Read 2 Timothy 1.
This letter to Timothy was the last of Paul’s letters. It was penned during his second incarceration in Rome. Unlike the first one (the Acts 28 house arrest one), Paul was not released but executed.
We do not know how much time passed between Acts 28 and the events of this letter, but the evidence from the New Testament is that there were a few years at least in between. Unlike Paul’s other prison letters, this time he was not optimistic about being released. In this letter to Timothy, he was asking Timothy to leave Ephesus and come to see him (v. 4a). He knew it was possible, however, that the letter may not get to Timothy in time or that Timothy may not get to him in time. So the letter also left his parting thoughts to Timothy.
What would you write to a close friend in this situation?
You would certainly want to express your care for that person as Paul did here in v. 2 when he called him, “my dear son” and in verse 4 when he expressed his desire to “be filled with joy” when he saw Timothy.
But beyond expressing his care for Timothy personally, Paul was still more passionate about Christ and his work than anything else.
He prayed for God’s grace, mercy, and peace (v. 2b) and thanked God for Timothy’s sincere faith (vv. 3-5).But he also expressed confidence in Christ despite his suffering and expected death (v. 12). And, he expected and charged Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” (v. 6) and “join me in suffering for the gospel.”
It was the faith they shared in Christ that gave Paul and Timothy a basis for their friendship. But it was their service for Christ together that made them such close friends. As much as he loved Timothy, Paul sent him away when necessary to do the Lord’s work but they also spent much time together traveling for the gospel and serving together in the gospel.
Many Christians since then have also formed deep bonds with other believers while serving the Lord together. While serving the Lord has its own eternal rewards, making and strengthening good, godly friendships are an important side benefit in this life of serving the Lord with others.
With a friendship that revolved around Christ like theirs did, it is understandable that Paul would want Timothy to keep going for Christ and even be willing to suffer for Jesus. Paul did not want his persecution or even his death to cause Timothy to lose faith in Christ. That’s why he wrote, “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner” in verse 8.
As Timothy continued to walk with God and work for Christ, he not only carried forward the legacy of his brother in Christ, Paul, he also demonstrated that his faith was in Christ and not in Paul.