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1 Timothy

Introduction to 1 Timothy

AUTHOR: The apostle Paul, as stated in the salutation (1:1). The internal evidence certainly supports Paul as the author, especially references to his earlier life (1:13), and the close relationship between the author and Timothy (1:2; cf. Ph 2:22). Early sources in church history that attribute this letter to Paul include: Eusebius (300 A.D.), Origen (250 A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.), Tertullian (200 A.D.), Irenaeus (200 A.D.), the Muratorian Fragment (180 A.D.). References to the epistle are also found in the writings of Theophilus of Antioch (180 A.D.), Justin Martyr (160 A.D.), Polycarp (135 A.D.), and Clement of Rome (90 A.D.).

RECIPIENT: Timothy, Paul's "true son in the faith" (1:2,18). We are first introduced to Timothy in Ac 16:1-3, where we learn that his mother was Jewish (cf. also 2 Ti 1:5; 3:14-15) and his father Greek. Well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium, Paul desired that the young disciple travel with him and therefore had him circumcised to accommodate Jews they would seek to evangelize. This began a long relationship of service together in the work of the Lord, in which Timothy served Paul as a son would his father (Ph 2:19-24). Such service included not only traveling with Paul, but remaining with new congregations when Paul had to leave suddenly (Ac 17:13-14), going back to encourage such congregations (1 Th 3:1-3), and serving as Paul's personal emissary (1 Co 16:10-11; Ph 2:19-24). He had the honor of joining Paul in the salutation of several epistles written by Paul (2 Co 1:1; Ph 1:1; Co 1:1; 1 Th 1:1; 2 Th 1:1), and from such epistles we learn that Timothy had been with Paul during his imprisonment at Rome. Such faithful service helps us to appreciate why Paul would leave him in Ephesus (1:3)

TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING: Some commentators (such as Barnes) believe that Paul may have penned 1st Timothy after his extended stay at Ephesus and departure to Macedonia on his third missionary journey (cf. Ac 19:1-41; 20:1-3). This would place its composition around 58-59 A.D.

The general consensus, though, is that Paul wrote this epistle from Macedonia, following his first imprisonment in Rome (cf. Ac 28:16, 30-31). Paul was released and allowed to travel for several years before being arrested again and finally put to death by Nero. It is possible to conjecture from several references in his epistles that he went to places like Philippi (Ph 1:26; 2:24), Colosse (Phile 22), and even Spain (Ro 15:24,28). With more certainty his destinations included Ephesus (where he left Timothy, 1 Ti 1:3), Macedonia (where he wrote 1st Timothy, 1 Ti 1:3), Crete (where he left Titus, Ti 1:5), Miletus (2 Ti 4:20), Corinth (2 Ti 4:20), and a winter at Nicopolis (2 Ti 4:20). Any attempt to determine the exact order of these visits is pure speculation, however. If 1st Timothy was indeed written during this period, the date would be around 63-64 A.D.

PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE: Paul had left Timothy behind at Ephesus with an awesome responsibility: to charge some not to teach anything contrary to the "sound doctrine" which was according to the "glorious gospel of the blessed God" (1:3-11). Fulfilling this charge was made difficult by Timothy's youth and natural timidity (4:11-12; cf. 2 Ti 1:7-8). While Paul hoped to come himself, he writes Timothy to guide him in the meantime (1 Ti 3:14-15). Therefore, Paul writes:

  • To instruct Timothy on how to conduct himself while administering the affairs of the church (3:14-15)
  • To encourage Timothy by providing counsel concerning his own spiritual progress (4:12-16)

THEME OF THE EPISTLE: This letter is addressed to a young evangelist charged with the responsibility of working with a congregation and guiding them in the right way. Everything that is written is designed to aid both him and the congregation in doctrine and conduct. An appropriate theme for this epistle might therefore be:

"SOUND DOCTRINE FOR A CONGREGATION AND ITS PREACHER"

KEY VERSES: 1 Timothy 3:14-15

"These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
Outline

INTRODUCTION (1:1-2)

  1. CHARGE CONCERNING SOUND DOCTRINE (1:3-20)
    1. TEACHING SOUND DOCTRINE (1:3-11)
    2. THANKSGIVING FOR THE LORD'S GRACE AND MERCY (1:12-17)
    3. TIMOTHY'S RESPONSIBILITY (1:18-20)
  2. GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING THE CHURCH (2:1-3:13)
    1. THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER (2:1-8)
    2. INSTRUCTIONS FOR WOMEN (2:9-15)
    3. QUALIFICATIONS FOR CHURCH OFFICERS (3:1-13)
      1. For bishops (3:1-7)
      2. For deacons (3:8-13)
  3. ADVICE TO TIMOTHY (3:14-4:16)
    1. PAUL'S PURPOSE IN WRITING (3:14-16)
    2. REMEMBER THE SPIRIT'S WARNING OF APOSTASY (4:1-6)
    3. EXERCISE YOURSELF UNTO GODLINESS (4:7-16)
  4. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH (5:1-6:19)
    1. MAINTAIN PROPER RELATIONSHIPS (5:1-2)
    2. CONCERNING WIDOWS (5:3-16)
    3. CONCERNING ELDERS (5:17-25)
    4. CONCERNING SERVANTS (6:1-2)
    5. CONCERNING TEACHERS MOTIVATED BY GREED (6:3-10)
    6. CONCERNING THE MAN OF GOD HIMSELF (6:11-16)
    7. CONCERNING THE RICH (6:17-19)

CONCLUDING CHARGE TO TIMOTHY (6:20-21)

Review Questions for the Introduction
  1. Where do we first read about Timothy?
  2. What was the name of his grandmother and mother? (2 Ti 1:5)
    • Lois (grandmother)
    • Eunice (mother)
  3. How did Paul affectionately regard Timothy? (1:2)
    • As his true son in the faith
  4. Where was Timothy when Paul wrote this epistle? (1:3)
    • Ephesus
  5. What is the general consensus for the time and place that Paul wrote this letter?
    • After his first Roman imprisonment, sometime around 63-64 A.D.
    • While in Macedonia, shortly after leaving Ephesus
  6. What two-fold purpose does Paul have in writing this epistle?
    • To instruct Timothy on how to conduct himself while administering the affairs of the church
    • To encourage Timothy by providing counsel concerning his own spiritual progress
  7. What is the theme of this epistle, as suggested in the introductory material?
    • Sound doctrine for a congregation and its preacher
  8. What are the key verses?
  9. According to the outline proposed above, what are the main points of this epistle?
    • Charge concerning sound doctrine
    • General instructions concerning the church
    • Advice to Timothy
    • Instructions concerning members of the church
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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