Summary: Paul is passing on the torch of ministry to Timothy. Paul has finished his turn of carrying the torch of the gospel of Christ. 2 Tim.4:7) Now it is Timothy’s turn to carry the torch and finish his leg of the race.Paul’s final letter is a passing of the to
“Passing On The Torch”
A Study of 2 Timothy
“Don’t Give Up!”
In 66 A.D. Paul is again in prison. But the circumstances now are very different from his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:16-31). In his first imprisonment Paul was merely under house arrest and people could freely visit him and he had the hope of eventual release. But now he is in a cold Roman cell (4:13) (tradition suggest it is the Mammertime prison in Rome), he has been abandoned by almost everyone (4:10-11) and he had no hopes that he would leave his cell alive (4:6-8). 2 Timothy was probably Paul’s last letter. Many people consider it his “last will and testament.” What we have recorded here are the final words of a dying man who knows that his days are numbered. Many people think that Paul died within weeks of writing 2 Timothy.
More than anything, the letter of 2 Timothy is a changing of the guard. Paul is passing on the torch of ministry to Timothy. One of the great spectacles of the Olympic Games is the passing of the torch. The passing of the torch is symbolic. One person has fulfilled their duties and responsibilities and now those same duties and responsibilities are passed on to the next person and so on and so on until the work is completed. Paul has finished his turn of carrying the torch of the gospel of Christ. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim.4:7) Now it is Timothy’s turn to carry the torch and finish his leg of the race. Paul’s final letter is a passing of the torch from one generation to the next.
The purpose of the letter is to challenge Timothy to stay the course, to persevere in the faith, to not give in or give up. This letter is for everyone who is tempted to quit. It is a reminder that “it is always too soon to quit!”
Paul begins with his usual words of greeting, verse one, “ Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, (2) To Timothy, a beloved son:Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
After his salutation and greeting Paul summarizes his instructions to his son in the faith in five concise statements.
First, Remember Your Spiritual Heritage (vv. 3-5)
“I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, (4) greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, (5) when I call to remem-brance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”
Verse three reveals three things that characterized the life of the Apostle Paul as he comes to the close of his life; a thankful heart, a clear conscience, and a prayer filled life. What a way to end a life and what a motivation and example for Timothy and for us!
Verse five discloses Timothy’s spiritual heritage. We all have a physical heritage and whether we know it our not our ancestors continue to impact our lives even today. Our last names bear our ancestors mark, tell to some degree our where our ancestors originated. Even our health is connected to that of our ancestors.
Our spiritual heritage consists of those people who helped to lead us to Christ and all those people who have helped to mature in our faith. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
What Paul is reminding Timothy of is the origin of his faith. Timothy’s spiritual heritage goes back at least two generations. His grandmother, Lois, came to faith in Christ and passed that heritage on to her daughter Eunice, who in turn passed in on to Timothy.
We all have a family tree. We all have a spiritual history –whether good or bad. Paul says (v. 5) that what he remembers about Timothy is his “genuine faith.” The word translated “genuine” (anupokritos) is literally
unhypocritical, that is without pretense or deceit.
Second, Rekindle Your Spiritual Gift (vv. 6-7)
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (7) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Paul did not say, “Start the fire,” but rather “Stir up the fire that is already burning.” Another way to say it is, “Start now using the gifts God has given you!”