Preface to 2 Timothy

Each book in the Reformed Expository Commentary series is designed to assist pastors as they preach and teach Scripture, but 2 Timothy is for pastors twice over, for Paul writes as apostle and pastor to Timothy, his primary successor, as he faces the end of his ministry—indeed, the end of life itself. The epistle therefore contains Paul’s reflections on his ministry as it ends and his instruction to Timothy as his ministry begins in earnest. His convictions pour out in all directions: 

  • “Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord nor of me his prisoner” (2 Tim. 1:8). 
  • “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:1). 
  • “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2:3). 
  • “Remember Jesus Christ . . . . If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2:8, 13). 
  • “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies” (2:23). 
  • “The Lord’s servant must . . . be . . . able to teach, . . . correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2:24–25). 
  • “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (3:16–17). 
  • “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (4:2). 

Second Timothy has a bracing urgency, a lack of pretense, born of the situation. Paul expects to die soon, and Timothy, an imperfect man, must take up the reins of leadership, whether he is ready or no. He has one last chance to see his spiritual son—“Do your best to come to me soon” (2 Tim. 4:9). He has one last chance to look his friend in the eye, one last chance to address a man upon whose shoulders a great part of the church will rest. And we get to listen. 

Second Timothy is a short epistle and little studied. I hope to change that, slightly, by offering it to you, my readers, and by urging you to share it with each other and the church. The book’s brevity (eighty-three verses) and relative simplicity (compared, for example, to Romans) allow the commentator the luxury of addressing matters that might have to be skipped in other circumstances. The amazing vice list in chapter 3 comes to mind. More than that, however, I offer Paul’s testimony as his coda, and perhaps yours and mine: “The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:6–7). May you and I say the same, one day, as God strengthens us by his grace. 

—Daniel M. Doriani, coauthor, 2 Timothy & Titus

Preface to Titus

The influence of the apostle Paul on evangelical churches cannot be doubted. Ever since Martin Luther, the books of Romans and Galatians have formed the spine of the Protestant gospel. It is a curious inconsistency, then, that the same cannot be said for the influence of Paul’s Pastoral Letters on the evangelical doctrine of the church. It is not as simple to draw a complete ecclesiology from the letters to Timothy and Titus as it is to deduce justification from Paul’s more famous letters. Nonetheless, the Pastoral Epistles drive stakes in the ground that outline a vital foundation for apostolic church structure and practice. From this perspective, we can appreciate the great importance of Paul’s Spirit-inspired letters to Timothy and Titus. From his clear teaching on the qualifications and functions of elders and deacons to the crucial role of clear doctrinal standards, Paul’s instructions to his pastoral colleagues are of enormous value to church leaders today. 

Beyond its contribution to a sound ecclesiology, Paul’s epistle to Titus deserves to be deeply loved by God’s people for its display of manifold colors of grace and love amid the struggles of ministry. It is also a tough and realistic instruction that faces head-on the dangers of false teaching, cultural accommodation, and human sin. Paul believed that Christian leaders must employ sound spiritual authority in protecting the flock, relying above all on the sheer power of biblical truth. Finally, the warmth and shared commitment enjoyed by Paul and his associates inspire the servants of Christ today to a comradeship in gospel ministry that is sorely lacking but will both strengthen and sweeten our vital labors in the cause of the gospel. 

—Richard D. Phillips, coauthor, 2 Timothy & Titus