Second Epistle to Timothy
The Second Epistle to Timothy, also written as II Timothy, is the sixteenth book of the New Testament. It is a letter written in ancient Greek around the late first century or early second century (circa 90-140 CE). In the letter, the author identifies himself as Paul writing to his student Timothy, an evangelizing member of his church. The epistle is often grouped with the First Epistle to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus as the Pastoral Epistles.
Authorship and Dating
Although the letter has traditionally been attributed to Paul, the majority of modern historians no longer attribute II Timothy to Paul for several reasons:
- Paul died around 64-67 CE, but the epistle doesn't appear to have been written until many years later.
- The topics in the letter don't fit with those letters which are thought to be the genuine work of Paul.
- Marcion, who created one of the earliest Christian New Testaments in 140 CE, did not include the epistle in his canon, either because he didn't know about the epistle, it wasn't written yet, or he did not think it was genuine.
- The first evidence of Christians actually accepting the epistle as canon doesn't occur until 180 CE.
- Several textual critics claim the writing style and content of II Timothy is so different from I Timothy and Titus that it must have been written by a different author.
There are no known original manuscripts. The oldest copy is in the Codex Sinaiticus, c. 330-360 CE.
In the letter the author tells the recipient to keep spreading his religion, don't trust people who teach the second coming already occurred, and be nice to everyone.
This letter is in the public domain. I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read the NIV translation.
- The author tells the recipient to not engage in stupid argument or foolish quarreling (2:23-24). If only Christians took this seriously, but, instead, they encourage apologetics!
- Near the end, the author writes, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (4:3-4) To me, this is a perfect description of most of the Christians I've met.
- The author says that he suffering and in chains as a criminal (2:9-10), and yet, he doesn't seem to have any trouble writing and sending letters. He also whines about all his persecution (3:11), but he's supposed to be writing to someone who already knows all this, so why is he bringing it up? It seems more like the real writer was intending this letter to have a broader audience.
- It's nice the the author encourages "good" behavior and the avoidance of "evil," (2:22) but, without going into any detail about the difference between good and evil, it's little more than a platitude.
- The author says athletes don't receive honors if they don't follow the rules (2:5). Not much prophecy for steroid use, huh?
- The author says in the last days there will be evil people (3:1-5). Apparently he missed the memo about their already being evil people.
- Although not as bad as I Timothy, the author couldn't help but mock women (3:6).
- The author says that all scripture is "God-breathed and useful for teaching," (3:16) but, without instructions on how to discern genuine scripture from forgeries (i.e., this letter), it's not a very useful statement.
- The author calls imposters "evil," (3:13) which is pretty rich considering this letter is most likely a forgery.
- Much like Christians do now, the author says that his god will punish those who disagree with them (4:14).