Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 TIMOTHY - Introduction

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1 Timothy - Introduction

Supplemental Commentary:



Three Epistles of St. Paul (1 and 2 to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus) are called "pastoral" because they are addressed, not to any church as a group, but rather to its head or pastor for his guidance in the rule of the church.  All three are closely connected in form and content.  Their genuineness is attested by the universal and persistent tradition of the Church from the outset as shown in early ecclesiastical records; and their style in some places is so characteristically Pauline as to preclude a forgery.  As well on historical grounds as by reason of ecclesiastical tradition we must admit that St. Paul was twice a prisoner at Rome.  These Epistles were written during the interval between his liberation from his first captivity, 63 A.D. (Acts 28, 30-31), and his death, probably in the year 67.


St. Timothy was of Lystra in Lycaonia.  Born of a Gentile father and a Jewish mother, he may have been converted on St. Paul's first visit to Lystra (Acts 14, 7 ff).  On the Apostle's second visit, Timothy enjoyed general esteem and was recommended as a suitable co-laborer of St. Paul despite his youth (Acts 16, 2 ff).  Thereafter Timothy was Paul's most beloved disciple; and in the Acts 16-20 we read of his missionary labors with Paul during the Apostle's journeys up to his final return to Jerusalem.  The Acts make no further mention of Timothy, but from the Epistles of the Captivity we learn that Timothy was at Rome during the Apostle's first captivity, and in Phil. 2, 19 there is the indication that Timothy will be sent shortly to Macedonia.

To explain to occasion and purpose of this Epistle, we assume that when Paul was released from the first Roman imprisonment, he probably visited Spain and soon returned to the Orient.  The Epistle to Titus (1, 5) notes a brief visit to Crete.  Proceeding to Ephesus, Paul found serious disorders due to certain teachers of the same mentality as the agitators of the Lycus valley (see Colossians).  They dealt with myths and genealogies of a Jewish nature and urged abstinence from certain foods and other ascetical practices based on a dualistic mysticism.  They would later, St. Paul says, prohibit marriage; and they were covetous and troublesome.  Paul's stay in Ephesus was short, for he was anxious to reach Macedonia, so he left Timothy to handle the situation.  Later he wrote him precise instructions in this Epistle.  While not remarkable for its good order, a twofold thought is dominant.  Timothy must energetically combat these false teachers and actively engage in the work of organizing the community.  The thought of the Apostle moves restlessly back and forth on these two points, fully aware of the danger that threatened from his own experiences of the insolence of the false teachers.


When St. Paul wrote to Titus, he was somewhere in Macedonia and declared his intention of spending the winter at Nicopolis in Epirus (Titus 3, 12).  This Epistle to Timothy finds him at Rome, and already a prisoner for some time.  We conjecture from the Epistle that he had visited Ephesus and was arrested there but had been remanded to Rome for trial.  The Apostle has conducted a fairly successful defense but expects an unfavorable sentence.  His imprisonment is strict, nearly all his companions except Luke have left Rome and in his isolation he feels the need of seeing Timothy.  This letter is an urgent invitation to join him, yet the Apostle is concerned to strengthen the soul of his beloved disciple to act vigorously against the separatist teachers during the time he will continue at Ephesus.  Written 66 A.D., it is the last extant letter of St. Paul and in its moving urgency may be justly considered his spiritual will and testament.


St. Titus was a Gentile and was probably converted to the faith by St. Paul, who styles him "his son."  Paul refused to circumcise him even though at the Council of Jerusalem the Judaizers insisted that Titus submit to the rite.  Some years later Titus conducted a successful commission for Paul at Corinth, reconciling this church with the Apostle (2 Cor. 7, 13-15; 8, 16-24).  We lose sight of him after this until this Epistle which finds him in the island of Crete.  While Titus is mentioned in the Epistles to the Galatians and 2 Cor., his name does not appear in the Acts of the Apostles.  In explanation of this remarkable omission, it has been suggested that Titus was a relative of St. Luke, the author of Acts, who hid his own identity as well as that of his relatives, somewhat as St. John did in the Fourth Gospel.  2 Cor. 8, 18 f lends likelihood to this view.

The examination of this Epistle shows that the situation in Crete and the mission of Titus correspond exactly to Timothy's in Ephesus.  St. Paul on his way from Rome had stopped on the great island and found the Christian community without due organization and further deeply disturbed by false teachers.  On his departure after a short stay, he charged Titus with the work of remedying the situation.  From Macedonia probably, some time later, Paul wrote this Epistle with exact directions to his disciple, urging him to zeal in the work.  Since the Epistle is not so anxious in tone as those addressed to Timothy, we gather that the recipient was more mature and not so timid, which too is in keeping with their former conduct, particularly in their relations with the church of Corinth (2 Cor.).


OUTLINE (1 Timothy)

Introduction 1, 1 f

I. Against False Teachers 1, 3-20

II. Pastoral Charge 2, 1 -- 3, 13

III. Against False Doctrine 3, 14 -- 4, 16

IV. Duties towards the Flock 5, 1 -- 6, 19

Conclusion 6, 20 f

Confraternity Bible:



The two Epistles to St. Timothy and the one to St. Titus are called Pastoral Epistles because they are addressed directly, not to any church as a group, but rather to its head or pastor for his guidance in the rule of the church.  All three Epistles are closely connected in form and content.

St. Timothy was of Lystra in Lycaonia, born of a Greek father and a Jewish mother.  His mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois, as well as Timothy himself, probably embraced the faith during St. Paul's first stay at Lystra, since they were already Christians at his return on the second missionary journey.  It was at that time that Timothy was highly recommended by the Christians and the Apostle chose him as a missionary companion.  Thereafter Timothy was seldom parted from St. Paul, who employed him in some difficult and confidential missions.  During the first imprisonment of the Apostle at Rome Timothy was with his master.  After this imprisonment he accompanied the Apostle on his last missionary journey and was left at Ephesus to take charge of the church there.  The Apostle shortly before his death wrote Timothy to come to him before the winter.

This first Epistle was written between Paul's liberation from the first imprisonment (63 A.D.) and his death (67 A.D.).

A twofold thought is dominant in this Epistle.  Timothy must energetically combat false teachers and actively engage in the work of organizing the community.  The thought of the Apostle moves restlessly back and forth on these two points, since he was fully aware from his own experience of the dangers that threatened.