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Introduction to 1 Timothy

Dr. Grant C. Richison

 

PASTORALS — Epistles to pastors

Paul addressed the letters of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus to his coworkers Timothy and Titus. These three letters often are grouped together and are a literary whole. We call the group the pastorals. The label “pastoral” comes from the recipients Timothy and Titus. These letters are distinguished from other Pauline epistles because they are written to Paul’s associates and not to congregations.

The nature of the pastorals is that they are personal, unsystematic, and practical. Church doctrine and order are central.

 

FIRST TIMOTHY

Authorship (1 Tim 1:1)

First Timothy came from Paul to Timothy in Ephesus. The apostle identifies himself at the beginning of the letter (1 Tim 1:1). Paul was a Roman citizen who carried the full privileges of that status. He was thoroughly acquainted with Roman culture from being reared in Tarsus in Asia Minor. He visited Ephesus on his second and third missionary journeys (Acts 16-20). God’s commission for him was to Gentiles.

Liberal scholarship attacked Pauline authorship in the early 19th century and continued to the twenty-first century; however, most of their arguments against Pauline authorship do not stand.

Date

Mid-sixties, A.D. 63-66, between Paul’s two Roman imprisonments. 

Paul left Timothy in Ephesus on the apostle’s way to Macedonia to deal with problems in the church (1 Tim 1:3). Paul wrote First Timothy from Macedonia (A.D. 63-66).

The City

Ephesus was a major trading center located on a seaport on the Aegean Sea. The city today is seven miles inland from the Aegean. The Temple of Artemis, one of the world’s seven wonders, was located in the city—the temple of Artemis.

Recipient (1 Tim 1:2, 18; 6:20)

Timothy’s father was Greek, and his mother was Jewish (Acts 16:1). He was a native of Lystra in Asia Minor. His mother Eunice and grandmother Lois were believers (2 Tim 1:5). He became a team member of the apostle Paul on his second missionary enterprise (Ro 16:21; 1 Co 16:10; Php 2:19-22; 1 Th 3:2). Timothy showed promise for ministry during those years (1 Tim 1:18; 4:14; 2 Tim 4:5). Paul includes Timothy in six salutations of his epistles (2 Co 1:1; Php 1:1; Co 1:1; 1 Th 1:1; 2 Th 1:1; Phile 1). He was a trusted emissary to the churches.

Canonicity

Polycarp ad 116, Athenagoras, Irenaeus (175), Tertullian (190), and Clement of Alexandria (195) formally quote from First Timothy. Early church fathers regarded the epistle as written by the apostle Paul and accepted it as canonical. There are many more external evidences of First Timothy belonging to the canon.

Destination

In 1 Tim. 1:3, Paul says, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus“; Timothy was at Ephesus when First Timothy was addressed to him.

Setting

False teaching from church leaders infected the congregation (1 Tim 3:1-16; 5:17-25). Incipient Gnosticism (superior knowledge), profitless speculation, licentiousness that cauterizes the conscience, allegorical interpretation of Scripture, empty godliness (words in the place of works), reducing godliness to wealthy gain, and license of sin by affirmation of pure motive are some of the problems found in the church at Ephesus.

False teachers placed too much value on genealogies, myths (1 Tim 1:4), and rules (1 Tim 4:3).

Occasion

There are two purposes for writing First Timothy: 1) to oppose false doctrine and 2) to address the kinds of leaders the church in Ephesus should have. Paul had moved on to Macedonia and left Timothy in charge of the church at Ephesus. Timothy was to protect the church from false doctrine and remind him of his duties as a pastor.

Key Words: “doctrine” and “teach.”

Doctrine= eight times in First Timothy

Teach= seven times in First Timothy

Doctrine protects the church from aberrance by eliminating vain speculation that replaces facts for fables. Doctrine in the form of propositional truth protects the church from doctrinal aberrance (1 Tim 1:10; 6:3). Compare 2 Tim 1:13; 6:3; Tit 1:9, 13; 2:1, 2, 8. There are many appeals to defend “doctrine,” or propositional statements from God.

Peculiarities of the Epistle

-a personal letter to Timothy who was the pastor at the church of Ephesus

-emphasizes the need for sound doctrine

-emphasizes the need for order in the church

-four of Paul’s epistles are personal: 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

comparison of 1 & 2 Timothy:

1 Timothy: “church of God” (1 Timothy 3:15); 2 Timothy: “servant of the Lord” (2 Timothy 2:24)

1 Timothy: “good minister of Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 4:6); 2 Timothy: “good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3)

-The triplet “grace, mercy, and peace” only in the pastorals (1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Tit 1:4)

CENTRAL THEME

God’s propositions via divine revelation: “teach,” “doctrine.”

The primary concern is to protect the truth of Scripture. Paul’s concern that the church guards the propositions of divine revelation stands in conflict with modern views of truth.

OTHER THEMES:

Warn against false teachers (1 Tim 1:10; 4:1-16; 6:3-16)

Honor relationships (1 Tim 2:1-15)

Leadership (1 Tim 3:1-13; 5:17-25)

Care for the congregation (1 Tim 5:3-16; 6:1-19)

OUTLINE

Greeting, 1:1-2

Reason for writingheresy 1:3-20

Church Order, 2:1-3:13

Guard the truth, 3:14-16

Warning against false teachers, 4:1-16

Protect Relationships, 5:1-6:2

Charge to Timothy, 6:3-21

 

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