New Testament Overview: Second Timothy

The Pauline Epistles

The Pauline Epistles
The Pastoral Epistles
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    @ by J. Hampton Keathley, III {original source}  

See the material in 1 Timothy.

DATE: A.D. 67
See the material in 1 Timothy.


When we turn to 2 Timothy we find a very different atmosphere. In 1 Timothy and Titus, Paul was free and able to travel, but here he is a prisoner in a cold dungeon and facing death. In this letter Paul had two major purposes in mind.

He wrote

(1) to urge Timothy to come to Rome as soon as possible in view of his impending death (cf. 4:9, 21 with 4:6-8), and

(2) to admonish Timothy to keep holding on to sound doctrine, to defend it against all error, to endure hardship as a good soldier, and to realize we are living in days of growing apostasy.

As with 1 Timothy, there is a personal and a corporate aspect in the themes of the book:

  • For the individual, the theme is “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you(2 Tim. 1:6), though there are several other verses that could form the theme both individually and corporately (cf. 1:14; 2:1, 2; 2:15; 4:5).
  • For the church, the theme could be entrust sound teaching to faithful men who will be able to teach others also by suffering and serving as a good soldier of Christ (2:2-4) or perhaps fighting the good fight and finishing the course (4:6-7).


In view of the challenge of chapter 2 and the model of chapter 4, “endurance in ministry” is a fitting key concept of this letter.


1:77 For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2:1-41 So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well. 3 Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one in military service gets entangled in matters of everyday life; otherwise he will not please the one who recruited him.

3:14-1714 You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, that are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.


I am convinced that Wilkinsondb01 and Boadb02 are on target when they write:
The second chapter of Second Timothy ought to be required daily reading for every pastor and full-time Christian worker. Paul lists the keys to an enduring successful ministry:

  • A Reproducing Ministry (1-2);
  • An Enduring Ministry (3-13);
  • A Studying Ministry (14-18); and
  • A Holy Ministry (19-26).”fn68

Since, in reality, all believers are called to full-time ministry in one way or another, this chapter would be more than beneficial for all Christians.


At the heart of all ministry and our ability to endure in ministry is the doctrine of the person and work of Christ. It is not surprising, therefore, that even in a book stressing endurance in ministry, the doctrine of Christ is prominent. Here, He is described:

  • As the One who “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (1:10),
  • As the One who rose from the dead (2:8),
  • As the One who gives salvation and eternal glory (2:10),
  • As the One with whom all believers have died, with whom they will live, and from whom they will be rewarded for faithful service (as in the crown of righteousness) and in the privilege of reigning with Him (2:11-13; 4:8).


  • I. The Salutation (1:1-2)

  • II. The Expression of Thanks for Timothy (1:3-7)

  • III. The Call to Remember Timothy’s Responsibilities (1:8-18)

  • IV. The Character of a Faithful Servant (2:1-26)
    • A. He Is Strong in Grace (2:1)
    • B. He Is a Multiplier of Disciples (2:2)
    • C. He Is Single-Minded Like a Soldier (2:3-4)
    • D. He Is Strict Like an Athlete and Enduring Like a Farmer (2:5-13)
    • E. He Is a Diligent Workman (2:14-19)
    • F. He Is Sanctified Vessel (2:20-23)
    • G. He Is a Gentle Servant (2:24-26)

  • V. The Caution for a Faithful Servant (3:1-17)
    • A. The Peril of Apostasy (3:1-9)
    • B. The Protection From Apostasy (3:10-17)

  • VI. The Charge to Preach the Word (4:1-5)

  • VII. The Comfort of a Faithful Servant (4:6-18)
    • A. A Good Finish to Life (4:6-7)
    • B. A Good Future After Life (4:8)
    • C. Good Friends in Life (4:9-18)

  • VIII. Concluding Greetings (4:19-22)
Pauline Epsitles Menu
68 Wilkinson/Boa, p. 435.
db* = Content added by to assist the reader
db01 Bruce H. Wilkinson: Bruce Wilkinson is a Christian teacher and author. He was born (ca. 1940) in New Jersey and graduated from Northeastern Bible College (B.A. and Th. B.), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th. M.) and Western Conservative Baptist Seminary (D.D.). He served as a college professor at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon, until resigning to launch Walk Thru the Bible in June 1976. [From Wikipedia]
db02 Kenneth Boa: Dr. Boa is the President of Reflections Ministries and Trinity House Publishers. Kenneth Boa is engaged in a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking. He holds a B.S. from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England. [Author by]
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