Thursday, March 20, 2014

Notes on 1 Timothy and Titus

These are easily the most unique writings among the Pauline letters. 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are called the "Pastoral Epistles." While most evangelical scholars have difficulty with the notion of pseudonymity, most non-evangelical scholars believe these letters meant to give Paul voice several decades after his death.

1 Timothy
  • The NIV introduction suggests that Paul was freed after he appeared before Nero the first time. This is a convenient and popular suggestion, even though it does not at all seem to be what Acts foreshadows.
  • 1 Timothy is quite distinct from Paul's earlier letters. One should never start their Pauline theology with it but rather start with the earlier letters and see how 1 Timothy is distinct.
  • For example, while Paul ideally encourages widows not to remarry in 1 Corinthians 7, he pragmatically suggests they do in 1 Timothy 5.
  • Paul's stark words to wives not to teach or dominate their husbands in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is also quite striking, given the way women prophesied at Corinth in the presence of their husbands and other men. In any case, you should never build a theology out of a single verse.
  • This suggests that situational dynamics might have been in play in 1 Timothy (others suggest it was written after Paul's death to give Paul voice to a later context several decades later).
  • The two main concerns of 1 Timothy are false teaching and congregational order. 1 Timothy 3 deals with the main criteria for the overseers/elders of a local assembly, as well as its deacons.
  • Titus and 2 Timothy, like 1 Timothy, are called the Pastoral Epistles. They are written to coworkers of Paul, Timothy and Titus. Timothy is at Ephesus; Titus was at Crete. 
  • Like 1 Timothy, Titus deals with the twin concerns of false teaching and church order. The false teaching in Titus seems to be Jewish in nature. 
  • Probably the most striking thing about Titus is the way it flat out calls Jesus God (Titus 2:13). Jesus is called Son of God, Christ, etc all over the place but it is really not too frequent that he is flat out called God.

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