What does 2 Timothy 1:4 mean?
ESV: As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.
NIV: Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.
NASB: longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.
CSB: Remembering your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.
NLT: I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.
KJV: Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
NKJV: greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy,
Verse Commentary:
Paul continues his encouragement from the previous verse. Here, he acknowledges Timothy's grief over Paul's imprisonment. In his writing, "tears" represent profound sadness for Paul. Paul spoke of shedding tears himself on several occasions (Acts 20:19, 31; 2 Corinthians 2:4; Philippians 3:18). As part of the encouragement, Paul tells Timothy he longs to see him. In fact, at the end of this letter, Paul urges Timothy to visit him in Rome (2 Timothy 4:21).

Paul's desire to see Timothy was not only for Timothy's sake, but also for his own. Timothy was one of his closest friends in ministry. They had served together for several years, including in Paul's ministry work leading up to this current imprisonment. Though many had abandoned Paul along the way, Timothy was consistently noted as a source of joy. Paul's letters make it clear that Timothy was one of his closest and dearest friends. Paul describes him as a fellow worker (Romans 16:21), Paul's "beloved and faithful child in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 4:17), a brother (2 Corinthians 1:1), a servant of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:1), like a son (Philippians 2:22), and a true child in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2).
Verse Context:
Second Timothy 1:3–7 encourages Timothy to be brave in the face of hardships. Paul reminds Timothy that he is being prayed for, and that he comes from a family of strong faith. Paul also reassures Timothy that they are both in service of the same God, who gave them a spirit of ''power and love and self-control.''
Chapter Summary:
Paul introduces himself, then recaps Timothy's path to becoming a minister. He reminds Timothy of how his family brought him up in the faith, and then how Timothy served faithfully with Paul in the past. Paul then focuses on two primary ideas. First, that Timothy's background in the faith should give him the courage to stand fast against hard times. Second, that Timothy should use that courage to defend the truth of the gospel message. Paul will use these points and examples as the foundation for the rest of his letter.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 establishes Timothy's spiritual background. Paul expresses gratitude for Timothy, by reminding him of his past, in order to set the stage for later teachings. Paul first expresses gratitude for Timothy's prior faithfulness, and reminds him of how God called him into ministry. From that point, Paul encourages Timothy to be brave and to guard the truth of the gospel message. Later chapters will explain why Paul feels these traits are necessary, both for the sake of the world and for Timothy in general.
Book Summary:
Second Timothy is the last New Testament letter written by Paul. Paul writes these words while awaiting execution by Rome. At this time, around AD 67, Timothy was leading the church in Ephesus. Paul writes to Timothy in order to encourage him. Paul is facing the worst of all hardships: his own impending death. So, he encourages Timothy to stand strong in his faith, with a reliance on the written Word of God. This letter echoes many of the themes Paul uses in his other letters.
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