Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

2 Timothy

Book Overview - 2 Timothy

by Henry Alford

See the book comments for 1 Timothy for an introduction to the Pastoral Epistles





1. IT has been very generally supposed, that this Epistle was written to Timotheus while the latter was still at Ephesus.

2. The notices contained in it seem partially to uphold the idea. In ch. 2 Timothy 1:16-18, Onesiphorus is mentioned as having sought out the Apostle at Rome, and also having ministered to him at Ephesus: and in ch. 2 Timothy 4:19, the household of Onesiphorus is saluted. Such a notice, it is true, decides nothing: but comes in aid of the supposition that St. Paul was writing to Ephesus. Our impression certainly is, from ch. 2 Timothy 1:18, that Onesiphorus resided, when living, at Ephesus.

3. Again, in ch. 2 Timothy 2:17, we find Hymenæus stigmatized as a teacher of error, who can hardly be other than the Hymenæus of 1 Timothy 1:20 (see notes there). Joined with this latter in 1 Tim. appears an Alexander: and we again have an Alexander ὁ χαλκεύς mentioned as having done the Apostle much mischief in our ch. 2 Timothy 4:14; and there may be a further coincidence in the fact that an Alexander is mentioned as being put forward by the Jews during the tumult at Ephesus, Acts 19:33(114).

4. Besides, the whole circumstances, and especially the character of the false teachers, exactly agree. It would be very difficult to point out any features of difference, such as change of place would be almost sure to bring out, between the heretical persons spoken of here, and those in the first Epistle.

5. The local notices come in aid, but not with much force. Timotheus is instructed to bring with him matters which the Apostle had left at Troas (ch. 2 Timothy 4:13), which he would pass in his journey from Ephesus to Rome. Two other passages (ch. 2 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 4:20) present a difficulty: and Michaelis, who opposes this view, urges them strongly. St. Paul writes, τυχικὸν δὲ ἀπέστειλα εἰς ἔφεσον. This could hardly have been so written, as a simple announcement of a fact, if the person to whom he was writing was himself in that city. This was also felt by Theodoret,— δῆλον ἐντεῦθεν ὡς οὐκ ἐν ἐφέσῳ διῆγεν ἀλλʼ ἑτέρωθί που κατὰ τουτονὶ τὸν καιρὸν ὁ μακάριος τιμόθεος. The only answer that I can give, may be derived from the form and arrangement of the sentence. Several had been mentioned, who had left him of their own accord: then, with δέ, introducing a contrast, he states that he had sent Tychicus to Ephesus. If any stress is meant to be laid on this circumstance, the notice might still consist with Timotheus himself being there: “but do not wonder at Tychicus being at Ephesus, for I sent him thither.” This however is not satisfactory: nor again is it, to suppose with Dr. Davidson (iii. 63) that for some reason Tychicus would not arrive in Ephesus so soon as the Epistle. He also writes, τρόφιμον δὲ ἀπέλιπον ἐν ΄ιλήτῳ ἀσθενοῦντα. This would be a strange thing to write from Rome to Timotheus in Ephesus, within a few miles of Miletus itself, and respecting Trophimus, who was an Ephesian (Acts 21:29). It certainly may be said that there might be reasons why the notice should be sent. It might be intended to clear Trophimus from the charge which appears to be laid against Erastus, that he had remained behind of his own accord in his native land. With the Apostle’s delicate feeling for all who were connected with him, he might well state this (again with a δέ) respecting Trophimus, though the fact of his remaining at Miletus might be well known to Timotheus, and his own profession of sickness as the reason.

6. There is a very slight hint indeed given in ch. 2 Timothy 4:11, which may point the same way. Timotheus was to take up Mark and bring him to Rome. The last notice we have had of Mark, was a recommendation of him to the Colossian Church (Colossians 4:10), and that in a strain, which may import that he was to be a resident labourer in the Gospel among them. If Mark was at Colossæ, he might be easily sent for from Ephesus to accompany Timotheus.



1. It only remains to enquire respecting this Epistle, what special circumstances occasioned it, and what objects are discernible in it.

2. The immediately moving occasion seems to have been one personal to the Apostle himself. He was anxious that Timotheus should come to him at Rome, bringing with him Mark, as soon as possible (ch. 2 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:21).

3. But he was uncertain how it might be with himself: whether he should live to see his son in the faith, or be ‘offered up’ before his arrival. He sends to him therefore, not merely a message to come, but a letter full of fatherly exhortations and instructions, applicable to his present circumstances. And these seem not to have been unneeded. Many of his former friends had forsaken him (ch. 2 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 4:10), and the courage and perseverance of Timotheus himself appeared to be giving way (see above, Prolegg. to 1 Tim. § i. 9). The letter therefore is calculated in some measure to supply what his own mouth would, if he were permitted to speak to him face to face, still more fervently urge on him. And thus we possess an Epistle calculated for all ages of the Church: in which while the maxims cited and encouragements given apply to all Christians, and especially ministers of Christ, in their duties and difficulties,—the affecting circumstances, in which the writer himself is placed, carry home to every heart his earnest and impassioned eloquence.

4. For further notices, I again refer to Dr. Davidson, vol. iii. pp. 48–75.

1. In 2 Timothy 4:21, we read as follows:

ἀσπάζεταί σε εὔβουλος καὶ πούδης καὶ λῖνος καὶ κλαυδία καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ πάντες.

2. Martial, lib. iv. Epigr. 13, is inscribed ‘ad Rufum, de nuptiis Pudentis et Claud peregrinæ:’ and the first lines run thus:

“Claudia, Rufe, meo nubit peregrina Pudenti:

Macte esto tædis, o Hymenæe tuis.”

3. An inscription was found at Chichester in the early part of the last century, and is now in a summer-house in the gardens at Goodwood, running thus, the lacunæ being conjecturally filled in:—

(N)eptuni et Minervæ templum

(pr)o salute d(omu)s divinæ

(ex) auctoritat(e Tib.) Claud.

(Co)gidubni r. leg. aug. in Brit.

(colle)gium fabror. et qui in eo

(a sacris) sunt d. s. d. donante aream

(Pud)ente Pudentini fil.

4. Now in Tacitus, Agricol. 14, we read, “quædam civitates (in Britain) Cogidubno regi donatæ (is ad nostram usque memoriam fidissimus mansit) vetere ac jampridem recepta populi R. consuetudine, ut haberet instrumenta servitutis et reges.” From this inscription these ‘civitates’ appear to have constituted the kingdom of Sussex. We also gather from the inscription that Cogidubnus had taken the name of his imperial patron, (Tiberius) Claudius: and we find him in close connexion with a Pudens.

5. It was quite natural that this discovery should open afresh a point which the conjectures of British antiquarians appeared before to have provisionally closed. It had been imagined that Claudia, who was identified with the Claudia Rufina of Martial, xi. 53 (‘Claudia cæruleis quum sit Rufina Britannis Edita, quam Latiæ pectora plebis habet!’), was a native of Colchester, and a daughter of Caractacus, whom they supposed to have been admitted into the Claudian gens.

6. A new fabric of conjecture has been now raised, more ingenious and more probable(116). The Pudens of Martial is (i. 32) a centurion, aspiring to the “meriti præmia pili,” i.e. to be made a primipilus: which ambition we find accomplished in lib. v. 48: and his return to Rome from the North to receive the honour of equestrian rank is anticipated in lib. vi. 58. He may at some time have been stationed in Britain—possibly attached in capacity of adjutant to King Cogidubnus. His presentation of an area for a temple to Neptune and Minerva may have been occasioned by escape from shipwreck, the college of carpenters (shipbuilders) being commissioned to build it to their patrons, Neptune and Minerva; or, as Archdn. Williams (p. 24) seems to think, by a desire to introduce Roman arts among the subjects of the client king. If the British maiden Claudia was a daughter of King Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus, there would be no great wonder in her thus being found mentioned with Pudens.

7. But conjecture is led on a step further by the other notices referred to above Claudia is called Rufina. Now Pomponia, the wife of the late commander in Britain Aulus Plautius, belonged to a house of which the Rufi were one of the chief branches. If she were a Rufa, and Claudia were her protégée at Rome (as would be very natural, seeing that her father was received into alliance under Aulus Plautius), the latter would naturally add to her very undistinguishing appellation of Claudia the cognomen of Rufina. Nor is the hypothesis of such a connexion purely arbitrary. A very powerful link appears to unite the two ladies—viz. that of Christianity. Pomponia, we learn from Tacitus (Ann. xii. 32), was (in the year 57) ‘superstitionis externæ rea,’ and being ‘mariti judicio permissa,’ was by him tried, ‘prisco instituto, propinquis coram,’ and pronounced innocent. Tacitus adds, that after many family sorrows, ‘per XL annos non cultu nisi lugubri, non animo nisi mæsto, egit. Idque illi imperitante Claudio, impune, mox ad gloriam vertit.’ Now it is not at all an improbable explanation of this, that Pomponia may have been a Christian: and the remarkable notice with which our citation from Tacitus concludes may point to the retirement of a Christian life, for which the garb of sorrow would furnish an excuse and protection(117).

8. If then such a connexion as this subsisted, it would account for the conversion of the British maiden to Christianity: and the coincidences are too striking to allow us to pass over the junction of Pudens with her in this salutation. They apparently were not married at this time, or the Apostle would hardly have inserted a third name, that of Linus, between theirs. And this is what we might expect: for the last year of Nero, which is the date we have assigned to the Epistle, is the earliest that can be assigned to any of Martial’s pieces, being the year in which he came to Rome.

9. Two of the Epigrams of Martial, i. 32 and v. 48, mention facts which involve Pudens in the revolting moral licence of his day. But there is no reason for supposing them to refer to dates subsequent to his conversion and marriage. Martial’s Epigrams are by no means in chronological order, and we cannot gather any indications of this fact with certainty from them.

10. Again, a difficulty has been found in the heathen invocation in the marriage epigram. But, as remarked in the article referred to in the note, we have no allusion to Christian marriage rites during the first three or four centuries, and it is not at all improbable that the heathen rites of the confarreatio may, at this early period at least, have been sought by Christians to legalize their unions. When we do find a Christian ceremonial, it is full of the symbolism of the confarreatio. And it seems to be shewn that this was so in the case before us, by the epithet of sancto, (in the line ‘Di bene, quod sancto peperit fecunda marito,’ Mart. xi. 53,) implying that all rites had been duly observed(118).

11. If the above conjectural but not purely arbitrary fabric of hypothesis is allowed to stand, we have the satisfaction of knowing that Claudia was a woman not only of high character, but of mental acquirement (‘Romanam credere matres Italides possint, Atthides esse suam,’ Mart. ib.), and the mother of a family of three sons, and possibly daughters as well (Mart. ib.).