The church was undergoing great persecution when this epistle was written, and many saints had already been martyred. Paul himself had been imprisoned and knew that he had reached the end of his life. In the face of great persecution from the authorities, the presence of false brethren within the church, heresies clouding the truth, workers leaving the ministry and faithful workers being martyred, it would have been no surprise that even Timothy would become very discouraged. Hence, Paul writes this epistle to encourage Timothy to hold on to his calling and ministry, citing his personal experience on how he is still confident in God and faithful to His calling despite his current state of suffering.
Did You Know...?
- “Tears” (1:4): “Probably refers to Timothy’s tears when Paul left for Macedonia (1Tim 1:3).” [ref]
- Eunice (1:5), Timothy’s mother, was a Jewish Christian (Acts 16:1).
- “Asia” (1:15): “Timothy was in Ephesus, the capital of the province of Asia, which is in western Turkey today.” [ref]
- Onesiphorus (1:16) was probably a member of the church in Ephesus (18; 4:19).
Why has Paul become an apostle?Hide Answer
God has chosen Paul according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus (1). The purpose of Paul’s being an apostle is to proclaim this promise of life.
Why are the words “I thank God” significant in view of Paul’s circumstance? What does this teach you?Hide Answer
Paul’s thanksgiving is significant because he has suffered greatly and is in chains, expecting his execution. Even in this most trying circumstance, he is able to give thanks to God.
Paul’s thanksgiving reminds us not to lose heart in the midst of adversities. On the contrary, we must continue in fervent prayer and give thanks to God. This is possible only if we always remember the good things God has done and deeply trust that God has His purpose behind the adversities that befall us.
To cite some other examples of thanksgiving in suffering, Silas and Paul gave thanks when imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:25). Daniel also left us an example when he continued as was his custom to pray and give thanks to God three times a day (Dan 6:10)
What in particular does Paul thank God for?Hide Answer
Paul gives thanks to God when he remembers the genuine faith that is in Timothy, which dwelt first in Timothy’s grandmother and mother. Timothy’s genuine faith in God serves as a source of comfort and encouragement to Paul.
What is Paul’s longing? Why?Hide Answer
Paul greatly desires to see Timothy because Timothy is his beloved son in the faith. He also remembers Timothy’s tears—perhaps tears of parting or tears of suffering. Seeing Timothy will allow Paul to be filled with joy.
In this paragraph, what are the things Paul charges Timothy to do?Hide Answer
1. Stir up the gift of God which is in him (6).
2. Do not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of Paul His prisoner, but share with Paul in the sufferings for the gospel (8).
3. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which was received from Paul, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus (13).
4. Keep by the Holy Spirit the good thing which was committed to him (13-14)
Record what God has done according to each of these verses: a. Verse 6; b. Verse 7; c. Verse 8; d. Verse 9; e. Verse 10:Hide Answer
a. Verse 6: God has given Timothy the gift of ministry.
b. Verse 7: God has given us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
c. Verse 8: God empowers us to preach the gospel, and the gospel itself is the power of God (cf. Rom 1:16).
d. Verse 9: God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
e. Verse 10: God’s grace has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality.
Explain how Paul’s thanksgiving in the previous paragraph leads into the charge in verse 6.
What does it mean to “stir up” the gift of God in us? Under what circumstances in your life would this reminder be particularly relevant?Hide Answer
NIV’s translation, “fan into flame,” makes the meaning of the expression quite clear. Like fanning into flame a fire that is dying, we ought to revive our zeal and our commitment to the Lord’s ministry. It is easy to become disheartened and give up when we meet with great difficulties in our ministry. But we cannot let circumstances defeat us and put out the flame that God has placed in our hearts. Instead, we need to stir up the gift that is in us and serve the Lord with even greater vigor.
Keep verse 7 to heart as you answer this question: How are “power” “love” and “a sound mind” the opposites of fear?Hide Answer
1. God gives us power so that we may do what seems humanly impossible and carry out God’s will (cf. Acts 4:33;
2Cor 4:7-11, 10:4-5, 12:9-10; Eph 3:20, 6:10-20; Php 4:10-13; Col 1:9-11; 2Thess 1:11; Heb 11:32-34). With the spirit of power in us, we can be strong and we do not need to be afraid of hardship or difficulties.
2. Having the love of God in our hearts, we are motivated to live for Christ and bring the gospel of salvation to others. (2Cor 5:14-15). The spirit of love gives us the courage to overcome all obstacles in the way of our service. When we only seek our selfish interests, we would fear suffering for the gospel. But if we are selfless, then we will not hesitate to sacrifice ourselves for the gospel.
3. A sound mind, or self-discipline, enables us to act with composure and wisdom (cf. Ex 14:10-14;
1Sam 30:6; Acts 7:54-60). Instead of panicking with fear, we can trust in God and be prudent in our actions.
Keep verse 7 to heart as you answer this question: Why would this truth be a great encouragement to Timothy?Hide Answer
The terrible circumstances must have made Timothy timid and afraid. But Paul asks Timothy to focus his eyes on what God has given to him rather than on the adversity. God has given him a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. This is a great treasure from God (2Cor 4:7). If Timothy would only trust in God and depend on His spirit, God will enable him to overcome all fear.
Keep verse 7 to heart as you answer this question: How can this truth help you?Hide Answer
When we feel intimidated by our circumstances, it is important not to be discouraged by our own weakness but to depend solely on God’s Spirit (cf.
2Cor 12:9-10). Although we are weak, nothing is impossible with God. Since “He who who is in you is greater than he who is in the world,” we can surely be victorious. (1Jn 4:4).
Why would a believer be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord?Hide Answer
Whoever thinks that being a follower of Jesus Christ is a bed of roses will be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord in the face of hardship. Preaching the gospel is not glamorous by the world’s standards. Witnesses of Christ have to stand ready to be ostracized, ridiculed, hated, and persecuted. Without the attitude to suffer, a believer will shrink from testifying for Christ when difficulties arise.
What has Paul been appointed by God to do? How does this realization enable Paul to remain strong?Hide Answer
Paul has been appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel is based on the life and immortality Jesus Christ has brought to us and it reveals the grace of God which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (9- 10). Because the gospel is the power of God (8), and God has entrusted to Paul this glorious commission, Paul is willing to dedicate himself to the ministry even to the point of suffering and death.
According to Paul, why is he not ashamed, and why should we not be ashamed, of the gospel?Hide Answer
Paul is not ashamed because he knows whom he has believed and is persuaded that He is able to keep what he has committed to Him until that Day (12).
What do the words “I know whom I have believed” mean? What kind of “knowing” is meant here?Hide Answer
Paul has total trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul does not say, “I know what I have believed,” but he says, “I know whom I have believed.” His knowledge is not just in a set of creeds, theories, or philosophies, but rather, he has come to know Jesus Christ personally. He knows Jesus Christ as his Savior, who loved him and died for him, the chief of sinners (1Cor 2:2; Gal 2:20;
1Tim 1:15-16). He knows Jesus Christ as his Lord, to whom he has dedicated his life (2Cor 5:15; 1Tim 1:1). He also knows Jesus Christ as his Defender, who has always stood by him, and his Deliverer, who will not forsake him but will deliver him from every evil work and preserve him for His heavenly kingdom (2Tim 4:18).
Do you know whom you have believed? What brings about this knowledge?Hide Answer
A person can come to know Jesus Christ only by God’s revelation through the gospel (Jn 17:8;
1Cor 1:21; 2Cor 4:6; Gal 1:15-16). Therefore, those who hear the gospel and accept the Lord Jesus Christ with faith may know Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 6:68-69).
As believers who have already accepted Christ, our knowledge of the Lord must grow and deepen. This knowledge comes about when we live a new life in Christ (2Cor 5:16-17). As members of Christ’s body, we can grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ through mutual edification with the truth (Eph 4:11-13). In our personal lives, we may grow in our knowledge of Christ by diligently conforming to Christ’s likeness and obeying Christ’s commands (Eph 4:20-24; Php 3:8-10; Col 1:10, 3:8-10;
2Pet 1:2-8; 1Jn 2:4, 3:6). We also need to pray for the fullness of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that our knowledge of God may continue to grow (Eph 1:17-18, 3:14-19).
What can we learn about God’s faithfulness in verse 12? Are you persuaded of God’s faithfulness?Hide Answer
1. The Lord is trustworthy. Those who believe in Him will not be put to shame (Rom 10:11). Because Paul knows that the Lord he trusts in is dependable, he is not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord.
2. The Lord is able to keep what the believer has committed to Him until the His return. The believer’s deposit in Christ includes his salvation, his walk of faith, and his service.
What does the word “pattern” in verse 13 indicate about the sound doctrine?
What is the “good thing” (14)?Hide Answer
Based on the context, we know that the good thing which was committed to Timothy encompasses the genuine faith (5), the gift of ministry (6,8,11), and the pattern of sound words (13).
How can we keep by the Holy Spirit the good thing which has been committed to us?Hide Answer
The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus Christ and lives in believers to guide them into all truths (Jn 14:26, 15:26, 16:13;
1Jn 2:27). The Holy Spirit is a sword through the word of God (Eph 6:17). He enables us to wage the good warfare, combating all false doctrines. Through constant prayer in the Holy Spirit and heeding the Spirit’s voice, we can be deeply rooted in
the truth and guard the faith, the ministry, and the sound doctrine that the Lord has entrusted to us.
What good things has Onesiphorus done?Hide Answer
He often refreshed Paul, and was not ashamed of Paul’s chain (16). When he arrived in Rome, he sought Paul (who was in prison) out very zealously and found Paul (17). In Ephesus, he also ministered to Paul in many ways (18).
How does this paragraph relate to Paul’s exhortations to Timothy?Hide Answer
In the preceding paragraphs, Paul commanded Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord or of Paul His prisoner but to share with Paul in the sufferings for the gospel (8). In this paragraph, we see negative examples of many who were ashamed of the gospel and of Paul (15) but we also see a positive example in Onesiphorus, who was not ashamed of Paul’s chains (16-18).