2 Timothy: Introduction

2 Timothy  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 13
The First Epistle to Timothy presents the Church of God as the House of God and prescribes its divine order according to the mind of God. It recognizes that there were, even then, individuals who had turned aside unto vain jangling desiring to be teachers of the law, and that there were some who had made shipwreck of the faith. Warnings are also given that in the latter times some will apostatize from the faith. Nevertheless, the mass of Christians are viewed as desiring to answer to their responsibilities in maintaining the order of the House of God; and the great aim of the Spirit in the Epistle is to give instructions as to that order and the behavior consistent with it in all the details of its administration on earth.
In the Second Epistle to Timothy all is changed. The Church, as the House of God, is no longer seen as maintained in order according to God, but as having fallen into disorder through the failure of man. In view of this failure and disorder the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy to encourage, instruct and exhort him in a day of ruin; and, further, to warn him that the evil would continue and increase throughout the dispensation, manifesting itself in its worst forms in the last days.
Thus in the course of the Epistle we learn that already in the Apostle's day the gospel was in affliction, the preacher to the Gentiles was in prison, and the saints had deserted the one who had made known to them the full truth of Christianity (Chapter 1). False teachers were arising in the Christian profession who, by profane and vain babblings, were teaching errors that would lead to ungodliness; so that, in result, the House of God would become like a great house in which there are vessels to honor associated with vessels to dishonor (Chapter 2). Moreover, if such was the condition that had its commencement in that day, a worse condition would follow. In the last days difficult times would come when the mass of professing Christians would be marked by the form of piety without its power. In such a condition evil men will wax worse and worse until at last the Christian profession will no longer endure sound doctrine. Thus in the First Epistle the mass are still viewed as faithful, though individuals may fail: in the Second Epistle the mass have failed, and only individuals remain true to their profession (Chapters 3 and 4).
Furthermore, the Epistle shows that at the time when the storm of evil was rising, the very one who had so often defeated the enemy and guided the saints was about to be removed. Thus it might appear that the Apostle was to be taken at the very moment when his presence was most needed.
Nevertheless, this combination of circumstances-the rising storm of evil and the removal of one so suited to meet it-is used by the Spirit of God to prove to the faithful throughout the Christian period that, apart from all human agency, God is equal to every emergency they may be called to face.
Though about to depart, and looking forward with confidence to the crown of righteousness in the day of the Lord, the Apostle could not but feel deeply the failure of that which under God he had been used to establish on earth. All this sorrow of heart he pours into the ear of his beloved child in the faith. This unburdening of the heart of the Apostle to Timothy is used by the Spirit of God on the one hand to forewarn believers of the progressive character of the corruption of Christendom throughout the dispensation, and on the other hand to set before us the greatness of our resources in God, in Christ and in the Scriptures, in order that we may be sustained in the midst of the evil and walk according to the mind of God in difficult times.
The instruction of the Epistle is presented in the following order:-
First, in Chapter 1, the abiding consolations of the godly in a day of ruin;
Secondly, in Chapter 2, the path of the godly in a day of ruin;
Thirdly, in Chapter 3, the resources of the godly in the last days;
Fourthly, in Chapter 4, the special directions for the service of God in the day when the mass of the Christian profession will no longer endure sound doctrine.