1 Timothy Archeology

    Paul wrote this letter to his disciple Timothy, whom he had left in Ephesus to oversee the work there. Today many scholars deny Pauline authorship of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, but much evidence supports the traditional view that Paul did indeed write these letters (see "The Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles" on p. 1957). 

    First Timothy was written after Paul's release from Roman imprisonment (Ac 28:16-31), in about 63-65 and possibly from Macedonia. 

    Paul wrote to Timothy, whom he had sent to the church in Ephesus to combat the false teaching that had arisen there. Timothy occupied a special place in Paul's heart as his coworker, emissary, traveling companion and "true son in the faith" (1:2). 

    First Timothy is essentially a letter of encouragement to Paul's aide, Timothy. This is not to say, however, that it is entirely personal. Paul seems to have used the occasion to construct a letter on the nature of Christian ministry in the face of opposition and heresy. Paul viewed the opposition his younger protégé was enduring from a prophetic perspective, pointing out that the Spirit had foretold such apostasy (4:1). Paul instructed Timothy to refute false teachers and to promote good order and godliness in the church. 

    Note the types of problems about which Paul aleted Timothy. Are there modern correlation? Identify Paul's advice for dealing with leadership responsibilities and combating heresy. 

  • In Greek culture the word "overseer" was used of a presiding official in a civic or religious organization (3:1-7).  
  • In ancient Rome life expectancy was much lower than it is today. We may assume that there were more unmarried women than available men in the Ephesian congregation and that some of these women had become financially destitute (5:3-5). 
  • Paul gave instructions to Timothy about the care of widows by the church. The only widows included were those who were at least sixty years of age, had been married only once and had a reputation for good works (5:4). 


First Timothy includes the following themes: 

1. Sound doctrine. False teachers who showed an unhealthy fascination with myths and genealogies (1:4; 4:7) and a preoccupation with the law (1:7) had infiltrated the church in Ephesus. They prohibited marriage and the eating of certain foods (4:3) and taught that the final resurrection had already taken place (1:20; see 2Ti 2:18). In contrast, Timothy was to teach only what was trustworthy, sound and good (1Ti 1:9-11; 3:9; 4:6; 6:3-4). 

2. Right living. The false teachers were intent on stirring up controversy and prone to speculation (1:4,6; 6:4,20), deception (4:1-2) and greed (6:5). Paul instructed Timothy to "set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (4:12).

3. Evangelism. Paul's concern for the church's successful evangelism lay at the heart of his commands. The conduct of Christians is to be above reproach because it has a direct effect on the success of their evangelistic efforts. 

4. Church leaders. Church leaders need to reach for even higher standards than what is expected of persons holding similarly important positions in contemporary society. Warnings against immoral practices and materialism, however, apply to all members (6:7-10,17-19). 

I. Greeting (1:1-2) 
        II. Warning Against False Teachers (1:3-11) 
       III. The Lord's Grace to Paul (1:12-17) 
       IV. The Purpose of Paul's Instructions to Timothy (1:18-20) 
        V. Instructions Concerning the Church (2:1-4:5) 
   A. Guidelines for Public Worship (2:1-15) 
   B. Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons (3:1-13) 
   C. The Purpose of the Letter (3:14-16) 
   D. Dealing With False Teaching (4:1-5) 
       VI. Timothy's Responsibilities (4:6-6:19) 
   A. Personal Life (4:6-16) 
   B. Relationships With Others (5:1-6:2) 
   C. More on False Teachers (6:3-5) 
   D. The Love of Money (6:6-10) 
   E. Paul's Charge to Timothy (6:11-16) 
   F Command to the Rich (6:17-19) 
      VII. Conclusion (6:20-21) 

 The Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles 

    1 TIMOTHY 1 First and Second Timothy and Titus, the Pastoral epistles,' claim Paul as their author (1Ti 1:1; 2Ti 1:1; Tit 1:1). These unique letters include biographical material (2Ti 1:8,15-18), as well as personal requests (2Ti 4:9-13,19 —21;Tit 3:12) appropriate to Paul. Nonetheless, many scholars maintain that the Pastorals are pseudepigraphical —falsely written in Paul's name. Several arguments are commonly made in defense of this viewpoint: 

  • It is sometimes difficult to relate the incidents the Pastorals describe (such as church work in Crete, mentioned in Titus) to the history of Paul's missionary work as recorded in Acts.  
  • There is evidence in these letters of a church structure that seems to have been too highly developed to have come from Paul's lifetime. 
  • The Pastorals contain vocabulary and style that does not seem to match what we otherwise know of Paul. 
    Much evidence, however, supports the traditional view of Pauline authorship: 
  • Writings from the second century support the belief that Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment (Ac 28),3 allowing for subsequent activity in Crete and Ephesus prior to his final arrest and martyrdom.' If this was indeed the case, it might not be surprising that the Pastorals would have few parallels in Acts, since they would have come from a later period of Paul's life. 
  • Although the Pastoral Epistles display significant interest in the qualifications for church leaders, this does not necessitate a highly developed church structure along the lines of the later Roman Catholic Church. Paul alluded to"overseers and deacons" in his earlier writings (Php 1:1), making invalid the assumption that the earliest churches lacked structure. Indeed, the very first congregation, the one at Jerusalem, very quickly felt the need for a more developed structure and for several distinct types of offices within the church (apostles, deacons and elders; Ac 6:1— 6; 11:30). The variety of "gifts" Paul described for the churches indicates a variety of offices (1Co 12:28-29), and the presence of false teachers in leadership positions in Ephesus and Crete warranted Paul's focus on the establishment of sound church leadership
  • The vocabulary and style of the Pastoral Epistles are well within Paul's range, and the variations can be explained in light of the context of these letters. Writing in the face of particular false teachings (1Ti 1:4,6 —7.,2Ti 2:18;Tit 1:10,14;3:9), Paul freely appropriated the language of his opponents for his own purposes. Furthermore, he wrote to his coworkers,Timothy and Titus, assuming their familiarity with his teaching, which allowed him to dispense with the fundamentals and focus instead upon urgent practical matters.
  • The early church, which rejected pseudonymous letters, declining to accept into the canon letters that falsely claimed to be Pauline, fully embraced the Pastorals.