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1 Timothy: Introduction, Argument, Outline

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I. Introduction

A. The Author

The authorship of the so-called “pastoral epistles” (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) is more questionable than any other letters in the corpus Paulinum. A brief examination of the arguments on both sides, therefore, needs to be given. Rather than repeat the evidence for each book—since most scholars either accept or reject all of them as a group—the data concerning authorship will be presented only for 1 Timothy.

1. External Evidence

Although sometimes disputed,1 “the external evidence for the Pauline authorship of the PE [pastoral epistles] is as good as for any other of his letters except Romans and 1 Corinthians.”2 Irenaeus is the first explicitly to cite them as Pauline, though there are virtually definite quotations from them in Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Heracleon, and perhaps 1 Clement. Even though they are missing from Marcion’s Canon, “Tertullian says Marcion rejected them, which is no wonder, since the content of 1 Timothy 4:1-5 is completely antithetical to Marcionism.”3

Interestingly, in P46 (the oldest MS of the Pauline corpus, dated c. 200 CE), although only the pastorals are missing, there were originally five leaves at the end of the codex. It has been estimated that the pastorals would have taken ten leaves. Since codices were bound before being written in, it is possible that the scribe simply found himself in the embarrassing situation of having run out of room for the three pastoral epistles (which the scribe, with good reason, treated as a unit, hence leaving all of them out). And even if the scribe were unaware of the pastorals’ existence, this could be accounted for on two bases: (1) these letters were the only Pauline letters sent to apostolic delegates (and would thus probably have minimal circulation); and/or (2) there is the possibility that P46 should be dated in the 70s CE, rather than 130 years later, as one recent scholar has argued.4 Nevertheless, “by the end of the second century they [the pastoral epistles] are firmly fixed in every Christian canon in every part of the empire and are never doubted by anyone until the nineteenth century.”5

2. Internal Evidence

The internal evidence is where the real issue of authenticity lay. Basically, there are three problems for authenticity: (1) historical, (2) theological, and (3) linguistic.

a. The Historical Problem. The first problem is the fact that the historical evidences suggested within the pastoral epistles do not seem to fit in with any of the data supplied by Acts. The pastorals indicate the following: (1) Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus, while Paul moved on to Macedonia (1 Tim 1:3); (2) Paul likewise left Titus in Crete, after having spent some time with Titus on the island evangelizing the natives (Titus 1:5); (3) he is once again a prisoner in Rome when he writes 2 Timothy (2 Tim 1:8, 16-17; 4:16).

In response to the historical difficulty, there remain but two options for those who favor authenticity: either these letters should somehow fit into the Acts’ chronology, or else they were written after Acts.

(1) J. A. T. Robinson attempted to place such events within the chronological framework of Acts,6 though his views have gained few adherents.

(2) The view that they were written by Paul after Acts was published was first mentioned by Eusebius and has had a steady stream of followers since. There is a double difficulty with this view, however. First, it presupposes a second Roman imprisonment. Of course, since we only have Acts as a primary record of any of Paul’s imprisonments (apart from his own letters), this cannot be ruled out.

Second, “it is argued that Paul had intended to travel west from Rome, not east (Rom 15:23-29), that Luke could hardly have been silent about such an event, and that in any case it would have been highly unlikely for Paul to be either released from a Roman detention or, if released, re-arrested.”7

However, there is good evidence that Paul was indeed released from his first Roman imprisonment, as he seems to indicate would be the case in his last canonical letter written while in prison (cf. Phil 1:18-19, 24-26; 2:24). And there is evidence that he changed his mind about going west (cf. the same references and Philem 22).8 Further, as we have argued at some length, Luke ended his tome precisely at the point where he did because Paul was about to go on trial and because part of the purpose of Acts was as a trial brief for Paul. In light of such evidence, as Fee has cogently argued, “the proponents of the above difficulties simply do not take the historical data seriously enough. . . . Furthermore, it seems highly unlikely that a pseudepigrapher, writing thirty to forty years later, would have tried to palm off such traditions as Paul’s evangelizing Crete, the near capitulation to heresy of the Ephesian church, or a release and second imprisonment of Paul if in fact they had never happened.”9

b. The Theological Problems. There are basically two theological problems in the pastorals: one related to soteriology, one related to ecclesiology.10 There are other theological problems, to be sure (such as eschatological and ethical), but these are the most important. Overall, “The [theological] problem lies not so much with their [the pastoral epistles’] being non-Pauline in theology—indeed Pauline elements are recognized everywhere—as it does with so much in them that seems un-Pauline, that is, unlike his characteristic way of thinking and speaking as reflected in the earlier letters.”11

(1) Soteriology. Although the author is concerned with the doctrine of salvation—indeed, this seems to be the driving force behind the writing of these letters (cf. especially 1 Tim 1:11)—the way in which the author speaks of this doctrine is decidedly un-Pauline. Essentially, there is a creedalism, an objective air to the pastorals with regard to soteriology that is largely lacking in the homolegomena. The emphasis is more one of “belief that” than “trust in” (cf. 1 Tim 3:9; 6:20; Titus 1:13; 2:1; 2 Tim 1:14; 4:7; etc. where terms such as “the faith,” “sound teaching,” and “the deposit” are used).

In response to this problem it should be noted that

The basic reason for this kind of “objective” reference to the gospel, however, lies in the nature of these letters in contrast with the others. The other letters (excepting Philemon, of course) were written to churches, to be read aloud and apparently to function as authority as though Paul himself were there. Therefore, it was necessary for him to reiterate the truth that was to correct or stand over against their waywardness. In this case, however, the letters are written to those who themselves both know fully the content of Paul’s gospel and are personally to take the place of authority in these churches that his letter had earlier done. This latter phenomenon is totally overlooked in scholarship. It is almost as if the real objection were that Paul should write such letters at all.12

(2) Ecclesiology. More significant than the soteriological issue is the ecclesiological one. The reason that the pastorals have been questioned on such grounds is that they seem to reflect a period in church history which is later than Paul’s lifetime. In particular, they seem to reflect the early second century (cf. Ignatius’ writings) in which a single bishop had elders and deacons. Furthermore, the strong emphasis in the pastorals on the leaders’ qualifications, regulations concerning church life, etc., seem decidedly un-Pauline. Not only this, but the function of the church leadership is especially to pass on a fixed tradition of the truth, an emphasis lacking in the earlier Pauline epistles.

Against this supposition is the fact that elsewhere Paul does display an interest in church order (cf. Phil 1:1; 1 Thess 5:12; Rom 12:8; cf. Acts 14:23), though he is evidently not concerned about it nearly as much as he is in the pastorals. But there is a twofold reason for his concern here: (1) In all three letters, Paul is writing to an apostolic delegate—in effect, an intermediary between himself and the leadership of the church. Thus what he normally communicated in person as to church order (as he evidently must have in light of such casual references as Phil 1:1; 1 Thess 5:12, etc.), he now must put in writing. (2) In each one of the letters there are extenuating circumstances which would bring about an emphasis on church order and creedalism: (a) in 1 Timothy, the church had been infected by heretical and immoral leaders; hence, moral qualifications especially needed to be established; (b) in Titus, the church was newly planted; hence, some guidelines for selecting leaders needed to be given; (c) in 2 Timothy, Paul’s death is imminent; hence, an emphasis on a fixed tradition was in order.

Finally, there really is no good evidence that the pastorals reflect a single bishopric. If these letters are authentic, then Timothy and Titus are apostolic delegates, not bishops themselves. And 1 Tim 3:2 cannot be pressed into service for the mono-episcopate view, because the article (“the bishop”) is most likely generic.13

c. The Linguistic Problems. The last and easily most significant difficulty is linguistic in nature: “For most scholars it is the objection based on language which has tended to tip the balance against the Pauline authorship of the pastorals.”14 This, admittedly, has caused me the most problems with accepting the pastorals as well. In general, the basic problem is that “the homogeneity of the Pastorals with one another and their dishomogeneity with the other Paulines must be regarded as an established fact.”15 This can be seen in three ways.

(1) New Vocabulary. There is quite a bit of new vocabulary found in the pastorals—according to one scholar, over one hundred and seventy words (170) found in the pastorals are not found in other Pauline letters—nor even in the rest of the NT16

(2) Lack of Key Theological Terms. But there is also a dearth in typical Pauline terms—terms in which his key theological ideas are normally expressed. For example, δικαιοσύνη “appears only in the sense of ‘uprightness’ and is a virtue to be pursued (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22), not a gift of right-standing with God.”17

(3) Stylistic Differences. Finally, even in non-content “function” words such as conjunctions, prepositions, and pronouns, the vocabulary is radically different from Paul’s other letters. Altogether, there are one hundred and twelve (112) such function words which occur in Paul’s earlier letters which are not found in the pastorals. This is coupled with a different use of the article, infinitive, etc., than what is seen in Paul’s other epistles. Such a stylistic difference cannot be brushed aside on the basis of a different occasion, for grammatical minutiae are intrinsic to the way an author thinks, regardless of what he is thinking about. The are part of the warp and woof of his presentation and cannot be dismissed on the basis of audience or content shifts.

Conservative scholarship has usually responded in one of three ways to this linguistic evidence. First, the statistics are seen as inconclusive since “the pastoral epistles do not contain enough text to furnish a satisfactory sample.”18

Second, “the main weakness of all attempts to calculate style statistically is that they cannot take sufficient account of differences of subject-matter, circumstances or addressees, all of which may be responsible for the introduction of new words.”19

It will be seen that these first two points really only deal with the issue of vocabulary (both new vocabulary and lack of key theological terms), but they do not address the issue of grammatical minutiae.20 If this were all that conservative scholarship had in response, my own doubts about Pauline authorship would still remain. But there is another piece of the pie to consider.

Third, there is the distinct possibility that Paul used an amanuensis to whom he gave great freedom in the writing of these letters.21 Longenecker (among several others) has shown that the nonliterary papyri display several different kinds of amanuenses at work—sometimes they wrote by dictation, other times, with greater freedom. His application to the Pauline epistles is illuminating:

Just how closely the apostle supervised his various amanuenses in each particular instance is, of course, impossible to say. The nonliterary Greek papyri suggest that the responsibilities of an ancient secretary could be quite varied, ranging all the way from taking dictation verbatim to “fleshing out” with appropriate language a general outline of thought. Paul’s own practice probably varied with the special circumstances of the case and with the particular companion whom he employed at the time. More time might be left to the discretion of Silas and Timothy (cf. 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1) or to Timothy alone (cf. 2 Cor. 1:1; Col. 1:1; Philem. 1; Phil. 1:1) than to Sosthenes (cf. 1 Cor. 1:1) or Tertius (cf. Rom. 16:22)—and perhaps much more to Luke, who alone was with Paul during his final imprisonment (cf. 2 Tim. 4:11).22

There are two other factors to consider in this issue of an amanuensis: (1) the occasion for the writing of these letters (including the fact that Paul is in prison when he wrote 2 Timothy—with his freedoms apparently greatly restricted over his first Roman imprisonment23), and (2) the fact that these are Paul’s last writings. On this second point it should be observed that the most disputed letters in the Pauline corpus are those which were written toward the end of his life. Apart from 2 Thessalonians (which is sometimes disputed), all of the disputed letters, if authentic, would be dated in the 60s. The significance of this may be that as time progressed, and as Paul dictated more and more letters (most of them now lost), his long-time companions could be trusted more and more to work from an annotated outline, rather than copy down a verbally dictated letter. If so, then any arguments from vocabulary or stylistic considerations which do not take sufficient account of an amanuensis at work are immediately suspect.24 Still, the final product would be Paul’s responsibility, and since he customarily appended a personal note at the end of each of his letters (cf. 2 Thess 3:17), there is ample evidence that he read over the letter carefully before it was sent.25

The case for an amanuensis with the pastorals takes an interesting turn in that in 2 Tim 4:11 the writer flatly states, “Luke alone is with me.” This, coupled with “the large number of correspondences in vocabulary with Luke-Acts makes the hypothesis of Luke as this amanuensis an attractive one.”26

We have seen so far that the three basic problems for Pauline authorship seem to be adequately answered. But the tables can be turned as well. That is, there are major problems with the pseudepigraphical views. Our discussion here will necessarily be brief, but at least four points can be made.

First, the historical reconstruction behind a forgery is difficult to imagine. Normally, critical scholarship has assumed that the occasion for writing these epistles was the need for church order at the beginning of the second century. Although just such an occasion is possible for 1 Timothy and Titus, it thoroughly fails to handle 2 Timothy, as advocates of this view admit: “2 Tim poses a special problem, for a motive underlying its composition is not readily apparent…”27

Second, if these letters are a forgery, why are there three of them? As Fee has pointed out, “If one can make a good case for [the occasion of] 1 Timothy [outside the lifetime of Paul], it is equally difficult to understand why then the author also wrote Titus, and above all why, given the alleged reasons for 1 Timothy, [he wrote] 2 Timothy—it simply does not fit those reasons…”28

Third, when one compares the Christology of Ignatius with the Christology of the pastoral epistles, it is evident that Ignatius’ view is more advanced. In Titus 2:13 the author speaks of τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν  ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (“of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”). This construction fits what is known as the Granville Sharp rule which simply indicates that both “God” and “Savior” refer to one person. Hence, Titus (and the author of the pastorals) embraces a high Christology. In making such an explicit identification of Christ with God, it certainly belongs to the later books of the New Testament. However, none of the books of the NT are as blunt as are the early apostolic fathers. For example, Ignatius, writing in c. 110 CE, reversed the order, tightening the apposition between “Christ” and “God”: “our Savior and God, Jesus Christ” was a not infrequent phrase in his writings. On a trajectory of christological development (if it developed linearly), one would have to place the pastorals some time before Ignatius or even Clement (c. 96 CE). Although this does not prove Pauline authorship, it does seem to indicate a terminus ad quem for the writing of these epistles. And if the date of the pastorals must be before, say, the 90s CE, then the occasion assigned to these letters by those rejecting authenticity has to be completely reworked.

Fourth, in 1 Tim 1:15 the author claims to be “the chief of sinners.” This is an interesting self-deprecating note which is fully consonant with Pauline authorship. In 1 Cor 15:9 (a letter written c. 54 CE), Paul states, “I am the least of the apostles.” Then, in Eph 3:8 (written c. 59-61 CE) the author says that he is “less than the least of the saints.” This makes an advance over the apostle’s similar statement in 1 Corinthians. When one compares 1 Tim 1:15 to these other two texts, the case for authenticity of both Ephesians and 1 Timothy is heightened, for in 1 Timothy the author now widens the circle of which he is at the bottom: “chief of all sinners.” This is a threefold cord: (1) not only is development seen in Paul’s self-awareness as a sinner (from 1 Corinthians to Ephesians to 1 Timothy), (2) but the way in which he states his self-deprecatory remark is different each time; (3) finally, forgers always went in the opposite direction, elevating the men whose names they took. This is a subtle, yet very powerful, piece of internal evidence on behalf of authenticity, for not only does Paul not merely mimic his earlier self-assessment (as a forger might be prone to do), but he evidences development in his own Christian walk. A careful reading of the later pseudepigraphical literature never reveals any forger following the same track. In other words, if this is the work of a later writer, he is the only one of the scores of apostolic would-be copyists to have done this. Almost universally, later pseudepigraphists (as well as early patristic writers) elevate the apostles, placing them on untouchable pedestals. Unless parallels to Eph 3:8 and 1 Tim 1:15 could be produced in the later writings, the most objective reading of this verse is as an authentic statement of the apostle to the Gentiles.29

In sum, although the evidence against the authenticity of the pastorals is as strong as any evidence against the authenticity of any NT book (save 2 Peter), it still cannot overthrow the traditional view. The traditional view, however, must be modified by the substantial linguistic evidence against authenticity: an amanuensis (possibly Luke) had great freedom in writing these letters for the apostle Paul.

B. Date

The date of 1 Timothy must be sometime after Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment (c. 61 CE) and, in all probability, shortly before his re-arrest and final imprisonment. Further, some time must be allowed for him to return to Asia Minor, evangelize with Titus on Crete, and perhaps winter in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). Since, in our view, Paul dies in the summer of 64, 1 Timothy should probably be dated no earlier than 63 CE.

C. Occasion and Purpose

1. Timothy, one of Paul’s longtime companions, who joined the apostle on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:2), had been with Paul toward the end of the apostle’s first Roman imprisonment (cf. Phil 2:19-24).

2. When Paul was released, he took Timothy and Titus with him back to Asia Minor, after they left Titus on Crete.

3. They went by way of Ephesus en route to Macedonia. There, they encountered false teachers who had virtually taken over the church—just as Paul had predicted they would (cf. Acts 20:29-30). Two of them, Hymenaeus and Alexander, were excommunicated by Paul (1 Tim 1:19-20).

4. Paul had to press on to Macedonia (cf. Phil 2:24), but the situation at Ephesus needed help. He left Timothy in charge of the church, giving him instructions to deal with the heretics who had become leaders in the church (cf. 1 Tim 1:3-4).

5. In light of this, 1 Tim 1:3 seems to contain the purpose of this epistle: “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer…” As Fee has recently argued, “In contrast to that approach [which sees 1 Timothy primarily as a manual on church order], this commentary assumes that everything in the letter has to do with 1:3 . . . , and that this expresses both the occasion and the purpose of 1 Timothy.”30 At this tentative stage in our thinking about this epistle, we are prepared to accept his thesis, though there is substantial difference in how we see this worked out in the exegesis of the epistle.31

D. Theme

The theme of 1 Timothy is closely tied to its purpose (cf. 1:3, 18-19; 6:11-12, 20). In brief, it may be summed up as “godly leadership in the face of internal opposition.” Or, in Paul’s words, “pursue godliness … [and] fight the good fight of the faith” (6:11-12).

II. Argument

After a brief salutation to Timothy (1:1-2), Paul immediately gets into the body of his epistle (1:3–6:21). This letter contains three major sections: negative instructions in relation to the false teachers who had infiltrated the church at Ephesus (1:3-20), positive instructions to the church at Ephesus (2:1–6:10), and personal instructions to Timothy (6:11-20). Although the last two sections have the church life and its leadership in the foreground, the problem of the false teachers is always in the background (explicitly in 4:1-5; 5:20-25; 6:3-10, 20-21; implicitly permeating the rest of the epistle).

The first major section is a reminder of why Timothy was left behind in Ephesus, viz., to stop the false teachers (1:3-20). These men were preoccupied with the OT Law, yet they had no idea of “what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently” (1:7, NET). Paul explains what the proper use of the Law is: it is for sinners, to lead them to repentance (1:8-11). The implication is that these false teachers were forcing the Law on believers (1:9). Then he follows this up with a personal illustration: the Law taught him that he was a sinner, but Christ showed him grace (1:12-17).

Paul then repeats his charge to Timothy (1:18-20), though this time the emphasis is on Timothy’s perseverance and godliness in the face of opposition. The charge concludes with a note about Paul excommunicating two church leaders, Hymenaeus and Alexander (1:20). On this note, Paul now addresses the situation in the church directly.

The second major section (2:1–6:10) cannot be divorced from the purpose of Timothy’s stay in Ephesus. These false teachers had wreaked havoc on the church in many areas. They had destroyed the atmosphere of public worship (cf. 2:1-7) and had stolen from the coffers of the church (6:3-10). They had especially influenced some of the women in the church—in particular the unmarried and young widows (5:11-15; cf. 2 Tim. 3:1-7). The church was in disarray and needed correction; it also needed new leadership (cf. 3:1!).

Three broad areas of concern must be addressed if the church at Ephesus is to be repaired. First, the conduct of the church needed to be restored (2:1–3:16). This involved two aspects: worship and leadership.

(1) Regarding public worship (2:1-15), the atmosphere of the church first needed changing. The doctrinal controversies promoted by the false teachers (cf. 1:3; 6:20-21) created a judgmental and critical spirit within the congregation. The purpose of the Christian walk was lost in the shuffle. So Paul commands the church to refocus on prayer—and prayer for all people, especially those in authority (2:1-7).

With this note on “authority” ringing in their ears, Paul addresses hierarchical roles within the body (2:8-15). The false teachers had especially persuaded women to follow them (cf. 5:11-15: 2 Tim 3:1-7). What is interesting to note is that “Satan” is mentioned in this epistle only in connection with the false teachers (1:20) and young widows (5:15). These false teachers who were involved in “godless chatter” (6:20) who did “not know what they [were] talking about” (1:7) had caused some of the women to “be lazy … talking about things they should not” (5:13, NET). Thus in 2:8-15 the apostle reminds especially the women of the proper hierarchical order in worship. It is no coincidence that he mentions Eve’s deception in the garden of Eden (2:14), causing her to teach Adam, for this is exactly what had happened at Ephesus: women were following these false teachers and were becoming teachers themselves. Thus although Satan is not explicitly mentioned in this context, he is very much in the back of Paul’s mind. Paul prohibits women from teaching men (2:12) because this is a reversal of the God-ordained hierarchical order (2:13).32

(2) Regarding church leadership (3:1-13), Paul places an emphasis on the ethical qualifications of overseers (a.k.a. bishops, elders) (3:1-7) and deacons (3:8-13), with a special appeal for some of the men to desire the office of overseer (3:1). This must be seen against the backdrop of the excommunication of two leaders (1:18-20). The church had been rocked and needed new guides. Against this background qualifications such as “able to teach” (3:2; cf. 1:7), “not quarrelsome” (3:3; cf. 1:4; 6:20-21), “not a lover of money” (3:3; cf. 6:3-10); “good reputation with outsiders” (3:7; cf. 5:20-25); and the references to the snare and judgment of the devil (3:6, 7; cf. 1:20; 5:15) make perfectly good sense.

Paul then summarizes this segment on the conduct of the church (3:14-15), followed by a hymn to Christ (3:16), reminding Timothy that proper conduct cannot be divorced from the worship of Christ.

Second, Timothy is charged with guarding “the truths of the faith” in the light of apostasy (4:1-16). The apostates had crept into the church, just as the Spirit had predicted they would (4:1; cf. Acts 20:29-30). Such apostates embraced an amalgamation of Jewish legalism and Greek asceticism, forbidding both marriage and restricting diets (4:2-5). Because of such men, Timothy is charged to warn the church to stay away from them (4:6-7). Further, to prove that legalism-asceticism is not the route to godliness, Paul urges Timothy to “train yourself to be godly” (4:7) and to set forth the true gospel of Jesus Christ (4:13) before the congregation. He summarizes the twin theme of 4:6-16 (and, indeed, of the whole book) by concluding: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them…” (4:16).

Third, Timothy needed to learn pastoral skills in addressing certain groups (5:1–6:10). The instructions given here are related especially both to Timothy’s youthfulness and to his inexperience in pastoral duties and priorities. As a young man, he needed guidance in how to address the various age and gender groups of the church (5:1-2).

Because of the greed of the false teachers (cf. 6:3-10 and passim) the church coffers were probably quite low. Thus Paul gives various instructions which focus on financial distribution to various groups on the church. Timothy needed to place a priority on the widows (5:3-16), especially regarding the church’s provisions for them (5:5, 9), though certain qualifications had to be met: in particular, young, able-bodied women and those whose children could take care of them should not be helped out by the church (5:4, 7, 11-16).

Next in line should be the elders (5:17-25). Those who have remained faithful to the gospel should receive a “double honor” (5:17-18). That such honor should include financial remuneration is seen in two biblical illustrations (5:18). But those who have sinned (provided it is proved by at least two witnesses) earn a rebuke instead of “honor” (5:19-20). Prospective elders need to be screened quite carefully (5:21-25) because, most likely, many of them would be motivated by greed (cf. 6:3-10).

Slaves are mentioned last (6:1-2). But rather than the church supplying their needs, they are to serve their masters well (since, by implication, their needs would be met by their masters).

Paul then turns to the root of the problem of the financial distress in the church (6:3-10), viz., some of the elders “think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (6:5). Greed was what motivated the false teachers and had caused not only them but others to wander from the faith (6:10).

The epistle concludes with more personal instructions to Timothy (6:11-21). He is to “pursue godliness … [and] fight the good fight of the faith” (6:11-12), a theme repeated throughout this epistle. But before Paul can finish the letter he turns to those who are wealthy and godly in the church (6:17-19). His warnings about the greed of the false teachers (6:3-10) might be taken incorrectly by some of the rich who had been quite faithful to the gospel (cf. 6:10). Paul corrects this impression by pointing out that wealth in itself is not evil (it is the love of money that is evil [6:10]), though those who are wealthy ought to be rich in good deeds, too (6:18), and thus lay up treasures for themselves in heaven (6:19). The epistle closes with a reminder to Timothy to guard the gospel in the lives of the Ephesians, for this has been entrusted to him (6:20-21).

III. Outline

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)

1Cf. M. Dibelius and M. Conzelmann, The Pastoral Epistles (Hermeneia), who argue that “the testimony of the early Church . . . is not very strong” (1).

2G. D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (in New International Biblical Commentary), 23.


4See discussion of Young Kyu Kim’s article in Biblica in our introduction to 2 Peter. This has now been refuted however by Bruce Griffin.

5Fee, ibid.

6Redating the New Testament, 79-85.

7Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 4.

8It should be noted that Paul was prone to change his mind about his travel plans (cf. 2 Cor 1:12–2:4).


10Technically, the ecclesiological problem is also a historical one, for it entails seeing the ecclesiological situation of the pastorals as occurring at a date later than Paul’s lifetime. But as the essential problem of ecclesiology is related to the author’s directives (thus propositional in nature), we felt it better to include it under our discussion of theological problems.

11Fee, ibid., 14.

12Fee, ibid., 16.

13See D. B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the new Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996) 229. Cf. also idem, “Who Should Run the Church? A Case for the Plurality of Elders,” available at www.bible.org in the Prof’s Soapbox.

14Guthrie, 633.

15Fee, ibid., 24, citing J. N. D. Kelly.

16Julius Holtzmann, cited by Dibelius and Conzelmann, The Pastoral Epistles, 3.

17Fee, ibid., 24.

18Guthrie, 633. Cf. also B. M. Metzger’s excellent (and brief) critique of using word-statistics to solve problems of authorship (“A Reconsideration of Certain Arguments Against the Pauline Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles,” ExpT 70 (1958) 91-94.

19Guthrie, ibid.

20Guthrie initially admits this difficulty (“many writers who are prepared to concede the possibility of changes in Paul’s vocabulary are reluctant to do so for Paul’s style” [635]), but he immediately downplays its thrust, not fully grasping its weight.

21The following material is taken in toto from our introduction to Ephesians, but is duplicated here for the benefit of the reader.

22“Amanuenses,” 294. Earlier in the essay Longenecker established the probability (via parallels with the papyri) of Paul using an amanuensis for virtually every letter except perhaps Philemon.

23Cf. 2 Tim. 1:16; 2:9; 4:13 (where the request for the cloak is due, most likely, to his being in a cold dungeon).

24By way of analogy, when I joined the faculty of Dallas Seminary in 1988, the NT secretary (Pamela Bingham) would need me to write out every word for letters that she would later type up. Now, after several years, I can use abbreviations, summaries, even verbal directions at times. The difference is due to the fact that the same secretary has been in the department the entire time and is now more used to my style. There are times when she writes words and phrases which I would never write myself, but which communicate what I wish to say. When I sign my name, I take responsibility for what was written, but this does not imply that everything must have been stated exactly in the way I would normally state things, just that the content is what I intend to communicate. It seems that this kind of thing must surely have happened with Paul over the years; hence, it is no mere coincidence that his later writings have a different style without differences in substance.

25An interesting sidelight to this is seen in textual criticism. Bruce Metzger is representative of some scholars, for example, when he suggests that Tertius heard Paul incorrectly when the apostle dictated Rom 5:1: Tertius wrote down the subjunctive ἔχωμεν when Paul meant the indicative ἔχομεν. Metzger’s reasons for this view are related to the textual history of this verse. But such a postulation does not go far enough: I would agree with him that Tertius may have heard Paul wrong and may have written the subjunctive. But Paul would certainly have corrected it before the letter was sent! The reason, then, for the poor external attestation for the indicative may well be due to a misunderstanding as to who corrected the subjunctive.

There is other evidence for this kind of activity as well. As is well known, although 1 Cor 14:34-35 are contained in every known MS, these verses are found in two locations: at this place and at the end of the chapter (in the Western tradition). Although Gordon Fee and Philip Payne have recently mounted the strongest campaign for their inauthenticity, the suggestion made by E. E. Ellis and others that Paul added the words in the margin before the original document was sent makes better sense: later scribes were unsure where the words belonged, though they recognized that they were meant to be part of the book. Further, the well-known problem of ἤπιοι/νήπιοι in 1 Thess 2:7 may well have come about due to the amanuensis’ hearing error (especially since the previous word ends with nu).

In essence, what we are arguing is this: textual criticism needs to pay more attention to the role of an amanuensis in creating some of the problems of the text, especially those generated by hearing error. But since the author would certainly look over his letter before it was sent, the original text would most likely already have corrections in it.

26Fee, ibid., 26. See especially C. F. D. Moule, “The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles: A Reappraisal,” BJRL 47 (1965) 430-52, for the evidence.

27Dibelius and Conzelmann, The Pastoral Epistles, 1.

28Fee, ibid., 25. Elsewhere Fee elaborates: “Why three letters? For example, why write Titus or 1 Timothy, given one or the other, and why from such a considerably different perspective and historical context? And why 2 Timothy at all, since it fails so badly to fit the proposed reconstruction?” (6; cf. also n. 14 on p. 28).

29There is also a fifth argument, though it may presuppose too much. Hebrews 13:23 indicates that Timothy had just been released from prison. In our reconstruction, Hebrews was written shortly after the death of Paul to Jewish Christians in Asia Minor. Further, it was written from Rome (13:24 is naturally read this way). Thus, Timothy, in c. 65 CE, was improsoned in Rome. Incidental corroborative evidence is found in 2 Tim 4:9-13, 21, which indicate that Paul had dispatched Timothy to come to him at Rome. With the instructions, “Do your best to get here before winter” (4:21), coupled with the early external evidence (especially Clement’s testimony), it is doubtful that Timothy got to Rome before Paul died (for Paul would have died within weeks of the writing of 2 Timothy, since he would not have written such a comment in the spring, and he probably died in the summer). His release from prison a few months after arrival (spring, 65 CE) would be most likely, since no real charges could have been brought against him. Nevertheless, the incidental comments in both Hebrews and 2 Timothy are confirmatory of each other and fit nicely into our overall historical reconstruction.

30Fee, ibid., 7.

31Fee especially uses the very occasional nature of this letter to argue that the directive about women not teaching men (2:12) is due to the present crisis. Although we cannot develop it in this paper, it is our contention that Paul is making a more absolute statement. Further, the instructions about church order have been given primarily for two reasons: (1) the church is in disarray after the invasion of the heretical teachers; and (2) morally qualified leaders needed to be found to take the place of the defective elders and deacons. Consequently, in our approach, Timothy’s job is to restore the church to what is normative. The crisis does not call for extreme, temporary measures, as some would have it, but for putting the church back in order. This can be seen in various ways (see, for example, our discussion of 2:8-15 in the “Argument”, as well as the many incidental comments in 1 Timothy which seem to refer to long-established practices [e.g., 5:9]).

32In disagreement with Fee, I see the restrictions here as absolute, for Paul links them to creation (note the “for” [γάρ] in 2:13. “I do not permit” (ἐπιτρέπω, 2:12) is almost certainly a gnomic present since generic nouns are used (see B. M. Fanning, Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek, 208-17). Further, Fee is quite wrong that αὐθεντέω (2:12) “has the connotation of ‘to domineer’” (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 73), for such a meaning is almost completely unattested until the fourth century CE and is not widely used until the ninth century! (Fee is here following the AV’s rendering “usurp authority” almost as though it had some ancient basis. In reality, the AV translators knew Latin better than they knew Greek and the bilingual text they used to prepare the NT was essentially Erasmus’ text [Beza’s edition]. Erasmus published the first Greek NT [Novum Instrumentum, 1516; later called Textus Receptus] in order to defend his revised Latin translation. And since the meaning of αὐθεντέω had changed after Jerome translated the Vulgate, Erasmus used a different Latin verb to communicate the idea of “usurp authority.”)

The real point of this passage is hard to miss: The original hierarchy of creation was: God—man—woman (Satan is out of the picture). But in Ephesus this order had become reversed: Satan—woman—man (God is out of the picture). The creation motif does, however, seem to have one restriction: it regards the exercise of authority and teaching in spiritual things, though whether this is restricted to a church setting would be difficult to prove since there were no parachurch organizations in the first century. Furthermore, since the hierarchical order is connected to the creation order and possibly constitutional differences between men and women (the “for” in 2:13 makes such a connection), to restrict this just to the public worship of the church is to fly in the face of the context. (Incidentlly, Fee makes a quite unwarranted assumption when he sees the “for” of 2:13 as reaching back to 2:9 and referring to a woman’s modest dress. He does not explain why vv. 11-12 should be skipped over. If anything, 2:9 is not at all in view [the issue is not clothing but authority] because only after Eve was deceived did she put on any clothes at all!)

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines