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This introductory course is designed to provide key insights into the book of 2 Timothy by pulling together a number of key resources: overview videos from Fast Facts and The Bible Project, helpful contextual information from The ESV Study Bible, commentary recommendations from The Gospel Coalition, a single sermon that sums up the book from beginning to end by Mark Dever, and much more. By watching, listening to, and reading these resources, you’ll be better prepared to read, study, teach, or preach the book of 2 Timothy.
The genre of 2 Timothy is at least similar to the farewell discourse, and many would classify it as such. There are famous farewell discourses in the Bible—e.g., by Moses (the book of Deuteronomy), Joshua (Joshua 23–24), David (1 Chronicles 28–29), and Jesus (the Upper Room Discourse, John 14–16). Conventional motifs include the speaker’s announcement of his imminent departure, directives to keep God’s commandments, predictions of what will happen after the speaker’s departure, words of comfort and instruction for the benefit of those who will survive the speaker, and appeals to the addressees to remember what the speaker has taught. If 2 Timothy, Paul’s last letter, is read with these features in mind, the book will fall neatly into place. Paul’s charges to Timothy in this letter are not limited to a specific situation (as 1 Timothy was) but are what Paul most wants Timothy to heed for the rest of his life and ministry—the last word from a spiritual father. The reader is led to share Paul’s reflective mood as he looks back over past experiences.
Second Timothy is a bold, clear call for perseverance in the gospel in spite of suffering. Paul calls on his young coworker to continue the fight of faith, even as Paul approaches the end of his own life.
2 Timothy 1:8, 12; 2:3, 9; 3:11–12; 4:5, 14–18
2 Timothy 1:8; 2:1, 11–13; 4:1–8
2 Timothy 1:9–11; 2:8–10
2 Timothy 2:15; 3:15–17; 4:1–2
2 Timothy 2:11–13, 19; 3:14; 4:7, 10
2 Timothy 2:16–18, 23–26; 3:1–9; 4:3–5
Paul wrote this letter while in prison in Rome. He mentions that several have abandoned him in this difficult time, and several others are away on duties (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:9–12). In such a time Paul’s recollection of the sincerity and devotion of Timothy is especially poignant (2 Tim. 1:3–5). Paul anticipates death soon (2 Tim. 4:6–8). Therefore he writes a final exhortation to Timothy to urge him to stand firm and to ask him to come for one final visit before Paul is executed.
Though death is imminent, the timing is uncertain, so Paul also asks Timothy to bring his books and parchments with him. Presumably Paul intends to keep studying and writing until the end.
Second Timothy is very personal, as would be expected in a final letter to a close friend and coworker. Paul exhorts Timothy to continue in faithfulness and points to his own life as an example for Timothy to follow. What he calls on Timothy to do, he himself has done already.
Christians must live on the basis of Christ’s salvation, looking forward to his second coming.
The following recommendations are from D. A. Carson, New Testament Commentary Survey. 7th ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2013.