This is the last letter written by the apostle Paul before his execution under the authority of the Roman Emperor Nero just a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It has 4 chapters, 83 verses, and 1,666 words.
These are the last words of a man mightily used of God and take their place alongside other great last words recorded in the Scripture (e.g., Moses, Joshua, and David).
This was the last book of the Bible that was written (Col 1:24-26; 2 Tim 3:16). During the transition period covered by the book of Acts, Paul taught that the sign gifts would cease “when that which is perfect is come” (1 Cor 13:10) which refers to the complete revelation of the mystery of this age recorded in the sound words of Paul’s epistles. Paul had the sign gift of healing during the Acts period, but not afterward (2 Tim 4:20).
Paul wrote this letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, to exhort him to faithfully fulfill his ministry in the midst of growing apostasy (2 Tim 1:15). Apostasy is a willful denial and departure from the truth. Just as God revealed the law for Israel through Moses, He revealed specific doctrines for this age of grace through the apostle Paul. Just as it was apostasy for Israel to deny and depart from the word of God through their spokesman, Moses, so in this age, it is apostasy to deny and depart from the word of God through our spokesman, the apostle Paul.
In the first letter to Timothy, we see the church in rule, but in this second letter, we see it in ruin. It is interesting that the church is not mentioned. In days of apostasy, we should be very thankful if we have some faithful men to commit the truth to (2 Tim 2:2). Timothy was a young, timid, and unhealthy man. It is evident from things said in both letters that Paul was concerned about his faithfulness in the midst of so much opposition and corruption. But just as Paul faithfully “kept the faith,” Timothy could also by the grace of God.
Paul makes four appeals to Timothy to be faithful:
I. The Pastoral Appeal (1)
II. The Practical Appeal (2)
III. The Prophetic Appeal (3)
IV. The Personal Appeal (4)
One of the keywords in this epistle is “truth” (2 Tim 2:15, 18, 25; 3:7-8; 4:4). Note the three downward stages of departure from the truth:
turn away (4:4)
There were only a few years between the two letters that Paul wrote Timothy, but in that short time, the apostasy had gotten much worse. The “some” in 1 Timothy 1:6, 19; 4:1; 5:15; 6:10, 21 became “all” in 2 Timothy 1:15; 4:16. Paul’s prediction that he made while speaking to the Ephesian elders came to pass (Acts 20:29-31).