1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul’s salutation in 2 Timothy is similar yet holds stark differences from the salutation of 1 Timothy. Whereas, 1 Timothy addresses apostleship in relation to God’s commandment, 2 Timothy replicates that of the Corinthians letters, Ephesians, and Colossians and attributes apostleship to God’s will.
Nonetheless, Paul’s apostleship was often defended early within his letters as a preliminary credential and authority for the message he conveyed. This being a personal letter, Timothy would have been familiar with Paul’s apostolic position yet Paul salutations included it first and foremost.
This action was incredibly beneficial to the Church as these personal letters were later copied, circulated, and found themselves within canon. His name and position within writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, surely was a God ordained action that contributed to our use of his epistles today.
It was also by this title of apostle or apostolos, as the Greek would have it, that we regard Paul’s words as Scripture and inspired. Galatians 1:1; 12 affirms that his words were of Jesus Christ. His ministry was to the Gentiles (Romans 15:14-33).
Even more interesting is that Paul was an apostle, called by the risen Christ, to usher in the Dispensation of Grace by which we live now (Ephesians 3:2-13; 2 Timothy 2:7-8). There is purpose within the will of God, and this was a part of God’s purpose for instilling the title of apostle to Paul.
The promise of life in Jesus Christ was promised before the world began but came in due time (Titus 1:2-3). This ministry was given to Paul by the will and commandment of God. The promise of life was fulfilled in Jesus Christ by His death, burial, and resurrection, and now because of it- Grace reigns through righteousness over death (Romans 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Regarding Timothy, Paul again addresses him as his son. This began from Paul’s role in Timothy’s conversion and spiritual upbringing. Paul quite literally saw Timothy through his spiritual maturation and shows an endearing love with usage of the Greek word, agapētos.
This being Paul’s final letter to Timothy, the reader will find similar sentiments to displaying the faithful relationship between Timothy and Paul.
Conjoining with this term of endearment, Paul continues on to offer the blessing of “grace, mercy, and peace” from God who is the only true source of these three attributes (Ephesians 2:8-9 as an example).
There are many probable reasons for Paul’s implementation of these phrases, but a notable one has to do with Timothy’s mixed origins [Check background]. Whereas Timothy came from a Gentile (Father) and Jewish (Mother) background, there is an appeal to both backgrounds as “grace” was a typical Greek salutation and “peace” being a typical Jewish greeting. These two phases are seemingly mediated with the word, “mercy” conjoining them.
Within the salutation God is mentioned 5 times. This should set a precedent for the overall emphasis of this letter, despite it being directed to a specific person.
1:3-5 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
Paul, throughout his epistles, places strong emphasis on thanksgiving. Often when thanksgiving is prompted, Paul attaches a ceaseless demeanor to it (Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Therefore, people should ceaselessly offer thanksgiving to God.
In this specific verse, Paul thanks God for ceaseless prayer and remembrance for Timothy, thus once again reflecting the close proximity and relationship between the two.
“Whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience” references Paul’s lifelong dedication to God and a transition from the Jewish faith to the Christian faith. This is not the first time in Scripture where Paul reflects on dedication to God and zealousness for God (Acts 22:3; Galatians 1:13-14).
Paul was able to serve his forefathers with a pure conscience, only because of Christ. It was in the Jewish faith that Paul persecuted and murdered many Christians (Acts 9:1). Paul acknowledges his error and that he met Jesus “in due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8). The origin of his pure conscience is from the grace of God, that made him worthy of a Godly walk and pure conscience by the imputed righteousness of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Whenever a pure conscience is mentioned in Scripture, it is connected to holding fast or firm in the faith (Acts 24:14-16; 1 Timothy 1:19; Hebrews 10:22). Being justified and sanctified, Paul held fast in the faith and by the grace of God was able to possess a pure conscience.
This is a practical model for Christians today. Often, it can be noted that Christians will constantly be in woe for their past life and sins, devoid of the truth (or at least remembrance) that they are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
As Christians, you can have a pure conscience by faith in Jesus Christ. There can be a pure conscience despite sins prior to your conversion.
Moving forward, prayer is to be a ceaseless state of being, which Paul denotes by stating he prays for Timothy “night and day.” Whether resting or working, Paul was praying for fellow laborers, specifically Timothy in this instance.
Paul being imprisoned was lonely and had a longing to see his “dearly beloved son” Timothy. In prayer, Paul rested in remembrance and leaned into Godly desires. The apostle Paul was mindful of Timothy’s tears, which indicates that Timothy had longed to see Paul as well.
Saying this, Paul was not filled with joy because of the tears of Timothy. Timothy’s tears and reciprocated longing, was a catalyst for remembrance of the faith that was in Timothy, the inspiration to exhort, and edify Timothy in this faith .
It is because of Timothy’s “unfeigned faith” that he labored alongside Paul. “Unfeigned” means “genuine” or “sincere.” In many usages, the Greek word utilized, anypokritos, represents something “undisguised” and rarely is this word used among secular artists. It signifies that what Timothy believed, said, and did was authentic and unmasked.
Timothy obviously had a family history with unfeigned faith as Paul reflects on the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother (Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15). In Lystra, it is possible that Timothy was converted as a young child. Timothy’s mother and grandmother raised Timothy in the Scripture and they were considered faithful by Paul.
1:6-7 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
As Paul remembers these things, he urges Timothy to “stir up the gift of God.” To further illustrate this urging, the Greek word for “stir up”, anazōpyreō, could describe a resuscitation of a near-extinct fire so that a new, impassioned fire will ignite.
This letter is not as much of a doctrinal letter, as it is an exhortation to continue and promote the doctrine learned from Paul.
The gift of God is most likely not referring to a gift as some holiness denominations would have it, such as speaking tongues or similar abilities. These gifts likely have already ceased as Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 13. An example of this cessation could be found in 1 Timothy 5:23, as Timothy was not healed for his stomach’s infirmity although priorly, Paul was capable of supernatural healing (ex. Acts 28:8).
It is commonly held that 1 Timothy was written on a fourth missionary journey not recorded in Acts.
The gift here, more likely, was the gifts directly given to leaders in the apostolic age (Ephesians 4:8-12). These positions were listed as: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
With the cessation of the gifts, some of these roles have even dissipated such as prophets because with the canon and apostolic age completed, Christians have a complete work and are no longer in need of more. The charismatic gifts helped to establish the Church, but with the establishment of the Church and completion of needed revelation, prophetic roles ended in the apostolic age. Likewise, so would the role of apostle.
Paul likely is calling Timothy to rekindle God’s gift of grace in his life and the ministry of it thereof, which still is in effect today during the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). For an example of this calling, we can look to the apostle Paul’s role in furthering the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:2-8). Throughout 2 Timothy, Paul continues to affirm Timothy’s role and responsibility to the gift of God’s grace.
It would appear or is better stated, is possibly, that Timothy had fears regarding his ministerial roles. This could be used as a reflection of how the flesh creeps in and deters humanity from moving forward in the will of God. Paul is encouraging Timothy to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh, which seeks to place us in bondage once more.
In Christ however, the Spirit that we harbor is not one of fear, but of godliness. We are called to be separate, hold onto the promises of God, and allow the perfecting of holiness in the fear of the Lord, specifically by His Word (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1). In humanly wisdom, Timothy had reason to fear, because all who live Godly lives will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).
Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit gives us the necessary tools, if you would, to endure: Power, love, and a sound mind. Paul assures Timothy of this truth and continues to prepare Timothy to continue on faithfully after his martyrdom.