Who wrote it?
2 Timothy 1:1 identifies the author as the apostle Paul.
When(ish) was it written?
2 Timothy was written in approximately AD 67, shortly before the apostle Paul was put to death.
Why was it written?
Imprisoned in Rome yet again, the apostle Paul felt lonely and abandoned. Paul recognized that his earthly life was likely coming to an end soon. 2 Timothy is essentially Paul’s last words. Paul looked past his own circumstances to express concern for the churches and specifically for Timothy. Paul wanted to use his last words to encourage Timothy, and all other believers, to persevere in faith (2 Timothy 3:14) and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 4:2).
Some Key Verses
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
– 2 Timothy 1:7
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
– 2 Timothy 4:2
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
– 2 Timothy 4:7-8
A Quick Summary
Paul encourages Timothy to remain passionate for Christ and to remain firm in sound doctrine (2 Timothy 1:1-2, 13-14). Paul reminds Timothy to avoid ungodly beliefs and practices, and to flee from anything immoral (2 Timothy 2:14-26). In the end times there will be both intense persecution and abandonment from the Christian faith (2 Timothy 3:1-17). Paul closes with an intense plea for believers to stand firm in the faith and to finish the race strong (2 Timothy 4:1-8).
Old Testament Ties
So concerned was Paul to warn Timothy and those he pastored of the dangers of false teachers that he invoked the story of the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses (Exodus 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18, 19; 9:11). Although their names are not mentioned in the Old Testament, tradition has it that these men instigated the building of the golden calf and were killed with the rest of the idolaters (Exodus 32). Paul predicts the same fate for those who resist the truth of Christ, their folly eventually being made “plain to all” (2 Timothy 3:9).
What does this mean?
It is easy to get side-tracked in the Christian life. We have to keep our eyes on the prize—being rewarded in heaven by Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 4:8). We must strive to avoid both false doctrine and ungodly practices. This can only be accomplished by being grounded in our knowledge of God’s Word and firm in our refusal to accept anything that is unbiblical.
Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from 2 Timothy 2:1-21. What verses or ideas stand out to you from this passage? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
What is “sound teaching”? Do you feel confident in your ability to share truth from the Bible with others? How can you grow in this skill?
Paul uses three metaphors (soldier, athlete, and farmer) to help illustrate the mindset required as we aim to follow closely after Jesus. Which of these three do you most relate to? What can we learn from soldiers, athletes, and farmers that applies to our life of faith?
Who has been an intentional influence in your faith, the way Paul was with Timothy? Take a moment to reach out to that person (or those people) this week, to thank them for the impact they’ve made.
Read 2 Timothy 2:1-2. Is there a younger person (a “Timothy”) that you can buy lunch for this week? What story, knowledge, or skill would you like to pass on?