The First Epistle to Timothy is one of the three Pastoral Epistles, normally attributed to Saint Paul and part of the canonical New Testament. It consists mainly of counsels to Timothy regarding the forms of worship and organization of the Church, and the responsibilities resting on its several members, including episcopi (translated as "bishops") and diaconi ("deacons"); and secondly of exhortation to faithfulness in maintaining the truth amid surrounding errors (iv.iff), presented as a prophecy of erring teachers to come.
The epistle's "irregular character, abrupt connections and loose transitions" (EB 1911) have led critics to discern later interpolations, such as vi.20–21, read as a reference to Marcion of Sinope, and lines that appear to be marginal glosses that have been copied into the body of the text.
Questions on AuthorshipEdit
Paul names himself as author of this letter and early church fathers like Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Rome and Polycarp support this view. Some criticism has arisen because of uncertainty of how this epistle as well as the other “pastoral” epistles fits in the chronology of the book Acts. Also critics complain the vocabulary seems more second century, and lastly that Gnosticism seems to be a second century problem not present at the time of Paul’s life. However, conservative scholars counter back that not being mentioned in Acts does not exclude it from Pauline authorship, and not enough is known about the vocabulary style of the second century to date it at that point in the churches history not to mention that much of the same style is found in other New Testament books. Lastly, it is a repeated concern in many of Paul’s writings that Gnosticism is creeping into the church, the apostle John also dealt with these same issues. Thus, there is no scholarly reason to openly embrace the idea that this is not Paul's work.
This epistle is most likely written after Paul’s release from his first imprisonment from Rome and was most likely to have been written around 62 A.D but some scholars have placed late as 66 or 67 A.D. Without a more direct understanding of how it fits into Acts or if it is a part of a 4th missionary trip (not mentioned in Acts) all we can really know is it was written just prior to Paul’s death.
This historical relationship between Paul and Timothy is one of mentorship. Timothy is first mentioned in Acts 16:1. His mother Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are mentioned are mentioned in 2 Tim. 1:5. All that we know of is father is that he was a Greek not a Jew (Act 16:1). Paul's second visit to Lystra is when Timothy first connected with Paul (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 3:11). Paul not only brought Timothy into the faith but he was Timothy’s main mentor in Christian leadership (Acts 16:3), having had done church planting and missionary journeys together. Timothy would have got his authority to preach in the churches directly from Paul who of course was the greater known and accepted of the two and an apostle. Timothy’s official position in the church was one of an evangelist (1 Tim. 4:14) and he worked with Paul in Phrygia, Galatia, and Mysia, Troa, Philippi and Berea (Acts 17:14) and continued on too do even more work in Athens, and Thessalonica for the church (17:15; 1 Thess. 3:2) not to mention his work in Corinth, Macedonia, Ephesus and greater Asia. Timothy was also noted for coming to Paul’s aid when Paul fell into prison (Phil. 1:1, 2 Tim. 4:13). It is note worthy that despite not being required due the ruling of the Jerusalem council; Timothy took circumcision himself to be a better witness among the Jews. According to church traditional he was loyal to Paul’s wishes and stayed and worked in Ephesus until he finally suffered the Martyrs death himself.
Regardless if you see this epistle as a 4th missionary journey not recorded in Acts or as being written at some other point of Paul’s life, its intent seems clear that Paul is writing to encourage Timothy on his own ministry. Timothy is now pastoring in the Ephesus Church and Paul writes him to tell him to stay there and continue his good work there. Paul had planted the Ephesus church himself putting over 3 years of his blood and tears in to the effort (Acts 19:10; 20:31) and he is well pleased his former student is currently taking the post there. This is most likely a letter written in Paul’s late life and can be seen as being among his departing advise to his former student who has risen up in the ranks of church leadership himself. As Paul becomes more aware of his impending end, soon to be at he hands of Nero, he is setting things in order for the next generation.
The themes in this book circulate around church structure more then any other issue in the letter. Paul gives ample warning to Timothy not to let false doctrine take hold. The structure for the role of women in the Ephesus church is put down as well as a detailed list of qualifications for who can and cannot serve as Elders and Deacons in the church. It is a notably a hotly debated issue in the church as to what Paul meant in this book in regards to the women’s role in the church. Some feel he clearly teaches that women are not to have authority over men in the church structure (1 Tim 2:12) and that this is why he clearly excludes them from the roles of Elder/Bishop and Deacon in chapter three. People who hold to this ideology point out that Paul’s use of the phase “Husband of one wife” is gender specific and excludes women from that role. They would point out that in the Greek text it literal reads Man of one woman. However, more liberal scholars debate this stating that this is a product of the time in which Paul lives and it is a cultural reffrence not meant to be eternally binding on the church after such a culture is long pasted away. Many churches have now embraced woman clergy based on this modern scholarly outlook. The Treatment of widows, elders, masters, youth, and church members are also well spelled out as well as healthy warning of greed to rich is addressed. Key words and phrases in this book include; “fight the good fight”, “This is a faithful saying”,” let no one despise your youth”, doctrine, elder/bishop, deacon, fables, guard.
Outline of 1 Timothy
I. Salutation (1:1-2)
II. Negative Instructions: Stop the False Teachers (1:3-20)
A. Warning against False Teachers (1:3-11)
1. The Charge to Timothy Stated (1:3)
2. Their Wrong Use of the Law (1:4-7)
3. The Right Use of the Law (1:8-11)
B. Paul’s Experience of Grace (1:12-17)
C. The Charge to Timothy Repeated (1:18-20)
III. Positive Instructions: Repair the Church (2:1–6:10)
A. Restoring the Conduct of the Church (2:1–3:16)
1. Instructions on Public Worship (2:1-15)
a. Concerning Prayer (2:1-7)
b. Concerning the Role of Men and Women (2:8-15)
1) Men: Pray in a Holy Manner (2:8)
2) Women: Quiet Conduct (2:9-15)
2. Instructions on Church Leadership (3:1-13)
a. Qualifications of Overseers (3:1-7)
b. Qualifications of Deacons (3:8-13)
3. Summary (3:14-16)
a. Conduct of the Church (3:14-15)
b. Hymn to Christ (3:16)
B. Guarding the Truth in the Church (4:1-16)
1. In the Face of Apostasy (4:1-5)
2. Timothy’s Personal Responsibilities (4:6-16)
C. Dealing with Groups in the Church (5:1–6:10)
1. Men and Women, Young and Old (5:1-2)
2. Widows (5:3-16)
a. Older Widows (5:3-10)
b. Younger Widows (5:11-16)
3. Elders (5:17-25)
a. The Reward of Elders (5:17-18)
b. The Reputation of Elders (5:19-20)
1) The Reputation of Elders Protected (5:19)
2) The Sins of Elders Publicly Rebuked (5:20)
c. The Recognition of Prospective Elders (5:21-25)
4. Slaves (6:1-2)
5. False Teachers (6:3-10)
IV. Personal Instructions: Pursue Godliness (6:11-21)
A. Fight the Good Fight (6:11-16)
B. A Final Word to the Wealthy (6:17-19)
C. Guard What has been Entrusted (6:20-21)
- 1 Tim KJV (King James Version) at GospelHall.org
- Timothy information at Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Summary of 1 Timothy
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