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In the New Testament, the Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy, usually referred to as Second Timothy and often written 2 Timothy or II Timothy, is one of the three pastoral epistles traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle. It is addressed to Timothy, a fellow missionary and traditionally is considered to be the last epistle he wrote before his death.
Although the pastorals are written under Paul's name, they are different from his other epistles, and since the early 19th century, scholars have increasingly seen them as the work of an unknown student of Paul's doctrine. They do not address Paul's common themes, such as the believers' unity with Christ, and they reflect a church hierarchy that is more organized and defined than the church was in Paul's time.
Some modern critical scholars argue that 2 Timothy, as well as the other two so-called 'pastoral letters' (1 Timothy and Titus), were not written by Paul but by an anonymous author, sometime between 90 and 140 AD. Some scholars refer to the assumedly pseudonymous author as "the Pastor".
The language and ideas of 2 Timothy are notably different from the other two pastoral epistles yet similar to the later Pauline epistles, especially the ones he wrote in captivity. This has led some scholars to conclude that the author of 2 Timothy is a different person from 1 Timothy and Titus. Raymond E. Brown proposed that this letter was written by a follower of Paul who had knowledge of Paul's last days.
Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, however, argued that 2 Timothy was written by Paul and that the other two pastoral epistles were written by someone else using it as a model, and that it is the only still-extant letter written by Paul after Romans.
According to the letter, Paul urges Timothy not to have a "spirit of timidity" and not to "be ashamed to testify about our Lord" (1:7–8). He also entreats Timothy to come to him before winter, and to bring Mark with him (cf. Philippians 2:22). He was anticipating that "the time of his departure was at hand" (4:6), and he exhorts his "son Timothy" to all diligence and steadfastness in the face of false teachings, with advice about combating them with reference to the teachings of the past, and to patience under persecution (1:6–15), and to a faithful discharge of all the duties of his office (4:1–5), with all the solemnity of one who was about to appear before the Judge of the quick and the dead.
Paul clearly anticipates his being put to death and realities beyond in his valedictory found in 2 Timothy 4:6–8: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
2 Timothy contains one of Paul's Christological Hymns in 2:11–13:
It is a faithful saying:
For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him:
if we deny him, he also will deny us:
If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
Based on the traditional view that 2 Timothy was Paul's final epistle, chapter 4 mentions (v. 10) about how Demas, formerly considered a "fellow worker", had deserted him for Thessalonica, "having loved this present world". In sharp contrast to his dispute with Barnabas over Mark (Acts 15:37–40), which resulted in the two parting ways, Paul now considered Mark to be "profitable to the ministry" (v. 11). The chapter also features the only biblical mention of Linus (v. 21), who in Catholic tradition is listed as Peter's immediate successor as Bishop of Rome.
- May, Herbert G.; Metzger, Bruce M. (1977), The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, pp. 1440, 1446–49.
- Johnson, Luke Timothy (2001). The First and Second Letters to Timothy. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-13988-8.
- Harris, Stephen L. (1985), "The Pastoral Epistles", Understanding the Bible, Palo Alto: Mayfield, pp. 340–45.
- Just, Felix, "New Testament Letter Structure", Catholic Resources.
- Collins, Raymond F. (2004), 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary, Westminster John Knox Press, p. 4, ISBN 0-664-22247-1,
By the end of the twentieth century New Testament scholarship was virtually unanimous in affirming that the Pastoral Epistles were written some time after Paul's death...As always some scholars dissent from the consensus view.
- Brown, Raymond E. (1997), An Introduction to the New Testament, New York: Doubleday, pp. 672–75.
- Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, Paul: A Critical Life, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996, pp. 356–359.
- Reiher, Jim (July 2012), "Could Philippians have been written from the Second Roman Imprisonment?", Evangelical Quarterly, LXXXIV (3): 213–33: sums the other theories, offers examples of different scholars who adhere to different theories, but presents a different option for consideration.
- Second Timothy by E.H. Wendland
- EarlyChristianWritings.com discussion of 2 Timothy
- EarlyChristianWritings.com further discussion of the Pastorals (on the 1 Timothy page)
- Bible: 2 Timothy public domain audiobook at LibriVox Various versions