The Plan Resumed—Timothy Soon, Paul Later (2:23-24)
With a resumptive therefore Paul returns to the basic datum of verse 19, that he hopes to send Timothy. But now, instead of soon, he qualifies with a clause that indicates why Timothy is coming later and has not accompanied Epaphroditus. As soon as Paul has any inkling as to the outcome of the trial, he will send Timothy to fill them in further on "my affairs." Thus Timothy's reason for coming is twofold: in the first instance (v. 19) for Paul's sake, to see how the letter has affected them; and now for their sakes, to be encouraged and brought up to speed about the outcome of Paul's imprisonment.
Having indicated the second reason for Timothy's coming—to report on "my affairs"—Paul concludes this brief look into the expected future by repeating what he told them in 1:24-26, this time even more emphatically: I myself will come soon. Here is the certain evidence that the adverb "quickly" does not mean "right away," as it ordinarily does, but "quickly" in the sense of "at once after I see how things go with me."
In 1:24 this persuasion was expressed in terms of necessity ("more necessary for you"), implying divine necessity that had their "progress . . . in the faith" as its ultimate concern. Now he expresses that persuasion in the strongest kind of language: I am confident in the Lord (cf. 1:14). It is hard to make it plainer, given that the outcome is still in the future, that he fully expects to be released and therefore that the talk about death in 1:21-23 was a yearning, not an anticipation of the near future. Which in turn also indicates that the metaphor in 2:17 is unlikely to be a reflection on martyrdom, but a reference to his present suffering.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.