Paul’s Pastoral Epistles

I, II Timothy & Titus – The Good Fight of Faith
– Presented on 18 Mar 07 by the Adult ‘G’ Class (Teacher: Dixie Chua)
Introduction on Paul’s Pastoral Epistles

  • Paul wrote about half of the New Testament’s 27 books.
  • The last 3, which he wrote were I Timothy, Titus and II Timothy, in that order.
  • The fact that these letters were written towards the end of such an outstanding career, they convey much spiritual insight and inspiration to all who study them.
  • These 3 Pauline letters are called the ‘Pastoral epistles’ because for the most part they are Paul’s counsel to his assistants, Timothy and Titus who served in the pastoral functions of the churches in the regions of Ephesus and Crete.

a. Authorship

  • According to the salutations of the letters, the author of the three Pastoral Letters was the apostle Paul. The tradition of the early church is in agreement. Nevertheless, some New Testament scholars have questioned the Pauline authorship of these letters, citing alleged differences in vocabulary, style, and theology. Such arguments fail to carry conviction, and there is no persuasive reason to deny that Paul wrote these letters.

b. Historical Background

  • The apparent inconsistencies between Paul’s travels as reflected in the Pastoral Letters and his three missionary journeys as recorded in Acts have led to the suggestion that the Pastorals were written during what might be called Paul’s ‘fourth’ missionary journey.
  • Acts ends not with Paul’s death but with his house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16, 30, 31).
  • While the late first-century writing I Clement suggests that Paul was martyred in Rome, it does not link his martyrdom with the imprisonment recorded in Acts 28.
  • The fourth-century church historian Eusebius preserves a tradition that Paul was released from that imprisonment, continued his missionary labors, and was martyred by Nero on his second visit to Rome.
  • This tradition is supported not only by the Pastoral Letters but by Philippines and Philemon as well, which, if they were written during the Roman imprisonment recorded in Acts 28, provide evidence that Paul expected to be released (Phil 1:25, 26; Philemon 22).
  • A fourth missionary journey and a second imprisonment, after the imprisonment recorded in Acts 28, is the most probable setting for the Pastorals.
  • If there were two imprisonments, Paul was released from his first around A.D. 62.
  • According to later tradition, he was martyred by Nero, who died in A.D. 68.
  • Paul wrote I Timothy and Titus shortly after his release from his first Roman imprisonment (A.D. 62-64), and II timothy from prison during his second Roman imprisonment (A.D. 66-67), shortly before his death.

c. Comparision of Two Imprisonments

A Comparison of Paul’s Two Roman Imprisonments

First Imprisonment
Second Imprisonment

Acts 28 – Wrote the Prison Epistles

Wrote II Timothy

Accused by Jews of heresy and sedition

Persecuted by Rome and arrested as a criminal against the Empire

Local sporadic persecutions (A.D. 60-63)

Neronian persecution (A.D. 64-68)

Decent living conditions in a rented house (Acts 28:30,31)

Poor conditions, in a cold, dark dungeon

Many friends visited him

Virtually alone (only Luke with him)

Many opportunities for Christian witness were available

Opportunities for witness were restricted

Was optimistic for release and freedom (Phil 1:24-26)

Anticipated execution (II Tim 4:6)

d. Map of 1st Mission Journey

  • Timothy (means honoring God) was a native of Lystra, a Roman colony in the Province of Galatia.
  • The son of a mixed marriage, his father was a Gentile, a Greek and his mother was a Jew (Acts 16:1).
  • Little is known about his father, who seems not to have become a Christian, but his mother and grandmother must have been converted as a result of Paul’s visit to Lystra on his first missionary journey (II Tim 1:5).
  • From his childhood, they had instructed Timothy in the Jewish Scriptures (II Tim 3:14, 15), and they were undoubtedly influential in Timothy’s own conversion to Christianity.

e. Map of 2nd Mission Journey

  • When Paul returned to Lystra on his second missionary journey, some of the Christians called his attention to this young believer and Paul having formed a high opinion of him, decided to take him along on his journey (Acts 16:2,3).
  • Two specific actions seem to have taken place at this time.
  • First, since Paul would be evangelizing Jews, who would be concerned with the strict keeping of the circumcision tradition, he circumcised Timothy according to Jewish custom (Acts 16:3).
    This was so as to conciliate the Jews and thereby avoiding any potential problem that might arise out of the circumcision issue.
  • Second, Paul and the elders of the church laid their hands upon Timothy to set him apart and equip him for ministry (1:18; 4:14; II Tim 1:6; 2:2).

f. Map of 3rd Mission Journey

  • Timothy traveled with Paul throughout most of his second and third missionary journeys (Acts 17:14, 15; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4), and for part of the fourth.
  • He seems to have become Paul’s protege, and Paul speaks figuratively of himself as Timothy’s ‘father’ (Phil 2:22) and of Timothy as his ‘son’ (1:2, 18; I Cor 4:17; II Tim 1:2; 2:1).
  • As Paul’s co-worker, Timothy served as Paul’s representative in the churches of Thessalonica (I Thess 3:2, 6), Corinth (I Cor 4:17; 16:10), Philippi (Phil 2:19, 23), and Ephesus (1:3).
  • Apart from the statement in Hebrews 13:23 that Timothy had been ‘set free’ (presumably from prisons), little is known about what happened to Timothy after the writing of II Timothy.

g. Map of Paul’s Journey to Rome

  • Our last pictures of Timothy come from the most personal letters in the New Testament I & II Timothy. In them, the aging apostle Paul was near the end of his life, but his burning desire to continue his mission had not dimmed.
  • Paul was writing to one of his closest friends – they had traveled, suffered, cried and laughed together. They shared the intense joy of people responding to the Good News and the agonies of seeing the Gospel rejected and distorted.
  • Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to oversee the young church there (I Tim 1:3, 4).
  • According to tradition, after the apostle’s death, Timothy settled in Ephesus as his sphere of labor and there found a martyr’s grave.