2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV):

6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

What did Paul mean when he advised Timothy to "fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands"? How was Timothy supposed to apply Paul's advice to his life?

I would like to see an overview of how Christians usually answer these questions and how they go about applying whatever the passage is teaching to their own lives. Do most Christians tend to understand 2 Timothy 1:6-7 in the same way or is this one of those passages that cause a lot of controversy?

Personal thoughts: my educated guess is that Paul is probably using figurative language, similar to the "go buy more oil to keep your lamp burning" of the parable of the ten virgins (that's my own way of paraphrasing it by the way), to mean the gift of the Holy Spirit that Timothy probably received by Paul's literal laying of hands on him (like the many examples in the book of Acts) and as an invitation/command for Timothy to give himself more fully to the control of the Holy Spirit, although the exact concrete way in which he was supposed to do that is not totally clear to me.

  • 2
    An interesting question, up-voted +1. Since this is a pastoral epistle I would suggest that the distinction be made between Timothy, whom Paul is marking out as the next generation of ministry and leadership in the entire church (not in just one assembly) and between the body to which Timothy will minister.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 15:04
  • Possibly related to 1 Tim 4:14. Some resources that can be helpful: BH.SE answer, Study light commentary on 1 Tim 4:14 and 2 Tim 1:6, Commented May 16, 2021 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


Q: What is an overview of how Christians interpret 2 Timothy 1:6-7 and apply it to their own lives?

2 Timothy 1:6-7 NIV

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

As a Christian, I believe 2 Timothy 1:6-7 is a straightforward exhortation from Paul to Timothy. Paul had selected Timothy to travel with him years before the Books of 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy were written as we see in this passage from Acts:

Acts 16:1-3 NIV

Paul arrived in the city of Derbe and then went to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived. Timothy’s mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was Greek. 2 The believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him. So he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in those places and because he knew that Timothy’s father was Greek.

Paul mentored Timothy in many ways and this passage (2 Timothy 1:6-7) is simply a continuation of Paul’s long-term encouragement. The passage has strong similarities to a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:15-16 NIV

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I believe Paul was encouraging Timothy to be bold in his preaching and teaching. Paul believed Timothy had been called to preach the Gospel so Paul wanted to make sure Timothy’s shyness and relative youthfulness did not cause him to stop. That is, to cover his light. Paul made this same message clear in:

1 Timothy 4:12-16 NIV

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The gift Paul referenced was the Spirit of God calling Timothy to preach and to share the Gospel. Timothy received this gift in Paul's presence and Paul and other elders laid their hands on Timothy to demonstrate their acceptance of him and his gift. Paul wanted Timothy to keep preaching and teaching. Publicly acknowledging Jesus as His Lord would certainly 'fan the flames' of the Spirit of God Timothy had received.

I take the words of encouragment Paul wrote to Timothy as being written to me too. I don't want to be timid in my faith, but rather to have power, love, and self discipline also. My calling may be different from Timothy's, but I believe Paul's words apply to me too as I 'fan the flames' of the Spirit of God within me.

  • How exactly is this an overview of major Christian denominations: Catholicism, Orthodox, Protestantism, etc.? What are the minimum number of perspectives needed to answer overview questions?
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 22, 2021 at 6:26
  • Ken: The question was: Q: What is an overview of how Christians interpret 2 Timothy 1:6-7 and apply it to their own lives? The answer did not ask for the view of given denominations even though the word overview was used. The main body of the answer I gave was from the Bible. The second part of the question '... apply it to their own lives?' seems to seek the response of individual Christians and I gave my response as a Christian. Commented May 22, 2021 at 22:48

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