Second Timothy: Paul’s Last Letter

second timothy

In Second Timothy, Paul gives helpful advice to Timothy to remain solidly grounded in Christian service and to endure suffering during the difficult days to come.  It is easy for us to serve Christ for the wrong reasons: because it is exciting, rewarding, or personally enriching.  Without a proper foundation, however, we will find it easy to quit during difficult times.  All believers need a strong foundation for their service, because Christian service does not get easier as we grow older, and it will become no easier as the time of Christ’s return grows closer.

There has never been another person like Paul, the missionary apostle. He was a man of deep faith, undying love, constant hope, tenacious conviction, and profound insight. And he was imprisoned by the Holy Spirit to give us God’s message. As you read Second Timothy, know that you are reading the last words of this great man of God – last words to Timothy and to all who would claim to follow Christ. Recommit yourself to stand courageously for the truth, knowing the Word and being empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Writer of Second Timothy

Written by Paul, “an apostle of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 1:1).

Date Written

At the end of Paul’s ministry (A. D. 66-67). Written from an unspecified location.

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To Whom Written

To Timothy, “my dearly beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2).

Historical Setting

First Timothy and Second Timothy differ in historical context. In the first epistle, Paul writes from Macedonia to young Timothy, who has been left in Ephesus to oversee the congregation. The second epistle, also written to Timothy in Ephesus, comes from Rome where Paul is undergoing a second and harsher imprisonment. Paul is alone (except for Luke, 2 Timothy 4:11), and knows the end of his life will come soon (2 Timothy 4:6).

Theological Contribution

For Paul, the best medicine for false teaching and apostasy is “sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:10; 4:3). The gospel is a spiritual inheritance to be received from the faithful witnesses and passed on to such. It brings about wholeness or health, not only in belief but also in good deeds.

Special Considerations in Second Timothy

The epistles to Timothy might be considered our earliest manual of church organization. Within them, we find guidelines for the selection of church leaders and an awareness of the need for standard forms of expressing the faith. Second Timothy presents the first (and only) pronouncement in the New Testament on the Bible as “Scripture” (referring to the Old Testament), “inspired” or “breathed into by God.

Purpose of Second Timothy

The purpose of the book of Second Timothy was to encourage Timothy not to give in to timidity and fear, but to continue steadfast in the faith, even when the Ephesian community of believers around him refused to abide by his teaching. Paul had also been completely rejected by all in Asia who refused to accept his dispensation of grace teaching (2 Timothy 1:15). Timothy was told to seek individual believers who would take instruction and who were able to teach others and carry on the truth (2 Timothy 2:2). He was to look forward to the reward that he will get from God for his faithfulness rather than to bemoan the fellowship he had lost with those who had sacrificed their reward for the love of this present world. Timothy was instructed to leave Ephesus and join Paul, bringing Mark with him. Paul’s God-given work came to an end as he penned his last inspired instructions to Timothy to remain steadfast in the truth.

Scripture Study Resources

ESV Study BibleStudy Bibles give you a deeper understanding of God’s Word with tools for life application like commentary, maps, charts, concordance, and study notes. Search our popular translations- NIV, ESV, NKJV, KJV and more!

Believer’s Bible Commentary: Second Edition – A Bible commentary is a written, systematic series of explanations and interpretations of Scripture. Commentaries often analyze or expound on individual books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Some commentary works provide analysis of the whole of Scripture.

The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible – The best concordance for word study! This exclusive new edition of a legendary classic puts generations of biblical research at your fingertips. A valuable tool for pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. 

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – This classic word study resource allows you to study the meaning of biblical words in the original languages without spending years learning Greek or Hebrew. A great resource for students, seasoned pastors, and anyone who enjoys biblical word studies–even if they have little to no formal training in Hebrew or Greek.

Halley’s Bible Handbook – The beloved and classic Bible companion has been thoroughly updated, while retaining its time-honored features and Dr. Halley’s highly personal style, to offer even greater clarity, insight, and usefulness.

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