2 Timothy 1:4

I. THE APOSTLE'S AFFECTIONATE INTEREST IN HIS YOUNG DISCIPLE. "I give thanks to God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, as unceasing is the remembrance I have of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy."

1. The apostle begins all Epistles with the language of thanksgiving. God is the Object of thanksgiving, both as God of nature and as God of grace, and there is no blessing we have received that ought not to be thankfully acknowledged.

2. It is allowable for a good man to take pleasure in the thought of a consistently conscientious career. His service of God was according to the principles and feelings he inherited from his ancestors "in a pure conscience" (Acts 23:1; Acts 24:14).

3. Ministers ought to be much engaged in prayer for one another so as to strengthen each other's hands.

4. The thought of approaching death makes us long to see the friends who have been most endeared to us in life.

(1) The apostle remembered Timothy's sorrow at their last parting.

(2) Though he had commanded him before to stay at Ephesus, he now desired to see him, because he was alone in prison, with Luke as his only companion.

(3) The sight of Timothy in Rome would fill him with joy beyond that imparted by all the other friends and companions of his apostolic life.

II. THE APOSTLE'S THANKSGIVING FOR TIMOTHY'S FAITH. "Being put in remembrance of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that also in thee."

1. The quality of this faith. "Unfeigned." Timothy was "an Israelite indeed," who believed with the heart unto righteousness, his faith working by love to God and man, and accompanied by good works.

2. its permanent character. "It dwelt in him." Faith is an abiding grace; Christ, who is its Author, is also its Finisher; and salvation is inseparably connected with it.

3. The subjects of this faith. "First in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice."

(1) Lois was his grandmother by the mother's side, for his father was a Greek; and Eunice, his mother, was probably converted at Lystra, at no great distance from Tarsus, the native city of the apostle (Acts 16:1; Acts 14:6).

(a) It is pleasant to see faith transmitted through three generations. It is sin, and not grace, that is easily transmitted by blood. But when we are "born, not of blood, but of God," we have reason to be thankful, like the apostle, for such a display of rich family mercy.

(b) We see here the advantages of a pious education, for it was from the persons named he obtained in his youth that knowledge of the Scriptures which made him wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).

(c) How often Christian mothers have given remarkable sons to the ministry of God's Church! (Augustine and Monica.)

(2) Timothy was himself a subject of this faith. He did not break off the happy continuity of grace in his family, but worthily perpetuated the best type of ancestral piety. - T.C.

Greatly desiring to see thee.
Two flames will become one, and two rivers, if they meet, willingly make but one stream. And are not all the faithful baptized with fire, and of the like temperature and condition? A faithful man affecteth nothing above the Lord; His image is the only object of his love; and does not every good man in part resemble that, and carry it about with him? Do not the sparkles of grace and wisdom appear in their faces? Is there not a kind of Divine influence in their speeches? They in some measure resemble their father, as dear children; and from the contrary ground the wicked are an abomination to the just. They will build up one another in their holy faith, consult for the good of the Church, and tell one another what the Lord hath done for their soul; yea, the very sight of a good man in the morning, a dream of him in the night, will make one walk with more cheerfulness all the day following. The face of the faithful is like the loadstone, it conveyeth strength to many, and yet is never the weaker, poorer; and as the one is reputed a great wonder in nature, so is the other as great a wonder in grace.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

The chilling cold of winter makes the summer's sun more pleasant; so doth long absence a friend's personal presence.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

And here may the profane learn a lesson or two, if they please, for this is the true cause why the faithful, like pigeons, flock to the house of God, and are to be found there in troops and companies. Is not that the congregation of the saints, and the royal exchange, where they all meet together? Again, they may see why some sigh in soul and desire to be loosed. For their best friends be gone to heaven before them, and Christ is absent from them (Philippians 3:20).

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

Mindful of thy tears
He seems not merely to speak of the former tears of Timothy shed at bidding Paul farewell (for tears are usually elicited at parting, comp. Acts 20:37), but of his habitual tears under the influence of pious feeling. In this respect also he had him like-minded (Philippians 2:20) with himself. Tears, the flower of the heart, indicate either the greatest hypocrisy or the utmost sincerity.

(J. A. Bengel.)

There is no power that man can wield so mighty as that of genuine tears. The eloquence of words is powerful, but the eloquence of tears is far more so. What manly heart has not been often arrested by the genuine sobs of even some poor child in the streets. A child's tear in the crowded thoroughfare has often arrested the busy merchant in his hurried career Coriolanus, who defied "all the swords in Italy and her confederate states," fell prostrate before the tears of his mother: "Oh, my mother, thou hast saved Rome, but lost thy son."

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Tears have been described as the blood of the wounds of the soul, the leaves of the plant of sorrow, the hail and rain of life's winter, the safety-valves of the heart when too much pressure is laid on, the vent of anguish-showers blown up by the tempests of the soul.

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