1. Paul an Apostle. From the very preface we already perceive that Paul had not in view Timothy alone; other wise he would not have employed such lofty titles in asserting his apostleship; for what purpose would it have served to employ these ornaments of language ill writing to one who was fully convinced of the fact? He, therefore, lays claim to that authority over all which belonged to his public character and he does this the more diligently, because, being near death, he wishes to secure the approbation of the whole course of his ministry, fb1 and to seal his doctrine which he had labored so hard to teach, that it may be held sacred by posterity, and to leave a true portrait of it in Timothy.
Of Jesus Christ by the will of God. First, according to his custom, he calls himself an “Apostle of Christ.” Hence it follows, that he does not speak as a private person, and must not be heard slightly, and for form’s sake, fb2 like a man, but as one who is a representative of Christ. But because the dignity of the office is too great to belong to any man, except by the special gift and election of God, he at the same time pronounces a eulogy on his calling, by adding that he was ordained by the will of God. His apostleship, therefore, having God for its author and defender, is beyond all dispute.
According to the promise of life. That his calling may be the more certain, he connects it with the promises of eternal life; as if he had said, “As from the beginning God promised eternal life in Christ, so now he has appointed me to be the minister for proclaiming that promise.” Thus also he points out the design of his apostleship, namely, to bring men to Christ, that in him they may find life.
Which is in Christ Jesus. He speaks with great accuracy, when he mentions that “the promise of life” was indeed given, in ancient times, to the fathers. (<442606>Acts 26:6.) But yet he declares that this life is in Christ, in order to inform us that the faith of those who lived under the Law must nevertheless have looked towards Christ; and that life, which was contained in promises, was, in some respects, suspended, till it was exhibited in Christ.
2. My beloved son. By this designation he not only testifies his love of Timothy, but procures respect and submission to him; because he wishes to be acknowledged in him, as one who may justly be called his son, fb3 The reason of the appellation is, that he had begotten him in Christ; for, although this honor belongs to God alone, yet it is also transferred to ministers, whose agency he employs for regenerating us.
Grace, mercy. The word mercy, which he employs here, is commonly left out by him in his ordinary salutations. I think that he introduced it, when he poured out his feelings with more than ordinary vehemence. Moreover, he appears to have inverted the order; for, since “mercy” is the cause of “grace,” it ought to have come before it in this passage. But still it is not unsuitable that it should be put after “grace”, in order to express more clearly what is the nature of that grace, and whence it proceeds; as if he had added, in the form of a declaration, that the reason why we are loved by God is, that he is merciful. Yet this may also be explained as relating to God’s daily benefits, which are so many testimonies of his “mercy”; for, whenever he assists us, whenever he delivers us from evils, pardons our sins, and bears with our weakness, he does so, because he has compassion on us.