ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Epistles to Timothy

Updated on November 28, 2016

The Epistles to Timothy are two books in the New Testament that purport to be letters addressed by the Apostle Paul to his younger colleague, Timothy. Because these letters and that addressed to Titus chiefly contain instructions for pastors, the three are commonly called the Pastoral Epistles.

Authorship

The fundamental historical question about all three Pastoral Epistles concerns their authenticity. If they are from Paul, they provide important information about the final period of his life and thought. In the 20th century, however, many scholars have denied that Paul could have written them, chiefly because (1) the Pastorals diverge considerably from the undisputed letters of Paul in vocabulary and style and also in general theological outlook, placing greater emphasis on "good works"' and orthodox belief; (2) the church order assumed in these letters seems more highly developed than it probably was in Paul's day; (3) the heresy they condemn fits best with a 2nd century date; (4) the situations of Paul, Timothy, and Titus indicated in the Pastorals cannot be easily reconciled with data in Acts and in the other Pauline Letters, and (5) firm evidence of the use of these letters in the church appears rather late (near the end of the 2nd century).

Some scholars seek a middle ground between flatly affirming and flatly rejecting Pauline authorship. Some, for example, urge that these epistles were composed by a secretary who worked on the basis of general instructions from Paul. Others argue that the letters were written some years after Paul's death by one who had access to fragments of genuine letters of the apostle, and that he wove those fragments into his compositions.

The whole problem is famous for its complexity and difficulty. A fully adequate solution to it has yet to appear. Probably, however, the epistles to Timothy and the one to Titus are best regarded as the work of someone who used Paul's name because he believed himself to be faithfully presenting Paul's message for the writer's own time (II Timothy 1:13; 2:2). He was probably a church leader who wrote for the enefit of fellow leaders near the beginning of the 2nd century in the area of Asia Minor.

Circumstances of Composition

These letters reflect an era when church leaders needed their duties more sharply defined, ordinary believers required plain moral instruction, and heretics threatened to divide or conquer whole congregations. The heresy (or heresies) to which the epistles allude evidently combined Jewish and Gnostic features. The writer mentions claims to extraordinary knowledge (gnosis) and "godless chatter" about myths and genealogies. Advocating a kind of fanatical dualism, the heretics claimed to be living already in the resurrected state (II Timothy 2:12) and oerhaps favored moral libertinism.

Contents

Although some time probably elapsed between the writinig of the two epistles (II Timothy may have been written first) they overlap so much in substance that it is best to consider the content of the two together. The author carefully describes the qualifications for several established church offices (bishop, deacon, and widow), and underlines the responsibility of bishops to maintain "sound doctrine". By establishing doctrinal authorities, the early church was in part seeking to cut the ground out from under heterodox teachers.

The writer recommends various measures against heretics, ranging from warning to excommunication. He attempts no detailed refutation of their ideas but castigates them for idle specula ion and immorality. Likewise he offers no sustained exposition of what he regards as right belief but only pithy reminders of its essential content. Sometimes these are in the form of quotations of primitive creeds or hymns, as, for example, in I Timothy 3:16 and II Timothy 2:8,9-11. The distinctive Pauline doctrine of justification by grace is insisted on, together with the corollary that God desires all men to be saved.

In opposition to the heretics, the writer affirms the goodness of the material world, the dignity of marriage, and the edibleness of all foods. The lives of believers, he declares, must be pure, disciplined, and respectable. He lists special duties of different classes of Christians (wives and husbands, slaves and rich men) and demands that church leaders set examples of integrity. He notes that believers have positive obligations toward society at large and the state, but reminds his readers that they must be ready if need be to endure persecution as Paul did.

Noteworthy for both moral passion and practicality, these epistles offer vital evidence of the growth of church organization and the struggle against heresy. The fact that they were written in Paul's name facilitated theirĀ  acceptance, and they in turn helped assure his lasting influence on the mainstream of Christianity.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)