This epistle is the second of two inspired letters Paul the apostle wrote to his "son in the faith", Timothy. Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment for a short period of ministry during which he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus. 2 Timothy, however, finds Paul once again in a Roman prison, apparently rearrested as part of Nero's persecution of Christians. Unlike Paul's confident hope of release during his first imprisonment, this time he had no such hopes. In his first imprisonment in Rome, before Nero had begun the persecution of Christians, he as only under house arrest and had opportunity for much interaction with people and ministry. At this time, 5 or 6 year later, he was in a cold cell in chains and with no hope of deliverance. Abandoned by virtually all of those close to him for fear of persecution and facing imminent execution, Paul wrote to Timothy, urging him to hasten to Rome for one last visit. Whether Timothy made it to Rome before Paul's execution is not known. According to tradition, Paul was not released from this second Roman imprisonment, but suffered the martyrdom he had foreseen.
In this letter, Paul - aware the end was near - passed the non-apostolic mantle of ministry to Timothy and exhorted him to continue faithful in his duties, hold on to sound doctrine, avoid error, accept persecution for the gospel, put his confidence in the Scripture, and preach it relentlessly.
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