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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
2 Timothy 1

 

 

Verse 1

2 Timothy 1:1. According to the promise of life. An unusual addition to the opening formula of St. Paul’s letters, probably rising out of the sense that the promise was near its fulfilment, and that he was about to pass through life to death.


Verse 2

2 Timothy 1:2. My dearly beloved son. The change of epithet from the ‘true son’ of the First Epistle may be only a casual variation without any conscious purpose. To the extent, however, in which we may trace in modern correspondence a variation of feeling in ‘yours faithfully’ and ‘yours affectionately, we may recognise a shade of difference here. There is the same warmhearted love. There is not, perhaps, the same entire confidence. He has seen signs of timidity and weakness which lead him throughout the Epistle to earnest and almost vehement exhortation. The rest of the salutation is as before.


Verse 3

2 Timothy 1:3. Whom I serve from my forefathers. The English word suggests more remote ancestors than were in St. Paul’s thoughts. We have no word that precisely answers to the Greek, and are compelled to choose between ‘parents’ (as in 1 Timothy 5:4), which is too narrow, and ‘forefathers,’ which is too wide. The connexion of thought is probably that St. Paul, having Timothy’s mother and grandmother in his thoughts (as in 2 Timothy 1:5), goes back in memory to the influences that had surrounded his own childhood, and inserts out of natural sympathy a reference to them.

With a pure conscience. This was the point in the past on which St. Paul dwelt with an ever-increasing thankfulness. In childhood, youth, manhood, his conscience had always been free from the guilt of hypocrisy or wilful sinning against knowledge. Comp. Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16.

That without ceasing. The parallel phrase in Romans 1:9 suggests the thought that the special turn of the phrase (‘haw without ceasing’) was determined by the formula, ‘God is my witness,’ which commonly preceded it. There is, however, nothing incongruous in the construction as it stands. It was a thing to thank God for that he had his beloved son ever present in his thoughts and prayers.

Mention. The Greek has the article, implying the constant practice that had become a personal habit.


Verse 4

2 Timothy 1:4. Remembering thy tears. The words clearly refer to their last parting, probably that referred to in 1 Timothy 1:3. There, with his mind dwelling on the duties to which Timothy had been called, it was natural not to refer to the personal emotions of that parting. Now that absence had increased the yearning desire to see him once again, and so ‘be filled with joy,’ it was as natural to dwell on it. It is characteristic of Timothy’s sensitive, emotional nature that the tears were shed by him.


Verse 5

2 Timothy 1:5. When I call to remembrance. Warm as the words sound, there is just the shadow of a misgiving in them. He has to call to mind the past in order to feel confident for the future.

Thy grandmother Lois. We now see the reason of his reference to his own family. His remembrance of their piety had helped him. A like remembrance might help his disciple. The form of expression, ‘which dwelt,’ suggests the thought that mother as well as grandmother was dead. We learn from Acts 16:1, that the former, and therefore probably the latter also, was a Jewess.

And I am persuaded. The Greek ‘but’ suggests a mental contrast in the slight misgiving implied in ‘I am persuaded.’ We do not commonly say, ‘I am sure you will feel’ when we are quite sure.


Verse 6

2 Timothy 1:6. I put thee in remembrance. The anxiety shows itself again. It is necessary to remind the disciple, shrinking from danger or worry, to ‘stir up’ (literally, ‘to rekindle’) the gift of God, which, as in the phrase ‘quench not the Spirit,’ is thought of as a flame that may dwindle and be extinguished if not cherished and revived.

By the laying on of my hands. As being the chief ordainer (in later ecclesiastical language), he connects the gifts with his own imposition of hands rather than with that of the presbyters who assisted him (1 Timothy 4:14). The passage is not without interest as bearing on the sacramental language of the Church. The outward sign was not only a symbol, but an instrument of the spiritual gift.


Verse 7

2 Timothy 1:7. God hath not given. Better, ‘did not give.’

The spirit of fear. Better, ‘cowardice. Here, again, in the use of so strong a word, we trace the desire of the apostle to rouse Timothy from what seemed to him an undue timidity.

A sound mind. The Greek implies more than this (better, ‘discipline’), the gift of bringing others to the state so described; and it was in this that Timothy, with all his personal excellence, was defective.


Verse 8

2 Timothy 1:8. Be not thou therefore ashamed. The exhortation, grounded on the fact that the spiritual gifts which he had received should be allowed, as it were, free play, implies some fear that Timothy was acting as if ashamed of the testimony of Jesus.

Nor of me his prisoner. Something obviously had come to St. Paul’s knowledge on this point, which had given him pain. Timothy had drawn back, as if ashamed of him, as well as of the Gospel. He adds the word ‘prisoner’ as likely to appeal more strongly than aught else to Timothy’s feelings.

Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel. Better, ‘Be thou a partaker in my sufferings for the gospel.’

According to the power of God, i.e. the power that comes from God, with special reference to the ‘spirit of power’ of 2 Timothy 1:7.


Verse 9

2 Timothy 1:9. The tram of thought obviously is: God has done so much for us. Shall we not at least do something for Him, if only by exercising the gifts He has bestowed on us? After his manner, once entering on the great theme, the writer is carried on by the fulness of his thoughts.

A holy calling, i.e. a calling, a summons, which implies holiness. This was not ‘according to our works,’ for they were by hypothesis, and in fact, unholy, but is referred to the purpose and the favour of God. And as no commencement in time could be ascribed to the Divine purpose, for that would imply change in the Unchangeable, this purpose, yes, and even the gift, must be thought of as belonging to periods beyond man’s power to measure; literally, ‘before the times of ages or ages’ before the years of eternity.


Verse 10

2 Timothy 1:10. By the appearing. Remarkable as the only passage in the New Testament in which the word ἐπιφανεία (= manifestation) is applied to the Incarnation of our Lord. Elsewhere, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:8, Titus 2:13, it is always used of the ‘appearing’ of the second Advent.

Hath abolished death. The verb is one of St. Paul’s favourite words, as e.g. in 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 15:26, and implies depriving of activity, annulling, bringing to nought. The selection of this special attribute of the work of Christ is determined, as was ‘the promise of life’ in 2 Timothy 1:1, by the wish to make Timothy see life and death in their true colours, so that he might not fear the one or cleave ignobly to the other. Christ has deprived death of its power (1 Corinthians 15:26; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Hebrews 2:14). It is no longer an enemy to be dreaded, but a friend to be welcomed.

Brought to light. Better, ‘thrown light upon.’ The idea is not that of dragging forth what had been hidden in darkness, but, as in 1 Corinthians 4:5, that of pouring in light He has illumined the true, higher life of man, which was previously clouded by the lower.

Immortality. Better, as in 1 Corinthians 15:42, ‘incorruption’ He is speaking, not of mere exemption from physical death, but of the permanent glorified state which is exempted from decay.

Through the Gospel. Grammatically, the words may refer to both the preceding clauses, but it is better to connect them only with the second. Death was deprived of its sting by the single act of Christ. The Gospel of that death pours light upon the mystery of life.


Verse 11

2 Timothy 1:11. A preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. There is something characteristic in the way in which Paul the aged, here and in 1 Timothy 2:7, where we find the same combination, accumulates one word upon another to express the greatness of his vocation. He is at once the herald, the envoy, the instructor. In this way only does he allow himself to magnify his office.


Verse 12

2 Timothy 1:12. I also suffer these things. He assumes that the things of which he speaks are known to Timothy. They are at least sufficiently implied in the word ‘prisoner.’

I am not ashamed. The same word as in 2 Timothy 1:8. He is not ashamed of his work. Why should Timothy be ashamed of him?

Whom I have believed. Better, perhaps,’ in whom I have placed my trust.’

To keep that which I have committed to him. The Greek (τὴν παραθήκην μου); literally, ‘my deposit’) is ambiguous, and may be rendered either as in the English Version, or as a possessive genitive, ‘that which has been committed to me.’ In the latter construction, it would have approximately the same meaning as in 2 Timothy 1:14—the life, natural or spiritual; the truth; the doctrine; the work, with which the apostle had been entrusted. God would guard His own work. The analogy of the word ‘keep,’ however, as applied to God, is in favour of the former construction; and then the ‘deposit’ may be thought of as including all that was most precious in the apostle’s eyes, his work, his own salvation, or, as an echo of the words spoken on the cross (Luke 23:46), the spirit which ne commended to his Father.

Against that day. As in 2 Timothy 1:18, 2 Timothy 4:8,2 Thessalonians 1:10, the great day of the Lord, the final Advent of the Christ.


Verse 13

2 Timothy 1:13. Hold fast the form of sound words. The word rendered ‘form’ (ὑποτύπωσις) is the same as that rightly translated ‘pattern’ in 1 Timothy 1:16. It is therefore probable that a word so rarely used by St. Paul is used here also in the same sense. Its position shows that it is emphatic, and though without the article in the Greek, the absence is supplied by the emphasis thus given. The full interpretation of the words turns on the meaning of the verb, which may be simply ‘have’ in the sense of ‘take,’ or ‘have’ in the sense of ‘hold fast and keep.’ The former gives as the meaning, ‘Take what I have just said as an example of the wholesome words;’ the latter, which seems, on the whole, to give the truer meaning, ‘Hold fast, keep before thee that pattern.’

Wholesome words. As in 1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:3, and elsewhere, words that are characterized by a spiritual healthiness.

Which thou hast heard of me. The Greek tense (‘which thou didst hear’) points to some definite occasion which Timothy would remember, and on which, in the temper of ‘the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus,’ Timothy had listened eagerly to the words which he was now in danger of forgetting.


Verse 14

2 Timothy 1:14. That good thing which was committed unto thee. Taken in connexion with the foregoing reference to the healthy or health-giving words, the phrase includes what has been technically called the ‘depositum fidei;’ but it has, as in 2 Timothy 1:12, a wider range

not the doctrine or the truth only, but all of which Timothy had been made, if one may so speak, the trustee,

all spiritual gifts that he had himself received, and the Church committed to his charge.

Through the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. The plural of the pronoun is generic, not personal of Paul and Timothy only. The apostle assumes that the Holy Spirit is actually dwelling in all believers, enabling them to do that which by nature they cannot do.


Verse 15

2 Timothy 1:15. This thou knowest. With a singular naturalness, the apostle turns from his earnest exhortation to what we may call the ‘news’ of his letter. Yet it is not altogether news. He is telling Timothy what in part he knew before, and his motive in so doing is not far to seek.

All they which are in Asia be turned away from me. The words ‘they which are in Asia’ (not ‘from’) seem to refer, not to a recent fact in St. Paul’s imprisonment at Rome, his being shunned by Phygellus and Hermogenes, but to something that had happened when he was last at Ephesus. His appeal to Timothy’s knowledge of the facts, and the specific mention of Rome in the case of Onesiphorus, confirm this view, but it is fair to add that many commentators of repute take the other view.

Phygellus and Hermogenes. Of these we know nothing certain. Suetonius (Demit. c. 10) mentions a certain Hermogenes of Tarsus who was put to death by Domitian. If we could assume identity, the fact that it was a fellow-townsman and old acquaintance that shunned him would add a special sting to the pain thus inflicted on the sensitive heart of the apostle.


Verse 16

2 Timothy 1:16. The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus. Now we see what train of thought has led to the mention of these names. Timothy is to look on this picture and on that, and to ask himself whether he will cast in his lot with the two whose desertion had pained his father in the faith, or with him whose loyalty drew forth these words of thankful benediction. The expression ‘to the house of Onesiphorus,’ suggests, though it cannot be said to prove, the supposition that he himself was dead.

Refreshed me. The word, though not the same, is analogous to that in Philemon 1:7. Acts of kindness were to the heart of St. Paul as a cool breeze in the parching heat, as water to the thirsty, as the shadow of a rock in a weary land.

Was not ashamed of my chain. The word is obviously chosen to remind Timothy of the weakness which had made St. Paul’s entreaty in 2 Timothy 1:3 a painful necessity.


Verse 17

2 Timothy 1:17. When he was in Borne. It follows from this that he had left it, or, as above, was dead, at the time when St. Paul wrote.

Sought me out very diligently. Literally, ‘more diligently,’ as by an implied comparison with the conduct of others, or with the average of what was common. Others turned away. He came to Rome and never rested till he had found out where the prisoner of the Lord was kept in custody, and then he came with loyal and loving kindness.


Verse 18

2 Timothy 1:18. That he may find mercy from the Lord in that day. On the assumption already mentioned as probable, this would, of course, be a prayer for the dead. The reference to the great day of judgment falls in with this hypothesis. Such prayers were, we know from 2Ma_12:41-45, common among the Jews a century or more before St. Paul’s time, and there is good ground for thinking that they entered into the ritual of every synagogue, and were to be seen in the epitaphs in every Jewish burial-place. From the controversial point of view, this may appear to favour the doctrine and practice of the Church of Rome, but facts are facts apart from their controversial bearing. It is, at any rate, clear that such a simple utterance of hope in prayer, like the Shalom (Peace) of Jewish, and the ‘Requiescat’ or ‘Refrigerium’ of early Christian epitaphs, and the like prayers in early liturgies, though they sanction the natural outpouring of affectionate yearnings, are as far as possible from the full-blown Romish theory of Purgatory. The singular construction, ‘The Lord grant . . . mercy from the Lord,’ suggests the thought that the former is equivalent to ‘God grant as referring to the Father, the latter to the Lord Jesus as the Judge of quick and dead in the great day.

Thou knowest very well. Literally, ‘too well to need to be told.’ The ministrations refer probably to St. Paul’s last visit to Ephesus, where it would seem from 2 Timothy 4:19, Onesiphorus and his family had resided.

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/2-timothy-1.html. 1879-90.

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Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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