First and Second Timothy and Titus
New Testament Survey, Lesson 9 of 13
The three brief letters of First and Second Timothy and Titus were written by the apostle Paul to two preachers, Timothy and Titus. These three epistles are often called “The Pastoral Epistles.” This is a result of misunderstanding who a pastor is according to New Testament teaching. Many people have the mistaken idea that a preacher is a pastor. They confuse the roles of preachers (evangelists) with that of pastors (elders). The Bible, however, makes a clear distinction between evangelists and pastors. They do not refer to the same work in the church (Ephesians 4:11).
Since the letters of Timothy and Titus were written to evangelists rather than pastors, it is more accurate to call them “The Evangelistic Epistles.” Even though First Timothy and Titus do contain the qualifications of elders (pastors), the letters were specifically written to preachers rather than to elders.
These three short letters are filled with practical information about the organization and work of the local church. They provide a pattern for organizing the church and carrying on its work and worship.
Paul established the church in Ephesus on his third missionary journey (Acts 19). He remained in Ephesus for three years preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:31). After Paul left Ephesus, he continued to have contact with the saints. In Acts 20, we read of his speech to the elders of the church. He warned them of the coming of false teachers who would draw away disciples after their teaching (Acts 20:28- 32). Paul’s prophecy soon came true. It was necessary for him to leave Timothy at Ephesus to charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3).
Two verses in First Timothy sum up what the epistle is about: These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14, 15).
Chapter one of First Timothy speaks of the importance of teaching correct doctrine. Chapter two deals with the place of women in the church. Men and women are equal in salvation (Galatians 3:28), but they have different works in the church. Man is commanded to take the lead in prayers and teaching. Women are to learn in quietness with all subjection (1 Timothy 2:11). They are not to teach publicly where they have authority over men. Two reasons are given for this: (1) God created man first; (2) Adam was not deceived, but Eve was.
Chapter three deals with the qualifications of elders and deacons. It is God’s plan that each congregation be led by men called elders, or bishops (overseers), or pastors (shepherds). However, one must be qualified before he can serve in this important work. Deacons are special servants of the church. They serve under the elders of the church in works assigned to them. They too must be qualified.
Chapter four deals with the work and qualifications of ministers (preachers). It begins with a warning of false teachers who would lead the church astray. It is the responsibility of preachers to instruct congregations in the truth so they will not be led astray. Chapter five deals with the responsibility of the church to care for widows who have no relatives to support them. Chapter six closes with practical admonitions. Paul especially warns about the danger of desiring to be rich (verses 6-10). Those who are rich must not trust in their wealth, but use it to help those in need.
Paul’s second letter to Timothy was his last New Testament letter. He wrote it while he was in prison in Rome the second time. Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome is recorded in Acts. Because he saw he would not receive justice, he had appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:9-12). He was taken to Rome and kept under house arrest for two years (Acts 28:30, 31). During this time, Paul wrote the “Prison Epistles.” According to historical records, he was released and went to Spain (Romans 15:22-24). He returned to work among churches he had established on earlier missionary journeys when he was again arrested, taken to Rome, and condemned to die. It is clear from Second Timothy that Paul expected to die very soon (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith. He longed to see him again before he died. He wanted Timothy to bring books and a cloak to him. He especially wanted to strengthen Timothy to carry on with the Lord’s work. He reminded him of the good example of his faithful mother and grandmother in chapter one. In chapter two, he compared the work of preachers to soldiers, athletes and farmers to show discipline and endurance are needed. In chapter three, he warned Timothy of the coming of persecution. He admonished him to remain faithful to the Scriptures which would equip him for every good work. In chapter four, Paul solemnly charged Timothy to preach the Word of God.
Titus was a Greek (Galatians 2:3). He was a preacher of the Gospel who worked with Paul (2 Corinthians 8:16-24). Paul had left Titus in Crete to set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5). The qualifications for elders are again given in chapter one. Paul warns of the problems among the people of Crete because of their character. In chapter two, Titus is told to admonish the older men and women in sound (healthy) doctrine. He spoke of the grace of God (that) hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men. This grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts...live soberly and righteously and godly (Titus 2:11, 12). In chapter three, Paul tells Titus to teach the Christians to be law-abiding, avoid foolish discussions, and reject those who cause division after they have been given a first and second admonition.
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