2 Timothy 1 (NIV)
The last words of famous people are generally cherished by those who loved the individuals. While 2 Timothy does not constitute literally Paul’s last words, it is his last known writing to the Christians, originally sent to his beloved young lieutenant, Timothy.
Sitting in his dank dungeon in Rome, with only a hole in the ceiling for light, and awaiting execution by beheading, the spiritual, intelligent, and tender-hearted apostle, now aged and worn out from his long and arduous race for God, pens a final appeal to hold firmly to the truth and life that Timothy has been taught.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
Timothy and his family came from the ancient city of Lystra (in present-day Turkey), where Paul visited on his first missionary journey. When Paul and Barnabas were there, God used Paul to miraculously heal a crippled man–and the people of the city began to praise Paul and Barnabas as Greek gods from Olympus, and started to sacrifice a bull to them! Paul barely restrained them from doing so, and soon enemies of the gospel had turned the crowd against Paul, so they cast Paul out of the city and stoned him. But God miraculously preserved Paul’s life, and he carried on (Acts 14).
On Paul’s second missionary journey, he came again to Lystra–and there met a young man who had come to Jesus, and was devoted to serving the Lord. This young man was Timothy, and he is described as having a mother who believed, but his father was Greek (Acts 16:1).
So, Timothy’s mother and grandmother were believers, but his father was not (at least not at first). In the Roman world, fathers had absolute authority over the family, and since Timothy’s father was not a Christian, his home situation was less than ideal (though not necessarily terrible). But his mother and grandmother either led him to Jesus or grounded him in the faith! God wants to use parents and grandparents to pass on an eternal legacy to their children and grandchildren!
When Paul left Lystra, he took Timothy with him–and this began a mentor-learner relationship that touched the whole world.
Appeal for Loyalty to Paul and the Gospel
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
Paul says that he has made his deposit (“what I have entrusted”) with God. He means that he has entrusted both his work and his life to him. It might seem that he had been cut off in mid-career; that he should end as a criminal in a Roman jail might seem the undoing of all his work. But he had sowed his seed and preached his gospel, and the result he left in the hands of God. Paul had entrusted his life to God; and he was sure that in life and in death he was safe. Why was he so sure? Because he knew whom he had believed in.
We must always remember that Paul does not say that he knew what he had believed. His certainty did not come from the intellectual knowledge of a creed or a theology; it came from a personal knowledge of God. He knew God personally and intimately; he knew what he was like in love and in power; and to Paul it was inconceivable that he should fail him. If we have worked honestly and done the best that we can, we can leave the result to God, however meager that work may seem to us. With him in this or any other world life is safe, for nothing can separate us from his love in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“‘Know thyself,’ said the heathen philosopher; that is well, but that knowledge may only lead a man to hell. ‘Know Christ,’ says the Christian philosopher, ‘know him, and then you shall know yourself,’ and this shall certainly lead you to heaven, for the knowledge of Christ Jesus is saving knowledge.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Timothy had to see to it that Christian belief was maintained in all its purity and that false and misleading ideas were not allowed to enter in. That is not to say that in the Christian Church there must be no new thought and no development in doctrine and belief; but it does mean to say that there are certain great Christian verities which must always be preserved intact. And it may well be that the one Christian truth which must for ever stand is summed up in the creed of the early Church, “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:11). Any theology which seeks to remove Christ from the topmost niche or take from him his unique place in the scheme of revelation and salvation is necessarily wrong. The Christian Church must ever be restating its faith–but the faith restated must be faith in Christ.
Examples of Disloyalty and Loyalty
15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
When you read “Asia” in the New Testament, it doesn’t mean the Far Eastern continent as it does today; it means the Roman province of Asia, which today would mostly be Turkey.
16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
An old Bible chorus, 2 Timothy 1:12, from my childhood — click HERE. By the kids of Fountainview Academy.