Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy from prison. There is some reason to believe that he had been released from his first imprisonment there before writing his first letter to Timothy (see this previous post for our thoughts on that). It was probably written about 67 A.D. Nero’s reign ended about 68 A.D., but the Roman persecution of Christians in which the emperor played a key role had begun in earnest in 64 A.D. Paul realizes that his days are numbered, and he is expecting death to come soon (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Further support for a second Roman imprisonment (possibly after a 4th missionary journey not chronicled in scripture) comes in 4:16:17, where Paul says:
“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.”
Paul does ask him to come to see him once more. He also requests that Timothy bring his books and his parchments from Troas that he had left with someone named Carpus. Paul’s third missionary journey took him there about 58 A.D. for the third time (it was there that he raised Eutychus from the dead after his fall from the third story while Paul was preaching (Acts 20:5-14). This request indicates that he surely had been there again since his first Roman imprisonment. Had he merely left those things because he again sailed from there on another journey? Or was it there that Paul was again arrested and brought back to prison in Rome? Either way, his ties to the city were strong.
Paul mentions several that had abandoned him in this letter, including Demas, who was “in love with this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). He tells Timothy in chapter one that all those in Asia had turned away from him – likely referring to leaders at some of those churches who had become fearful because of his arrest. But he speaks very fondly of others. One of the purposes the letter served was to urge Timothy not to be dismayed because of Paul’s plot or the persecution that was going on. He speaks of Timothy’s good character, his raising by godly women, and his love for the Lord, imploring him to continue the work that Paul had begun.
The letter in many ways resembles the farewell messages we have seen from Moses in Deuteronomy 31:1-8, and from Joshua in Joshua 23:2-14. The overriding message of the letter though, is the urgency of standing strong and persevering in the face of persecution. Persecution will always be a problem for Christians, as he tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12-13:
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.