The Plan—to Send Timothy Soon (2:19)

Having brought himself back into the picture in verses 16-18, Paul now returns to where the narrative left off in 1:26; it assumes the presence/absence motif (1:27; 2:12). Not able to come himself, he hopes to send Timothy to you soon, meaning "without delay" once the present delay regarding his future is resolved. His reason for it is primarily personal, that I [for my part] may be cheered when I receive news about "your affairs." Since the outcome of his trial is still future, he hopes to do this (I hope is repeated in v. 23), a hope qualified as in the Lord Jesus, emphasizing the grounds for it (as well as offering a proviso for something future that is simply in the Lord's hands; Bockmuehl 1997:165). Hope, therefore, should not to be watered down to our idiom "I hope so" (when we have very little confidence about something). This qualifier, plus "I am persuaded in the Lord" when referring to his own coming in verse 24, indicates that hope moves much closer to certainty.

The reason for sending Timothy is expressed in terms quite the reverse of Paul's ordinary reason for sending one of his coworkers to a church. In most cases it is for their sakes—to straighten something out or to bring something started to completion. But here it is expressly for his own sake, that "I for my part" may be cheered by good news about them. What will cheer Paul will be to "learn about your affairs," probably having not so much to do with their affairs in general as with those addressed in 1:27—2:18. This, after all, is a primary reason for the letter. This way of putting it also implies that he expects Timothy to return before he himself comes, which makes the soon in Paul's case problematic (see commentary on v. 24).

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