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1 Timothy

General

Along with the Epistle to Philemon and the Epistle to Titus, the Timothy Epistles were written by Paul to individuals; not directly to municipalities. In particular, the letters to Timothy and Titus (only since the 19th century) are also called the 'pastoral' or 'pastoral' letters. This designation has been given to these letters because of the pastoral tone with regard to all kinds of indications given concerning the leadership of the church. These three letters, along with the letter to Philemon and the three congregational letters (those to the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Colossians) belong to the later epistles of Paul. In fact, most Bible expositors agree that the three letters to Timothy and Titus are the very last three letters written by Paul. Chronologically, they are therefore closest to us.

Writer, origin and destination

The first two verses of 1 Timothy show us directly that Paul is writing to Timothy. Timothy is at that time in Ephesus (chap. 1:3). This same verse suggests that Paul may have been in Macedonia at the time of the letter's writing. Others believe that the letter was written from Laodicea, the principal city in Phrygia Pacatania.

It is therefore a letter addressed to one person and therefore has a personal character. However, the closing greeting of the letter is in the plural ("Grace be with you"), so that we may say that the message is not only for Timothy.

It is generally believed that the letter was written sometime in the years 62-64; that is after Paul's first imprisonment in Rome and thus after Acts. Some believe that the letter was even written in AD 67.

Structure

A. 1:1 and 2 Praise.
B. 1:3-20 Reminder. Practical.
C. 2:1-3:13 Teaching and discipline.
D. 3:14 and 15 Proposed Coming and the time until that Coming.
E. 3:16 The mystery of godliness.
E. 4:1-12 The mystery of iniquity.
D. 4:13-16 Intended coming and the time until that coming.
C. 5:1-6:2 Teaching and discipline.
B. 6:3-21a Reminder. Practical. Thanksgiving.
A. 6:21b Praise.

Purpose and content

Besides the fact that Paul was not only referring to Timothy with this letter, there is something else about this. He calls Timothy "my true child in the faith" (Ch. 1:2) and that is how he describes Titus (Titus 1:4). That Paul describes them in this way means that they have come to know the Lord through his testimony. Compare, for example, Philemon 10. Somehow this has a typological meaning: the body of Christ is in some way also a 'true child' of Paul! Of course, it all comes from the Lord Himself and He is our heavenly Father, but Paul is the means in His hands. The message of Paul is now the valid message within God's plan and in fact it is that message that you receive when you come to faith. The name 'Timothy' means: 'God-fearing' or '(to) the glory of God' (compare what it says about the church in Eph. 1:6, 12 and 14).

Above all, the first letter to Timothy (and that also applies to 2 Timothy and Titus) is a letter that Paul addresses to his co-worker Timothy. This younger brother in faith had accompanied Paul in his ministry for some time (as early as Acts 16:1-3) and had proved to be a faithful co-worker of the apostle.

Paul writes several impressive passages in this letter. Consider, for example, chapter 1:12-17, where he gives thanks to Christ Jesus for having compassion on him. Paul describes in these verses how immensely great God's grace is and how a great sinner he himself is.

Chapters 2 and 5 contain concrete instructions regarding our attitude to the world around us and things that believers should comply with. Chapter 3 contains directions for the leadership of the local believers. Without judging how things are in practice now after two thousand years of Christianity, the Christian church would be much closer to the truth if overseers and deacons were confirmed on the basis of what is written here. Certainly when the 'qualifications' from Titus 1:5-9 are also included here. For example, where are the elders who still know what "sound doctrine" is (Titus 1:9)?

In 1 Timothy 4, Paul refers to what will happen later in the mystery dispensation. In chapter 6, Paul makes an emotional appeal to Timothy (and us!) to steer clear of all uncleanness, greed for profit, empty talk and so-called knowledge and to fight the good fight of faith.

core text

"Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of eternal life, to which you were called, and have made the good profession before many witnesses" (chap. 6:12).