At the recent TBS retreat I had the opportunity to bring three messages on Paul's second letter to Timothy. Over the next while I want to share some of those thoughts here on my blog. I believe that it is vital that we hear afresh what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches and it's ministers in this very special epistle.
2 Timothy is special for at least three reasons.
1. It was written by the great apostle Paul near the end of his life. There is something about the final thoughts of great people that deserve study and reflection. And Paul was more than a great man; he was a giant of a Christian. He had faithfully served the Lord for 30 years and now the time of his departure was near. When he wrote this letter he was suffering greatly for the faith in a Roman prison. It is a great privilege to be able to hold his letter in our hands and read his words.
2. It was written to a young man and church leader named Timothy. Timothy had been converted though the ministry of Paul many years before. He was Paul's spiritual son and he had served alongside Paul in the cause of the gospel. Not only did Paul love and respect Timothy, but he was passing the torch on to him. Paul's time on earth was quickly drawing to a close, now it was Timothy's turn to carry on with the work God had called him to. As we read this letter we get a unique chance to see what dominated Paul's thinking at this critical juncture of his life and what it was he wanted to say to Timothy before he left this mortal realm.
3. It has something very important to say to all of us who are involved in Christian ministry and to the church in general. While we should constantly study the entire Bible all the days, there is within the Bible three letters that should draw the particular attention of pastors and Christian workers: 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. We should thank God for these letters and we should read them, study them, and take them to heart.
In his excellent commentary on 2 Timothy (IVP, 13), John Stott tells how Bishop Handley Moule confessed that he found it difficult to read Paul's second letter to Timothy "without finding something like mist gathering in the eyes". This may well happen to us if we read it with an understanding of Paul's difficult circumstances at the time when he wrote it and if feel the love he had for Timothy whom he was leaving behind.
2 Timothy, like the other "Pastoral Epistles", is relatively short compared with other biblical books. It is not the size of Genesis, or Job, or Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel; or even Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. It is easy to read and re-read over no matter how busy our lives become. And read it we should, and we must, if we are going to minister acceptably in our day. Here is a treasured section of God's word that we must not neglect; a spiritual and practical goldmine that will richly repay our closest examination and deepest reflection.