This epistle was written by the apostle Paul to a young preacher and co-worker of his named Timothy. When he wrote this epistle, Paul was obviously still a free man and not a prisoner. We may determine this because he speaks of a recent tripe he had made and of his prospects to visit Timothy. He had recently made a trip to Macedonia (1:3) where he gave instructions to Timothy to go to Ephesus and work with the church there.
We find that Paul had hoped to make a personal visit with Timothy there in Ephesus (1:14) but his plan for this had as yet not been carried out. In 3:15 Paul refers to some delay in making this visit.
Timothy was from the town of Lystra, which was located in the Roman province of Lycanonia in Asia Minor.(Acts 16:1-2). As he was growing up, he had received a good religious background and training from his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, who were devout Jews. However, his father was a Greek, and probably not even a proselyte to Judaism, for Timothy had not been circumcised when he was born.
Timothy was converted to Christianity by the preaching of Paul, when he was on his First Missionary Journey. Paul chose him to go with him on his Second Missionary Journey. Paul claims a spiritual relationship with Timothy by calling him, “my child” I Cor. 4:17; II Tim. 2:1). Probably was in fact his “spiritual father.” Timothy did submit to him being circumcised in order to avoid any possible antagonizing of the Jews who might have known of his pagan Greek father. Now he would be able to go with Paul into the synagogues and Jewish areas, since his circumcision classified him, more-or-less, as a Jew.
He was set apart for the work of the ministry by the laying on of the hands of Paul and the church leaders (I Tim. 4:14; II Tim. 1:6). While he was with Paul on his Second Missionary Journey, Paul sent him to Thessalonica to work with the church there. Timothy also traveled with Paul on his Third Missionary Journey. When Paul was a prisoner in Rome, Timothy accompanied him there. When Paul was released from prison, he sent Timothy to Ephesus to work with the church there. He was there when Paul wrote this first epistle to him, and was probably still there when the second epistle was written to him. The relationship of the older man, Paul, to this young preacher, Timothy, is a beautiful picture of the working of the Holy Spirit in both their ministries.