New Testament Overview: First Timothy

The Pauline Epistles

The Pauline Epistles
The Pastoral Epistles
  arrow {414} Introduction  
  arrow First Timothy  
  arrow {416} Second Timothy  
  arrow {417} Titus  
  arrow {418} Philemon  
    @ by J. Hampton Keathley, III {original source}  


Because of their close relationship in thought and focus, the attestation and authorship of all three pastoral epistles will be dealt with here. It has also been pointed out that because all three are so closely connected in thought and style that they usually are either all accepted or all rejected as being written by Paul.

Though all three of these letters have been attacked more than any other of Paul’s epistles, both the external and internal evidence supports Paul as the author. Some early church fathers as Polycarpdb01 and Clement of Romedb02, allude to these epistles as Pauline. In addition, Irenaeusdb03, Tertulliandb04, and Clement of Alexandriadb05, and the Muratorian Canondb06 do as well. Moreover, the books declare Paul as the author (1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1, Tit. 1:1). In addition, the doctrinal teaching and autobiographical details fit with the life of an aged Paul at the close of his ministry (see 1:12-17; 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:1-8; 4:9-22; Titus 1:5; 3:12-13).fn64 

Those who question Paul’s authorship usually do so on the following grounds: … that

(1) Paul’s travels described in the pastorals do not fit anywhere into the historical account of the book of Acts,

(2) the church organization described in them is that of the second century, and

(3) the vocabulary and style are significantly different from that of the other Pauline letters.

Those who hold to the Pauline authorship reply:

(1) there is no compelling reason to believe that Acts contains the complete history of the life of Paul. Since his death is not recorded in Acts, he was apparently released from his first imprisonment in Rome, traveled over the empire for several years (perhaps even to Spain), was rearrested, imprisoned a second time in Rome, and martyred under Nero;

(2) nothing in the church organization reflected in the pastorals requires a later date (see Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1); and

(3) the question of authorship cannot be decided solely on the basis of vocabulary without considering how subject matter affects a writer’s choice of words.

Vocabulary used to describe church organization, for instance, would be expected to be different from that used to teach the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. There is no argument against Pauline authorship that does not have a reasonable answer. And, of course, the letters themselves claim to have been written by Paul.fn65

The Greek titles for 1 and 2 Timothy are Pros Timotheon A and Pros Timotheon B, “First to Timothy” and “Second to Timothy.” Timothy’s name means, “honoring God.

DATE: A.D. 63-66

It seems clear by comparing Acts with the epistles that 1 Timothy and Titus belong to the period after Paul’s first release and acquittal in Rome. Because of this, 1 Timothy must be dated after his first release, around the spring of A.D. 63, but before the outbreak of the Neronian persecutions in A.D. 64. First Timothy was probably written in A.D. 63 right after his first release. Titus was written around A.D. 65 and 2 Timothy in A.D. 66. Paul died in A.D. 67, according to the early church father, Eusebiusdb07. As a Roman citizen, he died by the sword (beheaded) rather than by crucifixion as did Peter.

Paul’s missionary journeys occupied approximately the years A.D. 48-56. From 56-60 Paul was slowly making his way through the Roman courts, arriving ultimately at Rome. For two years, 61-62, Paul was held under house arrest in Rome, at the end of which time, it can be surmised, he was released. From 62-67 Paul traveled more or less freely, leaving Timothydb08 in Ephesus and Titusdb09 in Crete, and then subsequently writing each of them a letter. Thus the approximate dates for 1 Timothy and Titus are perhaps 63-66. After being recaptured and once again imprisoned, Paul wrote Timothy a second letter, 2 Timothy. Thus 2 Timothy, dated approximately A.D. 67, represents the last Pauline Epistle.fn66


At least five clear purposes can be seen in 1 Timothy. Paul wrote:

(1) to encourage and boost the spirit and courage of Timothy by reminding him of his charge or duty (1:3), of his spiritual gift (4:14), his good confession (6:12), and of the deposit of doctrine entrusted to him (6:20);

(2) to give Timothy biblical insight in dealing with the errors of false teachers and to encourage Timothy himself to continue in sound doctrine (1:3-11, 18-20; 4:1-16; 6:3f);

(3) to give direction concerning proper church conduct in worship (chap. 2);

(4) to give guidance regarding numerous issues that would arise and to show how they should be handled. This would include such things as: qualification for elders and deacons (chap. 3), proper behavior toward the various age groups—towards elders and widows (chap. 5). Finally,

(5) he wrote to warn against the evils of materialism (chap. 6).

The theme of 1 Timothy, as with Titus and 2 Timothy, is twofold, one involving the individual and the other the church.

  • For the individual, the theme is “fight the good fight” (1:18).
  • For the church, the theme is “how to behave in the church, the house of God” (3:15).


While 1 Timothy is in many ways a manual on leadership and the conduct of the church, a key term is

  • sound doctrine” which is emphasized in a number of places (see 1:10; 4:6; 6:1-3).

But not to be outdone, is the concept of

This is, of course, fitting, for sound doctrine should lead to godly conduct.


1:5. 5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

3:14-1614 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you 15 in case I am delayed, to let you know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God, because it is the church of the living God, the support and bulwark of the truth. 16 And we all agree, our religion contains amazing revelation: He was revealed in the flesh, Vindicated by the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

6:11-12. 11 But you, as a person dedicated to God, keep away from all that. Instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Compete well for the faith and lay hold of that eternal life you were called for and made your good confession for in the presence of many witnesses.


Since leadership is so determinative of a church’s spiritual growth and effectiveness, chapter 3, which sets forth the qualifications for leadership is clearly a key chapter. “Notably absent are qualities of worldly success and position. Instead, Paul enumerates character qualities demonstrating that true leadership emanates from our walk with God rather than from achievements or vocational success.fn67


Several passages stand out in pointing us to the person and ministry of the Savior.

He is:

  • the source of our calling, strength, faith, and love so needed for ministry (1:12-14),
  • the one who came to save sinners (1:15),
  • “the one Mediator between God and men” (2:5),
  • “God manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory (3:16), and
  • “the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (4:10).


  • I. The Salutation (1:1-2)

  • II. Instructions Concerning Doctrine (1:3-20)
    • A. Warnings Against False Doctrine (1:3-11)
    • B. Paul’s Testimony of Grace (1:12-17)
    • C. Paul’s Charge to Timothy (1:18-20)

  • III. Instructions Concerning Worship (2:1-2:15)
    • A. Instructions Concerning Prayer (2:1-7)
    • B. Instructions Concerning Men and Women (2:8-15)

  • IV. Instructions Concerning Leaders (3:1-16)
    • A. Concerning Elders and Deacons (3:1-13)
    • B. Parenthetical Explanation (3:14-16)

  • V. Instructions Concerning Dangers (4:1-16)
    • A. Description of the Dangers (4:1-5)
    • B. Duties and Defenses Against the Dangers (4:6-16)

  • VI. Instructions Concerning Various Responsibilities (5:1-6:10)
    • A. Concerning Various Age-Groups (5:1-2)
    • B. Concerning Widows (5:3-16)
    • C. Concerning Elders (5:17-25)
    • D. Concerning Slaves and Masters (6:1-2)
    • E. Concerning the Heretical and Greedy (6:3-10)

  • VII. Final Instructions to Timothy (6:11-21)
    • A. Exhortation to Godliness (6:11-16)
    • B. Instructions for the Rich (6:17-19)
    • C. Exhortations to Remain Faithful (6:20-21)
Pauline Epsitles Menu
64 For a detailed discussion of the issues of authorship see Donald. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Tyndale Press, London, 1969, pp. 11-52; W. Hendricksen, A Commentary On 1 & II Timothy and Titus, The Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1957, pp. 4-33; and Henry Clarence Theissen, Introduction To The New Testament, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1943, pp. 253-60.
65 Ryrie, p. 1916.
66 Walvoord/Zuck, electronic media
67 Wilkinson/Boa, p. 429.
db* = Content added by to assist the reader
db01 Polycarp: Polycarp (Greek: Πολύκαρπος, Polýkarpos; AD 69– 155-160's) was a 2nd-century Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him. [From Wikipedia]
db02 Clement of Rome: Saint Clement of Rome, is listed as Bishop of Rome from the late 2nd century He is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church [From Wikipedia]
db03 Irenaeus: was an early Church Father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology [From Wikipedia]
db04 Tertullian: was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa [From Wikipedia]
db05 Clement of Alexander: Titus Flavius Clemens (Greek: Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; c. 150 – c. 215), known as Clement of Alexandria to distinguish him from the earlier Clement of Rome, was a Christian theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was familiar with classical Greek philosophy and literature. [From Wikipedia
db06 Muratorian Canon: The Muratorian Canon is an ancient list of canonical books drawn up in Greek, ostensibly in the late second century due to the reference to Pope Pius, and surviving in a single copy in poor Latin discovered by Muratori. Some have redated the canon to the fourth century. [From]
db07 Eusebius: Eusebius (/juːˈsiːbiəs/; Greek: Εὐσέβιος; 260/265 – 339/340 AD; also called Eusebius of Caesarea and Eusebius Pamphili), was a Roman historian, of Greek descent, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Early centers of Caesarea about the year 314 A.D. [From Wikipedia]
db08 Timothy: Timothy (Greek: Τιμόθεος; Timótheos, meaning "honouring God" or "honored by God") was the first first-century Christian bishop of Ephesus, whom tradition relates died around the year AD 97. He was from the Lycaonian city of Lystra in Asia Minor, became Paul’s disciple, and later his companion and co-worker. The New Testament indicates that Timothy traveled with Saint Paul, who was also his mentor. [From Wikipedia]
db09 Titus: Titus was an early Christian leader, a companion and disciple of Paul the Apostle, mentioned in several of the Pauline epistles including the Epistle to Titus. He is believed to be a gentile converted by Paul to Christianity and, according to tradition, was consecrated by him as Bishop of the Island of Crete. Titus brought a fundraising letter from Paul to Corinth, to collect for the poor in Jerusalem. Later, on Crete, Titus appointed presbyters in every city and remained there into his old age, dying in the city of Candia (modern Heraklion) [From Wikipedia]
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