Paul’s final letter (chronologically and literally) was written between A.D. 65-67 during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome. This was after the great fire in A.D. 64. Though everyone knew Emperor Nero set fire to the city, he blamed the Christians and used that as an excuse to execute many.
Though Paul anticipates his death (4:6-8), he writes a personal and reflective letter, saddened at some who turned away in times of trouble, yet joyous for those who uplifted him and kept the faith. (1:15-18)
He calls Timothy “my beloved child,” and recalls Timothy’s sincere faith, which Paul appreciates was nurtured by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. He reminds Timothy though he is “bound in chains as a criminal” for preaching the gospel, “the word of God is not bound!”
Paul encourages Timothy to gain strength from the Holy Spirit, and to continue to preach the gospel as Paul taught him – the true gospel of love and faith.
It is believed Paul was beheaded during the end of Nero’s reign which was extinguished in A.D. 68.
Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God (1:8)
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (1:13-14)
Remind [believers] and charge them before God not to quarrel about words which does no good but only ruins hearers. Avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. (2:14,16)
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness: faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2:22)
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but be kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (2:23-24)
As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (3:14)
Paul reminds Timothy what is important – not law or words or dogma or “being right,” but the pursuit of faith, love and peace which results in righteousness. The word “whom” in 3:14 is plural, and refers not only to Paul, but to Timothy’s mother and grandmother, recalling the sincerity of faith he learned growing up. At the end of Paul’s days, he is clear about the gospel, and encourages us to see through the veil, too.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. (4:6-7)
…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ( 1:7)
[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (1:9-10)
Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2:1)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (3:16-17)
The Lord stood by me and strengthened me so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all might hear it…The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (4:17-18)
For those of us who desire to see the true gospel presented – the gospel of love, faith and peace – the words of Jesus stand as the true representation. This is what Paul repeated in all of his letters: the non-negotiable gospel of grace and love and faith in Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit to transform the way we think and, ultimately, the way we live.