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Of the Place where Timothy was, when the Apostle wrote his second Letter to him.
That Timothy was at Ephesus, when the apostle wrote his second epistle to him, may be gathered from the following cir1. Hymeneus and Alexander are mentioned in the first epistle, chap. i. 20. as false teachers, whom Timothy was left at Ephesus to oppose. In the second epistle, he is desired to avoid the vain babbling of Hymeneus, chap. ii. 16, 17, 18. and chap. iv. 15. to be on his guard against Alexander. We may therefore conjecture, that Timothy was in Ephesus, the place where these false teachers abode, when the apostle's second letter was sent to him.-2. As it was the apostle's custom to salute the brethren of the churches to which his letters were sent, the salutation of Prisca and Aquila, and of the family of Onesiphorus, 2 Tim. iv. 19. shew, that Timothy was in Ephesus when this letter was written to him. For that Ephesus was the ordinary residence of Onesiphorus, appears from 2 Tim. i. 18. and considering that Prisca and Aquila had, before this, abode some time in Ephesus, (Rom. xvi. 3. note.) the salutation sent to them in this letter, makes it probable, that they had returned to that city. 3. From Titus iii. 12. where the apostle says, When I shall send Artemas to thee, or Tychicus, make haste to come to me, it appears to have been the apostle's custom, to send persons to supply the places of those whom he called away from the stations he had assigned them. Wherefore, since in his second epistle, chap. iv. 9. he thus wrote to Timothy, Make haste to come to me; then added, ver. 12. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus; may we not infer, that Timothy was then in Ephesus, and that Tychicus was sent by the apostle to supply his place after his departure ?-4. The errors and vices which the apostle, in his second epistle, ordered Timothy to oppose, are the very errors and vices which in the first, are said to have been prevalent among the teachers at Ephesus, and which Timothy was left in Ephesus to oppose. See Pref. to 1 Tim. sect. 2. no. 4.
These arguments make it probable, that Timothy remained in Ephesus, from the time the apostle left him there, as he was going into Macedonia, until, in compliance with his desire signified in this letter, he set out for Rome; consequently that Timothy received in Ephesus, both the letters which the apostle wrote to him.
Of the Occasion on which the second Epistle to Timothy was written : And of the time of St. Paul's Death.
In the Preface to Paul's first epistle to Timothy, sect. 3. the reader will find a brief history of the apostle's travels with Timothy, from the time he was released from his first confinement at Rome, till he left Timothy in Ephesus to oppose the false teachers, as mentioned 1 Tim. i. 3. But, in regard that history will be given more fully in the Pref. to Titus, sect. 1. penult paragraph, it is only needful in this place to relate, that after the apostle left Timothy at Ephesus, he went into Macedonia to visit the churches there, according to his promise, Philip. ii. 24. then went to Nicopolis in Epirus, with an intention to spend the winter, Tit. iii. 12. and to return to Ephesus in the spring, 1 Tim. iii. 14. But, having ordered Titus to come to him from Crete to Nicopolis, Tit. iii. 12. on his arrival, he gave him such an account of the state of the churches in Crete, as determined him to go with Titus, a second time, into that island. While in Crete, hearing of the cruel persecution which the Emperor Nero was carrying on against the Christians, (see the last paragraph of this sect.) the apostle speedily finished his business, and sailed with Titus to Italy, in the end of the autumn 65, rightly judging that his presence at Rome, would be of great use in strengthening and comforting the persecuted brethren in that city.
Paul, on his arrival at Rome, taking an active part in the affairs of the Christians, soon became obnoxious to the heathen priests, and to the idolatrous rabble, who hated the Christians as atheists, because they denied the gods of the empire, and condemned the established worship. Wherefore, being discovered to the magistrates, probably by the unbelieving Jews, as the ringleader of the hated sect, he was apprehended, and closely imprisoned as a malefactor, 2 Tim. ii. 9. This happened in the end of the year 65, or in the beginning of 66.
The apostle hath not informed us directly, what the crime was which the heathen magistrates laid to his charge. If it was the burning of the city, which the Emperor falsely imputed to the Christians in general, his absence from Rome when the city was burnt, being a fact he could easily prove, it was a sufficient
exculpation of him from that crime. Probably, therefore, the magistrates accused him of denying the gods of the empire, and of condemning the established worship. In this accusation, it is natural to suppose, the unbelieving Jews joined, from their hatred of Paul's doctrine and among the rest Alexander, the Ephesian coppersmith, who having, as it would seem, apostatized to Judaism, had blasphemed Christ and his gospel; and on that account had been lately delivered by the apostle to Satan, 1 Tim. i. 20. This virulent Judaizing teacher, happening to be in Rome when Paul was apprehended, he, in resentment of the treatment received from the apostle, appeared with his accusers when he made his first answer, and in the presence of his judges, contradicted the things which he urged in his own vindication. So the apostle told Timothy, 2 Epist. iv. 14. Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil.—15. For he greatly opposed our words. The rest of the unbelieving Jews were not a little enraged against Paul, for preaching that Jesus Christ, being lineally descended from David,was heir to his throne: that being raised from the dead, his right to rule the Gentiles was thereby demonstrated: and that the Gentiles were to be saved through faith in him, without obeying the law of Moses. These things they urged against Paul, as crimes worthy of death, on pretence that they subverted, not only the law of Moses, but the laws of the empire. The hints which the apostle hath given us of the things laid to his charge, and of the particulars which he urged in his own vindication, lead us to form these conjectures, 2 Tim. ii. 8. Remember Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead, according to my gospel. 9. For which I suffer evil unto bonds, as a malefactor. 10. For this cause I patiently bear all things on account of the elected; the Gentiles elected to be the people of God instead of the Jews; that they also may obtain the salvation which is by Jesus Christ, with eternal glory. Such were the crimes of which Paul was accused by his enemies.-The answers which he made to their accusations are insinuated, 2 Tim. iv. 17. However, the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me, that through me the preaching might be fully declared, and all the Gentiles might hear. The Lord strengthened him fully to declare in the presence of his judges and accusers, what he had preached concerning the supreme dominion of Christ, his right to rule all the Gentiles as the subjects of his spiritual kingdom; his power to save them as well as the Jews, together with the nature and method of their salvation. He likewise told Ti
mothy, that the Lord had strengthened him thus fully to declare what he had preached, that all the Gentiles might hear of his courage and faithfulness in maintaining their privileges.-To this bold declaration of his preaching concerning Christ, the apostle told Timothy he was animated, by considering, That if we die with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer patiently, we shall also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us, 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12.-To conclude, the evident reasonableness of the things which the apostle advanced, in answer to the accusations of his enemies, and the confidence with which he urged them, made, it seems, such an impression on his judges, that notwithstanding they were greatly prejudiced against him, and shewed themselves determined to take his life, they did not then condemn him, but sent him back to his prison, thinking it necessary to give him a second hearing.
How long the apostle remained in prison, before he was allowed to make his first answer, doth not appear. Neither do we know what length of time elapsed between his first and second answers. Only from his desiring Timothy, after making his first answer, to come to him before winter, we may conjecture that he made his first answer early in the summer of the year 66, and that he thought it might be a considerable time, before he would be brought to a second hearing.
Soon after his first answer, therefore, in the year 66, the apostle wrote his second epistle to Timothy, to inform him of what had happened to him since his coming to Rome; namely, that he was closely imprisoned as a malefactor; and that he had spoken for himself in the hearing of his judges. Also he gave him some hints of the crimes which his enemies laid to his charge, and of the answers which he had made to their accusations, and of the principles by which he was emboldened to make these answers. Moreover he told him, that although his judges had not yet condemned him, he had not the smallest hope of escaping, when he should be brought to a second hearing; that his accusers and judges had shewed themselves so enraged against him, before. he made his first answer, that when he was brought into the court, neither any of the Roman brethren, nor any of the brethren from the provinces, nor any of his own fellow-labourers, who were then in the city, appeared with him; but all forsook him: That during the trial, his judges shewed such an extreme hatred of the Christians, and of their cause, that all his assistants, except Luke, had fled from the city, fear
ing that they likewise would be apprehended and put to death: That being thus deserted by his friends and fellow-labourers, and having no hope of escaping, he had a great desire to enjoy Timothy's company and services, during the short time he had to live. He therefore requested him to come to him before winter. Yet being uncertain whether he should live so long, he gave him in this letter a variety of advices, charges, and encouragements, with the solemnity and affection of a dying parent; because if he should be put to death before Timothy came, the loss would in some measure be made up to him, by the things written in this letter.
These particulars, which are all either expressed or insinuated in the apostle's second epistle to Timothy, shew clearly, that it was written not long before the apostle's death; the time of which may be determined with a good degree of probability, by the following circumstances. The Emperor Nero having set fire to the city on the 10th of July, A. D. 64, to remove the odium of that nefarious action, which was generally imputed to him, he endeavoured to make the public believe it was perpetrated by the Christians, who, at that time, were become the objects of the popular hatred, on account of their religion. For, as if they had been the incendiaries, he caused them to be sought out, and put to death in the most barbarous manner. So Tacitus informs us, Annal. Lib. xv. c. 44. and Suetonius Ner. c. 16. This is what is commonly called the first general persecution of the Christians. Wherefore, as the ancients, with one voice, have reported that the apostle Paul was put to death at Rome by Nero in this persecution, we cannot be much mistaken in supposing that his death happened in the end of the year 66, or in spring 67, in the 13th year of Nero's reign.
Shewing that the Facts recorded in the Gospels, and preached by the Apostles, are strongly confirmed by St. Paul's second Epistle to Timothy. This epistle being written by Paul, to an intimate friend, and companion in the work of the gospel, under the miseries of a jail, and in the near prospect of death; it is natural to think, that if the facts which he had every where preached concerning Christ had been falsehoods, and the gospel scheme of salvation, which he and his brethren apostles had built thereon, were a de