Another fatherly approach
I. Affectionate greeting (verses 1, 2)
1. It comes from one who is occupied with, and sustained by, the indwelling life of Christ, as in Col. 3:40.
2. It comes to a dearly beloved son (comp. 1 Tim. 1:2; wording now suggests an ever-deepening relationship?).
3. It invokes grace, mercy, and peace; all from above.
II. The understandable longing (to see Timothy) (verses 3-5)
1. The background of constant prayer (v. 3).
2. The warm bond of affection; sanctified human emotion (v. 4).
3. The special commendation of Timothy’s faith (in keeping with his family background) (v. 5).
III. The particular counsels (verses 6-10)
1. Stir up you gift (it is already within you) (v. 6).
2. Refuse all fear (it is not of God) (v. 7).
3. Do not shun Christian suffering (you can still triumph by the power of God) (v. 8).
4. Be mindful of your eternal calling (before creation!) (v. 9).
5. Remember the inestimable accomplishment of Christ (v. 10).
IV. The encouraging example (of Paul himself) (verses 11, 12)
1. The divine appointment (v. 11).
2. The associated sufferings (v. 12a).
3. The glad declaration of faith (I know Whom…) (v. 12b).
V. The renewed charge (verses 13, 14)
1. Adhere to the specific message now entrusted (v. 13).
2. Count on the indwelling Holy Spirit (v. 14)
VI. The mixed report (regarding Paul’s associates) (verses 15-18)
1. The strange departure of some (evidently a majority) (v. 15).
2. The contrasting loyalty of Onesiphorus (v. 16-18).
Our key comment this time, must be confined to that little-known character Onesiphorus, mentioned right at end of the chapter. Most of us may not even recognise his name, but we dare to suggest that he is, perhaps, the perfect example of that ‘light in the darkness’ to which we made reference in the introduction to these studies.
We are told that Onesiphorus frequently brought refreshing to the apostle Paul (v. 6). This, surely, should come as encouragement to us all, reminding us that obscure and little-known Christians may nevertheless fulfil greatly-valued ministries to well-known and much-honoured servants of the Lord. This surely applies also to those whose help is largely in the form of hidden but faithful prayers, which all of us may bring!
We note too that Paul openly confesses that he needs this spiritual refreshing. This should not be surprising when we realise the heavy burdens which such servants of Lord have to carry and the bitter battles they have to fight. Even King David in the cave was thirsty, but, thank God, there were some living close enough to him, who overheard his whispered soliloquy, and immediately hazarded their lives to penetrate the armies of the Philistines, and bring back David that water of Bethlehem which he so much longed for (2 Sam. 23:15-17). Onesiphorus, evidently, was another of that kind.
The explicit statement regarding Onesiphorus is that he was not ashamed of Paul’s chain (v. 16), a very different story from that of others mentioned in this same epistle (see v. 15; 4:10; etc.). We should ask ourselves the question, are we prepared to identify with certain maligned servants of the Lord whose only crime has been an unwavering proclamation of God’s truth concerning Christ and His church. Such can often be imprisoned in more ways than one, and the freedom to minister very seriously curtailed. Perhaps the kind of love and loyalty shown by Onesiphorus is one of the surest characteristics of an overcomer in the days in which we live.
We notice finally that the family of Onesiphorus was also included in the blessing which Paul invoked on his friend. Perhaps this, too, is a principle!