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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2


In this chapter, the Apostle, after the usual Apostolical salutation, expresses his great affection for Timothy of which he gives a proof in his unceasing remembrance of him (1–3); and he shows how deserving Timothy was of this affection (4, 5). He, next, exhorts him to re-enkindle within him the grace which he received at his ordination. To preach the gospel with fortitude, and not to be ashamed of Christ crucified (8).

After having adduced several engaging motives for enduring sufferings and labour in the cause of the Gospel, he points out the manner of preaching, and the doctrine to be preached (9–14). He notes the defection of certain parties from the faith, and commends the charity of Onesiphorus towards himself in chains, for which he prays that he may be amply remunerated by God (15–18).


1. Paul, constituted an Apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will and authority of God, for the purpose of announcing to men the promise of eternal life, which is given to the believers through Christ Jesus.

2. (Salutes) Timothy, his beloved son. Grace, mercy, and peace be to thee from God the Father, and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

3. I give thanks to God, whom I have worshipped in the religion transmitted to me from my ancestors, with a sincere conscience, for having inspired me with an unceasing remembrance of thee, both day and night, in my prayers.

4. I anxiously long to see thee, in order that I may be filled with joy and consolation at thy presence—mindful of the abundant tears thou didst shed on the occasion of my departure from thee.

5. Calling to mind also the sincere faith that I witnessed in thee, which also firmly and perseveringly abode first in my maternal grandmother, Lois, and in thy mother, Eunice, and which I am morally certain and firmly persuaded, will perseveringly abide in thee.

6. In order, then, to insure this perseverance in faith, I exhort thee to enkindle and resuscitate within thee the grace, which thou didst receive at thy ordination, conferred by me, through the imposition of hands.

7. For, God has not conferred on us, Bishops, at our ordination, the spirit of timidity or indolence, but the spirit of fortitude, and of love, and equanimity.

8. Be not, therefore, ashamed to bear testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ crucified, by preaching his Gospel; nor be ashamed of me, a prisoner on his account; but labour along with me in bearing the afflictions to which all the ministers of the Gospel are subjected, according to the strength given thee by God.

9. Who has saved us from sin and eternal death and has, for this end, called us to a state of sanctity, not certainly in consideration of our works; (for, they were evil), but out of his own liberal bounty, and gratuitous mercy, which was decreed from eternity to be given to us, in consideration of the merits of Jesus Christ.

10. But this gratuitous and merciful will of God in our regard, though hidden from eternity in God, has now been manifested by the advent and apparition of Jesus Christ our Saviour, who, indeed, by his passion destroyed the dominion of death, and brought into open light, immortal and incorruptible life, and afforded us a sure hope of enjoying it, by the preaching of his Gospel throughout the world.

11. To announce which Gospel I am constituted the herald, the divinely-commissioned legate, and the teacher of the Gentiles.

12. On account of which also I now suffer in chains; but I am not ashamed of them. For, I know who it is, to whose safe keeping I have entrusted myself, and I am quite certain, that he is able to guard inviolate the treasure of merits and sufferings which I deposited with him, until the great day of final recompense.

13. Let the sound words, which you heard from me on subjects of faith and Christian love, be the pattern which you will follow, when treating on the like subjects.

14. Carefully guard the precious deposit of sound doctrine confided to your keeping, by the grace of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us (and imparted to us at our ordination).

15. You cannot but be aware, that all the Asiatics at Rome have forsaken me, and among the rest, Phigellus and Hermogenes.

16. Onesiphorus is to be excepted, and may the Lord show mercy to his family, for he has often consoled and relieved me, and has not been ashamed of my chains.

17. Moreover, having come to Rome, he anxiously made search for me from prison to prison, nor did he relinquish his search, until he found me.

18. May the Lord grant him to find mercy with himself on the day of judgment; and as to the extent of the charities he administered to me at Ephesus, I shall forbear from referring to them: you, yourself, being better acquainted with them than I can be.


1. “According to the promise of life.” The Greek word for “according,” κατα determines the end of St. Paul’s Apostleship: the end or purpose of it was, to announce this “promise of life.”

2. (See 2nd verse of the 1st Epistle).

3. “Whom I serve.” The Greek word, λατρευω, shows that this service means paying divine and supreme honour. “From my forefathers.” This he adds in consequence of the calumnies of his enemies, who charged him with destroying the law and institutions of his ancestors. He was a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin. Now, he says, he has been serving God by a religion which he derived, as if by inheritance, from his ancestors. Before his conversion, he was most zealous in observing the Jewish law, and now, after his conversion, he only embraced that form of religion, to which the old law, rightly understood, clearly conducted him. “With a pure conscience,” i.e., a sincere conscience; free from hypocrisy, for, even when persecuting the Church, he did so, thinking in his conscience, that he was serving the cause of God; or “pure,” may mean, free from guilt or sin; because, he was most observant of legal justice, being by sect, a Pharisee. “That without ceasing,” &c. This is the thing for which, as a gift of charity, he thanks God—viz., for inspiring him with a continual remembrance of his beloved disciple. Others make the preceding act of thanksgiving regard the benefits of God conferred on Timothy; and then, they understand the latter words thus:—“As I have constant remembrance of thee.” The Greek, ὡς ἀδιάλειπτον ἔχω τὴν περὶ σοῦ μνείαν, will admit of it; the former is, however, the more probable construction; it is also the construction of St. Chrysostom, Theodoret, &c.

4. The hearts of the Apostles were not stony hearts. Among the crimes charged by the Apostle on the Pagan philosophers is, that they were “without affection,” (Rom. 1).

5. Another cause of this affection and desire to see Timothy, was his sincere faith. Lois was Timothy’s maternal grandmother; for, his father was a Gentile—(Acts, 16). Both she and his mother, Eunice, were converted to the faith before St. Paul’s arrival at Lystra. The word “dwelt,” by an Hebrew idiom means, firmly inhered and persevered until death. He commends Timothy for deriving piety and faith from his ancestors, in the same way as he himself—“served God from his forefathers.” The piety of parents often serves as a great stimulus to children to imitate their good example. “And I am certain,” &c., only expresses a firm conviction, a moral certainty.

6. “For which cause,” i.e., in order to persevere in the faith, “I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God.” The Greek word for “stir up,” αναζωπυρειν, means to blow up the smouldering fire, to which the grace of God is compared. “Which is in thee by the imposition of my hands.” This shows that the grace to which he refers is of an habitual, permanent nature. “Which is in thee,” refers to the sacramental grace of his ordination, which is an habitual sanctifying grace, like every sacramental grace producing certain specific effects, a certain aptitude for particular duties; and, moreover, conferring a right, founded upon God’s gratuitous, but unerring promises, to the necessary actual graces that may, in due time, be required for the proper discharge of the duties of the state for which the sacrament fits us.—(See 1 Tim., 4:14). St. Thomas says, that Timothy grew remiss in the discharge of his Episcopal functions, particularly that of preaching; and hence, the Apostle admonishes him to resuscitate the grace of his ordination. If this was necessary for Timothy—if tepidity and sloth were to be found in this Apostolic man—what cause have not others to tremble for themselves, and to adopt every means, prayer, meditation, and pious works, to revive the grace of their vocation?

7. “Hath not given us,” i.e., Bishops at our ordination, “the spirit of fear,” i.e., timidity and indolence, on account of which we would dread danger and death; “but of power,” i.e., fortitude and intrepidity, so necessary for the leaders in the Christian warfare, to meet the enemies of God and of religion. “And of love,” whereby, after the example of Christ, the Bishop would seek only the glory of God and the honour of his Church. “And sobriety;” a certain equanimity of soul both in prosperity and adversity. This shows, that the grace to which he refers in the preceding verse is an interior, sanctifying grace, of which a Bishop stands no less in need for the discharge of his Episcopal functions, than he does of the “gratiæ gratis datæ.”

8. The “testimony of Christ,” may mean the gospel, which means a testimony handed down by witnesses, or rather the preaching of Christ crucified. “But labour with the gospel.” The Greek, συγκακοπαθησον, means, suffer together with the gospel. This he ought to do, in virtue of that spirit of love and equanimity which he received. “According to the power of God;” distrusting himself, he should repose all his hopes in God.

9. “Who has delivered us.” (In the Greek, τοῦ σώσαντος ἡμᾶς, saved us), from sin and its consequences, temporal and eternal, “and called us by his holy calling.” He saved us, by calling us to a state of sanctification. “According to his own purpose and grace, which was given,” i.e., given from eternity on the part of God, in virtue of his unchangeable decree, though it is only in time we could enjoy its effects.

10. “By the illumination,” i.e., the apparition and coming, as appears from the Greek, which literally is, Epiphany. “Who hath destroyed death,” or, according to the Greek, καταργῆσαντος μεν τὸν θάνατον, rendered void death, by depriving it of its dominion over man, “and hath brought to light, life and incorruption, by the gospel.” Christ did this in two ways—first, he showed incorruptible life in himself, for forty days after his Resurrection; secondly, by the preaching of the gospel, throughout the world, he gave us a certain hope of one day enjoying the same incorruptible life.

11. St. Paul is constituted the herald. Apostle, and teacher of the Gentiles, particularly in the preaching of this gospel

12. “For which cause,” on account of exercising the function of herald, Apostle and teacher of the Gentiles, in preaching the gospel, he is subjected to sufferings; but he is not ashamed of them; for he knows who it is to whom he has given in charge both himself and the treasure of merit resulting from his sufferings; his depositary is an omnipotent, infinitely veracious God, faithful to his promises. “And he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him,” &c. The Apostle makes no reference to the first quality required in a depositary—viz., fidelity, as being self-evident; he asserts that God has the power of keeping inviolate the treasure of merit deposited with him. The deposits even fructify with him, in the eternal weight of glory, which they will secure with us.

13. He enjoins on Timothy, and through him on all preachers of the gospel, to make the language of the Apostle their pattern in preaching. Hence, vain novelties are to be avoided, in treating either of Christian faith or morality.

14. “The good thing committed to thy trust.” This deposit which God has place in the hands of Timothy, is quite different from the deposit placed by Timothy in the hands of God (12). The deposit, in this verse, regards the sound doctrine of faith, which, according to the rules of a deposit, should be kept whole and entire, without increase or diminution. The Bishops are the depositaries of this divine treasure of doctrine in its unchangeable entirety, whether contained in the inspired SS. Scriptures, or Tradition.

15. All the Asiatics at Rome “are turned away from me.” Whether it was that they deserted the faith, or merely forsook the Apostle in his perils, is not expressed. The former might in many cases result from the latter. Timothy heard all this by rumour. He mentions Phigellus and Hermogenes in particular, probably, because they signalized themselves in this defection from the Apostle, of whatever kind it was, and also to caution Timothy and the faithful against holding any intercourse with them.

16. He excepts Onesiphorus; he, though an Asiatic, often solaced and relieved the Apostle; and for this, the latter begs of God to have mercy on his entire family.

18. “The Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord.” A Hebrew idiom for, “The Lord grant him to find mercy of himself;” like the text in Genesis, 19:—“The Lord rained sulphur upon Sodom from the Lord,” i.e., from himself. “On that day;” by excellence refers to the day of judgment. “Thou very well knowest,” because Timothy was present, and could witness the many good offices, which he bestowed on the Church at Ephesus, and on the Apostle himself, in particular.

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