Timothy was a disciple who originally came from Lystra in modern day Turkey. His mother and grandmother were Jewish, and had brought him up with a good knowledge of the scriptures (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15-16). He was chosen by the apostle Paul to accompany him in his preaching work (Acts 16:1-4), and they travelled together throughout most of Asia Minor. Despite his youth (1 Timothy 4:12), he soon became one of Paul’s most trusted workers in the gospel (Philippians 2:19-22).
At the time that Paul wrote these letters to Timothy, Timothy was in Ephesus, where he was in a position of responsibility over the believers there.
Sunday - 1 Timothy 1
The last time that Paul saw the Ephesian believers was in Acts 20, where he gave them a warning against the dangers of false teachers who would arise and try to spread false doctrine, ‘wolves in the flock’. A similar warning is given here in chapter 1 (see verses 3,4,7,19-20). We find out more about Hymaenaeus’ error (v20) in 2 Timothy 2:17-18 – he had ceased to believe in the future resurrection of the dead. Timothy is told he must war a spiritual warfare against such teachers. Throughout this letter, Paul lays out some very important Bible teachings which Timothy and those at Ephesus must uphold.
In condemning these teachers, however, Paul is careful to confess his own previous failings. Before his conversion, he had himself been “the chief of sinners” (verses 13-15), blaspheming and persecuting those who followed the truth. The lessons to us from this chapter are that we need to be very careful to make sure that we are following true doctrine, true Bible teaching, but that if we do find we have gone astray like Paul had, then God in his mercy will forgive those who repent and turn to him.
Monday - 1 Timothy 2
There is an important first principle of doctrine here: there is one God (compare Deuteronomy 6:4, Mark 12:29) and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. God is righteous and holy, and our sins have separated us from him (Isaiah 59:2). Jesus has brought us the possibility of a new covenant from God (Hebrews 9:15), through which we can be reconciled to God through the forgiveness of our sins. There is no other way for us to come to God – he is the one and only mediator (see Acts 4:12). Jesus has stood between God and men to bring God’s covenant words to men, in the same way that Moses stood between God and Israel at Sinai to bring them the covenant of the law (Deuteronomy 5:2-5).
A belief in the gospel has to be shown in the way we live our lives. We should be quiet and peaceable (v2), and given to prayer (verses 1 and 8). We should not be concerned with our outward appearances, but instead be dressed with good works (v10).
Tuesday - 1 Timothy 6
Paul had previously warned the elders of Ephesus about the dangers of wanting to be rich (Acts 20:32-35). There may have been much poverty amongst the believers at Ephesus, as they had lost the lucrative income which came from the trade associated with the goddess Diana of the Ephesians (Acts 19:19, 24-26). Paul advises Timothy that the love of money is a great danger, and we should learn to be content with only the bare minimum. It is godliness rather than money that can bring about real contentment (v6). This is a hard lesson for many of us today.
Verse 16 teaches that God alone has immortality (not man – we will only gain eternal life at the resurrection, when Christ returns v14,19, the point that Hymanaeus and his followers had failed to understand). Also, we are told that no man has ever seen or can see God. This echoes John 1:18: although we can’t see God, we know what he is like through the way his son, Jesus, lived his life. The challenge to us is to show God’s character in our own lives also.
Wednesday - 2 Timothy 1
We see Paul’s great concern for Timothy and the believers at Ephesus, as he describes his ceaseless prayers for them. Paul is at this time a prisoner in Rome (v8); he is not, however, concerned about his own situation but worries in case others might be ashamed of him because of his sufferings and so turn away both from him and from the true gospel. Paul is not worried about the things of this life because of his faith in a future “Day” (verses 12, 18). We find reference to this again in chapter 4, where it is clear that this refers to the Day of Judgement at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (chapter 4:8,1). Paul has faith that he will be given a crown of righteousness on that Day 4:8), and prays that others such as Onesiphorus may also find mercy from the Judge at that time.
Thursday - 2 Timothy 2
Life in Christ is hard work. Paul describes it as a war (verses 3,4) or an athletics competition (verse 5). It is only possible to succeed if the soldier or athlete is totally dedicated, not distracted by other things and keeping strictly to the orders of the commanding officer or to the rules of the competition. These metaphors are developed in other places, see for example 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, Hebrews 12:1-2, Ephesians 6:11-17. In practice this means that Timothy has to be prepared to stand up for what he knows to be right from the word of God, teaching and patiently correcting those who want to believe or behave otherwise (v25), whilst avoiding profitless disputes (v14,16,23). He has to be in total control of himself, not giving in to ‘youthful lusts’ (v22), but following a life of righteousness, faith, love, peace, patience and humility.
The reward for this self-discipline is set out in verses 8-13. Just as Jesus’ sufferings were followed by a resurrection to glory, even so those who endure and remain faithful have the promise of reigning with him. It is significant that in verse 8 Jesus is called “the seed of David”. This is quoting from the Old Testament promises to David, in which he was promised an heir, a seed, who would reign on his throne over Israel for ever (see for example 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Luke 1:31-33). The hope of Paul, and Timothy, and that of all faithful followers of Christ, is to reign with Christ in that future kingdom (e.g. Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 5:5-10).
Friday – 2 Timothy 3
How well the ‘last days’ of this chapter seems to describe the days we live in! Reading the first few verses we should question ourselves: are we selfish, money-loving, boastful, proud…? We are reminded in verses 15-17 of our reason for reading the Bible – the Word of God can change us from being like that, into people who are ‘complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work’ and ‘wise for salvation through faith’. The Bible can do this because ‘all Scripture is given by inspiration of God’ – in other words God is the author of the Bible. The words may have been written down by many different people over a very long period of time, but in all cases it was God who was telling them what to write (see 2 Peter 1:20-21), and so we can trust what it tells us.
Saturday - 2 Timothy 4
This final chapter reminds us to set our hearts firmly on the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. When he returns there will be a resurrection of the dead, and Jesus will judge the living and the dead. For those who have committed themselves to a life in Christ and faithfully ‘fought the fight’ and ‘finished the race’ as Paul had (v8, 18), there will be the reward of a crown of righteousness in the kingdom of God and of Christ (see James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, 3:11).