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PARAPHRASE AND NOTES
SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO TIMOTHY.
It is uncertain where Timothy was when he received this episSome have supposed he must have been at Ephesus; but their arguments in support of that opinion seem inconclusive (as Mr. Boyle has well observed.) And indeed it does not seem very easy to reconcile this supposition with the apostle's charge, chap. iv. 13,) to bring with him the books and parchments he had left at Troas; that city lying so far out of his way from Ephesus to Rome, especially as he had expressed a desire of seeing him as soon as posssible. And if it should be pleaded, that the things he sent for might not then be at Troas, but at some other place that might lie in his way, it is sufficient to answer, that it would in that case, have been more to Paul's purpose, to have directed Timothy where to have found them, than to inform him where they were first left. To which may be added, that if Timothy had been at Ephesus, when this epistle was written, the apostle would hardly have said, "Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus," (chap. iv. 12,) but rather," Tychicus have I sent to you."
That this epistle was written while Paul was under confinement at Rome, is universally agreed; but whether it was during his first or second imprisonment, has been matter of debate. Several learned writers, among whom are Hammond, Lightfoot, and Cave, have maintained the former opinion; while others have argued in favour of the latter, from chap i. 18. where Paul, speaking of Onesiphorus, says, he sought him diligently at Rome; which they apprehend implies, that the apostle was kept under so close a confinement at this time, that few knew where he was to be found; whereas in that imprisonment, of which Luke gives an account in the conclusion of his history, we are told, He dwelt in a hired house, receiving all that came to him, (Acts xxviii. 30.) But
A General Introduction
But the strongest argument in support of this opinion is drawn from chap. iv. 6; I am now just ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. From whence it has been inferred, that Paul, when he wrote this, was in immediate expectation of death, in consequence of Nero's menaces, or of some express revelation from Christ; (which some have thought Peter also had a little before his martyrdom, 2 Pet. i. 14.) Yet the directions he afterwards gives plainly shew he had some expectations of living a while longer. Else it is difficult to say why he should so much urge Timothy to give diligence to come to him, ver. 21, or press his care of the cloak, books, and parchments, mentioned ver. 13. Though, after all, these words must, I think, express an apprehension that his life and ministry were drawing towards a close; which is yet farther confirmed by observing, that whereas in his former imprisonment the apostle had often expressed his persuasion of being released and seeing his Christian friends again, he gives no hint in this epistle of any such expectation, but secins to intimate the contrary, ver. 18. by expressing his confidence, not that he should be again rescued from his enemy as he had been upon making his first apology, but that God would deliver him from every evil work, and preserve him to his heavenly kingdom.-Upon the whole, therefore, I conclude that this epistle was written some time towards the close of Paul's second imprisonment, and consequently about the year of our Lord 66 or 67; and in the 13th of the emperor Nero. (See Family Expositor, Vol. VIII. sect. 60, note, p. 305.)
The apostle seems to have intended in this epistle to prepare Timothy for those sufferings to which he foresaw he would be exposed; to forewarn him of the fatal apostacy and declension that was beginning to appear in the church; and at the same time to animate him, from his own example and the great motives of Christianity, to the most vigorous and resolute discharge of every part of the ministerial office.
In pursuance of this general design, the apostle, after his usual salutation, begins with assuring Timothy of his most affectionate remembrance, and his earnest desire to see him, expressing his satisfaction in those marks of sincere faith which appeared in him as well as in his pious ancestors. He then takes occasion, from his own suffering, to excite him to a becoming fortitude and resolution. in the Christian cause; and represents in a strong light the excellence of that gospel which he was appointed to preach, and on which he placed an entire dependence, chap. i. 1-12. The apostle, being firmly persuaded of the truth and importance of those doctrines which he had so often inculcated upon his beloved pupil, exhorts him strenuously to retain them in the midst of all discouragements and opposition, and to go through the duties of his ministerial work with the utmost diligence and constancy, in dependence on the grace of God: mentioning at the same time the treachery of several Asiatics, and acknowledging with the warmest gratitude the extraordinary fidelity and zeal of Onesiphorus, ver. 15, 16. Chap. ii. 1-7. And, in order yet more effectually to fortify
To the Second Epistle to Timothy.
Timothy against the difficulties he might be called to encounter, he lays open the motives and hopes by which he himself was supported under the sufferings he bore in defence of the gospel; assuring him, that those who suffered with Christ should also be glorified with him. To this he adds some directions in relation to his ministry; advising him in particular to avoid and discourage all those empty harangues and idle controversies which only served to confound the mind, and by which some had been seduced from the purity of the Christian faith, ver. 8-18. The apostle then takes occasion, from a general view of the great design and tendency of the gospel, to urge the necessity of holiness in all Christians, and especially in ministers; and recommends to the latter the utmost. gentleness and meekness in their attempts to recover sinners from the miserable condition into which they were fallen, ver. 19, to the end. And, to make him more sensible of the importance of exerting himself in order to maintain the purity and honour of religion, he assures him that a great declension and apostacy was to prevail in the Christian world; and that false teachers were rising up in it, by whose wicked artifices many weak persons were deceived and led astray; reminding him at the same time of that patience and fortitude which he had seen him discover amidst the severest persecutions; chap. iii. 1-13. To guard Timothy against these seducers, and to preserve the church from their fatal influence, Paul recommends to him the study of the scriptures as of the utmost importance to all the purposes of Christian edification; and charges him in a solemn manner to use the utmost diligence in all the parts of his ministerial work; declaring at the same time, for his encouragement, the satisfaction with which he reflected on his own fidelity in the nearest views of martyrdom for the truth, ver. 14. Chap. iv. 1-8. The apostle concludes this epistle with requesting Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, in order to assist and comfort him under the unworthy treatment he had met with from some of his Christian brethren; giving him an account of the manner in which he had, in his late appearance before the heathen magistrate at Rome, been deserted by men, but supported by Christ; and, having expressed his cheerful confidence that he should be safely conducted to the presence of his Lord, he adds some particular salutations, and closes with his usual benediction, ver. 9, to the end of the epistle.
Whoever reads over this epistle with that attention it deserves, and considers the circumstance in which it was written, will be sensible that it affords a very strong argument in favour of Christianity. The apostle had been for some time under close confinement at Rome, at the mercy of a cruel and capricious tyrant. He had seen himself deserted by his friends in his greatest extremity; and had nothing before him but the certain prospect of being called to suffer death in the same cause to which he had devoted his life. In this situation how does he behave? Does he seem to look back with concern on bis past conduct, or to regret the sacrifice he had made of all his worldly interests? Can we discover any thing
A General Introduction, &c.
that betrays a secret consciousness of guilt; or even a suspicion of the weakness of his cause? Nay, does he drop a single expression that can be interpreted as a mark of fear, or discomposure of mind, in the apprehension of those gloomy scenes that lay before him? Surely if he had been an impostor, or had entertained the least doubt of the doctrines he taught, something of this kind must have escaped him when writing to so intimate a friend, with whom he could intrust all the secrets of his breast.-On the contrary, upon the most calm and deliberate survey, he expresses an entire satisfaction in reflecting on the part he had acted; and earnestly recommends it to his beloved pupil to follow his example in maintaining the glorious cause, even at the hazard of his life. He appears throughout his epistle to have felt a strong inward conviction of the truth of those principles he had embraced, and glories in the sufferings he endured in support of them; triumphing in the full assurance of being approved by his great Master, and of receiving at his hands a crown of distinguished lustre. A behaviour like this, in one who had so considerable a share in establishing the Christian religion, and expected in a short time to seal his testimony to it with his blood, must be allowed a strong confirmation of the truth of those facts on which our faith depends. It is at least a convincing proof that the apostle was himself sincere in what he professed to believe: and when the several circumstances of his history are considered and impartially weighed, it will appear as evident that he could not possibly be deceived, and consequently that his testimony is to be admitted in its full force.