Yesterday we looked at the theme statement of 2 Timothy: Paul told Timothy to fan into flame his gift. To remember that God has given him power, love, and self-discipline – which is enough to counter the fear of any shame that might come his way by being associated with the gospel, and with Paul’s imprisonment. But does this suggest that Timothy was being a bit cowardly, a bit timid? That’s been the traditional way of reading it. But today, we take a brief look at this issue (repeating a post from 2014) since I think the traditional understanding is open to being challenged.
Yesterday, we began our series in 2 Timothy by looking at the historical background. We found that Paul was writing from prison (probably via Luke, since it’s hard to write while you’re stuck in a dungeon) asking Timothy to come to see him in Rome – and to bring his cloak and study materials. He’s facing death, and this is possibly his last chance to write to Timothy.
So what does he write? Or to put it another way, what kind of letter is this?
Over the next three weeks we’ll be working our way through Paul’s second letter to Timothy. In prison and facing imminent death, these are some of the last words Paul ever wrote… or are they? This is the background issue we begin with today, before we get to the letter itself on Wednesday.
The dearly departing…
The big question about Paul’s circumstances when writing the letter is whether this was his final imprisonment before his martyrdom in 67AD when Emperor Nero decided he now didn’t like Christians very much. (Unless they were really on-fire.) You’d think so, reading this bit: