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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

2 Timothy 4



Verse 1

1. διαμαρτύρομαι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ, I solemnly charge thee in the sight of God. See note on 1 Timothy 5:21, and cp. the crit. note above. The oath is fourfold: [1] God, [2] Christ, [3] His Second Coming, [4] His Kingdom.

καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ μέλλοντος κρίνειν ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς. See the passages cited in note on 1 Timothy 5:21, and cp. the crit. note above. The clause κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκροὺς is found in all the early Creeds, which reproduce the words of this verse; compare Acts 10:42, 1 Peter 4:5. The ‘quick and the dead’ are to be understood literally (cp. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17); refined interpretations which explain the words of spiritual life and death are quite out of place and unnecessary.

καὶ τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ, and by His appearing, “per adventum ipsius” (Vulg.). τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν and τὴν βασιλείαν in the next clauses are accusatives of adjuration (as at 1 Thessalonians 5:27); cp. Deuteronomy 4:26. Through a misunderstanding of this, the rec. text has the correction κατά for καί; see crit. note. For ἐπιφάνεια see on 1 Timothy 6:14.

καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ, and by His Kingdom, the repetition of αὐτοῦ adding emphasis and forbidding us to regard the expression as a hendiadys, ‘the manifestation of His Kingdom’ or the like.

Verses 1-5


Verse 2

2. κήρνξον κ.τ.λ In the parallel passage, 1 Timothy 5:21, διαμαρτύρομαι κ.τ.λ. is followed by ἴνα with the subjunctive; here it is followed by a series of aorist imperatives. For such general precepts the present imperative is usual, but here we have the aorist, as the thought is of a line of conduct to be terminated at a definite epoch which is in view[522], viz. the Second Advent of Christ.

κήρυξον τὸν λόγον, proclaim the word, sc. of God (2 Timothy 2:9). ὁ λόγος is here used for ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ, the Divine message of the Gospel, as in Galatians 6:6, Colossians 4:3 (see Additional Note on 1 Timothy 4:5).

ἐπίστηθι εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως, be instant in season, out of season, sc. not only in regard to preaching, but to all the duties of your important office. Paul does not use εὐκαίρως elsewhere (but cp. 1 Corinthians 16:12 εὐκαιρεῖσθαι), nor ἀκαίρως (but cp. Philippians 4:10 ἀκαιρεῖσθα); the oxymoron is rendered well by the Latins, opportune, importune. The precept must be interpreted in practice so as not to do violence to that other precept μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον τοῖς κυσίν (Matthew 7:6).

ἔλεφξον, reprove, rather than ‘bring to the proof,’ the marginal alternative of the R.V.; cp. 1 Timothy 5:20. The apparent parallelism between the clauses of this verse and those of 2 Timothy 3:16 is not to be pressed.

ἐπιτίμησον, παρακάλεσον, rebuke, exhort (see crit. note for the order of words). The verb ἐπιτιμᾷν is not used again by St Paul (cp. 2 Corinthians 2:6 ἐπιτιμία), but it is the regular N.T. word for ‘to rebuke.’ For παρακαλεῖν, παράκλησις, see on 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 4:13.

ἐν πασῇ μακροθυμίᾳ. See note on 1 Timothy 1:16; this and the following διδαχῇ qualify the three preceding imperatives. Rebuke must be ἐν μακροθυμίᾳ, it being borne in mind that ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ (1 Corinthians 13:4).

καὶ διδαχῇ. Rebuke and exhortation must be accompanied with teaching, or they will be unprofitable. Evil and falsehood are less effectually dispelled by controversy than by the presentation of the good and the true.

Verse 3

3. ἔσται γὰρ καιρὸς κ.τ.λ., for the time will come &c.; there is need of zeal and instant labour, for the time will come when men will not listen to the truth. Work therefore while it is day.

ὅτε τῆς ὑγιαινούσης διδασκαλίας οὐκ ἀνέξονται, when they will not endure the wholesome doctrine, when there will be a general impatience of the dogmas of the Christian revelation. For ‘the wholesome doctrine’ see note on 1 Timothy 1:10.

ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὰς ἰδίας ἐπιθυίας, but after their own arbitrary lusts, ἰδίας expresses the caprice with which the men of the future will catch at new theories.

ἑαυτοῖς ἐπισωρεύσουσιν διδασκάλους, will heap to themselves teachers, sc. rejecting the teaching of the Church through her ministers. Again the idea of personal caprice is suggested by ἑαυτοῖς. ἐπισωρεύειν, from ἐπὶ, σωρός a mound (cp. 2 Timothy 3:6), is to heap together, and is (perhaps) used in an ironical sense. It is ἄπ. λεγ. in the Greek Bible, but is found in Plutarch and other good writers.

κνηθόμενοι τὴν ἀκοήν, having itching ears, the admirable rendering of the English versions, ultimately derived from Wiclif; τὴν ἀκοήν is the accus. of nearer definition, κνήθεν (not found elsewhere in the Greek Bible) is ‘to scratch,’ and in the passive ‘to be scratched, or tickled.’ The phrase ironically describes those persons (to be found in every age and country) who desire to hear (note that it is not said of the teachers) what is new and piquant, rather than what is true.

Verse 4

4. καὶ ἀπὸ μὲν τῆς ἀληθείας τὴν ἀκοὴν ἀποστρέψουσιν κ.τ.λ., and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn themselves aside to the myths. On the μῦθοι see the notes on 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:7; the definite article here suggests that it is not myths or fables in general which are in the writer’s mind, but the myths against which he has previously warned Timothy, as part of the stock-in-trade of the heretical teachers of the future. For the verb ἐκτρέπεσθαι see on 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 5:15.

Verse 5

5. σὺ δὲ νῆφε ἐν πᾶσιν, but do you, in contrast with these aspirants after novelty (cp. 2 Timothy 3:10 above), be sober in all things. νήφειν, ‘to be sober,’ (not ‘to be watchful,’) is a Pauline word; cp. 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 and 1 Timothy 3:2 νηφάλιος, 2 Timothy 2:26 ἀνανήφειν. So Ignatius writes to Polycarp (§ 2) νῆφε ὡς θεοῦ ἀθλητής, sobriety being an important preparatory discipline for him who would be victor in the Christian struggle. It is possible that the same idea is here behind St Paul’s words, for 2 Timothy 4:7-8 take up the idea of the Christian course as an ἀγών and a δρόμος; but it is not required by the immediate context.

κακοπάθησον, suffer hardness. Cp. ch. 2 Timothy 1:8, 2 Timothy 2:3.

ἔργον ποίησον εὐαγγελιστοῦ, do the work of an evangelist. The title εὐαγγελιστής is only found in N.T. here, Acts 21:8; Ephesians 4:11; and it is most probable that it is used of one who performs a distinct work, rather than of one who is a member of a distinct order. In the list at Ephesians 4:11, evangelists are mentioned after apostles and prophets, and before pastors and teachers, which would suggest that their function was intermediate between that of the apostles and the local ministers of the Christian communities. It was, in short, κηρύσσειν τὸν λόγον (2 Timothy 4:2), ‘to preach the gospel,’ to tell the facts of the Christian story. As a distinct order it does not appear in the Apostolic Fathers or the Didache, and we are not to suppose that the office of Timothy was in all respects like that of a εὐαγγελιστής of later times, when the evangelist was identical with the ἀναγνώστης or reader. In the half-organized condition of the Church which the Pastoral Epistles depict, there would necessarily be an overlapping of function, and the duty of ‘preaching the word’ would devolve on occasion on every Christian, from the Apostles down. It was truly said “Omnis apostolus evangelists, non omnis evangelista apostolus.” And thus Timothy was directed, as a part (though not the whole) of his duty, to ‘do the work of an evangelist,’ εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, which St Paul counted the main purpose of his own commission (1 Corinthians 1:17).

τὴν διακονίαν σου πληροφόρησον, fulfil thy ministry. As at 1 Timothy 1:12, (where see note), διακονία is used quite generally, and not in the special sense of ‘the office of a deacon’; cp. Romans 12:7 and Ephesians 4:12, εἰς ἔργον διακονίας. The force of the verb πληροφορεῖν here should not be mistaken. It is not “make full proof of,” as the A.V., or as Calvin “ministerium tuum probatum redde,” but simply ‘fulfil,’ like πληροῦν (as it is in Luke 1:1); cp. Acts 12:25, πληρώσαντες τὴν διακονίαν, and Colossians 4:17. St Paul elsewhere (Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5; Colossians 4:12) uses it in the sense of convince, but that meaning will not suit the context here or at 2 Timothy 4:17.

Verse 6

6. ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι. For I am already being poured out, sc. as a libation. γάρ supplies the connexion with the preceding injunction, which gathers solemnity and emphasis from the fact that St Paul is conscious that this is his last charge; ἐγὼ γάρ is in contrast with σὺ δέ of 2 Timothy 4:5. σπένδομαι is correctly rendered delibor in the Vulgate; the metaphor is probably suggested by that part of the Jewish ritual in which the sacrifice was accompanied by a drink-offering of wine, σπείσεις σπονδὴν σίκερα κυρίῳ (Numbers 28:7). Lightfoot (in Philippians 2:17) notes that Seneca regarded his death in a similar light: “respergens proximos servorum, addita voce libare se liquorem illum Jovi liberatori” (Tac. Ann. xv. 64). Ignatius (Romans 2) has the same idea πλέον μοι μὴ παράσχησθε τοῦ σπονδισθῆναι θεῷ, ὡς ἔτι θυσιαστήριον ἕτοιμόν ἐστιν.

The contrast between St Paul’s hope of release when writing his letter to the Philippians and his calm expectation of death when engaged on this Epistle comes out well at this point, the verbal similarities of expression being particularly interesting when we remember that Timothy to whom he writes this letter was with him when he wrote to the Philippians. At Philippians 2:17 we have ἀλλὰ εἰ καὶ σπένδομαι ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ, but the hypothetical is here changed for a categorical statement ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι, I am already being poured out (not, as in the A.V., “I am now ready to be offered”). Again in Philippians 1:23 we find τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν ἔχων εἰς τὸ ἀναλῦσαι, but here ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἀναλύσεώς μου ἐφέστηκεν. And at Philippians 3:13-14 he speaks of himself as not yet having apprehended but still pressing forward to the goal, while in 2 Timothy 4:7 of this chapter he has ‘finished his course.’

ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἀναλύσεώς μου ἐφέστηκεν, and the time of my departure is come. The noun ἀνάλυσις does not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible, but the verb ἀναλύειν is common in the later Apocryphal books in the sense of ‘to depart.’ Primarily it means ‘to unloose,’ and so it is used (as at 2 Maccabees 9:1) of breaking up an encampment, and elsewhere (as in Luke 12:36) of leaving a feast, and again (as in Homer Od. xv. 548) of loosing from moorings. There can be no doubt that departure, not dissolution, is the meaning of ἀνάλυσις here, and that the Vulgate resolutio is a wrong translation. Cp. Philo (in Flaccum 21), τὴν ἐκ τοῦ βίου τελευταίαν ἀνάλυσιν, and Clement (§ 44) of the blessed dead, τελείαν ἔσχον τὴν ἀνάλυσιν. See crit. note.

ἐφέστηκεν seems to mean is come rather than ‘is at hand‚’ as the A.V. has it. It is strictly parallel to ἤδη σπένδομαι, I am already being poured out.

Verses 6-8


Verse 7

7. τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα ἠγώνισμαι. See the critical note, and cp. the note on 1 Timothy 6:12, where the metaphor is discussed. The καλὸς ἀγών would seem from the parallel 1 Timothy 6:12 to be ‘the good fight of faith,’ but as we have τὴν πίστιν τετήρηκα a little lower down, it is possible that the struggle in the Apostle’s thought here is that involved in the due discharge of his Apostolic office.

τὸν δρόμον τετέλεκα, I have finished the race, the general metaphor of the games passing into the special one of the race-course. St Paul had thus spoken of his own ministry to the Ephesian elders, ὡς τελειώσω τὸν δρόμον μου καὶ τὴν διακονίαν ἣν ἔλαβον (Acts 20:24).

τὴν πίστιν τετήρηκα, I have kept the faith, viz. the Christian Creed, regarded as a sacred deposit of doctrine. Cp. ch. 2 Timothy 1:14 and the note on 1 Timothy 1:19. For the tone and spirit of the Apostle here see the note on ch. 2 Timothy 3:10 above.

Verse 8

8. λοιπὸν ἀπόκειταί μοι κ.τ.λ. Henceforth is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.

λοιπὸν is used here (as at Acts 27:20) in its strict sense of from this time forward, henceforth, for the time that remains; it is sometimes used in a looser sense to introduce a clause, = ‘moreover,’ ‘finally’ &c. (1 Corinthians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:1 &c.).

For the use of ἀπόκεισθαι cp. Colossians 1:5, διὰ τὴν ἐλπίδα τὴν ἀποκειμένην ὑμῖν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, and 2 Maccabees 12:45.

ὁ τῆς δικαιοσύνης στέφανος, the crown of righteousness, sc. (probably) the crown appropriate to the righteous man, and belonging to righteousness. The force of the gen. would thus be quite different from that which it has in ‘the crown of life’ (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10) or ‘the crown of glory’ (1 Peter 5:4). If we take these phrases as strictly parallel, the reward spoken of here would be righteousness, as a crown. See the note on 1 Timothy 6:12.

ὃν ἀποδώσει μοι ὁ κύριος ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ, which the Lord, sc. Christ, will give to me in that day, sc. the day of the last Judgement. For ἀποδιδόναι in such a context cp. Romans 2:6; ἀπό suggests the idea of requital or reward. For the phrase ἐκείνη ἡ ἡμέρα cp. 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:18 and 2 Thessalonians 1:10.

ὁ δίκαιος κριτής, the righteous judge. The title goes back to Psalms 7:11; cp. also 2 Maccabees 12:6; 2 Maccabees 12:41 and 2 Thessalonians 1:5.

οὐ μόνον δὲ ἐμοὶ ἀλλὰ καὶ κ.τ.λ. For this form of expression cp. 1 Timothy 5:13 and 3 Maccabees 3:23.

πᾶσι τοῖς ἠγαπηκόσι τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ, to all those who have loved, and do love, His appearing. For ἐπιφάνεια see note on 1 Timothy 6:14. “The remark of Calvin is gravely suggestive; ‘e fidelium numero excludit quibus formidabilis est Christi adventus’: thus then we may truly say with Leo, ‘habemus hic lapidem Lydium, quo examinemus corda nostra’ ” (Ellicott).

Verse 9

9. σπούδασον ἐλθεῖν πρός με ταχέως. Use diligence (cp. 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 4:21; Titus 3:12) to come to me speedily, sc. as explained in 2 Timothy 4:21 πρὸ χειμῶνος. St Paul seems to contemplate that Timothy will come, not by the high seas, but (as appears from 2 Timothy 4:13) by way of Troas, Philippi, the great Egnatian road from Philippi to Dyrrachium, and thence across to Brundisium. This desire to see Timothy again was probably the immediate occasion of the letter being written.

Verses 9-12


Verse 10

10. Δημᾶς γάρ με ἐγκατέλιπεν κ.τ.λ., for Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica. Demas was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment and was then counted by him as a συνεργός (Philemon 1:24), and he is coupled in Colossians 4:14 with Luke the beloved physician, though without any commendatory epithet being applied to him. This last circumstance may be significant, in view of his abandonment of the Apostle through unworthy motives, recorded in the verse before us. It is plain from Colossians 4:11; Colossians 4:14 that Demas was not a Jew, and it is just possible that he was a Thessalonian, and that on his departure from Rome for Thessalonica he went home. The name Demas is a contracted form of Demetrius, which, as Lightfoot has remarked[523], occurs twice in the list of politarchs of Thessalonica; nothing, however, can be built on this, as the name was a common one. Later tradition (e.g. Epiphanius Haer. 51) counts Demas an apostate from the Christian faith, but there is no evidence for this. That St Paul felt his departure keenly is plain; but he ascribes to him nothing worse than desire of ease and disinclination to share the peril which association with one already marked out for martyrdom would involve. The reading ἐγκατέλιπεν (see crit. note) has been adopted with some hesitation; but it seems necessary to the sense and points to a severance of his connexion with St Paul at a definite crisis of which we have no precise information.

ἀγαπήσας τὸν νῦν αἰῶνα. The participle is causal; ‘he forsook me, because he loved &c.’ For the phrase ὁ νῦν αἰών see on 1 Timothy 6:17; Demas loved this present world, and so is markedly contrasted with those who love ‘the ἐπιφάνεια of Christ’ (2 Timothy 4:8). Polycarp (§ 9) takes up the phrase in his description of Ignatius, Paul and other martyrs, and says of them οὐ γὰρ τὸν νῦν ἠγάπησαν αἰῶνα.

Κρήσκης εἰς Γαλατίαν. It is very doubtful whether the Galatia referred to is Asiatic Galatia or Gaul, which was generally called Γαλατία by Greek writers in the first century[524]. In favour of the latter view the various readings Γαλλία (see crit. note) and the traditional interpretation of the passage (Eus. H. E. III. 4, Epiphanius, Theodore, Theodoret &c.) must be reckoned with, and the R.V. places Gaul in the margin as an alternative translation. Crescens, too (of whom nothing is known save the fact recorded here), was early counted the founder of the Churches of Vienne and Mayence. On the other hand, St Paul elsewhere uses Galatia (1 Corinthians 16:1) and Galatians in reference to the Asiatic province and its people; and, further, all the other persons mentioned in this chapter as having left him, went eastward. On these grounds, we hold that it is better to understand Γαλατία here of Galatia in Asia. It is worth noting that exactly the same ambiguity meets us in 1 Maccabees 8:2, where the Revisers render ἐν τοῖς Γαλάταις, among the Gauls, and where again the context does not determine with certainty the locality intended.

Τίτος εἰς Δαλματίαν. It would seem probable from this that Titus had been at Rome with St Paul for a time during his second imprisonment. Dalmatia is a part of Illyria on the eastern coast of the Adriatic; and this notice harmonises well enough with Titus 3:12 (see note there).

Verse 11

11. Λουκᾶς ἐστὶν μόνος μετʼ ἐμοῦ, only Luke is with me; i.e. Luke is the only one of his intimate friends and usual companions who is still with him. St Luke’s affection for St Paul is not like that of Demas; he remains with him to the end. During his first imprisonment he was by his side, ὁ ἰατρὸς ὁ ἀγαπητός (Colossians 4:14; cp. Philemon 1:24), and he now appears again, faithful to the last.

΄άρκον ἀναλαβὼν ἄγε μετὰ σεαυτοῦ. Having taken up Mark, sc. on your way hither (cp. Acts 20:13 for this use of ἀναλαμβάνειν), bring him with you. There had been a time (Acts 15:38) when Paul had little confidence in Mark, because he had turned back to Jerusalem just as the difficulties of Paul’s first missionary journey became apparent (Acts 13:13). But such feelings of distrust had long since passed away. During the first Roman imprisonment we find him with St Paul at Rome (Colossians 4:10), and he was commended by that Apostle to the Church of Colossae when he should visit it. He is also found in St Peter’s company at Rome (1 Peter 5:13), and he joins in the salutation addressed to Churches in the Asiatic provinces. It is probable that at the time of writing 2 Timothy he was somewhere on the coast in the Province of Asia proper, and that thus Timothy could ‘pick him up’ on his way northward.

ἔστιν γάρ μοι εὔχρηστος εἰς διακονίαν, for he is useful to me for ministering. διακονία may be understood either of personal service to St Paul, such as a free man could offer to a captive, a young man to an old one, or else (less probably) of the ministry of the gospel in which Mark could usefully take his part. That he probably had a knowledge of Latin might make his services in either capacity specially valuable at Rome. For the adjective εὔχρηστος cp. ch. 2 Timothy 2:21.

Verse 12

12. Τυχικὸν δὲ ἀπέστειλα εἰς Ἔφεσον. Tychicus (an Ἀσιανός, Acts 20:4) comes before us several times as a trusted emissary of St Paul. Towards the close of Paul’s third missionary journey he preceded Paul to Troas (Acts 20:4). We hear of him again as the bearer of the letters to Colossae (Colossians 4:7-8, where he is described as ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἀδελφὸς καὶ πιστὸς διάκονος καὶ σύνδουλος ἐν Κυρίῳ) and to “the Ephesians” (Ephesians 6:21), which were written during St Paul’s first captivity at Rome. In Titus 3:12 the possibility of his being sent by Paul to Crete is mentioned. And now we learn that among St Paul’s last official acts was the sending Tychicus to Ephesus, probably either as the bearer of this second Ep. to Timothy (for ἀπέστειλα may well be an epistolary aorist; cp. Colossians 4:8), or to take Timothy’s place during his projected visit to Rome to cheer the Apostle’s last days. Either motive for this mission of Tychicus is plausible; neither is certain. But even if both be excluded, there is nothing in the remark ‘I sent Tychicus to Ephesus’ which can fairly require the inference that Timothy was not at Ephesus at the time of writing. St Paul is explaining how it was that of all his intimate friends only Luke is with him, and among others he mentions that Tychicus has gone to Ephesus, an observation not at all inconsistent (though some have found it so) with the fact that the letter is being sent to Timothy at Ephesus.

Verse 13


13. τὸν φελόνην. This is the orthography followed by the best MSS.: the word φελόνης seems to be an incorrect form of φαινόλης = Latin paenula (the rendering here of the Latin versions). The meaning of the term has been variously explained. Chrysostom mentions, but does not favour, the translation adopted by the Peshito version, which takes φελόνης as equivalent to γλωσσόκομον or ‘a case for books.’ And, as a matter of fact, the vellum wrapper with which a papyrus roll was encased to protect it was called a φαινόλης or paenula. But to adopt the rendering ‘book-cover’ here seems to be an entire misapprehension, suggested by the mention of the books and parchments in the next clause of the verse. The primary meaning is that adopted by Chrysostom (in Phil. Hom. 1) and Tertullian (de orat. 12), viz. that φελόνης = paenula = a travelling cloak with long sleeves, such as would be specially desirable in cold weather. From the fact that φαινόλιον is often used (e.g. in the Liturgy of St Chrysostom) for a chasuble, some ingeniously perverse commentators have here translated φελόνης thus, and so find Scriptural authority for ecclesiastical vestments! This does not need refutation. φελόνης is a cloak, such a large outer cloak as is serviceable in winter (2 Timothy 4:21).

ὃν ἀπέλιπον ἐν Τρῳάδι παρὰ Κάρπῳ, which I left in Troas at the house of Carpus. Nothing is known of Carpus, beside this notice. The visit to Troas alluded to here could not have been the one recorded at Acts 20:6, for that was six years before the time of writing, and the language used suggests a recent visit. It must have taken place in the period of freedom between the first and second imprisonments at Rome, to which allusion is also made in 2 Timothy 4:20. See Introd. chap. II.

καὶ τὰ βιβλία, μάλιστα τὰς μεμβράνας, and the books, especially the parchments. μεμβράναι (ἅπ. λεγ. in the Greek Bible) is simply the Latin word membranae Graecised, and means the prepared skins of vellum, which gradually superseded papyrus for writing purposes. In the first century vellum would only be used for the more precious codices and documents, papyrus serving for ordinary books and letters, which sufficiently explains the μάλιστα. It is, of course, impossible to determine what these books and parchments contained; we may suppose the Books of the O.T. Scriptures, and (possibly) the diploma of Paul’s Roman citizenship, to have been among them, but we have nothing to go on.

Farrar notes an interesting parallel in the history of William Tyndale, who when in captivity at Vilvorde in 1535, wrote to the governor to beg for warmer clothing, a woollen shirt and, above all, his Hebrew Bible, Grammar, and Dictionary[525].

Verse 14

14. Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ χαλκεύς. See note on 1 Timothy 1:20.

πολλά μοι κακὰ ἐνεδείξατο, did me, sc. publicly, much evil. Cp. for ἐνδείκνυσθαι, 1 Timothy 1:16 &c. It would seem from the context that it was at Rome during the Apostle’s imprisonment that Alexander’s ill-will had been displayed. The warning in 2 Timothy 4:15 ὃν καὶ σὺ φυλάσσου would seem to give the reason of his being mentioned. Whether he was now at Ephesus, or whether it was in view of Timothy’s meeting him at Rome that the warning was given, we have no means of determining. St Ephraem (on 2 Corinthians 12:7) notes the curious tradition that “Alexander the coppersmith” was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”!

ἀποδώσει αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ. The reading of the rec. text (see crit. note) would make this an imprecation. As it stands, it is a parenthetical quotation of the familiar words of Psalms 62 [61]:12 (cp. also Proverbs 24:12), and merely amounts to the reflection ‘I leave him to God.’ St Paul quotes these words in another context at Romans 2:6.

Verse 15

15. λίαν γὰρ ἀντέστη τοῖς ἡμετέροις λόγοις, for he greatly withstood our words. The aorist (see crit. note) shews that the reference is to a definite act or acts of hostility, rather than to a long-continued attitude of ill-will, and thus it is not improbable that the ἡμέτεροι λόγοι which Alexander opposed were part of Paul’s ἀπολογία, when on his trial. Another explanation is that the ‘words’ were ‘the words of the Gospel,’ which St Paul preached. But this is not really inconsistent with the other hypothesis, for St Paul’s ἀπολογία amounted to a κήρυγμα τοῦ εὐαγγελίου (cp. 2 Timothy 4:17).

Verse 16

16. ἐν τῇ πρωτῇ μου ἀπολογίᾳ κ.τ.λ. Eusebius (H. E. II. 22) refers this to St Paul’s first imprisonment, which was followed by release; but what is here told would not suit the circumstances of that less severe trial. The allusion is apparently to what was called in Roman law the prima actio. While this was being heard no man stood forward for him, whether in friendly sympathy, or (more probably) as his official patronus or advocatus. Paul had to plead his cause alone. All deserted him (the aorist tense ἐγκατέλιπον is again significant); they abandoned him, through fear (see 2 Timothy 4:10), when the crisis came. May it not be reckoned to them! God forgive their weakness!

Verses 16-18


Verse 17

17. ὁ δὲ κύριός μοι παρέστη, but, in contrast to man’s unfaithfulness, the Lord, sc. Christ, stood by me.

καὶ ἐνεδυνάμωσέν με, and strengthened me. See, for St Paul’s use of this verb, the note on 1 Timothy 1:12.

ἵνα διʼ ἐμοῦ τὸ κήρυγμα πληροφορηθῇ, in order that by me the preaching, sc. of the Gospel, might be fulfilled. For πληροφορέω see on 2 Timothy 4:5 above; its force here is not ‘be fully known,’ as the A.V. has it, but ‘be fully performed, completed, fulfilled.’ How this was true is explained by the next clause καὶ ἀκούσωσιν πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. The opportunity given to St Paul of pleading his cause in the official centre of Rome, the mistress of the nations, was in a sense the ‘fulfilling’ of the preaching of the Gospel. For ἀκούσωσιν (certainly the right reading) see the crit. note.

καὶ ἐρύσθην ἐκ στόματος λέοντος, and I was rescued out of the mouth of the lion. That is, a verdict of non liquet was returned at the prima actio, and Paul was respited for the time. The phrase is evidently borrowed from the Greek Bible; it was said, e.g., of Daniel that he was rescued ἐκ στόματος τῶν λεόντων; cp. also Psalms 22 [21]:21; Daniel 6:20. But interpreters have been anxious to find a more definite allusion in the words ἐκ στόματος λέοντος. Thus (a) the λέων has been understood to be the lion of the amphitheatre to whom the martyrs were thrown. The cry Christianos ad leonem rises to one’s thoughts. But, after all, this was not the death with which St Paul was threatened, as the sequel proved. (b) The Greek commentators generally understand the λέων to be Nero, and if St Paul’s trial really took place before that Emperor (for we have no certainty that Nero was in Rome at this moment), this would give a vivid meaning to ἐκ στόματος λέοντος. A parallel is found in Josephus, where the death of Tiberius is announced to Agrippa in the words τέθνηκεν ὁ λέων (Antt. XVIII. 6. 10). But the absence of the article here before λέοντος makes this explanation very improbable. (c) The lion has been identified with Satan. Paul did not yield to weakness or betray the faith at the supreme moment of his trial, and he is thus said to have been rescued from the mouth of the lion, sc. the great ἀντίδικος, the devil, who is ὡς λέων ὠρυόμενος (1 Peter 5:8). And the fact that there are apparent reminiscences of the phrases of the Lord’s Prayer in 2 Timothy 4:18 gives a certain attractiveness to the identification in 2 Timothy 4:17 of the lion out of whose mouth Paul was delivered with the πονηρός, the Evil One. Again, however, the absence of the definite article before λέοντος is a difficulty. We are inclined therefore, on the whole, to take the phrase ῥύεσθαι ἐκ στόματος λέοντος as almost proverbial, as expressive of deliverance out of imminent and deadly peril, such as Daniel’s story records; and there is thus no place for the identification of the λέων with any individual adversary, human or diabolical.

Verse 18

18. ῥύσεταί με ὁ κύριος ἀπὸ παντὸς ἔργου πονηροῦ. The Lord, sc. Christ, will deliver me from every evil work. The change of preposition, ἀπό instead of ἐκ, after ῥύεσθαι is significant. ἐκ was used in 2 Timothy 4:17 because the Apostle was in the very jaws of the lion, before he was rescued; ἀπό is used here, because the evils contemplated are only potential, and the Apostle has not been actually in their thraldom. ἐκ, in short, indicates emergence from, ἀπό, removal from the neighbourhood of, a danger[526].

The deliverance of which St Paul speaks thus confidently is not a second deliverance ‘from the mouth of the lion’; that, he knew, he could not expect. But he will be delivered, if not from bodily pain, yet from ‘every evil work,’ from the opposition of adversaries without and from the conflict with temptation in his own heart. The prayer ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ will be fully answered, but it will be by the gate of martyrdom that deliverance shall come. As Bengel has it: “Decollabitur? liberabitur, liberante Domino.” Cp. 2 Corinthians 1:9-10.

καὶ σώσει εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐπουράνιον, and will save me unto His heavenly kingdom, a ‘praegnans constructio’ equivalent to ‘save me and bring me to,’ &c. The faithful martyr is ‘saved’ in the highest sense, for ὂς δʼ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, οὗτος σώσει αὐτήν (Luke 9:24). The exact phrase ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐπουράνιος does not occur again in St Paul (or, indeed, in the N.T.), but it is quite harmonious with his teaching about the Kingdom of Christ. cp. 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1, and (for the confident hope here expressed by the Apostle) Philippians 1:23; Philippians 3:20.

ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, ἀμήν, to Whom, sc. to Christ, be glory for ever and ever, Amen. That the doxology should be addressed to our Lord, rather than to God the Father (as e.g. at Philippians 4:20), will not surprise the attentive student of St Paul’s theology; cp. especially Romans 9:5. For εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας κ.τ.λ. see note on 1 Timothy 1:17.

The doxology, which was early added at the end of the Lord’s Prayer and is incorporated in the received text of St Matthew 6:13, deserves careful comparison with the verse before us. In the early part of 2 Timothy 4:18 we saw that a reflection might be traced of the petition ‘Deliver us from the evil one,’ and we now find that the thought of the heavenly Kingdom and the glory of Christ is derived from the doxology ὅτι σοῦ ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν.

Verse 19

19. Ἄσπασαι Πρίσκαν καὶ Ἀκύλαν. Aquila, a Jew of Pontus, and his wife Prisca or Priscilla, are first mentioned in the N.T. at Acts 18:2. They had left Rome, in consequence of an edict of Claudius, and had come to Corinth, where St Paul met them and lodged with them, as they were, like him, tent-makers. If they were Christians at this time, as would seem probable, they must have been among the earliest members of the Roman Church. St Paul brought them with him to Ephesus, where he left them (Acts 18:19), and where (Acts 4:26) they gave instruction to Apollos. Along with ‘the Church in their house’ they send salutations to the Corinthian Christians from Ephesus in 1 Corinthians 16:19; and we find them again at Rome when St Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:3). We gather from the verse before us that they returned to Ephesus. Like many Jews of the time, Aquila evidently travelled a great deal, probably for the purposes of his trade. From the fact that Prisca’s name precedes that of Aquila in four out of the six places where they are mentioned, it suggests itself that she was a more important person than her husband. It may be that she was a member of a good Roman family, but it seems more probable that both Aquila and Prisca were freed members of some great household. It has been pointed out, e.g., that Priscilla was a name of the women of the Acilian gens. But such identifications hardly admit of proof[527].

καὶ τὸν Ὀνησιφόρου οἶκον. See the critical note, where the traditional names of the wife and sons of Onesiphorus are given. Cp. also the note on 2 Timothy 1:16-17 above.

Verses 19-21


Verse 20

20. Ἔραστος ἔμεινεν ἐν Κορίνθῳ, Erastus abode in Corinth, sc. at some epoch in the interval between the first and second imprisonments, of which we have no information. Erastus was the name of the treasurer (οἰκονόμος) of Corinth, when St Paul wrote to the Romans (Romans 16:23); and also of an emissary sent with Timothy from Ephesus to Macedonia (Acts 19:22). We cannot be sure whether we have here notices of different persons or of one and the same man. It seems however unlikely that the Erastus, whose abiding in Corinth is communicated here to Timothy as a piece of information, was a permanent official of that city; it is more probable that he was Timothy’s companion on the journey mentioned in Acts 19:22.

Τρόφιμον δὲ ἀπέλιπον ἐν ΄ιλήτῳ ἀσθενοῦντα, but Trophimus I left (not ‘they left,’ as some have rendered) at Miletus sick. Of Trophimus we know only what is told here and at Acts 20, 21. He was a Gentile Christian of Ephesus, who, in company with Tychicus (Acts 20:5, cp. 2 Timothy 4:12 above), preceded Paul to Troas. He was seen at Jerusalem in St Paul’s society, which led to the riot, in consequence of which Paul was apprehended (Acts 21:29). The episode mentioned in this verse must be referred to St Paul’s journey in the Levant between his first and second imprisonments (see above 2 Timothy 4:12-13).

The motive for this mention of Erastus and Trophimus, both of whom had connexions with Ephesus, may possibly have been that the Apostle wished to explain that their absence from his side at this juncture was not due to unfaithfulness.

Verse 21

21. σπούδασον πρὸ χειμῶνος ἐλθεῖν, do thy diligence to come before winter, when travelling would be difficult; cp. Matthew 24:20. See 2 Timothy 4:9 above.

ἀσπάζεταί σε. The verb in the singular followed by the names of a number of individuals who send salutations is the construction adopted also at Romans 16:21; Romans 16:23.

Εὔβουλος. Of this person nothing further is known. The names which follow are those, seemingly, of prominent members of the Roman Church; they are not among Paul’s intimate friends, for of these ‘only Luke’ was with him (2 Timothy 4:10).

Πούδης καὶ Λίνος καὶ Κλαυδία. Linus is the only one of these three who can be identified with certainty. He was the first bishop of Rome after Apostolic days (Iren. Haer. III. 3), and governed the Roman Church, according to tradition, for twelve years after the death of St Peter and St Paul. He seems to be described in Apost. Const. VII. 46 as the son of Claudia (Λίνος ὁ Κλαυδίας), but it is probable that this is a mere guess resting on the juxtaposition of their names in this verse.

With the names of Pudens and Claudia modern ingenuity has been very busy. It has been assumed that they were husband and wife, and that they are identical with a dissolute friend of Martial called Aulus Pudens and a British maiden called Claudia Rufina, whose marriage is recorded in an epigram of Martial which appeared in A.D. 88 (Epigr. IV. 13). The chronological data are plainly inconsistent with this identification, and indeed the names Pudens and Claudia are sufficiently common to make such speculations highly uncertain. Another husband and wife with these names are recorded, e.g., in an inscription quoted by Lightfoot[528] (C.I.L. VI. 15066).

Ingenuity has gone a step further. On an inscription discovered at Chichester it is recorded that one Pudens built a temple there to Neptune, with the sanction of the British king Claudius Cogidubnus, and it has been assumed that this Pudens was the Pudens mentioned by Martial, and that his wife Claudia was the daughter of Claudius Cogidubnus. Thus by a series of hypotheses, none of which is susceptible of proof, we reach a direct connexion between early British Christianity and the teaching of St Paul! It is sufficient to say that we know nothing for certain of the Pudens and Claudia mentioned in the verse before us, and that, inasmuch as the name of Linus is interposed between them, it is even improbable that they were husband and wife.

καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ πάντες. See the crit. note, and cp. 1 Corinthians 16:20.

Verse 22


22. ὁ κύριος μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματός σου. This is a personal benediction addressed to Timothy, as the Apostle’s last word, and it is followed by the σημεῖον ἐν πάσῃ ἐπιστολῇ, viz. ἡ χάρις μεθʼ ὑμῶν,, on which see the note on 1 Timothy 6:21. The form of this personal blessing, however, is not quite like anything elsewhere found at the end of St Paul’s Epistles (cp. Romans 15:33). The nearest parallel to it is perhaps the conclusion of the so-called Epistle of Barnabas, ὁ κύριος τῆς δόξης. καὶ πάσης χάριτος μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν. It is worth while to compare the words with Galatians 6:18 and Philemon 1:25; there the presence of ‘the grace of the Lord,’ here the presence of ‘the Lord of grace,’ is invoked.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 2 Timothy 4:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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