Tell God’s Message to People

About Paul’s second letter to Timothy

This is Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Paul was a great Christian teacher. He wrote this second letter to Timothy from a prison in Rome. Rome is the capital of the country that we call Italy. At that time, the Romans were powerful and they ruled many other countries. They had made Paul go to prison because they did not like Christians. Timothy was a young man who had travelled with Paul on many of Paul’s journeys. (See Acts 16:1-5.)

Some time earlier, Paul had made Timothy the leader of the Christians at Ephesus city. Ephesus was in the country that we call Turkey. When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, Timothy was in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3). And we think that Timothy was still in Ephesus when Paul wrote this letter to him.

We think that Paul wrote this letter at some time between AD 64 and AD 67. (That was more than 30 years after Jesus returned to God.)

Among the Christians at Ephesus, there were some people who were teaching wrong things. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul had told Timothy to stop those teachers. He told Timothy to teach the true Christian message. And in this letter, he tells Timothy to continue teaching it.

While he writes this letter, Paul knows that he will die soon. (See 4:6.) He wants to see Timothy again before he dies. (See 4:9.) Also, he wants Timothy to be ready for trouble. Timothy must remember that it is very important to obey Christ. He must be strong so that no troubles can stop him living for Christ.

We think that this is the last letter in the Bible from Paul. A short time after he wrote it, the Romans killed him.

Chapter 1

Paul thanks God for Timothy

1 This letter is from me, Paul. God chose me to be a special worker for Christ Jesus. God sent me to tell people about the life that he has promised us because of Christ Jesus. We can live like this when we are united to Christ. 2 I am writing to you, Timothy. You are like my own child, and I love you. I pray that God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord will be very kind and very good to you. I pray that they will cause you to be without trouble inside yourself.

3 When I pray, at night and during the day, I always remember to pray for you. And I thank God for you. My grandfathers served God in the right way. They knew what was right or wrong. And they always tried to do what was right. And I serve God like that too. 4 I remember how you wept. I want to see you very much, so that I may be completely happy. 5 I remember how you really believe Christ. Your grandmother, Lois, and your mother, Eunice, believed Christ before you did. And I am sure that you really believe him also. 6 For this reason, I want you to remember the gift that God gave you. He gave you that gift inside yourself when I put my hands on you. You must use that gift. You must make it grow stronger, like when a wind blows on a very small fire. The wind makes that small fire grow into a big fire. 7 Do this, because God has given us his Spirit. And his Spirit does not cause us to be afraid of things. Instead, he causes us to be powerful. He causes us to love God and other people. And he causes us to rule ourselves properly.

Verses 6-7 At some earlier time, the Christian leaders had put their hands on Timothy and they had prayed for him. (See 1 Timothy 4:14.) At that time, God had given Timothy a special gift. That gift must have been some special authority to be a leader and a teacher. That authority came from God’s Spirit.

Perhaps Timothy had been afraid to use that authority. So, Paul tells him that he must use it. He must be brave to teach the true Christian message. Then he will become stronger and stronger as a Christian teacher and leader.

Paul tells Timothy to be a brave teacher for Christ

8 So do not be ashamed of the message that we tell about our Lord. Neither be ashamed of me because I am in a prison. I am here because I serve Christ. Instead, be ready to have the same kind of trouble as I have. We have trouble because we tell people the good news about Christ. Let God make you strong when you have trouble. 9 God has saved us and he has chosen us to be his people. So, he wants us to be completely good and clean. He did not save us because of anything good that we have done. He did it because it was his own purpose. He did it because he is so very kind. He decided to be kind to us before time began. He decided to be kind by what Christ Jesus would do for us. 10 So now he has shown us how very kind he is. He has shown us because Christ Jesus has come. And it is Christ who saves us. He has destroyed death’s power over us. And he has shown that we can live with God always. We can have bodies that never die. He has shown that also. He has shown this by the good news that he brought.

11 God has chosen me to tell this good news to people. He has sent me to be a special worker for Christ. He has chosen me to teach the Christian message to people. 12 That is why I have these troubles. But I am not ashamed, because I have believed Christ. I know him. He can keep safe what I have given him to keep safe. I am completely sure about that. He can keep it safe until that great day.

Verse 12 It is not completely clear what the second part of this verse means. It could mean ‘keep safe what I have given to him’. So Paul may be saying that he believes Christ to keep him (Paul) safe. Or it could mean ‘keep safe what he has given to me’. Christ had chosen Paul to teach his good news. So Paul may be saying that he believes Christ to keep that good news safe.

‘That great day’ means the day when Jesus will decide about everyone. He will decide what should happen to them after their death. He will decide that because of what they have done during their life on earth.

13 You have heard true words from me. Let those words be an example to you when you teach. And continue to believe God. Continue also to love God and other people. You can do these things because you are united to Christ. 14 God has given you a good thing (the true Christian message) to keep safe. You must not let anyone change it. God’s Spirit, who lives in us, will help you to keep it safe.

15 You know that almost all the believers in Asia have turned against me. They include Phygelus and Hermogenes.

Verse 15 ‘Asia’ was in the west part of the country that we call Turkey. At that time, the Romans ruled Asia. Ephesus, where Timothy was the Christian leader, was the capital city of Asia.


16 I pray that the Lord will be kind to Onesiphorus’s family. He often helped me to be happier. He was not ashamed that I am in a prison. 17 But when he came to Rome, he looked for me. He looked carefully for me and he found me. 18 I pray that the Lord will choose to be kind to Onesiphorus on that great day. You know very well how much he did for me in Ephesus.

Verse 18 Again, ‘that great day’ means the day when Jesus will decide about everyone. He will decide what should happen to them after their death. (See also verse 12.)

Chapter 2

A good soldier for Christ

1 So you, who are like my own child, must continue to be strong. You must let God make you strong. He will be kind to you like this because you are united to Christ Jesus. 2 You have heard the things that I have taught. Many other people were with us when you heard those things. You must tell the same things to other men, who can teach well. You must be sure that these men are good and honest. Then they can teach those things to other people also.

3 Be patient and brave through the troubles that we Christians have. Be like a good soldier for Christ Jesus. 4 A good soldier wants only to make his captain happy. So, that soldier does not let himself become busy with the things that other people do. He does only the things that soldiers do. 5 Also, someone who does athletics must obey the rules. He cannot win unless he does that. 6 A farmer works very much to grow plants for food. So, he should be the first person to get some of that food. 7 Think about what I am saying. The Lord will cause you to understand everything.

8 Remember Jesus Christ. After Jesus had died, God caused him to become alive again. Jesus came from David’s family. These facts are part of the good news that I tell people. 9 And because I tell that good news, I have trouble. They have even tied me in a prison, like someone who has really done wrong things. But nobody can tie God’s message in a prison. Other people will still teach God’s message.

Verse 8 David was a great king of Israel’s people, about 1000 years before Christ came to this earth. (See, for example, 1 Samuel 16:1-13 and 2 Samuel 7:8-9; 8:15.)

10 So I continue to be patient and brave during all these troubles. I do this because of all the people that God has chosen. I do this so that they may believe Christ also. I do it so that God will save them by Christ Jesus. And they will live with God always, in the beautiful place where he lives. 11 Here are some words that everyone can believe:

            ‘If we have died with Christ,

            we will also live with him.

            12 If we continue to be patient and brave during troubles,

            we will also rule with him.

            But we must not say that we do not know Christ.

            Because then he will also say that he does not know us.

            13 If we turn away from him,

            he will never turn away from us.

            He cannot do anything that is against his own nature.’

Verse 11 ‘If we have died with Christ’ does not mean that our bodies have died. Christ died on our behalf, for everything that we do wrong. So, we do not need to die because of those things. But we do need to believe that Christ died for us. And we must give ourselves completely to him, because he is our master. Then he causes us to become like new people, who have started new lives. Our old lives have finished. So, we are like people who have died.

Verses 11-13 These words may be part of a Christian song that Paul knew.

A good worker for God

14 Continue to tell these things to your people, so that they remember them. Tell them that they must not quarrel about words. Tell them seriously, because God hears you. To quarrel about words does not help anyone. But it destroys those people who listen.

15 Always try to be the kind of person that God is happy about. Do everything that you can to be like that. Be a worker who has no reason to be ashamed of his work. Teach the true message correctly. 16 But stay away from people who talk about silly, wrong things. Those things do not help anyone and they do not come from God. Words like that cause people to do bad things. And those people will get worse all the time. 17 Words like that cause people who believe them to become like sick people. Those words cause people to get worse and worse. Hymenaeus and Philetus are people who talk like that. 18 They teach things that are different from the true message. They say that God has already caused all the dead people to become alive again. These men are confusing some Christians, so that those Christians do not know what to believe.

19 But what God has done can never change. His work is strong, like the strong stones that people use under a big building. Those stones do not move, and they hold the whole building up. And God’s work has his mark on it. It is like a strong stone with these words on it: ‘The Lord knows who his own people are’ (Numbers 16:5). And: ‘Everyone who calls himself the Lord’s must stop doing wrong things’ (Isaiah 26:13).

20 In a big house, there are different kinds of dishes. There are some dishes that people have made from gold or silver (another valuable metal). They use dishes like that only for special purposes. They do not let those dishes get dirty. There are also dishes that people have made from wood or clay (sticky material from the ground). They use those dishes for purposes that are not special. Those dishes may get very dirty. 21 It is like that with the Lord’s people. If they make themselves completely separate from bad, dirty things, then they will be like dishes for special, clean purposes. They will be ready for God to use them. He is like the master of the house. They will be ready for him to use them for any good work.

22 Young people often want very much to do bad things. Have nothing to do with those bad things. Always try to do what is right. Continue to believe God. Love other people. And always try to be friendly to other people. Try not to argue with them. All those people who really love the Lord should do these things. Like you, those people pray to the Lord and they are really good inside themselves.

23 Stay away from people who want to talk about silly questions. They are fools. You know that those questions cause people to quarrel. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel. Instead, he should be kind to everyone. He should be a good teacher. And he should be patient with people. 25 He should be kind to people who do not agree with him. He should teach them kindly what is correct. Maybe God will give them the chance to be sorry that they did not believe Christ. So then they may believe what is true. 26 And then they will start to think clearly. They will understand that Satan has been using them. He has caused them to do what he wanted. So then those people can get free from Satan’s power.

Chapter 3

People will turn away from God in the last days

1 Understand this! During the last days (before Christ returns to earth), there will be times of great trouble. 2 People will love only themselves. They will want lots of money. They will think that they are much more important than other people. And they will talk about how great they are. They will say bad things about other people. They will not obey their parents. They will not thank anyone. They will not think that other people, or God, are important. They will not do what is proper to other people. 3 People will not even love their own families. They will refuse to agree with other people. They will say wrong things about other people, things that are not true. They will be unable to rule themselves properly. They will be cruel like wild animals. They will be enemies of everything that is good. 4 People will turn against their friends. They will not think carefully before they do things. They will be completely sure that they are very, very important. They will not love God, but instead they will want very much to enjoy themselves. 5 Those people will seem to worship God. But really, they will refuse to let God work in them. You must stay away from people like that.

6 Among those people, there are some men who get into people’s homes. They get power over silly women. These women have done many wrong things. They cannot stop themselves. They let themselves do wrong things because they want all kinds of things so much. 7 These women are always trying to learn new things. But they can never really understand God’s true message. 8 Jannes and Jambres tried to stop Moses because they were his enemies. In the same way, these men are enemies of God’s true message. Their minds have become confused and bad. They have failed to believe what is true. 9 But they will not continue to do many more bad things. Because everyone will see clearly that they are fools. That is just what happened to Jannes and Jambres.

Verses 8-9 The Bible does not include the names Jannes and Jambres. But Israel’s people believed that they were men from Egypt, many years ago. They did magic (things that people cannot usually do) for the king of Egypt. (See Exodus 7:11-12, 22; 8:7, 18-19; 9:11.)

Timothy must follow Paul’s example

10 But you know everything about what I have taught. You know how I have lived. You know my purpose. You know how I believe God. You know how patient I have been. You know that I love God and other people. I have continued to work for God, even during troubles. You know that. 11 You know how people caused all kinds of trouble for me in the cities called Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. They hurt me very much. I was brave when I had such bad troubles! But the Lord saved me from all these dangers.

Verse 11 See Acts 13:50; 14:1-6, 19-20. Timothy’s home was in Lystra (see Acts 16:1-5).

12 People who are united to Christ Jesus want to live for God. But certainly, other people will cause trouble for them. 13 Some bad people will cause other people to believe things that are not true. These bad people, and all other bad people, will become worse and worse. And they themselves will also believe things that are not true.

It is important for us to know the Bible

14 But you must continue to believe the things that you have learned. You know that those things are true. Remember who taught you those things. 15 You have known the Bible from when you were a child. The Bible can cause you to understand how God can save us. He can save us when we really believe Christ Jesus. 16 Everything that the Bible says comes from God’s Spirit. And we can use the Bible to teach what is true. We can use it to tell people when they are doing wrong things. It shows them what is right. Also, with the Bible, we can teach people how to live good lives. 17 As a result, a person who lives for God can know how to live properly. He will have everything that he needs to do every kind of good work.

Verse 15 At that time, people would have known only the first part of the Bible, called the Old Testament. That part describes what happened before Jesus came to the earth.

Chapter 4

Timothy must continue to do his work for God

1 When Christ Jesus comes to rule as king, he will decide about all the people. He will decide about the people who are alive. He will decide also about the people who have died. He will decide what should happen to them. He will decide that because of what each person has done during their life. Because of this, I am speaking very seriously to you. God and Christ know that I am telling you this. So, I tell you to do this, which is your duty. 2 You must tell God’s message to people. Always be ready to tell it. Continue to tell it, whether people want to listen to you or not. Tell people when they are doing something wrong. Tell them that they must stop doing wrong things. Explain to them what they ought to do. Be very patient while you teach them.

3 A time will come when people will not listen to the true message about Christ. Instead, they will want to hear all kinds of different messages. So they will find more and more teachers for themselves. And those teachers will tell the people what they want to hear. 4 People will refuse to listen to the things that are true. Instead, they will want to listen to false stories. 5 But you yourself must continue to think seriously and clearly. Be patient and brave during troubles. Continue to tell the good news about Christ to people. As God’s servant, do all the work that he has given you to do.

Paul says that he will die soon

6 Do this, because it is nearly time for me to die. It is time for me to be like an offering to God, like the drink offering that they pour out. Very soon, I will go to God.

Verse 6 Israel’s people worshipped God in a special house. They offered gifts to him there, and these gifts included wine. They poured out the wine when they offered it to God. (See, for example, Numbers 15:5, 7, 10 and 28:7.) Paul is saying that this drink is like a picture of himself. His life on earth will soon end. He has lived for God, and now he is ready to die for God.

7 I have served Christ properly, like someone who does athletics to win. I have finished everything that God wanted me to do. I have done everything, like a runner who has run to the end of the path. I have continued to believe God and I have obeyed him. 8 So now a gift is waiting for me, like the crown (a special hat) that a winner gets. The Lord will make me completely right and happy. This will be like a crown that the Lord will give me. The Lord is completely right when he decides about people. And he will give me the crown on that great day when he does decide. He will not give a crown to me only. He will give crowns also to all the people who want him to come very much.

Verse 8 At that time, people often gave a crown (a special hat) to somebody who had won in athletics. So Paul is using the crown as a picture of what God will give his people. God will give a gift to everyone who really belongs to Christ. That gift is that we will always be completely right and happy. And we will live with him always.

Paul’s last words to Timothy

9 Try very much to come to me soon. 10 Demas has left me. He wanted very much the things that he can enjoy now, in this world. And he has gone to Thessalonica city. Crescens has gone to Galatia. Titus has gone to Dalmatia.

Verse 10 Paul writes about a man called Demas in Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 24 also. We do not know if this Demas was the same person. Thessalonica was a city in the north part of the country that we call Greece.

We do not know who Crescens was. Galatia was the east part of the country that we call Turkey.

Titus was a man who had worked with Paul to teach the Christian message. (See, for example, Galatians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 2:13; 7:6; Titus 1:4-5.) Dalmatia was where the country called Albania is now (north and west from Greece).

11 Only Luke is with me. Fetch Mark and bring him with you. He can be a help to me with the work for God. 12 But I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus city.

Verse 11 Luke had travelled and worked with Paul. He wrote the books in the Bible called Luke and Acts. (See, for example, Acts 16:10-13; Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24.)

Mark (also called John) was perhaps the same person who had travelled with Paul earlier. (See Acts 13:5, 13.)

Paul may have sent the man called Tychicus to Ephesus city to continue Timothy’s work there.

13 I left my coat with Carpus at Troas city. Bring it when you come. Also bring the books. If you cannot bring all of them, then bring my special books only.

Verse 13 Troas was a city on the west coast of the country that we call Turkey.

14 Alexander, the man who makes things from metal, caused a lot of trouble for me. The Lord will punish him because of the wrong things that he did. 15 You must also be careful that he does not cause trouble for you. He argued very strongly against our message.

16 I had to speak to the people with authority who put me in prison. I had to explain to them why I had done nothing wrong. And the first time that I had to speak to them, nobody came with me to help me. Everybody left me. I hope that God will not be angry with them because of that. 17 But the Lord stayed with me. He made me strong so that I could tell all his message. Then all the people from many countries could hear it. So the Lord saved me from great danger. 18 The Lord will save me from every bad thing. And he will bring me safely to his home above the earth, where he rules. Everyone should always say how very great he is! Everyone should do that always. This is true.

19 Say ‘hello’ to Priscilla and Aquila, and to Onesiphorus’s family. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth city. I left Trophimus at Miletus city because he was sick.

Verse 19 Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, had met Paul at Corinth city. (See Acts 18:1-3.) Then they went with Paul to Ephesus and they stayed there for some time. (See Acts 18:18-26 and 1 Corinthians 16:19.) Later they went to Rome (see Romans 16:3-4). They must have been in Ephesus again when Paul wrote this letter.

Paul writes about Onesiphorus in 1:16.

Verse 20 The Bible includes the name ‘Erastus’ in Acts 19:22 and Romans 16:23. We do not know whether this Erastus was the same person. Corinth was a city in the south part of the country that we call Greece.

Acts 20:4-5 and 21:29 include the name ‘Trophimus’. We do not know whether this Trophimus was the same person. Miletus was an important city on the coast, south from Ephesus (in Turkey).

21 Try very much to come before the winter. Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia say ‘hello’ to you. All the other believers here also say ‘hello’.

22 I pray that the Lord will continue to make you strong in your spirit. I pray that he will be kind to all of you.

Word List

a servant from God that brings his message OR a bad angel that was good but did bad things and now works for Satan.
a person or animal that is alive.
master. Another name for God. It means that he is greater than everyone else.
a gift that people offer to God.
to hurt someone, or to cause trouble for them, because they have done bad things.
a person from Rome. Rome was a powerful city; it had a strong army.
the name for the worst of the bad spirits that are against God. He has another name: the Devil. He is the enemy of God.
to work for someone and obey them.
a being that is always alive, even without a body. A person’s spirit is the part of them that will always be alive. It will be alive even after their body is dead. There are good spirits, like God’s Spirit and his angels. And there are bad spirits, like Satan and his angels.
a drink that contains alcohol. People make it from small, sweet fruits called grapes.
to love and thank someone (God) more than anyone else.

Book List

Various Bible versions

A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

D. A. Arichea and H. A. Hatton ~ A Handbook on Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus

G. W. Knight ~ The Pastoral Epistles ~ A Commentary on the Greek Text

G. D. Fee ~ New International Biblical Commentary ~ 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus

R. E. Smith & J. Beekman ~ An Auxiliary Translation of Second Timothy


© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2005

This version published January 2005

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.