Paul’s second epistle to Timothy is perhaps, the last letter from his pen. In all his other epistles he looks forward to further service. Now he tells Timothy that he had finished his career (4:7). The period of his dissolution was imminent (4:6). The whole epistle takes character from this fact.
The first epistle was probably written at that great crisis in the apostle's ministry when he first formed his purpose to go to Rome (Ac.19:21). Its subject is service. Its object was the organization of the ecclesias to uphold God's truth. The subject of the second epistle is suffering (2:3). The ecclesias themselves have become filled with evil. Separation from the evil becomes the duty of all who wish to please God.
This letter should be especially prized by the Lord's slaves in these last days; for the apostasy which began even in Paul's time has become worse with each succeeding century. The practical question, How shall we serve in the midst of present day departure, is fully answered in this, Paul's latest letter.
The remedy for the present distress is clearly shown in the literary framework [omitted]. The epistle proper begins with an exhortation to have the pattern of sound words (1:13). It closes with the charge to proclaim the word (4:2). Its central subject contains the command to "correctly partition" the word of truth (2:15). The Sacred Scriptures are the one great need for these degenerate days (3:16). It is the aim of the Concordant Version to furnish a pattern of sound words, without which the truth has eluded us. It is the aim of the notes to "correctly partition" the truth, assigning each truth its proper place out of which it becomes dangerous error.
II Timothy 1:1-18
2 Timothy had been with the apostle in Rome, whence he was probably sent to Philippi (Phil.2:19). The most loving and intimate relations existed between them, and Paul continually refers to him as his own child in the faith. His father was a Greek, but his mother was a Jewess (Ac.16:1). His grandmother Lois and his mother were believers and he seems to have inherited their faith. He was constantly associated with the apostle in his labors, often being sent on some mission which Paul himself could not fulfill. His name is joined with Paul's in the salutation of six of his epistles (2 Cor.1:1; Phil.1:1; Col.1:1; 1 Thess.1:1; 2 Thess.1:1, Philemon 1). He seems to have suffered imprisonment for a time but was set at liberty (Heb.13:23). Paul gives him the highest possible praise, so that he himself is given as an example of true service and the letters sent to him are most important to all who wish to engage in a like service.
6 The apostle's prolonged imprisonment, and the growing evils which were creeping into the ecclesias, seem to have had the effect of dampening and discouraging Timothy. To counteract this tendency the apostle reminds him that God's calling is not dependent on men's acts but on His own purpose and grace, and this cannot be disturbed or hindered by the flood of evil, for it was given us in Christ Jesus before eonian times. The eons are the times of evil. Before the times of the eons there was no evil, neither will there be any after they have run their course. As a result, God's purpose is before and above evil, and we should not be unduly moved by its presence. Death is sin's ultimate. The crucifixion of Christ is the furthest limit to which sin can go. The vivification of Christ is the first step in the abolition of death. He can die no more. At His coming advent the saints will triumph over death and receive eonian life. Its final abolition, however, is at the end of the eons, called the consummation.
10 The abolition of death is put in the indefinite or aorist tense, as He has done it in His own case and will do it for all in the future.
12 The transcendent truths committed to the apostle Paul always meet with opposition and bring suffering on their exponents. But God Himself guards them and revives them from time to time even though the vast majority of His saints hardly know of their existence.
13 The pattern of sound words is one of the most serious needs for the student of the Scriptures. If it was necessary for Timothy to cling to the particular Greek expressions used by the apostle, how much greater is the need for some definite pattern on which to model the words of aversion? How can the English reader hope to fulfill this exhortation when the translations which he uses publicly proclaim their avoidance of any uniformity or pattern in their production? The constant and consistent use of correct terms is one of the greatest possible aids in assimilating and teaching truth. The greatest hindrance is the inconsistent use of inexact terms which have their force nullified by use in incorrect contexts.
II Timothy 2:1-26
1 "The grace which is in Christ Jesus" is a most comprehensive expression including all the infinite favor associated with a present acknowledgment of Christ's exaltation in the heavens. Salvation, justification, reconciliation, and every spiritual blessedness among the celestials is surely enough to invigorate all who appreciate their possession even in a feeble measure.
3 To inflict evil is the object of the world's soldiers. All their training is to this end. To suffer evil is the duty of the ideal soldier in the ranks of faith.
5 A most important principle, almost unheeded. Effort and endeavor is of no avail in God's service unless it be in strict conformity to the rules. Hence it is of prime importance to acquaint ourselves first of all with God's instructions and adhere to them closely. Otherwise, the most pretentious effort, which seems to meet with most success, may be utterly rejected at the judge's stand. Do not attempt to work for God until you know the will of God.
8 The literal resurrection of Christ as the Seed of David seems to be the apostle's answer to the theory of a spiritual resurrection. The Seed of David can be nothing less than a literal Man.
10 'The salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eonian glory" is a most apt description of the grace shown to us.
11 This faithful saying shows that our life and all that comes to us by His grace is immutable–it depends on His faithfulness. Service, however, has two sides, reward and loss. Endurance will be recognized by a place of authority in His celestial realm. If we disown Him we cannot expect Him to give us a public place of power in the future. This does not infringe in the least degree on our salvation or life or anything which is ours by His grace.
15 Translators have found great difficulty in rendering the phrase "correctly cutting." While desiring to improve on the common rendering "rightly dividing", the Revisers have translated it very loosely "handling aright". This is very vague. The meaning is clear from the illustration which follows. Hymeneus and Philetus did not deny the resurrection, like the Corinthians (1 Cor.15:12), but they misplaced it. They made it past, when it was future. So all truth has its appropriate place, out of which truth itself becomes the most insidious error, because it seems to have the support of Scripture. We must not transfer the truth of one eon into another, nor of one economy into another. We should leave truth concerning Israel to them and that for us should not be mixed with it. In no other way can we really have the truth.
19 God's solid foundation still stands. The "pillar of the truth" (1 Tim.3:15) has fallen under the flood of false teaching, which is found in the Bible, but through misplacement has become distorted into error. But the foundation is fixed. The Lord Himself is never at a loss to recognize His own. We, on our part, may demand that those who take His name upon them should act accordingly.
21 The figure of a "great house" is most appropriate in the present day. The struggling, persecuted, unrecognized ecclesia of the early days has become great, but with its greatness, it has lost its primitive purity and power. Like the utensils needed in the service of a mansion, it harbors two classes. Some, like gold and silver plate. are fit for honorable uses: others, like the pots and buckets of the scullery, are for degraded service. The method of transforming ourselves into holy and desirable utensils, fit for honorable uses, is very simple. We are to purge ourselves from the unclean utensils. It is personal individual heart cleansing that is needed rather than outward reforms.
22 On the positive side, we are to confine our fellowship to those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart. This is the true basis of fellowship in the midst of the failure in which we find ourselves. It is not doctrine, however desirable it is that we should agree. It is not church government. It is not the knowledge of the truth, but the motive which underlies it. We should not exclude from our fellowship anyone who calls on the Lord out of a clean heart, however much his person or his doctrine may repel us. Every creed, man-made, is crude and full of error. No one should subscribe to aught but the Word of God.
24 The Lord's slave must not fight, for his object is not destruction, but salvation. He does not aim to wound or disable, but to capture his antagonists alive and subject them to God's will.
II Timothy 3:1-17
1 We who are living in these last days will bear witness to the truth of the Scriptures, for no one today could give a more accurate indictment of the times than is given in this passage. The whole list from selfishness to self-gratification is characteristic, yet nothing more so than the form of devoutness which is devoid of its vital power. We are not asked to correct this condition, but to shun those who are involved in it.
6 The diminutive, "little women", expresses contempt.
12 This is a crucial test of our true state. Are we suffering persecution? If not, are we in earnest in our will to live devoutly in Christ Jesus? All who tread this path will be persecuted. Paul himself delighted in persecutions for Christ's sake (2 Cor.12:10). His bold stand for the evangel invited them at every turn. At Lystra they stoned him and left him for dead (Ac.14:19). Nor are we to look for any improvement in the course of time, for wicked men and swindlers will wax worse and worse, not only deceiving others but being themselves deceived.
14 Again and again the apostle returns to the Sacred Scriptures as the only sufficient recourse; what Timothy had heard from Paul has since been incorporated in them, being recorded in the epistles he has penned, both in his personal letters and in his epistles to the seven ecclesias,
16 The inspired Scriptures are the sole and sufficient equipment for the man of God in these trying times. All else has failed and fallen into ruin. It has become an imperative and absolute necessity that the sacred writings should be recovered in something like their pristine purity, for they alone are the last resort of the saints. Their inspiration is confined to the original text. Whatever promises the closest contact with the inspired records, and the safest index of their contents is the best equipment possible for the man of God. The Concordant Version the consistent sublinear of the Greek Text and its concordance, will, we trust, be used by God to meet the one prime necessity of the times.
II Timothy 4:1-22
3 Proclaim the word! This is the greatest need in the last days. There is no lack of preaching or of proclaiming, but the word of God has entirely too little place in them. The next need is to stand by it, whether it seems opportune or not.
6 The pathos of this passage appears when we recall the many plans of the apostle which it repeals. He intended to go into Spain (Ro.15:24), he wished to winter in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12) and he hoped to be granted to the Colossians (Philemon 22). There is no record that any of these wishes were fulfilled. Now he faces death with an exultant cry of triumph. His contest is over; his career is ended, the faith is kept, the reward remains. Hitherto the advent filled his heart and his horizon. Now that he realizes the imminence of his dissolution; he passes on that blessed expectation. The wreath of righteousness is promised to all who love His advent. This alone should be a sufficient incentive for us not only to love but to proclaim that blessed expectation. There is no evidence in the Scriptures that Paul was released and later imprisoned a second time. Even if it was a fact, the truth demands the entire removal of everything physical from the scene.
9 "Loving the present eon" is in direct contrast to loving His advent. If the present evil eon appeals to us, and engages our affections, we will have no desire for the glorious grace which His advent will reveal.
11 How touching is this commendation of Mark! He had proven unfaithful (Ac.13:13) and Paul had refused his services, notwithstanding it cost him the companionship of Barnabas (Ac.15:38). Yet God's grace operates in him so as to win this commendation from Paul and he is inspired to write the account of the Faithful Servant, for that is the character of our Lord in Mark's evangel.
16 There was a custom in Rome that, when a man was tried for any crime; his friends attended him in court to countenance and assist him. Roman law recognized the legality of such assistance and even the emperors did not shun their friends under such circumstances. The early believers were derided because they availed themselves of this privilege. How majestic stands the solitary figure of the apostle! His friends in Asia: had abandoned him (1:15). Demas abandoned him (4:10). And now all abandoned him to his fate. He stands before his accusers unfriended and alone, except for his faithful Lord. Nor did this embitter him. Like his Lord, he prays, "May it not be reckoned against them!" This is our last glimpse of the apostle of the nations. To the last he stands as God's herald, welcoming death itself if it only gives him an opportunity to proclaim the evangel to all the nations.
18 Paul realizes, at length, that his work on earth is finished and he now looks forward to the celestial kingdom, of which he, and all who accepted his message, were participants.
20 Trophimus is a picture of the place the nations occupied before Paul's final ministry. His name means "nourished". The nations were nourished at Israel's board. As their apostasy increased the nations received less and less spiritual food from them. If it had not been for Paul's last letters from Rome they, too, like Trophimus, would have pined away. His case is significant, too, of the fact that all blessing is now spiritual, else Paul could easily have healed him. But neither he nor Timothy nor Paul himself is healed. God's grace becomes their sufficiency, in the midst of physical weakness.