Introduction to 2 Timothy

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Why Study This Book?

Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy emphasizes the power that comes from having a testimony of Jesus Christ (see 2 Timothy 1:7–8). It also contains a prophecy of the “perilous times” that would exist in the days of Paul and Timothy as well as in the last days (see 2 Timothy 3:1–7). To help Timothy with the challenges he faced, Paul encouraged him to trust in the scriptures and in Church leaders (see 2 Timothy 3:14–17) and to rely on true doctrine (see 2 Timothy 4:2). By studying this book, you will learn doctrines and principles that can help you live faithfully as you experience the perilous times of the latter days.

Who Wrote This Book?

The Apostle Paul wrote 2 Timothy (see 2 Timothy 1:1).

When and Where Was It Written?

Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy was likely written sometime between A.D. 64 and 65 (see Guide to the Scriptures, “Pauline Epistles,” scriptures.lds.org). Paul wrote the epistle during his second imprisonment in Rome shortly before his martyrdom (see Bible Dictionary, “Pauline Epistles”).

During his imprisonment Paul was in chains (see 2 Timothy 1:16; 2:9), he was likely in a cell or dungeon and exposed to the elements (see 2 Timothy 4:13, 21), and his friends struggled to locate him (see 2 Timothy 1:17). Luke was apparently his only regular visitor (see 2 Timothy 4:11), and Paul expected that his life was coming to an end (see 2 Timothy 4:6–8).

To Whom Was It Written and Why?

In this letter Paul encouraged Timothy and offered strength to help him carry on after Paul’s impending death. Paul was aware that his time was short, and he desired to see Timothy, whom Paul figuratively called “my dearly beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2).

At the end of his letter, Paul requested that Timothy and Mark visit him and bring him a few items that he had left behind (see 2 Timothy 4:9–13). Although Paul’s letter was addressed specifically to Timothy, its counsel can be applied to those who live in “the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1) because Paul taught of challenges and solutions that are relevant to our day as well as his.

What Are Some Distinctive Features of This Book?

This letter is one of the pastoral epistles, along with 1 Timothy and Titus, and “contains the Apostle’s last words and shows the wonderful courage and trust with which he faced death” (see Bible Dictionary, “Pauline Epistles”). Chronologically, 2 Timothy appears to be Paul’s final letter in the New Testament (see 2 Timothy 4:6).

This letter contains some of Paul’s reflections about the blessings and difficulties of serving as “a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles” (2 Timothy 1:11). Paul declared, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8), indicating that he had a personal assurance that he would inherit eternal life. As one who had ministered for Jesus Christ for over 30 years, Paul was in an excellent position to instruct Timothy on how to serve effectively in strengthening the faith of others (see 2 Timothy 2:15–17, 22–26; 4:1–2, 5).

Outline

2 Timothy 1. Paul speaks of the gift and power of God that is received through priesthood ordination. He teaches that “the spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7) does not come from God and that we should not be ashamed of our testimony of Jesus Christ. Paul testifies that Jesus Christ called him to preach the gospel (see 2 Timothy 1:11).

2 Timothy 2. Paul uses the imagery of a good soldier, a victorious athlete, and a hardworking farmer to illustrate the need to endure hardships in order to receive eternal glory. He contrasts true and false teachers and honorable and dishonorable vessels. He warns Timothy to avoid controversies and to patiently teach those who need to repent.

2 Timothy 3–4. Paul describes the evil conditions of the last days and encourages Timothy to use the scriptures in his role as a priesthood leader. He writes of his impending death and declares, “I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul testifies that the Lord will deliver him to “his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18).