2 Timothy 1:1 – The Promise of Life in the Face of Death

2 Timothy 1v1


The Promise of Life in the Face of Death.



ILLUS.: Imagine for a moment – you know your life is about to end. The cause that you have given your life to and worked hard at is under great threat. You have a short time to write a letter of instruction and encouragement to one of a few who also believe in the same cause. Who would you write to? What would you say?


Paul is coming to the end of his life and he knows it only too well.

2 Timothy 4:7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.


His overriding concern is now that the message about Jesus Christ is passed on and the well being of the Christian Church is protected and prospers.


One of the major purposes for him writing this letter is to urge / encourage / solemnly charge young Timothy [look at him in a moment] to preserve at all cost the gospel he has received AND pass it on to others who will then faithfully teach others – from one generation to another!

2 Timothy 2:2 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable [persons –anthropoi] men who will also be qualified to teach others.


This is the core purpose of this letter – that the gospel is preserved and perpetuated.


A little background is helpful.


Paul is in prison in Rome – 2 Timothy 1:8  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. ….

He was in prison many times is different places on all kinds of trumped up charges – this is the 2nd time he has been in prison in Rome. The first time was under house arrest but this time is different.

This time the persecution under the Roman Emperor Nero was in full swing. He was almost certainly in a dungeon, which would have had a hole in the ceiling for air and light.His friend and fellow worker, Onesiphorus had searched painstakingly for him – 2 Timothy 1:17 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. (NIV)

He literally in chains – 2 Timothy 1:16     16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. (NIV)

2 Timothy 2:9 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. ….. (NIV)

He was also, lonely and bored and cold – 2 Timothy 4:9-13

9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. (NIV)


It seems the preliminary trial has taken place – 2 Timothy 4:16-17

16 At my first defence, no-one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. (NIV)

I am sure he means literally saved from the Lion’s mouth in one of Nero’s famous touch-light parties!

As he awaited the full trial he didn’t expect to be acquitted but to face death!

2 Timothy 4:6-8

6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. [from this life!!]7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race [of life], I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day [[of judgement] — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing [when Jesus Christ returns to this earth].


The indications are that tradition is correct and Paul’s expectations were fulfilled – he was beheaded on the Ostain Way about three miles outside the city of Rome.


Few Christians in our context are called upon to suffer in this way – but there are many in other parts of the world who have to make the ultimate sacrifice. We may be tempted to think that lack of persecution and suffering is a sign of God’s blessing / approval – NOT necessarily!!


This is Paul’s situation as he writes to his young friend Timothy.


In many ways the mantle of leadership that Paul carries is being passed to Timothy.



If you or I were to choose a successor to Paul it would probably not be Timothy.

  • He was young  – probably in his mid-thirties. In our modern world to be young is desirable / marketable / valued while to be older can mean being less valued / less employable. It is interesting that when we look through the scripture very few people accomplished anything significant before the age of 40!! Does our Western pursuit of youthfulness have something to learn!
  • He was prone to illness – he had frequent ailments and Paul advises him to take a little wine!! [interesting!!]
  • He was timid by temperament  – maybe in today’s psychological analysis he would be considered and introvert.


Yet Paul values him 2 Timothy 1:2  To Timothy, my dear son: ….

– in spite of his youthfulness, his physical frailty and his retiring personality. Timothy has a heart for God and a love for God’s people and he now has placed upon him a great burden of responsibility to lead the Church of God in Ephesus.


Paul writes to him to urge him

  • To be a guardian of the Truth of the Gospel.
  • To be willing to even suffer for the gospel like a good soldier.
  • To never give up but always move forward.
  • To past on to other the message of the gospel.




– a changed man.


Paul was a Jew, from the tribe of Benjamin – he was very well educated – he had studied under the famous Jewish teacher, Gamaliel. He was a shining light amongst the up and coming Jewish rabbis. He hated the Christians and set out to make life for them as miserable and difficult as possible. He was prepared to go to any lengths to stop the spread of this new Jewish sect – the people of the Way.


BUT God had other plans – Paul was dramatically converted on the Damascus road.

He spent three years in the Arabian Desert and then helped teach and lead the church in Antioch. It was from there that God called Him and Barnabas to there missionary work!!


It is interesting that God called the leaders of the church to go – also that Paul and Barnabas were not on cloud 9 waiting a voice from heaven they were involved in the church where they were —- if you have desires to serve God abroad – the best way is to start serving him here!!


God changed Saul from an anti-Christian persecutor into a godly preacher of the good news.


– a commissioned man.


Paul was an apostle – lit. “a sent one” – This word could be used in a very broad sense to refer to anyone sent out on a mission. We could use it of ourselves in the sense that we too are commissioned by God to be his witnesses. BUT Paul uses it in a much narrower sense with reference to himself and the other 12 who Jesus called.


This apostleship which Paul has received is not because a Church council choose him – nor that he volunteered for the job BUT he was chosen and appointed by God [the will of God] to be a messenger for Jesus Christ.  He is not just a great teacher or a missionary hero BUT a God-appointed APOSTLE.


In Acts 26 Paul gives an account of his conversion – The Risen Christ speaks to him  vv. 26:16-18 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (NIV)

This commissioning Paul could never forget – It came from the Risen Christ and not from men!2 Timothy 1:1 …, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, ..


God changed Paul and then commissioned him. God does the same thing today – we don’t have leaders with the same authority as Paul and Peter and the other Apostles – their authority is now recorded in scripture  – but all Christians have been changed and commissioned.

Changed from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive!! 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Commissioned by the same risen Christ – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, …


The Promise of life!

What is the purpose of this calling and commission that Paul has received?

What is the purpose of every Christian’s calling and commission?

………..The Promise of life!


The Gospel – which means Good News, is that God has promised dying sinners life in Jesus Christ!

In none of his other letters does Paul begin with this phrase. BUT when we consider the fact that the Apostle Paul is facing death is seems so apt / pertinent that he should refer to the “Promise of Life”. That is exactly what the gospel is!

If the Good News about Jesus Christ appears to be dull and boring and lifeless than maybe we as Christians have to take a long hard look at our lives.


Jesus was many things but he was not dull and boring and lifeless – and if we Christians walk around looking like we have been baptized in vinegar then we need to ask ourselves if our relationship with Jesus is what it should be.

Jesus was challenging, fun, exciting, radical, unconventional … dull he was not.

He came to give life – John 10:10 ……I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)


It is a promise of Life that is not just future – it begins NOW!

John 3:36 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, …. [NOT will have!!]


The Promise of Life is in Christ Jesus.


This life – eternal / spiritual / – “ .. is in Christ Jesus”

So Paul writes in verse 10….2 Timothy 1:10 .., Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (NIV)


The Christian Gospel does more than simply ‘offer’ life, it ‘promises’ life !

The Bible is emphatic … 1 John 5:12 12 whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (NIV)


Real Life is more than the physical life we see around us – The apostle Paul is an old man facing an untimely and cruel death – YET he begins his letter rejoicing in the promise of life.

What is there to be happy about – chained up in a smelly, dark and damp dungeon, alone and facing death – “He has the promise of life in Christ Jesus”

For Paul death is not a miserable end but a glorious new beginning!!


On a previous occasion he had written to the Church in Phillippi …

Philippians 1:21-23 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; (NIV)


Can you and I face death or any of life’s other traumas with the confidence that “My life is secure in Jesus?”

This promise of Life is to ALL – If you have received it – Rejoice! If not I urge you to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Paul facing death was confident that all was well because he had received the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus and nothing that happened to him, not even death, could change that fact!


ILLUS.: The story of Horatio Spafford … It is well with my soul


Horatio G. Spafford, Chicago Presbyterian layman,  was born in North Troy, New York, on October 20, 1828. As a young man Spafford had established a most successful legal practice in Chicago. Despite his financial success, he always maintained a keen interest in Christian activities. He enjoyed a close and active relationship with D. L. Moody and the other evangelical leaders of that era. He was described by George Stebbins, a noted gospel musician, as a “man of unusual intelligence and refinement, deeply spiritual, and a devoted student of the Scriptures.”

Some months prior to the Chicago Fire of 1871, Spafford had invested heavily in real estate on the shore of Lake Michigan, and his holdings were wiped out by this disaster. Just before this he had experienced the death of his son. Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters as well as wishing to join and assist Moody and Sankey in one of their campaigns in Great Britain, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago; but he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days. On November 22 the ship was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel, and sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors were finally landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, “Saved alone.” Shortly afterward Spafford left by ship to join his bereaved wife. It is speculated that on the sea near the area where it was thought his four daughters had drowned, Spafford penned this text with words so significantly describing his own personal grief, “When sorrows like sea billows roll…” It is noteworthy, however, that Spafford does not dwell on the theme of life’s sorrows and trials but focuses attention in the third stanza on the redemptive work of Christ and in the fourth verse anticipates His glorious second coming. Humanly speaking, it is amazing that one could experience such personal tragedies and sorrows as did Horatio Spafford and still be able to say with such convincing clarity, “It is well with my soul.”



The Promise of Life in the Face of Death.


2 Timothy 1v1


The Letter


Written by Paul

      From Rome

            In prison

                  In chains

                        Lonely, cold, bored

                        Facing execution


Written to Timothy

      Young in years

            Prone to illness

                  Timid in temperament

           BUT with a heart for God and God’s Church


The man Paul




The Promise of Life…

… is in Christ Jesus.

      Even in the face of death.



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