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2 Timothy

2 Timothy 1

By Pastor Doug
How Onesiphorus-like are you?


How Onesiphorus-like are you?  Okay, everybody might be wondering what Onesiphorus is and why you would want to be that way.  Onesiphorus was actually a person.  If you stay with this study to the end, you'll find out about him.  His name means ‘one who brings profit’.  Are you one who brings profit to others?

This book is another letter written by Paul to Timothy.  A few things have changed since he wrote the first letter.  Even though the first and second letters to Timothy are side by side in the bible, there was actually a few years between the letters, maybe up to 4 or 5.  Think about how much our world has changed in 4 or 5 years.  The same was true back then, the world was different when Paul wrote 2 Timothy.  Christianity was spreading throughout Europe and Asia.  The Roman Empire was as strong as ever.  Nero was Emperor and he was popular among the faithful Romans.  It was 64AD when Rome burned and it was rumored that Nero himself started the fire to clear the land for his building project.  Yet, he blamed the arson on the Christians.  And this paved the way to persecution of Christians.

Nero's persecution of Christians was demonic.  The torture and death of Christian men and women was a form of entertainment and amusement to him.  Christians were killed with, what was called, the ‘tunica molesta.’  The victim was dressed in tunic soaked with a flammable substance and lit on fire.  Christians were crucified in satanically creative ways.  One report says they were dressed in the tunica molesta, mounted on a stake and lit on fire so they could be used as garden torches for Nero's parties.  And of course, we know they were fed to wild animals.  They wrapped them in the skins or carcass of an animal and the dogs would rip them to shreds.

Paul's first arrest and trip to Rome he was placed under house arrest where he was free to move about, to write letters, to minister to others, entertain visitors and so on.  Paul was then released for a short time where he wrote the letters of Titus and First Timothy.  Now, as he wrote 2 Timothy, just a few years later, Paul was back in Rome in prison.  This is no house arrest this time.  He was in prison.  He was in chains.  Paul was awaiting his execution.

As we move through this letter, you'll hear references to his imprisonment and chains and see that Paul was in a cell.  He no longer was surrounded by his Christian friends because of the persecution that was going on in Rome.  Paul was by himself now.  This is his last letter before his martyrdom at the hands of Rome.

As we begin to study 2 Timothy, we'll notice a couple things.  Paul knew his time was short, there won't be any deliverance from prison this time.  He seems to be passing his mantle to Timothy.  Paul expected Timothy to carry on the ministry started by him.  We'll see him exhort Timothy to carry on in faithful ministry, continue in sound doctrine being careful to avoid error, hold onto the truth and to scripture, accept persecution for the gospel and never quit, no matter what.

The other thing you'll notice though is that Paul had concerns.  He was concerned that Timothy had weakened spiritually or there was a concern with his commitment.  Is it possible that Timothy had compromised the gospel teaching or was questioning his call to preach?  It may have been any of these things, all or in part.  Watch for them as we work our way through this study.  However, don't look down at Timothy as if he was failing.  We should look at Timothy as one of us.  Paul doesn't say he's failing.  He just wants Timothy to not dip his toe in and wade gently and carefully into his faith.  He wanted him to go all the way in, wholly and completely, as quickly as possible.

Paul addressed Timothy about not being fearful and to kindle afresh the gift, not being ashamed and holding to the truth.  These are the words of a wise old man offered to a younger man in the heat of battle.  These are the words of a dying man, one who has nearly fought all his battles, who fought all the good fights and was preparing to go home to the lord.  These are Paul's last words to pass along, to build up Timothy, to encourage him in the Lord.  It's Paul passing the mantle, putting the expectation on Timothy to take over the oversight of the church.  In this letter, Paul will sound like a father, a pastor, a mentor, and a friend to his son in the faith Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:1-2

This is pretty standard opening of a letter for Paul.  He establishes himself as an apostle.  His apostleship is his authority in Spiritual matters.  This apostleship came to him by the will of God.  It wasn't something he pursued or desired or claimed for himself.  He was chosen for this calling.  It was by the will of God Paul was called.  And then he adds the phrase 'according to the promise of life.'  This is different than most of Paul's greetings but maybe not all that strange from a man who is on death row.  We often look at Paul as some spiritual giant that didn't struggle as we do.  But Paul was just a man and he was facing a brutal death from Nero.  It wouldn't be strange at all for Paul to be thinking of life and death.

The promise of life was sourced by God, apprehended by Jesus and facilitated by the Holy Spirit.  This is life eternal that we are born again into by the work of God.  This is something to get excited about.  When we are young, many things excite us in this world.  As we get older, we’ve been beat up by the world and its ways and we are worn down by the effects of a fallen world.  We come to understand that life eternal is so precious.  Paul was aware of this was much as anyone could be and he was going to attempt to pass that along to Timothy.

We know Paul wasn't afraid of death because he knew what was coming afterward, but it's what would happen leading to death that would haunt any person.  Someone once said, “I'm not scared of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens.”  Maybe that's an apt description of what Paul was feeling.  You know Paul was fighting fears that Satan will try to bring on the dying.  He had questions and the anticipation of what was coming was stressful. 

Paul focused on the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.  I think this is Paul not doubting in the darkness what he had found to be true in the light and he's declaring it to Timothy, but also himself. 

His life, true life was found in Jesus Christ.

And you can't miss this picture of Paul in prison, Timothy in Ephesus in his church; Paul about to die, upbeat and strong in faith; Timothy living life free, basically healthy and timid and scared. 

Jan Hus was known as the first church reformer.  His ways were paved by John Wycliffe and Jan then paved the way for Luther and Calvin.  He was a Czech priest and scholar who challenged the stance of the pope about his stand on indulgences.  The church was raising funds for a crusade against two other popes by selling indulgences.  Jan was excommunicated and forced into exile.  A council convened in 1414 to put an end to the church’s issues – primarily having three popes fighting for power and authority of the church.  Huss was called to give account of his doctrine.  Even though he was promised safety, he was arrested for his testimony.  While imprisoned, the council declared Wycliffe a heretic, even though he was already dead.  His books were burned, his body exhumed and burned and his ashes thrown into the river.  Jan was brought back where he declared:

  1. Christ was the head of the church
  2. He affirmed predestination
  3. Separation of church and civil power
  4. Communion should be available to all (it was often withheld from laity)

These stands were enough to have him condemned.  On July 6, 1415, he was given an opportunity to recant.  He was stripped, tied to a stake and given a final chance to recant.  A chain was around his neck and wood and straw piled around him for the fire.  Huss responded, “Lord Jesus, it is for thee that I patiently endure this cruel death.  I pray thee to have mercy on my enemies.”  A follower of Huss witnessed his execution and said he sang Psalms as he died.

2 Timothy 1:3-5

You can imagine Paul reminiscing about his first meeting with Timothy.  Paul went to Lystra, Timothy's home town, on his first missionary journey.  The citizens of Lystra nearly killed Paul but God preserved him.  On the second missionary journey of Paul, he went through Lystra again and met the young man Timothy.  He was a young man brought up in the ways of the Lord by his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois.  We don't really know if Timothy, his mother or grandmother heard the gospel for the first time from Paul on his first missionary journey.  But it’s likely that they knew of Paul and his ministry as the church and Christian fellowships grew from Paul's efforts.

Paul is recalling that genuine faith that is in Timothy.  He saw that for the first time when he met Timothy and Eunice and Lois.  Timothy's faith was young, not yet challenged or tested.  It was a faith that was instilled in him and taught by these two godly ladies.  And that young man Timothy left with Paul.  Imagine that, the unknown path before him; leaving his hometown and family and everything he knew.

Then, as Timothy read Paul's words, he could look back on the journey and all God had done.  Timothy's journey would continue as Paul's was drawing to a close.  Over the years Timothy had grown.  He had been through many trials and suffered much persecution.  He had dealt with all kinds of situations and people in the church.  His faith had been tried and tested.  And Timothy's faith never failed him. 

It seems now, though, as Paul writes him, that Timothy may be in some weakened spiritual condition.  As we explore that possibility, we see Paul talk about where Timothy's ministry started, his roots and foundation.  Maybe Timothy was beat down from the constant trials in Ephesus.  Or maybe his restless desiring a new ground to plow.  Whatever it was, Paul reminded him from where he came and how far he had come in his walk.  This path he stepped out on so many years back when he left his family and home was a long road.  It was the path God had made for his life.  God had sustained him and guided him all the way.


With that you can almost hear Paul saying, Timothy look back at how far you came.  Now look forward.  What are you afraid of?  Why are you timid?  God's been faithful to bring you to where you stand today.  Do you trust Him with the next step?  And the steps of tomorrow?

I personally think Timothy was lonely and felt ill equipped to be a pastor.  I think that's why Paul said he was mindful of Timothy's tears.  When they had to say goodbye face to face that last time, Timothy shed tears as they parted.  But you can also hear Paul's desire to see Timothy again in these words, just one last time, which would bring great joy to Paul.

Paul remembered the genuine faith of Timothy in Verse 5.  The Greek word for this genuine faith is a word meaning unhypocritical.  It's all out in the open, there is nothing hidden, no masks.  What you saw in Timothy was what he was, there was no show.  Paul said, stir that up again.  You can see a picture of this when your fireplace burns down.  And you pick up the poker and you stir up the fire and put a new log on top.  And suddenly the fire is blazing, it's been rekindled.  That's what Paul wants Timothy to do, stir up the fire that God had built in him many years ago.  This young man had a God given faith and part of that faith was the gift given to him to teach and preach.  That gift couldn't be ignored or set aside.

God gave Timothy a gift that needed to be used.  But Timothy must have been holding back on exercising that gift because of some fear.  Again, don't look down at Timothy because of this.  This is the battle we all fight.  It's the same fear you have when you try to talk to someone about their faith.  It's the same fear you face when you know God is wanting you do something in your life that you don't feel equipped for.  Our problem is we look to ourselves, our own qualifications, our education, our understanding.  We want to have it all figured out before we take that next step.  But God calls us to step out of our comfort zone and trust Him.

The spirit should be thought of as ‘an attitude of’.  The word translated to fear is the idea of being timid.  Timothy was suffering from an attitude of timidity.  The power Paul called for then was the courage to stand against his own proclivity to cowardice.  The sound mind is a word used only here.  It is self-discipline, good judgement or right thinking. 

Can you see this fear in Timothy?  I can, because I can see it myself at times.  Yea, I know God has given me a gift I need to exercise.  But it's scary sometimes, it's a huge responsibility.  Each of you has also been called to exercise your gift.  Many times we spend too much time thinking about it.  Trying to plan it all out, make sure it is comfortable, not too risky, we have it all figured out.  Meanwhile, doubt creeps in and blazes the trail for fear.  Before long, we have a fear of failure, we fear we won't be accepted and on and on.  We end up using a gift and trying to feed off the accolades of men instead of the power of the Holy Spirit.

The gift is from God, the spirit of fear is from Satan.  God gave you a gift by the Holy Spirit and he gives us power and love and a sound mind and he expects us to use it.  Put down the fears with a confidence in the Lord and His provision to bring us through any doubts or unfamiliar places.  Sometimes our own desire to live life in a comfortable little safe haven of a squishy soft life keeps us from the best that the Lord has for us.  Life in the Lord is a great adventure planned for you.

2 Timothy 1:8-12

Timothy felt that he had much to fear.  And looking with his eyes, there was probably a lot of frightening sights to see in his world.  He was probably scared of the Judaizes, they were a mean and legalistic lot.  He was possibly scared of those that worshipped Dianna and all the other gods and goddesses.  Then there were the atheists and the imperialist Romans were starting to round up Christians and kill them.  They were passing laws to make it easier to attack Christianity and its people. 

Facing these things would be difficult, but if a church faced it together, they could encourage and uplift each other.  However, for Timothy, it appears as though the people in the church didn't seem to be part of a family.  There were wolves among them.  He didn't know who to trust.  He might have worried about making the others mad.  How would the church survive if some of the leaders left?  And what about money, Timothy needed to eat and buy clothes and keep a roof over his head.  And then, way back in his mind, Satan probably kept prompting him, what if you're wrong Timothy?   You never really saw this Jesus did you?  Are you really a pastor?  Wouldn't life be easier if you just quit this and go back to Lystra.  All this and more was surely on Timothy's mind.  Before long he was wringing his hands in worry, doubt was creeping in and fear was taking root.

Paul said, STOP IT!!  God isn't up there wringing His hands wondering how He was going to deal with all these awful things.  He is sovereign and in control.  Don't be afraid of teaching the truth.  Don't shy away from the gospel message the offers eternal life to those who are already spiritually dead.  Paul said not to be ashamed of him as a prisoner of Rome.  Rome will only execute those that God allows for His glory.  Don't fear Rome, fear God.

Paul encouraged Timothy with God’s purpose for us in Christ from the beginning of time.  It is a high and holy calling because it comes from a high and holy God.  And if that calling led to execution, then praise God that His will be done in their life.  The purpose and end of Timothy's calling and our calling isn't found in some circumstance of life in this world.  Our purpose and calling isn't found on a soft couch with a remote control and a glass of iced tea.  Our calling is revealed in Jesus Christ who defeated death and brought life and immortality through the gospel.  The gospel message was the purpose and calling on Timothy's life and on each of our lives.  Our life and works and thoughts and deeds and all we are and do should be defined and formed by the gospel.

It is for the purpose of this calling from the Lord that Paul suffered.  It wasn’t due to any man, government, movement, religion, denomination or anything else.  There was no shame in this suffering.

It seems Timothy was shying away from the suffering and reserved in his ministry.  Paul had given all.  He knew Christ and was convinced that the life he gave to Him was saved in Him.  Because he was born again in Christ, he knew he wouldn't taste death. 

Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

NKJV; John 8:51; 1982, Thomas Nelson

Paul was safe in Christ even though he was in chains in Rome awaiting execution.  He feared God, not an emperor that was a satanic tyrant.  The presence of evil, the threat of death didn't change Paul's trust in the Lord.  These things have always been present and always will be. 

2 Timothy 1:13-14

Paul professed his boldness and unwavering commitment.  Then he challenged Timothy to adopt a similar boldness.  He said hold fast.  The implication of 'holding fast' is that someone or something was going to try to steal what he was holding.  You have to hold fast or you might as well not hold it at all.  Hold onto the truth.  Timothy had heard it many times from Paul.  The manner of holding fast was to be “in faith and love.”  The means by which to hold fast was by the Holy Spirit.  The ‘keep’ of verse 14 was to protect from loss or damage.   

2 Timothy 1:15-18

The apostle Paul, after all he's been through, found himself alone in a prison cell.  When the persecution broke out, many ran away.  Phygellus and hermogenes were two examples of those who didn't hold fast.  Whatever they had or thought they had slid right through their grip.  It wasn't real, or genuine, or lasting.  When it was tested, it failed.  A faith that's never been challenged can never be trusted.  The gospel had not informed them of faith and love, even in suffering.

The evil world will make the sinful man bitter and hopeless if you don't hold fast to Christ.  Paul presents those who are ashamed of the gospel as those who have abandoned him.  They are ashamed of Paul because of his chains.  They have distanced themselves in fear of what the culture would find shameful. 

This is contrasted to Onesiphorus who not only stuck with Paul but sought him out in Rome.  His faith was tested and held fast.  This zealous seeking out of Paul could have been dangerous for him.  Yet, his actions show he was not ashamed of the gospel that saved him.  He believed, even unto death. 

Timothy was a place of decision.   He could follow the crowd that was ashamed of suffering.  As one distanced themselves from suffering and those punished by the government, would they also distance themselves from Jesus who also suffered?  Timothy was given the message of hope, love and of a God that so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that men might have eternal life.  That message was committed to Timothy.  Could he possibly be thinking about not delivering it? 

The courage and strength to hold fast was not found in human means.  It was found in the remembrance of the gospel that saved us.  It is found in the presence of the Holy Spirit in us.

The unspoken question to us is, which one will you be like?  Has your faith been tested so that it can be trusted?  Are you stepping out in faith holding fast to what's been given and entrusted to you?  Or, are you allowing fear to hold you down, keep you in some safe, quiet place where you just hunker down and wait for the Lord's return?

Onesiphorus was faithful to his namesake, meaning help-bringer.

Think back on your life, even before you were a Christian.  Isn't it amazing how you got to this point?  And all along your journey you see the hand of the Lord working through people and circumstances, through pain, suffering and the things of life. 

And here you are today.  The Lord got you here with the promise of life in Him.  It's a great adventure, look forward, step forward, to the Lord.  What are you afraid of?  Why are you timid?

©2011, 2023 Doug Ford