When Paul wrote this epistle he was not only a preacher but also a prophet. In this letter to Timothy he gives the most comprehensive details of conditions that will develop and be evident during the last days.
The truths of the epistle are particularly applicable to us today. In these days of difficulty, declension, and departure we need an anchor to safeguard us from moral, spiritual and apostate drift of contemporary thought.
Paul provides us with spiritual resources to stand firm in the evil day – the day of apostasy.
1. Faith 1:5
2. The Spirit 1:6-7
3. The Word of God 1:13; 3:1-17; 4:3-4
4. The grace of Christ. Strength. 2:1
5. Separation from vessels of dishonor 2:4, 20-21
6. The Lord’s sure reward 4:7-8
7. The Lord’s faithfulness and power 2:13-19
The theme of the letter is faithfulness in the face of hardship. Paul prayed night and day (v. 3). The source of Timothy’s faith, has grandmother Lois, and mother Eunice. Be not ashamed to testify to the Lord – and of Paul.
Note the description of the Gospel.
Victims of the apostasy Phygelius and Hermogenes. Nothing is known of these two brethren. To be mentioned especially, they must have been influential brethren. There evidently were many more defectors. These two may have been leaders. The many mentioned cracked under pressure and refused to stand firm in the Word of God to support the apostle in his personal time of need.
In v. 16-18 Paul turns from their sad example of unfaithfulness to the shining example of Onesiphorus. He had supported Paul in Ephesus and now in Rome. Despite the dangers and the stigma attached to associating with the criminal Paul, Onesiphorus sought Paul out and ministered to him. For his Christian conduct and bravery Paul commended him twice invoking God’s mercy on the faithful servant and his household.
Note the contrast between the faithful and the unfaithful, the strong and the weak, the trustworthy and the unreliable.
“The many in Asia.” (v. 15) Portray the characteristics of which Paul had warned Timothy; cowardice – shame – infidelity. Onesiphorus, on the other hand demonstrated the characteristics Paul had been recommending to Timothy; courage – love – self-discipline – boldness – and faithfulness.
The negative-positive examples given by Paul were designed to strengthen Timothy’s resolve to stand for the Lord, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Apostle.
Enduring hardship for Christ (2:1-7)
In ch.1 Paul had reminded Timothy of his sincere faith (v. 5) and that the Holy Spirit of God indwelt him (v. 6). Paul mentions himself as enduring the hardness of men and demons. Finally, he mentions Onesiphorus ass the steadfast one despite many difficulties.
In ch.2 he exhorts timid, fearful, Timothy, “be strong” – “be empowered.” (See Eph. 6:10) “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” His strength would come from Christ Jesus. (See 2 Corinth. 12) The Lord’s grace and strength is made perfect in human weakness.
Paul’s message, like his life, had not changed, despite the difficulties and hardships. To diverse audiences and to Timothy, Paul had fearlessly taught the whole counsel of God. Now Paul exhorts Timothy to impart this same message to reliable men, who, are qualified to teach others. This method has come to be called the “ministry of multiplication,” and is God’s way of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Verse. 3-4 Such faithfulness would inevitably bring suffering upon Timothy, so Paul exhorts him to “endure suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
To emphasize his point Paul introduces there illustrations. The soldier – the athlete – the farmer.
1. A Roman soldier, single-minded purpose, rigorous discipline, and unquestioning obedience to his commanding officer combine to make the figure of a soldier an accurate one. For a servant of Christ Jesus
2. Paul switches to the metaphor of the athlete. There is the athlete – the rules – the prize. The athlete must know the rules and he must keep them. Even though he might win an event is he disobeys the rules he is disqualified. Every athlete must keep the rules, he must discipline himself to keep them. If he fails to observe these rules – he is disqualified. Paul wanted Timothy to know and keep the rules so as to win the crown. As in the first century so in the twentieth; for the believers to obtain the crown he must show strong qualities of discipline, self-control, and endurance.
3. The Farmer (v. 6). The final image is that of the farmer. The emphasis here is on hardworking – in contrast to idle, lazy workers.
Paul has emphasized in each case the reward. A good soldier gains approval of his commanding officer. A diligent athlete wins the prize. A diligent farmer wins the first share of the crops.
The truth here seems to be that success is achieved through discipline – single-mindedness – and hard work.
V.7- “reflect on these things.” Meditate – contemplate. The principles involved here are vital to fighting the good fight – keeping the rules and the course – and working hard at keeping the faith.
In not in this life then in a day to come at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive our just reward.
Two other defectors are mentioned in this chapter: Philetus, about whom we know nothing, and (1 Tim 1:26) Hymenaeus, whom Paul had delivered to Satan “for chastisement”. These two had “wandered away from the truth” their error was to promote the idea that the resurrection was already past. The bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the keystone of Christian doctrine. In 1 Corinth. 15 Paul shows that without the physical resurrection of Christ the entire edifice of Christian faith collapses. Their teaching had destroyed the faith of some.
v. 20-21. The vessels of gold and silver would refer to the faithful in the body. The vessels of wood and clay would refer to the unfaithful in the body. In order to be a vessel suited to be used of God, one must separate himself not only from the evil doctrine, but also from the evil teachers.
Stress the point of holiness, purity of life, and separation from all evil.
Paul predicts conditions that can be expected as we approach the rapture. There are nineteen general characterizations that believers should expect. Perilous times – terrible times – times difficult to handle. Both within and without the Church. These characteristics were beginning in the early church, but they will intensify in the last days.
Note God’s own words regarding the Scriptures. They are God inspired words – God breathed. “All Scripture.” God’s words were given through men superintended by the Holy Spirit, so that their writings were without error. Paul next gives the usefulness of the word in the ministry. It would be useful in “teaching” – “rebuking” – “correcting” – and training in righteousness.
With the Word in his heart the man of God is complete – capable – proficient. Equipped unto every good work. All our spiritual needs can be met through the Word.
Paul’s charge. Paul could not have made his charge more weighty. “I charge you,” etc. “Preach the Word,” all the emphasis of the charge is on the command.
The reason why Paul’s charge to Timothy is so solemn is that “the time will come” etc. Men will not put up with sound or healthy doctrine. Instead they will seek teachers who tickle their ears. They will turn men away from the truth.
v.5- Despite this trend Timothy must remain steadfast – endure hardship – do the work of an evangelist – fulfill his ministry.
v.6- To encourage Timothy Paul reminds him of his own struggle. He is being poured out as a drink offering. The time of his departure to be with the Lord had come. Looking back over his life he reminds Timothy that:
1. He had fought a good fight.
2. He had finished the race.
3. He had kept the faith.
Paul had been faithful amid unfaithfulness. He had been a good steward of divine truth.
v.8- He had no fear of facing the righteous Judge. He would receive the crown of righteousness. On that day of His appearing (judgment Seat). Moreover, all who live faithfully in the expectation of the Lord’s return will also receive this crown.
v.10- Paul’s need for Timothy at this critical time in his life is apparent. Twice he asked him to come and to come quickly. Paul’s need of him was intensified by the defection of Demas. Demas, instead of loving the Lord’s appearing, loved the world. He defected or deserted Paul to embrace the safety, freedom, and comfort of Thessalonica.
v.16- The deserted warrior. At his trial no one came forward to support him.