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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Timothy 1

Verse 3

2 Timothy 1:3.— St. Paul,in what follows, seems to intimate that the Judaizers were not only ashamed of him in his present sufferings, but gloried over him; so far were they themselves from being willing to suffer for righteousness sake. And as the danger in which the apostle then was, might probably make too deep an impression upon the mind of Timothy, and of other Christians, he takes occasion frequently to intimate, that he himself is neither afraid nor ashamed, notwithstanding his present distress and danger; and he hoped that Timothy would herein imitate him, and persevere in opposing the Judaizers, even more strenuously than when the apostle was at liberty to assist him. Many had gone off to the Judaizers; but labour and patience under sufferings was the way, under almighty grace, to glory and victory: cowardice and a regard to present ease was the way for men to miss of the glorious reward of eternal life. By such arguments the apostle pressed Timothy to livepiously; to continue in his fidelity, and in fervent love with all true Christians; to preach the pure gospel doctrine, and to suffer for it with patience and meekness: but not by any means to be ashamed of it, or betray it, 2 Timothy 1:3.-Ch. 2 Timothy 2:26. We may observe, that as St. Paul had been calumniated by the Jews as an apostate from the religion of his forefathers, he therefore declares the contrary here, as he does frequently elsewhere.

Verse 4

2 Timothy 1:4. Greatly desiring to see thee, The intense thinking about a son who had endeared himself to his father in the gospel by a filial anxiety of heart, and many tears; who had suffered in all his afflictions, as well as rejoiced in his joy, must raise the most tender sentiments in the apostle's mind, and make him, though in a prison, long to see and embrace him, that he might give him his dying charge, and devolve the work of preaching and defending the gospel upon him, before he left the world. One may see in the very expressions, the tenderness of his sentiments under those affecting circumstances, and that he wrote with tears in his eyes, as well as a parental anxiety in his heart.

Verse 5

2 Timothy 1:5. In thy grandmother Lois, &c.— This is one internal mark, among a multitude, of the genuineness of this epistle: for we find, Act 16:1 that Timothy was of Jewish descent by his mother's side, but not by his father's. This, and many other such minute particulars, could not all of them have been exactly hit upon, if the writers of the New Testament had not been in those very circumstances, in which we suppose them to have been, when they wrote the several books ascribed to them. Perhaps the apostle, in reckoning up the pious ancestors of the pious evangelist, might have some reference to the second commandment: for, in a sense consistent with moral liberty, God will have mercy upon thousands of generations of them that love him, and keep his commandments.

Verse 6

2 Timothy 1:6. Stir up the gift of God, &c.— The word 'Αναζωπυρειν properly signifies to blow or stir up a fire, when it is almost dead, or does not burn sufficiently. Possibly there might be some danger, lest the fierce and zealous opposition of the Judaizers, and the persecution which the apostle and his faithful adherents were then under, should damp Timothy's zeal, and cause him to let the sacred fire lie under embers. See 1 Thessalonians 5:19. 1 Timothy 4:14.

Verse 7

2 Timothy 1:7. God hath not given us the spirit of fear; St. Paul has frequent references in his epistles to the terror which accompanied the giving of the law from Mount Sinai, and intimates that the Judaizing Christians, who were so fond of the legal dispensation, were of a legal spirit;—a slavish spirit of bondage and fear, as if they had the thunder of Mount Sinai still in their ears—men of intimidated and mean spirits, who were afraid of suffering for their religion. But he takes care to point out the freedom and fortitude, the love and discretion of the true Christian spirit; and indeed discretion, love, and fortitude should always go hand in hand.

Verse 8

2 Timothy 1:8. The testimony of our Lord, That is, "The gospel itself; and more particularly the freedom of the Gentile converts from all subjection to the law of Moses." His prisoner means, Prisoner on his account, or for his sake. Heylin reads, Be not thou ashamed of the gospel of our Lord, nor of me who am a prisoner upon his account.

Verses 9-10

2 Timothy 1:9-10. Who hath saved us, &c.— "Who hath rescued us out of the evil world, and called us to sanctity, not because we had deserved that mercy of his, but of his own free mercy and goodness long ago designed us in Christ; and now hath revealed it to us, and made us partakers of it, by Christ's coming into the world, and preaching the gospel to us, who hath thereby voided the power of death over us, and made a clear revelation of that life and immortality which was not before so certainly revealed, that if we will believe in him and obey him, we may certainly be made partakers of it." The phrase προ χρονων αιωινων, which our version translates before the world began, is literally before the secular ages, or before any age hath passed, and so it ought to be rendered. The promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, being made at the beginning of the world, the promise of that life to which we were to be restored by this seed, and had lost by the subtilty and malice of the serpent, is said to be given, before any age hath passed, or, as the great Mr. Locke explains it, before the secular ages of the Jews. But I shall explain this passage more fully, when I come to consider that exactly parallel one, Tit 1:2-3 to which I refer my readers.

It is to be acknowledged, that the heathens had, by tradition and the glimmering light of their dispensation, conceived some hope of some future good things to be received after this life was ended; that being absolutely necessary, says the apostle, that they might come to God, or do him any acceptable service: for, he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Hebrews 11:6. But yet this hope was very weak and feeble in them, and scarcely credited by their philosophers. It is stiled by Cicero (Tusc. Q. 1.) A surmise of future ages. It is, says Seneca, (Ep. 102.) That which our wise men do promise, but they do not prove. Socrates, even at his death, speaks thus (Apol. in fine): 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, says he, must now die, and you shall live; but which of us is in the better state, the living or the dead, God only knows.

Mr. Parkhurst, under the word φωτιζω, observes, that it signifies "to bring to light," and occurs, 1Co 4:5 and in the present text: and he translates the latter clause of the verse, and hath brought life and incorruption to light by the gospel: that is, not the doctrine, but the thing; Christ, by actually rising from the dead, has caused this important fact, as fulfilled in and by him, to be published by the gospel; (see 1 Corinthians 15:1; 1 Corinthians 15:4.) having manifested or exemplified in his own person that life and incorruption, which shall be the happy lot of all his faithful saints. See 1Co 15:42; 1 Corinthians 15:50-55. So when St. John 1:0; Eph 1:2 says in terms very similar to those of St. Paul, that η ζωη εφανερωθη, the life was manifested, he does not refer to the doctrine of a future or eternal life; but to that which he had seen with his eyes, which he had looked upon, and his hands had handled; even the incarnate word, as is evident from the context. The word φωτισαντος here used, is not merely opposed to the obscurity of the doctrine of life and immortality before the coming of Christ; but also to God's preceding purpose, or promise of what was afterwards really fulfilled in our Redeemer, as a pledge of what should likewise be accomplished in all persevering believers. See 1 Corinthians 15:23. The reader will observe, that the apostle's term is not Αθανασιαν, immortality, but 'Αφθαρσιαν, incorruption; as referring more particularly to the resurrection of the body. Comp. Acts 13:34-37.

Verse 12

2 Timothy 1:12. That which I have committed unto him "As to that momentous trust and treasure, inclusive of your spiritual gifts, and of the doctrine of the gospel, and your office as a minister to preach it, which is excellent in itself, and good for the use of edifying your own and others' souls, to the glory of God and their salvation, and was committed by the Lord Jesus Christ to you at your solemn ordination; see that you be faithful in maintaining it against all the efforts of your enemies, and in preserving it pure and uncorrupted, with religious care and diligence, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, who permanently resides with peculiar relation and influence, and by his gifts and graces, in you and me, as he ever does, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, (Ephesians 4:7.) in all true believers and faithful ministers, (John 14:16-17.) to enable us to fulfil the duties of our stations, in the face of all opposition and danger."

Verse 13

2 Timothy 1:13. Hold fast the form of sound words, Hold fast in faith and love, &c. the form of sound words, &c. Bengelius. Retain well the idea of salutary doctrine which you have learned of me, concerning Christian faith and charity. Heylin. The word 'Υποτυπωσις, rendered form, signifies sometimes the same with the word τυπος ; that is, a plan, model, or pattern; in which sense it may be understood here. See Romans 6:17. And surely, none can express the mind and will of God in sounder words, or more apt phrases, than the apostles, who were under the immediate and extraordinary illumination of the spirit.Sound words signify the pure gospel doctrine, delivered in the plain simple manner of the apostles; and as it leads men to a pious holy life, and does not lay the chief stress upon ceremonies and external thing

Verse 15

2 Timothy 1:15. That all they which are in Asia, be turned away Hereby was the prophesy fulfilled, Acts 20:29-30. The Asiatics were infamous for their cowardice and effeminacy. St. Paul, it has been thought, alludes to their behaviour at Rome, Ch. 2Ti 4:16 of which Timothy might have been informed by travellers; but the text plainly intimates, that they were persons who were still in Asia. The apostle possibly mentions Phygellus and Hermogenes as known to Timothy, or as having distinguished themselves by their profession; so that there was particular reason to expect a different conduct from them.

Verse 18

2 Timothy 1:18. The Lord grant unto him, &c.— This is a common Hebraism. See Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 9:6; Genesis 9:16; Genesis 19:24.Isaiah 8:18Isaiah 8:18. 1 Corinthians 1:7-8.

InferencesShall an inspired apostle commit the true doctrine of Christ to ministers by immediate commission from God? And shall they not keep it pure and uncorrupt, and be ready to suffer for it, in dependance on his power, as exerted by the Holy Spirit? Or shall they preach it, and the people not regard it? What a contempt is this of divine authority, and of the glorious gospel, at once! But O! happy souls, that serve God with a pure heart, and receive the gospel with unfeigned faith and love, after the example of religious ancestors; and lay themselves out to propagate it in like manner to others! It contains the promise of everlasting life through Jesus Christ; and sets the immortal life of soul and body, and the way of obtaining it, in the clearer light. Who would not be contented to undergo the severest persecutions, without fear, or shame, for the sake of the rich advantages that are to be hoped from it! May we have the firmest confidence in Christ, as the all-sufficient Saviour!—How dear is one sincere servant of Christ to another, as partakers of the same faith, and embarked in the same noble cause! How greatly do they all need, and how heartily do they wish, and daily pray for grace, mercy, and peace to be multiplied to one another, from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! How affectionately are they desirous of each other's company, especially in times of great tribulation! How tenderly do they sympathize one with another in their afflictions! How concerned are they that a due improvement be made of the gifts of the Spirit, which are graciously bestowed upon their brethren in the ministry, who are endowed, according to the spirit of the gospel, not with a timorous, cowardly temper, but with holy fortitude and love, sobriety, wisdom, and sound judgment, for fulfilling their trust, in the midst of all difficulties, opposition, and danger! And while many desert the cause of Christ, and his suffering servants, like Phygellus and Hermogenes, blessed be God, there are others, who, like Onesiphorus, are not ashamed to own them in the worst of times; but are willing to seek opportunities of shewing all possible regard to them. May the Lord be gracious to such and their families; and grant them mercy to eternal life in the day of judgment!

REFLECTIONS.—1st, St. Paul opens this epistle,

1. With his apostolic salutation to Timothy. Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, acting under a divine commission, according to the promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus, who hath brought life and immortality to light by his gospel; to Timothy, my dearly beloved son, sharing my warmest paternal affection: grace, mercy, and peace, with all the unutterable blessings therein contained, be with thee, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Note; All our mercies come to us as the free gift of God in Jesus Christ, whether the present pardon, peace, and grace, which we receive here, or the promise of immortal life and glory which we expert hereafter.

2. He thanks God for him. I thank God whom I serve from my forefathers, as a true child of Abraham, and descendant of the patriarchs, with pure conscience, purged now from dead works by a Redeemer's blood, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day, which I statedly offer at a throne of grace morning and evening, presenting thee also before the throne of grace at other times; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, and the distress which appeared at our last parting, that I may be filled with joy, if it so please the Lord, by our happy meeting again: and it more engages my heart to thee, when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, and which has been proved on so many occasions, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also, who treadest in the same steps. Note; (1.) It is a singular blessing to have religious parents; for though grace comes not by education, yet God often blesses effectually the labours of those who study to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (2.) Where unfeigned faith dwells, there every good fruit and gracious disposition will be produced.

2nd, The apostle,
1. Stirs up his dear son to the vigorous exercise of his ministry. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee, blowing the embers of divine love and zeal into a flame, and making the most profitable use of those distinguished spiritual gifts which God hath bestowed upon thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, that we should be discouraged by opposition, but of power, to bear up against every enemy undismayed, and of love to Christ and men's souls, which all the waters of persecution cannot quench, and of a sound mind, settled in the doctrines of truth, steady in attachment to them, and willing cheerfully to suffer for them. May such a spirit be in every minister!

2. He exhorts him to take up the cross boldly. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, for they are honourable bonds which are borne for the sake of Jesus and his cause: but be thou partaker of the affections of the gospel, sympathizing with those that suffer, and willing to endure any persecutions on account of the gospel, according to the power of God, which is engaged for the support of all those who are faithful. Note; (1.) All Christians, and ministers especially, must prepare for the cross, and expect it. (2.) They who dare commit their all to God, and look up to him for help, shall experience his almighty assistance in every time of need.

3. The apostle suggests the strongest motives to engage his fidelity to God and his gospel.—Who hath saved us with a present salvation in and through the son of his love Christ Jesus, and hath called us with an holy calling by the word of the gospel, that we might be separate from a world that lieth in wickedness, and sanctified for his honour and glory, not according to our works, for we deserve nothing but an eternal banishment from his presence, in which is the fulness of bliss; but our salvation was according to his own purpose and grace, which wills the salvation of all men, and renders the reprobate who wilfully rejected that grace utterly inexcusable; and was given us in Christ Jesus in and through whom every blessing is conveyed to and possessed by the faithful saint, before the world began, before the secular ages of the Jews, and, in his infinite prescience, from all eternity.—but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who, coming in the human nature, had made the richest discoveries of God's grace to perishing sinners; and, by dying on the cross as their substitute, hath abolished death, delivering every faithful saint from the wages of sin, the curse of the law, and all the fearful consequences thereof in time and eternity; and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, giving a brighter and clearer revelation of the eternal blessedness prepared for body and soul in a better world, and of the way which only leads thereto, than had before been made to the sons of men. Note; Every faithful soul may regard death as a vanquished foe: when the sting of sin is taken out, we have nothing to fear, but every thing to hope; while through the grave we see the golden gates of life and immortality unfolded, and the bright beams of everlasting glory illuminating the dark valley of the shadow of death.

4. He proposes to him his own example. Whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles, and count it my highest honour; for the which cause I also suffer these things, being now the prisoner of Jesus Christ for my fidelity in maintaining the privileges of the Gentiles; nevertheless I am not ashamed, neither of the gospel, nor of the chain that he wore for the sake of it; for I know whom I have believed, the glories of his person, and the riches of his grace; and I am persuaded that he is able, as his promises assure me he is willing in respect to all persevering believers, to keep that which I have committed unto him, even the precious deposit of my immortal soul, against that day, that great day of his appearing and glory. Note; Though we suffer for the gospel, we need not be ashamed; the cause will gloriously support us.

5. He exhorts him to fidelity. Hold fast the form of sound words, the sacred and unadulterated oracles of God, and the pure doctrines of the gospel, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus; copy the pattern of my preaching, especially in these fundamental articles; and as thy faith in and love to the Redeemer, have appeared, urge upon your hearers the same blessed truths with all fidelity, and warm affection. That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us; be faithful to the solemn trust committed to thee; and by the power of the Holy Ghost, who abides in the hearts of all his people, maintain the purity of the gospel with persevering diligence. Note; (1.) Jesus is the glorious object of our faith and love, and to him should our hearts for ever cleave. (2.) The Lord must keep us, or we cannot keep ourselves; and the indwelling energy of the Holy Ghost alone can enable us for the discharge of every sacred trust which he hath committed to us.

3rdly, To engage his dear son Timothy's fidelity, he mentions the apostacy of some as a warning, and the steadfastness of Onesiphorus, as an encouragement to him.
1. The apostacy of some. This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me, either the generality of the Asiatic ministers and churches, or such of the Asiatics as were or had been at Rome, who were ashamed of his chain, and disowned him in his imprisonment out of fear; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. Note; It is one of the bitterest pangs of suffering, to feel ourselves then deserted by those from whom we might reasonably, from their professions, have expected the greater comfort and support.

The steadfastness of Onesiphorus. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus: probably he was an Ephesian, and absent from his family with the apostle, whom he attended and served with great fidelity and zeal; and therefore the grateful Paul, in return, repays him with his prayers, begging, that the choicest blessings of God might descend upon him and his; for he oft refreshed me with seasonable visits, and supplies of necessaries, and was not ashamed of my chain, when cowardice and fear of reproach basely deterred others from coming near me. But when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day, when Jesus shall come to reward every kindness shewn to his servants, especially to those who are suffering for righteousness' sake. And in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. Note; (1.) When we can make no other return to our kind friends, we are bound at least to recommend them in our prayers to the Saviour's mercy, and beg of him to reward them in that day. (2.) That day! How should it be ever in our view, that great decisive day, when our eternity of happiness or misery must be determined! (3.) We have nothing to cry for at God's hands, but mercy; living or dying, the best have no merit to plead, but must expect eternal life as the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.