2 Timothy Chapter 1:3-18 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:3

3I give thanks The meaning usually assigned to these words is, that Paul “gives thanks to God,” and next assigns the cause or ground of thanksgiving; namely, that he is unceasingly mindful of Timothy. But let my readers consider whether the following sense do not suit equally well and even better: “Whenever I remember thee in my prayers, (and I do so continually,) I also give thanks concerning thee;” for the particle ὡς most frequently has that meaning; and, indeed, any meaning that can be drawn from a different translation is exceedingly meager. According to this exposition, prayer will be a sign of carefulness, and thanksgiving a sign of joy; that is, he never thought of Timothy without calling to remembrance the eminent virtues with which he was adorned. Hence arises ground of thanksgiving; for the recollection of the gifts of God is always pleasant and delightful to believers. Both are proofs of real friendship. He calls the mention of him (ἀδιάλειπτον) unceasing, because he never forgets him when he prays.

Whom I worship from my ancestors This declaration he made in opposition to those well-known calumnies with which the Jews everywhere loaded him, as if he had forsaken the religion of his country, and apostatized from the law of Moses. On the contrary, he declares that he worships God, concerning whom he had been taught by his ancestors, that is, the God of Abraham, who revealed himself to the Jews, who delivered his law by the hand of Moses; and not some pretended God, whom he had lately made for himself.

But here it may be asked, “Since Paul glories in following the religion handed down from his ancestors, is this a sufficiently solid foundation? For hence it follows, that this will be a plausible presence for excusing all superstitions, and that it will be a crime, if any one depart, in the smallest degree, from the institutions of his ancestors, whatever these are.” The answer is easy. He does not here lay down a fixed rule, that every person who follows the religion that he received from his fathers is believed to worship God aright, and, on the other hand, that he who departs from the custom of his ancestors is at all to blame for it. For this circumstance must always be taken into account, that Paul was not descended from idolaters, but from the children of Abraham, who worshipped the true God. We know what Christ says, in disapproving of all the false worship of the Gentiles, that the Jews alone maintained the true method of worship. Paul, therefore, does not rest solely on the authority of the fathers, nor does he speak indiscriminately of all his ancestors; but he removes that false opinion, with which he knew that he was unjustly loaded, that he had forsaken the God of Israel, and framed for himself a strange god.

In a pure conscience It is certain that Paul’s conscience was not always pure; for he acknowledges that he was deceived by hypocrisy, while he gave loose reins to sinful desire. (Rom_7:8.) The excuse which Chrysostom offers for what Paul did while he was a Pharisee, on the ground that he opposed the gospel, not through malice, but through ignorance, is not a satisfactory reply to the objection; for “a pure conscience” is no ordinary commendation, and cannot be separated from the sincere and hearty fear of God. I, therefore, limit it to the present time, in this manner, that he worships the same God as was worshipped by his ancestors, but that now he worships him with pure affection of the heart, since the time when he was enlightened by the gospel.

This statement has the same object with the numerous protestations of the apostles, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles:

“I serve the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the law and in the prophets.” (Act_24:14.)


“And now I stand to be judged concerning the hope of the promise which was made to our fathers, to which hope our twelve tribes hope to come.” (Act_26:6.)


“On account of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” (Act_28:20.)

In my prayers night and day Hence we see how great was his constancy in prayer; and yet he affirms nothing about himself but what Christ recommends to all his followers. We ought, therefore, to be moved and inflamed by such examples to imitate them, so far, at least, that an exercise so necessary may be more frequent among us. If any one understand this to mean the daily and nightly prayers which Paul was wont to offer at stated hours, there will be no impropriety in that view; though I give a more simple interpretation, that there was no time when he was not employed in prayer.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:3. whom I serve … with pure conscience] The verb ‘serve’ with its noun ‘service’ was specially used to render the worship of Jehovah by the covenant people; it is the same as in St Paul’s profession before Felix, Act_24:14, ‘after the way which they call a sect so serve I the God of our fathers,’ and again before Agrippa, Act_26:7. The service of the old covenant was true and real service so long as it was with a pure conscience and until the conscience was enlightened. Hence the force of the verb with its qualifying clauses in the very similar passage, Rom_1:9, ‘God is my witness whom I serve in my spirit in the Gospel of His Son.’ The old service of sacrifice and ceremonial (‘the giving of the law and the service,’ Rom_9:4) has given place to the ‘living sacrifice, the reasonable or spiritual service,’ Rom_12:1. Cf. Php_3:3.

that without ceasing I have remembrance] A.V. follows the Vulg. which has ‘quod habeam tui memoriam.’ R.V. better, ‘how unceasing is my remembrance,’ the construction being similar to Rom_1:9, ‘God is my witness how unceasing.’ It is objected to this that ‘the importunity of Paul’s prayers for Timothy could not have been the occasion of his solemn thanksgiving to God.’ But though the formal construction may seem to limit the object of the thanks, yet it is really more in accord with St Paul’s manner of thought and speech to take all the clauses to the end of v. 5 as making up his thanksgiving. The structure of the chapter is evidently, ‘I am thy dear father in life and work; I am very thankful to have a dear son in my desolateness—to remember thee at all hours, and most and best in my prayers,—to count the days and nights till I shall see thee—to think of thy tears when I left thee—and so to hope for refreshing news of thy true and trusty faith, learnt like my own, at a mother’s knee. By all this that is between us—and yet more, by that gift of gifts to thee, the Grace of Orders, when these hands of mine were laid upon thy head, and my work was thine, O Timothy my son, play the man, the minister; the man of God, God’s minister; with me and after me.’

in my prayers] More precisely, in my supplications. See note on 1Ti_2:1, from which we see that this word indicates a felt ‘want’ and a petition for its supply. St Paul sorely wanted strength and support for the last struggle, and Timothy could help him; so he prayed, not in Timothys behalf so much as for Timothy to come in his behalf.

night and day] Variously taken, with ‘my prayers,’ as A.V., or with ‘longing to see thee’ (as R.V.). The phrase in the accusative, Luk_2:37, closes the sentence; in the genitive, as here, and 1Th_2:9, 1Th_3:10, introduces it; in these latter passages the participles equally with ‘longing’ require emphasis and do not lose it by ‘night and day’ preceding; so that Dean Alford’s objection to following these here as precedent seems needless. ‘Greatly desiring’ seems a fair rendering of the verb alone, the preposition indicating in this case not ‘greatly,’ but ‘towards,’ ‘yearning towards.’ Render the clause night and day longing to see thee.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:4. being mindful of thy tears] At the close we must suppose of the visit paid him by St Paul in accordance with the intention expressed 1Ti_3:14. It seems very awkward to insert this clause as a subordinate parenthesis ‘with a faint causal force,’ ‘longing to see thee, as I remember thy tears in order that I may be filled with joy’; but this must be the effect of R.V. rendering. And again there is difficulty in either rendering of the participle in v. 5 with this construction; (1) A.V. ‘when I call to remembrance’ present, whereas we ought to read the aorist (2) R.V. ‘having been reminded,’ implying that there had been some occasion or messenger to give such news, of which we have at least no other hint. It is better to follow Drs Westcott and Hort in putting a comma after ‘tears’ and joining verses 4 and 5 thus, ‘that I may be filled with joy in being reminded.’ The thought underlying this phrase ‘to be filled with joy,’ ‘to have one’s joy fulfilled,’ is, as Dr Westcott puts it in 1Jn_1:4, that the fulfilment of Christian joy depends upon the realisation of fellowship. This fellowship may be with bodily presence, as 2Jn_1:12; Joh_3:29; or without, as Joh_15:11, Joh_15:16:24, Joh_15:17:13; 1Jn_1:4, ‘these things we write that our joy may be fulfilled.’ The joy of the apostle is secured by his ‘little children’ realising full fellowship. Similarly the thought here is an echo of St Paul’s feelings expressed 5 or 6 years before to his Philippian ‘beloved ones,’ and the expressions are an echo too. Through that letter ran the theme ‘gaudeo: gaudete’; in that, with a wonderful tenderness and delicacy St Paul shews them that ‘unity,’ ‘brotherly love,’ is ‘the one thing lacking’ to perfect their joy: the one thing that to hear of or see in them will fulfil his too. Compare Php_1:3-8, Php_1:2:1, Php_1:2, Php_1:4:4. Through this letter runs the theme ‘fidem servavi: serva’; and with the same considerate love St Paul makes the appeal to his timid son to be ‘strong in the faith’ turn first on the fulfilment of his own joy which will result.

The final conjunction ‘in order that’ depends then formally on ‘I give thanks in my supplications,’ really on the whole affectionate yearning and praying spirit of vv. 3 and 4.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:5

5Calling to remembrance that unfeigned faith Not so much for the purpose of applauding as of exhorting Timothy, the Apostle commends both his own faith and that of his grandmother and mother; for, when one has begun well and valiantly, the progress he has made should encourage him to advance, and domestic examples are powerful excitements to urge him forward. Accordingly, he sets before him his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, by whom he had been educated from his infancy in such a manner that he might have sucked godliness along with his milk. By this godly education, therefore, Timothy is admonished not to degenerate from himself and from his ancestors.

It is uncertain whether, on the one hand, these women were converted to Christ, and what Paul here applauds was the commencement of faith, or whether, on the other hand, faith is attributed to them apart from Christianity. The latter appears to me more probable; for, although at that time everything abounded with many superstitions and corruptions, yet God had always his own people, whom he did not suffer to be corrupted with the multitude, but whom he sanctified and separated to himself, that there might always exist among the Jews a pledge of this grace, which he had promised to the seed of Abraham. There is, therefore, no absurdity in saying that they lived and died in the faith of the Mediator, although Christ had not yet been revealed to them. But I do not assert anything, and could not assert without rashness.

And I am persuaded that in thee also This clause confirms me in the conjecture which I have just now stated; for, in my opinion, he does not here speak of the present faith of Timothy. It would lessen that sure confidence of the former eulogium, if he only said that he reckoned the faith of Timothy to resemble the faith of his grandmother and mother. But I understand the meaning to be, that Timothy, from his childhood, while he had not yet obtained a knowledge of the gospel, was imbued with the fear of God, and with such faith as proved to be a living seed, which afterwards manifested itself.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:5. remembrance] The noun occurs only 2Pe_1:13, 2Pe_3:1, besides in N. T.; the verb Tit_3:1, where see note, 2Pe_1:12, &c.

the unfeigned faith that is in thee] ‘Unfeigned,’ ‘true and trusty.’ Contrasted with that of Phygelus and Hermogenes and Demas, 1:15, 4:9. The word is applied to ‘love,’ Rom_12:9, and to ‘wisdom,’ Jam_3:17. It has been used with ‘faith,’ 1Ti_1:5.

which dwelt first] The pronoun may be rendered a faith such as, ‘the which faith,’ as it is rendered 1Ti_1:4. Cf. also 1Ti_3:15. ‘Dwell in,’ the verb, is used (in quotation) in 2Co_6:16 of the indwelling of the Almighty, in Rom_8:11, 2Ti_1:14 of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in Col_3:16 of the indwelling of ‘the word of Christ,’ the nearest passage to this; where however Bp Lightfoot explains it of ‘the presence of Christ in the heart as an inward monitor’; as Dr Westcott explains 1Jn_2:14 ‘ye are strong and the word (of God) abideth in you,’ ‘the natural endowment of energetic vigour is consecrated to a divine end by a divine voice.’ Here too, then, ‘faith’ is personified. Like ‘Heavenly Wisdom’ she ‘dwelt in’ these pious Jewesses from the first, in their early hold of the promises made to Israel, before ‘the glad news’ of Jesus Christ the ‘glory of his people Israel.’ Then, in a larger room, a clearer light within them, the Faith of their fathers in a pure conscience was ‘transfigured’ into the Unclouded Faith of Christ Jesus their Saviour and dwelt within them, and the light and love from that pure presence there passed over into the breast of son and grandson.

thy grandmother Lois] The non-Attic word is used. Eunice is referred to Act_16:1 as ‘a Jewess which believed.’

and I am persuaded that in thee also] A.V. following the Greek idiom of ellipse; R.V. ‘and, I am persuaded, in thee also,’ following the English idiom of ellipse.

Prof. Reynolds quotes here ‘the celebrated mothers of Augustine, of Chrysostom, of Basil, whose life sincerity and constancy became vicariously a glorious heritage of the universal Church.’ We may add the mother of the Wesleys.

Marvin Vincent

2 Timothy 1:5

When I call to remembrance (ὑπόμνησιν λαβὼν)

The object of χάριν ἔχω, 2Ti_1:3. Lit. having received a reminding. The phrases N.T.o. Ὑπόμνησις reminding (but sometimes intransitive, remembrance), only here, 2Pe_1:13; 2Pe_3:1. In lxx three times. As distinguished from ἀνάμνησις remembrance (1Co_11:24, 1Co_11:25) it signifies a reminding or being reminded by another; while ἀνάμνησις is a recalling by one’s self.

Unfeigned faith that is in thee (τῆς ἐν σοὶ ἀνυποκρίτου πίστεως)

See on 1Ti_1:5. For the peculiar collocation of the Greek words, comp. Act_17:28; Rom_1:12; Eph_1:15. The writer’s thought is probably not confined to Christian faith, but has in view the continuity of Judaism and Christianity. In 2Ti_1:3 he speaks of serving God from his forefathers. In Act_24:14 Paul is represented as saying that even as a Christian he serves the God of his fathers, believing all things contained in the law and the prophets.

Dwelt (ἐνῴκησεν)

Paul uses the verb with sin, the divine Spirit, God, the word of Christ, but nowhere with faith. The phrase faith dwells in, N.T.o. According to Paul, Christians are or stand in faith; but faith is not represented as dwelling in them. Christ dwells in the heart through faith (Eph_3:17).

First (πρῶτον)

With reference to Timothy, and with a comparative sense, as Mat_5:24; Mat_7:5; Mar_3:27; 1Th_4:16, etc. This is shown by the last clause of the verse. The writer merely means that faith had already dwelt in Timothy’s grandmother and mother before it did in him. How much farther back his believing ancestry went he does not say. Comp. Act_16:1.

Grandmother (μάμμῃ)

N.T. Once in lxx, 4 Macc. 16:9. Later Greek. The correct classical word is τήθη. See Aristoph. Ach. 49; Plato, Repub. 461 D. From the emphasis upon Timothy’s receiving his training from his Jewish mother, it has been inferred that his father died early. That he was the child of a mixed marriage appears from Act_16:1

I am persuaded (πέπεισμαι)

The verb in Pastorals only here and 2Ti_1:12. Often in Paul.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:5

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee; – notes, 1Ti_1:5. On the faith of Timothy, see the notes at 1Ti_4:6.

Which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois – That is, the same faith dwelt in her; or, she was a sincere believer in Christ. It would seem probable, from this, that she was the first of the family who had been converted. In the Acts of the Apostles Act_16:1, we have an account of the family of Timothy: – “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra; and behold a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek.” In this account no mention is made of the grandmother Lois, but there is no improbability in supposing that Paul was better acquainted with the family than Luke. There is, at any rate, no contradiction between the two accounts; but the one confirms the other, and the “undesigned coincidence” furnishes an argument for the authenticity of both. See Paley’s Horae Paulinae, in loc. As the mother of Timothy was a Hebrew, it is clear that his grandmother was also. Nothing more is known of her than is mentioned here.

And in thy mother Eunice – In Act_16:1, it is said that the mother of Timothy was “a Jewess, and believed;” but her name is not mentioned. This shows that Paul was acquainted with the family, and that the statement in the Epistle to Timothy was not forged from the account in the Acts . Here is another “undesigned coincidence.” In the history in the Acts , nothing is said of the father, except that he was “a Greek,” but it is implied that he was not a believer. In the Epistle before us, nothing whatever is said of him. But the piety of his mother alone is commended, and it is fairly implied that his father was not a believer. This is one of those coincidences on which Paley has constructed his beautiful argument in the Horae Paulinae in favor of the genuineness of the New Testament.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:6

6For which cause I advise thee The more abundantly that Timothy had received the grace of God, the more attentive (the Apostle intimates) he ought to be in making progress from day to day. It deserves notice that the words “for which cause” introduce this advice as a conclusion from what has been already said.

To stir up the gift of God. This exhortation is highly necessary; for it usually happens, and may be said to be natural, that the excellence of gifts produces carelessness, which is also accompanied by sloth; and Satan continually labors to extinguish all that is of God in us. We ought, therefore, on the other hand, to strive to bring to perfection everything that is good in us, and to kindle what is languid; for the metaphor, which Paul employs, is taken from a fire which was feeble, or that was in course of being gradually extinguished, if strength and flame were not added, by blowing upon it and by supplying new fuel. Let us therefore remember that we ought to apply to use the gifts of God, lest, being unemployed and concealed, they gather rust. Let us also remember that we should diligently profit by them, lest they be extinguished by our slothfulness.

Which is in thee by the laying on of my hands There can be no doubt that Timothy was invited by the general voice of the Church, and was not elected by the private wish of Paul alone; but there is no absurdity in saying, that Paul ascribes the election to himself personally, because he was the chief actor in it. Yet here he speaks of ordination, that is, of the solemn act of conferring the office of the ministry, and not of election. Besides, it is not perfectly clear whether it was the custom, when any minister was to be set apart, that all laid their hands on his head, or that one only did so, in the room and name of all. I am more inclined to the conjecture, that it was only one person who laid on his hands.

So far as relates to the ceremony, the apostles borrowed it from an ancient custom of their nation; or rather, in consequence of its being in use, they retained it; for this is a part of that decent and orderly procedure which Paul elsewhere recommends. (1Co_14:40.) Yet it may be doubted if that “laying on of hands” which is now mentioned refers to ordination; because, at that time, the graces of the Spirit, of which he speaks in the 12th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans (Rom_12:0), and in the 13th of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1Co_13:0), were bestowed on many others who were not appointed to be pastors. But, for my own part, I think that it may be easily inferred from the former Epistle, that Paul here speaks of the office of a pastor, for this passage agrees with that, “Do not neglect the grace which was given to thee with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” (1Ti_4:14.)

That point being settled, it is asked, “Was grace given by the outward sign?” To this question I answer, whenever ministers were ordained, they were recommended to God by the prayers of the whole Church, and in this manner grace from God was obtained for them by prayer, and was not given to them by virtue of the sign, although the sign was not uselessly or unprofitably employed, but was a sure pledge of that grace which they received from God’s own hand. That ceremony was not a profane act, invented for the sole purpose of procuring credit in the eyes of men, but a lawful consecration before God, which is not performed but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Besides, Paul takes the sign for the whole matter or the whole transaction; for he declares that Timothy was endued with grace, when he was offered to God as a minister. Thus in this mode of expression there is a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole.

But we are again met by another question; for if it was only at his ordination that Timothy obtained the grace necessary for discharging his office, of what nature was the election of a man not yet fit or qualified, but hitherto void and destitute of the gift of God? I answer, it was not then so given to him that he had it not before; for it is certain that he excelled both in doctrine and in other gifts before Paul ordained him to the ministry. But there is no inconsistency in saying, that, when God wished to make use of his services, and accordingly called him, he then fitted and enriched him still more with new gifts, or doubled those which he had previously bestowed. It does not therefore follow that Timothy had not formerly any gift, but it shone forth the more when the duty of teaching was laid upon him.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:6. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance] More decidedly For which cause. It will break the whole delicacy and tenderness of the exhortation, unless the cause be taken as the thankful recognition of Timothy’s living faith and likeness to his spiritual father.

put thee in remembrance] See note on the last verse. Timothy had been sent himself to ‘put the Corinthians in remembrance of St Paul’s ways that were in Christ,’ ten years before, and was then his ‘child beloved and faithful in the Lord.’ See the same word 1Co_4:17, the only other use in N.T. in the active.

that thou stir up the gift of God] The verb may be rendered fully, dwelling on the metaphor, ‘kindle the glowing embers of the gift of God,’ or as margin of R.V. ‘stir into flame.’ The ‘live coal from the altar’ had ‘touched his lips’ at his ordination; the ‘lightening with celestial fire’ from ‘the anointing Spirit’ in His ‘sevenfold gifts’ had taken place, as it has ever been invoked and bestowed at ‘The Ordering of Priests,’ cf. 5:14. According to the view taken of Timothy’s greater or less despondency and slackness, the stress may be either on the verb or on the preposition with which it is compounded; either ‘re kindle’ or ‘kindle into flame.’ Perhaps we may best adopt Dr Reynolds’s interpretation of the position. ‘We ought not to infer more than that Timothy’s work had suffered through his despondency arising from the peril and imprisonment of his master. He may have been ready to despair of the Church. The special charisma needed therefore in his case was parrhesia or a clear bold utterance of the faith that was in him.’

by the putting on of my hands] Rather, through the laying on. See note on 1Ti_4:14, where the character of this ‘laying on of hands’ is shewn. ‘My hands’ here is not inconsistent with ‘the hands of the presbytery’ there. St Paul of course was chief among the presbyters. But there the largeness of the attendant testimony, the fulness of the circle of ordaining elders, is put forward as a reason for every nerve being strained to run the race: since he is compassed with so great a cloud of witnesses, let him give all heed that his ‘progress may be manifest unto all.’ Here one chief figure, the closest and the dearest, fills all the view: ‘for my sake, my son.’

Pulpit Commentary


For the which cause for wherefore, A.V.; through the laying for by the putting, A.V. For which cause (δι ἣν αἰτίαν); so 2Ti_1:12 and Tit_1:13, but nowhere else in St. Paul’s Epistles, though common elsewhere. The clause seems to depend upon the words immediately preceding, “I am persuaded in thee also; for which cause,” etc. Stir up (ἀναζωπυρεῖν); here only in the New Testament, but found in the LXX. of Gen_45:27 and I Ma Gen_13:7, in an intransitive sense, “to revive.” In both passages it is contrasted with a previous state of despondency (Gen_45:26) or fear (1Ma Gen_13:2). We must, therefore, conclude that St. Paul knew Timothy to be cast down and depressed by his own imprisonment and imminent danger, and therefore exhorted him to revive ‘the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” which was given him at his ordination. The metaphor is taken from kindling slumbering ashes into a flame by the bellows, and the force of ἀνα is to show that the embers had gone down from a previous state of candescence or frame—”to rekindle, light up again.” It is a favourite metaphor in classical Greek. The gift of God (τὸ χάρισμα τοῦ Θεοῦ); as 1Ti_4:14 (where see note). The laying on of my hands, together with those of the presbytery (1Ti_4:14; comp. Act_13:2, Act_13:3). The laying on of hands was also the medium through which the Holy Ghost was given in Confirmation (Act_8:17), and in healing (Mar_16:18; comp. Num_27:18, Num_27:23).

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:6

That thou stir up the gift of God – Greek, That thou “kindle up” as a fire. The original word used here denotes the kindling of a fire, as by bellows, etc. It is not uncommon to compare piety to a flame or a fire, and the image is one that is obvious when we speak of causing that to burn more brightly. The idea is, that Timothy was to use all proper means to keep the flame of pure religion in the soul burning, and more particularly his zeal in the great cause to which he had been set apart. The agency of man himself is needful to keep the religion of the heart warm and glowing. However rich the gifts which God has bestowed upon us, they do not grow of their own accord, but need to be cultivated by our own personal care.

Which is in thee by the putting on of my hands – In connection with the presbytery; see the notes at 1Ti_4:14. This proves that Paul took part in the ordination of Timothy; but it does not prove either that he performed the duty alone, or that the “ordaining virtue,” whatever that was, was imparted by him only; because:

(1) It is expressly said 1Ti_4:14, that he was ordained by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, of which Paul was doubtless one; and,

(2) The language here used, “by the putting on of my hands,” is just such as Paul, or any other one of the presbytery, would use in referring to the ordination of Timothy, though they were all regarded as on a level. It is such an expression as an aged Presbyterian, or Congregational, or Baptist minister would address to a son whom he had assisted to ordain. Nothing would be more natural than to remind him that his own hands had been laid on him when he was set apart to the work of the ministry. It would be in the nature of a tender, pathetic, and solemn appeal, bringing all that there was in his own character, age, and relation to the other, to bear on him, in order to induce him to be faithful to his trust. On other occasions, he would naturally remind him that others had united with him in the act, and that he had derived his authority through the presbytery, just as Paul appeals to Timothy, 1Ti_4:14. But no one would now think of inferring from this, that he meant to be understood as saying that he alone had ordained him, or that all the authority for preaching the gospel had been imparted through his hands, and that those who were associated with him only expressed “concurrence;” that is, that their presence there was only an unmeaning ceremony. What was the “gift of God” which had been conferred in this way, Paul specifies in the next verse 2Ti_1:7. It is “the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The meaning is, that these had been conferred by God, and that the gift had been recognized by his ordination. It does not imply that any mysterious influence had gone from the hands of the ordainers, imparting any holiness to Timothy which he had not before.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:7

7For God hath not given to us a spirit of cowardice It is a confirmation of what he had said immediately before; and thus he continues to urge Timothy to display the power of the gifts which he had received. He makes use of this argument, that God governs his ministers by the Spirit of power, which is the opposite of cowardice. Hence it follows, that they ought not to lie down through slothfulness, but, sustained by great confidence and cheerfulness, should exhibit and display, by visible effects, that power of the Spirit.

The following passage occurs in the Epistle to the Romans: “For we have not received a spirit of bondage, to be again in terror; but we have received the spirit of adoption, by which we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom_8:15.)

That passage is, at first sight, nearly similar to this; but yet the context shews that the meaning is different. There he treats of the confidence of adoption which all believers have; but here he speaks particularly about ministers, and exhorts them, in the person of Timothy, to arouse themselves actively to deeds of valor; because God does not wish them to perform their office in a cold and lifeless manner, but to press forward powerfully, relying on the efficacy of the Spirit.

But of power, and of love, and of soberness Hence we are taught, first, that not one of us possesses that firmness and unshaken constancy of the Spirit, which is requisite for fulfilling our ministry, until we are endued from heaven with a new power. And indeed the obstructions are so many and so great, that no courage of man will be able to overcome them. It is God, therefore, who endues us with “the spirit of power;” for they who, in other respects, give tokens of much strength, fall down in a moment, when they are not upheld by the power of the Divine Spirit.

Secondly, we gather from it, that they who have slavish meanness and cowardice, so that they do not venture to do anything in defense of the truth, when it is necessary, are not governed by that Spirit by whom the servants of Christ are guided. Hence it follows, that there are very few of those who bear the title of ministers, in the present day, who have the mark of sincerity impressed upon them; for, amongst a vast number, where do we find one who, relying on the power of the Spirit, boldly despises all the loftiness which exalts itself against Christ? Do not almost all seek their own interest and their leisure? Do they not sink down dumb as soon as any noise breaks out? The consequence is, that no majesty of God is seen in their ministry. The word Spirit is here employed figuratively, as in many other passages.

But why did he afterwards add love and soberness? In my opinion, it was for the purpose of distinguishing that power of the Spirit from the fury and rage of fanatics, who while they rush forward with reckless impulse, fiercely boast of having the Spirit of God. For that reason he expressly states that this powerful energy is moderated by “soberness and love,” that is, by a calm desire of edifying. Yet Paul does not deny that prophets and teachers were endued with the same Spirit before the publication of the gospel; but he declares that this grace ought now to be especially powerful and conspicuous under the reign of Christ.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:7. For God hath not given us] Rather, gave us; i.e. both St Paul and Timothy, at the time of their ‘setting apart’ for the ministry; this gift is of special grace for special work, more particularly the proper temper and character formed in them by the Holy Spirit; and this not a spirit of cowardice, ‘a spirit’ being preferable to ‘the spirit’ of A.V. as more plainly indicating this character, the spirit we are of in regard to ministerial work, than ‘the spirit,’ which though written with s, not S, is still liable to be mistaken by the listener or reader as though the Holy Spirit were meant. This indeed Bp Ellicott wishes, needlessly making two classes of passages, one like Eph_1:17, and this, where the reference to the gift from God is very near, and one like Gal_6:1, where it is not. But all the passages in effect suppose the working of the Holy Spirit on our human spirit so that we have a certain spirit, temper, character, resulting.

Some mss. and Versions (and so Clement and Chrysostom) have confused this verse with Rom_8:15 and read instead of deilias, ‘cowardice,’ the word that is used there in the totally different connexion, douleias, ‘slavery.’ And similarly we have there the variant deilias, ‘cowardice.’ It is quite natural that the new phrases coined for the new needs should echo the very ring of the older at times, and at times be (as we have seen) fresh-minted altogether. The noun ‘cowardice’ occurs only here in N.T.; the verb and adjective belonging to it occur only as used by our Lord Himself, Joh_14:27,’ let not your heart turn coward’; Mat_8:26, ‘why are ye cowards, O ye of little faith’ (so Mar_4:40); Rev_21:8, ‘for the cowards and unbelieving … their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire.’ This striking usage emphasises the warning that follows not to be ‘ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.’

but of power, of love, and of a sound mind] ‘power—yes, for surely not in vain is spoken over us the consecrating word; not in vain do we go forth bearing authority from Christ … We “preach Christ crucified,”—“the power of God.” ‘Bp How, Pastoral Work, c. vi; who also well describes the ‘love’ as ‘a simple, self-forgetting, self-sacrificing love’ that can lay itself out to win even ‘the uninteresting, the hard, cold, rude, ignorant, degraded’; but for ‘sound mind’ gives a less convincing quotation from Keble’s preface to the Christian Year, ‘a sober standard of feeling in matters of practical religion.’ The R.V. gives ‘discipline,’ and in the margin as the exact rendering of the Greek, ‘sobering,’ sôphronismos differing from sôphrosynê ‘soberness,’ as logismos, ‘reasoning,’ differs from logos, ‘reason.’ But as the word is the noun of the verb rendered Tit_2:4 ‘train in purity,’ and its root is the word sôphrôn rendered 1Ti_3:2 and elsewhere in these epistles ‘pure’ (see notes), ‘training in purity’ would seem the exact force here. And though the verb (note on Tit_2:4) and therefore its noun seems in general usage to mean only ‘train,’ ‘discipline,’ yet here too, thinking of the keywords in these epistles, we shall believe that St Paul is raising the word back to its proper level of ‘moral discipline.’ So St Gregory treating of the life of the Pastor (Pastoral Charge, Pt. ii. c. 2) makes this the first qualification; ‘Rector semper cogitatione sit mundus—quia necesse est ut esse munda debeat manus quae diluere sordes curat.’ Then we find, as we should expect, that these three brief notes of the ministerial character of Timothy are expanded through the next chapter: power, 2:14-19, moral discipline, 2:20-22, love, 2:23-26.

Pulpit Commentary


Gave us not for hath not given us, A.V.; a spirit of fearfulness for the spirit of fear, A.V.; and for of, A.V.; discipline for of a sound mind, A.V. A spirit of fearfulness; or, cowardice, as the word δειλία exactly means in classical Greek, where it is very common, though it only occurs here in the New Testament. Δειλός also has a reproachful sense, both in classical Greek, and also in the LXX., and in the New Testament. It seems certain, therefore, that St. Paul thought that Timothy’s gentle spirit was in danger of being cowed by the adversaries of the gospel. The whole tenor of his exhortation, combined as it was with words of warm affection, is in harmony with this thought. Compare with the phrase, πνεῦμα δειλίας, the πνεῦμα δουλείας εἰς φόβον of Rom_8:15. Of power and love. Power (δύναμις) is emphatically the attribute of the Holy Spirit (Luk_4:14; Act_10:38; Rom_15:13; 1Co_2:4, etc.), and that which he specially imparts to the servants of Christ (Act_1:8; Act_6:8; Eph_3:16, etc.). Love is added, as showing that the servant of Christ always uses power in conjunction with love, and only as the means of executing what love requires. Discipline (σωφρονισμοῦ); only here in the New Testament; σωφρονίζειν is found in Tit_2:4, “to teach,” A.V.; “to train,” R.V. “Discipline” is not a very happy rendering, though it gives the meaning; “correction,” or “sound instruction,” is perhaps nearer. It would seem that Timothy had shown some signs of weakness, and had not boldly reproved and instructed in their duty certain offenders, as true love for souls required him to do. The phrase from Plutarch’s ‘Life of Cato,’ quoted by Alford, exactly gives the force of σωφρονισμός: Ἐπὶ διορθώσαι καὶ σωφρονισμῷ τῶν ἄλλων, “For the amendment and correction of the rest.”

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:8

8Be not ashamed, therefore He said this, because the confession of the gospel was accounted infamous; and therefore he forbids that either ambition or the fear of disgrace shall prevent or retard him from the liberty of preaching the gospel. And he infers this from what has been already said; for he who is armed with the power of God will not tremble at the noise raised by the world, but will reckon it honorable that wicked men mark them with disgrace.

And justly does he call the gospel the testimony of our Lord; because, although he has no need of our assistance, yet he lays upon us this duty, that we shall give “testimony” to him for maintaining his glory. It is a great and distinguished honor which he confers upon us, and, indeed, upon all, (for there is no Christian that ought not to reckon himself a witness of Christ,) but chiefly pastors and teachers, as Christ said to the apostles, — “Ye shall be witnesses to me,” (Act_1:8.)

Accordingly, the more hateful the doctrine of the gospel is in the world, the more earnestly should they labor to confess it openly.

When he adds, nor of me; by this word he reminds Timothy not to refuse to be his companion, as in a cause common to both of them; for, when we begin to withdraw from the society of those who, for the name of Christ, suffer persecution, what else do we seek than that the gospel shall be free from all persecution? Now, though there were not wanting many wicked men who thus ridiculed Timothy, — “Do you not see what has befallen your master? Do you not know that the same reward awaits you also? Why do you press upon us a doctrine which you see is hissed at by the whole world?” — still he must have been cheered by this exhortation, — “You have no reason to be ashamed of me, in that which is not shameful, for I am Christ’s prisoner;” that is, “Not for any crime or evil deed, but for his name I am kept in prison.”

But be thou a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel He lays down a method by which that which he enjoins may be done; that is, if Timothy shall prepare himself for enduring the afflictions which are connected with the gospel. Whosoever shall revolt at and shrink from the cross will always be ashamed of the gospel. Not without good reason, therefore, does Paul, while he exhorts to boldness of confession, in order that he may not exhort in vain, speak to him also about bearing the cross.

He adds, according to the power of God; because, but for this, and if he did not support us, we should immediately sink under the load. And this clause contains both admonition and consolation. The admonition is, to turn away his eyes from his present weakness, and, relying on the assistance of God, to venture and undertake what is beyond his strength. The consolation is, that, if we endure anything on account of the gospel, God will come forth as our deliverer, that by his power, we may obtain the victory.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:8. Be not thou therefore ashamed] Omit ‘thou’ here, and in ‘be thou partaker;’ the stress is on the ‘shame’ and ‘suffering,’ and no pronoun is expressed in Greek.

the testimony] For, in behalf of, the Cross of Christ, recalling the very words of Christ, when He first declared ‘the Cross,’ Luk_9:26, ‘whosoever shall be ashamed of me.’ ‘Testimony’ is the neuter word as in 1Ti_2:6 (see note). Here with gen. objective, though in 2Th_1:10 with gen. subjective ‘our testimony unto you.’

our Lord] The phrase occurs only here and in 1Ti_1:14, in St Paul; but is used also by St Peter, 2Pe_3:15, ‘the longsuffering of our Lord,’ and in Heb_7:14, ‘our Lord sprang out of Juda.’

Both quasi-imperative and imperative are aorist, and contrasted with present imperatives imply the taking up or not taking up a particular line of action in contrast with the continuing or not continuing some course. Whether or not Timothy had as yet shewn shame or cowardice, this exhortation delicately looks only to the future. Winer, § 56 b.

me his prisoner] See Introduction, p. 44.

partaker of the afflictions of the gospel] Vulg., Th. Mops. (true reading), ‘collabora Euangelio.’ R.V. suffer hardship with the gospel. The exact form occurs 2:2 with no case attached: the thought in both places is the same, and is again elaborated in the rhythmical refrain of 2:11, 12. Fellowship with Christ, with the Gospel, with St Paul—it is all one and the same thing. ‘With the Gospel’ is more natural than ‘for the Gospel,’ which would need a preposition, ‘in behalf of,’ ‘for the sake of,’ ‘in or ‘unto’ according to N.T. usage. For the personifying, which is quite in St Paul’s manner, compare Tit_2:5, ‘that the word of God be not blasphemed;’ Rom_10:16, ‘they did not all obey the Gospel;’ Php_4:14, ‘ye had fellowship with my affliction;’ and especially Php_1:27, ‘with one soul striving together with the faith of the Gospel.’

according to the power of God] Looks back to v. 7; God, who giveth, hath power.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:8

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord – Do not be ashamed to bear your testimony to the doctrines taught by the Lord Jesus; Joh_3:11, Joh_3:32-33; Joh_7:7; compare Act_10:22; Act_20:24; 1Co_1:6; Rev_22:16. Paul seems to have apprehended that Timothy was in some danger of being ashamed of this gospel, or of shrinking back from its open avowal in the trials and persecutions to which he now saw it exposed him.

Nor of me his prisoner – Of the testimony which I have borne to the truth of the gospel. This passage proves that, when Paul wrote this Epistle, he was in confinement; compare Eph_3:1; Eph_6:20; Phi_1:13-14, Phi_1:16; Col_4:3, Col_4:18; Phm_1:9. Timothy knew that he had been thrown into prison on account of his love for the gospel. To avoid that himself, there might be some danger that a timid young man might shrink from an open avowal of his belief in the same system of truth.

But be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel – The sufferings to which the profession of the gospel may expose you; compare the notes at Col_1:24.

According to the power of God – That is, according to the power which God gives to those who are afflicted on account of the gospel. The apostle evidently supposes that they who were subjected to trials on account of the gospel, might look for divine strength to uphold them, and asks him to endure those trials, relying on that strength, and not on his own.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:9

9Who hath saved us From the greatness of the benefit he shews how much we owe to God; for the salvation which he has bestowed on us easily swallows up all the evils that must be endured in this world. The word saved, though it admit of a general signification, is here limited, by the context, to denote eternal salvation. So then he means that they who, having obtained through Christ not a fading or transitory, but an eternal salvation, shall spare their fleeting life or honor rather than acknowledge their Redeemer; are excessively ungrateful.

And hath called us with a holy calling He places the sealing of salvation (142) in the calling; for, as the salvation of men was completed in the death of Christ, so God, by the gospel, makes us partakers of it. In order to place in a stronger light the value of this “calling,” he pronounces it to be holy. This ought to be carefully observed, because, as salvation must not be sought anywhere but in Christ; so, on the other hand, he would have died and risen again without any practical advantage, unless so far as he calls us to a participation of this grace. Thus, after having procured salvation for us, this second blessing remains to be bestowed, that, ingrafting us into his body, he may communicate his benefits to be enjoyed by us.

Not according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace He describes the source both of our calling and of the whole of our salvation. We had not works by which we could anticipate God; but the whole depends on his gracious purpose and election; for in the two words purpose and grace there is the figure of speech called Hypallage, and the latter must have the force of an objection, as if he had said, — “according to his gracious purpose.” Although Paul commonly employs the word “purpose” to denote the secret decree of God, the cause of which is in his own power, yet, for the sake of fuller explanation, he chose to add “grace,” that he might more clearly exclude all reference to works. And the very contrast proclaims loudly enough that there is no room for works where the grace of God reigns, especially when we are reminded of the election of God, by which he was beforehand with us, when we had not yet been born. On this subject I have spoken more fully in my exposition of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians; and at present I do nothing more than glance briefly at that which I have there treated more at large.

Which was given to us From the order of time he argues, that, by free grace, salvation was given to us which we did not at all deserve; for, if God chose us before the creation of the world, he could not have regard to works, of which we had none, seeing that we did not then exist. As to the cavil of the sophists, that God was moved by the works which he foresaw, it does not need a long refutation. What kind of works would those have been if God had passed us by, seeing that the election itself is the source and beginning of all good works?

This giving of grace, which he mentions, is nothing else than predestination, by which we were adopted to be the sons of God. On this subject I wished to remind my readers, because God is frequently said actually to “give” his grace to us when we receive the effect of it. But here Paul sets before us what God purposed with himself from the beginning. He, therefore, gave that which, not induced by any merit, he appointed to those who were not yet born, and kept laid up in his treasures, until he made known by the fact itself that he purposeth nothing in vain.

Before eternal ages He employs this phrase in the same sense in which he elsewhere speaks of the uninterrupted succession of years from the foundation of the world. (Tit_1:2.) For that ingenious reasoning which Augustine conducts in many passages is totally different from Paul’s design. The meaning therefore is, — “Before times began to take their course from all past ages.” Besides, it is worthy of notice, that he places the foundation of salvation in Christ; for, apart from him, there is neither adoption nor salvation; as was indeed said in expounding the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:9. who hath saved us] Rather, who saved us; the ‘saving’ and ‘calling’ should both be referred to the same point of time—viz. Baptism; and verses 9 and 10 are compressed by the Prayer-Book Catechism into the sentence ‘he hath called me to this state of salvation through Jesus Christ our Saviour.’ See note 1Ti_2:4.

us] Not limited to Paul and Timothy, but as in the parallel passage, Tit_3:5, embracing all the baptised, all who have ‘the faith of God’s elect.’ See generally the note there. The ‘holy calling’ here answers, in its twofold aspect of privilege and duty, to the ‘heirs of eternal life,’ and the ‘maintaining of good works,’ there.

not according to our works] More exactly, Tit_3:5, ‘not by virtue of works, works in righteousness, which we did,’ but in accordance with His own purpose and free gift given to us in Christ Jesus in eternal times gone by; see note on the parallel clause Tit_1:3, where the phrase ‘eternal times’ is explained, and the preposition ‘before.’ Theod. Mops. gives well the connecting thought which carries St Paul here from his appeal for boldness into another of his exulting Gospel anthems. ‘Take,’ he says in effect, ‘take great pains, bear long pains—for a gift so great, so age-long.’

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown

2 Timothy 1:9

Who … called us — namely, God the Father (Gal_1:6). The having “saved us” in His eternal purpose of “grace, given us in Christ before the world began,” precedes his actual “calling” of us in due time with a call made effective to us by the Holy Spirit; therefore, “saved us” comes before “called us” (Rom_8:28-30).

holy calling — the actual call to a life of holiness. Heb_3:1, “heavenly calling” [Tittmann, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament]; whereas we were sinners and enemies (Eph_1:18; Eph_4:1). The call comes wholly from God and claims us wholly for God. “Holy” implies the separation of believers from the rest of the world unto God.

not according to — not having regard to our works in His election and calling of grace (Rom_9:11; Eph_2:8, Eph_2:9).

his own purpose — The origination of salvation was of His own purpose, flowing from His own goodness, not for works of ours coming first, but wholly because of His own gratuitous, electing love [Theodoret and Calvin].

grace … given us — in His everlasting purpose, regarded as the same as when actually accomplished in due time.

in Christ — believers being regarded by God as IN HIM, with whom the Father makes the covenant of salvation (Eph_1:4; Eph_3:11).

before the world began — Greek, “before the times (periods) of ages”; the enduring ages of which no end is contemplated (1Co_2:7; Eph_3:11).

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:10

10But hath now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ Observe how appropriately he connects the faith which we have from the gospel within God’s secret election, and assigns to each of them its own place. God has now called us by the gospel, not because he has suddenly taken counsel about our salvation, but because he had so determined from all eternity. Christ hath now “appeared” for our salvation, not because the power of saving has been recently bestowed on him, but because this grace was laid up in him for us before the creation of the world. The knowledge of those things is revealed to us by faith; and so the Apostle judiciously connects the gospel with the most ancient promises of God, that novelty may not render it contemptible.

But it is asked; “Were the fathers under the Law ignorant of this grace?” for if it was not revealed but by the coming of Christ, it follows that, before that time, it was concealed. I reply, Paul speaks of the full exhibition of the thing itself on which depended also the faith of the fathers, so that this takes nothing from them. The reason why Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and all believers, obtained the same faith with us, was, that they placed their confidence in this “appearance.” Thus, when he says that “grace hath been revealed to us by the appearing of Christ,” he does not exclude from communion with that grace the fathers who are made partakers with us of this appearing by the same faith. Christ (Heb_13:8) was yesterday as he is today; but he did not manifest himself to us, by his death and resurrection, before the time appointed by the Father. To this, as the only pledge and accomplishment of our salvation, both our faith and that of the fathers look with one accord.

Who hath indeed destroyed death When he ascribes to the gospel the manifestation of life, he does not mean that we must begin with the word, leaving out of view the death and resurrection of Christ, (for the word, on the contrary, rests on the subject-matter,) but he only means that the fruit of this grace comes to men in no other way than by the gospel, in accordance with what is said, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, and hath committed to us the ministry of reconciliation.”(2Co_5:19.)

And hath brought to light life and immortality by the gospel It is a high and remarkable commendation of the gospel, that it “bringeth life to light.” To life he adds immortality; as if he had said, “a true and immortal life.” But, perhaps, it may be thought better, that by life we understand regeneration, that is followed by a blessed immortality which is also the object of hope. And, indeed, this is our “life,” not that which we have in common with brute beasts, but that which consists in partaking of the image of God. But because in this world “it doth not appear” (1Jo_3:2) what is the nature, or what is the value of that “life,” for the sake of more full expression he has most properly added, “immortality,” which is the revelation of that life which is now concealed.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:10. is now made manifest] but manifested now; the opposition thus put between the ‘given’ and the ‘manifested’ implies that the gift had been, in the phrase of the other parallel passage, Rom_16:25, ‘kept in silence through times eternal.’ Compare 1Ti_3:16, ‘who in flesh was manifested.’

by the appearing] The one use of the substantive ‘epiphany’ for the Incarnation, and so the authority for our use of it in the Church’s season of Epiphany. See notes on 1Ti_6:14 and Tit_2:13. The verb, with this reference, occurs again Tit_2:11 and 3:4.

our Saviour Jesus Christ] Again, with the best mss., Christ Jesus; the title now especially frequent, see note 1Ti_1:1.

who hath abolished death] More exactly, abolishing death, as he did, and bringing into light instead life and immortality. The verb for ‘abolish,’ lit. ‘to make useless, powerless,’ is used here of the Incarnation; in Heb_2:14, of the Atonement; in 1Co_15:26, of the Second Advent, as effecting this victory; at each stage the victory is assured. To us the Incarnation and the Atonement are extended through union with Christ in Holy Baptism. Compare Dr H. Macmillan, Two Worlds are Ours, p. 22. ‘Naturally, we are the creatures of days and months and years that vanish, regulated by sun and moon and stars that will perish. But, born anew in Christ, we enter into a sphere where time has no existence, where one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; we lay hold on eternal life.’

hath brought … to light] Vulg., Th. Mops., ‘illuminavit,’ i.e. ‘shed over them a full mid-day light.’ The use of the corresponding substantive 1Co_4:4, 1Co_4:6, shews the force best, the illuminating power of the Gospel of the glory of Christ. ‘Life,’ ‘the life that is truly life,’ 1Ti_6:19, the spiritual life, which is ‘immortality;’ see notes on 1Ti_6:12, 1Ti_6:19; 1Ti_4:8. The Ember hymn well expresses the present glory of this ‘life’ thus illuminated,—‘our glory meets us ere we die.’

through the gospel] Added to the second half of the clause, as coming back to the thought of verse 8, where ‘the gospel’ personified represents the saving work of the Lord and the suffering ministry of St Paul as here.

Pulpit Commentary


Hath now been manifested for is now made manifest, A.V.; Christ Jesus for Jesus Christ, A.V.; abolished for hath abolished, A.V.; brought for hath brought, A.V.; incorruption for immortality, A.V. Hath now been manifested (φανερωθεῖσαν); a word of very frequent use by St. Paul. The same contrast between the long time during which God’s gracious purpose lay hidden, and the present time when it was brought to light by the gospel, which is contained in this passage, is forcibly dwelt upon in Eph_3:1-12. The appearing (τῆς ἐπιφανείας), applied here, as in the name of the Festival of the Epiphany, to the first advent, but in Eph_4:1 and Tit_2:13 and elsewhere applied to the second advent, “the glorious appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit_2:13). Abolished (καταργήσαντος); i.e. “destroyed,” or “done away,” or “made of none effect,” as the word is variously rendered (1Co_15:26; 2Co_3:11; Gal_3:17; comp. Heb_2:14). Brought… to light (φωτίσαντος); as in 1Co_4:15. Elsewhere rather “to give light,” or “to enlighten” (see Luk_11:36; Heb_6:4; Heb_10:32, etc.). For a full description of the abolition of death and the introduction of eternal life in its stead, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, see Rom_5:1-21. and 6., and especially Rom_6:8-11. Through the gospel; because the gospel both declares the death and resurrection of Christ, and calls us to share in them. These mighty glories of the gospel were good reasons why Timothy should not be ashamed of the testimony of his Lord, nor shrink from the afflictions of the gospel. They were signal evidences of the power of God.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:10

ut is now made manifest – The purpose to save us was long concealed in the divine mind, but the Saviour came that he might make it known.

Who hath abolished death – That is, he has made it so certain that death will be abolished, that it may be spoken of as already done. It is remarkable how often, in this chapter, Paul speaks of what God intends to do as so certain, that it may be spoken of as a thing that is already done. In the meaning of the expression here, see the notes at 1Co_15:54; compare the notes at Heb_2:14. The meaning is, that, through the gospel, death will cease to reign, and over those who are saved there will be no such thing as we now understand by dying.

And hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel – This is one of the great and glorious achievements of the gospel, and one of the things by which it is distinguished from every other system. The word rendered “hath brought to light” – φωτίζω phōtizō – means to give light, to shine; then to give light to, to shine upon; and then to bring to light, to make known. Robinson, Lexicon. The sense is, that these things were before obscure or unknown, and that they have been disclosed to us by the gospel. It is, of course, not meant that there were no intimations of these truths before, or that nothing was known of them – for the Old Testament shed some light on them; but that they are fully disclosed to man in the gospel. It is there that all ambiguity and doubt are removed, and that the evidence is so clearly stated as to leave no doubt on the subject. The intimations of a future state, among the wisest of the pagan, were certainly very obscure, and their hopes very faint.

The hope of a future state is styled by Cicero, Futurorum quoddam augurium saeculorum – “a conjecture or surmise of future ages. Tusc. Q. 1. Seneca says it is “that which our wise men do promise, but they do not prove.” Epis. 102. Socrates, even at his death, said, “I hope to go hence to good men, but of that I am not very confident; nor doth it become any wise man to be positive that so it will be. I must now die, and you shall live; but which of us is in the better state, the living or the dead, only God knows.” Pliny says, “Neither soul nor body has any more sense after death, than before it was born.” Cicero begins his discourse on the subject with a profession that he intended to deliver nothing as fixed and certain, but only as probable, and as having some likelihood of truth. And, having mentioned the different sentiments of philosophers, he concludes, – “Which of these opinions is true, some god must tell us; which is most like to truth, is a great question.”

See Whitby, “in loc.” Such doubts existed in regard to the immortality of the soul; but of the resurrection and future life of the body, they had no conception whatever; compare the notes at Act_17:32. With what propriety, then, may it be said that these doctrines were brought to light through the gospel! Man would never have known them if it had not been for revelation. The word “life,” here, refers undoubtedly to life in the future world. The question was, whether man would live at all; and that question has been determined by the gospel. The word “immortality” means, properly, “incorruption, incapacity of decay;” and may be applied either to the body or the soul. See it explained in the notes at 1Co_15:42. It is used in reference to the body, in 1Co_15:42, 1Co_15:53-54; in Rom_2:7, it is applied to the future state of rewards, without special reference to the body or soul. Here it seems to refer to the future state as that in which there will be no corruption or decay.

Many suppose that the phrase “life and immortality,” here, is used by hendiadys (two things for one), as meaning immortal or incorruptible life. The gospel thus has truths not found in any other system, and contains what man never would have discovered of himself. As fair a trial had been made among the philosophers of Greece and Rome as could be made, to determine whether the unaided powers of the human mind could arrive at these great truths; and their most distinguished philosophers confessed that they could arrive at no certainty on the subject. In this state of things, the gospel comes and reveals truths worthy of all acceptation; sheds light where man had desired it; solves the great problems which had for ages perplexed the human mind, and discloses to man all that he could wish – that not only the soul will live for ever, but that the body will be raised from the grave, and that the entire man will become immortal. How strange it is that men will not embrace the gospel! Socrates and Cicero would have hailed its light, and welcomed its truths, as those which their whole nature panted to know.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:11

11To which I have been appointed Not without good reason does he so highly commend the gospel along with his apostleship. Satan labors, beyond all things else, to banish from our hearts, by every possible method, the faith of sound doctrine; and as it is not always easy for him to do this if he attack us in open war, he steals upon us by secret and indirect methods; for, in order to destroy the credibility of doctrine, he holds up to suspicion the calling of godly teachers. Paul, therefore, having death before his eyes, and knowing well the ancient and ordinary snares of Satan, determined to assert not only the doctrine of the gospel in general, but his own calling. Both were necessary; for, although there be uttered long discourses concerning the dignity of the gospel, they will not be of much avail to us, unless we understand what is the gospel. Many will agree as to the general principle of the undoubted authority of the gospel, who afterwards will have nothing certain that they can follow. This is the reason why Paul expressly wishes to be acknowledged to be a faithful and lawful minister of that life-giving doctrine which he had mentioned.

A herald, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles For the reasons now stated, he adorns himself with various titles for expressing one and the same thing. He calls himself a herald, whose duty it is, to publish the commands of princes and magistrates. The word apostle is here used in its ordinary and restricted meaning. Moreover, because there is a natural relation between a teacher and his disciples, he takes to himself also this third name, that they who learn from him may know that they have a master who has been appointed to them by God. And to whom does he declare that he was appointed? To the Gentiles; for the main hinge of the controversy was about them, because the Jews denied that the promises of life belonged to any others than to the fleshly children of Abraham. In order, therefore, that the salvation of the Gentiles may not be called in question, he affirms that to them he has been especially sent by God.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:12

12For which cause also I suffer these things It is well known that the rage of the Jews was kindled against Paul, for this reason more than any other, that he made the gospel common to the Gentiles. Yet the phrase for which cause relates to the whole verse, and therefore must not be limited to the last clause about “the Gentiles.”

But I am not ashamed That the prison in which he was bound might not in any degree lessen his authority, he contends, on the contrary, by two arguments. First, he shows that the cause, far from being disgraceful, was even honorable to him; for he was a prisoner, not on account of any evil deed, but because he obeyed God who called him. It is an inconceivable consolation, when we are able to bring a good conscience in opposition to the unjust judgments of men. Secondly, from the hope of a prosperous issue he argues that there is nothing disgraceful in his imprisonment. He who shall avail himself of this defense will be able to overcome any temptations, however great they may be. And when he says, that he “is not ashamed,” he stimulates others, by his example, to have the same courage.

For I know whom I have believed This is the only place of refuge, to which all believers ought to resort, whenever the world reckons them to be condemned and ruined men; namely, to reckon it enough that God approves of them; for what would be the result, if they depended on men? And hence we ought to infer how widely faith differs from opinion; because, when Paul says, “I know whom I have believed,” he means that it is not enough if you believe, unless you have the testimony of God, and unless you have full certainty of it. Faith, therefore, neither leans on the authority of men, nor rests on God, in such a manner as to hesitate, but must be joined with knowledge; otherwise it would not be sufficiently strong against the innumerable assaults of Satan. He who with Paul enjoys this knowledge, will know, by experience, that, on good grounds, our faith is called

“the victory that overcometh the world,” (1Jo_5:4) and that on good grounds, it was said by Christ, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”(Mat_16:18.)

Amidst every storm and tempest, that man will enjoy undisturbed repose, who has a settled conviction that God, “who cannot lie,” (Tit_1:2) or deceive, hath spoken, and will undoubtedly perform what he hath promised. On the other hand, he who has not this truth sealed on his heart, will be continually shaken hither and thither like a reed.

This passage is highly worthy of attention; because it expresses admirably the power of faith, when it shows that, even in desperate affairs, we ought to give to God such glory as not to doubt that he will be true and faithful; and when it likewise shows that we ought to rely on the word as fully as if God had manifested himself to us from heaven; for he who has not this conviction understands nothing. Let us always remember that Paul does not pursue philosophical speculations in the shade, but, having the reality before his eyes, solemnly declares, how highly valuable is a confident hope of eternal life.

And am persuaded that he is able Because the power and greatness of dangers often fill us with dismay, or at least tempt our hearts to distrust, for this reason we must defend ourselves with this shield, that there is sufficient protection in the power of God. In like manner Christ, when he bids us cherish confident hope, employs this argument, “The Father, who gave you to me, is greater than all,”(Joh_10:29)

by which he means, that we are out of danger, seeing that the Lord, who hath taken us under his protection, is abundantly powerful to put down all opposition. True, Satan does not venture to suggest this thought in a direct form, that God cannot fulfill, or is prevented from fulfilling, what he has promised, (for our senses are shocked by so gross a blasphemy against God,) but, by preoccupying our eyes and understandings, he takes away from us all sense of the power of God. The heart must therefore be well purified, in order that it may not only taste that power, but may retain the taste of it amidst temptations of every kind.

Now, whenever Paul speaks of the power of God, understand by it what may be called his actual or (ἐνεργουμένμν) “effectual” power, as he calls it elsewhere. (Col_1:29) Faith always connects the power of God with the word, which it does not imagine to be at a distance, but, having inwardly conceived it, possesses and retains it. Thus it is said of Abraham: “He did not hesitate or dispute, but gave glory to God, being fully convinced that what he had promised he was able also to perform,” (Rom_4:20.)

What I have intrusted to him Observe that he employs this phrase to denote eternal life; for hence we conclude, that our salvation is in the hand of God, in the same manner as there are in the hand of a depository those things which we deliver to him to keep, relying on his fidelity. If our salvation depended on ourselves, (147) to how many dangers would it be continually exposed? But now it is well that, having been committed to such a guardian, it is out of all danger.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:12. For the which cause I also suffer these things] R.V. places ‘also’ after ‘suffer’ that the emphasis may belong as much to ‘these things’ as to ‘suffer’ according to the order of the Greek; and substitutes yet for ‘nevertheless,’ which is too emphatic for the Greek word.

am not ashamed] The reference to ver. 8 is obvious, as ‘these things’ are the chains and dungeon of ‘the Lord’s prisoner.’ Cf. Rom_1:16.

I know whom I have believed] Rather with R.V. him whom, because it is the relative not the interrogative pronoun that is used.

to keep that which I have committed unto him] R.V. places in the margin the alternative sense, according to its rule when the balance of authority is nearly even, ‘that which he hath committed unto me’; and gives the literal Greek ‘my deposit.’ The genitive of the personal pronoun rendered ‘my’ may be either subjective here or objective; hence the uncertainty, which the context does not clear up entirely. On the whole, looking to the speciality of the phrase and its use in 1Ti_6:20, and below ver. 14 of Timothy’s guarding of the sound doctrine handed on to him, and here only besides,—it seems most probable that St Paul is adopting, to describe God’s commission to him, the same words in which he describes the same commission to Timothy. And by a change very characteristic of St Paul, when we might have expected the phrase to run ‘am persuaded that I shall be enabled to guard’ it is made to run ‘am persuaded that he is able to guard.’ Cf. ‘yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ Gal_2:20. The guarding, thus, is exactly the same, viz. God’s, in the 14th verse, ‘guard through the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.’ Compare Rom_7:24, Rom_7:25 with 8:9. See note on 1Ti_6:20, for a fuller account of the ‘deposit’ itself, as the commission to hand on sound doctrine. If at the end of the first epistle this had become the Apostle’s chief absorbing anxiety, much more is it so now, in the very hour of his departure.

against that day] With a view to, in readiness for, that day; cf. Jud_1:6, ‘angels … he hath kept … unto the judgment of the great day.’

Pulpit Commentary


Suffer also for also suffer, A.V.; yet for nevertheless, A.V.; him whom for whom, A.V.; guard for keep, A.V. For the which cause (2Ti_1:6, note) I suffer also. The apostle adds the weight of his own example to the preceding exhortation. What he was exhorting Timothy to do he was actually doing himself, without any wavering or hesitation or misgiving as to the result. I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him. The ground of the apostle’s confidence, even in the hour of extreme peril, was his perfect trust in the faithfulness of God. This he expresses in a metaphor drawn from the common action of one person entrusting another with some precious deposit, to be kept for a time and restored whole and uninjured. All the words in the sentence are part of this metaphor. The verb πεπίστευκα must be taken in the sense of “entrusting” (curae ac fidei alicujus committo), as Luk_16:11. So πιστευθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, “to be entrusted with the gospel” (1Th_2:4); οἰκονομίαν πεπιστεῦμαι, “I am entrusted with a dispensation” (1Co_9:17; see Wis. 14:5, etc.). And so in classical Greek, πιστεύειν τινί τι means “to entrust something to another” to take care of for you. Here, then, St. Paul says (not as in the R.V., “I know him whom I have believed,” which is quite inadmissible, but), “I know whom I have trusted [i.e. in whom I have placed confidence, and to whom I have committed the keeping of my deposit], and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have entrusted to him (τὴν παραθήκην μου) unto that day.” The παραθηκή is the thing which Paul entrusted to his faithful guardian, one who he knew would never betray the trust, but would restore it to him safe and sound at the day of Christ. What the παραθήκη was may be difficult to express in any one word, but it comprised himself, his life, his whole treasure, his salvation, his joy, his eternal happiness—all for the sake of which he risked life and limb in this world, content to lose sight of them for a while, knowing that he should receive them all from the hands of God in the day of Christ. All thus hangs perfectly together. There can be no reasonable doubt that παραθήκην μου means, “my deposit”—that which I have deposited with him. Neither is there the slightest difficulty in the different applications of the same metaphor in Luk_16:14 and in 1Ti_6:20. For it is as true that God entrusts to his faithful servants the deposit of the faith, to be kept by them with jealous fidelity, as it is that his servants entrust to him the keeping of their souls, as knowing him to be faithful.

Marvin Vincent

2 Timothy 1:12

I am not ashamed

Comp. 2Ti_1:8, and Rom_1:16.

Whom I have believed (ᾧ πεπίστευκα)

Or, in whom I have put my trust. See on Joh_1:12; see on Joh_2:22; see on Rom_4:5.

Able (δυνατός)

Often used with a stronger meaning, as 1Co_1:26, mighty; Act_25:5, οἱδυνατοὶ the chief men: as a designation of God, ὁ δυνατός the mighty one, Luk_1:49 : of preeminent ability or power in something, as of Jesus, δυνατός ἐν ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ mighty in deed and word, Luk_24:19 : of spiritual agencies, “The weapons of our warfare are δυνατὰ mighty,” etc., 2Co_10:4. Very often in lxx.

That which I have committed (τὴν παραθήκην μου)

More correctly, that which has been committed unto me: my sacred trust. The meaning of the passage is that Paul is convinced that God is strong to enable him to be faithful to his apostolic calling, in spite of the sufferings which attend it, until the day when he shall be summoned to render his final account. The παραθήκη or thing committed to him was the same as that which he had committed to Timothy that; he might teach others (1Ti_6:20). It was the form of sound words (2Ti_1:13); that which Timothy had heard from Paul (2Ti_2:2); that fair deposit (2Ti_1:14). It was the gospel to which Paul had been appointed (2Ti_1:11); which had been intrusted to him (1Ti_1:11; Tit_1:3; comp. 1Co_9:17; Gal_2:7; 1Th_2:4). The verb παρατιθέναι to commit to one’s charge is a favorite with Luke. See Luk_12:48; Act_20:32. Sums deposited with a Bishop for the use of the church were called παραθῆκαι τῆς ἐκκλησίας trust-funds of the church. In the Epistle of the pseudo-Ignatius to Hero (vii.) we read: “Keep my deposit (παραθήκην) which I and Christ have committed (παρθέμεθα) to you. I commit (παρατίθημι) to you the church of the Antiochenes.”

That day (ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν)

The day of Christ’s second appearing. See on 1Th_5:2. In this sense the phrase occurs in the N.T. Epistles only 2Ti_1:18; 2Ti_4:8; 2Th_1:10; but often in the Gospels, as Mat_7:22; Mat_26:29; Mar_13:32, etc. The day of the Lord’s appearing is designated by Paul as ἡ ἡμέρα, absolutely, the day, Rom_13:12; 1Co_3:13; 1Th_5:4 : ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου the day of the Lord, 1Co_1:8; 2Co_1:14; 1Th_5:2; 2Th_2:2 : the day of Jesus Christ or Christ, Phi_1:6, Phi_1:10; Phi_2:16: the day when God shall judge, Rom_2:16 : the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Rom_2:5 : the day of redemption, Eph_4:30.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:12

For the which cause I also suffer these things – That is, I suffer on account of my purpose to carry the gospel to the Gentiles; see the notes at Col_1:24.

Nevertheless I am not ashamed – compare the notes at Rom_1:16.

For I know whom I have believed – Margin, “trusted.” The idea is, that he understood the character of that Redeemer to whom he had committed his eternal interests, and knew that he had no reason to be ashamed of confiding in him. He was able to keep all that he had intrusted to his care, and would not suffer him to be lost; see Isa_28:16.

And am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him – That is, the soul, with all its immortal interests. A man has nothing of higher value to intrust to another than the interests of his soul, and there is no other act of confidence like that in which he intrusts the keeping of that soul to the Son of God. Hence, learn:

(1) That religion consists in committing the soul to the care of the Lord Jesus; because:

(a) We feel that we cannot secure the soul’s salvation ourselves.

(b) The soul is by nature in danger.

(c) If not saved by him, the soul will not be saved at all.

(2) That the soul is a great and invaluable treasure which is committed to him.

(a) No higher treasure can be committed to another;

(b) In connection with that the whole question of our happiness on earth and in heaven is entrusted to him, and all depends on his fidelity.

(3) It is done by the true Christian with the most entire confidence, so that the mind is at rest. The grounds of this confidence are:

(a) What is said of the mighty power of the Saviour;

(b) His promises that he will keep all who confide in him (compare the notes at Joh_10:27-29;

(c) Experience – the fact that those who have trusted in him have found that he is able to keep them.

(4) This act of committing the soul, with all its interests, to the Saviour, is the true source of peace in the trials of life. This is so because:

(a) Having done this, we feel that our great interests are secure. If the soul is safe, why need we be disturbed by the loss of health, or property, or other temporal comforts? Those are secondary things. A man who is shipwrecked, and who sees his son or daughter safe with him on the shore, will be little concerned that a casket of jewels fell overboard – however valuable it might be:

(b) All those trials will soon pass away, and he will be safe in heaven.

(c) These very things may further the great object – the salvation of the soul. A man’s great interests may be more safe when in a prison than when in a palace; on a pallet of straw than on a bed of down; when constrained to say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” than when encompassed with the wealth of Croesus.

Against that day – The day of judgment – called “that day,” without anything further to designate it, because it is the great day; “the day for which all others days were made.” It seems to have been so much the object of thought and conversation among the early Christians, that the apostle supposed that he would be understood by merely referring to it as “that day;” that is, the day which they were always preaching about, and talking about, and thinking about.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:13

13Hold the form of sound words Some explain it thus: “Let thy doctrine be, as it were, a pattern which others may imitate.” I do not approve of that view. Equally removed from Paul’s meaning is Chrysostom’s exposition, that Timothy should have at hand the image of virtues engraven on his heart by Paul’s doctrine. I rather think that Paul commands Timothy to hold fast the doctrine which he had learned, not only as to substance, but as to the very form of expression; for ὑποτύπωσις — the word which Paul employs on this occasion — denotes a lively picture of objects, as if they were actually placed before the eyes. Paul knew how ready men are to depart or fall off from pure doctrine. For this reason he earnestly cautions Timothy not to turn aside from that form of teaching which he had received, and to regulate his manner of teaching by the rule which had been laid down; not that we ought to be very scrupulous about words, but because to misrepresent doctrine, even in the smallest degree, is exceedingly injurious.

Hence we see what kind of theology there is in Popery, which has degenerated so far from the pattern which Paul recommends, that it resembles the riddles of diviners or soothsayers rather than a doctrine taken from the word of God. What taste of Paul’s writings, I ask, is there in all the books of the schoolmen? This licentiousness in corrupting doctrine shews that there are great reasons why Paul invites Timothy to hold fast the original and natural form. And he contrasts sound words not only with doctrines manifestly wicked, but within useless questions, which, instead of health, bring nothing but disease.

In faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus I am aware that the preposition ἐν, agreeably to the idiom of the Hebrew language, ב is often taken for with; but here, I think, the meaning is different Paul has added this as a mark of sound doctrine, in order that we may know what it contains, and what is the summary of it, the whole of which, according to his custom, he includes under “faith and love.” He places both of them in Christ; as, indeed, the knowledge of Christ consists chiefly of these two parts; for, although the words, which is, are in the singular number, agreeing with the word love, yet it must also be understood as applying to faith.

Those who translate it, “with faith and love,” make the meaning to be, that Timothy should add to sound doctrine the affections of piety and love. I do acknowledge that no man can persevere faithfully in sound doctrine unless he is endued with true faith and unfeigned love. But the former exposition, in my opinion, is more appropriate, namely, that Paul employs these terms for describing more fully what is the nature of “sound words” and what is the subject of them. Now he says that the summary consists in “faith and love” of which the knowledge of Christ is the source and beginning.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:13. Hold fast the form of sound words] Rather, Hold to the model; the word for ‘form has occurred in 1Ti_1:16. As Bp Lightfoot points out, Clem, ad Cor. c. v. fin., the compound signifies the first roughly modelled block in the sculptor’s art; just as in the sister art the similarly formed compound hypogrammos is the pencil drawing to be traced over in ink, or the outline to be filled in and coloured. Cf. 1Pe_2:21, leaving you an example that ye should follow his steps.’ Hold to or keep to rather than ‘hold fast,’ because it is the simple not the compound verb.

sound words] Here opposed to the gangrene of Hymenæus and Philetus, ch. 2:17, see notes on 1Ti_1:10; Tit_1:9. Add the following from Dean Vaughan on ‘The Wholesome Words of Jesus Christ,’ Cambridge ‘University Sermons’ of 1866. ‘Never before through the whole volume of his letters has St Paul applied that term to the Gospel. Now it is almost his only epithet for it.… New experiences make new expressions.… St Paul himself saw the first symptoms of this morbid action of the Gospel; alternations of hectic flush and deadly pallor; of a pulse now throbbing, now torpid; of lost appetite and broken sleep; of deformed excrescence and palsied limb.… Each falsehood in religion is some overstrained onesided or isolated truth. Either free grace or free will—either faith or duty—either truth or charity—either dependence or responsibility—either the Humanity or the Divinity—not both, not all—this has been in all time the oscillation, the ebb and flow, of human doctrine; and the Gospel has been not healthy, not well, but sickly, at times almost dying, in consequence. The wholesome words are known by this sign—that in them every part of the truth is equally present, every function of the life equally vigorous. Health is the balance of the powers: a healthy Gospel is one which holds in exact equilibrium opposite forces—excluding nothing that is good, yet suffering no one good thing to engross and swallow up the whole.’

which thou hast heard of me] ‘Of’ in the sense of from, the Latin a not de; so very frequently in A.V. representing the other meaning of a, ‘by’; cf. 1Co_11:32 ‘chastened of the Lord.’

in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus] The faith and the love are both ‘in Christ Jesus,’ and are, as Fairbairn puts it, ‘the spiritual element or frame of mind in which the pattern of things exhibited to him should be remembered and applied.’ The clause belongs to ‘keep,’ not (as Alford) to ‘heard.’ So A.V. and R.V., by the insertion of the comma. St Paul had as his secret of activity and endurance the present sense of a present Saviour, and he longs for Timothy too to possess it as constantly. See note on 2:1.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:13

Hold fast the form of sound words; – see the notes at 1Ti_1:3. On the Greek word here rendered “form,” see the notes at 1Ti_1:16, where it is rendered pattern. The word means a form, sketch, or imperfect delineation – an outline. Grotius says that it here means “an exemplar, but an exemplar fixed in the mind – an idea.” Calvin says that the command is that he should adhere to the doctrine which he had learned, not only in its substance, but in its form. Dr. Tillotson explains this as meaning the profession of faith which was made by Christians at baptism. There seems to be an allusion to some summary or outline of truth which Paul had given to Timothy, though there is no evidence that it was written. Indeed, there is every presumption that, if it refers to such a summary, it was not committed to writing. If it had been, it would have been regarded as inspired, and would have taken its place in the canon of Scripture. It may be presumed that almost none of the sacred writings would have been more sacredly preserved than such a condensed summary of Christian truth. But there is no improbability in supposing that Paul, either at his ordination, or on some other occasion, may have stated the outlines of the Christian religion to Timothy, that he might have a clear and connected view of the subject. The passage, therefore, may be used as an argument for the propriety of some brief summary of doctrine as a matter of convenience, though not as having binding authority on the consciences of others. “Of sound words;” compare the notes at 1Ti_6:3. The Greek is the same in both places.

Which thou hast heard of me – This proves that he does not refer to a written creed, since what he refers to was something which he had heard.

In faith and love which is in Christ Jesus – Hold these truths with sincere faith in the Lord Jesus, and with that love which is the best evidence of attachment to him.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:14

14Keep the excellent thing committed to thee This exhortation is more extensive than the preceding. He exhorts Timothy to consider what God has given to him, and to bestow care and application in proportion to the high value of that which has been committed; for, when the thing is of little value, we are not wont to call any one to so strict an account.

By “that which hath been committed,” I understand him to mean both the honor of the ministry and all the gifts with which Timothy was endued. Some limit it to the ministry alone; but I think that it denotes chiefly the qualifications for the ministry, that is, all the gifts of the Spirit, in which he excelled. The word “committed” is employed also for another reason, to remind Timothy that he must, one day, render an account; for we ought to administer faithfully what God has committed to us.

Τὸ Καλόν denotes that which is of high or singular value; and, therefore, Erasmus has happily translated it (egregium ) “excellent,” for the sake of denoting its rare worth. I have followed that version. But what is the method of keeping it? It is this. We must beware lest we lose by our indolence what God has bestowed upon us, or lest it be taken away, because we have been ungrateful or have abused it; for there are many who reject the grace of God, and many who, after having received it, deprive themselves of it altogether. Yet because the difficulty of keeping it is beyond our strength, he therefore adds, —

By the Holy Spirit As if he had said, “I do ask from thee more than thou canst, for what thou hast not from thyself the Spirit of God will supply to thee.” Hence it follows, that we must not judge of the strength of men from the commandments of God; because, as he commands by words, so he likewise engraves his words on our hearts, and, by communicating strength, causes that his command shall not be in vain.

Who dwelleth in us By this he means, that the assistance of the Holy Spirit is present to believers, provided that they do not reject it when it is offered to them.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:15

15Thou knowest that all that are in Asia have forsaken me Those apostasies which he mentions might have shaken the hearts of many, and given rise, at the same time, to many suspicions; as we commonly look at everything in the worst light. Paul meets scandals of this kind with courage and heroism, that all good men may learn to abhor the treachery of those who had thus deserted the servant of Christ, when he alone, at the peril of his life, was upholding the common cause; and that they may not on that account give way, when they learn that Paul is not left destitute of divine assistance.

Of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes He names two of them, who were probably more celebrated than the rest, that he may shut the door against their slanders; for it is customary with revolters and deserters from the Christian warfare, (151) in order to excuse their own baseness, to forge as many accusations as they can against the good and faithful ministers of the gospel. “Phygellus and Hermogenes,” knowing that their cowardice was justly reckoned infamous by believers, and that they were even condemned as guilty of base treachery, would not have hesitated to load Paul with false accusations, and impudently to attack his innocence. Paul, therefore, in order to take away all credit from their lies, brands them with the mark which they deserve.

Thus also, in the present day, there are many who, because they are not here admitted into the ministry, or are stripped of the honor on account of their wickedness, or because we do not choose to support them while they do nothing, or because they have committed theft or fornication, are compelled to fly, and forthwith wander through France and other countries, and, by throwing upon us all the accusations that they can, borrow from them an attestation of their innocence. And some brethren are so silly as to accuse us of cruelty, if any of us paints such persons in their true colors. But it were to be wished that all of them had their forehead marked with a hot iron, that they might be recognized at first sight.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:15. all they which are in Asia be turned away] Omit ‘be’; the tense describes a definite act, not a continuing state.
We are left to conjecture when and where this desertion took place. ‘They which are in Asia’ implies the residents in Asia, but the desertion may have been either in Asia, between the first and second imprisonments, or in Rome: perhaps the former more probably, on the ground that Timothy’s knowledge of it is appealed to, as also is his knowledge of Onesiphorus’ service at Ephesus, while the help rendered by Onesiphorus at Rome is spoken of independently. The ‘Asia’ meant is the Roman province according to most Commentators (Howson, Dict. Bib.) which embraced Lydia, Mysia, Caria, and Phrygia, as distinguished from ‘Asia Minor’ commonly so called and from the continent of Asia. Lewin however (Life and Epistles of St Paul, 1. p. 190) identifies the Asia of N.T. with Lydia alone, i.e. from the Caicus to the Mæander, with the plain of the Cayster within it, which Homer calls ‘the Asian Meadow,’ cf. Il. 11. 461, Virg. Georg. 1. 383, ‘Asia … prata Caystri’; and he makes three strong points: (1) that the ‘Mysia of Act_16:6 seems clearly separated there from ‘Asia’; (2) that ‘the seven churches which are in Asia’ on this hypothesis just cover the whole district; (3) that ‘the dwellers in Asia’ of Act_2:9 heard their own language, not three languages, Lydian, Mysian and Carian. Prof. Ramsay, the most recent authority on the geography of Asia Minor, appears to support this latter view.

of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes] The mss. favour the form Phygelus, but nothing is known of him; or yet of Hermogenes.

Pulpit Commentary


That are for they which are, A.V.; turned for be turned, A.V.; Phygelus for Phygellus, A.V. and T.R. Turned away from (ἀπεστράφησάν με). This verb is used, as here, governing an accusative of the person or thing turned away from, in Tit_1:14; Heb_12:25, as frequently in classical Greek. The use of the aorist here is important, as St. Paul does not mean to say that the Churches of Asia had all forsaken him, which was not true, and which it would be absurd to inform Timothy of if it were true, living as he was at Ephesus, the central city of Asia, but adverts to some occasion, probably connected with his trim before Nero, when they shrank from him in a cowardly way. Πάντες οἱ ἐν τῆ Ασίᾳ means “the whole party in Asia” connected with the particular transaction to which St. Paul is alluding, and which was known to Timothy though it is not known to us. Perhaps he had applied to certain Asiatics, whether Christians or Jews or GraecoRomans, for a testimony to his orderly conduct in Asia, and they had refused it; or they may have been at Rome at the time, and avoided St. Paul; and among them Phygelus and Hermogenes, whose conduct may have been particularly ungrateful and unexpected. Nothing is known of either of them.

A.T. Robertson

2 Timothy 1:15

Are turned away from me (apestraphēsan me). Second aorist passive (still transitive here with me) of apostrephō, for which verb see note on Tit_1:14. For the accusative with these passive deponents see Robertson, Grammar, p. 484. It is not known to what incident Paul refers, whether the refusal of the Christians in the Roman province of Asia to help Paul on his arrest (or in response to an appeal from Rome) or whether the Asian Christians in Rome deserted Paul in the first stage of the trial (2Ti_4:16). Two of these Asian deserters are mentioned by name, perhaps for reasons known to Timothy. Nothing else is known of Phygelus and Hermogenes except this shameful item.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:15

This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me – That is, in that part of Asia Minor of which Ephesus was the capital. The name Asia was often given particularly to that part of Asia Minor; see the notes at Act_2:9; Act_16:6. This passage proves that Timothy was somewhere in that region when this Epistle was written to him, for otherwise he could not be supposed to Know what is here said. When Paul says that “all” were turned away from him, he must use the word in a general sense, for he immediately specifies one who had been faithful and kind to him.

Of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes – We know nothing of these individuals but what is here mentioned. It would seem that they were prominent persons, and those from whom the apostle had a right to expect other treatment. “The ecclesiastical traditions allege that they were of the seventy disciples, and in the end became followers of Simon Magus. We imagine that this is little more than conjecture.” It is a sad thing when the only record made of a man – the only evidence which we have that he ever lived at all – is, that he turned away from a friend, or forsook the paths of true religion. And yet there are many men of whom the only thing to be remembered of them is, that they lived to do wrong.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:16

16May the Lord grant mercy From this prayer we infer, that the good offices done to the saints are not thrown away, even though they cannot recompense them; for, when he prays to God to reward them, this carries in it the force of a promise. At the same time, Paul testifies his gratitude, by desiring that God will grant the remuneration, because he is unable to pay. What if he had possessed abundant means of remuneration? Undoubtedly he would have manifested that he was not ungrateful.

To the family of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me It is worthy of attention, that although he praises the kindness of Onesiphorus alone, yet, on his account, he prays for mercy to the whole family Hence we infer, that “the blessing of God rests, not only on the head of the righteous man,” but on all his house. So great is the love of God toward his people, that it diffuses itself over all who are connected with them.

And was not ashamed of my chain This is a proof, not only of his liberality, but likewise of his zeal; seeing that he cheerfully exposed himself to danger and to the reproach of men, in order to assist Paul.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:16. The Lord give mercy] The phrase ‘give mercy’ does not occur elsewhere in N.T. As the use of the word ‘mercy’ with ‘grace and peace’ in the salutation to Timothy in both epistles marks the special intimacy and tenderness of sympathy between St Paul and his ‘son in the faith,’ so here the ‘friend in need’ is the ‘friend indeed.’

the house of Onesiphorus] The natural though not necessary inference from this phrase here and in 4:19, and from the prayer in ver. 18, is that Onesiphorus himself was dead.

he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain] That is, ‘in Asia, before I came to Rome this last time’ or ‘when on my way hither bound.’ The clause which follows seems to prevent our referring this to anything at Rome e.g. the libera custodia of the first imprisonment Act_28:20; Eph_6:20, where the word is used, as here, in the singular. But we may refer it to a similar libera custodia, which was exchanged on arrival at Rome for that close confinement which needed Onesiphorus’ ‘zealous’ seeking out.

Pulpit Commentary


Grant for give, A.V. Grant mercy (δώη ἔλεος). This connection of the words is only found here. The house of Onesiphorus. It is inferred from this expression, coupled with that in 2Ti_4:19, that Onesiphorus himself was no longer living; and hence 2Ti_4:18 (where see note) is thought by some to be an argument for prayers for the dead. The inference, further strengthened by the peculiar language of 2Ti_4:18, though not absolutely certain, is undoubtedly probable. The connection between this and the preceding verse is the contrast between the conduct of Phygelus and Hermogenes and that of Onesiphorus. They repudiated all acquaintance with the apostle in his day of trial; he, when he was in Rome, diligently sought him and with difficulty found him. and oft refreshed him with Christian sympathy and communion, acting with no less courage than love. He was no longer on earth to receive a prophet’s reward (Mat_10:41), but St. Paul prays that he may receive it in the day of Christ, and that meanwhile God may requite to his family the mercy he had showed to St. Paul. Refreshed me (ἀνεψυξε); literally, revived me. Only here in the New Testament, but comp. Act_3:19. Chain (ἅλυσιν); in the singular, as Eph_6:20; Act_28:20 (where see note).

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:16

The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus – The family of Onesiphorus – for so the word house is often used. He was himself still living 2Ti_1:18, but not improbably then absent from his home; compare the notes at 2Ti_4:19. He was evidently of Asia, and is the only one who is mentioned from that region who had showed the apostle kindness in his trials. He is mentioned only in this Epistle, and nothing more is known of him. The record is entirely honorable to him, and for his family the apostle felt a warm interest on account of the kindness which he had showed to him in prison. The ecclesiastical traditions also state that he was one of the seventy disciples, and was ultimately Bishop of Corone. But there is no evidence of this. There is much force in the remark of the Editor of the Pictorial Bible, that “the pretended lists of the 70 disciples seem to have been made out on the principle of including all the names incidentally mentioned in the sacred books, and not otherwise appropriated.”

For he oft refreshed me – That is, showed me kindness, and ministered to my needs.

And was not ashamed of my chain – Was not ashamed to be known as a friend of one who was a prisoner on account of religion. Paul was bound with a chain when a prisoner at Rome; Phi_1:13-14, Phi_1:16; Col_4:3, Col_4:18; Phm_1:10; see the notes at Act_28:20.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 1:17. when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently] It is the simple verb, and, according to the best mss., the positive not the comparative adverb, he sought me diligently. What ‘close confinement’ could be under the Emperor Tiberius we see from Suet. Tib. 61 (quoted by Lewin) ‘quibusdam custodiae traditis non modo studendi solatium ademptum sed etiam sermonis et colloquii usus.’ What it could be under Nero’s lieutenant Tigellinus, who succeeded Burrus as praefectus praetorii a.d. 63, we learn from Tacitus, who says of him (Hist. i. 72) ‘crudelitatem mox deinde avaritiam et virilia scelera exercuit corrupto ad omne facinus Nerone.’

Where did Onesiphorus find St Paul? Nero to screen himself had given the word for the most virulent animosity against the Christians (Tac. Ann. xv. 44). When St Paul then was brought prisoner to Rome, he must have been known as one of their chief leaders, and as such would be confined now not in any ‘hired house,’ not in any ‘guard house’ of the praetorium, or any minor state prison, such as that of Appius Claudius if it still existed, or even the ‘Stone Quarry Prison,’ lautumiae, at the furthest north-west corner of the Forum, but (we may believe) in the Carcer itself, the Tullianum or ‘Well-Dungeon,’ at the foot of the Capitol. This last with its chill vault and oozing spring was the worst, as we gather from Seneca Controv. ix. 3, where one Julius Sabinus asks to be removed from the ‘Carcer’—the Prison par excellence—to the lautumiae. See Burn, Rome and the Campagna, p. 80, and his fuller account of the ‘Carcer’ in Excursus.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:17

But when he was in Rome – What was the employment of Onesiphorus is not known. It may have been that he was a merchant, and had occasion to visit Rome on business. At all events, he was at pains to search out the apostle, and his attention was the more valuable because it cost him trouble to find him. It is not everyone, even among professors of religion, who in a great and splendid city would be at the trouble to search out a Christian brother, or even a minister, who was a prisoner, and endeavor to relieve his sorrows. This man, so kind to the great apostle, will be among those to whom the Saviour will say, at the final judgment, “I was in prison, and ye came unto me;” Mat_25:36.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 1:18

18May the Lord grant to him Some explain it thus: — “May God grant to him that he may find mercy with Christ the Judge.” And, indeed, this is somewhat more tolerable than to interpret that passage in the writings of Moses: “The Lord rained fire from the Lord,” (Gen_19:24,) as meaning, — “The Father rained from the Son.” Yet it is possible that strong feeling may have prompted Paul, as often happens, to make a superfluous repetition.

That he may find mercy with the Lord on that day This prayer shews us how much richer a recompense awaits those who, without the expectation of an earthly reward, perform kind offices to the saints, than if they received it immediately from the hand of men. And what does he pray for? “That he may find mercy;” for he who hath been merciful to his neighbors will receive such mercy from God to himself. And if this promise does not powerfully animate and encourage us to the exercise of kindness, we are worse than stupid. Hence it follows, also, that when God rewards us, it is not on account of our merits or of any excellence that is in us; but that the best and most valuable reward which he bestows upon us is, when he pardons us, and shews himself to be, not a stern judge, but a kind and indulgent Father.

Cambridge Bible

18. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day] The repetition of ‘the Lord’ arises apparently from the use of two clauses together which had become customary separate phrases in intercessory prayer. In its first use, as in ver. 16, with the article, understand ‘our Lord’ as in the Epistles generally, cf Winer, Pt. iii. § 19a; and in its second use ‘God the Father’ (Bp Ellicott). For a somewhat similar English use cf. Coll. for 4 S. in Advent ‘O Lord, raise up (we pray thee) thy power and come among us … through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord.’ The sentence should be regarded, as by Revisers, as a parenthetic prayer forced from him as he recalls the love that persevered to find him ‘in the lowest pit’; though he is chiefly bent on completing the tale of benefits for Timothy’s good; ‘go thou’ he would imply ‘and do likewise.’

and in how many things he ministered unto me] Omit with the best mss. ‘unto me’; the statement is general of ministry to the Church, but the context gives a special suggestion of ministry to St Paul in his ‘overseer’s’ office there. The Greek words would well bear rendering how fully he played the deacon; but anyhow the work is more prominent than the office, that of attending to bodily needs; as St Paul uses the word diakonein of himself when carrying the alms to Jerusalem, Rom_15:25 ‘now I say I go unto Jerusalem ministering unto the saints,’ and of Onesimus with himself at Rome ‘whom I would fain have kept with me, that in thy behalf he might minister unto me in the bonds of the gospel.’ Phm_1:13.

thou knowest very well] Lit. ‘better’ i.e. than that I should need to dwell upon it.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 1:18

The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day – The day of judgment; notes at 2Ti_1:12. This proves that Onesiphorus was then alive, as Paul would not offer prayer for him if he was dead. The Papists, indeed, argue from this in favor of praying for the dead – assuminG from 2Ti_4:19, that Onesiphorus was then dead. But there is no evidence of that. The passage in 2Ti_4:19, would prove only that he was then absent from his family.

And in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus – This was the home of Onesiphorus, and his family was still there; 2Ti_4:19. When Paul was at Ephesus, it would seem that Onesiphorus had showed him great kindness. His affection for him did not change when he became a prisoner. True friendship, and especially that which is based on religion, will live in all the vicissitudes of fortune, whether we are in prosperity or adversity; whether in a home of plenty, or in a prison.

This chapter is full of interest, and may suggest many interesting reflections. We see:

(1) A holy man imprisoned and about to die. He had nearly finished his course, and had the prospect of soon departing.

(2) He was forsaken by his friends, and left to bear his sorrows alone. They on whom he might have relied, had left him; and to all his outward sufferings, there was added this, one of the keenest which his Master endured before him, that his friends forsook him, and left him to bear his sorrows alone.

(3) Yet his mind is calm, and his faith in the gospel is unshaken. He expresses no regret that he had embraced the gospel; no sorrow that he had been so zealous in it as to bring these calamities upon himself. That gospel he still loves, and his great solicitude is, that his young friend may never shrink from avowing it, though it may call him also to pass through scenes of persecution and sorrow.

(4) In the general apostasy, the turning away of those on whom he might have relied, it is refreshing and interesting, to find mention made of one unshaken friend; 2Ti_1:16. He never swerved in his affections. He had been kind to him in former years of comparative honor, and he did not leave him now in the dark day of adversity. It is always interesting to find true friendship in this world – friendship that survives all reverses, and that is willing to manifest itself when the great mass turn coldly away. There is such a thing as friendship, and there is such a thing as religion, and when they meet and mingle in the same heart, the one strengthens the other; and then neither persecution, nor poverty, nor chains, will prevent our doing good to him who is in prison and is about to die; see the notes at 2Ti_4:16.

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