Summary: Imprisoned and facing death, the aged warrior for Christ, the apostle Paul, presents his final instructions and counsel to the young pastor from Ephesus, his "son in the faith", Timothy.
This second letter to Timothy is considered the final writing of the apostle Paul, composed around 67 A.D. from the confinement of Rome's infamous Mamertine Prison. He has been placed under arrest for the preaching of the Gospel and probably accused of insurrection for preaching that Jesus Christ was Lord and did not recognize or support Nero's "divine" status as Emperor of Rome and a "god" on earth. He had probably been accused of being an instigator of the fire that engulfed almost all of Rome three years beforehand (A.D. 64). He, Peter, and the Christians living there had been subject to horrid and intense persecution, with many believers being put to death in a variety of ways, such as being burned alive, thrown to wild animals, crucified, killed in the arenas for sport, and other methods too gruesome to mention here.
As Paul is facing the certainty of the end of his ministry, he writes his final letter to Timothy, giving instruction, counsel, encouragement, as well as a somber warning of what will happen as it relates to the gospel and the influx of false teachings that will attempt to destroy it. Timothy is a young man and the new pastor of the church in the city of Ephesus. He has been beset with a variety of difficulties and is in need of his mentor's influence and assurance that he is where he need to be, and to be the type of shepherd the Ephesian church can count on in the crucial times facing them then and in the years to come.
Paul opens the second letter by telling Timothy not to ever be ashamed or embarrassed when it comes to the testimony of the LORD and the Gospel, nor of being associated with Paul and that he has now ended up as a lowly prisoner in a dark and pungent hole in the ground instead of being either protected or honored by the churches he founded, encouraged, confronted, and loved over a thirty year period of service to the Lord Jesus Christ. If Paul had borne any kind of ego, he may have been thinking that after all these years of enduring times of suffering and pain (2 Corinthians 11:24-28) for the sake of the gospel, it had come to this, ending his days in a prison waiting for the executioner's sword to take his head off. He could have asked himself if the whole thing had been worth the effort and trouble.
We never read about having this attitude in any of his writings, nor do we see any expression other than gratitude that Jesus had saved him, and had not taken his life on the Damascus Road. He never got over the fact that he had been chosen by the Lord Jesus to be one of His apostles, commissioned with spreading His message of salvation, which in his younger days he despised with a fanatical hatred and murderous attitude. Paul, to his last breath, never tired of telling anyone his testimony, the truths of the Scriptures, or of his beloved LORD and Master (1 Tim. 1:12-17). We need to take a cue from this great lion of God. In an increasingly violent, immoral, and wicked society like today, we need to be salt and light as Jesus commanded (Matt.5:13-16). We should NEVER be ashamed nor be hesitant about sharing and defending the Gospel in spite of persecution, which will get worse as time passes (Romans 1:18-32, 3:10-18). The fact that God had mercy on us and offered us the free gift of redemption instead of the punishment we deserve should bring forth gratitude, thanks, and humility (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 4:12). We need to be reminded at times of just Who it is we are claiming to serve and follow. Paul's devotion to the LORD provided him with not just a personal and close relationship with Jesus Christ, but a firm conviction which the LORD Himself set as the pattern of perseverance and dedication to the will of God the Father. A man of God should also have the courage and determination to suffer any price in order that others would hear the Good News (Phil. 3:8).
We also need to be reminded of the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus towards HIs chosen (2 Tim. 1:12). Paul had committed his life to Jesus and was confident that the salvation he had through Christ was everlasting. It showed that Jesus always keeps His promises, helps the tempted, saves to the uttermost, able to transform the hardest hearts, and provide eternal life that will never be taken from us (Heb. 2:18, 7:25; 1 Cor. 10:13; Phil.3:21; John 10:28-30). The question to ask before we are tempted by peers, jobs, and society to keep our mouths shut when it comes to sharing the Gospel is why should we even be embarrassed or intimidated by the world and its reprobate attitudes and behavior in the first place? Who do these characters think they are in trying to stop us? The message of the Gospel has stood in the face of tyrants and despots for two thousand years, and it is still going strong while its enemies are dead, defeated, and mostly forgotten. That should tell you something.