This letter, along with 1 Timothy and Titus, is one of the group of letters called “Pastoral Letters” because they address problematic issues that leaders in the Early Church faced, and because they offer guidelines for sound pastoral leadership and practices. The guidance in these letters was much valued at a time when the Early Church was in transition from a loose movement to an increasingly institutionalized form. As new Gentile believers from various religious backgrounds came into the Church in cities in Asia Minor and Greece and elsewhere, many carried questionable beliefs and customs with them. This made the issue of establishing standards for worship and witness, and for defining right doctrine and right practices, very important. And this is why the concern is high in each of the pastoral letters regarding the dangerous influence of false beliefs and teachings.
This letter, like 1 Timothy, is addressed to Timothy, who had been Paul's assistant on mission journeys and later trained to be a pastor on his own (see introduction to 1 Timothy). It includes affectionate language and Paul's reflections on Timothy's upbringing (1.3-7), giving it a more intimate and personal tone than the first letter. The content of 2 Timothy is largely personal advice and counsel for Timothy, particularly that he needs to hold fast to the true teachings handed on by Paul and to follow Paul's own model for steady faith, sound doctrine, patience, compassion, and endurance under duress.
Encouragement and Warnings for Timothy (1.1—2.26)
Courage and Faithfulness to the End (3.1—4.8)
Final Instructions and Greetings (4.9-22)