1st & 2nd Timothy — Lesson 1

Introduction to Pastoral Epistles


1. Generally considered the fourth group of the Pauline epistles (1st - Thessalonians; 2nd - Corinthians, Galatians, Romans; 3rd - Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, Philippians), they are often referred to as The Pastoral Epistles.

1. Name was first used in the 18th century, although referred to in earlier times.

1. Thomas Aquinus, as long ago as 1274, wrote of 1 Timothy, "This letter is as it were a pastoral rule which the Apostle delivered to Timothy."

2. In his introduction to 2 Timothy he wrote, "In the first letter he gives Timothy instructions concerning ecclesiastical order; in this second letter he deals with a pastoral care which should be so great that it will even accept martyrdom for the sake of the care of the flock."

3. Really became official in 1726 when a scolar by the name of Paul Anton gave a series of lectures on them under that title (The Pastoral Epistles).

2. What is the propriety of the use of that name?

1. 1 Timothy is entirely pastoral and perhaps intended to be of universal application.

2. Titus is mainly pastoral, but also a letter of commendation and a letter of recall.

3. 2 Timothy is mainly a personal letter, a letter of recall, and only incidentally pastoral.

2. The books are generally accepted or rejected as a group, rather than individually, because they are so closely connected in thought and style.

1. General acceptance in the early church.

1. Marcion[1] is the only early exception to the universal acknowledgment of the early church to Pauline authorship.

1. Tertullian expressed surprise that Marcion omitted them, and asserted that it was because of his dislike for the teachings of the books.

2. He also tells us that Marcion cut them out which says that Marcion knew them.

2. Eusebious in the 4th Century included them among the "14 epistles of Paul" which "are manifest and clear as to genuineness."

3. Parallels in the early Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome (ca. 97) and Ignatius (d. ca. 115), but parallel language does not of itself establish use.

4. Polycarp (70/81B156/167) shows a much closer acquaintance with the epistles. Generally admitted that he used them.

5. There are allusions to them in Justin Martyr, Heracleon, Hegesippus, Athenagoras, Theophilus and Irenaeus, which show that they were widely known.

6. This attestation is as strong as that for any of Paul's letters except Romans and 1 Corinthains.

7. Some object because the Chester Beatty papyri (P46 B ca. 200 A.D.) does not contain them.

1. Beginning and ending are missing.

2. But, as reconstructed, the codex does not contain enough pages to include them.

3. Not unusual to crowd more lines toward the end.

4. Not unknown for a scribe to add pages.

5. Could have been another codex.

8. Bottom line, Pauline authorship was the unbroken understanding until the 19th century.

2. The first determined attack against apostolic authorship was by Schleiermacher (1807) who disputed Paul's authorship of 1 Timothy[2] on stylistic and linguistic grounds (gave rise to modern criticism).

1. Generally admitted that there are differences between the Pastorals and other epistles of Paul.

2. What can account for difference?

1. Dissimilarity of subject matter undoubtedly accounts for many new words. Themes not previously dealt with unavoidably produce a crop of new expressions.

2. Variations due to advancing age must be given due weight, since style and vocabulary are often affected this way.

3. Enlargement of vocabulary due to change of environment may account for an increased use of classical words.

4. The difference in the recipients as compared with the earlier epistles addressed to churches would account for certain differences in style in the same way that private and public correspondence inevitably differs. (Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, rev. ed. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990], 240.

3. The dangers of deciding authorship based on vocabulary led 19th century lexicographer Joseph Henry Thayer to warn of the "monumental misjudgments committed by some who have made questions of authorship turn on vocabulary alone." (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament [reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970], 689.)

4. Homer Kent rightly observes, "The uniform testimony of early history must carry more weight than the variety of vocabulary." (Pastoral Epistles, 67; cf. Guthrie, Introduction; Pastoral Epistles (especially the Appendix); Hendriksen, Pastoral Epistles.)

5. Was it the work of a pious forger (if those terms are not self-contradictory, i.e., if such a thing can exist)?

1. He wasn't really deceiving anybody because the recipients knew that he was lying B what then could have been the purpose for the psuedonym?

2. Contrary to what some urge, the early church did not approve or forgeries, pious or otherwise.

1. Paul warned of the danger of false letters purporting to come from him. 2 Thess. 2:2.

2. He took steps to authenticate his letters. 2 Thess. 3:17.

3. Tertullian wrote of a church leader who was removed from office for forging a document in Paul's name, although he did it out of love for Paul.

3. It was not the practice of the early church. According to some scholars, based on current knowledge there is not one such letter emanating from anywhere near the New Testament period.

4. Troublesome questions?

1. Why would he have forged three that cover much of the same ground.

2. Why did he not create an itinerary that would have fit in with the record of Paul's life recorded in Acts?

3. How would he deceive people who lived at the time into accepting as true things that never happened.

4. How likely is it that a devoted follower of Paul would describe him as a blasphemer and persecutor, a violent aggressor, and the foremost of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:13, 15)?

5. Is it not hypocritical to include warnings about deceivers (cf. 2 Tim. 3:13; Titus 1:10) when he himself was one?

6. The similarity to Paul is sufficient even after highlighting the differences, that many who accept the theory state that the forger had and used many genuine Pauline writings and incorporated them into his work.

3. The evidence is clear B Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles.


1. Following his release from Prison[3], Paul revisited some of the churches where he had preached, including Ephesus. He then went to Macedonia, leaving Timothy behind to deal with some problems in the Ephesisan church (I Tim. 1:3.) From Macedonia, Paul wrote this letter, giving Timothy further instructions to help him carry out his task.

2. At about this time, he wrote to Titus, who was preaching on the island of Crete.

3. Rearrested in connection with the outbreak of Nero's persecution, Paul wrote his final letter (2 Timothy) while in prison awaiting execution.

4. It is difficult to say how long after his release Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles (affinity of language, similarity of thought, and likeness of error to combat indicate that they must all have been written about the same time). If Paul was released in 61, if we allow one year for his travels and work in the East and two years for his work in Spain, we get 64 or 65. This is the probable date for 1 Timothy. Paul seems to have been executed shortly before Nero's death, i.e., before June 8, 68 A.D. It is clear that 2 Timothy was written shortly before Paul's execution. It may, therefore, be dated in the early autumn of 67 or the spring of 68.

4. Overriding concern in all of the pastoral epistles.

1. Paul's overriding preoccupation throughout all three is with the truth, that it may be faithfully guarded and handed on.

2. The pertinence of this theme at the end of the 20th century is evident B contemporary culture is being overtaken and submerged by the spirit of postmodernism.

3. Post-modernism begins as a self-conscious reaction against the modernism of the Enlightenment, and especially against its unbounded confidence n reason, science, and progress.

4. The postmodern mind rejects this naive optimism, but it then goes further and declares that there is no such thing as objective or universal truth; that all so-called truth is purely subjective, being culturally conditioned; and that therefore we all have our own truth, which has as much right to respect as anybody else's, including God's.

5. Pluralism is an offspring of postmoderism; it affirms the independent validity of every faith and ideology, and demands in shrill tones that we abandon as impossibly arrogant any attempt to convert somebody (let alone everybody) to our opinion.

6. In contrast to this relativization of truth, it si wonderfully refreshing to read Paul's unambiguous commitment to it.

1. He has been appointed a teacher of the gentiles in faith and truth. 1 Tim. 2:7.

2. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Tim. 3:15.

3. It is the truth that leads to godliness. Tit. 1:1.

4. The false teachers, on the other had, have wandered away from the truth, and even oppose the truth. 1 Tim. 6:21; 2 Tim. 2:18; 3:8; cf. 4:4.

1. The false teachers are deviationists who have wandered or swerved from the faith. 1 Tim. 1:6; 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:18.

2. Paul does not mince words B what they are spreading is not an alternative truth, but lies, godless chatter, myths, and meaningless talk.

5. He refers to it as the truth, the faith, the sound doctrine, the teaching, or the deposit.

6. The implication is that a body of doctrine exists which, having been revealed and given by God, is objectively true.

5. Purpose(s) of 1 Timothy.

1. To encourage him to oppose false teachers (1:3-7, 18-20; 6:3-5, 20, 21).

2. To furnish him with written credentials of his authorization by Paul (1:3,4).

3. To instruct him as to the manner in which men ought to conduct themselves in the Church (3:14, 15).

4. To exhort him to be diligent in the performance of all his ministerial duties (4:6-6:2).

6. Purposes of 2 Timothy.

1. Appeals for brave adherence to the gospel (1:1-3), and for steadfastness and endurance in the work (2:1-13).

2. Give instructions concerning Timothy's personal and ministerial conduct (2:14-26).

3. Warns concerning the grievous times that are coming (3:1-9).

4. Urges Timothy to follow his example (3:10-13).

5. Encourages Timothy on the ground of his early training (3:14-17).

6. Appeals for faithful preaching of the Word in the light of the coming apostasy and his approaching martyrdom (4:1-8).

7. Expresses his longing for fellowship (4:9-18).

7. Importance of the Pastoral Epistles.

1. They contain a wealth of information concerning practical matters of church life and organization B how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God. 1 Tim. 3:15.

2. Public worship, the selection and qualifications of elders and deacons, the evangelist's personal life and public ministry, how to confront sin in the church, the role of women, the care of widows, and how to handle money are among the matters discussed. Besides the wealth of practical information that they contain, they also teach important doctrinal truths about the Scriptures, salvation, and the Savior.

8. Paul's condition was very different when he wrote 2nd Timothy.



Accused by the Jews of heresy and sedition.

Persecuted by Rome and treated as a malefactor.

Preached to all who came to him in his own hired house and a number of his associates carried on missionary activity in the city and surrounding district.

His friends can see him only with difficulty and none stood by him in court.

Looked forward to acquittal.

Looked forward to death.

We are to imagine the apostle, Paul the Aged, languishing in some dark, dank dungeon in Rome, from which there was to be no escape but death. His own apostolic labors are over. "I have finished the race," he can say. But now he must make provision for the faith after he has gone, and especially for its transmission (uncontaminated, unalloyed) to future generations. So he sends Timothy this most solemn charge. He is to preserve what he has received, at whatever cost, and to hand it on to faithful men to in their turn will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2).

One writer goes so far as to say that "Christianity . . . trembled, humanly speaking, on the brink of annihilation." Who, the, would do battle for the truth when Paul had laid down his life? This was the question which dominated and vexed his mind as he lay in chains, and to which he addressed himself.

In his first letter he had pleaded with Timothy to keep safe the deposit. 1 Tim. 6:20. But the situation had worsened by the time of the second letter, so Paul's appeal became more urgent. He reminded Timothy that the precious gospel was now committed to him, and that it was now his turn to assume responsibility for it, to preach and teach it, to defend it against attack and against falsification, and to ensure its accurate transmission to the generations yet to come.

It is that message that now comes down to us.

[1]Excommunicated in Rome in 144 A.D. A Gnostic, he rejected the OT and issued his own NT, which consisted of an abbreviated Gospel of Luke and 10 Pauline epistles (exclusing the pastorals) edited on a dogmatic basis. His Antitheses set forth contradictions between the Testaments. His positions are known principally from the five-book refutations by Tertullian, Against Marcion.

[2]Although he rejected only 1st Timothy, it soon became apparent that the basis of its rejection applied to 2nd Timothy and Titus as well. By 1835 F.C. Baur had rejected all three.

[3]Our knowledge of Paul's life is fragmentary at best. While there are historical problems, the 2nd imprisonment accounts for most of them. The imprisonment at the end of Acts did not end in martyrdom. Some explanation would be needed for its omission. The leniency of the detention (unrestricted visitation) is more suggestive of release.

The terms of Agrippa's declaration, with which Festus apparently concurred (Acts 26:32), point to the probability of release. In view of his declaration, his report on Paul could not have been unfavorable. This, in the normal course of Roman justice, would have diposed to a successful trial before Christianity became illegal.

The captivity epistles bear witness to Paul's expectation of release. (Phil. 1:25; 2:23,24; Phm 22). Clement of Rom makes a vague reference to Paul's having reached the boundary of the west. Paul expressed a desire to go to Spain. Rom. 15:24, 28. Whether he got to Spain is independent of his release B there was activity in the east.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)