Care of the Church at Ephesus
The Pastoral Epistles
1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are commonly called the "Pastoral Epistles." Prevailing opinion is that they were written between Paul's first and second imprisonment, between A.D 64 and 67. Some rationalistic modern critics have advanced the theory that are the work of some unknown author, who, thirty to fifty years after Paul's death, wrote in Paul's name, to promote certain doctrines. For this opinion there is no historical basis. These Epistles have, from the very beginning, been regarded as the genuine writings of Paul. If they are not the genuine writing of Paul, but the false writing of some pretender-Paul, how can any man with any sense of honesty regard them as part of God's World? To the average mind such a thing is forgery.
A native of Lystra (Acts 16:1). His mother a Jewess, his father a Greek, Mother's name Eunice, grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). Paul's convert (1 Timothy 1:2). Joined Paul on his second Journey, about A.D 51 (Acts 16:3). His choice indicated of God (1 Timothy 1:18). Set apart by the Elders and Paul (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy
1:6) Accompanied Paul to Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea. Tarried at Berea till Paul sent for him to come to Athens (Acts 17:14-15). Then Paul sent him back to Thessalonica (I Thessalonians 3:1-2) . By the time he returned Paul had gone to Corinth ( Acts 18:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:6). Joined in writing the Thessalonian Letters
(1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1). Later Paul sent him from Ephesus to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17). Paul joined him in Macedonia, and he joined in the writing of 2 Corinthians; Acts 19:22; 2 Corinthians 1:1. Went part way on Paul's journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4). Whether he accompanied Paul all the way to Jerusalem and
Rome is not stated, but he appears with Paul in Rome (Philippians 1:1; 2:19-22; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1). Later he is in Ephesus, where this Epistle is addressed to him. Is urged to come to Rome ( 2 Timothy 4:9). Whether he reached Rome before Paul's death is not known. Is mentioned in Hebrews 13:23 as having been released from prison. He was timid and retiring by nature, not as well fitted as Titus for handling trouble-makers. Was not in the best of health (1 Timothy 5:23). He and Luke were Paul's two most constant companions. Paul loved him devotedly, and was lonesome without him. Tradition says that after Paul's death his work was the care of the Ephesian church, and that he suffered martyrdom under Nerva or Domitian. This would make him a co-worked with the Apostle John.
This was where Paul had done his greatest work, about A.D. 54-57 (Acts 19). Some four years after he had left Ephesus, from his Roman imprisonment, he had written the Epistle of the Church at Ephesus, about A.D. 62. Now, a little later, probably about A.D. 65 , he addressed this Epistle to Timothy about the work in Ephesus, Later Ephesus became the home of John, where he wrote his Gospel, his Epistles, and the book of Revelation.
Occasion of the Epistle. When Paul bade the Ephesian elders farewell he told them that they would nor see his face again ( Acts 20:25). But, it seems, his long imprisonment changed his plans, and, some six or seven years later, after release from the Roman prison, he did re-visit Ephesus. Passing on to Macedonia, he left Timothy
at Ephesus, expecting himself soon to return (I Timothy 1:3; 3:114). Being detained in Macedonia longer than he had planned (3: 15), he wrote this Letter of instruction about the work that Timothy was to do.
The Church at Ephesus. From the narrative in Acts 19, it appears that Paul had made a vast multitude of Christian converts. In the intervening years the number of converts had continued to grow. Within the following fifty years Christians in Asia Minor had be come so numerous that the heathen temples were almost forsaken.
Within the Apostolic generation Ephesus became the numerical, as well as geographical, center of Christendom, the region where Christianity won its quickest laurels.
The Church Situation. There were no church buildings. Houses for Christian worship did not begin to be built till two hundred years after the days of Paul, and were not general till Constantine put an end to the persecutions of Christians. In Paul's day churches met, mostly, in the homes of the Christian people. Thus, the scores of thousands of Christians, in and around Ephesus, met, not in one or a few, great central congregations, but in hundreds of small groups. in various homes, each congregation under its own pastoral leadership.
The Pastors. There must have been hundreds of them. In Acts 20:17 they are called "elders." In this Epistle they are called "bishops" (3:1): different names for same office.
Timothy's work .was primarily with these pastors,. or congregations leaders. There were no seminaries to supply Paul with trained pastors He had to develop his pastors out of his converts. Sometimes he got brilliant men; bu! probably most of his pastors were from the ordinary walks of life. He had to do the best he could with available
material. Without seminaries, without church buildings, and in spite of persecution, the church made more rapid progress than at any time since, because it had to keep its mind on the essentials rather than the superficial of Christianity.
Chapter 1. False Teachers
The False Teachers (3-11 ) . Paul had forewarned, when he left Ephesus, seven years before, that grievous wolves would ravage the Ephesian flock of Christians (Acts 20:29-30). Now they had appeared in full force, and constituted Timothy's main problem. They appear to have been the same brand as those in Crete with whom Titus
had to deal, basing strange teachings on apocryphal Jewish legends connected with Old Testament genealogies.
Paul's Sinfulness ( 12- 17 ) . The one man who had done more for Christ, possibly, than all others combined, yet bowed to the depths with feelings of unworthiness. The closer the walk with Christ, the deeper the sense of humility. He regarded his conversion as intended of God to be an everlasting example of God's long suffering to way-ward men.
Hymenaeus and Alexander ( 19-20), two ring-leaders of the false teachers, from whom, in his Apostolic authority, Paul had withdrawn church membership ( "delivered to Satan," 20) : probably the same Alexander ( 2 Timothy 4:14 ), who later went to Rome to testify against Paul, and possibly the one who earlier had been Paul's devoted friend.
Chapter 2. Prayer. The Place of Women
Prayer for Rulers (1-8) . Nero was at that time ruler of the Roman Empire, under whom Paul had been imprisoned and was soon to be executed. This shows that prayers and intercessions should be made for bad rulers as well as good.
Place of Women in Church (9-15. See on I Corinthians 11:5-15; 14:34-35). The caution here is against the overdoing of display of dress, specially in Christian worship; and also against becoming too much like men. In heaven there will be no sex (Matthew 22:30) ; but in this world there is e natural difference between the sexes which it is best not to override. "Saved through her childbearing" (15), probably refers to the birth of Jesus, who was born of woman without the agency of man. Even if sin did come into the world through woman (14), so did the Savior.
Chapter 3. Bishops and Deacons
Their Qualifications ( 1-16) . Probably intended as an ideal, not a legal enactment. "One wife" (2 ) , probably meant to exclude, not single men, but polygamists. Paul was a single man (I Corinthians 7:8). "Women" (11), probably meaning deaconesses. "Pillar of the truth" (15) : except for the Church Christ's name would disappear. Verse 16 is thought to have been a fragment of a Christian hymn.
Chapter 4. Coming Apostasy. A Minister's Work
Apostasy (1:5). This passage seems to say that, though the Church is the pillar of the Truth, there shall arise within the-Church gross systems of error, of demoniacal origin, teaching abstinence from meat foods and conjugal intercourse. This was one of the forms of Gnosticism, even then-developing, which later grew to vast proportions: a heresy that is now almost extinct, except as its remains found in the pretended celibacy of the Roman priesthood and their periodical fasts from animal food.
A Good Minister (6-16). The best way to combat incipient or prevailing error is by unceasing reiteration of simple Gospel truth, "Reading, exhortation, teaching" (13). The Bible Itself will do the job, if only given a chance. Studying it in private, reading and expounding it in public. If ministers today would only give heed to Paul's advice, the church would take on new life, and grow by leaps and bounds. Why, why, why, O why, cannot ministers understand that the simple exposition of God's Word is more desired by the people, and more powerful by far, than their finely worked out sermonic platitudes?
Chapter 5. Widows. Elders
Widows (1-16). The church in Ephesus was something like ten years old, and had its charity work very well developed and carefully administered. A Christian who would not support his own dependents is worse than an unbeliever (8). The church in Ephesus had to be extremely careful with its women servants, for the women servants
of the temple of Diana were prostitutes.
Elders (17-25). Called "bishops" in 3:1-7. There it was their qualifications. Here it is their treatment. Then as now busybodies were whispering against their church leaders (19) . "Wine" (23) : it was "little," and for medicinal purposes.
Chapter 6. Slaves. Riches
Slaves (1-2). Compare 1 Corinthians 7:20-24). No great matter whether slave or free. Become free if you can. But if not, be a good slave. Slaves are thus frequently exhorted (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; Titus 2:9-10). Christianity abolished slavery, not by denouncing it, but by teaching the doctrine of human brotherhood.
The Desire for Riches (3-21), was the motive back of much false teaching (5 ) . Through the ages church doctrines have bee corrupted to produce income for church coffers. "A root of all kinds of evils" ( 10, RV ) , is more accurate than AV, "the root of all evil." O man of God, flee covetousness (11) ; turn away from profane babblings of "scholarship" falsely so called (20) .