v1-2: Paul's second letter to Timothy is more personal than the first, and reflects the close relationship between Paul and Timothy, "my beloved son." The first letter was a challenge of commitment; the second letter was a personal encouragement.
v3-5: Words of personal encouragement. The first letter reflected Timothy's role as a Church leader, the second is a letter to a close personal friend. Paul had a deep and genuine desire to see Timothy continue to mature as a godly Christian.
Paul constantly prayed for Timothy, an evidence of their mutual love, and also of the necessity of prayer. Paul was conscious of Timothy's "tears," and was doubtless aware of those things that brought him to tears. Our confidence is also in our Lord who will keep our tears in a bottle (as in Ps 56.8, margin); He is not ignorant of our trials and sorrows.
v6: The encouragement to serve as God has equipped. A gift may have to be stirred up, and used without fear of man. There is a doctrine that speaks of 'tarrying,' based on Acts 1.4; but the Holy Spirit has been given to His church, and gifts have been distributed, Our part is to stir them up.
Timothy's gift had been given through the laying on of hands. In 1 Tim 4.14 this was the body of elders; here the reference is to Paul himself. Again, this reflects the more personal nature of the letter.
v7: Timothy had, it seems, displayed a spirit of timidity. Paul urged a spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline, for that is what God has given.
- A spirit of power, for fear brings weakness; God's power is available to us.
- A spirit of love, for fear brings distance and harshness, and affects our relationship with others. Fear makes barriers, but love reconciles.
- A spirit of self-discipline (a sound mind), for fear brings panic, and an inability to cope. We need self-discipline and self-control.
v8: 'Share with me, and stand with me', remaining faithful to the gospel of Christ. One result of such a testimony may be suffering, part of our earthly inheritance. We share these sufferings, which are for the sake of the gospel of Christ, through God's power, not human resolve. Through God's power we can face things that are otherwise impossible to bear.
v9: God's calling, which is holy. This is according to His own purpose and grace. This was given originally before time itself, but was manifest in our lives.
v10: The gospel of Jesus Christ was instigated before time began, but has been brought to light through Christ Himself. He is the Saviour, our Saviour, a theme from the first letter.
The gospel is powerful, since through it death is destroyed, and life and immortality has been brought to light. Such wonderful things are an encouragement to us to remain faithful to God.
v11: Paul's own calling, as in 1 Tim 2.7.
v12: Although Paul's ministry brought him sufferings, such things did not hinder him, for Christ had saved him, and would keep him. "I know...am convinced," therefore his confidence was utterly in Christ.
v13: The challenge to Timothy to be faithful, see 1 Tim 1.18; 4.8, 14-16; 6.12, 20. He was to be faithful to the gospel message, the pattern of sound teaching. This was something from God, characterised by faith and love. The character of the message demands that we deliver it in a consistent way, without harshness and coldness. We may understand that Paul is referring to basic foundational doctrine here.
v14: That good thing committed to Timothy; a reference to his calling to serve God; this was something precious to be guarded, but also to be used wisely.
The same Holy Spirit in Paul dwelt also in Timothy, and dwells also in all who know the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives in us, therefore we encourage and support each other.
v15: Not all remained faithful. But we dare not let such things discourage us. Paul had no less reason that Timothy to be discouraged, but he remained faithful to what God had called him.
v16-18: The example of Onesiphorus (Onesimus); he diligently looked for Paul in prison in Rome, and often refreshed him, by his visits. He was prepared to identify with a despised and persecuted man. Paul's prayer was that such sacrifice would receive a reward form the Lord.