THE PASTORAL EPISTLES
Three letters of Paul are commonly called his “Pastoral Epistles.” They are 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. They have been given this name because in these letters the experienced pastor, Paul, is writing to two young pastors, Timothy and Titus. He instructs the two young pastors in the work of shepherding (or pastoring) their churches.
PAUL’S LATER LIFE AND THE PASTORAL EPISTLES
What happened to the Apostle Paul after his first imprisonment in Rome? The Book of Acts ends with Paul still imprisoned during the years 61-63. Therefore we do not have any more complete information on what happened to him. However, the Pastoral Epistles were written after his first Roman imprisonment; and from these epistles we can gather some information about Paul’s life after the close of Acts. Traditions and some guesswork are also used to add some not totally reliable information. Traditions say that not long after his first Roman imprisonment, Paul made his voyage to Spain and preached the Gospel there. We know at least that Paul had a desire to visit Spain (Rom. 15:23-24). From his Prison Epistles, we know also that Paul intended to visit again his churches in Asia and Macedonia. (See Ph. 2:24, words addressed to Christians at Philippi, and Phm. 22, words addressed to Philemon, who lived in Colosse.) From Paul’s Pastoral Epistles, it seems that Paul actually carried out those intentions. The following is perhaps Paul’s route while revisiting churches and making new stops: On his return to the east he stopped at the Island of Crete and carried on mission work there. When he continued eastward, he left Titus in Crete to complete unfinished work [Titus 1:5). Paul stopped briefly in Ephesus and left Timothy in charge in Ephesus. Paul then went on to Macedonia: and from Macedonia he wrote his First Letter to Timothy (1 Ti. 1:3) and his Letter to Titus (Tit. 3:12). Paul evidently wrote his letter to Titus shortly before leaving Macedonia for Nicopolis, on the west coast of Achaia. Between the writing of The Letter to Titus and the writing of 2 Timothy, Paul evidently visited Troas, Corinth and Miletus (2 Ti. 4:13, 20). Sometime later, Paul was arrested again and imprisoned in Rome for the second time. It is clear that during this imprisonment Paul did not expect to be released. During this second Roman imprisonment, Paul wrote his Second Letter to Timothy (see 2 Ti. 2:9 and 2 Ti. 4:6). Sometime later, perhaps 66 or 67 A.D., Paul died a martyr’s death under Emperor Nero.
PAUL’S “DEAR SON,” TIMOTHY
(His name means “honoring God.”) Timothy’s name is first mentioned in Acts 16:1. There we learn that he was a resident of the city of Lystra and that he had a Jewish mother and a Greek father. Paul was visiting Lystra on his second missionary journey when he decided to take Timothy with him. Timothy had been taught the Scripture since his infancy from his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. When Paul preached the gospel at Lystra, first his mother and grandmother became believers in Jesus as the Messiah; then Timothy also was led to faith in Christ (2 Ti. 1:5; 2 Ti. 3:15). They had perhaps become believers already on Paul’s first trip to Lystra. By the time Paul visited again, Timothy was a mature young Christian who could be a big help to Paul. The elders at Lystra “laid their hands on” Timothy and ordained him for the missionary work he would do with Paul and the other missionaries ([1 Ti. 4:14]). After leaving Lystra, Timothy went with Paul into Europe. They traveled to Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. When Paul went on to Athens, Timothy and Silas remained behind in Berea to aid the church. Later Timothy met Paul in Athens and then was sent back to Thessalonica to strengthen the church there. At Corinth Timothy met up with Paul again and helped serve the Corinthian Christians. All of this took place on Paul’s second missionary trip (Acts 16:1-18). On the third trip Timothy was with Paul again. He helped Paul during his long visit in Ephesus (Acts 19:22). Then Paul sent him to Macedonia and down to Corinth (Acts 19:22; 1 Cor. 4:17). He accompanied Paul on later portions of the third journey also. During Paul’s first imprisonment, faithful Timothy was with him again (Ph. 1:1; Co. 1:1). The next time we hear about Timothy he was with Paul in Ephesus, where he remained after Paul went on to Macedonia (1 Ti. 1:3). This would be during the time between Paul’s two Roman imprisonments. Paul wrote his First Letter to Timothy from Macedonia while Timothy was serving the Christians in Ephesus. Sometime later, Paul wrote his Second Letter to Timothy while Paul was confined during his second Roman imprisonment. He asked Timothy to come to him at Rome; but we do not know whether they ever met again (2 Ti. 4:9 & 21). What kind of a man was Timothy? From Acts and Paul’s epistles we can gather that Timothy was a faithful young believer in Christ, a faithful friend and companion of Paul, and a man willing to serve in Christ’s Kingdom where he was needed. Read Ph. 2:19-22 to see the high opinion that Paul had of his “dear son,” Timothy. Like all of us, Timothy also had some weaknesses. He was frequently ill (1 Ti. 5:23) and seems to have been naturally timid and reserved (2 Ti. 1:6-8). Paul encouraged him to work at overcoming these weaknesses. All in all, a young man (or elder person for that matter) who wants to be a church worker can find an excellent model to follow in Timothy. His name says that he was “honoring God;” his life also proved it.
Paul’s First Letter to Timothy was written by Paul from Macedonia between Paul’s two Roman imprisonments, perhaps about 65 A.D. Timothy was in Ephesus when he received the letter.
A THEME AND THE BASIC CONTENTS OF 1 TIMOTHY
“PAUL COUNSELS THE YOUNG PASTOR, TIMOTHY”
Paul urges Timothy to command the false teachers of the law at Ephesus to stop their teaching. He also urges Timothy to “fight the good fight” and hold on to his own God-given faith (1) He instructs Timothy concerning the kind of prayers that are to be offered in the worship service and concerning the proper dress and role of women in the services (2) He gives instructions about the offices of “overseers” and “deacons” of the church (3) Chapter 4 includes a variety of instructions: about false teachings in “later times,” about physical and spiritual training, about making use of Timothy’s special gift etc. (4) In the last two chapters, Paul gives advice concerning widows, elders, slaves and the love of money. The letter closes with strong encouragement to Timothy to “fight the good fight of the faith” (5-6). Because of the many different subjects that Paul writes to Timothy about in 1 Timothy, it is difficult to include all the subjects under a simple outline. Some key passages from 1 Timothy: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst” (1:15). “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (2:1). “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task” (3:1). “Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (3:4). “We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (6:7-8). “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (6:10). “Fight the good fight of the faith” (6:12).
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