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Timothy, Second Epistle to.

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This follows immediately the first in the New Test. The questions of genuineness and style have already been considered there. As in the case of the first epistle, the chronological questions are the most difficult to answer satisfactorily.

I. Date. It is certain that the second epistle was written while the author was a prisoner (2 Timothy 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:16-17; 2 Timothy 2:9; 2 Timothy 4:21), at Rome, we may (for the present) assume; but the question arises, was it during his first or his second imprisonment that this took place?

1. In favor of the first, the most weighty consideration arises out of the fact that the apostle appears to have had the same individuals as his companions when he wrote this epistle as he had when he wrote the epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, and that to Philemon which we know were written during his first imprisonment at Rome. "At the beginning of the imprisonment," says Hug, who has very forcibly stated this argument in favor of the earlier hypothesis, "when the Epistle to the Ephesians was written, Timothy, who was not one of Paul's companions on the voyage to Italy (Acts 27:2), was not with him at Rome; for-Paul does not add his name in the address with which the epistle commences, as he always did when Timothy was at his side. Timothy afterwards arrived; and, accordingly, at the outset of the epistles to the Colossians and Philemon, his name appears with the apostle's (Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1); secondly, Luke was in Paul's company (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24); thirdly, Mark was likewise with him (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24); fourthly, Tychicus was then Paul's διάκονος and letter-bearer, and, in particular, was sent to Asia (Ephesians 4:21 ; Colossians 1, 7, 8). All these circumstances are presented to view in the Second Epistle to Timothy.

(1) Timothy was not with Paul at first, but was summoned to his side (2 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 4:21);

(2) Luke was with him (2 Timothy 4:11);

(3) he wishes Mark to come with Timothy, so that he must have been with him in the course of his imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:11);

(4) Tychicus was with him in the capacity of letter-bearer, and, in particular, was sent to Asia (2 Timothy 4:12). Now, in order to suppose that Paul wrote this epistle to Timothy during a second imprisonment at Rome, we must assume that the circumstances of both were exactly the same, etc. We must also assume that Paul at both times, even if the latter part of Nero's reign, was permitted to receive friends during his confinement, to write letters, dispatch messengers, and, in general, to have free intercourse with everybody" (Introduction [Fosdick's transl.], p. 556, etc.).

2. On the other hand, the difficulties lying in the way of this seem insuperable. Hug's reasoning assumes that the epistle must have been written in the early part of the apostle's imprisonment, else Timothy could not have been absent at the time of its composition. But that this is utterly inadmissible the following considerations show:

(1.) When Paul wrote to the Colossians, the Philippians, and Philemon, Demas was with him; when he wrote this epistle to Timothy, Demas had forsaken him, having loved this present world and gone to Thessalonica (4:10).

(2.) When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon, he was in good hopes of a speedy liberation, from his imprisonment; when he wrote this epistle to Timothy he had lost all these, hopes, and was anticipating death as near at hand (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

(3.) At the time this epistle was written Paul had been, if not oftener, at least once, before the bar of the emperor, when he had offered-his apology (2 Timothy 4:16).

(4.) Tychicus, the bearer of the letters to the Colossians, had been dispatched from Rome before this epistle to Timothy was written (2 Timothy 4:12).

(5.) At the time the epistles to the Colossians and Philemon were written, Aristarchus was with Paul; by the time this was written, Aristarchus had left Paul (2 Timothy 4:11). All these circumstances forbid our supposing that this Second Epistle to Timothy was written before the epistles above named; that is, in the early part of Paul's first imprisonment at Rome.

Shall we then, assign the epistle to a later period of that same imprisonment? Against this also lie difficulties. Before we can admit it, we must suppose that Timothy and Mark, who did not accompany Paul to Rome bad shortly after followed him thither, and, after remaining awhile, left Paul, and were again requested by him in this epistle to return; that during the interval of their absence from Rome, Paul's first trial had occurred; and that, yet even before he had so much as appeared before his judges, he had written to his friends in terms intimating his fill confidence of a speedy release (Philippians 1:25; Philippians 2:24; Philemon 1:22). These circumstances may perhaps admit of explanation; but there are others which seem to present insuperable difficulties in the way of the supposition that this epistle was written at any period of Paul's first imprisonment at Rome.

(1.) Paul's imprisonment, of which we have an account in the Acts, was of a much milder kind than that in which he was at the time he wrote this epistle. In the former case, he was permitted to lodge in his own hired house, and to receive all who came to him, being guarded only by a single soldier; in the latter, he was in such close confinement that Onesiphorus had no small difficulty in finding him; he was chained, he suffered evil even unto bonds as a malefactor, his friends had mostly deserted him, and he had narrowly escaped destruction from the Roman tyrant (Acts 1:16-18; Acts 2:9; Acts 4:6-8; Acts 4:18).

(2.) In 2 Timothy 4:13 he requests Timothy to bring with him from Troas some books, parchments, etc. which he had left at that place. If we suppose the visit here referred to the same as that mentioned in Acts 20:5-7, we must conclude that these documents had been allowed by the apostle to lie at Troas for a space of at least years, as that length of time elapsed between the visit to Troas, mentioned by Luke, and Paul's first imprisonment at Rome. This is surely very unlikely, as the documents were plainly of value to the apostle; and if by φαιλόνης , in this passage, he meant a cloak or mantle, the leaving of it for so long a time unused then it might have been of service, and the sending so anxiously for it when it could be of little or none, as the apostle's time of departure was at hand, must be allowed to be not a little improbable.

(3.) In 2 Timothy 4:20 Paul speaks of having left Trophimus sick at Miletus. Now this could not have been on the occasion referred to in Acts 20:15, for subsequent to that Trophimus was with Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 21:29). It follows that Paul must have visited Miletus at a subsequent period; but he did not visit it on his way from Jerusalem to Rome on the occasion of his first imprisonment, and this, therefore, strongly favors the hypothesis of a journey subsequent to that event, and immediately antecedent to the writing of this epistle. The attempt to enfeeble the force of this by translating ἀπέλιπον , "they left," etc., and understanding it of messengers from Ephesus coming to visit Paul, is ingenious, but, can hardly be admitted, as no sound interpreter would forcibly supply a subject to a verb where the context itself naturally supplies one. (4.) In 4:20, the apostle says "Erastus abode in Corinth." Such language implies that shortly before writing this epistle the apostle had been at Corinth, where he left Erastus. But before his first imprisonment Paul had not been at Corinth for several years, and during the interval Timothy had been with him, so that he did not need to write to him at a later period about that visit (Acts 20:4). Hug contends that ἔμεινε simply expresses the fact that Erastus was then residing at Corinth, without necessarily implying that Paul had left him there; but would the apostle in this case have used the aorist?

3. It thus appears that the number of special names and incidents in the second epistle make the chronological data more numerous. We propose here, by way of summary, and in part recapitulation, to bring them, as far as possible, together, noticing briefly with what other facts each connects itself, and to what conclusion it leads as to the conflicting theories of an earlier and later date, (A) during the imprisonment of Acts 28:30, and (B) during the second imprisonment already spoken of.

(1.) A parting apparently recent, under circumstances of special sorrow (2 Timothy 1:4)-not decisive. The scene at Miletus (Acts 20:37) suggests itself, if we assume A. The parting referred to in 1 Timothy 1:3 might meet B.

(2.) A general desertion of the apostle even by the disciples of Asia (2 Timothy 1:15). Nothing in the Acts indicates anything like this before the imprisonment of Acts 28:30. Everything in Acts 19, 20 :and not less the language of the Epistle to the Ephesians, speaks of general and strong affection. This, therefore, so far as it goes, must be placed on the side of B.

(3.) The position of Paul as suffering (2 Timothy 1:12), in bonds (2 Timothy 2:9), expecting "the time of his departure" (2 Timothy 4:6), forsaken by almost all (2 Timothy 4:16)-not quite decisive, but tending to B rather than A. The language of the epistles belonging to the first imprisonment imply, it is true, bonds (Philippians 1:13; Philippians 1:16; Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 6:20), and in all of them the apostle is surrounded by many friends, and is hopeful and confident of release (Philippians 1:25; Philemon 1:22).

(4.) The mention of Onesiphorns, and of services rendered by him both at Rome and Ephesus (2 Timothy 1:16-18) not decisive again, but the tone is rather that of a man looking back on a past period of his life, and tile order of the names suggests the thought of the ministrations at Ephesus being subsequent to those at Rome. Possibly, too, the mention of "the household," instead of Oinesiphorns himself, may imply his death in the interval. This, therefore, tends to B rather than A.

(5.) The abandonment of Paul by Demas (2 Timothy 4:10)-strongly in favor of B. Demas was with the apostle when the epistles to the Colossians (Colossians 4:14) and Philemon (24) were written. 2 Timothy must therefore, in all probability, have been written after them; but if we place it anywhere in the first imprisonment, we are all but compelled, by the mention of Mark, for whose coming the apostle asks in 2 Timothy 4:11, and who is with him in Colossians 4:10, to place it at an earlier age. The above qualifying words ("all but" ) might have been omitted but for the fact that it has been suggested that Demas, having forsaken Paul, repented and returned (Larduer, 6:368).

(6.) The presence of Luke (Luke 4:11) agrees well enough with A (Colossians 4:14), but is perfectly compatible with B.

(7.) The request that Timothy would bring Mark (Mark 4:11) seems at first, compared as above with Colossians 4:14, to support A, but, in connection with the mention of Demas, tends decidedly to B.

(8.) Mention of Tychicus as sent to Ephesus (4:12) appears, as connected with Ephesians 6:21-22; Colossians 4:7, in favor of A, yet, as Tychicus was continually employed on special missions of this kind, may just as well fit in with B.

(9.) The request that Timothy would bring the cloak and books left at Troais (2 Timothy 4:13). On the assumption of A, the last visit of Paul to Troas would have been at least four or five years before, during which there would probably have been opportunities enough for his regaining what he had left. In that case, too, the circumstances of the journey present no trace of the haste and suddenness which the request more than half implies. On the whole, then, this must be reckoned as in favor of B.

(10.) "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil," "greatly withstood our words" (2 Timothy 4:14-15). The part taken by a Jew of this name in the uproar of Acts 19, and the natural connection of the χαλκεύς with the artisans represented by Demnetrius, suggest a reference to that event as something recent, and so far support A., On the other hand, the name Alexander was too common to make us certain as to the identity and if it were the same, the hypothesis of a later date only requires us to assume what was probable enough, a renewed hostility.

(11.) The abandonment of the apostle in his first defense (ἀπολογία ), and his deliverance "from the mouth of the lion" (2 Timothy 4:16-17) fits in as a possible contingency with cither hypothesis, but, like the mention of Demas in (5), must belong, at any rate, to a time much later than any of the other epistles written from Rome.

(12.) "Erastus abode at Corinth, but Trophimus I left at Miletus sick" (2 Timothy 4:20) language, as in (9), implying a comparatively recent visit to both places. If, however, the letter were written during the first imprisonment, then Trophimus had not been left; at Miletus, but had gone on with Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 21:29), and the mention of Erastus as remaining at Corinth would have been superfluous to one who had left that city at the same time as the apostle (Acts 20:4). The conjecture that the "leaving" referred to took place during the voyage of Acts 27 is purely arbitrary, and at variance with Acts 27:5-6 of that chapter.

(13.) "Hasten to come before winter" Assuming A, the presence of Timothy in Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1 might be regarded as the consequence of this; but then, as shown in (5) and (6), there are almost insuperable difficulties in supposing this epistle to have been written before those three.

(14.) The salutations from Eubulus, Pudens, Lin's, and Claudia. Without laying much stress on this, it may be said that the absence of these names from all the epistles, which, according to A, belong to the same period, would be difficult to explain. B leaves it open to conjecture that they were converts of more recent date. They are mentioned, too, as knowing Timothy, and this implies, is at least probable, that lie had already been at Rome, and that this letter to him was consequently later than those to the Philippians and Colossians.

On the whole, it is believed that the evidence preponderates strongly in favor of the later date, and that the epistle if we admit its genuineness, is therefore a strong argument for believing that the imprisonment of Acts 28 was followed by a period, first of renewed activity, and then of suffering.

II. Place. On this point the second epistle is free from the conflict of conjectures. With the solitary exception of Bö ttger, who suggests Caesarea, there is a consensus in favor of Rome, and everything in the circumstances and names of the epistle leads to the same conclusion. We may suppose that Paul was apprehended at Nicopolis (1 Timothy 3:12), and thence conveyed to Rome, where this epistle was written, shortly before his death. Where Timothy was at the time it is impossible to say; most probably at Ephesus.

III. Object and Contents. The design of the second epistle is partly to inform Timothy of the apostle's trying circumstances at Rome, and partly to utter a last warning voice against the errors and delusions, which were corrupting and disturbing the churches.

It consists of an inscription (1 Timothy 1:1-5); of a series of exhortations to Timothy, to be faithful in his zeal for sound doctrine, patient under affliction: and persecution, careful to maintain a deportment becoming his office, and diligent in his endeavors to counteract the unhallowed efforts of the false teachers (1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 4:8); and. a conclusion in which Paul requests Timothy to visit him, and sends the salutations of certain Christians at Rome to Timothy, and those of the apostle himself to some believers in Asia Minor.

IV. Commentaries. The following are the special exegetical helps on the whole of the second epistle exclusively: Barlow, Exposition (Lond. 1624, 4to; 1632, fol.); Hall, Commentary [on ch. 3 and 4] (ibid. 1658, fol.); Feufking, Illusiratio [includ. 2 and 3 John] (Vitemb. 1705, fol.); Brockner, Commentarius (Hafn. 1829, 8vo). (See EPISTLE).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Timothy, Second Epistle to.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/t/timothy-second-epistle-to.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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