Paul left his co-worker Timothy in the city of Ephesus to deal with some renegade leaders in the church there. When Timothy struggled, however, Paul went back to Ephesus. Once there, Paul suffered a great deal of harm from Alexander, one of these leaders, and he was once again imprisoned and taken to Rome. He expected that this time he would be tried and executed. Paul wrote to Timothy to ask him to come to Rome quickly.
Things in Ephesus had not gone as Paul or Timothy expected. Paul had ordered both Alexander and Hymenaeus to step down from leadership, but they were continuing to oppose Paul. Others had joined them, and they were still misdirecting people into a corrupted version of the faith that stressed debate and dissension rather than purity and obedience. Timothy was discouraged and intimidated. Paul’s letter includes challenges to stay faithful to the true message – even if this meant suffering or death. Paul reminds Timothy that in the days before the open appearance of Jesus as king, there will be lots of trouble. False teachers, treacherous and insincere people, persecutions and more will all challenge the faithfulness of God’s people.
Paul urges Timothy to remember the gospel message: Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. He points out that the sacred writings Timothy has known since he was a child are God-breathed, and will help him continue in doing good work.