Introduction to 2 Timothy


Author, Date, and Recipient

Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy during his second imprisonment in Rome, shortly before his death. This imprisonment was after the one recorded in Acts 28. He probably wrote it in A.D. 64–65, though some would place it as late as 67.


Paul gives Timothy a bold, clear call to continue in the gospel despite suffering.


Several people have abandoned Paul while he has been in prison, and several others are away on assignments (1:15; 4:9–12). In such a time, Paul’s memories of Timothy’s sincerity and devotion are especially touching (1:3–5). Paul thinks he will die soon (4:6–8), so he writes this final message to Timothy. Paul urges Timothy to stand firm and asks him to come for one final visit before Paul is executed. Though Paul’s death is near, he does not know just when it will come. Paul also asks Timothy to bring his books and parchments, so that he can keep studying and writing until the end.

Second Timothy is very personal. It is a final letter to a close friend and coworker. Paul encourages Timothy to continue in faithfulness and offers his own life as an example for Timothy to follow. What he calls on Timothy to do, he himself has done already.

Key Themes

  1. Suffering is part of the Christian experience (1:8, 12; 2:3, 9; 3:11–12; 4:5, 14–18).
  2. The Christian response to suffering is steady faith by God’s power (1:8; 2:1, 11–13; 4:1–8).
  3. The gospel is the basis for the Christian’s endurance (1:9–11; 2:8–10).
  4. The Scriptures have power to save and to preserve (2:15; 3:15–17; 4:1–2).
  5. True believers will continue in the faith. Failure to do so proves one is not truly converted (2:11–13, 19; 3:14; 4:7, 10).
  6. False teaching is deadly and must be dealt with firmly (2:16–18, 23–26; 3:1–9; 4:3–5).


  1. Opening (1:1–2)
  2. Enduring for the Gospel (1:3–2:13)
  3. Dealing with False Teachers (2:14–3:9)
  4. Contrasting Timothy with False Teachers (3:10–4:8)
  5. Conclusion (4:9–22)

The Setting of 2 Timothy

c. A.D. 64–67

Paul probably wrote 2 Timothy during a second imprisonment in Rome following a fourth missionary journey that is not recorded in Acts. Expecting that death would come soon, Paul wrote this “farewell” letter to Timothy, who was at Ephesus, urging him to stand firm and asking him to come for one final visit.

The Setting of 2 Timothy