Paul began his letter with an introduction, in which he identified himself as an apostle. Timothy knew Paul was an apostle, but Paul included this to emphasize that above all, this was who he was. Though he was imprisoned and faced execution, Paul was still carried the message of the Gospel that was entrusted to him by the Lord. He belonged to Jesus Christ, and it could not be taken from him. Paul acknowledged that he was an apostle only by the will of God, by his grace. There is no self-praise. Paul knows his apostleship was not his own doing, but that he was called, appointed, and all his work was God’s work. Paul was an apostle only in keeping with the Gospel, which is the promise of life in Christ, that also being the only message Paul carried without deviation. Apart from the Gospel, apart from Christ, Paul was nothing.
Paul refers to Timothy as his son, as he was Timothy’s spiritual mentor and father, as well as an earthly father figure. Paul had a deep affection for Timothy because he had lead him to Christ and served along side him in ministry. He was certainly aware this could be his last time speaking to Timothy. He offered blessings of grace, mercy, and peace– these are not his own blessings, but blessings that are bestowed by God. As a diligent practitioner of prayer, Paul was constant in giving thanks for Timothy. Paul did not thank just any God, but the God that he served, the God of his ancestors, the God of the Hebrews, who sent Jesus Christ for the purpose of salvation. He served God with a clear conscience– Paul was not a sinless man, but he strove to be holy before God, and was a practitioner of repentance and a recipient of mercy through Jesus. Paul had also committed no wrong in his preaching of Christ.
Paul greatly desired to see Timothy, especially when he remembered Timothy’s sadness at his departure. Timothy departed Paul not for his sake or for Paul’s sake, but for the sake of the Gospel. Paul reflected on the sincerity of Timothy’s faith. Paul was candid, in in some cases roughly honest of the character of churches and individuals, so there is no reason to think his opinion of Timothy’s character was contrived, but his true judgment. Paul noted he had witnessed the same faith in Timothy’s grandmother and mother, and this was to be an encouragement to Timothy.
Who we are in Christ can never be taken from us, though in the midst of suffering we can surrender it willingly. If we follow the example of Paul, we do not give up our faith in times of difficulty, but we proclaim it, and identify ourselves as children of God. We should not cease to be messengers of the truth even in the face of danger, understanding that our appointment as couriers of the gospel is only by the will of God. We should keep our Christian brothers and sisters constantly in our prayers, even while we deal with our own struggles. We are not sinless, but we can serve God with a clear conscience by our continual repentance and receipt of mercy through Jesus Christ. We should be concerned with the sincerity of faith of others, and acknowledge and encourage those who are truly faithful. Parents can give their children no greater gift than the gift of faith in God and Jesus Christ. It will be an encouragement to them in all times, especially those of turmoil. Let all children in times of trouble think: My parents believed in God, so will I.