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Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy

The Martyrdom of Saint Timothy - Walters Museum, Baltimore. Public Domain.
The Martyrdom of Saint Timothy - Walters Museum, Baltimore. Public Domain.

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Introduction to Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy

This letter is one of three grouped together as the Pastoral Letters. Go to the Introduction to Paul’s First Letter to Timothy for Dr. Hunt’s introduction to the Pastoral Letters.

This Epistle is now generally recognized as Paul’s final message, and was written during the closing days of the apostle’s ministry. Paul was arrested, probably at Nicopolis, and then taken to Rome and thrust into a dungeon to await sentence and execution. It is significant, therefore, that this closing message should be addressed to the young man whom Paul lovingly designated as “my son” (II Tim. 2:1).

The Second Letter to Timothy contains two main ideas, which are expressed in various ways and emphasized throughout the Letter. First, Paul sought by every means at his command to impart new strength, courage, and endurance to Timothy. Mention has already been made regarding Timothy’s apparent inability to cope with difficult situations, especially when he was called upon to act without the assistance of Paul. This second message may be regarded as adding emphasis to what had been written in the First Letter. However, Paul now recognized that the time of his departure had come, and he sought to prepare Timothy for those strenuous days ahead when the young helper would be called upon to stand alone. Hence the urgent appeal to “be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry” (II Tim. 4:5).

Second, Paul desired that Timothy should come with all speed to Rome. This request appears twice (II Tim. 4:9 and 21), and may also be read between the lines in several other places in the Epistle. Timothy was also requested to bring with him “the cloak . . . the books . . . and . . . the parchments” (II Tim. 4:13). It is easy to understand why the cloak would be needed in the cold, damp, Roman prison; but we may wonder what was back of the urgent call for the books and parchments. Perhaps the answer is to be found in the brief statement, “Luke alone is with me” (II Tim. 4:11). At that time, Luke had collected considerable material for his projected Gospel, and also for the Book of Acts. It seems possible, therefore, that during this period of imprisonment Paul had been urging Luke to carry through this literary undertaking with all speed, and the books and parchments may have been needed to complete these important records. Thus Paul’s final thought was to carry the Gospel message even farther afield than had been possible through his missionary journeys, using the writings of Luke for this purpose.

“I HAVE FINISHED MY COURSE.” Something of great historical importance happened during the period of Paul’s final missionary activities. At that time, Nero was the Roman emperor, and he had already begun a persecution of the Christians. Then came the great fire of Rome, when a large section of the city was destroyed (A.D. 64). History attributes the fire to the foolish actions of Nero, but Nero blamed the Christians for the catastrophe. This happening immediately brought about a great change in Roman policy. Heretofore, the Romans had tolerated various religious beliefs among the nations that constituted the empire; but following the fire, a decision was made to stamp out Christianity. The fire, of course, was the excuse for this action; but the real cause was that Rome was beginning to fear Christianity. Already Christians everywhere were proclaiming Jesus Christ as “King of kings”—and the Romans regarded this as a growing threat to the empire. Consequently a bitter persecution was launched against the Christians, and many of them were arrested and put to death.

Among the Christian leaders arrested at that time was Peter, who was then conducting his ministry in Rome, as already mentioned. Paul, who was wintering at Nicopolis, was also arrested and taken to Rome under heavy guard, where he was thrust into prison. This would be around A.D. 67. There seems a possibility that the two apostles were lodged in the same prison at this time. Prior to this, there was considerable disagreement between Peter and Paul, as already intimated; but there is a tradition that during this period of imprisonment the two apostles were brought together, and there was a complete reconciliation. There is a further story which tells how Peter managed to gain temporary freedom, but feeling that an escape in this way might be regarded as a second denial of his Lord, he returned to the prison, and shortly afterward was crucified. An early writer tells how Peter, deeming himself unworthy of the same form of execution as his Lord, begged his executioners to reverse the cross; so Peter was crucified head downward.

An element of mystery surrounds the close of Paul’s active career. It seems unlikely that Paul was crucified. His Roman citizenship would have saved him from such an indignity. Possibly, too Paul’s Roman citizenship secured for him some sort of formal trial, for he makes reference to his “first defense” (II Tim. 4:16); but this may have been a mere preliminary to his final sentencing. Some early writers state that Paul was executed at Rome, while others indicate that he was taken some distance outside the city, and there beheaded. Some of Paul’s own statements suggest other possibilities. When writing to the Corinthians, at an earlier period, Paul declared, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (I Cor. 15:54); and when writing to the Philippians, his prayer was, “that I may know . . . the power of his resurrection . . . that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11). Many students of the New Testament have wondered if these expressions of Paul’s faith were literally fulfilled in his closing days. Again and again the question has been asked: “Did Paul, at that time, in some way attain his freedom?” Such questions are difficult to answer, but one thing is certain: Paul attained immortality through the apostolic work he accomplished in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul belongs to that noble group of whom it was written, “They may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Some of Paul’s enduring contributions to Christianity were:

(1) Paul made “disciples of all nations,” and carried the Gospel message to the ends of the then-known world. Above all other early leaders, Paul had worldwide vision; he carried the Gospel not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. Matthew wrote the words of Jesus, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19), but Paul carried out this command.

(2) Paul organized and established churches in Asia, Europe, and North Africa, thus making for permanence in the Christian work. Paul also inspired and instructed others to carry forward this Christian work—Timothy, Titus, Luke, and others.

(3) Paul proclaimed and emphasized the universality of the Gospel message. For him, Jesus was not only the Messiah of the Jews, but also the Christ, the Savior of the world.

(4) Paul gave us the major part of our New Testament. Thirteen Epistles were written directly by Paul; and the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts also owe their existence, very largely to the inspiration and materials supplied by Paul.

(5) Paul freed Christianity from ceremonial bondage. It should be recalled that prior to the work of Paul, Christianity functioned entirely within the bounds of Judaism. Even when Christian teaching began to expand into other areas, many of the early leaders sought to force the converts to accept the ceremonialism of the Jews. But Paul took his stand for religious freedom. He wrote, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians has frequently been termed, “Christianity’s declaration of independence.”

Referring back to Paul’s statements regarding knowing “the power of his resurrection,” as mentioned above, the following quotation sounds a positive and practical note which will bring this lesson to a close:

“The resurrection is the raising up of the whole man—spirit, soul, and body—into the Christ consciousness of life and wholeness . . . Resurrection is accomplished by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit. Every time we rise into the realization of eternal, indwelling life, making union with the Father-Mind, the resurrection of Jesus takes place within us. All thoughts of limitation and inevitable obedience to material law are left to the tomb of materiality . . . Today the light of Truth is illumining my mind, and I rise up in the majesty of my divine sonship and proclaim myself to be the child of the Most High, free from all belief in sin, sickness, and death. I affirm: ‘In unity with Christ I realize that I am resurrected into the life, light, and power of God.’” (Keep a True Lent 197)

Introduction to Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy by Herbert J. Hunt, former Dean of Bible Studies for the Unity School of Christianity.

Second Timothy 1

(Online: ASV WEB)

Greeting Truth

1:1 Paul, an apostle1 of Jesus Christ through the will of God, according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus, 1:2 to Timothy,2 my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace,3 from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

1:3 I thank God, whom I serve as my forefathers did, with a pure conscience.4 How unceasing is my memory of you in my petitions, night and day 1:4 longing to see you, remembering your tears,5 that I may be filled with joy; 1:5 having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in you; which lived first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and, I am persuaded, in you also.

1:6 For this cause, I remind you that you should stir up the gift of God6 which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 1:7 For God didn't give us a spirit of fear,7 but of power, love, and self-control.8

  1. an apostle To be an “apostle” or one “sent out” by the Spirit to do the Spirit’s evangelizing work, one must have first received the Spirit's “power from on high,” and this endowment is “the promise of the life which is in Jesus Christ.” In order to be efficient, our apostleship must be “by the will of God,” that is, we must be “meek and lowly of heart;” we must in Gethsemane have laid down the self-will and consented to do the Father's will. “Not my will but Thy will” is the lesson to be learned in Gethsemane.
  2. Timothy. Metapysically, Timothy is our inspired reason united with faith; also zeal. (MBD/Timothy)
  3. Grace, mercy, and peace. This salutation fixes the thought of both the reader and the writer of this letter on a high level.
  4. with a pure conscience. Even when persecuting Christians, Paul believed that he was serving God. Thus, we are wise when we do the best we know to do, until the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit reveals to us the higher things of the Spirit.
  5. remembering your tears. When our brothers and sisters are “in tears” of sorrow and suffering, like Paul, we must have constant “remembrance” of them, holding them up, “night and day” in Divine perfection, that we also “may be filled with joy” as we see them coming into the truth of their Being.
  6. stir up the gift of God. The gift of God which we are to stir up is our innate spiritual ego, the image and likeness implanted within us in the beginning. This stirring up is accomplished by casting out all fear and affirming the power of the word. Faith is renewed by giving concentrated thought, interest, and attention to the things of God.
  7. spirit of fear. Fearfulness is a state of mind. Fearfulness is a parasite; it drives away Divine guidance and produces weakness of the heart. (RW/fearfulness)
  8. self-control. The habit of concentrating or centering our thoughts on the contemplation of Truth requires discipline of a high order, for the mind during meditation is prone to wander instead of coming to a focus.

Empowering Zeal for Truth

1:8 Therefore don't be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,1 nor of me his prisoner; but endure hardship for the Good News according to the power of God, 1:9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal, 1:10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Good News. 1:11 For this, I was appointed2 as a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 1:12 For this cause I also suffer these things.

Yet I am not ashamed, for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed to him against that day.

  1. the testimony of our Lord. The inner experience or conviction of Truth that comes to us when we practice concentrating the full power of our thinking on the things that transcend our present knowledge.
  2. For this, I was appointed. Our first field of conquest is our own life, not the material universe, and our first work in self-development is the overcoming of fear.

Holding Fast to the Power of Truth

1:13 Hold the pattern1 of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love2 which is in Christ Jesus. 1:14 That good thing which was committed to you, guard through the Holy Spirit3 who dwells in us.

1:15 This you know, that all who are in Asia4 turned away from me; of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 1:16 May the Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain, 1:17 but when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me 1:18 (the Lord grant to him to find the Lord's mercy in that day); and in how many things he served at Ephesus, you know very well.

  1. hold the Pattern. “The Pattern” is the Divine incarnation of Jesus is the divine pattern (Jesus AS the Divine pattern) for all men who are seeking the Christ way of life. (RW/pattern)
  2. in faith and love. Timothy was of mixed parentage and therefore represents an idea that has its beginning in a union of the intellectual reasoning (a Greek father) with the inner spiritual qualities of faith and love (a Jewess mother).
  3. guard through the Holy Spirit. Life is the gift that all humans share and it is our responsibility to guard it through the Holy Spirit.
  4. all who are in Asia. A state of consciousness impregnated by old, decayed, worn-out, material ideas that should have been left behind long ago by the one who would progress spiritually. (MBD/Asia)

Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.

Second Timothy 2

(Online: ASV WEB)

Be Diligent in the Word of Truth

2:1 You therefore, my child,1 be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2:2 The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 2:3 You therefore must endure hardship,2 as a good soldier of Christ3 Jesus. 2:4 No soldier on duty entangles himself in the affairs of life, that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier. 2:5 Also, if anyone competes in athletics, he isn't crowned unless he has competed by the rules. 2:6 The farmers who labor must be the first to get a share of the crops. 2:7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my Good News, 2:9 in which I suffer hardship to the point of chains as a criminal. But God's word isn't chained. 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the chosen ones' sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 2:11 This saying is faithful:

"For if we died with him,

we will also live with him.

2:12 If we endure,

we will also reign with him.

If we deny him,

he also will deny us.

2:13 If we are faithless,

he remains faithful.

He can't deny himself."

  1. You therefore, my child. Paul's referring to Timothy as child implies that we must have the consciousness of the power of the Holy Spirit and not ignore its work in our lives, because it is this very Divine energy that is going to transmute us and the world and is that which enables us to speak the right Word “grace, mercy and peace” at the right time, to others.
  2. must endure hardship. Hardship gives us greater strength and makes victory possible for us. We give ourselves to total service. We unfit ourselves for meeting hardship by complaints, self-pity, resentment, rash conduct, or reckless defiance. We fortify ourselves with inner strength by holding ourselves in the Spirit of the Christ.
  3. a good soldier of Christ Jesus. One who sees active service in the cause of Truth and who is obedient always to its Principles, who surrenders the personal consciousness with its standard of personal rights and submits to the dominion of Universal consciousness instead.

Approved and Disapproved Thoughts

2:14 Remind them of these things, charging them in the sight of the Lord, that they don't argue about words, to no profit, to the subverting of those who hear.

2:15 Give diligence to present yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn't need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth. 2:16 But shun empty chatter, for they will proceed further in ungodliness, 2:17 and their word will consume like gangrene, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 2:18 men who have erred concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past, and overthrowing the faith of some. 2:19 However God's firm foundation stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are his,"[1] and, "Let every one who names the name of the Lord[2] depart from unrighteousness." 2:20 Now in a large house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of clay. Some are for honor, and some for dishonor. 2:21 If anyone therefore purges himself from these, he will be a vessel for honor,1 sanctified, and suitable for the master's use, prepared for every good work.

2:22 Flee from youthful lusts;2 but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2:23 But refuse foolish and ignorant questionings, knowing that they generate strife. 2:24 The Lord's servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient, 2:25 in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth, 2:26 and they may recover themselves out of the devil's snare, having been taken captive by him to his will.

  1. a vessel for honor.A vessel with the potential to provide us with a unique and necessary gift to increase our mastery.
  2. flee from youthful lusts. To flee from immature thoughts and “pursue right-use-ness” by turning our attention to thoughts that build up our faith, love and peace, rather than thoughts that generate inner strife.

Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.

World English Bible Footnotes:

  1. [1] v2:19. Numbers 16:5
  2. [2] v2:19. TR reads "Christ" instead of "the Lord"

Second Timothy 3

(Online: ASV WEB)

How to Deal with Error Thoughts

3:1 But know this, that in the last days,1 grievous times will come. 3:2 For men will be2 lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3:3 without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 3:4 traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 3:5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof. Turn away from these, also. 3:6 For of these are those who creep into houses, and take captive3 gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 3:7 always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 3:8 Even as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so do these also oppose the truth;4 men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith. 3:9 But they will proceed no further. For their folly will be evident to all men, as theirs also came to be.

  1. the last days. The last degrees of understanding. (MBD/day)
  2. For men will be. Thought forms and images that are self-indulgent, focused on material appearances, disobedient, lacking in gratitude, unholy, unappreciative, out of control, fierce, reckless; thoughts that betray our trust, are stubborn, conceited; thoughts that promise pleasure but have no power to deliver it.
  3. those who creep into houses, and take captive. Thoughts (men) that creep into the mind (houses) and take captive our emotional attention (women).
  4. these also oppose the Truth. Negative thoughts that oppose Truth, and corrupt the mind fail to pass the test of faith. If we catch these thoughts and bring them to the Light of God, they “will proceed no further”.

Paul’s Charge to Timothy

3:10 But you did follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, steadfastness, 3:11 persecutions, and sufferings: those things that happened to me at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. I endured those persecutions. Out of them all the Lord delivered me. 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.1 3:13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 3:14 But you remain in2 the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them. 3:15 From infancy, you have known the sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation3 through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. 3:16 Every writing inspired by God[3] is profitable4 for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction which is in righteousness, 3:17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped5 for every good work.

  1. will suffer persecution. We must allow for the Truth to aggressively chase after us.
  2. remain in. Continuing in learning the doctrines of Truth.
  3. wise for salvation. When Spirit reveals to us the interior meaning of the sacred writings, we are made wise for salvation.
  4. Every writing inspired by God is profitable. At the time Paul wrote this letter, the sacred writings of the New Testament were not yet in existence. The only sacred writings were parts of the Old Testament. Consequently the sacred writings referred to by Paul are the word of Truth which is revealed by the Spirit of Truth promised by Jesus in John 16:13: “However when he, the Spirit of Truth, has come, he will guide you into all Truth.”
  5. complete, thoroughly equipped. The study of Scripture instructs us in the knowledge of our own Being. This knowledge perfects and equips us to express our innate Divine powers and to be of benefit to the entire human family.

Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.

World English Bible Footnotes:

  1. [3] v3:16. literally, God-breathed

Second Timothy 4

(Online: ASV WEB)

Open Your Mouth and Preach to Yourself!

4:1 I command you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead1 at his appearing and his Kingdom: 4:2 preach the word;2 be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears,3 will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4:4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside to fables. 4:5 But you be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry.

4:6 For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure has come. 4:7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. 4:8 From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness,4 which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing.

  1. judge the living and the dead. Our thoughts are brought to judgment. The thoughts of life (the living) and the thoughts of “the dead” are tried by the Truth, and only those thoughts that are in harmony with Truth will be permitted into the kingdom of God within us
  2. preach the Word. The Word of Truth must be declared constantly, “in season and out of season.” When we grow lax in this respect, we will find ourselves falling back into mortal thought and material ways.
  3. itching ears. When our minds come to that place where our “ears itch” for new teachings and fuller explanations of the mysteries of the doctrine, let us beware of falling into the habit of distracting ourselves by seeking out one more new teacher or new teaching and remind ourselves that the Truth is capable of revealing itself to us, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit: “However when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all Truth” (Jn 16:13).
  4. the crown of righteousness. The fulfilling of the Divine Law and the resurrection of the body; a new state of mind every time we overcome some mortal error.

The Overactive Will, Wears Us Out!

4:9 Be diligent to come to me soon, 4:10 for Demas left me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.1 4:11 Only Luke is with me.2 Take Mark, and bring him with you,3 for he is useful to me for service. 4:12 But I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 4:13 Bring the cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus when you come, and the books, especially the parchments. 4:14 Alexander, the coppersmith, did much evil to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works, 4:15 of whom you also must beware; for he greatly opposed our words.

  1. and Titus to Dalmatia. Those ideas in us that believe in the material world as the source of our happiness and well-being cannot go on with us in our spiritual development. Paul also eliminated Crescens (“increasing”) and Titus (“pleasant”), which refer to thoughts that are degenerating in consciousness, or falling away from a realization of Truth into foolish and deceitful ways.
  2. Only Luke is with me. Luke means luminous. When one ceases to cling to material things, the luminous state of mind becomes abiding.
  3. Take Mark and bring him with you. Mark served those whom he accompanied. He looked after the supplying of their daily needs while they preached and taught the people. Thus he also represents the substance idea in the overcomer, and is very useful in many ways in ministering to our spiritual faculties in their redeeming work throughout our being.

Our Inner Lord is Faithful

4:16 At my first defense, no one came to help me, but all left me.1 May it not be held against them. 4:17 But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me, that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear;2 and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 4:18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me for his heavenly Kingdom;3 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

  1. all left me. The departure of Paul’s several companions is appropriate when we consider the states of mind these persons reveal; they represent limited thoughts that must be put away before one can ascend to a higher state of consciousness.
  2. that all the Gentiles might hear. By the aid of the One sustaining Power with and within us, we are able to teach the Truth to our Gentile thoughts.
  3. Kingdom. The Divine presence that delivers us from every untruthful thought (every evil) and brings us into a realization of perfect harmony, health, and joy.

Divine Grace is Our Sure Guide

4:19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphorus. 4:20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but I left Trophimus at Miletus sick. 4:21 Be diligent to come before winter. Eubulus salutes you, as do Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers.1 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace2 be with you. Amen.

  1. all the brothers. Metaphysically, “brothers” are the five seemingly material avenues of sense expression (MBD/brethren).
  2. Grace. Grace is good will; favor; disposition to show mercy; aid from God in the process of regeneration. (RW/grace)

Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.

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