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Pastoral Epistles - Lesson 1

Introductory Issues

Dr. Mounce introduces himself and covers the traditional issues in introductions, including his historical reconstruction of the writing and history behind the Pastorals, basic misconceptions people have of the Pastorals, and the survey of the critical issues often raised.

Bill Mounce
Pastoral Epistles
Lesson 1
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Introductory Issues

I. Historical Reconstruction

A. First Missionary Journey (Acts 13-14)

B. Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36-18:22)

C. Third Missionary Journey (Acts 18:23-21:16)

D. Titus not mentioned in Acts

E. Imprisonment

F. Five major events

1. Timothy was with Paul during the Roman imprisonment, and sent to Ephesus (before his release)

2. Paul possibly went to Spain — fourth missionary journey

3. Paul and Titus had a missionary journey on Crete

4. Timothy met Paul somewhere when Paul was traveling to Macedonia (“tearful meeting”), and returned to Ephesus

5. Paul wanted to go to Ephesus to help Timothy

G. Other major chronological questions

II. Basic Misconceptions

A. All three letters are significantly different

B. Timothy/Titus are itinerant apostolic delegates

C. Not a manual written to an anonymous church situation

III. Critical Issues

A. Historical problem

1. Events of the Pastorals not fit within Acts

2. Answer: after Acts

B. Church Structure

1. The church was not uniformly charismatic in the early years

2. Synagogue structure was always present, and would have developed quickly

C. Theological problem

1. Theology different — tied into the heresy

2. Terminology different — have Pauline parallels

3. Gnosticism is second century — but the PE are pre-gnostic

D. Linguistic problem

1. Style — natural variation and the Ephesian problem reflected in Paul’s terminology

2. Terminology — possibly a different amanuensis

3. Vocabulary especially reflects the false teaching

E. Authorship

1. Fiction Hypothesis

2. Fragment Hypothesis

3. Pseudepigraphy

4. Amanuensis (Luke)


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  • Dr. Mounce introduces himself and covers the traditional issues in introductions, including his historical reconstruction of the writing and history behind the Pastorals, basic misconceptions people have of the Pastorals, and the survey of the critical issues often raised.

  • Paul begins by reminding Timothy of an earlier visit, and encourages Timothy to stay on at Ephesus, dealing with the issues in the church. Paul's goal is love, which stands in stark contrast to the work of the false teachers. Throughout 1 Timothy 1, Dr. Mounce is enumerating the ways in which Timothy (and we) should deal with false teaching.

  • Paul gives the theological argument up front as to why the false teachers were wrong and Timothy needs to silence them. They are legalists, applying the Mosaic Law to all Chrsitians. Rather, salvation is by God's mercy and grace as seen in Paul's conversion. But things have gotten bad in Ephesus, and Paul had to take a firm stance on dealing with two of the leaders of the opposition.

  • Having looked at the core teaching on why the false teachers were wrong, the class now looks at the other main pasages in the Pastorals that deal theologically with the false teaching.

  • Paul begins a two chapter discussion on issues of leadership in the Ephesian church. He begins by critiquing their habit of praying only for some people, which shows their legalistic way of looking at salvation. Then he deals with issues of public worship, first men then women. These are issues that the leaderhip should have been dealing with but most likely were being caused by poor leadership.

  • While this paragraph is not a matter of orthodoxy, it is nevertheless important since there are so many women in the church. Paul lays out the basic principle that women should learn with a submissive attitude, and then restates that principle with an eye to application; they cannot teach certain people in certain situations. Paul looks to the pre-Fall creation and the relationship that Adam and Eve were created to fulfill, and then spells out a consequence of what happens when that relationship is not honored. Because Paul references Genesis 2 and not Genesis 3, this is not a cultural teaching but transcultural.

  • After dealing with some questions, the class resumes by finishing the last two verses in chapter 2.

  • Paul gives four basic requirements for the leaders of a church. He beghins by emphasizing that leadership is a good thing and insists that leaders must be a certain kind of person, a person's who character is above repreoach. To appoint unqualified people to leadership is a sin, and those appointing them share in the responsibiiltiy when they fail and damage the church. But elders must also have a proven managerial ability of people, be spiritually mature, and have a good reputation in the eyes of people outside the church.

  • We conclude our discussion of elders by looking at two other passages on the role, Titus 1:5–9 and 1 Timothy 5:17–25.

  • We now move into the discussion of deacons in 1 Tim 3:8–13. There is much overlap between elders and deacons, and yet deacons are more involved in the day-to-day service of the church and are not required to be able to teach. The major interpretive decision is in v 11 as to whether it refers to women (i.e., deaconnesses) or wives (of the deacons).

  • This paragraph is the heart of the letter, putting everything that Paul has been discussing into perspective and giving it context. The church is precious, and we should protect the gospel because of the truths it teaches.

  • Paul goes back to addressing the needs of the Ephesian church. He deals in summary fashion with people of different ages, with a special note of concern for Timothy in how he deals with young women, which leads him into a discussion of young widows. His concern is that the church care for those who are "truly widows," i.e., who are old, truly alone, and have lived godly lives. Younger widows, however, should remarry and not burden the church. The church has limited resources, and it should initially care for those who are the most vulnerable.

  • Paul concludes his letter with a series of different and not always related topics. He deals with slaves, and begins to lay the groundwork for abolition, gives Timothy two tests for correct theology and spells out the download spiral and eventual destruction of the false teacher especially related to their love of money, and then encourages Timothy three ways. And in proper biblical fashion, he concludes with a doxology. The final paragraph (skipped by Dr. Mounce, is a final word to the rich in the church and a final plea to Timothy to be careful.

  • Most of the content of Titus has been covered in the lectures over 1 Timothy. However, the letter does have something to add to the discussion of leadership, and its two salvific hymns raise the issue of the reationship between justification and sanctification.

  • Paul begins his letter to his best friend by encouraging him to continue in ministry. If ever there were a model for how you encourage someone, especially someone who looks up to you, this is the chapter. The best thing you can do is find how many ways Paul encourages Timothy, and then see how to apply those points in your own life and ministry.

  • Paul concludes his encouragement to Timothy, and points out examples of faithless friends, and of one faithful friend.

  • Paul continues to encourage the discouraged Timothy, reminding him of the glorious gospel that he proclaims. Even if Paul himself is bound, the gospel is not.

  • The false teachers come back into view with a strong emphasis on Timothy's need to remain faithful. But the encouragement is that God's foundation in Timothy's life, and others, is sealed with a promise, and yet Timothy must also pursue righteousness and flee evil. Paul uses his own life as an example of faithfulness, and concludes with a strong admonition to preach the gospel because it comes from the very mouth of God.

  • Paul concludes his discussion of the role of Scripture in Timothy's life, reminding Timothy of Paul's own life of faithfulness. Paul makes some personal remarks about a few people, and references his final trial. He knows he will die, but death is merely a loosening.

The Pastoral Epistles contain some of the most practical advice in the New Testament. Learn how to handle heresy, appoint qualified leaders, take care of those who may not be able to care for themselves, and especially how to encourage one another in ministry. Titus alone contains two of the most powerful salvific statements in all of Scripture. These 13 chapters are worth studying.