Bible Study
The Second Letter of Paul to Timothy
(1) A Spirit of Power, Love and Self-discipline
II Tim. 1:1-12


When we studied Paul's letter to the Ephesians, we found that Paul had made 3 missionary journeys and was in prison in Rome when he wrote that letter. We don't have any biblical evidence as to what happened to Paul after that, but church historians help to fill out the rest of his story. After being released from the Roman prison, Paul evidently made a 4th missionary journey. We don't know just where he went, but he wrote I Timothy and Titus during that time. From his letter to Titus we find that 2 places he went were Crete and Nicopolis. After 3 or 4 years he was imprisoned again under Emperor Nero. He was no longer treated with the respect that he had before as a Roman citizen who had appealed to Caesar.

This time he was treated as a common criminal - as were other Christians during Nero's time. He was chained in a cold dungeon and he knew that his work was done and his life nearly at an end. It must have been a very difficult time for Paul - who was old, weary and wounded - especially since many of his friends had deserted him. It was one thing to stay with him, comforting and serving him, while he had a measure of respect. By this time it was very dangerous to be the friend of a condemned Christian. The loyalty of some former friends toward Paul and his Lord wavered and faded out.

Read II Tim. 1:1-12

1. Greetings from Paul to his "son"

A. Paul once again identifies himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus "by the will of God" - not by his own desire or will. Eph. 1:1 It's interesting that in his salutation he mentions the "promise of life in Christ Jesus". For a man facing imminent death, that was a very important promise. We must help others who are ill and may face death soon to understand that their only hope is in knowing Christ. They can rest in His promise of life if they are "in Christ Jesus".

B. Paul addressed his letter: "To Timothy, my dear son". Paul, who never had children, had many children in the faith, some of whom were rebellious and refused to help him, and others who loved him as a father. I can relate to that since I have many children in the faith also. Most are Micronesians, but one is Turkish and one is Iranian. He writes to me by e-mail: "My dear lovely Mom". I can understand how Paul must have loved and appreciated his faithful son, Timothy. Paul, who was serving God with a clear conscience, thanked and praised the Lord for Timothy. Timothy was so much on his heart that he could say, "Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers." Is there anyone whom we pray for like that? When the Lord puts someone on your heart, lift up your prayer for him/her right then wherever you are.

2. Timothy's faith and calling
A. Paul recalled Timothy's tears, probably at their last farewell. Paul was longing to see Timothy again, knowing how much joy that would give him. As Paul prayed for Timothy he was reminded of his sincere faith. Timothy's faith was not put on for show or counterfeit - made to look like the real thing, but lacking the truth. He had been taught and guided by 2 women of the same sincere faith. That faith "lived in" his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Obviously, Paul knew these 2 women and he was thankful for their lives of influence on his son in the faith. Since nothing is said of his father, we assume that at best he did not influence his son spiritually. It was a blessing, as is often the case, that his mother and grandmother gave him a godly heritage. In my case, my godly heritage came from my father and his family. If you have had the privilege of having a godly heritage, thank God for it and determine that your children and grandchildren will have that same privilege through you.

B. Evidently God gave Timothy a gift - perhaps of teaching or preaching or evangelism. Eph. 4:11-13 Paul evidently prayed for Timothy, commissioning him to the Lord's service, and the Lord gave him the gift he needed to fulfill that calling. Paul tells him to fan it into flames. I get the feeling that, unlike Paul, Timothy was shy and retiring. Paul had written to him earlier, "Don't let anyone look down on you". I Tim. 4:12 Maybe because of his youth and quiet ways, people did not respect him as a leader. They were used to the kind of forceful leadership that Paul gave.

C. So Paul reminds him of the kind of spirit the Lord gives us. It is not a spirit of timidity or fear. Possibly Timothy had a problem of feeling overwhelmed by more powerful personalities, and felt that he had to follow their words. But to be a preacher or teacher of the gospel we can't be timid or just follow what others tell us. We need to speak up in the right way at the right time. For this purpose, He gave Timothy and us "the spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline". So we are to minister to others in power which is balanced and purified by love. Without self-discipline, we will not be able to serve with loving power. Many today are teaching with a selfish and greedy power that is completely undisciplined.

3. Don't be ashamed
A. Paul was never ashamed of the gospel. Rom. 1:16-17 So he called "timid Timothy" to be unashamed also - both of the Lord and of him, the Lord's prisoner. I guess some were ashamed of Paul because he was a prisoner. They were unwilling to join with Paul in suffering for the gospel. Probably some were afraid to lose their heads, so they deserted Paul and Christ. II Tim. 1:15; 4:10a, 14 Paul called Timothy to join him in suffering for the gospel. But how can we face that kind of suffering? "By the power of God". He is the One who has saved us and called us to a holy life. How can we then be ashamed of Him and refuse to suffer for Him when He has suffered so much for us?

B. He didn't save us and call us to a holy life because of anything we have done, but only because of "His own purpose and grace". God has a purpose for our lives as He had for the nation of Israel. The Jews were to be God's ambassadors to the rest of the world, but they miserably failed. Now that is our job. We are to be the light and salt of the world. So in extending His grace to us, He also extended it through us to a lost and dying world. And the amazing thing is that "this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time". The plan and purpose was decided on by the Trinity before time. It was then that the Father decided to extend His grace to us in His Son. Eph. 1:4-5 This is truly "Amazing Grace" as the song reminds us!

C. Although the grace was given before time began, it was not revealed until the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus. It was planned before creation, but through all the centuries and millennia it was not fully known or understood, even though prophetic hints were given by Moses, David, Isaiah and others. But when Christ appeared, He destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Imagine the power of Christ! He was able to destroy death, not only for Himself as He rose from the dead, but for all His true followers who will also rise someday. What hope was there before Christ for life now and immortality (unending life) in the future? None! We were all condemned to physical and eternal death by our sin. The gospel - that Jesus came to be our substitute, bearing our sins away by His death for us - was the first real hope for mankind. It has brought us hope of life now and for eternity. What a blessed truth and hope! I Peter 1:3-4

4. God's herald
A. It was for the proclamation of this amazing gospel that Paul was appointed a herald, an apostle and a teacher. A herald is a royal or official messenger representing a king - a person who announces the king's arrival. The Christmas carol, "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing", means "Listen to the singing angels who are announcing the birth of the King". God sent His angels to announce Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. God had appointed Paul as His herald to announce the Good News of the gospel - that God's Son had arrived in the world to save mankind. So the Lord had given Paul the gifts of evangelist, apostle and teacher, and the power to represent Him to Jews and Gentiles. Eph. 4:11 God had also blessed Paul with the grace to bear the thorns, the wounds, the suffering, and the death he would have to go through to carry out his glorious calling. II Cor. 12:7-10 Perhaps there has never been another man as close to Jesus' life, ministry and suffering as he was. "That is why I am suffering as I am", he wrote. Paul knew that he could have escaped the suffering if he had refused the call to be Christ's messenger. If we speak out the truth for Christ we must be prepared to suffer.

B. Verse 12 is a very important verse to me. It is my life verse. I can see that some people might consider it a shame to be locked in a Roman dungeon with the executioner's sword about to take your head. But Paul was not ashamed. What kept him from being ashamed? He didn't care what people thought. He did not live by peer pressure. He could say, "I know whom I have believed". Paul had a personal relationship with the One He believed in - Jesus Christ, his Savior and Lord. If we can say this with Paul, it shows that we know who Jesus is - the very Son of God -; we know what He has done - died in our place to redeem us from hell -; and we know that He even now lives in our hearts - the Lamb, the Lord of glory. Really knowing and trusting Him convinces us that He is able (and willing) to guard what we have given Him until the day when we meet Him face-to-face. What had Paul entrusted to his Lord? His very life, the churches he had planted, the many who had come to know Christ through him, and his many "sons' including Timothy, who would carry on the work after he was gone.


Why do we want to serve the Lord and have a place of prominence in His church? I think many want the title and honor of men that goes with a pastor, deacon, deaconess or pastor's wife. I always disliked the way people treated me when I was on furlough. It was as if a missionary is someone special. But if we agree with Christ we will understand that we are the lowliest of the servants. Matt. 20:25-28 Our responsibility is to be like Christ, humbly doing His will with the gifts He has given us.

If we truly are Christ's heralds and speak out boldly and honestly about Him, we will get into trouble with people. People do not like to hear about their sins and their coming condemnation. Many who are supposed to be heralds are saying what people want to hear rather than what God has said in His Word. II Tim. 4:3-5 Having a big crowd following you does not mean that you are going in the right direction. Jesus and Paul told us over and over that we must expect persecution and suffering if we are determined to believe and announce God's truth.

(c) 2003 Juanita Simpson

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