Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.
Greeting from a Father to a Son
As we have already seen, Paul looks at Timothy not only as an apostle views a brother, nor as a mentor views a mentee, but as a father views a son. It seems like a trivial thing until you remember that Paul chose a celibate life in order to dedicate himself solely to the Lord – he could not have a true son. Timothy, we can assume, was very much like a young Paul and heeded his teachings like a son heeds and respects his father. This little thing gives us a small taste of the interpersonal interactions of these brethren not easily seen in Scripture.
As his spiritual father, Paul prays without ceasing for Timothy and keeps him in mind at all times. Timothy and Paul had to part so that Paul could continue his ministry while Timothy stayed to edify the church in Ephesus, that they both might serve the Lord as they were led, but even so the parting was bittersweet. Paul hopes to see Timothy again soon so that they might be filled with joy in their reunion and shared faith.
Generations of Faith
We don’t know much, if anything, about Timothy’s father, but we know about his mother and grandmother. Both were filled with true, unfeigned (that is, without any deception) faith – first Lois, then her daughter Eunice. This faith they passed down to Timothy through their example and teaching, and it is this faith that Paul finds so joyous. This is a lesson for all parents, not the least mothers, that their faith is a beacon to their children (I know this truly from my loving and faithful grandmother, and from the strong and learned faith of my father and all his brothers).
The spirit of fear
The gift of God in the Holy Spirit, given to us by the Father following the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a spirit of power and love and sound mind. God has not given us a spirit of fear or hesitation, because this spirit is God along with the Father and the Son, and in Him there is no fear nor weakness nor confusion. Our bodies may fear, but the Spirit who dwells with us is unashamed and unafraid.
Therefore we are not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor for the imprisonment of his faithful followers. We receive along with the great gift of the Spirit and the many gifts of our savior a promise of affliction, for if the world has hated our Lord it will also hate His people, who keep his commands. Yet we do not fear, for our God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not because of anything we have done or will do but because of His own will and purpose. His grace – his willingness to give good gifts to we who are undeserving in all things – is the reason we are saved and called to be holy, through our Lord Jesus Christ (and He decided to give us this grace before the world was created). This grace is made manifest to us through Christ, who has taken death from us (for our bodies shall die but once, and we shall be raised again as He has risen) and granted us life and the promise of our future immortality in the full light of our God.
This is the testimony to which we are called, and to which Paul was appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher of the Gentiles.
Suffering for the Faith
At the time of this letter, Paul is a prisoner in Rome (as recounted in the book of Acts). We recall that Paul was not found guilty in Jerusalem, but appealed to Caesar so that he might witness in Rome before the great emperor. For the sake of the gospel, Paul is a prisoner in chains, but he is unashamed for he is without blame and filled with purpose. We, as Paul and Timothy, know he believes in Christ and his promises, and we are persuaded as Paul that God will preserve him and reward him in the life to come.
We can share in this peace of mind, even in the face of trials and tribulations, by holding fast to the sound teachings we have received in the Scriptures (both the Old Testament and the New) and to the faith and love we have in Christ. These good things we are given we must keep, for the sake of our Lord who has committed these things to us and for the sake of the Holy Ghost who is even now with us.
Onesiphorus, the “bringer of profit”
Though he stands strong in the faith, Paul suffers from a lack of community. Luke remains with him (the same Luke who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, who traveled with Paul on his many journeys), but the believers of Asia Minor have turned away from him. We can safely assume they are afraid – this letter only shortly predates the beginning of Nero’s era of persecution of the brethren – and so they do not visit Paul.
Even so, Onesiphorus (whose name means “useful” or “bringer of profit”) has often visited and helped Paul in his house arrest. We know very little of this man outside of this short passage, but he is a true believer and friend of Paul who has often provided comfort to him, both in Rome and in Ephesus. It would seem he came all the way to Rome to look for Paul, and sought for him diligently until he was found. Paul blesses Onesiphorus for this comfort, and we can assume that he remained a faithful minister in Ephesus after he left Paul in Rome.
What little we know about such men is inspiration to us. As Onesiphorus was unashamed of Paul in his chains and ministered to him before and after his imprisonment, we should also be unashamed of one another and faithfully carry out the ministries to which we are called.
Let us Pray
When I survey the heavens, the works of Your fingers, the moon and the stars that You have set in place, what is Man that You are mindful of Him? The son of man that you should care for Him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor. Oh Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth!
Sovereign Lord, you who rule in the heavens and over all of creation, let us praise you and give you all glory. For we are but men, fallible and weak beings vastly outnumbered by even the blades of grass in the fields, yet you have cared for us and saved us from sin and death. You have given us the gift of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is God indeed and also fully man, that he should teach us and die in our place, and that he should rise to life again from the dead to show us the way. And you have given us the gift of your Holy Spirit, one personage of the one God, to teach us and bestow upon us the gifts you have desired for us since before all worlds.
Lord, if we should suffer for your sake, let us suffer in joy and faith, for this is merely part of our right service. If we should see a brother suffering, let us minister to him in service to you. And if we should be persecuted, let us be persecuted for the sake of your gospel and the right teachings you have bestowed upon us, that we might do those works you have prepared for us and edify the brethren now and forevermore.
We praise you for what you have done, for what you are doing, and for what you continue to do into eternity. You are the Lord, the one God, the source of all authority and power and life and justice. As you will it, Lord, let it be done.