Here is, I. The inscription of the epistle Paul calls himself an apostle by the will of God, merely by the good pleasure of God, and by his grace, which he professes himself unworthy of. According to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, or according to the gospel. The gospel is the promise of life in Christ Jesus; life is the end, and Christ the way, John 14:6. The life is put into the promise, and both are sure in Christ Jesus the faithful witness; for all the promises of God in Christ Jesus are yea, and all amen, 2 Cor. 1:20. He calls Timothy his beloved son. Paul felt the warmest affection for him both because he had been an instrument of his conversion and because as a son with his father he had served with him in the gospel. Observe, 1. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God; as he did not receive the gospel of man, nor was taught it, but had it by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:12), so his commission to be an apostle was not by the will of man, but of God: in the former epistle he says it was by the commandment of God our Saviour, and here by the will of God. God called him to be an apostle. 2. We have the promise of life, blessed be God for it: In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began, Titus 1:2. It is a promise to discover the freeness and certainty of it. 3. This, as well as all other promises, is in and through Jesus Christ; they all take their rise from the mercy of God in Christ, and they are sure, so that we may safely depend on them. 4. The grace, mercy, and peace, which even Paul’s dearly beloved son Timothy wanted, comes from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord; and therefore the one as well as the other is the giver of these blessings, and ought to be applied to for them. 5. The best want these blessings, and they are the best we can ask for our dearly-beloved friends, that they may have grace to help them in the time of need, and mercy to pardon what is amiss, and so may have peace with God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
II. Paul’s thanksgiving to God for Timothy’s faith and holiness: he thanks God that he remembered Timothy in his prayers. Observe, Whatever good we do, and whatever good office we perform for our friends, God must have the glory of it, and we must give him thanks. It is he who puts it into our hearts to remember such and such in our prayers. Paul was much in prayer, he prayed night and day; in all his prayers he was mindful of his friends, he particularly prayed for good ministers, he prayed for Timothy, and had remembrance of him in his prayers night and day; he did this without ceasing; prayer was his constant business, and he never forgot his friends in his prayers, as we often do. Paul served God from his forefathers with a pure conscience. It was a comfort to him that he was born in God’s house, and was of the seed of those that served God; as likewise that he had served him with a pure conscience, according to the best of his light; he had kept a conscience void of offence, and made it his daily exercise to do so, Acts 24:16. He greatly desired to see Timothy, out of the affection he had for him, that he might have some conversation with him, being mindful of his tears at their last parting. Timothy was sorry to part with Paul, he wept at parting, and therefore Paul desired to see him again, because he had perceived by that what a true affection he had for him. He thanks God that Timothy kept up the religion of his ancestors, 2 Tim. 1:5. Observe, The entail of religion descended upon Timothy by the mother’s side; he had a good mother, and a good grandmother: they believed, though his father did not, Acts 16:1. It is a comfortable thing when children imitate the faith and holiness of their godly parents, and tread in their steps, 3 John 1:4.—Dwelt in thy grandmother and thy mother, and I am persuaded that in thee also. Paul had a very charitable opinion of his friends, was very willing to hope the best concerning them; indeed he had a great deal of reason to believe well of Timothy, for he had no man like-minded, Phil. 2:20. Observe, 1. We are, according to St. Paul, to serve God with a pure conscience, so did his and our pious forefathers; this is to draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, Heb. 10:22. 2. In our prayers we are to remember without ceasing our friends, especially the faithful ministers of Christ. Paul had remembrance of his dearly beloved son Timothy in his prayers night and day. 3. The faith that dwells in real believers is unfeigned; it is without hypocrisy, it is a faith that will stand the trial, and it dwells in them as a living principle. It was the matter of Paul’s thanksgiving that Timothy inherited the faith of his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois, and ought to be ours whenever we see the like; we should rejoice wherever we see the grace of God; so did Barnabas, Acts 11:23, 24. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in the truth, 2 John 1:4.
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