Posted by: SandreS | September 10, 2009

The Church In Ruins (Brief Thoughts On II Timothy), Part 4

Our Apostle’s Last Word (Part 1)

The book of II Timothy is of great significance because it is Paul’s last epistle. It was written to detail the apostasy that was already upon the church. We benefit greatly from this letter when we realize this and take special note of its personal and individual nature. Paul’s last word is not to the church as a whole, but to an individual member of it. It is a letter of edification and instruction in light of widespread apostasy.

II Timothy is one of Paul’s “Prison Epistles,” as can be noted in 1:8, 16-17. It was written during his second Roman imprisonment (around A.D. 67-68). As he wrote this letter to his closest friend, the time of his execution drew very near (4:16).

We take a little space to note what others have written regarding this crucial letter of II Timothy.

Sir Robert Anderson:

The same apostle who had exalted in the fact that, “all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:10), lived to pen the sad lament, “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (II Timothy 1:15). And then, taking a still wider view of the condition of the church, he indicted the solemn forecast, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13).[1]

C.I. Scofield:

Second Timothy has to do with the personal walk and testimony of a true servant of Christ in a day of apostasy and declension. The key phrase are, “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (1:15); and, “A good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2:3)[2]

George Williams:

[II Timothy] views the Church in ruins, and instructs the man of God as to his personal conduct in the midst of the ruin”[3]

Charles Welch:

Instead of a church governed by bishops we have insistence upon individual witness. Consequently while we value the earlier epistles of the mystery for the revelation that they bring, we value II Timothy rather for a message which fits the sad, apostate days in which our lot is cast.[4]

F.B. Hole:

We have no certain knowledge of how many years elapsed between the writing of the 1st and 2nd epistles to Timothy but evidently there had been sufficient time for the development of a big down-grade movement in the church of God. The diverse characters stamped upon the two epistles make this quite plain. In the first epistle Timothy is instructed as to good order in the church and exhorted to maintain it in the presence of disorder that threatened it. In the second we find serious defection has developed … consequently that which is official is not mentioned and the appeal is to individual faithfulness.[5]

J.N. Darby:

The first of Timothy gives directions for the order of the assembly; the second, for the path of the servant of God when it is in disorder and failure … The Second Epistle to Timothy has a very peculiar character … Paul sees for himself the ruin of that which he had built and watched over so faithfully … The principle therefore of individual faithfulness, of individual responsibility to God, is established, and set above all other considerations.[6]

D.L. McCroskey:

When Paul was about to board his ship in Acts 20:37, his beloved Ephesian brethren “wept sore” and kissed him, sorrowing that “they should see his face no more.” But in the Epistle before us, we see him some six years later writing that the time of his departure from this life is at hand. And this time, there are no brethren to weep and embrace him, and comfort him. “Only Luke is with me,” he wrote.

How tragic that the great world apostasy was already beginning, even before Paul’s death … They turned away from Paul and his message … and Judaism and Christianity become more and more mixed together. Ever since, preachers in Christendom have shied away from Paul – even to this day! …

Practically all error in Christendom today stems from ignorance or denial of Paul’s gospel of grace and his revelation of the mystery. In Romans 16:25 he wrote “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.” How, then, can believers be established in truth when they deny Paul’s special gospel (Galatians 1:11-12), and the revelation of the mystery as revealed through him?[7]

E.W. Bullinger:

The prominent feature of this Epistle is the “church’s” departure from the truth (see 1:16; 2:17; 3:8; 4:4). When “all they which are in Asia (cp. Acts 19. 10) be turned away from” Paul, he exhorts Timothy, his “son,” therefore to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” No more is there heard, as in the First Epistle and in that to Titus, the apostolic guidance for church rule or administration of any kind. Only two things are possible now: “Preach the word” (4:2), and “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2:2). … Paul tells of even worse days to come, perilous, or grievous, times “in the last days” (3:1; 4:8), the only charge in connection with which is “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of” (3:14).[8]

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press


[1] Sir Robert Anderson, The Buddha of Christendom, page 37

[2] C.I. Scofield, the Scofield Reference Bible

[3] George Williams, the Student’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

[4] Charles Welch, The Berean Expositor XXXI.

[5] F.B. Hole, Paul’s Epistles

[6] J.N. Darby, The Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.

[7] D.L. McCroskey, II Timothy – The Divine Outline of World Apostasy, The Last Day Messenger, November-December, 1975.

[8] E.W. Bullinger, The Companion Bible, p. 1808.

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