Book Summaries

Two letters by the apostle Paul to Timothy, his "own son in the faith" (1 Ti 1:2), his "dearly beloved son" (2 Ti 1:2). Together with Titus, these epistles are known as the Pastoral Epistles, since they were written to counsel and instruct younger ministers with respect to the administration of local church affairs. In the earliest Greek manuscripts the titles of these 2 letters are simply Pros Timotheon A, "To Timothy I," and Pros Timotheon B, "To Timothy II." Generally speaking, early Christian writers from the very first considered these epistles as authentically Pauline. Clement of Rome, toward the end of the 1st cent., and Polycarp, during the middle of the 2nd cent., use language that may imply familiarity with these letters; and Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others toward its close, attested the genuineness of the epistles, quoting from them as Scripture and attributing them to the apostle; the Muratorian Canon (c. a.d. 170) lists them with Paul's letters. Many modern cities, however, reject Paul's authorship, chiefly (1) because of the difficulty of finding any place to fit such historical allusions as those of 1 Ti 1:3; 2 Ti 4:20; Tit 3:12 into his life as recorded in the book of Acts and elsewhere in his uncontested epistles; (2) because of the relatively advanced stage of church organisation reflected in the epistles, to which these scholars feel the churches could not possibly have attained during Paul's lifetime; (3) because in some instances they take the warning against "oppositions [Gr. antitheseis] of science falsely so called" (1 Ti 6:20) to be an allusion to a heretical work called Antitheses, written about the middle of the 2nd cent. by Marcion, many of whose views resembled those of the Gnostics; (4) because the vocabulary and style of the Pastoral Epistles differ considerably from those of Paul's uncontested epistles, there being a considerable number of words that do not occur elsewhere in his uncontested epistles.

It is true that conclusive objective evidence of Pauline authorship is not as strong as with several of the other epistles attributed to him, nevertheless, a careful examination of these objections shows them to be highly subjective and without substantial proof: (1) It is freely granted that the historical allusions in the Pastoral Epistles do not fit into the record of Paul's life in the book of Acts (for example, 1 Ti 1:3; cf. Acts 18:19 ­21; 19:22; 20:4; 2 Cor 1:1). However, the objection disappears if it be granted that these letters were written after the end of the period covered by the book of Acts, which breaks off abruptly with Paul in prison at Rome for 2 full years (Acts 28:30), probably a.d. 61 ­63, without indicating the outcome of his appeal to the Roman emperor. In the prison epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon), which are generally considered to have been written during the latter part of his 1st imprisonment, he clearly anticipates imminent release (see Php 2:24; Phm 22). Thus, writing to the Philippians, he expresses hope that he will be able to visit them shortly (Php 2:24). There is ample evidence in the Pastoral Epistles that during the interval between his 1st and 2nd imprisonments Paul travelled widely, visiting Christian communities in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece (1 Ti 1:3; 2 Ti 4:13, 20; Tit 1:5), and possibly even going as far as Spain (see Rom 15:24, 28). Certain passages clearly indicate persons not mentioned before, places Paul had recently visited and other circumstances that do not accord with the records of his life prior to the 1st imprisonment (see 2 Ti 1:15 ­17; 4:6, 9, 13, 16, 17, 20, 21; Tit 1:5; 3:12). Accordingly, there is good reason to believe that these letters were written during the interval between Paul's 1st imprisonment and his execution. (2) The opinion that the rather fully developed church organisation reflected in the Pastoral Epistles indicates a period of time well beyond the lifetime of Paul lacks historical confirmation. (3) Recent archaeological discoveries, notably those of the Dead Sea scrolls, and of a Gnostic library at Nag Hammadi (Chenoboskion) in Egypt, show that Gnostic teachings were already well developed in the 1st cent. (4) The argument based on the differences in vocabulary and style between the Pastoral Epistles and those more generally attributed to Paul loses much of its weight when it is observed that the subject matter of these epistles--various aspects of church organisation and administration--is scarcely touched upon in the other epistles. Furthermore, many of the churches Paul established had now been in operation for 15 or 20 years. It is only natural to expect that they would have grown considerably in membership and that a more complex organisation would have become necessary. Also, early Christian church organisation generally followed the existing pattern of that of the Jewish synagogue. The fact that persons named in the Pastoral Epistles (see 2 Ti 4:10, 13, 19, 21; Tit 3:12, 13) do not appear elsewhere in Paul's letters is further evidence that these epistles come from a later period of the apostle's career. It is inconceivable that a later writer would have been so naive as intentionally to introduce persons not mentioned elsewhere by Paul, yet attempt to attribute the epistles to him.

The 1st Epistle to Timothy was written probably toward the close of the interval between Paul's 1st and 2nd imprisonments (c. a.d. 63 ­66), since he had evidently been at liberty for some time and had been visiting churches in the vicinity of the Aegean Sea. He had recently departed from Ephesus, leaving Timothy in charge of the church there. The 2nd Epistle to Timothy was written about a.d. 66, toward the close of Paul's 2nd imprisonment, probably not long before his death, after one trial (2 Ti 4:16, 17) and while he awaited the death sentence (vs. 6 ­9). The apostle had recently been at Troas, where his 2nd arrest would seem to have taken place (v 13).

In 1 and 2 Ti, Paul counsels Timothy to conduct himself in a manner acceptable to God and for the building up of the flock God had entrusted to his care. These exhortations to vigorous leadership may imply that Timothy was a man of mild temperament and less aggressive than Paul thought he should be. In 2 Ti, realising that his own end was near, Paul sought further to strengthen his younger co-worker's faith by a recital of his own example and warned against certain heresies, urging the younger worker to hold firm to the Inspired Word and to remain faithful.

These 2 epistles may be summarised as follows: Following the salutation (1 Ti 1:1, 2) Paul first charges Timothy to rebuke teachers of perverted doctrine (vs. 3 ­20) and develops the concept of Christianity as a universal religion (ch 2). Next, he sets forth the character qualifications of bishops (ch 3:1 ­7) and deacons (vs. 8 ­13), and contrasts the true gospel (vs. 14 ­16) with counterfeits (ch 4:1 ­5). Then follows a series of practical suggestions on effective ministry. Timothy is to concentrate on sound doctrine, to avoid speculation, and to be a living example of the message he proclaims (vs. 6 ­16). He is to guard his relationship with various specified groups of church members (chs 5:1 ­25; 6:17 ­19). In the final section Paul treats of Christian masters and slaves (ch 6:1, 2), of heretical teachers (vs. 3 ­5), of worldly riches (vs. 6 ­10, 17 ­19), and of Timothy's responsibility to provide a living pattern of character (vs. 11 ­16). The letter closes with a personal charge to Timothy (vs. 20, 21). In the 2nd epistle Paul greets his "beloved son" in the faith, fondly reviewing his own affection for him (2 Ti 1:1 ­5). He exhorts Timothy to be faithful, to give a good account of his responsibility as a minister, and to stand courageously for the gospel message (vs. 6 ­18). In ch 2:1 ­6 Paul elaborates on the traits of an ideal minister, and then dwells upon the content of the message Timothy should preach and the way in which he should proclaim it (vs. 7 ­26). He then warns of perilous times to come, and points to the Scriptures as a safeguard against error (ch 3:1 ­17). The 4th chapter has been called Paul's "last will and testament." In it he challenges Timothy to take up the torch of truth that he must soon lay down (ch 4:1 ­22).

Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.