Paul likely wrote the letter known as 1 Timothy around A.D. 64-66, during the period between his two imprisonments in Rome. He had traveled to Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3) and may have still been there.
Eusebius writes: “Paul is said, after having defended himself, to have set forth again upon the ministry of preaching and to have entered the same city a second time, and to have there ended his life by martyrdom. Whilst then a prisoner, he wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy, in which he both mentions his first defense, and his impending death.” There is no contrary tradition, and one cannot see what purpose anyone could have for foisting a lie upon the public in a case like this.
Passages in the Pauline Epistles confirm the view that Paul suffered two imprisonments.
— Paul, writing to the Philippians during his first imprisonment, tells them that since it was needful for them that he remain on earth in order that they might make a pioneer advance in their spiritual lives, he has come to the conviction that he will remain with them. Paul believed that the servant of the Lord is immortal until his work is done (Philippians 1:23-26).
— That he anticipated release from prison, is seen in the fact that he writes Philemon to have his guest room in readiness for him (Philemon 1:22). Contrast this with his attitude towards death in 2 Timothy, where he expected martyrdom.
— In writing to Titus (Titus 1:5), he speaks of having left him in Crete. Paul did not touch Crete on his first three missionary journeys, which argues for his release from prison.
— In 2 Timothy 4:13, Paul asks Timothy to bring his cloak and books which he had left at Troas. In 4:20 he says” “Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus left I in Miletus sick.” since Paul was in prison in Rome for two years, the last time he was a Troas and Miletus was six years before (Acts 20:6,17). At that time, Timothy was with him, and he had repeatedly seen Timothy since. But what is even more conclusive, is that Trophimus did not remain at Miletus, for he was in Jerusalem with Paul a the time of the latter’s arrest.
— In Titus 3:12, Paul writes that he planned to spend the winter at Nicopolis. There were three cities of that name. But there is no record in the book of Acts, of Paul having visited any city of that name on his first three missionary journeys. — Wuest, pages 14-15).
The letter was written to Timothy, a young man from Lystra (Acts 16:1-3). His father was Greek and his mother, Eunice, Jewish (2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy had been raised on the Jewish Scriptures by his mother and grandmother, Lois.
Paul probably first met Timothy during his first missionary journey. When he arrived in Lystra on his second journey, Timothy was already “well spoken of” as a believer. He was given the gift of the Holy Spirit by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6). From then until the end of Paul’s life, Timothy ministered with, or for, the apostle.
From the two letters to Timothy it is evident that he was cultured and refined; a student of the Scriptures from his youth (2 Timothy 3:15). Evidently he was delicate in health (1 Timothy 5:23), and possessing, as was natural from his upbringing (2 Timothy 1:5), much compassion and tenderness. We get an insight into his personality and character as the Apostle writes to him about his childhood, his mother, his grandmother, his tears, and prescribes medicine for his “often infirmities.”
At times the Apostle seems concerned lest Timothy withdraw from the battle, for he urges him not to be ashamed or afraid, but to be a “partaker of the afflictions of the gospel,” enduring the “hardness” as “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 1:8; 2:3).
But Timothy did not withdraw. He served with Paul for many years “as a son with the father” (Philippians 2:22). There was between them that warmth and openness that goes so far to produce growth in the “son” and the “father’s” confidence in him.
Timothy, Paul says, is “my workfellow” (Romans 16:21). “He worketh the work of the Lord as I also do” (1 Corinthians 16:10). He is “my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways, which be in Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:17). He will “establish you and … comfort you concerning your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:2). — Stam, pages xii, xiv-xv.
Timothy was in Ephesus when he received the letter. He was serving as Paul’s representative to the church there. The letter encouraged the young man in his ministry, exhorted him to withstand the teaching of the Gnostic Jews and, likely, added some clout to Timothy’s credentials.
The resources I am using for this study are:
Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles of Paul the Apostle, by Cornelius R. Stam (1983) Berean Bible Society, Germantown, Wisconsin
1 Timothy, by W.E. Vine, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee
Complete Bible Commentary, by George Williams
The Pastoral Epistles in the Greek New Testament for the English Reader, by Kenneth S. Wuest (1952) Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
King James Bible Commentary (1983) Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee