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Holman Bible Dictionary
Authorship The letter was the last letter of which we have a record written by Paul.
Date Paul wrote this letter from his jail cell during his second imprisonment in Rome. He was awaiting trial for his faith. It is clear that he felt he would not be released (2 Timothy 4:6 ). If Paul was executed by Nero and if Nero was killed in A.D. 68, then Paul had to have been executed sometime before. The letter can be dated between A.D. 63-67.
Recipient Timothy was the recipient of Paul's letter. He had been the apostle's representative in the city of Ephesus for sometime.
Purpose The letter contains Paul's stirring words of encouragement and instruction to his young disciple. Paul longed to see Timothy (2 Timothy 1:4 ) and asked him to come to Rome for a visit. It is generally believed that Timothy went. Paul asked him to come before winter (2 Timothy 4:21 ) and bring the winter coat Paul left in Troas (2 Timothy 4:13 ). Timothy was also asked to bring the scrolls and the parchments so Paul could read and study (2 Timothy 4:13 ).
I. Salutation (2 Timothy 1:1-2 )
II. Thanksgiving (2 Timothy 1:3-7 )
III. Encouragement in the Face of Hardships (2 Timothy 1:8-14 )
IV. Encouragement in the Face of Desertions (2 Timothy 1:15-2:13 )
V. Contrasts in the Church (2 Timothy 2:14-26 )
VI. Godlessness in the Last Days (2 Timothy 3:1-9 )
VII. Paul's Instructions to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:10-4:5 )
VIII. Paul's Testimony (2 Timothy 4:6-8 )
IX. Conclusion (2 Timothy 4:9-22 )
Overview, Chapter One: Paul was reminded that Timothy's faith first lived in his grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5 ). Paul had in reality become Timothy's father (2 Timothy 1:2 ). Timothy may have been a naturally timid person. Because of this, Paul told him to minister with “a spirit of power” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV). The Holy Spirit empowers believers, but we should be careful to exercise this power in a “spirit. . . of love and of self-discipline” ( 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV). Two men, Phygelus and Hermogenes, deserted Paul ( 2 Timothy 1:15 ). Onesiphorus was a refreshing friend and not ashamed of Paul's chains (2 Timothy 1:16 ).
Chapter Two: Paul urged Timothy to be strong in Jesus Christ. Paul used the metaphors of a good soldier, athlete, and a hard-working farmer when describing the Christian's calling. The purpose of that calling is so all “may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:10 NIV). Timothy was to be one who “correctly handles the word of truth” ( 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV) in the face of those who mishandled it. Hymenaeus ( 1 Timothy 1:20 ) and Philetus were singled out. They were teaching that the resurrection had already taken place and were destroying the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:18 ).
Chapter Three: “The last days” are a reference to the second coming of Jesus. The days preceding His return will be “terrible.” Characteristics of these last days have appeared in many different ages, but the times before Jesus' actual return will be even more intense. Paul listed eighteen characteristics of evil men in 2 Timothy 2:2-5 . He compared them to Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses (2 Timothy 3:8 ). Although these two individuals are not mentioned in the Old Testament, Jewish tradition maintains that these men were two Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses and Aaron. The evil and false teaching is to be overcome by the Holy Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ).
Chapter Four: Paul further instructed Timothy to be prepared to “preach the Word” at all times. The need is paramount, for people will not always adhere to “sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3 ). Paul, drawing on the imagery of Numbers 28:24 , compared his life to that of a “drink offering.” This was poured on a sacrifice before it was offered. He was ready to depart this life and go to be with the Lord. He anticipated the “crown of righteousness” that awaited him (2 Timothy 4:8 ). The letter closes with practical instructions and pastoral remarks for Timothy.
Mark E. Matheson
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for '2 Timothy'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hbd/2/2-timothy.html. 1991.