Summary: Paul tells young Timothy that they are both living the promise of life in Christ Jesus. Are we living that promise also?
The Promise of Life in Christ Jesus
Text: 2nd Timothy, Chapter 1
Today I want to look at Paul’s second letter to Timothy. We should realize, as we read this letter, that it is the last recorded word of the apostle Paul. Tradition tells us that shortly after this letter was written, Paul was taken out to Ostian Way—outside the city of Rome, and was beheaded.
The letter is called a “prison epistle” because it was written when Paul was imprisoned in Rome for the cause of the Gospel. This is the 2nd letter to Timothy, and the conditions under which it was written were quite different from his first letter to Timothy.
The first letter Paul wrote to Timothy was written at a time when Paul was living in his own hired house in Rome. Luke describes Paul’s situation at the time of this writing in the last paragraph of the Book of Acts.
Although Paul was chained to a Roman guard at this time, he, nevertheless, had a good deal of freedom to move around in the house. He could have friends in to see him, he was able to hold meetings, he had companions who lived with him, and he had a real hope of being released.
However, in Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy, everything is different. The tone of the letter seems to be much more gloomy and dark. The 2nd letter was probably written about 4 or 5 years after the 1st one. Paul seems to have been released from his first imprisonment; and, he began to travel about the Roman Empire. He took Titus and Timothy with him as he traveled about preaching the Gospel of Christ—as he always did.
The group went to the island of Crete where Paul left Titus to put things in order in the new congregation of the Church growing there. Paul then traveled to Ephesus again; and, he left Timothy there to put things in order in the congregation of the Church there. Then Paul traveled alone to Macedonia, and from there he wrote his 1st letter to Timothy.
After these events, most scholars think Paul made his way all the way to Spain, because he stated he had a great desire to evangelize the western part of the Roman Empire. However, it does seem clear that he returned to the eastern parts of the Mediterranean and was arrested, probably in one of the cities north of Ephesus.
This time, Paul’s imprisonment was under terrible conditions, because these were the days of the reign of the evil emperor, Nero. Nero destroyed the City of Rome with a great fire. He thought himself to be a great musician; and, it was said of Nero that, “…he fiddled while Rome burned.”
Nero decided he needed a scapegoat to blame the fire on, and he chose the Christians for this honor. Now opposition broke out against Christians by Romans all over the empire. For the first time, Christians were subjected to bitter persecution.
Some Christians were burned as “living torches” to light the Emperor Nero’s social gatherings—some were thrown to the lions in the Coliseum, or were killed by the Emperor’s gladiators for the amusement of the Roman upper-class.
· Christians were despised throughout the Empire as being cannibals because they spoke of “eating of the body and drinking of the blood of Christ.”
· They were thought of as “atheists” because they did not worship the idols that the pagan Romans worshipped.
· Christians were called “revolutionaries” because they denied the ultimate authority of Caesar and said “Jesus is Lord”.
The opposition against Christians became absolute!
Paul’s second imprisonment was quite different from the first. Tradition tells us he was imprisoned in a dungeon called “Mamertime”, which was located across the street from the old Senate building in the Roman forum. It was from here Paul wrote the last letter to young Timothy.
From the tone of this second letter, you can tell Paul is lonely and feeling abandoned. “I long night and day to see you.”
He writes the following to Timothy—
2nd Timothy 1:15
“All those in Asia have turned against me…” .
2nd Timothy 4:11
“…Only Luke is with me…”
2nd Timothy 4:10
“…Demas has forsaken me and gone to Thessalonica…”
Paul must have been bored during the long hours of his imprisonment with nothing to do.
· He asked for the books and the parchment he left behind in Tarsus (2nd Timothy 4:13).
· He is certain that the end of his life is at hand. He writes, “The time of my departure has come…I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…” (2nd Timothy 4:6-7).
Now Paul writes his last words to Timothy, the one he loves as a Son—the one he had mentored in Christ for many years. There were dark days ahead for the apostle Paul; but, he begins the letter with calm and confidence, in faith and grace.