KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5)
The Book of 2 Timothy is probably the last recorded words of the Apostle Paul. After a period of freedom following his first house arrest in Rome, Paul had been imprisoned again under much more stringent terms. In that setting, this intimate admonition by a veteran minister nearing the end of his life’s assignment to his “son in the faith” was written.
It is possible that Timothy’s family (his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois) was converted on Paul’s first missionary journey through Lystra and Derbe. Paul warmly spoke of the “unfeigned faith” which seemed to belong to all three generations. Later, Timothy joined the missionary team of Paul and Silas as they traveled through Lystra and Derbe dur-ing Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 16:1). He accompanied Paul to many locations, including Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Berea, and possibly even Rome. Apparently, he later became Paul’s emissary to the church in Ephesus. Tradition suggests Timothy was the first bishop, or pastor, of the Ephesian church.
Scholars generally date the composition of this letter to be approximately A.D. 67. In A.D. 64, a great fire in Rome devastated much of the city. Emperor Nero subsequently began a period of persecution of Christians in an effort to turn the blame for the fire from himself to Christians. During this time, Paul was imprisoned in a Roman dungeon, and it was from that prison he wrote this letter to Timothy.
Paul’s final instructions included personal encouragement to Timothy to stand as a strong witness in the face of opposition and persecution. The Apostle warned of false teachers and instructed Timothy in how to counter them and their teachings. His advice was sprinkled with gems of wisdom acquired during his years of ministry that he passed on to Timothy and others who would later read this letter. Paul concluded with his “last words,” charging Timothy to remain faithful in his ministry, and indicated that his own ministry was coming to an end.
Tradition holds that after this letter was written, Paul was beheaded for his faith in Jesus.
Paul’s final admonition to Timothy was to remain faithful to the truth that had been delivered to him. That truth had brought Paul through every challenge, and at the close of his life, he had the assurance that he was ready to receive a “crown of righteousness.” The same truth will bring us safely to the goal as well.