Paul’s greeting to Timothy in his second letter includes the notice that Paul spends much time in prayer for Timothy. It’s usually understood that Paul is in prison in Rome or at least under house arrest, and that should give him plenty of time to devote to prayer. He assures Timothy that much of the time is spent praying for him. His prayer, like most of his other prayers, begins with thanking God. He asserts that the God that he thanks is the same God that his ancestors served. In 2 Timothy 1:3, he explains, “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”

Paul is connecting with the God of the Old Testament. Timothy’s mother and grandmother were both Jewish believers. They had come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Christ’s coming was not a contradiction of the Old Testament, as many of the Jews argued, but to the Christians, it was the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Christ was the Messiah promised from the beginning to the end of the Old Testament. Paul does not see Christianity as being in opposition to Judaism but as the fulfillment of it. This was important because of Timothy’s position in Ephesus, where there was constant opposition against the Christians by both the pagans as well as the Jewish believers. The assertion that Paul has a clear conscience might relate to how he gives thanks in his prayers. He’s in prison for being a Christian, not for any crime he committed. The pagans accused early Christians of being atheists because they would not offer sacrifices to any of the pagan gods. They put Christians in prison for this reason, and it was a mark of shame to them in the pagan community. Paul’s assertion of a clear conscience makes it clear that the accusations from the pagans didn’t bother him at all. The Jewish leaders all around the Mediterranean basin accused Paul and Christians of idol worship because they made Jesus out to be God. Paul’s clear conscience was based on his total conviction that Jesus was God, and he sought to prove it in all his preaching. So, Paul can claim a clear conscience in the face of the accusations from both the pagans and the Jews. He has no need to be ashamed of his imprisonment. As a matter of fact, he “boasts” about the sufferings he endures for Christ’s namesake. He is dealing with Timothy as his son and wants to set the example of how a believer should deal with opposition.

In 1998, “At the bottom of San Juan Hill, Lt. Colonel Teddy Roosevelt prepared to lead the charge against 750 Spanish soldiers ordered to hold the heights. Just weeks before, he had resigned his commission as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to join the cavalry, saying, “I want to explain to my children someday why I did take part in the war, not why I didn’t.” So that July morning, Teddy strapped on his boots and led his Rough Riders regiment up the hill under fierce Spanish gunfire and on to victory. For his courage, he was eventually awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. June 6, 1944. Normandy, France. World War II. Sitting in the troop transport ships, Brigadier General Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. prepared to lead the attack on the most heavily fortified coast in history. Surely, he was thinking of his father. He instilled in those boys a passion for life, a sense of duty, and a willingness to lead. That’s why Teddy Roosevelt Jr. was now preparing to lead the D-Day invasion. At first, his superiors had denied his request to go: ‘You’re 57 years old. No other general is going ashore with the first wave of troops.’ But he insisted, ‘It will steady the men to know I’m with them.’ After his third request, they finally agreed. So that June morning, Teddy Jr. strapped on his boots and led the charge up the beach under fierce German gunfire and on to victory. For his courage, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor … just like his father.”[1]

[1] Proctor, Matt. 2009. 2 Timothy: Finish-Line Faith. 3:16 Bible Commentary Series. Joplin, MO: CP Publishing.