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First Timothy, along with 2 Timothy and Titus are often called the “Pastoral Letters” because they are similar in style, vocabulary, and subject matter. There is debate about whether Paul wrote these letters or they are pseudonymous. These letters do not appear in the earliest collections of Paul’s letters. They are present by the late second century. To read more about the arguments for and against Pauline authorship, see the references.

The letters reference church structure and some believe that this supports a later date for the letter. But the organization described in the letter is similar to the synagogue structure found in Diaspora Judaism. Christianity developed within a particular culture and for the early Christians to use a similar organizational structure is not surprising. Some commentators believe that the Pastoral letters “do not prescribe a particular order but presuppose it…” (Johnson, 427)

The letters also talk quite a bit about “households”, a common topic for Paul. The form and nuance of Paul’s discussion depends on the community he is addressing.

Some believe, if the Pastoral letters are written by a follower of Paul (rather than Paul), they may reflect a conservative reaction in the mid second century to others (even perhaps heretics) who were also writing within the Pauline school.

We do not know for sure, who wrote these letters, to whom the letters  were written, nor when they were written. We do have, however, a view into the early church.

Timothy, of course, has been mentioned in other letters- 2 Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1, Acts 18:5; 19:22; 1 Thess 3:2, Phil 2:19, Rom 16:21 and so on.

1 Timothy provides guidance for problems in church administration and opposes false teachings.

Outline:

I. 1:1-2 Salutation

II. 1:3-20 Preface: The defense of Truth

1:3-7 The Opposing Teachers

1:8-11 The Role of the Law

1:12-17 A Statement of Gratitude

1:18-20 The Charge to Timothy

III. 2:1-6:19 Body of Letter

A.  2:1-3:16 Instructions for Congregations

2:1-7 Prayers

2:8-15 Gender defined Roles

3:1-13 Qualifications for Church Leaders

3:14-16 The Household of God

      B.  4:1-6:19 Instructions for Timothy

4:1-5 Warning about Ascetic Doctrine

4:6-16 Instructions to Timothy

5:1-2 Groups by Age

5:3-16 Widows

5:17-25 Elders

6:1-2 Slaves

6:3-16 Opposing Teachers

6:17-19 Proper Use of Wealth

IV. 6:20-21 Conclusion

 

Read More About It

Bassler, Jouette M. “1,2 Timothy and Titus” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary, rev. ed.James L Mays, ed. (New York: Society of Bible Literature) 2000.

Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, rev. ed. (Minneapolis:Fortress Press) 1999. Chapter 19 “The Pastoral Letters:1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus.

Quanbeck, Warren,Beardslee, William A. “1 Timothy”  in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Bruce M. Metzger, Roland E. Murphy eds. (New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.

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