Today’s Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-18
Most scholars believe that 2nd Timothy was Paul’s final book. Many people consider it his “last will and testament.” When Paul wrote it, he was in prison, in chains, in Rome. Many people think he died within weeks of writing it.
In 2 Timothy 1:16 Paul specifically mentions his chains. That’s not a metaphor or a symbol; it’s a statement of his incarceration in Rome. Although the precise details are hard to pin down, the chronology goes something like this. At the end of the book of Acts, Paul is under house arrest in Rome but is able to receive guests and to preach to them. At some point, he was released and resumed his itinerant ministry. Later he was arrested, again (perhaps at Troas), charged with a crime (perhaps treason for asserting the lordship of Christ, which could be twisted to mean an attack on the Roman emperor), and sent to Rome for trial. This time he was tried and condemned to death. Tradition says he was beheaded by the emperor Nero. Though we cannot be certain, a date of A.D. 66 is possible.
Timothy represented the up-and-coming generation of emerging Christian leadership. Paul is an old man now, and Timothy is his trusted young colleague. Timothy is much younger than Paul, perhaps in his 20s. He loved Paul deeply and had been with him in many difficult situations. According to Acts 16, he was the product of a mixed spiritual heritage. His father was Greek, his mother Jewish. He seems to have been a young man with a sensitive, emotional, and somewhat timid disposition. No doubt he felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities being thrust upon him, and he was overcome at the thought of his mentor’s approaching death. Paul’s final letter is a passing of the torch from one generation on to another. Here are the final words of a dying man who knows his days are numbered. Each generation has a sacred obligation to pass the truth along to the next generation.