The Second to Timothy: Titles such as this were apparently not part of the original text. Ancient manuscripts show that they were added later, doubtless to make it easier to identify the Bible books. For example, the well-known manuscript Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century C.E. contains the title “To Timothy” at the end of the letter. Other early manuscripts contain the title “Second to Timothy.”
an apostle: See study note on Ro 1:1.
a beloved child: Paul and Timothy had developed an especially warm and close bond. In fact, Paul had become a spiritual father to Timothy. (1Co 4:17; Php 2:22) In his first letter to Timothy, Paul addressed him as “a genuine child” and “my child.” (1Ti 1:2, 18) When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, the two had served together for at least 14 years. Now Paul sensed that his death was imminent, so he may have regarded this letter as his final written message to Timothy. (2Ti 4:6-8) Warmly reassuring the young man of his affection, Paul calls Timothy “a beloved child.”—See study notes on 1Ti 1:2, 18.
May you have undeserved kindness, mercy, and peace: See study note on Ro 1:7.
I am grateful to God: Paul included expressions of gratitude, or thanks, in the opening passages of many of his letters. (Ro 1:8; 1Co 1:4; Eph 1:15, 16; Php 1:3-5; Col 1:3, 4; 1Th 1:2, 3; 2Th 1:3; Phm 4) Now imprisoned in Rome, Paul realizes that he is about to die. (2Ti 4:6-8) He has faced severe opposition and has been abandoned by some of his friends. (2Ti 4:10-12, 14-17) Even so, he opens this letter, not with grief, but with gratitude. Later in this verse, he reveals one cause for thanks—his friend Timothy, whom Paul includes in his prayers “night and day.” Paul is particularly grateful for the young man’s outstanding faith and calls it “unhypocritical.”—2Ti 1:5.
God, to whom I am rendering sacred service: Or “God, whom I am serving (worshipping).” Paul here acknowledges that he has the privilege of worshipping God, as did his faithful Jewish forefathers, men who figured prominently in the Hebrew Scriptures. The expression “rendering sacred service” can refer to worshipping God, both under the Jewish system of things and in the Christian congregation. For example, in rendering Moses’ command to the people to serve Jehovah (De 6:13), the Septuagint uses the same Greek verb that Paul uses here. At Mt 4:10, Jesus quotes from this passage in Deuteronomy when telling the Devil: “It is to [Jehovah] alone you must render sacred service.” (See study note on Mt 4:10; see also Ex 3:12; De 10:12, 20; Jos 22:5; LXX) In his letter to the Romans, Paul shows that an important feature of sacred service is that of preaching the good news about God’s Son.—See study note on Ro 1:9.
with a clean conscience: Paul is in prison, chained as a criminal (2Ti 1:16), but he expresses confidence that he has served Jehovah God faithfully and with a pure, unselfish motive. (See study note on 2Ti 1:12.) He earlier wrote to his fellow believers in Corinth: “We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one.”—2Co 7:2; see study notes on Ro 2:15; 1Ti 1:5.
As I remember your tears: Paul mentions Timothy’s tears—as well as his own—without a trace of shame. (2Co 2:4; Php 3:18) Paul may have seen Timothy weep during the time they worked together to help fellow believers who were burdened by problems or stricken by tragedy. Timothy may have wept over Paul’s sufferings. (Ro 12:15; 2Ti 3:10, 11) Paul may also have seen Timothy weep when the two of them last parted. (Compare Ac 20:37, 38.) Such tears were a sign that Timothy was a warmhearted, compassionate, and empathetic man.
unhypocritical faith: See study note on 1Ti 1:5.
your grandmother Lois: Timothy’s grandmother Lois was most likely the mother of Eunice, and apparently the family lived in the city of Lystra. (Ac 16:1-3) The Greek word mamʹme used here was a child’s word of endearment for his grandmother, in contrast with the more formal word teʹthe. Paul’s word choice may indicate that Timothy and his grandmother had a close, affectionate relationship. Lois probably supported Eunice in teaching Timothy from the Hebrew Scriptures.—See study note on 2Ti 3:15.
your mother Eunice: Eunice and Lois likely converted to Christianity during Paul’s first stay in Lystra, about 47-48 C.E. (Ac 14:6) Paul here credits both of them with having “unhypocritical faith.” No doubt Eunice had to exercise such faith when Timothy left home to join Paul in his missionary travels; she was aware of Paul’s previous visit to their city when he was stoned and left for dead. (Ac 14:19) The example set by Eunice and Lois, as well as their diligent teaching, surely contributed to Timothy’s own “unhypocritical faith” and outstanding spiritual progress. (Ac 16:2; Php 2:19-22; 1Ti 4:14) Their example was all the more remarkable because Timothy’s Greek father apparently did not share his wife’s faith.—See study notes on Ac 16:1, 3.
stir up like a fire: With this word picture, Paul urges Timothy to keep using his gift energetically. The form of the Greek verb rendered “stir up like a fire” implies continuous action; one scholar suggests that it means “to keep the fire burning at full flame.” In ancient times, it was common for people to keep smoldering embers on hand so that fire was always readily available. Paul does not here imply that Timothy’s spiritual “gift of God” is like an extinguished fire that needs to be started anew. Rather, it is like a fire of burning hot coals that needs only to be stirred up to burn more intensely.
the gift of God: As he did in his preceding letter, Paul writes of a gift that Timothy received in the past. (See study note on 1Ti 4:14.) There are some differences between the two accounts, however. Paul here mentions that he was the one laying his hands on Timothy. He does not mention the body of elders; nor does Paul refer to a prophecy, as he did in the earlier letter. Thus, it is not known whether he refers to the same occasion or to another one. In any case, the gift that Paul here mentions seems to involve a gift of holy spirit—the imparting to Timothy of some special ability that helped him to fulfill his assignment.
the laying of my hands on you: See study note on Ac 6:6.
God did not give us a spirit of: In this context, the Greek word for “spirit” (pneuʹma) can refer to God’s holy spirit or to a person’s dominant mental attitude. (See Glossary, “Spirit.”) Paul may, in fact, have had both meanings in mind. The overall idea could be expressed as follows: “The holy spirit that God gives us does not produce in us a spirit of cowardice but one of power and of love and of soundness of mind.”
cowardice: The Greek word rendered “cowardice” refers to an unhealthy fear, a moral weakness. Such fear could rob a Christian of all courage and could drive him to abandon true worship.
one of power: By using this expression, Paul assures Timothy that Christians do not have to rely on personal bravery or courage in order to overcome fear. Rather, God would impart the power they needed to accomplish their ministry and to rise above any frightening problems or challenges.—2Co 4:7-10; 12:9, 10; Php 4:13.
one . . . of love: Strong love for Jehovah is the antidote to fear. (1Jo 4:18) Love moves Christ’s followers to put the needs of others ahead of their own. It even makes them willing to risk their life for the sake of others.—See study notes on Joh 13:34; Ro 16:4.
one . . . of soundness of mind: Several times Paul mentions the quality of being sound in mind. (Ro 12:3; 1Ti 2:9, 15; 3:2 and study note) Here Paul suggests that it helps Christians to keep their balance even when they face dangers that might otherwise cause them to panic. Soundness of mind also helps a Christian to remember that nothing matters more than his relationship with Jehovah. All three of these qualities—power, love, and soundness of mind—come not from within but from God. Paul thus assures Timothy that he is well-equipped to put his gift to use and to take his part in suffering adversity.—2Ti 1:6, 8.
do not become ashamed: The Greek word rendered “become ashamed” may suggest that out of fear of humiliation, a person lacks the courage to stand up for something. In both Greek and Roman culture, it was common to be overly concerned about shame, honor, and the opinions of others. Paul had not let those worldly values unduly influence him; he steadfastly refused to become ashamed of worshipping Jehovah. (See 2Ti 1:12 and study note.) Here Paul does not imply that Timothy is currently ashamed; rather, he urges the younger man never to feel ashamed.—Compare Mr 8:38.
the witness about our Lord: This expression included telling others about the death of Jesus on a torture stake, an execution designed to be humiliating and shameful. (See study note on 1Co 1:23.) Yet, Paul was “not ashamed of the good news” about the Christ, including Jesus’ humiliating death.—Ro 1:16.
of me, a prisoner for his sake: For some, Paul’s imprisonment was apparently a source of shame. It was widely seen as shameful for a man to be bound, punished, or imprisoned by the authorities. Yet, Paul wanted Timothy and other Christians to find encouragement, not shame, in the apostle’s faithful endurance under trial. (Php 1:14) Paul knew that they too would face such trials.—2Ti 3:12.
a prisoner for his sake: Lit., “his prisoner.” Paul considers himself a prisoner for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, a captive because of being a follower of Christ and proclaiming the good news. The apostle had used similar expressions in some of his letters written during his first imprisonment in Rome. (Eph 3:1 and study note; 4:1; Phm 1, 9) This second letter to Timothy was written during Paul’s final imprisonment in Rome, probably about 65 C.E.—2Ti 4:6-8.
This was given to us in connection with Christ Jesus: Paul refers to a particular “undeserved kindness” that Jehovah had given, or shown, to some humans—the holy calling to reign in heaven with Christ. For that purpose, Jehovah had determined in advance that he would adopt as sons a group of Jesus’ followers. The basis for this undeserved kindness was the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus.—Ro 8:15-17; 2Ti 2:10; see study note on Eph 1:5.
before times long ago: Jehovah’s purpose to take a group of Jesus’ followers to reign with His Son in the heavenly Kingdom was connected to the prophecy at Ge 3:15. (Ga 3:16, 29) Jehovah declared that purpose shortly after Adam sinned, thousands of years before Paul wrote to Timothy. That is why Paul can say that the undeserved kindness was given “before times long ago.” Some translations render this expression “from all eternity,” giving the impression that the events Paul discusses were predetermined from eternity. However, regarding the Greek expression for “long ago” in this context, one lexicon says that it is “relating to a period of time extending far into the past.” (Compare Ro 16:25; compare study note on Ro 8:28.) God foretells long in advance how events will unfold, and his purposes are certain of accomplishment.—Isa 46:10; Eph 1:4.
the manifestation of our Savior, Christ Jesus: Here Paul explains that God’s “undeserved kindness,” mentioned in verse 9, was “made clearly evident” by means of “the manifestation of . . . Christ Jesus.” In this context, Jehovah brought about this manifestation by sending his Son to the earth to live as a man. This manifestation is also mentioned at Joh 1:14, which says that “the Word became flesh and resided among” humans. Similarly, 1Ti 3:16 (see study note) refers to Jesus’ being “made manifest in flesh.” That expression applies to his earthly life and ministry, apparently from the time of his baptism in the Jordan River. Throughout his ministry, Jesus clearly taught humans how they could be saved from their sins and gain everlasting life.—Mt 1:21; Lu 2:11; 3:6.
Christ Jesus . . . has shed light on life and incorruption: The Hebrew Scriptures mention the resurrection of the dead and the hope of living forever. (Job 14:14, 15; Ps 37:29; Isa 26:19; Da 12:2, 13) Yet, those inspired writings left many things to be revealed and clarified. Jesus is called “the true light that gives light.” (Joh 1:9) It is only natural that he was the one who “shed light” on this hope. He called himself “the life,” and he promised that whoever exercised faith in his word would have “everlasting life.” (Joh 5:24; 6:40; 14:6) Jesus also “shed light on life” by explaining that he would give his life as a ransom to abolish, or destroy, death. (Mt 20:28; Joh 3:16; 5:28, 29; 11:25, 26) Additionally, Jesus revealed that some humans would enjoy heavenly life and reign together with him. (Lu 12:32; Joh 14:2, 3) And when they receive this heavenly reward, they are “raised up in incorruption.”—1Co 15:42 and study note; 1Pe 1:3, 4.
I was appointed a preacher: See study note on 1Ti 2:7.
an apostle: See study note on 1Ti 2:7.
a teacher: See study note on 1Ti 2:7.
I am not ashamed: Paul recognizes that fulfilling his appointment as a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher has led to his present suffering. (2Ti 1:11) The persecutors’ goal may have been to fill him with shame and fear in order to silence him. But like Jesus, who “endured a torture stake, despising shame,” Paul saw no shame in being persecuted and imprisoned for doing Jehovah’s will. (Heb 12:2) He wanted Timothy and other Christians to feel the same way.—See study note on 2Ti 1:8; see also study note on Mt 16:24.
For I know the One whom I have believed: Paul here states the primary reason why he does not feel ashamed. He has come to know Jehovah God and has developed a close relationship with him. (See study note on Ga 4:9.) Paul saw any assignment from his loving Father as an honor.
what I have laid up in trust with him: Lit., “my deposit.” Paul likely meant that he had entrusted God with his life. Paul was about to die, but he was confident that Jehovah would remember his faithful life course until “that day” when He would resurrect him. (Ro 8:38, 39) The Greek expression for “deposit; trust” is a legal term for something entrusted to someone for safekeeping. (A related verb is used at Ac 14:23 and 20:32 regarding people who have been ‘entrusted to Jehovah God.’) Some Bible translations render 2Ti 1:12 as if this “trust” were something that Paul was commanded to guard. (Compare 1Ti 6:20 and 2Ti 1:14, where Paul urged Timothy to “guard” what had been entrusted to him.) However, the context indicates that the “trust” mentioned here was something that God was guarding.
the standard: The Greek word for “standard” could also be rendered “outline.” It could refer to an outline sketch that an artist might use to guide him in producing a finished painting. “The standard of wholesome words” provides clear direction so that a Christian can understand what Jehovah God requires of him and can recognize the principles behind Christian teachings. Timothy could compare any new idea with “the standard” and thus avoid being led astray by false teachers.—Ga 1:7; 2Ti 2:16-18.
wholesome words: The Greek expression for “wholesome words” is rendered “wholesome instruction” at 1Ti 6:3. There Paul explained that this instruction “is from our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus, the phrase refers to true Christian teachings. (See study note on 1Ti 6:3.) What Jesus taught and did is in harmony with all other teachings found in the Bible, and that is why the expression “wholesome [or “healthful; beneficial”] words” can by extension refer to all Bible teachings.
Guard this fine trust: The trust that Paul refers to includes what he mentioned in the preceding verse, the “wholesome words,” or the truth imparted through the Scriptures. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul similarly urged him: “Guard what has been entrusted to you.” (1Ti 6:20 and study note) Paul encouraged Timothy to guard this trust by preaching the true Christian message accurately both inside and outside the congregation, thus keeping it safe from corruption by false teachers and apostates. (2Ti 4:2, 5) Timothy would do so by relying on Jehovah’s holy spirit and His Word.—2Ti 3:14-17.
the holy spirit, which is dwelling in us: God’s holy spirit dwelled in Paul and Timothy—and in all spirit-anointed Christians—in the sense that it operated in them in a special way. (Ro 8:11; Eph 3:20) The spirit would help them to guard their “fine trust,” the Christian teachings and the ministry entrusted to them. In a broader sense, holy spirit helps all Christians to fulfill their ministry and produces in them “the fruitage of the spirit.”—Ga 5:22, 23; Ac 1:8.
the province of Asia: See Glossary, “Asia.”
May the Lord grant mercy: Paul here prays that Jehovah grant mercy to “the household of Onesiphorus.” While visiting Rome, Onesiphorus put forth great effort to find Paul in prison, showing him abundant kindness and mercy. (2Ti 1:17; see study note on he did not become ashamed of my prison chains in this verse.) So Paul’s prayer was in line with Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.” (Mt 5:7 and study note) In the Hebrew Scriptures as well as in the Christian Greek Scriptures, Jehovah is described as a God who is “merciful” and “rich in mercy.”—Ex 34:6; Eph 2:4; compare 2Ti 1:18.
Onesiphorus: This faithful Christian was outstanding in the way he loyally and selflessly supported Paul, who praises him for “all the services” he rendered earlier in Ephesus. It seems likely that Timothy knew him. The phrase “when he [Onesiphorus] was in Rome” implies that Onesiphorus had traveled there, but the account does not say whether he did so in order to see Paul or for another reason. (2Ti 1:17, 18) Paul here asks for God’s blessing on the household of Onesiphorus; later, as the apostle closes this letter, he sends them his greetings.—2Ti 4:19.
he did not become ashamed of my prison chains: Onesiphorus stood in stark contrast with the two men Paul mentioned in the preceding verse. They, along with others in the province of Asia, had abandoned Paul in his hour of need. (2Ti 1:15, 17, 18) It is possible that those who visited Paul during his second and final imprisonment risked being imprisoned or even being put to death. In any case, Onesiphorus refused to give in to fear or shame. Instead, he often refreshed Paul, visiting again and again to bring what help and comfort he could. The expression “prison chains” can refer to Paul’s imprisonment in a general sense. However, it is likely that Paul was literally bound in chains, a situation that made Onesiphorus’ services even more welcome.
he diligently looked for me: During Paul’s second imprisonment, Onesiphorus put great effort into finding Paul in Rome. The city had some one million inhabitants, and there were no street names or house numbers. Onesiphorus finally found the place where Paul was detained and waiting for trial. It was surely a great comfort to Paul to receive such help.
May the Lord grant him to find mercy from Jehovah: Apparently, “the Lord” both in verse 16 and in verse 18 refers to Jehovah God. (2Ti 1:16 and study note) Here in verse 18, Paul’s wording is somewhat unusual. He says that the Lord (Jehovah) is doing something (granting mercy) from himself (from Jehovah). However, similar repetition can also be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, and the Greek Septuagint follows a similar pattern. For example, at Ge 19:24, the Hebrew text literally reads: “Jehovah made it rain sulfur and fire from Jehovah,” simply meaning that Jehovah brought sulfur and fire from himself. (See also Ho 1:6, 7; Zec 10:12.) The repetition found here at 2Ti 1:18 may emphasize that Jehovah allows a person to find mercy and also provides that mercy.—For the use of the divine name here, see App. C3 introduction; 2Ti 1:18.
you well know: Or possibly, “you know better than I do.” Paul notes that Timothy was well-aware of the many services Onesiphorus had rendered in Ephesus. The original-language expression may even indicate that Timothy knew more about Onesiphorus’ good deeds in Ephesus than Paul did.