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Was Timothy a pastor or an evangelist?

The term “pastoral epistles” is used to designate the three epistles or letters addressed to Timothy and Titus (1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus). Though addressed to individuals, they are not limited to personal and private communications. They were more official in nature addressed to Timothy and Titus to guide them in matters concerning the church of Jesus Christ and its pastoral care (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15 with 2 Tim. 2:2).

The term, “pastoral,” is an 18th century designation which has stuck down through the years because, though not entirely accurate, it is a somewhat fitting designation. Let me explain: This term is accurate in that these epistles are primarily devoted to church order and discipline, or polity, policies, and practice. These are concerns which are important to the pastoral well being of the church.

This term is inaccurate in the sense that Timothy and Titus were not pastor types in the present day sense of the term. a) They were official representatives of the Apostle Paul whom he dispatched to various places or churches like Ephesus and Crete to act in an official capacity to deal with special situations and meet special needs. During the interim from the time of the apostles to the more complete transition to elders and deacons, these men were sent by Paul as his apostolic representatives to deal with certain conditions and people who were threatening to hurt the work and ministries of these churches. b) Timothy and Titus undoubtedly possessed the gifts needed for pastoral ministry, and while there was an element of pastoral care in what they did (see 1 Tim. 4:8-16), they were not elders or pastors who are given by the Lord to various churches for more long-term ministries (1 Pet. 5:1f). Rather, as official delegates of Paul, they were sent to assist churches in setting up their ministries in pastoral care as with the appointing of elders (cf. Tit. 1).

All in all, the contents of these books are pastoral in nature whether they deal with personal matters or the corporate ministry of the church. They give directions to Timothy and Titus (and so also for us) for the care, conduct, order, ministry, and administration of churches or assemblies of believers. This was clearly their primary function, was pastoral in nature, and undoubtedly what Paul meant, in part at least, by “fulfill your ministry” (again, see the emphasis in 1 Tim. 4:8-16).

Related Topics: Spiritual Gifts, Character Study