Study 1 TIMOTHY, PAUL’S DEAR SON
PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Acts 16: 1-12. Key verse: 2 Timothy 1:2
The title for this first study comes from 1:2, “To Timothy, my dear son.” Paul was a spiritual father to young Timothy, a Pastor in the Church in Ephesus. This letter contains the last recorded words written by Paul. He wrote from a Roman prison, certain his earthly life would soon be over. Timothy was not very strong bodily and he was timid and inclined to be dependent upon others, and especially upon Paul – “Paul was his prop as well as his hero.” Paul felt concerned for Timothy as he thought of his own approaching death, and it was to encourage his son in the faith that he wrote this great letter. Let us notice, to begin with:-
1. PAUL’S AFFECTIONATE REGARD FOR TIMOTHY
This is brought before us in the first five words in verse 2, where Paul emphasises his great love for Timothy. He speaks of him as his “son”; but not only so, he speaks of him as “my dear son.” Timothy had a Greek father and his mother was a Jewess (Acts 16:1). His home was at Lystra, and in all probability his grandmother lived with them – compare 2 Timothy 1:5. When he was in his teens, Paul visited Lystra, when he and Barnabas were on their first missionary journey (Acts 14:6-7); and this seems to have been the occasion of Timothy’s conversion. Six years later, when Paul revisited Lystra, “the brothers spoke well of him” (Acts 16:2) – look up and compare 1 Timothy 3:7 and 3 John 4. During this second visit, Paul invited Timothy to join forces with him (Acts 16:3); and Timothy did so and accompanied Paul in his labours at Corinth, Ephesus, Athens, Antioch, Philippi and Rome, but all the time Paul looked upon young Timothy as his son in the faith, as his spiritual child whom he loved very much. His tender affection for Timothy comes out again and again in his writings. It reminds us of David and Jonathan – look up 2 Samuel 1:26.
2. PAUL’S INTIMATE FELLOWSHIP WITH TIMOTHY
Although Paul was in prison at Rome and Timothy was at Ephesus, these two had wonderful fellowship together, “partnership in the Gospel” (Philippians 1:5). This fellowship was expressed by the apostle in five ways:-
- (1) He thanked God for him. Verse 3 tells us this. Whenever Paul thought of Timothy he thanked God for him – for his conversion, his growth in grace, his assistance, his love, his encouragement and his prayers. Do we cause others to thank God for us?
- (2) He prayed for him. We see this at the end of verse 3. Over and over again we discover what a great pray-er Paul was, and here he tells us that he prayed for Timothy “as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” – look up and compare 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Paul was in prison, but he could pray for Timothy who was in the front line of the battle. What a lesson this is for every prisoner, for every “shut in” saint!
- (3) He longed to see him. Notice what Paul says in verse 4: “I long to see you.” There is something sad about this, but it helps us to enter into the apostle’s feelings of tender regard for his son in the faith.
- (4) He remembered his tears. Verse 4 should read literally, “I revive in my memory your tears.” This is probably a reference to the fact that when Paul last said good-bye to Timothy, Timothy wept. Yes, and Paul wept also!
- (5) He rejoiced over him. Verse 4 tells us this. Whenever Paul thought of Timothy he was filled with joy.
In all these ways the Apostle Paul, from his dungeon in Rome, was able to express his very real fellowship with Timothy who was engaged in the Lord’s work in Ephesus. Now, finally, notice:-
3. PAULS WISE COUNSEL TO TIMOTHY
This counsel is scattered throughout the Letter, and the following are six selected exhortations that Paul gave to Timothy, each of which is introduced by a key word:-
- (1) “FAN” – 1:6-7. The gift that Timothy was to “fan into flame” was evidently the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is as though Paul said to Timothy, “Let the Holy Spirit blaze up and set your whole being on fire” – in other words, Ephesians 5:18! We need this exhortation, and notice in verse 7 that if we will “fan into flame the gift of God”, we shall experience emancipation, enduement, enrichment, and enlightenment.
- (2) “KEEP” – 1:13. Compare 1 Timothy 6:3, which explains what is meant. Paul encouraged Timothy to keep hold of the truth because he lived in a day of apostasy, as we do – look up 1 Timothy 1:3-10; 4:6; 4:16; 6:20. Notice how we are to keep hold of the truth – in faith (God-ward), and in love (man-ward) – look up Ephesians 4:15.
- (3) “ENDURE” – 2:3-4. Timothy was a soldier of Christ, and as such needed to prepare to endure hardships. The Christian life is ‘no bed of roses’. Grace is needed (verse 1), but grit is needed also (verse 3) – look up Luke 9:23. Because there is a war on (verse 4), we are to free ourselves from every entanglement – and notice the reason we are to do this (verse 4).
- (4) “STUDY” – 2:15 (KJV). Timothy was to be diligent, and his great ambition was to be that of gaining God’s approval. The way to achieve this ambition is to give the Word of God its rightful place in our lives, and this will safeguard us against – verses 16,17,18 and 23 – compare 1 Timothy 6:20-21.
- (5) “FLEE” – 2:22. This simply means ‘to run away from’ – compare 1 Timothy 6:9-11. From what was he to run away? – “the evil desires of youth” – compare 1 Timothy 4:12, i.e. those temptations to impurity that are especially perilous in the time of youth. In these days of dreadful moral laxity we are to “flee” from every suggestion of impurity, and then we are to “pursue” four things (verse 22) – look up Genesis 39:7-12 and compare Proverbs 18:10.
- (6) “CONTINUE” – 3:14. So many start but do not go on – look up John 8:31 and 15:9, and compare Acts 1:14; 2:42; 13:43; 14:22; Colossians 4:2; and Hebrews 13:1. Now look up Luke 9:62 and compare 2 Timothy 4:10.
These exhortations were all addressed to Timothy, but they all apply to us!