looks forward to enjoying it even more fully with God.
‘To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.’
He then names the recipient. It is Timothy his ‘beloved child’. Timothy was especially dear to him, and was like a son to him. He may well have been his son in the Gospel.
‘Grace, mercy and peace.’ Compare 1 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; 2 John 1:3). This was in contrast to the regular ‘Grace and peace to you’ of the earlier letters. But in fact this is what we might have expected, for as godly men grow older they grow more contemplative, and become more aware of the mercy and compassion of God, as had happened to Paul here. He had become conscious that he was ‘the chief of sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15). Thus do we continually need grace, God’s unmerited love active towards us; His mercy and compassion poured out on a continual basis; and peace, peace with God and peace in our hearts through Him.
‘From God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Here ‘God’ parallels ‘Christ’ and ‘the Father’ parallels ‘the Lord’. Compare James 3:9, ‘the Lord and Father’. Here Jesus is ‘the Lord’. Both share the same status and deity, with the Father as Lord over Creation, and Jesus as Lord over salvation, for His Name means ‘YHWH is salvation’. We will see in Titus that this also applies to the designation ‘our Saviour’ which is used in a parallel way there of both God and the Lord, Jesus Christ.
‘I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, how unceasing is my remembrance of you in my supplications, night and day,’
As Paul is about to speak highly of Timothy’s parents, he first gives thanks for his own forefathers. It was they, godly Jews, who had taught him to serve and worship the true God in a pure conscience, with heart untainted (‘blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’ (Matthew 5:8), even though he had not always followed their example. He never despised his Jewish background. Rather he gloried in what it had given him. And he also thanks God because he feels the need to continually pray for Timothy, for it is necessary precisely because of what that young man was accomplishing and what he had become. He needed prayer because of his importance to the church. For the phrase ‘I thank God’ compare 1 Timothy 1:12. For a ‘pure conscience’ compare 1 Timothy 1:5. It was a conscience made clean by the blood of Christ. ‘Unceasing’ is a typical Paulinism (Romans 1:9; Romans 9:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:17), especially when related to prayer. For ‘night and day’ see Acts 20:31 (in words of Paul); 1 Timothy 5:5; also 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; .
He describes himself as ‘unceasing’ in remembering Timothy in his supplications. In other words he prays for him at various times in the day. ‘Night and day.’ This might suggest that Paul had regular prayers morning and evening, (or in Jewish terms evening and morning) at which, among others, he fondly remembered Timothy. He prayed for him at least twice daily (how his prayers must have shaken the Roman soldier who guarded him).
Paul’s Love And Concern For Timothy (2 Timothy 1:3-7 ).
Paul tells Timothy that he has prayed for him and longed to see him, and as a result has been reminded of his unfeigned faith, and he wants him to know that that is why he now seeks to quicken the Spirit and life which is within him, so that positive and brave action might result. He writes in the confidence that he will respond. If we prayed so personally for people (not just reciting their names from a prayer list) we too might begin to recognise their unfeigned faith, and seek the expansion of their gifts. For it is important for us all to stir up the gift of God which is within us, whatever it may be, remembering that He gives different gifts to each one (Romans 12:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 1 Corinthians 12:27-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
Note the emphasis on remembrance here. He remembers Timothy, he remembers his farewell tears, he remembers his unfeigned faith, and that is why he puts him in remembrance of his need to stir up the gift of God within him, for he knows how genuine he is. So he is saying to Timothy, remember your first genuine faith, remember your godly upbringing, remember the spiritual gift that you have received from God, the gift given by a Spirit Who is the Spirit of power, of love, and of firm self-control, and stand firm.
a I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, how unceasing is my remembrance of you in my supplications, night and day (2 Timothy 1:3).
b Longing to see you, remembering your tears, that I may be filled with joy (2 Timothy 1:4).
c Having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and, I am fully persuaded, in you as well (2 Timothy 1:5).
b For which reason I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (2 Timothy 1:6).
a For God did not give us a spirit of fearfulness, but of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
Note how in ‘a’ he thanks God Who has enabled him to serve and declares how he continues to pray for Timothy, and in the parallel declares that it is because God has consequently given them the Spirit of power, love and sound judgment. In ‘b’ he remembers Timothy’s love as revealed to him and longs to see him, and in the parallel he puts him in remembrance of the gift of God that in His love He has given to him. Central in ‘c’ is Timothy’s unfeigned faith and that of his mother and grandmother. Thus the activities in ‘a’ and ‘b’ result in the gifts of ‘b’ and ‘a’, and all arising from his true faith in God.
SECTION 1. Paul Calls On Timothy To Hold Firm, To Make Full Use Of His God-given Gifts, And Not To Be Ashamed of His Chains, Presenting Before Him The Shining Example Of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:3-18 ).
What remains of this chapter now forms a chiasmus in thought as follows:
a Paul longs to see Timothy (2 Timothy 1:3-5).
b He reminds him that God has given him, not a Spirit of fear and timidity, but a Spirit of power and love and sound judgment (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
c He calls on him not to be ashamed of him as the Lord’s prisoner (2 Timothy 1:8).
d He outlines the glory of the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:9-10).
e He describes his own status as a preacher and Apostle who is within the Lord’s guardianship (2 Timothy 1:11-12).
d Timothy is to hold firm to the outline of the Gospel that Paul has committed to him, guarding it carefully through the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:13-14).
c While others were, Onesiphorus was not ashamed of his chains (2 Timothy 1:15-16).
b (Having not the Spirit of fear, but the Spirit of power, love and sound judgment), Onesiphorus had diligently sought him out in his prison and had refreshed him
a Paul reveals how his longing for fellowship had been relieved by Onesiphorus’ visit.
We note that in ‘a’ Paul longs to see Timothy, and in the parallel reveals how a similar longing was met by Onesiphorus. In ‘b’ he reminds Timothy of the Spirit of boldness Whom he has received, and in the parallel describes the boldness of Onesiphorus. In ‘c’ he calls on Timothy not to be ashamed of him as the prisoner of the Lord, and in the parallel he describes how Onesiphorus was not ashamed of him. In ‘d’ he outlines the glory of the Gospel, and in the parallel calls on Timothy to hold firm to it and guard it. And centrally in ‘e’ we learn from him why he is the Lord’s prisoner, it is because of the huge privilege that has been given to him.
‘Longing to see you, remembering your tears, that I may be filled with joy,’
And while he prayed for him he longed to see Timothy, so that he might be filled with joy as a result, for he remembered fondly how distressed Timothy had been when they had parted This brings out how great a bond there was between them. Some consider that that parting might even have been at the time of Paul’s arrest. ‘Longing’ to see people is a regular Paulinism (compare Romans 1:11; Philippians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:6). He was a man of deep feelings. The verb is found six times in Paul, once in James, and once in 1 Peter.
‘Having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and, I am fully persuaded, in you as well.’
The joy that he would enjoy was partly due to the unfeigned faith that Timothy had, a faith which he had learned from his mother and grandmother. For they had also had the same kind of faith. And Paul was convinced that as well as that faith being in them, it was in Timothy also. He was the happy product of a godly home, the kind of home that God purposed that all Christian women should produce (1 Timothy 2:15), and all had had lives that brimmed over with their faith in God. It could be seen in everything that they did and said.
While both were Jewesses it is probable that Christian faith was in mind, for his mother had married a Gentile (Acts 16:1), hardly the action expected of a dedicated Jewess, unless as a slave she had had little choice.
For ‘indwelling faith’ compare the ‘indwelling word’ which induces faith (Colossians 3:16), the ‘indwelling Christ’ Who dwells in us through faith (Ephesians 3:17), the ‘indwelling Holy Spirit’ (2 Timothy 1:14; Romans 8:11) and ‘the indwelling God’ Who is in us and walks with us (1 Corinthians 6:16). This is the opposite of, and the remedy for ‘indwelling sin’ (Romans 7:7).
‘For which reason I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.’
And it was because of that unfeigned faith that clearly longed to serve God that he wanted to remind Timothy to ‘go on stirring up’ the gift of God which was in him, through the laying on of his, Paul’s, hands. As a man of faith he had been given that gift and he needed to express that gift in action through constantly looking to the Holy Spirit. It is not necessarily a criticism of Timothy’s diffidence, but rather a reminder to him of the resources that were continually at his disposal and available to faith. He must daily look off to Christ for Him to live and work through him (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:16-17).
This would take Timothy’s mind back to the day when as a young man the presbyters had gathered round (1 Timothy 4:14), with Paul among them, and had laid their hands on him, possibly at the time of his baptism, but see Acts 13:3 which might suggest that it has in mind the time when he was set aside to go with Paul on his missionary travels (Acts 16:3). And as a result he had received a gift from God, probably that of evangelism and teaching. For when God calls, He endows. Alternatively Paul might also have desired to arrange for him to receive a special gift at a different time, and may have laid his hands on him for that purpose. But it should be noted that the laying on of hands represented the identification of Paul and the elders with him before God, in trust that God would give him the Holy Spirit. For in the end the Holy Spirit is subject to no man. There is only One Who can drench men with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11).
‘For which reason.’ A phrase occurring in Acts, but in Paul’s letters only in the Pastoral letters (compare 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 1:13) It suggests a Latin provenance, being the translation of quamobrem, a favourite Roman connecting word. This thus ties in with Paul’s later days when he had been in Rome and influenced by its language.
‘Gift’ (charisma). Found also in 1 Timothy 4:14, fourteen times in Paul’s other letters, and only once elsewhere (in 1 Peter). It is a favourite Pauline noun.
‘For God did not give us a spirit of fearfulness, but of power and love and discipline.’
And the stirring up of that gift will produce powerful, loving activity, the activity of the Spirit. For the Spirit Whom God has given us is not a cowering, timid spirit, but is the Spirit of power, love and sound judgment. He will manifest Himself in power, power in ministry (Acts 1:8; Acts 6:10; Ephesians 3:7), power in living (2 Timothy 3:5; Romans 1:16; Rom 16:25 ; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 4:20; Colossians 1:11) power in word (Luke 4:14 with 32), power in overcoming (Ephesians 6:10), power in lifting us out of sin (Ephesians 1:19 to Ephesians 2:6). He will manifest himself in a love shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5), so that we love as He loved us. He will manifest himself in sound judgment towards the world, and in self-control with regard to ourselves. This self-control and self-discipline were what Timothy was going to need at this difficult time, and he must recognise that it is there for him in the Holy Spirit. For He produces the all-round believer.
The contrast is not a criticism of Timothy, but is rather in order to bring out the positive aspects more effectively. Not for us fear and timidity, but strength and boldness as we recognise the power that is ours in the Holy Spirit, bask in Christ’s love for us so that we reveal it to the world in our lives, and face up to life wisely and with divinely given discipline. But we must continually remember to stir it up by prayer, the reading of the word, meditation and positive commitment or else that power will dry up, as it did with the other Saul (1 Samuel 16:14).
Do not be ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God,’
The command not to be ashamed includes, of course, the need to be bold. Jesus Himself had differentiated between those who confessed Him and His words, and those Who were ashamed because they were not His (Matthew 10:32-33). Now Paul applies those words to Timothy. He is not to be ashamed, but is to stand boldly for the truth, and for its defence. The ‘testimony of our Lord’ refers to the proclamation of Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Compare ‘the Testimony of Jesus’ (Revelation 1:2; Revelation 1:9) where, in parallel with ‘the word of God’ (the message of the Old Testament, see Mark 7:13) it may well suggest a written body of teaching. He then immediately equates it with ‘the Gospel, the Good News’. Paul elsewhere tells us that he was ‘not ashamed of the Gospel’ because of what he knew it to be. He was not ashamed of it because it is ‘the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe’ (Romans 1:16). For the Gospel presents us with the reason for our willingness to let the world know Whose we are and Whom we serve, and what He offers to mankind.
Nor is Timothy to be ashamed of him, Paul, for he is to recognise that he is not Rome’s prisoner, he is the Lord’s prisoner. It was so easy for the uncommitted to withdraw from Paul now that he was in prison. But Paul saw himself, not as being in the power of Rome, but as being captive to the will of God (2 Timothy 1:1). He knew that the divine purpose was being fulfilled in his life, yes, and in his death also. And that was why he was there in prison. It was because the Lord had so appointed it. And that realisation had turned his imprisonment into a thing of pride and joy. On one side of him was a continual supply of Roman soldiers to whom he was manacled, and to whom he no doubt testified (men who would never have heard the Gospel otherwise). And on the other was ‘the Lord’ to Whom he was equally ‘manacled’. And in his mind it was the presence of the Lord that was pre-eminent. He was the Lord’s prisoner, and the soldiers were the Lord’s prisoners too, taking it in turns to sit there and hear what Paul had to say. So he knew that continually with him was the One Who before him had Himself walked the pathway of suffering, saying to him, ‘Paul. You do but follow in My steps’ (1 Peter 2:21). What else counted in the light of that? And Paul will shortly give to Timothy an example of another who was not ashamed of his chains (see 2 Timothy 1:16).
‘But suffer hardship (‘take your share of ill treatment along with all His people’ - sun-kako-patheo - ‘together ills suffer’) with the gospel according to the power of God.’ Rather than being ashamed, therefore, Timothy is to endure. He must be willing to suffer hardship, and share the ill-treatment of God’s people, as he goes forward with the Gospel, and for the Gospel. For ‘all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution’ (2 Timothy 3:12; compare Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3; etc). God’s purposes advance through suffering, and we must therefore ‘fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ’ (Colossians 1:24). For the world does not like being reminded of its unrighteousness. But his endurance is not to be in his own strength, it is to be in the power of God (compare Romans 5:5). It is God’s power through His Holy Spirit that is there at work in all who boldly ‘confess Christ’ both in words and in life, sustaining, strengthening, uplifting and guiding, a power received when we receive first the Holy Spirit at our conversion (Romans 8:9), but which needs to be constantly stirred up by prayer (2 Timothy 2:22), by the reading of the word (2 Timothy 3:14-17), by unashamed testimony (2 Timothy 4:2), and by good works done for Him and in His Name (2 Timothy 2:22; Matthew 5:16). He works within us so that we may work out what He works within us (Philippians 2:12-13).
He Calls On Timothy Not To Be Ashamed Of Either His Christian Testimony Or Of Paul, Because Suffering Is An Important Part Of God’s Saving Purposes Which Have Been Revealed in The Appearance of Our Saviour Christ Jesus To Bring Those Saving Purposes About. He Is Rather To Guard The Gospel With The Spirit’s Help (2 Timothy 1:8-14 ).
Some of those who were proud to be associated with Paul in his successful ministry had found that it was a different matter when it came to him being imprisoned by Rome. One of these was Demas (2 Timothy 4:10). We can almost see him telling Paul that unfortunately he had to pop over to Thessalonica to help the saints there. It was rather urgent. But Paul was not deceived. However he is confident that Timothy will not follow that example, and that he will, if need be, rather be willing to suffer hardship for the Gospel, (he too will later be a prisoner - Hebrews 13:23), which he then describes in all its wonder. The echo of Paul’s assurance runs through the whole passage, and he seeks to pass it in to Timothy.
a Do not be ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God (2 Timothy 1:8).
b Who 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 times of the ages (2 Timothy 1:9).
c But has now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10).
d To which I was appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher (2 Timothy 1:11).
c For which cause I suffer also these things. Yet I am not ashamed, for I know Him Whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed to Him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12).
b Hold the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13).
a That good thing which was committed to you guard through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us (2 Timothy 3:14).
Note that in ‘a’ Timothy is to glory in the testimony of our Lord, and suffer hardship with the Gospel in the power of God, and in the parallel he is to guard what has been committed to him through the indwelling Holy Spirit. In ‘b’ we (Christians) are saved and called with a holy calling in accordance with His purpose and grace, and in the parallel are to hold the pattern of sound words in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. In ‘c’ the holy calling has been manifested by the appearing of Christ Jesus our Saviour who has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, and in the parallel Paul suffers for that cause and looks forward to that Day. Centrally in ‘d’ is the fact that he has been appointed by God to be a preacher, Apostle and Teacher.
‘Who 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 times of the ages,’
For it is the Lord Who has saved us, that is, has once and for all taken us up into His purposes (Ephesians 1:3-14), reconciled us to God through the death of His Son (Romans 5:10), caused us to be accounted righteous in Him, through His blood, (Romans 3:24), and destined us to be holy and without blame before Him (Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 1:22). For which purpose He makes us new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and works in us to will and do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Have you responded to Christ for salvation? If so it is because He has begun to work out His purposes in you. But are you now resisting His call for you to become holy and without blame? Do you realise what that means? It means that you are resisting the eternal grace and purposes of God. Just think about that for a moment. You are fighting against infinite purpose and love. And then break down and ask His forgiveness, and begin to be what He wants you to be.
‘And called us with ‘a holy calling’ that is, has given us a call from a holy God to live as those who are set apart to Him, and to serve Him in heavenly service (however mundane it may appear to be - Ephesians 6:6). Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:7 where holiness is the opposite of uncleanness. So this is a call to spiritual purity. And all this not because of our deserts, or because of what we have merited (compare Titus 3:5), but solely because it was in His purposes, through His unlimited, unmerited favour, which was given us before all ages in Christ Jesus ‘before the time when the ages began’. Here is laid out quite plainly the sovereignty of God in His purposes, providing assurance to all who, being in Christ, are safely within those purposes through faith (‘the elect’ - 2 Timothy 2:10). For those purposes began even before time began, and were destined for all who believe on Him with genuine faith. And they are not given to us for any deserts or merit that we have, but result solely for His purpose and grace (unmerited active favour). And they result in His being within us to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), but we must still ‘work it out’ with greatest care (Philippians 2:12).
For this call of God compare for its majestic splendour in God’s scheme of things - Romans 8:28; for its being centred in the unmerited favour of God - Galatians 1:6; for its requiring responsive holiness - 1 Peter 1:1-16.
‘But has now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,’
The idea here is magnificent. First the preparation and purpose in eternity past in the mind of God, and now its glorious manifestation by the first ‘appearing’ of our Saviour Christ Jesus (John 1:14), resulting in the nullifying of the power of death, and the bringing to men of life and immortality as revealed in the Gospel. This is God’s Good Tidings to men (Luke 2:10-11).
‘Has now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus.’ In the coming of ‘our Saviour, the Messiah Jesus’ into the world God has opened up and revealed His eternal purposes (compare Matthew 1:21; John 3:17; Romans 8:3-4; Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:3-14; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:1-18; 1 John 1:1-4).
And thus, for all who are His, death has been nullified, its power has been broken, it has been rendered ineffective (Hebrews 2:15). And in its place is life from the very Source of life Himself (John 5:21), and immortality from the One Who alone has immortality (1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16). ‘Life and immortality’ from God. It is the very best that can be. You are not ‘worth it’ but it is freely given in Him. For ‘he who has the Son has life’ (1 John 5:12). So there is no need to climb into the Heavens to bring Christ down. There is no need for flights into fantasies of esoteric ‘knowledge’. This life was now here on earth in Him and through Him. All that was necessary was to ‘know Him’, first through His life and teaching, and then as the risen Saviour, and to respond to Him (2 Timothy 1:12; Philippians 3:10; compare John 14:7; 1 John 2:3-4).
‘Abolished death.’ The verb in the metaphorical sense used here is a favourite of Paul’s and rare outside Paul. The thought is of the nullifying of the power of death. In 1 Corinthians 15:26 Paul tells us that the last enemy which will be nullified is death. The thought is not that death will not touch the Christian, but that it will not swallow him up. Instead of being the tyrant it will have become rather the gateway to life, and one day it will be no more. For the connection of light with life and immortality compare John 1:4; John 8:12; 1 John 1:1-5
‘Unto which I was appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher.’
These words are central in the chiasmus. It is because of this appointment that he has to suffer. That is why he is in chains. It is the final proof of his Apostleship. For it is the united testimony of the Old Testament that all appointed by God had to face trials and testing, and even death. And how then can he, a proclaimer of the Gospel, an appointed Apostle, and a Spirit inspired teacher, expect to be exempt? Here is the explanation for his chains. He is God’s man. And the world is doing to him whatever it will (John 15:19).
Paul must have paused here for a moment of wonder before he carried on. It was to this wonderful Gospel, the Gospel of life, that he had been appointed as a preacher (herald, proclaimer), Apostle and teacher,. It was so great a privilege for a mere man to have that he could hardly believe it. But he must therefore accept what came with the job.
But this was also a word to Timothy. He was saying, ‘You see Timothy, God has given me a huge privilege, and so I must also suffer, just as you may have to suffer. The two go together. Here I am, a preacher, an Apostle and a teacher acting in God’s Name, and so like Jeremiah of old (Jeremiah 32:2; Jeremiah 33:1; Jeremiah 37:15-16; Jeremiah 37:21; Jeremiah 38:28) I must lie in this dark lonely cell, with few who are willing to stand by me. It goes with the job. But it does not concern me, because I know of One Who even now stands by me. He is the One in Whom I have believed, and in Whom I have the fullest confidence. And He is here with me now. And I know that He will guard what I have committed to Him against that Day. All is safe in His hands. And you, Timothy, you must be ready for it too. For that is what being a preacher and a teacher of the word of God involves.’
‘For which cause I suffer also these things. Yet I am not ashamed, for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed to him (‘my deposit’) against that day.’
And it was for this reason that he was going through what he was at present suffering. But he was not ashamed or in doubt or troubled at heart, for he knew in Whom he had believed and had absolute confidence in Him. He was absolutely sure, without a vestige of doubt, that He was able to keep under careful guard ‘the deposit’ that Paul had committed to him ‘against that Day’. Rome might be guarding Paul’s body, but Christ Jesus was guarding his soul. And his life and his future were safely in His hands in readiness for the great Day when all is put right.
‘The deposit.’ Some see this deposit as referring to the Gospel (1 Timothy 6:20), but in the light of his expectancy of death it is more likely that it means himself. It is unlikely that he sees himself as committing his message to God for Him to guard. It would rather be the other way round. Rather he has entrusted himself to Christ, so that Christ Himself might confirm him and bring him safely through to that great Day when all who are His enter into eternal life in its fullest extent. He knows that he will not be disappointed. Although, of course, having said that, the commitment of his life would included the commitment of his life work to Christ as well.
‘Hold the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.’
Timothy is therefore to hold the pattern of sound words which contain all this, close within his heart. He too must act as a guard, for as Christ Jesus was guarding his soul, Timothy was to guard Paul’s gift to the world, the full truth about Jesus. And he must do it in the faith and love which have their source in being ‘in Christ Jesus’ (compare Galatians 2:20).
‘Pattern.’ A summary or outline. As we know from Romans Paul had systematised the Gospel, and built it into a ‘representation, summary (hupostasis)’. See also the summary in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Philippians 2:5-11; and compare 1 Timothy 3:16. This was what Timothy had to hold on to.
‘That good thing which was committed to you guard through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us.’
And he is to guard ‘that good thing’ which was committed to him. This may refer to the pattern of sound words. Alternatively it may mean ‘the Gospel’ (1 Timothy 6:20). Note the means of guarding it, it is by the illumination of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth (compare 1 Corinthians 2:9-16), for it is He Who illuminates the truth and makes it real within our hearts (compare 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27). And Timothy must jealously guard it in the Spirit’s power. Thus Timothy is being called on to carry on the work of Paul, and to carefully guard the truth that he has proclaimed and taught.
‘Dwell in.’ Compare 2 Timothy 1:5; Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Colossians 3:16. A Paulinism.
‘This you know, that all who are in Asia turned away from me, of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.’
We should note that there is no suggestion that they had turned away from Christ. They had no doubt been in Rome on an official visit to the church there, and on learning that Paul was in prison, and no doubt having spoken to those who ministered to his physical needs (probably mainly women who would not be in such danger of being arrested. It was often brave Christian women, who being despised by the world were not in much danger of arrest, who performed this kind of function for persecuted Christians in prison), they were afraid to visit him and returned to Asia Minor without doing so. We can imagine Paul’s great disappointment and heartbreak when he learned of this (no doubt they had sent him a message of good cheer), especially when he learned that Phygelus and Hermogenes had been among them. He would not have expected such treatment from such prominent men who had no doubt in the past often expressed their devotion to him and to the Lord.
Disappointments and Encouragements (2 Timothy 1:15-18 ).
An imprisoned man in those days had to rely on friends and relatives to visit him and supply his needs, and no doubt some faithful members of the church in Rome were performing this function for Paul. And it would presumably be from them that he learned that the Asian leaders, who had presumably come to Rome to meet the leaders of the Roman church, had returned home without seeing him when they learned that he was in prison. When this news reached Paul in his prison cell it must have been devastatingly disappointing. And then as so often happens in Christian service, God compensated him. One day into his cell strode Onesiphorus, another Asian leader, who apologised for not having arrived before and explained that he had been searching for him everywhere. It must have seemed to Paul like a visitant from Heaven. He was not totally deserted after all. Who can measure the joy that must have filled his soul at this unexpected visitor? And Onesiphorus probably never realised how much good his visit had done Paul (or that history would remember him for it).
We must not underestimate the cold bravery and courage of Onesiphorus. To search for a political prisoner in Rome in the suspicious atmosphere of that time was to court an attention that was undesirable, and to be put at risk of arrest and worse. To visit such a prisoner in his cell was even more dangerous. To do it constantly was to court disaster. But neither he nor Luke (2 Timothy 4:11) hesitated for a moment.
a This you know, that all who are in Asia turned away from me, of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes (2 Timothy 1:15).
b The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain (2 Timothy 1:16).
c But, when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me (2 Timothy 1:17).
b (The Lord grant to him to find mercy of the Lord in that day) (2 Timothy 1:18 a).
a And in how many things he ministered at Ephesus, you know very well (2 Timothy 1:18 b).
Note that in ‘a’ many turned away from him, while in the parallel one faithful friend ministered to him. In ‘b’ he calls for God’s compassion to be revealed towards the household of Onesiphorus, and in the parallel he asks that that mercy will especially be shown ‘in that Day’. Centrally in ‘c’ Paul describes how Onesiphorus sought him out in his prison and found him.
‘The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain, but, when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me.’
And then into the bleakness of his experience came a shining light (Matthew 5:16; Matthew 25:36). For one day as he sat there in his cell, he heard the door grinding open, and into his cell strode Onesiphorus who explained that he was sorry that it had taken so long, but he had been looking for him diligently and had only just discovered in which prison he was. Only those who have gone through such an experience of darkness and aloneness would understand the joy that must have filled Paul’s soul. Not all in Asia Minor were ashamed of him after all. And Onesiphorus probably did not even realise what he had done for Paul. No wonder Paul cried, ‘The Lord grant compassion to the household of Onesiphorus (as he has had compassion on me)’. From what Onesiphorus had done his whole household, relatives and servants, would benefit (compare Acts 16:31). For here was one who knew what it meant to have, not a spirit of fearfulness, but ‘a Spirit of power and love and sound judgment’ (Compare 2 Timothy 1:7).
‘And was not ashamed of my chain.’ This tells the whole story. Perhaps the Asian leaders had suggested to themselves that Paul must ‘clearly have done something wrong’, so that they were ashamed to associate with him as ‘a criminal’. As Christians they could not be expected to have dealings with a criminal. But there was no such thought with Onesiphorus. His first thought on learning of Paul’s situation had been to find him and visit him, for the love of Christ constrained him, and he knew Paul for what he really was, and he loved him.
‘For he often refreshed me.’ And from then on, in spite of the obvious danger of visiting a prisoner who was to be brought before Nero, Onesiphorus often visited him no doubt bringing him both physical and spiritual refreshment.
In this small vignette we have the picture of a man’s loyalty and faithfulness to one to whom he owed so much. But there is in this incident also a wonderful pointer to the love of Christ to us too, for He also, when He knew that we were imprisoned in the darkness of sin, and chained to our old life, sought us diligently and found us.
‘And in how many things he ministered at Ephesus, you know very well.
And Onesiphorus’ visits also brought back to mind the good days in Ephesus, and how Onesiphorus had been so hospitable and welcoming then, and had done all that he could to meet Paul’s needs. ‘You remember,’ he says to Timothy, ‘what a good friend he was then.’ His visits now had done Paul more good than anyone can know, and it comes out in his words here.
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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 1". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany