2 Timothy 1:1-5
A Family Legacy
We now move to 2 Timothy, the last letter the Apostle Paul ever wrote. This letter has an almost somber mood about it—a heaviness or gravity that bleeds through every line. Paul knows that this imprisonment will be his last; he will soon die. How he got there is uncertain. Paul mentions, “Alexander the coppersmith [who] did me great harm,” and warns Timothy to beware of him (4:14-15). Did this man calumniate Paul before the authorities? It is impossible to tell. But now Paul is imprisoned in Rome a second time after the one mentioned at the end of Acts. The ancient Church historian, Eusebius, writing in the early fourth century, informs us that Paul was beheaded under the Emperor Nero (Ecclesiastical History 2.25; 3.1), the most perverted and vicious of the Caesars. This would have happened sometime in the mid-60s A.D. The Apostle writes at the end of his life to encourage his most gifted and faithful protégé; it reads like a “Last Will and Testament.”
The first five verses of this letter are an encouragement to any Christian family. Paul begins with his usual greeting, adding that he is “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,” that is, the life that is ours through faith in the Lord Jesus who is himself resurrected and alive; the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of life. Then Paul speaks of something he does not normally speak much about—that being the faith of parents and grandparents in the formation of the faith of their children. Though Paul was converted from a zealous Pharisee to a Christian on that road to Damascus, he is certain that his ancestors worshiped the true God according to the Law of Moses under the old covenant, which having been fulfilled through Christ has now been transformed into the new covenant. Likewise, Timothy’s sincere faith “dwelt first in [his] grandmother Lois and [his] mother Eunice.” The lives of both men speak to the godly heritage under which each was raised and trained. Of course, salvation comes when we are born again of the Holy Spirit, but the ground is prepared by godly parents and grandparents with the hope that God will extend His covenant to succeeding generations. Of course, we can never say that every child so raised will come to saving faith; likewise, some come to saving faith despite their parents, bless God. But faithful Christian parents have every reason to hope that the faith that dwells in them will one day dwell in their sons and daughters, and to an even greater extent. In the meantime, pray for their salvation, that God would give them godly spouses, and that they too would train up children to godliness.