Lecture: Pastoral Epistles
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I. General Background
The last three letters explicitly attributed to Paul in the New Testament have come to be known as the Pastoral Epistles. They are said to be written to Timothy and Titus, two of Paul’s co-workers who are now functioning as Pastors at the very least in the churches in Ephesus (Timothy) and Crete (Titus). Luke T. Johnson followed by Philip Toner and others have preferred to call these as Letters to Paul’s Apostle Delegates because they find evidence for Timothy and Titus functioning as more than ‘simple’ pastors but as delegates from the Apostle Paul and thus with a measure of derivative Apostle authority themselves. But it’s likewise clear that these two individuals are at the same time functioning in a pastoral context in Ephesus and Crete. And it’s not likely given the entrenched nature of the term ‘Pastoral Epistles’ in recent centuries that any other term will soon displace it.
In terms of a general back ground to all three letters, in addition to the shared feature of writings to individuals with the issues of the churches they are currently serving, clearly in the back ground. 1st, 2nd Timothy and Titus has stylistic similarities among the three and particularly 1st Timothy and Titus which is much like Ephesians and Colossians taken together. These set the Pastoral Epistles off from the other Pauline letters, including Ephesians and Colossians with signs of greater amanuenses and greater literary freedom if not altogether pseudonymous authors. A third feature shared by these three letters in terms of general background is their uncertain setting in the chronology of Paul’s life, particularly as we can recover it from the Book of Acts. It would appear that they do not fit comfortably, in most scholars’ minds, into any portion of Paul’s life and ministry that is covered by the Book of Acts. In the case of Titus, there is obvious a living growing church on that Island and yet as late in Acts 27 when Paul in the ill-fated boat initially destined for Rome which would eventually ship wreck on the Island of Malta, the boat with Paul stops on more than one occasion at various places and at the shoreline of Crete. But there is no indication at all of Paul getting off as he had been allowed to do so elsewhere on that same journey to see fellow Christians or any indication of Christian communities at all as Luke likes to inform us of throughout the Book of Acts when such exists. This suggests that the letter must come from a time after the events of the Winter of 59 – 60 and because Paul remains in Prison for the rest of the period covered by the Book of Acts through 62 and after the period of Acts altogether.
1st Timothy is a bit more ambiguous, Paul exhorts Timothy in chapter 1:3 to stay in Ephesus when Paul went into Macedonia. At the very least this would appear to be after Paul’s third missionary journey where he spent nearly three years in Ephesus. It’s possible that Timothy remained in Ephesus or came to Ephesus at the end of Paul’s stay as he continued his third missionary journey in route over land for Macedonia and Acacia as disclosed by 2nd Corinthians. On the other hand, the great similarities between 1st Timothy and Titus, not merely in style but in the nature of the heresy that Paul had to address could natural suggest that both were sent out at the same time. Both in terms of Paul’s circumstances and in terms of the circumstances of the men and the churches behind them who are addressed. In addition, Paul heads back to the vicinity of Ephesus, after revisiting the churches in Macedonia and Acacia as he then gets ready to sail to Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey. But in fact, he never does come to Ephesus per say but summons the Ephesians Elders to meet him at the nearby port city of Miletus.
Thus when we read that Paul has not only charged Timothy to stay in Ephesus but in fact Paul is hoping to return (4:13). One wonders if this doesn’t reflect a later date after, not only the initial evangelization of the church in Ephesus but after Paul’s final visit to Ephesus and a period of time allowing for the development of the heresy described and refuted in 1st Timothy, of which there are no signs during any of Paul’s journey’s in the Book of Acts. In fact, Acts 20 as part of the address by Paul to the Ephesian elders at Miletus predicts the future coming of false teachers. If this is not a so-called prophecy after the fact, then again at a later date Paul is still free to travel after his third missionary journey which makes more sense. But because of his arrest and subsequent imprisonment in Jerusalem all the way to Rome, Paul writing later as a free man would have to be after his first Roman imprisonment as well if there was such. If this is correct, then 2nd Timothy which clearly refers to Paul in Prison and has an even bleaker outside on the future, at least in terms of Paul’s upcoming physical execution must come later and again reflect the church tradition of a second Pauline imprisonment in Rome. As our textbook, Acts to Revelation suggests that it is possible to make sense of 1st Timothy as tucked into that period of Paul’s third missionary journey between his departure from Ephesus for Greece and before his return to speak to the Ephesians elders at Miletus; there is no absolute proof that there were any Christians already on Crete and thus 2nd Timothy could be assigned to Paul’s first and only imprisonment in Rome corresponding to the final two years of house arrest to which the Book of Acts closes. But this is a decidedly minority view among those who even adopt Pauline authorship. All of these problems plus the many doctrinal distinctives along with this general background, enumerated in more detail in the textbook, have left the majority of scholars and the vast majority outside of evangelical circles to assume that this book is pseudonymous.
II. Book by Book
To review that background book by book, we can see that in Book of Titus, Paul is free again and Titus is on Crete facing a heresy similar to that found in Ephesus. In 1st Timothy, Paul is free, this time writing to Timothy who is in Ephesus with a similar Judaizing component as in Titus as we have seen repeatedly elsewhere but with an even clearer gnostic sense to them, not least with the closing verse of 1st Timothy that warns Timothy against the Godless opposing ideas of what is called gnosis which later is to become known as Gnosticism. Then is seems that in 2nd Timothy, Paul is imprisoned again, almost certainly in Rome and he will lose his life, as later church tradition supports, under the Emperor Nero and his pogrom against Christians, at least in and around Rome and particularly among their leaders. This enables us to date all three of these books somewhere between the Book of Acts in 62 and Nero’s suicide, ending his reign and the persecution with it in 68 AD.
We will review as well the captive journey to Rome, such that once he returned to Israel, he is not a free man until after the Book of Acts ends leading to our hypothesis concerning the date of the Pastoral Epistles. We have already talked some about the issue of pseudonymity; we may review a portion of that as how culturally is was used in the Jewish world, particular in a pre-Christian Jewish world and even as late as the Mishna in AD200. Tradition could be recorded that a student speaking in his master’s name could use his master’s name. As a result, this pseudonymity was widely accepted, not as some form of deceptive or unethical device. However, the evidence remains in dispute as to whether any actual canonical work in the Hebrew Scriptures can be demonstrated to be pseudonymous and thus acceptable in that context. On the other hand, the post first century Christian world, more specifically from about the middle of the second century on, certainly showed an appreciation for the spiritual value of various non-canonical Christian works and included from time to time were those who authorship was either disputed or even disproven.
Tertullian (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus C 155- 240 AD, a Christian author from Carthage, the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature and a notable early Christian apologist) likewise makes comments to the effect that it’s acceptable for student to write in his master’s name but even more clearly even in Jewish circles in those discussions about what could be acceptably Canonized when the topic is broached, demonstratively pseudonymous work, always disqualifies itself from consideration for the Canon. Where in the history of Judaism in one of its branches, Jewish Christianity and its main branch by mid-second century, gentile Christianity did the attitude change even to a certain degree with non-canonical works? If indeed, it ever changed with respect to canonical works and as we noticed earlier there simply are no doubts at present to be able to answer that question.
Howard Marshall by many people’s estimation, the dean of evangelical New Testament scholars, at the very least at the height of his academic career in the 1980’s and 90’s and at the end of that period with the help of Phil Counter, the Prestigious volume in the International Critical Commentary series on the Pastoral Epistles and after thoroughly discussing all of the issues surrounding authorship and the evidence that leads some people to support Pauline authorship and others to challenge it, believed on the one hand that no convincing evidence required a substantially later date than the final years or decade or a bit more after the end of Paul’s life but on the other hand the whole question of style, simply was unconvincingly solved on any standard conservative hypothesis and that inadequate evidence from the ancient world supported the notice that an emanuances would be given this much freedom in style as is found in the Pastoral Epistles. As a result Marshall creates a new term for what he admits is a new concept, recognizing the critique of those who have argued that pseudonymity demonstratively false descriptions of authorship was never or to date has not yet been determined as being deemed morally acceptable in Christian circles even though the evidence simply does not exist once we get beyond the second century, going backwards in time. He believes that this triage of letters must be associated with a writer other than Paul but at the same time recognizes that there must have been known attempts to deceive and that it must have been recognized as a transparent fiction without this intent to deceive. The view, in fact, that many holding the pseudonymous theory of authorship likewise support but Marshall recognizing that no clear Christian examples of these phenomena can be demonstrated even outside the Canon where false authorship has been proved in later Christian circles. Intent to deceive has been ascribed to the author of the document; Marshall thinks that it’s necessary to create a new term, allosnumaty from the Greek word allos meaning another, different from another word in Greek heteross which means another of a different kind but allos means another of the same kind.
III. Pseudonymity and the Pastorals
We turn now to the three Pastoral Epistles. If Titus and Timothy were both sent during that period of Paul’s new found freedom after the Book of Acts ends, there is really no way to determine which if either was sent before the other. Jerome Quinn has made an argument that the style of the introduction of 1st Timothy reads like an abbreviation of Titus with a longer introduction. But that is a very subjective argument. Nevertheless, we start with Titus as the short and sweet letter. Observe that it begins with greetings whether or not later abbreviated. That it omits the conventional thanksgiving which again as with Galatians suggests something very seriously wrong among the people to whom Paul is writing and as in Galatians a form of Judaizing heresy is the reason for that. In the body of the letter one turns immediately to instructions, and indeed the entire body to varying degrees is more exhortational than informational which is a form of Hellenistic letter writing though not the conventional or most common form that we have been discussing throughout our survey of Paul’s letters. Luke T. Johnston has in a number of studies including two commentaries on either two or three of the Pastoral Epistles made a very plausible case for seeing both Titus and 1st Timothy as following the Genre of a ‘mandate letter’. The mandate letter was the semipublic instructions sent from a superior in the Roman Provincial Government organizational system to a subordinate who was in charge of a province, army, local city council, etc. These instructions would have been read publicly so that those in whose care the subordinate was put in charge would know the guidelines he and others were expected to abide by, just as the letters to Titus and 1st Timothy would have been read publicly so that not only pastors but church members would know their contents. In this context, a series of largely instructional exhortations is exactly what one finds and expects. Nor are we surprised when we see that these instructions whichTitus is to pass on are arranged according to key groups including but not limited to church leaders.
In this context we also find something along the lines of the domestic code though not as elaborate or clearly symmetrical structured as in Ephesians and Colossians or as in 1st Peter still to come. But there are clear commands in regards to submission of women and slaves as well as to the role of church elders and overseers having authority over the entire flock. We must therefore again address the vexed issue of submission about which we will say something more in our next lecture as we turn to collect and reflect on the most famous and extensive passages in Paul’s writings on gender roles. Since Titus two is not one of those, it is nevertheless a passage with significance for us and so we will make a few comments here on it, noting particular an evangelistic motive is most clearly attributed to these commands than in Colossians and Ephesians. Thus we read for example in Titus 2:5 that one of the reasons older women should urge younger women to love their husbands and for children to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home and to be kind and then wives to be subject to their husbands.
The motive is that no one will malign the Word of God. Of course one cannot prevent all such malignancy but one can do their best to avoid unnecessary scandalizing elements of the Christian faith. One sees the same concept repeat itself in verse 7, ‘showing yourself to be an example and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and a sound message that cannot be criticized.’ By the end of verse 8, Paul again is reflecting on the outsider and not on those just on the inside. And in verse 9 with slaves being subject to their masters in everything, not stealing or talking back and in the process showing they can be fully trusted. And finally the clause in verse 10, in every way they will make the teaching about God our savior attractive. The key issue in cultures or sub-cultures in other times and places in church history where a very traditional and extensive form of women subjection to men or at least wives subjection to husbands is not the cultural norm as it was in the ancient Mediterranean world and if the purpose of these texts in Titus is to do that which would most commend the Gospel within the parameters of the flexibility that first century Christian leaders felt they had under God, then should not an application of these texts of cultures or sub-cultures today steeped in modern egalitarian thought accompany exactly the same thing but by a diametrically opposite application, namely encouraging the participation of women and wives in all social ecclesial and domestic roles precisely because that is what some cultures have come to assume is right, good and normative and therefore we don’t want to scandalize them and keep them out of the Kingdom of God.
IV. Outline and Notes
We will leave it to the reader to decide in light of all of Titus and all of Scripture, not least our upcoming lecture on Paul and gender roles, but we do make the following somewhat balancing observations from chapter three. This has been labeled, ‘In Order to Do Good,’ from the NIV labeling. The expression about ‘doing good or teaching what is good’ has appeared already in the letter. Consider, for example, chapter 2:3 or verse 7, verse 14 ends with God’s desire in Christ to create a people that are his very own, eager to do good and this theme now predominates with the evangelistic mode of receding into the background in chapter 3. Even as the command of submission in 3:1 between subjects and rulers and authorities continue. Paul in 3:1 says to Titus to remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, etc. Verse 8, I want you to insist on such truths, so that those who have placed their faith in God may be intent on engaging in good works. There appears to be some tension with the first motive for commands and authority in the ancient world, the sense not only that this furthers evangelism but that it is good in and of itself in a way that would suggest a more timeless enduring quality to the principle of submission even while the nature of that submission may change considerable in world history.
V. Titus as a Mandate Letter
We have already alluded to the possibility that Titus is a mandate letter. If we reflect back on this brief epistle, we see the language of commanding, beginning already in the introduction in verse 3, Paul is preaching, entrusted to him by the command of God; language that doesn’t appear in his previous letters and then as we have already noted, instructions to Timothy begins already in 1:5 and takes the form of commands for who should be appointed to the various offices or since it would appear at least in this letter, that elder and overseer is synonymous to the single office of chief authority in first century Christian church. Timothy is to appoint elders and in verse 7, a reason for the criterion for an elder. Paul goes on, since an overseers manages God’s household, apparently using this term from which we get the English term, Bishop, just as elder generates our English term presbyter, apparently used synonymous. The one reflects the general older age of religious leaders in the ancient world because of the assumption that with age and maturity comes religious wisdom but also a word for the function and oversite for their flocks. This was a practice already established according to Acts 14:23 where Paul and Barnabas wherever they planted churches; this was an established role in Jewish synagogues. So there is no reason for many have charged to see this so-called advanced ecclesiology or institutionalized church structure as that. It was there from the beginning and in pre-Christians Judaism as well.
The language of epiphany however is new to the Pastoral Epistles, at least with the frequency one finds it here. Language of God as appearing Savior, that is very closely imitated in imperial edicts and language that is attributed to the various emperors by their subjects and at times and increasingly as the first century progressed, claimed for themselves by the emperors as well. If this is a letter coming as an epiphany from the one God who sent Christ as an epiphany to be passed along by channels not unlike those followed by Government mandate letters, then we should not be surprised to see that epiphany language here also. The most famous of these texts is undoubtedly 2:13 which refers to the coming blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. The grammatical construction there is more literally of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ and is explained more fuller in the textbook, the grammatical construction strongly favors though it doesn’t absolutely prove that Paul is using God and Savior of one and the same person, namely Jesus Christ. In which case, this is one of roughly half a dozen or so of the most significant and direct text describing deity to Jesus in the New Testament and highly significant as a result. The textbook deals with other passages also. We will select more passages as we did with Colossians to have the listeners reflect on.
However now we will comment on one other mandate reflecting the probable literary sub-genre of this epistle and that is the warning of the factious, of those who repeatedly and unrepentantly cause divisions and rifts in churches and elsewhere in 3:10. This commands Titus to warn divisive people once and then a second time and after that have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful, they are self-condemned. Tragically in many Christian contexts a group of people, perhaps at times only one individual whose influence may be exacerbated if he or she is in leadership. They seem to make a career out of opposing what the vast majority promote of making life difficult for fellow leaders, not in those rare places of such serious theological deviation where people’s salvation is at stake and where God’s people feel that they have to listen and put up with such individuals and treat them with ‘kid gloves’ as it were. Not so, cries Paul. Such people are to be warned undoubted similar to the church pattern of church discipline in Mathew 18, progressing from private to increasingly public, no doubt initially with the spirit of gentleness and tenderness as in Galatians 6:1 and elsewhere, but if all other measures fail then a final warning in a more serious tone of an ultimatum must be issued and if the person doesn’t show any signs of willingness to amend their ways, that individual must be turned away from fellowship so that those divisions and rifts, if the person insists on continuing to cause this will take place elsewhere and not do damage to the church of Jesus Christ in which they have been functioning.
VI. What's Wrong with These Interpretations?
This is a continuation of the Pastoral Epistles where we examine four particularly interesting texts. Here, we first discuss the perplexing problem often for church leadership when the children of otherwise Godly mature Christian leaders at the age of accountability and full understanding of the Gospel, perhaps in adolescence or young adulthood, who simply turn their back on the faith that their parents have attempted to raise them in? Some translations read something like in Titus 1:6 ‘An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who cannot be charged with dissipation or rebellion.’ And in Greek, instead of faithful children, he should read, with children who are faithful and further refers to those who should have respect and decorum and obedience, that is, not being wild and disobedient. The issue is not whether parents have all their children to become Christians as no human being has that power over another but rather can their children in such a way create standards as seen by their culture is seen as a respectful environment, not open to the charges again and damage the Gospel in that if you are a Christian leader, your children are out of control.
From chapter 1:15 of Titus: ‘All is pure to those who are pure. But to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their minds and consciences are corrupted.’ So as long as a person is Godly, have a relationship with Jesus Christ and stay close to Him, follow spiritual discipline, serve him and basically do anything else such as sex, drugs, etc. etc. As long as your heart is in the right place! Again, as we have had time to reflect on how to respond to that, as Paul does in 1st Corinthians 8-10 and Roman 14-15 refers to morally neutral matters, the context is one of Jewish myths or merely human commands, not the Christian truth or fully divine commands of the Gospel.
What about Titus 2:5? ‘To be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their won husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited;’ this involves to older women encouraging the younger women in regards to the life at home. The only way to be busy at home is to stay at home, not form part of the work force; even from very pragmatic reasons until there is zero percent unemployment, never has there been enough jobs to go around and with a larger number of women entering the work force, this has exacerbated that problem. If the student has read the accompanying printed material, they will know that this is not the meaning of word, simply be or exist, or stay at home but it’s the word to work hard at home, hence the NIV says, ‘to be busy at home.’ And in the ancient world women general had occupations, at the very least, small crafts on the side and sometimes entire vocations which took place at home as the sewing or crafting or cooking or creating things to sell to others either in the market place or out of their homes to further their families income. That can still happen today but in many cultures, it requires working outside of the home and in completely in the spirit of Paul’s teaching here. In fact, what is apparently ruled out are partners or individuals whether in marriage or other situation who are not willing to work whether or not for money but to make full use of their time for that which is profitable in the broadest, but not merely economical sense of that term; and certainly with an eye to their spiritual gifts and God’s Kingdom purposes.
Finally then, what is the approach that takes 3:5 and particular 5b, ‘he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.’ This is used for baptism regeneration insisting that baptism is a pre-requisite for salvation and or indeed guaranteed salvation. At this point, the one needs to only back up to the previous verse at the beginning of 5 to 5a in which God in Christ saved us not because of righteousness; like baptism which we have but because it implications are solely due to his mercy. The salvation through the washing of rebirth may refer to baptism in which case, as in Romans 6, we have a metonymy, recall our comments there or more likely the washing, itself is a metaphor and the washing of rebirth or it is epexegetically, the washing is the rebirth and thinking of the new life in Christ as an opportunity for a clean start.
VII. 1 Timothy Outline
We now return to the twin epistle of 1st Timothy, again with T. Johnson, Phil Towner and others who have shown reasons for also believing that it is a mandate letter which again explains why immediately after the introduction comes commands rather than a thanksgiving as (1st Timothy 1:3) ‘I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies.’ At least here Paul gets around to a thanksgiving as shown in 1:12-17. So perhaps the situation isn’t as serious as first thought, though it is interesting that thanksgiving is not particular about Timothy. Although in 2nd Timothy there will be such words of thanksgiving; it’s certainly not about the church in Ephesus, or perhaps the situation is as serious; it’s hard to be sure. A Judaizing dimension to the false teaching is again clear, where references to the law, its use and abuse appear in 1:7-11. And perhaps even more clearly than in Titus, references to the ascetic wing of Hellenistic dualism if not already the beginnings of Gnosticism emerge in 4:1-4 where marriage is forbidden altogether and total abstinence is required from certain apparently impure foods and as we mentioned already, the letter concludes with the command to turn away from Godless chatter and opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge.
A bit more precariously but nevertheless, seemingly and reasonably the wealthy, a handful of early Christians who were among the ‘well to do’ in the church, just as in Corinth; perhaps contributed to a disproportionate percentage of influence as to the problems, perhaps getting caught up in the false teachings so that 3-19 deals in some detail with the right attitude, particularly among teachers with a view toward the false teachers perhaps, and towards the whole area of money and material processions. An outstanding balance appears in 6:17-18. In fact, a sandwich pattern, an ‘A B A - Structure’ appears in which first Paul, still commanding as in a mandate letter, commands those who are rich in this present world not be arrogant nor put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain. There is the implicit and explicit warning of what wealth can do to a person negatively. Likewise, verse 18 begins with a command, commanding them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, perhaps with their stewardship of their material processions most prominently in view. And to be generous and willing to share which almost certainly refers to material processions. But in between these two commands of generosity and then not putting ones trust in riches is the balancing principle that keeps Paul from becoming an ascetic with respect to money, the way the false teachers had become ascetic in other respects and apparently become too greedy for money. Here in 17b, Paul writes, ‘but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.’ When we have seriously done business with the Lord and determined as discussed in 2nd Corinthians 8 & 9, what it would mean for us to have an ongoing lifestyle of generosity, indeed even sacrificial giving with God and accountability of partners as our witness. And when we have been faithful to those pledges and are known by others who can attest to that by looking at our checkbooks and credit cards statements that we are indeed generous. Then we may enjoy the remains of what God has given us; of course we have bills to pay but we do not have to band ourselves from all enjoyment from some surplus of comforts.
With this background and the features of this mandate letter with the implied exegesis of the text, we have already looked at in setting the stage for the letter, it’s not difficult says Gordon Fee and his commentary to see the epistle breaking down into five main topical sections, in addition to the portions that reflect the conventions of Hellenistic letter writing; such that the mentioned heresy itself is introduced both in terms of its nature but also in terms of its insidious work among the Ephesian Christians thus requiring Paul to urge Timothy to help his followers to stand fast against it. And then the remaining five chapters unpack four different approaches to accomplish this careful control over church worship and leadership, true Godliness verses the asceticism of the false teachers, proper respect for various kinds of people not just leaders in the church, though including them and the concluding warnings with their disproportionate amount of attention to the issue of money matters.
VIII. What's Wrong with These Interpretations?
With no further ado we now ask another series of questions in regards to what is wrong with these interpretations, such as coming from chapter 4:8. A favorite proof text of many Christian’s sport organizations, ‘for physical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.’ Is this a model for physical conditioning of Christians? In context, most likely not; the focus on physical conditioning is instead that which the ascetic false teachers are appealing to. And while Paul grants that physical training has some value, his hope that Godliness, not merely self-control of the physical body is what is to be the Christian focus. On the other hand, this is not a call for Christians to be poor stewards of the body which they have been given. But simply not addressing the issue or at least not nearly to the degree that many have often thought. We will come back to chapter two of 1st Timothy in the next lecture and particularly verses 8 to 15. However, anticipating that, we may site an argument that has at times been put forward, also by the author, Gordon Fee, in his commentary of chapter five and lengthy discussion of the office of the widow. We don’t, so the argument goes, readily identify as to who qualifies to be on a special enrolled list of widows in our churches today. Why then, should we become so pre-occupied with the commands regarding the offices of church leadership, or teaching and of having authority of men, over other people in chapter two and as a result to bar women from various leadership roles.
Again, one way to resolve any discrepancy as to the nature of not paying attention to text A, where A and B are parallel in some respects; so why make a big deal out of text B or pay little or no attention to both of these texts. The more Biblical solution as given by 2nd Timothy 3:16 speaks of all Scripture as being inspired by God and profitable for rebut, correction, training and righteousness and to solve the problem we must pay close attention to the valid application of both texts and again the textbook provides some additional suggestions in recreating a category of widows or other of the more dis-processed people in our contemporary congregations to whom we should give attention in various ways.
What about the long held claim of 1st Timothy 5:8? In citing older translations, ‘if any man does not provide for his family, for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.’ Thus the man should be the primary bread winner of the family, the argument goes. Part of an appropriate reply is that the word, ‘man’ does not appear in the Greek, it is merely someone in a generic sense and that in context, providing for a person’s family has to do with those who, like the widow, are elderly, we recall also 5:4, a family caring for parents and grandparents where such family exists. Compare verse 9 where the widow worthy of special help must have been faithful to her family and not be in a position to remarry as younger widows are. This is all about adult children making sure that their aging parents are provided for, not about either the man or woman being the primary bread winners.
Another verse which people often ask about is ‘do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses (5:19).’ So if no one says what happened, if evidence is merely hearsay or if there is only one witness such as the violated partner, for example, in improper sexual act, then no discipline can be taken against an elder? Clearer, this is one place where we must understand how an English word is being using, not in light of the range of meanings found in a modern dictionary but in light of what the underling word in the Biblical language means. The word, ‘witness’ here refers aboue all to someone who gives testimony, who witnesses to an action, not necessarily saw or witnessed an action. The application here is almost certainly parallel to Mathew 18:15; so that these are witnesses that testify to a private or semipublic attempt at reconciliation, not witnesses in the sense of someone who saw an improper action with whom an individual is charged.
Now the most famous misinterpretation of any text in all the pastorals states, ‘money is the root of all evil.’ This is not what the text says in its entirety in any translation. The love of money is what Paul is talking about but modern translations, in this case the NIV make improvements from the original Greek that money is a root of all evil, not necessary the only one and it is a root of all kinds of evil. There are many different forms of manners or evil, not necessarily every conceivable manifestation of evil. We have already commented on an appropriate response to the claim that it is impossible to be a good steward of God’s wealth and simultaneously to enjoy some of those riches.
IX. The Five Uses of Malista in the Pastorals
We move on then to a much more controversial topic, one which comes up often enough in church life. So it merits at least some treatment from at least one possible perspective. There are five usages of the Greek word, malista in 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus. All of which yield at best uncertain and worse, implausible meanings when translated along the lines that nalista normally produces in ancient Greek, namely the word, ‘especially.’ The clearest example of that is when Paul writes in 1st Timothy 4:10 that we put our hope in the living God who is the Savior of all people and malista of those who believe. The difficulty in understanding what it means that God’s saves those who believes but in what sense can those who believe be a subset of all people who are also saved. This is short of calling Paula Universalist in countless texts, even in the Pastoral Epistles themselves which attributes exclusiveness or uniqueness to salvation and the work of God in Jesus Christ. But if we translate malista as T.C.Skeet former curator of British museum library and renowned international linguist argued decades ago; if we follow the minority meaning of malista as namely in this text, we would argue the remaining text would all make perfect sense. Paul dictates to his emanuances that we put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and whether he then realizes it or realized all along yet wants to emphasize the universal offer of salvation, realizes that all people need to understand and so declares namely that is, ‘those who believe.’ The all here reflects all ethnic groups in all geographical parts of the world, all nations, tongues and people groups, but not in the sense of all the people that has ever lived in the world.
1st Timothy 5:8, the next usage of malista in the economical sequence of the text of Pastoral Epistles is similarly clarified. Paul writes, ‘anyone who does not provide for their relatives and especially for their own household.’ Of course today, we can all imagine the nuclear family being represented by the later term and the extended family by the former term but in a culture where extended families typical lived together particularly in rural locations where enough land was available that the extended family farmed the land together. These two terms would more often be synonymous than not. In what sense then is Paul using the malista if he means providing for one’s relatives, a fairly vague term of people related by blood? But then says namely the members of your household, the ones there with you, the ones you have immediate and quick access to and certainly including the nuclear family, biological parents and children but often a larger group as indicated by a geographical proximity. Then the text makes perfect sense. In1st Timothy 5:17, we see that the Elders who direct the affairs of the church are worthy of double honors, especially those who are preaching and teaching. So are there some Elders who do preach and teach and others who still direct the affairs of the church, the way preachers and teachers do but not simultaneously have a preaching or teaching responsibility? But this goes against of the very list of criteria for the overseer who we saw in Titus one, which was equated with the Elders. Back we see in 1st Timothy 3:1 where the one distinctive quality or criterion studying the overseer office from the office of deacon, was able to teach suggesting not just the ability but if not a constant but consistent teaching ministry. But again, if malista means namely, then which Paul is doing in 5:17 is describing what an Elder was, making it clear that he is, in this letter no less than in Titus, no less than in Acts 20 and his speech to the Ephesian Elders in Miletus equating the role of Elder with an overseer, with a pastor, with one who is primary responsible for the primary teaching and preaching of the church.
Passing on to 2nd Timothy in Chronological sequence, one reads in 2nd Timothy 4:13, ‘When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus at Troas and my Scrolls, malista the parchments. But parchment was in this day a standard writing device for scrolls, as was papyrus. Parchment was often used for valuable documents such as copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. It has often been imagined that whatever scrolls Paul ask Timothy to bring, he would want his scriptures in which case, they would have been rolled up for preservation and would have been written on parchment. No need for a subset here and the translation erases all ambiguity, the scrolls, namely the parchments.
In Titus 1:10, the least clear of the five, but in light of the pattern emerging, it’s certainly one that fits the proposed pattern quite well. When in Titus 1:10, we read, there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. If that’s a statement about people in the world, it makes sense to single out the circumcision group as the group that is particularly troubling Titus’ congregation on Crete. By contrast, Paul wants the people to pay no attention to the Jewish myths which he sees fueling this group (1:14). On the other hand, if malista means ‘namely’, then Paul is talking just about the many rebellious people full of meaningless talk and deception that are troubling the Cretan church. And then there appears to be only this one group of false teachers promoting circumcision and Jewish myths. Even though, in light of the other parallels between Titus and 1st Timothy; it has often been postulated that there may have been other more Hellenistic dimensions to the false teaching.
X. The Chain of Christian Leadership
We return finally to 2nd Timothy, because our time is short and as always we must be selective to move immediately to what has been understood as the central theme of this short letter. We come to 2nd Timothy 2:2 in which giving his farewell charge to his young disciple, ‘And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.’ This has been called the chain of Christian leadership with four Christian generations present in this one verse. Paul passing on to Timothy the charge to teach other faithful people who will in turn is able to hand it on to still others after them.
XI. 2 Timothy Outline
As we mentioned in the notes, it has been said that Christianity is never more than one generation away from extinction in any given setting or ministry in some para-church ministry involving a very limited slice of ages of people. That generation can be no longer or short at times as the length of time that any one individual spent qualifying for the group, thus the need for always passing the torch on to properly trained gifted leaders who match the criteria of the Pastoral Epistles requires constant vigilance. How does Paul accomplish this in this personal exhortation letter? One can see four main sections, one per chapter that fit within the thanksgiving, opening and closing; but again, like the mandate letters, though not in the precise mandate form. You can see the parenthesis or exhortation in the body of the letter. One may see one main approach how best under God with His help to ensure that the Gospel is properly passed on in Paul’s thanks giving for encouragement for continued faithfulness on a part of Timothy going all the way back to his Jewish roots and upbringing in the Hebrew Scriptures. We can then see it in the commitment which faith requires in Chapter two, not least with the metaphors of hard working people, a kind of single mindedness that the listener to these lectures should be taken seriously if they are signing up to any arduous full time Christian ministry in the broadest possible sense. For example, like a person who wants to become a concert musician, it means lots of extra hours of practice, lots of extra hours of preparation and in this case extra hours of prayer and as in all such analogies, with holding from oneself of a certain measure of the ‘normal’ ordinary diversions, interruptions, even wholesome recreational activities of life.
Chapter three predicts the arrival of false teachers in the last days, which in the New Testament begin with the 1st century and the coming of Christ and as Godlessness is described and unmasked and opposed in no uncertain terms and Paul’s final charge in a book that forms this final charge and then occupies chapter four.
XII. Exegetical Highlights
We will not revert back to some other exegetical highlights rather than what’s wrong with this teaching approach. We notice how Timothy’s mother and grand-mother were key links in teaching the Scripture first from a Jewish and then from a Christian perspective to Timothy and both Old and New Testament remain crucial for parents to teach their children today and for those who did not have the opportunity to learn it, to emerge themselves into the content and correct interpretation of Scripture, above and beyond any other more formal or specialized training. If this lecture series or any other formal educational opportunity you have in seminary or Bible College of institute doesn’t first of all throw you back to the actual reading for yourself of the Bible, itself, that creates greater mastery and knowledge of its content and how to apply it, then it has failed and we have failed and you have failed to do what God has called all of us to do in studying the Scriptures. This is so we might indeed divide the Word of truth; rightly interpret it as 2:15 will also point out. We mentioned already about the key metaphors for single mindedness in 2:3-7. That kind of faithfulness is matched only by and surpassed by God’s faithfulness to us, even when we are faithless, not when we utterly deny and reject or refuse to come to him but when remain believers but have those lapses in faith that bother us throughout our lives. He remains faithful (2:13) because He cannot dis-own himself. His spirit comes to live in true believers and therefore to dis-own us in those situations would be to disown himself. Praise the Lord.
In the last days which have begun in 3:1-9, it’s not popular but it is there and we need to note 3:12, ‘everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.’ This is not a call to seek persecution if it is not currently happening to us though it might be a call to make sure that we are boldly and regularly testifying to our convictions, not unnecessarily tactlessly but neither hiding what we believe in situations where it would be appropriate to talk about, as long as will are doing this, sooner or later if the Lord and our deaths terry, we will receive persecution of one kind or another. 3:16-17 may be the most important text in the New Testament, about the inspiration and relevance of the Hebrew Scriptures and also reflects the kind of thing that the later Christian Canonizers of the New Testament implied about books that they chose for the inclusion in the Canon.
Finally, 4:7 appeals to us and models for us, finishing well; Paul knows his time with greater certainty than he did in Philippians 2:17 that he is already being poured out as a drink offering, like the animals slaughters and sacrificed for Levitical offerings in Old Testament days, but he can say with good conscience that he has fought the fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, the Lord the righteous judge will award me on that day. That is to say, a life, not a reward above and beyond salvation itself because the verse closes that it will be given to all who have longed for His appearing. And what true Christian cannot long for his appearing. Perseverance is needed as long as the last dying breath remains within us to remain committed to our Lord who in turn guarantees that he will preserve us safe to the end. But it is worth it all; whatever it costs because of the grandeurs and glories of New Heavens and New Earth which will have only seen a foretaste of in the discussing the texts of Paul in 2nd Corinthians and even in greater detail by the end of the Book of Revelation of the glories of the life to come, never ending, far outweigh the very worse this life can throw at us to which we say amen and amen. Come! Lord Jesus.