2 Timothy

A verse-by-verse exegetical commentary on the New Testament Greek text


In the fourth century Thomas Aquinas referred to first Timothy as a "pastoral textbook." The description stuck, particularly as first and second Timothy and Titus give practical advice on running a church. So, these three letters, purportedly from the hand of Paul the apostle, came to be called the Pastoral Epistles. They are different from Paul's other letters in that they are addressed to individual church leaders, rather than the church as a whole. They are more practical, rather than theological, devoid of the powerful emotion that drove Paul's earlier letters. None-the-less, these three letters have had a mighty impact on the shaping of Christian ministry. Just a glance at the Ordinal in the Prayer Book of the Church of England / Anglican Church shows how the Pastoral epistles have guided ministry expectations. So, Paul's advice to bishops and elders became the church's advice to bishops, priests and deacons. Of course, Paul's "bishop" is not necessarily a diocesan bishop but the chief minister in a congregation of believers. Either way, the advice still applies. Sound advice for a Christian minister is also sound advice for all.

The structure of 2 Timothy

1. Introduction

i] Salutation and thanksgiving, 1:1-5

ii] An exhortation to boldness and faithfulness, 1:6-14

iii] Personal news, 1:15-18

2. Paul's charge to Timothy, 2:1-4:5

i] A call to dedication and faithfulness, 2:1-13

a) Serving with dedication, 2:1-7

b) The reasons for holding firm, 2:8-13

ii] Confronting the false teachers at Ephesus, 2:14-26

iii] An eschatological perspective of the heresy facing Timothy, 3:1-9

iv] Standing against the heresy in the example set by Paul, 3:10-17

v] The final charge - do the work of an evangelist, 4:1-5

3. Personal information, commission and greetings, 4:6-22

i] Paul's testimony, 4:6-8

ii] Personal instructions, 4:9-15

iii] Paul's continuing confidence in the Lord despite his present difficulties, 4:16-18

iv] Final greetings and blessing, 4:19-22

Authorship, Dating, Purpose and Key Issues

See 1 Tmothy, Introduction.


2 Timothy has a different feel to it. It is less miscellaneous and more unified than 1 Timothy. There are no new themes or issues covered in this letter that have not already been covered in 1 Timothy, but there is a dramatic change in the personal quality of the letter. Numerous personalities and situations are mentioned and the language used is often more vivid.

The situation in which the letter is composed is probably the driving force behind the change is style. This letter is written from prison at a time when Rome was beginning to persecute the Christian sect. The sense is that the author, presumably Paul, is facing execution with no means of escape. Only Luke is tending to his needs and it is very dangerous for anyone to associate with him. So, Paul is writing a last word to his friend and associate Timothy. In this intimate letter to his beloved son in the faith, Paul encourages Timothy to serve as a faithful Christian minister. He does so in the context of looking back on his life as an apostle and looking forward to his execution and glory.

Bibliography: Commentaries - The Pastoral Epistles

Barrett, New Clarendon, 1963. Bernard, CGTSC, 1899. D/C. Dibelius/Conzelmann, Hermeneia. Fee, NIBC. Gromacki, Baker, 1 Timothy, 1982. Guthrie, Tyndale, 1957. Hanson, NCB & CBC. Hendriksen, Banner of Truth. Houlden, Pelican, 1976, reprint TPI 1989. Johnson, Anchor. Kelly, Blacks / Harpers, 1963. Knight, NIGTC. Leaney, Torch. Leske, ChiRho. Lock, ICC, 1924/52. MacArthur, Moody. Marshall, ICC, 1999. Milne, FOB. Mounce, Word. Quinn, Titus, Anchor, 1995. Q/W. Quinn & Wacker, ECC. Rolston, Layman's. Simpson, Tyndale Press, 1954. Smith, Know your Bible 10. Stott, BST. Towner, NICNT. Wilson, Banner of Truth.


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