Prison is the last place from which to expect a letter of encouragement, but that is where Paul’s second letter to Timothy originated.
The apostle begins by assuring Timothy of his continuing love and prayers, and then reminds him of his spiritual heritage and responsibilities. Only the one who perseveres—whether as a soldier, athlete, farmer, or minister of Jesus Christ—will reap the reward.
Paul warns Timothy that his teaching will come under attack as faithless men desert the truth in favor of words for itching ears (4:3). But Timothy has Paul’s example to guide him and God’s Word to fortify him as he faces both growing opposition and glowing opportunities.
This letter may be one of the most personal letters we have from the apostle Paul. He knows he faces his final days, yet he finds himself increasingly alone. He tells Timothy, “all those in Asia have turned away from me” (1:15) and “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia … Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus … At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me … Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick” (4:9, 12, 16, 20). So he tells his young protégé, “Be diligent to come to me quickly .… Get Mark and bring him with you .… Do your utmost to come before winter” (4:9, 11, 21). The apostle’s reports and requests remind us that God designed the Christian life to occur within community and that everyone—even revered apostles—needs the fellowship of other believers.
Paul’s last epistle received the title Pros Timotheon B, the “Second to Timothy.”
Theme: Be on the alert for wrong teachings and cling to the truth.
Author: The apostle Paul.
Date: Written not later than A.D. 68, when the Roman emperor Nero committed suicide. Before Nero died, he had Paul executed.
Structure: After a short introduction (1:1–2), Paul expresses his love for Timothy (1:3–7), encourages him to remain true to the faith (1:8–2:13), warns him of several dangers (2:14–3:9), instructs him in his work (3:10–4:5), informs him of his dire situation (4:6–18), and finally concludes his letter and makes some last requests (4:19–22).
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), 2 Ti.