After Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment in 62 a.d. he returned to Asia where he left Timothy in Ephesus before continuing on to Macedonia (1 Tim 1:3, c. 63 a.d.) He also ministered on the island of Crete with Titus before continuing on to Nicopolis on the northwestern coast of Greece to spend the winter (Tit 1:5, 3:12). Further north and west of Nicopolis along the Adriatic coast is the region of Dalmatia where he would later send Titus (2 Tim 4:10). Based upon his stated desire to do so (cf. Rom 15:23-28) and the testimony of Clement 30 years after Paul’s death, it is also possible that Paul journeyed to Spain with the gospel, probably after the writing of 1 Timothy and Titus.
In 64 a.d., a large portion of Rome was destroyed by fire, and many believed the emperor Nero to be responsible because of his grandiose designs for a more beautiful Rome. To divert attention from himself he instigated the first government sponsored persecution of Christians as scapegoats for the conflagration, saying that the fire was the result of the displeasure of the Roman gods because of the growing number of Christians who refused to worship them. Prior to this time Christians were viewed as a sect of the Jewish religion, which had religio licita status within the empire. At that time Christianity became a religio illicita and its leaders were sought out for arrest.
If Paul did go to Spain, he must have returned to the west coast of Asia where he left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Tim 4:20) and his cloak and important books and parchments at Troas (2Ti 4:13). Perhaps it was in Troas where he was arrested and sent to Rome for his second Roman imprisonment. However, this time he was no longer treated with regard under house arrest in his own rented quarters where he was expecting his release, but treated as a common criminal (2Ti 2:9) in a cold cell of the Mamertine prison where he was expecting his execution (2Ti 4:6). Because of the state opposition and social stigma now associated with following Christ many had fallen away from the faith and deserted Paul (2Ti 1:15, 4:10,16), so that he was now alone and in prison at the end of his life—“only Luke is with me” (2Ti 4:11).
And yet standing firm in his faith Paul eschewed the stigma of an evildoer (2Ti 1:12) and wrote what we know as 2 Timothy to exhort Timothy, who was timid in nature, to do the same. He encourages him to “join with me in suffering for the gospel” (2Ti 1:8) and “suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2Ti 2:3). For besides the persecution from without he also foresaw the increasing opposition of false teaching from within (2Ti 3:1,13, 4:3). Thus Timothy (and those like him) must “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” and “be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2Ti 4:2,4). As a final purpose for writing, Paul also relates personal information about his missionary band and his first defense, and urges Timothy to “make every effort to come to me soon”, “before winter”, and bring the cloak and parchments he had left in Troas (2Ti 4:9,13,21). 2 Timothy was Paul’s last epistle, written as late as 67 a.d.
2Ti 1:1-2 What is an apostle? Note: an apostle is one who has been “sent from” another (from the Greek word apostello). Who was it that sent Paul? See also Acts 9:5-6,15. Was it by his own will that Paul was made an apostle? What does Paul mean that he was an apostle “according to the promise of life”? What significance might his present circumstances lend to his meaning?