1 and 2 Timothy

Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics

1 and 2 Timothy

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The letters to Timothy and Titus are usually known as the Pastoral letters because they deal with church matters. Their theology, style, and syntax are all sufficiently different from Paul's other letters to suggest another author, and Marcion did not include the Pastorals in the earliest known collection of Paul's letters (c.140 ce). Timothy is, however, regularly mentioned by Paul as a close companion. The distinctive features of the Pastoral letters are the twin developments of ecclesiastical organization and doctrine. 1 Tim. 3: 1–13 gives detailed qualifications for church officials: ‘A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity…’ (3: 2–4). ‘Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience…’ (3: 8–9). Women are not appreciated as public figures and are banned from teaching or having authority over men: ‘In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety’ (2: 9–15; cf. 1 Cor. 14: 34–5).119 Widows are also kept in their place (5: 1–16). It appears that, as the churches became more organized, the older values illustrated by the roles of women in the gospels were abandoned in favour of more masculine bureaucratic structures. The Timothy letters also define doctrine: ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (1 Tim. 1: 15); ‘For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time’ (1 Tim. 2: 5–6); ‘the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory’ (1 Tim. 3: 15–16); ‘It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he will also deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself’ (2 Tim. 2: 11–13). General observations pass for moral exhortation in the style of Old Testament wisdom literature: ‘But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out’ (1 Tim. 6: 6–7); ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil’ (1 Tim. 6: 10); ‘Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses’ (1 Tim. 6: 12); ‘all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’ (2 Tim. 3: 12); ‘from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’ (2 Tim. 3: 15–16). The focus on heretics and false teachings in the two Timothy letters indicates a growing concern in the deutero-Pauline writings with an instability of beliefs and practices among the churches. Differences are polarized: ‘in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats…’ (1 Tim. 4: 1–3); ‘in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (2 Tim. 3: 1–7). ‘Twas ever thus.

Chapter.  884 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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