Paul Reminds Timothy of His Early Training and Its Obligations.
v. 3. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
v. 4. greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
v. 5. when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded that in thee also.
v. 6. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
v. 7. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Without further introduction the apostle broaches the matter that is filling his mind. His heart is full to overflowing, and the thoughts gush forth in the eager effort to find expression: Thanks I render to God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience (as I constantly make mention of thee in my prayers night and day, eagerly wishing to see thee, remembering thy tears, in order that I be filled with joy). This is a true Pauline beginning of a letter, for he always finds reason for thankfulness toward God, no matter how discouraging the circumstances with which he may be battling. In spite of the fact that he had long years of arduous toil behind him and was looking forward to a probable early execution, yet it is the feeling of gratitude toward God which finds expression in his case. With regard to Timothy his hopes and prayers had been more than fulfilled, he being more than satisfied with the result of his labors. But since it was his intention to remind his pupil of the obligations of his early training, he characterizes the God to whom his prayers are arising as the Lord whom he was serving from his forefathers with a pure conscience. This expression does not oppose the statement of 1Ti_1:13. as many commentators think. The situation rather is this: With the exception of the actual revelation of the Messiah in the flesh and the fact that we are now living in the time of fulfillment, while the patriarchs and their followers lived in the period of type and prophecy, the faith and hope of the believers of the Old Testament is identical with that of the Christians in the New Testament. In this faith and hope Paul had been instructed from his youth, as his forefathers had been before him. It was a terrible thing, of course, that he had been a persecutor and a blasphemer of Christ and the Christian religion. But, as he himself says, this attitude had been due to ignorance; his early faith in the Messiah that was to come, and that of his later years in the Messiah that had come, were the same in substance. And so his worship of God had been performed with a pure conscience, foolish as it was in view of the fact that the Messiah had already appeared; Paul offers this as an explanation, not as an excuse.
In the form of a parenthetical remark the apostle now sets forth his relation to Timothy, stating that he had his beloved pupil in remembrance continually in the prayers that were rising to God night and day. He remembered all the congregations with whom he had been connected in his apostolic capacity, but, incidentally, his cordial relation to Timothy caused him to make mention of him with particular fervor. His heart was filled with longing to see his young friend, especially since he could not get rid of the memory of the tears which Timothy had shed at their last meeting; See Act_20:37. The field on which Timothy was working had proved almost too much for his inexperience, in consequence of which he had been bothered with faint-heartedness. As Paul, therefore, thought of this scene and of the fact that he had not been able to see Timothy since, his longing to see him and thus to be filled with joy was again aroused and increased.
After these parenthetical remarks the apostle now mentions the reason for his prayers of thankfulness: For I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice; I am persuaded, however, that also in thee. Paul had probably been reminded with great force of all these facts by a letter or by a messenger from Timothy. The impression which he had had concerning his pupil had thereby been deepened. And therefore he turns to the Lord with a grateful heart, thanking Him for preserving the faith of Timothy to the present time. It was an unfeigned faith, a faith unmixed with hypocrisy, a faith resting upon the knowledge and consisting in the acceptance of the salvation in and through Christ. Timothy had been exceptionally fortunate in having received proper instruction in the doctrine of truth. His grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, both of whom apparently belonged to the true Israelites that waited for the revelation of the Messiah, had also both embraced Christianity. But the same Christian faith which lived in them dwelt also in the heart of the grandson and son. Of that Paul was convinced, for that he had the strangest testimony.
These extraordinary advantages which he had enjoyed, however, also imposed obligations upon Timothy: For which reason I remind thee to rekindle God's gift of grace, which is in thee by the laying on of my hands. Timothy had from his early childhood received instruction in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. His conversion, therefore, had consisted in his turning from the expectation of a Messiah that was still to come to the trust in Him who had been manifested Since, then, he had received the grace of God in so rich a measure, since he had also been given the ability to teach and the willingness to teach as special evidences of God's mercy, therefore the apostle found it incumbent upon himself to remind him of the obligations attending this gift, as it had been transmitted to him through the laying on of Paul's hands at the time of his ordination. In a peculiar way, in an extraordinary measure, Timothy had at that time been given the special ability for the administration of the pastoral office in all its branches. Timothy was to rekindle the gift of grace imparted to him. The fire of faith, of love, of confidence, of courage to open his mouth in joyful proclamation of the counsel of God was still in him, but he was in danger of neglecting it; hence the admonition to rekindle it, lest the work of the Lord suffer in consequence.
In support of his admonition Paul adds: For not has God given us the spirit of timidity, but of power and of love and of sane-mindedness. The spirit that lives in the Christians and should give energy especially to the pastors is not one of timidity, of lack of courage, of faintheartedness. That is the spirit which produces hirelings, men that cater to the itching ears of their hearers; it is the spirit that finally leads to hypocrisy and denial of the faith. The true Spirit that should actuate all believers and especially the ministers of the Word is the Spirit of strength and power, of an energy rooted in the omnipotence of God, that knows no fear; the Spirit of love which enables a person not only to offer work freely, but also to make sacrifices for the cause of the Lord; the Spirit of sane-mindedness, that enables the Christian pastor to use sound common sense under all circumstances, to employ that tact and diplomacy which chooses the best methods in all situations and thus gains friends for the Gospel. This is a gift of grace, through the Spirit, and should therefore be found in all men that are engaged in the glorious ministry of saving souls, as well as in all believers that recognize their duty of placing their strength and abilities in the service of the Lord.