This epistle was probably wrote by St. Paul, during his second confinement at Rome, not long before his martyrdom. It is, as it were, the swan's dying song. But though it was wrote many years after the former, yet they are both of the same kind, and nearly resemble each other.
It has three parts:
I. The inscription,................................. C. i. 1,2
II. An invitation, "Come to me," variously expressed, 1. Having declared his love to Timothy,............... 3-5 he exhorts him, " Be not ashamed of me.".......... 6-14 And subjoins various examples,................... 15-18 2. He adds the twofold proposition, 1. "Be strong," 2. "Commit the ministry" to faithful men,... C. ii. 1,2 The former is treated of,......................... 3-13 The latter,......................................... 14 With farther directions concerning his own behaviour,............................. 15-C. iv. 8 3. "Come quickly." Here St. Paul,...................... 9 1. Mentions his being left alone,................ 10-12 2. Directs to bring his books,...................... 13 3. Gives a caution concerning Alexander,......... 14,15 4. Observes the inconstancy of men, and the faithfulness of God,......................... 16-18 4. "Come before winter." Salutations,.............. 19-21
III. The concluding blessing,.............................. 22
Whom I serve from my forefathers - That is, whom both I and my ancestors served. With a pure conscience - He always worshipped God according to his conscience, both before and after his conversion One who stands on the verge of life is much refreshed by the remembrance of his predecessors, to whom he is going.
Being mindful of thy tears - Perhaps frequently shed, as well as at the apostle's last parting with him.
Which dwelt - A word not applied to a transient guest, but only to a settled inhabitant. First - Probably this was before Timothy was born, yet not beyond St. Paul's memory.
Wherefore - Because I remember this. I remind thee of stirring up - Literally, blowing up the coals into a flame. The gift of God - All the spiritual gifts, which the grace of God has given thee.
And let nothing discourage thee, for God hath not given us - That is, the spirit which God hath given us Christians, is not the spirit of fear - Or cowardice. But of power - Banishing fear. And love and sobriety - These animate us in our duties to God, our brethren, and ourselves. Power and sobriety are two good extremes. Love is between, the tie and temperament of both; preventing the two bad extremes of fearfulness and rashness. More is said concerning power, 1Tim 1:8; concerning love, 2Tim 2:14, &c.; concerning sobriety, 2Tim 3:1, &c.
Therefore be not thou ashamed - When fear is banished, evil shame also flees away. Of the testimony of our Lord - The gospel, and of testifying the truth of it to all men. Nor of me - The cause of the servants of God doing his work, cannot be separated from the cause of God himself. But be thou partaker of the afflictions - Which I endure for the gospel's sake. According to the power of God - This which overcomes all things is nervously described in the two next verses.
Who hath saved us - By faith. The love of the Father, the grace of our Saviour, and the whole economy of salvation, are here admirably described. Having called us with an holy calling - Which is all from God, and claims us all for God. According to his own purpose and grace - That is, his own gracious purpose. Which was given us - Fixed for our advantage, before the world began.
By the appearing of our Saviour - This implies his whole abode upon earth. Who hath abolished death - Taken away its sting, and turned it into a blessing. And hath brought life and immortality to light - Hath clearly revealed by the gospel that immortal life which he hath purchased for us.
That which I have committed to him - My soul. Until that day - Of his final appearing.
The pattern of sound words - The model of pure, wholesome doctrine.
The good thing - This wholesome doctrine.
All who are in Asia - Who had attended me at Rome for a while. Are turned away from me - What, from Paul the aged, the faithful soldier, and now prisoner of Christ! This was a glorious trial, and wisely reserved for that time, when he was on the borders of immortality. Perhaps a little measure of the same spirit might remain with him under whose picture are those affecting words, "The true effigy of Francis Xavier, apostle of the Indies, forsaken of all men, dying in a cottage."
The family of Onesiphorus - As well as himself. Hath often refreshed me - Both at Ephesus and Rome.
The things - The wholesome doctrine, 2Timothy 1:13. Commit - Before thou leavest Ephesus. To faithful men, who will be able, after thou art gone, to teach others.
No man that warreth entangleth himself - Any more than is unavoidable. In the affairs of this life - With worldly business or cares. That - Minding war only, he may please his captain. In this and the next verse there is a plain allusion to the Roman law of arms, and to that of the Grecian games. According to the former, no soldier was to engage in any civil employment; according to the latter, none could be crowned as conqueror, who did not keep strictly to the rules of the game.
Unless he labour first, he will reap no fruit.
Of the seed of David - This one genealogy attend to.
Is not bound - Not hindered in its course.
Therefore - Encouraged by this, that "the word of God be not bound." I endure all things - See the spirit of a real Christian Who would not wish to be likeminded Salvation is deliverance from all evil; glory, the enjoyment of all good.
Dead with him - Dead to sin, and ready to die for him.
If we deny him - To escape suffering for him.
If we believe not - That is, though some believe not, God will make good all his promises to them that do believe. He cannot deny himself - His word cannot fail.
Remind them - Who are under thy charge. O how many unnecessary things are thus unprofitably, nay hurtfully, contended for.
A workman that needeth not to be ashamed - Either of unfaithfulness or unskilfulness. Rightly dividing the word of truth - Duly explaining and applying the whole scripture, so as to give each hearer his due portion. But they that give one part of the gospel to all (the promises and comforts to unawakened, hardened, scoffing men) have real need to be ashamed.
They - Who babble thus will grow worse and worse.
And their word - If they go on, will be mischievous as well as vain, and will eat as a gangrene.
Saying the resurrection is already past - Perhaps asserting that it is only the spiritual passing from death unto life.
But the foundation of God - His truth and faithfulness. Standeth fast - Can never be overthrown; being as it were sealed with a seal, which has an inscription on each side: on the one, The Lord knoweth those that are his; on the other, Let every one who nameth the name of the Lord, as his Lord, depart from iniquity. Indeed, they only are his who depart from iniquity. To all others he will say, "I know you not." Matt 7:22,23
But in a great house - Such as the church, it is not strange that there are not only vessels of gold and silver, designed for honourable uses, but also of wood and of earth - For less honourable purposes. Yet a vessel even of gold may be put to the vilest use, though it was not the design of him that made it.
If a man purge himself from these - Vessels of dishonour, so as to have no fellowship with them.
Flee youthful desires - Those peculiarly incident to youth. Follow peace with them - Unity with all true believers. Out of a pure heart - Youthful desires, destroy this purity: righteousness, faith, love, peace, accompany it.
A servant of the Lord must not - Eagerly or passionately. Strive - As do the vain wranglers spoken of, verse 23. But be apt to teach - Chiefly by patience and unwearied assiduity.
In meekness - He has often need of zeal, always of meekness. If haply God - For it is wholly his work. May give them repentance - The acknowledging of the truth would then quickly follow.
Who - At present are not only captives, but asleep; utterly insensible of their captivity.
In the last days - The time of the gospel dispensation, commencing at the time of our Lord's death, is peculiarly styled the last days. Grievous - Troublesome and dangerous.
For men - Even in the church. Will be - In great numbers, and to an higher degree than ever. Lovers of themselves - Only, not their neighbours, the first root of evil. Lovers of money - The second.
Without natural affection - To their own children. Intemperate, fierce - Both too soft, and too hard.
Lovers of sensual pleasure - Which naturally extinguishes all love and sense of God.
Having a form - An appearance of godliness, but not regarding, nay, even denying and blaspheming, the inward power and reality of it. Is not this eminently fulfilled at this day
Of these - That is, mere formalists.
Ever learning - New things. But not the truth of God.
Several ancient writers speak of Jannes and Jambres, as the chief of the Egyptian magicians. Men of corrupt minds - Impure notions and wicked inclinations. Void of judgment - Quite ignorant, as well as careless, of true, spiritual religion.
They shall proceed no farther - In gaining proselytes.
All that are resolved to live godly - Therefore count the cost. Art thou resolved In Christ - Out of Christ there is no godliness. Shall suffer persecution - More or less. There is no exception. Either the truth of scripture fails, or those that think they are religious, and are not persecuted, in some shape or other, on that very account, deceive themselves.
Deceiving and being deceived - He who has once begun to deceive others is both the less likely to recover from his own error, and the more ready to embrace the errors of other men.
From whom - Even from me a teacher approved of God.
From an infant thou hast known the holy scriptures - Of the Old Testament. These only were extant when Timothy was an infant. Which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith in the Messiah that was to come. How much more are the Old and New Testament together able, in God's hand, to make us more abundantly wise unto salvation! Even such a measure of present salvation as was not known before Jesus was glorified.
All scripture is inspired of God - The Spirit of God not only once inspired those who wrote it, but continually inspires, supernaturally assists, those that read it with earnest prayer. Hence it is so profitable for doctrine, for instruction of the ignorant, for the reproof or conviction of them that are in error or sin, for the correction or amendment of whatever is amiss, and for instructing or training up the children of God in all righteousness.
That the man of God - He that is united to and approved of God. May be perfect - Blameless himself, and throughly furnished - By the scripture, either to teach, reprove, correct, or train up others.
I charge thee therefore - This is deduced from the whole preceding chapter. At his appearing and his kingdom - That is, at his appearing in the kingdom of glory.
Be instant - Insist on, urge these things in season, out of season - That is, continually, at all times and places. It might be translated, with and without opportunity - Not only when a fair occasion is given: even when there is none, one must be made.
For they will heap up teachers - Therefore thou hast need of "all longsuffering." According to their own desires - Smooth as they can wish. Having itching ears - Fond of novelty and variety, which the number of new teachers, as well as their empty, soft, or philosophical discourses, pleased. Such teachers, and such hearers, seldom are much concerned with what is strict or to the purpose. Heap to themselves - Not enduring sound doctrine, they will reject the sound preachers, and gather together all that suit their own taste. Probably they send out one another as teachers, and so are never at a loss for numbers.
Watch - An earnest, constant, persevering exercise. The scripture watching, or waiting, implies steadfast faith, patient hope, labouring love, unceasing prayer; yea, the mighty exertion of all the affections of the soul that a man is capable of. In all things - Whatever you are doing, yet in that, and in all things, watch. Do the work of an evangelist - Which was next to that of an apostle.
The time of my departure is at hand - So undoubtedly God had shown him. I am ready to be offered up - Literally, to be poured out, as the wine and oil were on the ancient sacrifices.
The crown of that righteousness - Which God has imputed to me and wrought in me. Will render to all - This increases the joy of Paul, and encourages Timotheus. Many of these St. Paul himself had gained. That have loved his appearing - Which only a real Christian can do. I say a real Christian, to comply with the mode of the times: else they would not understand, although the word Christian necessarily implies whatsoever is holy, as God is holy. Strictly speaking, to join real or sincere to a word of so complete an import, is grievously to debase its noble signification, and is like adding long to eternity or wide to immensity.
Come to me - Both that he might comfort him, and be strengthened by him. Timotheus himself is said to have suffered at Ephesus.
Demas - Once my fellowlabourer, Phm 1:24. Hath forsaken me. Crescens, probably a preacher also, is gone, with my consent, to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, having now left Crete. These either went with him to Rome, or visited him there.
Only Luke - Of my fellowlabourers, is with me - But God is with me; and it is enough. Take Mark - Who, though he once "departed from the work," is now again profitable to me.
The cloak - Either the toga, which belonged to him as a Roman citizen, or an upper garment, which might be needful as winter came on. Which I left at Troas with Carpus - Who was probably his host there. Especially the parchments - The books written on parchment.
The Lord will reward him - This he spoke prophetically.
All - My friends and companions. Forsook me - And do we expect to find such as will not forsake us My first defence - Before the savage emperor Nero.
The preaching - The gospel which we preach.
And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work - Which is far more than delivering me from death. Yea, and, over and above, preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom - Far better than that of Nero.
When I came on, Erastus abode at Corinth - Being chamberlain of the city, Rom 16:23. But Trophimus I have left sick - Not having power (as neither had any of the apostles) to work miracles when he pleased, but only when God pleased.