Paul has come to the end. Most scholars who believe that Paul wrote 2 Timothy think this is his last surviving letter. Some date it within a year of his death, traditionally thought to have taken place around 68 AD in Rome by beheading. Every line drips with the emotion of a man who sees the end coming and so wants his life’s work to continue on with strength after he is gone.
Sadly, most in Asia Minor — the province in which Ephesus was found — had turned on Paul (1:15). It seems they looked to his imprisonment as evidence that he was not favored by God and they pushed on to other versions of Christianity. Paul’s fear is that Timothy will join their ranks. Timothy is already losing his spiritual steam (1:6), and being the spiritual son of a “prisoner” isn’t exactly a great thing to put on your resume (1:8).
A person can only make it through trying times like these by faith, and this passage drips with Paul’s faith. He is confident of Timothy’s faith, maybe even when Timothy is not:
I have in my mind a clear picture of your sincere faith — the faith which first came to live in Lois your grandmother and Eunice your mother, and which I am confident, lives in you as well. (1:5)
Paul has faith that the Spirit is one of power:
After all, the spirit given to us by God isn’t a fearful spirit; it’s a spirit of power, love and prudence. (1:7)
Paul trusts in God’s purpose and grace, not his or Timothy’s own power:
God saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace. (1:9)
Paul anchors his faith in the power of the resurrection:
[God] has now made it [grace] visible through the appearing of our savior King Jesus, who abolished death and, through the gospel, shone a bright light on life and immortality. (1:10)
And Paul knows God is trustworthy:
But I am not ashamed, because I know the one I have trusted, and I’m convinced that he has the power to keep safe until that day what I have entrusted to him. (1:12)
When you come to the end, when death is looming and your friends have turned against you, the only way forward is by faith.