I Timothy

Author: Paul of Tarsus

Date Written: c. 62-64 AD


Paul writes to Timothy from Macedonia.  During his fourth missionary journey Paul has traveled through Ephesus and left Timothy there to take charge and bring an end to controversies.  Paul is writing to advise Timothy on how to be an effective pastor of the church at Ephesus, so this letter covers many diverse topics: bishops (3:1-7), deacons (3:8-13), heretics (1:3-7, 6:3-5), the law (1:8-11), perseverance (6:11-16), women's adornment (2:9-10), prayer (2:1-7), ordination (4:14, 5:22), money (6:6-10) and social care for widows (5:3-16).  1 Timothy is the first of the Pastoral Epistles, which include 1 Tim, 2 Tim and Titus.  Paul's authorship of the Pastoral Epistles is hotly contested, but the arguments against his authorship are based on a variety of historical assumptions that are contradicted by the early Church Father's unanimous recognition of Paul's authorship.


Timothy was from Lystra (Acts 16:1).  His father was a Greek and his mother was a Jew.  Paul met him in Lystra and he became Paul's foremost disciple.  Paul circumcised Timothy so that his ministry would be more effective among the Jews (Acts 16:3).  Timothy accompanied Paul on his second and third missionary journeys and remained close to Paul when he was imprisioned in Rome.  He is the co-sender of six of the Pauline epistles: 2 Cor, Phil, Col, 1 Thess, 2 Thess, Phlm.


In 1 Tim, Paul focuses on the effectiveness of the law of God to bring sinful people to repentence so that they can receive the salvation offered in the gospel (1:8-11).  He encourages Timothy to persevere in faith and hold onto his own particular calling (1:18-19).  The letter switches back and forth between pastoral and personal advice.  Timothy must balance training himself for godliness (4:7) with teaching the people (4:11).


Paul gives Timothy specific instructions about what the people of the church should pray for (2:1-2) and how they are to pray (2:8-15).  He enumerates the qualifications needed for bishops and deacons, showing that Timothy had a great degree of authority in the early Church (3:1-13).  Timothy is responsible for picking men for such offices and ordaining them (5:22).


Though the household of God is a pillar of truth (3:15), some will depart from the faith and take up wrong doctrines (4:1-3).  Yet good servants of Christ Jesus are not to be discouraged, but should continue devoting themselves to Scripture and teaching (4:6-16).


As a pastor, Timothy ought to relate to different kinds of people in different manners (5:1-2).  The church is to care for widows if they are older and have no family, but younger widows should remarry (5:3-16).  Timothy is responsible for overseeing and ordaining the community's presbyters, who are different from the bishops and deacons (5:17-22).


Paul exhorts Timothy to teach the right doctrines (6:2) and to reprove those who have inordinate desires for theological controversy or for money (6:4; 6:10).  Timothy is called to be a man of God who pursues righteousness, godliness and purity (6:11-16).  Paul gives a few last instructions about rich Christians.  They are to set their hopes on God, not on money and they are to do good with their wealth (6:17-19).  Paul ends his letter with a brief command to avoid false teachings (6:20-21).


1 Tim is a window into the workings of the Early Church, letting us see how St. Paul trained the ministers under him and the kinds of problems the first Christian pastors faced.


By Mark Giszczak


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January 25, 2015

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