Overview of the Book of 2 Timothy


Overview of the Book of 2 Timothy

Author: The author is the Apostle Paul.


To call for Timothy to visit Paul in his last days and to encourage Timothy in his ministry against false teachers in Ephesus.

Date: A.D. 64-68

Key Truths:

  • False teachers will always trouble the Church.
  • Church leaders must be courageous in their struggle against false teachers. Church leadership must be based on the Scriptures.
  • God will keep true believers safe, but others in the Church will be judged.


The apostle Paul authored this letter. See "Introduction to 1 Timothy: Author."

Time and Place of Writing:

Second Timothy is most likely the last of Paul's letters. It was written after what may have been his fourth missionary journey and probably dates between A.D. 64 and 68 (see "Introduction to 1 Timothy: Time and Place of Writing").

Paul wrote 2 Timothy from prison, probably during a second Roman imprisonment (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:9; see also "Introduction to 1 Timothy: Time and Place of Writing"). Precisely why he was under arrest, or even where he was arrested, is unknown. He had been given a preliminary hearing, at which he had received no support (2 Tim. 4:16). His trial still awaited him, but he knew that it would end in his execution (2 Tim. 4:6). Most of Paul's friends found it convenient to be elsewhere (2 Tim. 4:10-11). He had been troubled by the actions of Phygelus and Hermogenes (2 Tim. 1:15-16) and Alexander the metalworker (2 Tim. 4:14), although a Christian named Onesiphorus had been an encouragement to him (2 Tim. 1:16-18).

Original Audience:

Paul wrote to his friend and coworker, Timothy. Timothy was still in Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:19), where Paul had previously left him (1 Tim. 1:3) and where the false teaching that Paul had addressed in his first letter to Timothy continued to be a problem (2 Tim. 2:14-18, 23; 3:1-9, 13). Remembering their longstanding friendship, Paul desired to see Timothy one last time before his death (2 Tim. 1:4).

Timothy's mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, were both Christians (2 Tim. 1:5) who had given Timothy early training in the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15). The letter includes a probable reference to his ordination (2 Tim. 1:6; 2:2).

Purpose and Distinctives:

Paul seems to have written 2 Timothy with two purposes in mind. First, he wanted to provide Timothy with a final letter of personal encouragement in his ministry (2 Tim. 1:5-14; 2:1-16, 22-26; 3:10-4:5). Second, he directed Timothy to come to Rome (2 Tim. 4:9, 21), providing instructions on who and what (2 Tim. 4:11-13) to bring with him.

Like 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy exhibits a strong concern for sound doctrine (2 Tim. 1:13-14; 2:2; 4:1-5) and contains marvelous theological meditations on the grace of God (2 Tim. 1:8-11), the faithfulness of Christ (2 Tim. 2:11-13) and the nature and function of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:15-17). There are affirmations of salvation by grace (2 Tim. 1:9), election (2 Tim. 1:9; 2:10, 19) and the divine inspiration of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16). Second Timothy also affirms the resurrection (2 Tim. 2:8) and the second coming (2 Tim. 4:1, 8) of Christ. See also "Introduction to 1 Timothy: Purpose and Distinctives."

As the last of Paul's letters, 2 Timothy is especially important because it provides us with some final insights regarding the apostle Paul. His situation was bleak. No longer could he look forward to fruitful ministry (cf. Phil. 1:22-26). Most of his friends had left him (2 Tim. 4:10-11). Yet Paul remained confident. He was not ashamed to suffer for the Gospel (2 Tim. 1:12) and was willing to "endure everything for the sake of the elect" (2 Tim. 2:10). He knew that he had been faithful to Christ (2 Tim. 4:7) and that Christ would always remain faithful (2 Tim. 1:12; 2:13). Therefore Paul had confidence that the One who had rescued him from death in the past (2 Tim. 3:11; 4:17) would rescue him through death into eternal life (2 Tim. 4:8, 18).

Notes from the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Dr. Richard Pratt, ed. (Zondervan, 2003).

Introduction Material:

The Epistles of the New Testament


Copyright, Authors, and Theological Editors of the SORSB

Answer by Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr.

Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr. is Co-Founder and President of Third Millennium Ministries who served as Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary and has authored numerous books.