The Gospel in 2 Timothy

This article is part of the Christ in All of Scripture series.

A Call to Endure

Paul’s second letter to Timothy is a call to endurance amid opposition and suffering for the sake of the gospel. The theme of endurance is pres­ent throughout the letter through the use of Greek words that variously express the idea (2 Tim. 2:10, 12, 24; 3:11; 4:5). Suffering for the gospel is explicitly stated in 2 Tim. 1:8, 12 (cf. 2 Tim. 2:3; 3:10–11).

Paul’s exhortation to endure has shaped the very structure of the letter. After expressing his affectionate greetings to Timothy, his “beloved child,” and recounting his fond remembrance of the young man’s spiritual begin­nings (2 Tim. 1:1–5), Paul issues an extended exhortation to endurance (2 Tim. 1:6–2:13). This exhortation begins with a powerful call to gospel­-centered endur­ance (2 Tim. 1:6–14), followed by contrasting real­ life examples of two who failed to endure and one who did (2 Tim. 1:15–18). Paul then resumes his call to gospel endurance (2 Tim. 2:1–13), with directives to be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1–2), to share in suffering as a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:3–7), to remember Jesus Christ as preached in Paul’s gospel (2 Tim. 2:8–9), and to endure through the work of Christ (2 Tim. 2:10–13).

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In the next section (2 Tim. 2:14–3:9) Paul provides wisdom for enduring false teachers. Timothy is charged to rightly handle the word (2 Tim. 2:14–19), remain an honorable vessel, be ready for every good work (2 Tim. 2:20–21), avoid ignorant controversies (2 Tim. 2:23), and correct opponents with gentleness (2 Tim. 2:24–26). As Paul moves to the end of his letter (2 Tim. 3:10–4:8), he issues a mounting, ascending call to endure for the gospel. Paul encourages Timothy to follow his own astonishing example of endurance (2 Tim. 3:10–13), continuing in the God-­breathed Scriptures that make souls wise for salva­tion through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:14–17) and taking up the stunning call to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:1–8).

The apostle closes with a moving example of enduring to the end in gospel ministry (2 Tim. 4:9–22). Second Timothy is, so to speak, Paul’s last will and testament and, as such, it bears power and soul­-moving piquancy—all rooted in the beauty of the gospel of grace (2 Tim. 1:8–11).

This article is adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. Browse other articles in this series via the links below.

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