Second Epistle to Timothy

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The Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy, usually referred to simply as Second Timothy and often written 2 Timothy, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the New Testament. It is addressed to Timothy.


Most modern critical scholars argue that 2 Timothy was not written by Paul but by an anonymous follower, after Paul's death in the First Century.[1][2]

The language and ideas of this epistle are notably different from the other two Pastoral letters yet similar to the later Pauline letters, especially the ones he wrote in captivity. This has led some scholars to conclude that the author of 2 Timothy is a different person from 1 Timothy and Titus. Raymond E. Brown proposed that this letter was written by a follower of Paul who had knowledge of Paul's last days.[3]

Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, however, would go further than Brown. He noted that a number of pseudepigraphic letters attributed to the Apostle were rejected in antiquity, indicating that there was not "a climate of acceptance, which would make it easy for the forged Pastorals to enter the mainstream of church life." Murphy-O'Connor continues,

Realistically, the only scenario capable of explaining the acceptance of the Pastorals is the authenticity of one of the three letters. Were one to have been long known and recognized, then the delayed "discovery" of two others with the same general pattern could be explained in a variety of convincing ways.[4]

Murphy-O'Connor then argues, based in part on recent research on the style of this work, that 2 Timothy was the authentic one of the trio. It was not widely known due to its private nature, but eventually published for the benefit of the church. Using it as a model, O`Connor suggests one of Paul's followers then wrote the other two Pastorals and was able to persuade his fellows that they were also previously unknown letters of Paul.[5]


In his letter, Paul urges Timothy to not have a "spirit of timidity" and to "not be ashamed to testify about our Lord" (1:7–8). He also entreats Timothy to come to him before winter, and to bring Mark with him (cf. Philippians 2:22). He was anticipating that "the time of his departure was at hand" (4:6), and he exhorts his "son Timothy" to all diligence and steadfastness in the face of false teachings, with advice about combating them with reference to the teachings of the past, and to patience under persecution (1:6–15), and to a faithful discharge of all the duties of his office (4:1–5), with all the solemnity of one who was about to appear before the Judge of the quick and the dead.

Paul clearly anticipates his being put to death and realities beyond in his valedictory found in 2 Timothy 4:6–8: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

2 Timothy contains one of Paul's Christological Hymns in 2:11–13:

It is a faithful saying:
For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him:
if we deny him, he also will deny us:
If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
(King James Version)


The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
(English Standard Version)

For a discussion of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 on Biblical inspiration, see Biblical inspiration#Basis.

Portions of 2 Timothy parallel the Epistle to the Phillipians, also believed to be written (with Timothy's help) near the time of Paul's death.[6]

The closing greeting, in 4:21, includes the only Biblical mention of Linus, who in Roman Catholic tradition is listed as Peter's immediate successor as Bishop of Rome (a title now known as Pope).

See also


  1. New Testament Letter Structure, from Catholic Resources by Felix Just, S.J.
  2. Collins, Raymond F. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. 2004. p. 4 ISBN 0-664-22247-1
    "By the end of the twentieth century New Testament scholarship was virtually unanimous in affirming that the Pastoral Epistles were written some time after Paul's death. ... As always some scholars dissent from the consensus view."
  3. Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), pp.672–675.
  4. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, OP Paul: A Critical Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 357
  5. Murphy-O'Connor, OP Paul, pp. 356–359
  6. Jim Reiher, “Could Philippians have been written from the Second Roman Imprisonment?” Evangelical Quarterly. Vol. LXXXIV. No. 3 July 2012. pp.213-233. This reference summarises the other theories, offers examples of different scholars who adhere to different theories, but presents a different option for consideration

External links

Second Epistle to Timothy
Preceded by
First Timothy
New Testament
Books of the Bible
Succeeded by