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The Second Epistle to Timothy is one of the three Pastoral Epistles, traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the canonical New Testament.

Authorship and Date

Many modern biblical scholars argue that 2 Timothy, along with the other Pastoral Epistles, was not written by Paul but by an anonymous follower of the Apostle in the first century AD after Paul's death, who also wrote 1 Timothy and Titus.[1] However, the ideas and language of this epistle is notably different from the other two Pastoral letters yet similar to the later Pauline letters, especially the ones he wrote in captivity. This has led at least some scholars to conclude that the author of 2 Timothy is a different person from 1 Timothy and Titus. Raymond E. Brown proposed that this letter was written by a follower of Paul who had knowledge of Paul's last days.[2]

Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, however, would go further than Brown. He noted that a number of pseudepigraphic letters attributed to the Apostle were rejected in antiquity, indicating that there was not "a climate of acceptance, which would make it easy for the forged Pastorals to enter the mainstream of church life." Murphy-O'Connor continues,

Realistically, the only scenario capable of explaining the acceptance of the Pastorals is the authenticity of one of the three letters. Were one to have been long known and recognized, then the delayed "discovery" of two others with the same general pattern could be explained in a variety of convincing ways.[3]

Murphy-O'Connor then argues, based in part on recent research on the style of this work, that 2 Timothy was the authentic one of the trio. It was not widely known due to its private nature, but eventually published for the benefit of the church. Using it as a model, O`Conner suggests one of Paul's followers then wrote the other two Pastorals and was able to persuade his fellows that they were also previously unknown letters of Paul.[4]

It should be noted that the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia takes an opposite point of view, affirming Paul's authorship and documents the fact that a vast majority of the early church fathers attest to Paul's authorship of all the pastoral epistles.


In his letter, Paul urges Timothy to not have a "spirit of timidity" and to "not be ashamed to testify about our Lord" (1:7-8). He also entreats Timothy to come to him before winter, and to bring Mark with him (cf. Philippians 2:22). He was anticipating that "the time of his departure was at hand" (4:6), and he exhorts his "son Timothy" to all diligence and steadfastness in the face of false teachings, with advice about combating them with reference to the teachings of the past, and to patience under persecution (1:6–15), and to a faithful discharge of all the duties of his office (4:1–5), with all the solemnity of one who was about to appear before the Judge of the quick and the dead.

Paul clearly anticipates his being put to death and realities beyond in his valedictory found in 2 Timothy 4:6-8: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

See also


  1. New Testament Letter Structure, from Catholic Resources by Felix Just, S.J.
  2. Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), pp.672-675.
  3. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, OP Paul: A Critical Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 357
  4. urphy-O'Connor, OP Paul, pp. 356-359