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For this study see: M.C.Tenney, pp.333-343; R.H.Gundry, pp.409-420. Further reading: D.A.Carson, et al., An Introduction to the New Testament, pp.359-385.

An introduction
The Pauline authorship of the Pastorals is often challenged.  M.C.Tenney defends traditional authorship by noting the apostle's circumstances:

"A definite change took place after the imprisonment of Paul.  The man himself was different, for although he was unready to quit the ardent pursuit of his calling as Philippians showed (Phil.3:12), time was against him.  In Philemon he described himself as 'Paul the aged' (Phlm.9), and in Philippians he indicated that death might not be far distant (Phil.1:20-21).  He was relying increasingly on the aid of his younger associates, who were still free and better able than he to carry on the work of preaching.  The Pastoral Epistles, 1 Timothy, Titus and 2 Timothy, belong at this stage of his career". [1]


Paul might have been acquitted after his appeal in the Emperor's court (A.D. 60 or 61) to assume his missionary activities, including revisitation of the Asian churches. The epistles could be a practical response to what Paul saw on tour.

The churches in Asia
The epistle indicates changes in the churches.  There was some defection (1:3-4).  Some had intellectual ambitions and desired to be teachers of the law (1:7).  Others, like Hymenaeus and Alexander, had 'shipwrecked their faith' (1:19-20).  The church was more organised with elders (Gk. presbuteros, elder; episkopos, overseer) and deacons (Gk. diakonos, helper, deacon) (see 3:1-8). [2] There were registers for widows needing support and a number of new ministries may be intimated (see 5:9-10).

Church worship
According to M.C.Tenney:
"The services had certain regular features: prayer with uplifted hands (2:8), modesty and unobtrusiveness on the part of the women (2:11), reading, preaching, and teaching (4:13), the laying on of hands to confer a spiritual gift (4:14).  As the second and third generations of believers arose, the theology of the church was increasingly taken for granted and became decreasingly vital.  Wrangling and argument developed over points of difference; heresy became a growingly [sic] imminent danger. [3]

Against this background Timothy, as the pastor of the church at Ephesus, is given advice and instruction by the apostle Paul.  He is reminded of the responsibility of his calling (see 1:8; 4:6, 12,16; 5:12; 6:11,20).  Finally he is given an exhortation in the form of four imperatives - flee, follow, fight, and keep (6:12, 14).  Timothy can be the basis for a series of interesting Bible studies. [4]

An outline of the epistle
M.C.Tenney's outline heading is mindful of the fact that Timothy is being encouraged:

  • 1 Timothy: Advice to a Young Preacher

  • Salutation (1:1-2)

  • Preamble (1:3-17)

  • The official commission (1:18-4:5)

  • The personal admonitions (4:6-6:19)

  • Concluding salutation (6:20-21).


Like Timothy, Titus was one of Paul's co-workers. [5]

The situation on Crete The situation in the Cretian church was discouraging.  Tenney indicates:
"The church was unorganised, and its members were quite careless in behaviour.  If the injunctions of ch.2 are any indication or what the churches needed, the men were lax and careless, the older women were gossips and winebibbers, and the young women were idle and flirtatious.  Perhaps the preaching of the gospel of grace had given the Cretans the impression that salvation by faith was unrelated to an industrious and ethical life. Six times (1:16; 2:7,14; 3:1,8,14) in this short epistle Christians are urged to do good works.  Although Paul says that salvation cannot be earned by good works (3:5), he affirms with equal vigour that believers must be careful to maintain good works". [6]

The general contents of Titus compare with 1 Timothy, but has a stronger credal emphasis.  Note these elements from the textbook, which summarise the doctrinal teaching of the church at this early stage of its history: [7]

"The personality of God (2:11; 3:6); his love and grace (2:11; 3:4); his title of Saviour (2:10; 3:4); the Saviourhood of Christ (2:13; 3:6); the Holy Spirit (3:5); the implication of the triune being of God (3:5-6); the essential deity of Christ (2:13); the vicarious atonement of Christ (2:14); the universality of salvation (2:11); salvation by grace, and the incoming of the Holy Spirit (3:5); justification by faith (3:7); sanctification of his own people (2:14); separation from evil (2:12); inheritance of eternal life (3:7); the return of Christ (2:13)".

An outline of the epistle
M.C.Tenney analyses the epistle against a background of a difficult pastorate:

  • Titus: Sound Doctrine

  • Salutation (1:1-4)

  • The administration of sound doctrine (1:5-16)

  • The preaching of sound doctrine (2:1-15)

  • Counselling by sound doctrine (3:1-11)

  • Concluding salutations (3:12-15).



This letter is Paul's last message to his helpers and friends before his martyrdom.

Content of the epistle

M.C.Tenney observes:
"The content of this last epistle is an intermingling of personal sentiment and administrative policy, of reminiscence and instruction, of sadness and confidence.  Its main purpose was to strengthen Timothy for the arduous task that Paul himself was about to relinquish.  He laid down the pastoral pattern by first reminding Timothy of his own personal experience... With this calling in mind he urged Timothy to undertake his problems as a soldier of war (2:3)... In personal life and in public relations with the church he should always be the Lord's servant, not contentious, but ready to help all people to understand the truth of God". [8]

The final charge to the young pastor, which includes a prophecy of the last days, needs to be applied by all those called to the Christian ministry (4:1-6).

An outline of the epistle
M.C.Tenney heads Paul's last letter fittingly:

  • 2 Timothy: The Farewell Message

  • Salutation (1:1-2)

  • The pastoral pattern (1:3-3:17)

  • The final charge (4:1-8)

  • Concluding greetings (4:9-22).


The Pastorals are a valuable source for understanding the life of the church in a period of transition.  Heresy is seen as a real threat to vital Christianity.  Against this, doctrine is becoming more formulated. as indicated by the reference to 'sound doctrine' (1 Tim.1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim.1:13; 4:3; Tit.1:9; 2:1,8) and the 'faithful sayings' (1 Tim.1:15; 3:1; 4:8-10; 2 Tim.2:11,12 ; Tit.3:8).  Ethical teaching features strongly.  Further, continued missionary activity and growth is indicated.  Note the qualifications for elders and deacons (1 Tim.3:1-7; Tit.1:6-9).  Paul's dedication is inspiring (2 Tim.4:6-8).


1. M.C.Tenney, p.333.

2. In the NT the Greek terms for 'elders' and 'overseers' are always in the plural, and are synonyms.  Study the Greek terms: episkopos and diakonos (Phil.1:1).

3. M.C.Tenney, p.335.

4. M.C.Tenney, pp.335f.

5. For a study of Titus see: M.C.Tenney, p.338.

6. M.C.Tenney, p.337.

7. M.C.Tenney, p.339.

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Copyright 2007 Vernon Ralphs

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