New Testament Survey: Acts to Revelation - Lesson 43

2 Timothy

Paul gives instruction to Timothy, who is a young pastor.

Robert Stein
New Testament Survey: Acts to Revelation
Lesson 43
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2 Timothy

Lesson Forty-three: The Pastoral Epistles

Part 4

IV. 2 Timothy

A. Salutation (1:1-2)

B. The faith of Timothy (1:5)

C. Exhortation to Timothy (2:1-7)

1. Analogy of a soldier (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:7)

2. Analogy of an athlete (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:22-27)

3. Analogy of a farmer (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:7)

D. Creedal Confession (2:11-13)

1. What does "faithful" mean?

2. God is faithful to deny us and punish us, if we are faithless.

E. Shun youthful passions (2:22)

F. All Scripture is God-breathed (3:16)

G. Evaluation of his life (4:6)

H. Additional news (4:9-18)

  • Acts was written by the same person that wrote the Gospel of Luke and continues where Luke left off with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

  • Luke wrote as a historian and includes details related to geography, political leaders and navigational terms. He was also an eyewitness and acquainted with eyewitnesses of events recorded in Acts.

  • Luke's purpose in writing Acts was give an orderly historical account of events surrounding Christ's ascension, the first followers of Christ and the spread of the early Church.

  • Acts 1:8 is the theme verse for the whole book. The structure of the book of Acts shows how this theme was fulfilled by recording events relating the spread of the gospel geographically.

  • At first, the early Church was made up mostly of Jews who continued to live a Jewish lifestyle.

  • Two events in the early Church were the choosing of an apostle to take the place of Judas Iscariot, and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

  • The elements of conversion in the New Testament are repentance, faith, confession, regeneration and baptism.

  • Many of the early Christians spoke Greek and Aramaic. Stephen was one of the first deacons and was martyred for his faith.

  • The apostle Paul's background as a Jew, training as a Pharisee, and Roman citizenship had a significant influence in his ministry and writings.

  • Paul had a dramatic conversion experience as he was traveling on the road to Damascus.

  • After Paul's conversion, on some areas of his theology his positions stayed the same, and on some areas his positions changed dramatically.

  • Many of the events related to Paul's life and ministry are recorded in the book of Acts.

  • The conversion of Cornelius and Peter's vision were important events in emphasizing the inclusion of Gentiles into the early Church.

  • The church at Antioch sent out Paul, Barnabas and John Mark to preach the gospel. This was Paul's first missionary journey.

  • The Jerusalem Council was a meeting of the early Church leaders to decide how to include Gentiles Christians into what had, up to this point, been a predominantly Jewish Christian group.

  • Barnabas and John Mark went to Cyprus and Paul and Silas went through Asia Minor, then to Macedonia and Greece.

  • Some of the letters from Paul in the New Testament are to an individual and some are to congregations. The letters are written in a form that includes the same general elements in the same order.

  • A main theme of 1 Thessalonians is the second coming of Christ.

  • Paul addresses some issues regarding the second coming of Christ, such as being responsible to work and support yourself in the meantime.

  • On his third missionary journey, Paul spent most of his time in Ephesus.

  • Paul defends his apostleship and explains that the foundation of our relationship with God is based on faith, not works.

  • Paul begins by defending his apostleship. He then explains justification by faith and gives some ethical exhortations. (The lecture does not cover points C. Ethical Exhortations (5:1-6:10) and D. Conclusion (6:11-18), but we included the outline points for your benefit.)

  • Most people agree that Paul wrote both letters to the Corinthians. He answered questions from people in the Corinthian church and addressed problems that had arisen.

  • In 1 Corinthians, Paul emphasizes unity and diversity in the body of Christ, and responds to questions about marriage, spiritual gifts and the Lord's Supper.

  • Paul defends his actions and apostleship and encourages the people in the church in Corinth to contribute to his collection for the poor in Jerusalem.

  • The content of Paul's letter to the church in Rome was shaped by the ethnic background of the congregation and the challenges they were facing at that time.

  • The outline of Paul's letter to the Romans indicates his understanding of the fundamental concepts of the gospel.

  • Paul wrote Romans from the perspective of his calling as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

  • Paul begins Romans by stating the problem of sin and enumerating a few specific sins. His conclusion in chapter 3 is that both the Jews and the Gentiles are under the wrath of God.

  • The divine remedy to the problem of sin and separation from God is justification by a righteous God.

  • The results of God's righteousness include, peace, hope, freedom, living in the Spirit and assurance.

  • Paul was arrested in the Temple in Jerusalem, went on trial in Caesarea, and was transported to Rome and imprisoned awaiting trial before Caesar.

  • A major theme in the book of Philippians is joy in times of adversity.

  • In Colossians, Paul emphasizes the preeminence and supremacy of Christ.

  • Imperative is always based on the indicative.

  • Most scholars agree that Ephesians was written by the apostle Paul, partly because the content follows an outline that is similar to other letters attributed to him that are contained in the New Testament.

  • In Ephesians, Paul emphasizes who we are in Christ and the mystery of the gospel.

  • Paul writes to Philemon about how Philemon should receive his runaway slave Onesimus, who has become a committed disciple of Christ under Paul's influence and is returning to him.

  • Luke does not record the details of Paul's death in the book of Acts.

  • The best argument is for Pauline authorship, possibly with the help of a secretary.

  • Two themes in 1 Timothy are the role and requirements for bishops and elders, and the role of women in ministry.

  • Paul gives instructions to Titus who is a pastor in Crete.

  • Paul gives instruction to Timothy, who is a young pastor.

  • It is unclear who wrote the book of Hebrews.

  • A major theme in Hebrews is the supremacy of Christ. There are also passages that emphasize that perseverance is essential.

  • According to James, true faith results in works.

  • The apostle Peter wrote this letter to encourage Christians to be faithful during a time of suffering.

  • Themes in 1 Peter include the atonement, the new birth and the continuity of the Old and New Testaments.

  • Some people question whether or not 2 Peter was written by the apostle Peter.

  • Themes in 2 Peter include false teachers and the return of the Lord.

  • 1 John is similar to the Gospel of John in style, vocabulary, theology and purpose.

  • John makes a distinction between acts of sin and continuing in sin.

  • Jesus came as God in the flesh and offers us the gift of eternal life.

  • Revelation is a book written in an apocalyptic genre by the apostle John.

  • The philosphy of interepretation you use when you study the book of Revelation determines what you think specific passages in the book are teaching.

  • Chapters 1-12 begins with the seven churches, and includes the seven seals and seven trumpets.

  • Revelation chapters 13-22 focus on the beast, Christ's final victory, final judgment and the millenium.

  • After Christ ascended and the church was spreading, it was helpful to have a written record of Christ's life and the apostles' teaching. All the books included in the New Testament were written before the end of the first century.

  • Each book included in the New Testament had to meet specific criteria. They are arranged with the Gospels first, then letters, then the book of Revelation.

In this second graduate-level class on New Testament Survey, Dr. Robert Stein walks you through the New Testament books Acts through Revelation. In his analysis of the books, you will learn not only the facts but also be challenged with their theological and spiritual significance.


2 Timothy, unlike 1 Timothy and Titus, is really not a pastoral letter, in that there’s nothing in this letter about deacons or elders, nothing about family relationships, etc. It’s more like an older pastor giving advice to this younger colleague of his. He refers to Timothy, his young colleague in v. 2 as, “my beloved child”. The salutation is somewhat unique. He says, “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” The addition of “mercy” here is unusual, and it’s found also in 1 Timothy 1:2. But if you look in all the other letters (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Titus, and Philemon), you won’t see “mercy”; it’s just “grace and peace”. Does that mean Paul could not have written it? No, he just decided one day to add “mercy”. Furthermore, there are other letters from those listed above where Paul used the usual “grace and peace”, and the critics don’t accept those either (Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians are a few of those). So you can’t make that the concluding factor.

He talks about the faith of Timothy in v. 5, “I’m reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you.” His father is not mentioned. In Acts 16, we have Paul about to start on his missionary journey, not with Barnabas this time, but with Silas. And he comes in Acts 16:1 to Derbe and to Lystra, and there’s a disciple there “… named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.” So here we have reference to his mother being a believer, his father being a Gentile, and the impression here is that he [Timothy’s father] is not a believer, and that’s even more evident in the fact that Timothy is not circumcised. And so it looks like Timothy did not have a believing father, and this may be why Paul felt especially close to him – that he was his spiritual father. His natural father did not provide spiritual guidance for him, but Paul, in accepting him as a co-worker, takes him on as his own child.

In 2:1-7, Paul emphasizes (throughout the whole letter he emphasizes this issue) the issue of suffering with Christ. And talks about singleness of focus, vv. 3-4, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him.” And then he uses a different kind of illustration to follow (v.5) “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” And then he uses the illustration of a farmer (v.6), “It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” So he has these three illustrations -- a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer -- to demonstrate how to be a good Christian. It’s interesting that in 1 Corinthians 9:7, 24-27, he uses those same three illustrations (farmer, soldier, and athlete). If Paul wrote both 1 Corinthians and 2 Timothy, that makes good sense, because he probably had these as his favorite illustrations of commitment to service. But if 2 Timothy were written by someone completely different, it is amazing that those same three illustrations show up to demonstrate faithful service. It might be just a little incident here that suggests that the same author wrote both works.

In 2:11-13, we have a confessional creedal formula. In my Greek text, it’s in this format, though most English translations do not have it that way. It reads, “The saying is sure, for if we have died with him, we will also life with him; is we endure, we will also reign with him [so you have two statements that talk about faithfulness in following Christ – if we have died we will live with him; if we endure we will reign with him. Then you have a third statement]; if we deny him [which is the opposite now], he also will deny us; if we are faithless [then we have], he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” And the fourth of those passages doesn’t follow the way one might expect. We would expect two positive actions with positive responses (if we die we will live; if we endure we will reign); and then we have a negative action with a negative response (if we deny him he will deny us); and then we have another negative action (if we are faithless), but this time with a positive response (then he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself). The real issue is what is being meant here by the word “faithful”. Does it mean that he is faithful to us despite anything we may do, and he will continue to forgive us and overlook our sins? OR does it mean, if we are faithless he remains faithful and because he is just and holy, he will deny us and mete out punishment? I remember the first time I came to the second possibility (which has the probability of being the better interpretation), and I was surprised. Most people just like to read it the other way around. But, remember that the fourth “if” follows the third, and the third action/response corresponds to one another. It doesn’t work out so nicely with the fourth pairing. We can see an obvious match with “If we deny him, he will deny us.” But we can’t say “If we are faithless, he will be faithless.” You can’t say that about God, because he will be faithful, but he will be faithful to his character and deny us and punish us. To me, that seems to be the more likely interpretation, because then you’d have two positives and two negatives that match each other. Why doesn’t he simply say that in v. 13? Well, it’s the choice of the word “faithless”. You can’t use that equivalent word with regard to God. He is always faithful, but he is faithful to the promise that, if we deny him, he’ll deny us. And then he would mete out judgment and punishment accordingly. That’s the way I would tend to understand that.

In 2:22 he goes on and says to Timothy, “Shun youthful passions….” We usually think of a young person in his 20’s, or maybe a teenager working in the church when we read this. But remember that already in Acts 16:1 he’s referred to as a disciple – probably not the kind of word that you would use for a teenager – and that incident is some 16 years before this, at least. So whatever his age was there (if he was 20 or so), he’s now at least 16 years older, which means that he’s 36 or so. But he’s still Paul’s “child”. I find it interesting how people’s “youth” keeps on getting older as I get older. Children remain children for a much longer time than I realized when I was 30 or 20. You realize how young 30 is when you’re older. So the command to this “young man” is really not to a teenager or a young adult, but to someone who could be a middle-aged adult.

In 3:16 we have this famous passage about Scripture, “All Scripture is God-breathed [or given by the inspiration of God in the KJV].” The word “theopneustos”, “theo” meaning God and “pnesutos” meaning breathed – God-breathed or spirit-breathed – all Scripture is inspired by God. There have been some who have tried to interpret that to say, “All inspired by God’s Scripture is profitable.” But this seems strange, because if it’s Scripture, it’s inspired by God by definition, and the way this words it, all God’s inspired Scripture seems to indicate that it’s non-inspired Scripture. And I don’t think that’s what Paul was thinking about.

Now, the Scriptures that are inspired are the ones that he has been taught from childhood (v. 15), “… from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God.” I think these sacred writings are the Scripture that’s being referred to, and these would have been taught to him; he would have been instructed in them in two areas. One would be the synagogue, and the other would be in the home, by his mother. This phrase must refer then to the Jewish Scriptures. Now, this is going to raise an interesting question. What did that Scripture consist of? We have the issue of what we call the Canon of Scripture, and the Books of the Apocrypha. Are they part of those sacred writings? In our very last session together, we’ll discuss that. I think the tendency would probably be to say that the Jewish Scriptures of that day did not tend to have the Apocrypha. And therefore what we’re probably talking about is what would come to be called the Old Testament. And we might say that, along with the Old Testament, there were other additional “Scriptures”, which would be the Jesus traditions. You remember that we just looked in 1 Timothy, where he refers to Scripture including the phrase from Deuteronomy 25:4 (“You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain”) AND “The workman deserves his wages”, which is a Jesus tradition. So, you already have those, but the Apocrypha as such would probably not have been understood by Paul at this point as Scripture.

In 4:6, he then looks back at his life and begins to evaluate it, and says, “I am already on the point of being sacrificed, and the time of my departure has come.” Compare this with his time in Philippians, as he is in prison -- what’s his expectation? That he’ll be released. Here, he has no such thought. Verse 7 continues, “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.” His appearing is that Day that we just referred to. I trust that you will, in your ministries and in your life, seek to be able to live so that, as you look back at the end of your life, you’ll be able to say something like this. It’d be wonderful – that you’ve fought the good fight and kept the faith.

There is additional news that he talks about in vv. 9-18, and then when he comes to v. 13, ff. “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” Again, I can’t imagine somebody who’s a pseudonymous author writing things like that. They’re just too personal. And I don’t think that was the art of pseudonymity in those days, especially with regard to letters, to forge that kind of thing. That looks awfully personal, and when we talked about the pastorals, these kinds of passages have caused those who argue that Paul did not write the Pastorals add “but there are genuine fragments in these”. This would be one of those “genuine fragments”. They cannot think of this as not being something Paul wrote. The problem with all of that is, where do these fragments come from? What happened to the letters from which these fragments originally came? That makes the whole “fragmentary hypothesis” rather difficult. But he says, “… bring also the books ….” This word is biblia, referring primarily to papyrus kinds of things. Papyrus was the main material used; it was quite cheap, “…and above all, the parchments ….” Parchments would be scrolls that came from animal membranes (that’s the word – membranas), and they would be much more expensive. It would be delightful to know what these were. He’s asking that Timothy bring his own personal library of the Scriptures – the Books of Moses, etc. It’s doubtful that he had his own personal library that he brought with him. It’s not as if he could just take a Bible like you have and bring it with him. He’d have all these different scrolls that he’d have to have of the Old Testament books, etc. Some say maybe the parchments were those kinds of things that were selected books. Others have suggested that when Paul wrote letters, he probably had copies made, and he retained those copies. Maybe these are what he’s referring to here – the copies of the letters he had written. We just don’t know. But it’s interesting that even in prison, awaiting a sentence which he believes will be death, he still wants those for some reason. There’s no TV here, so I think I’ll keep studying, and do something of that nature.

This then ends again with greetings (v. 19), “Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren. The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” Even in the midst of his imprisonment there is a certain amount of freedom, that he can entertain guests, and the like. Why? What allows him this? He’s a Roman citizen, so he’s not an “average prisoner”, so even up to his death he’ll be treated with special privileges.