Genuineness. -- The ancient Church never doubted of their being canonical and written by Paul. They are in the Peschito Syriac version of the second century. Muratori's Fragment on the Canon of Scripture, at the close of the second century, acknowledges them as such. Irenæus [Against Heresies, 1; 3.3.3; 4.16.3; 2.14.8; 3.11.1; 1.16.3], quotes 1Ti 1:4, 9; 6:20; 2Ti 4:9-11; Tit 3:10. Clement of Alexandria [Miscellanies, 2, p.457; 3, pp.534, 536; 1, p.350], quotes 1Ti 6:1, 20; Second Timothy, as to deaconesses; Tit 1:12. Tertullian [The Prescription against Heretics, 25; 6], quotes 1Ti 6:20; 2Ti 1:14; 1Ti 1:18; 6:13, &c.; 2Ti 2:2; Tit 3:10, 11. Eusebius includes the three in the |universally acknowledged| Scriptures. Also Theophilus of Antioch [To Autolychus, 3.14], quotes 1Ti 2:1, 2; Tit 3:1, and Caius (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 6.20]) recognizes their authenticity. Clement of Rome, in the end of the first century, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians , quotes 1Ti 2:8. Ignatius, in the beginning of the second century, in Epistle to Polycarp, , alludes to 2Ti 2:4. Polycarp, in the beginning of the second century [Epistle to the Philippians, 4], alludes to 2Ti 2:4; and in the ninth chapter to 2Ti 4:10. Hegisippus, in the end of the second century, in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.32], alludes to 1Ti 6:3, 20. Athenagoras, in the end of the second century, alludes to 1Ti 6:16. Justin Martyr, in the middle of the second century [Dialogue with Trypho, 47], alludes to Tit 3:4. The Gnostic Marcion alone rejected these Epistles.
The HERESIES OPPOSED in them form the transition stage from Judaism, in its ascetic form, to Gnosticism, as subsequently developed. The references to Judaism and legalism are clear (1Ti 1:7; 4:3; Tit 1:10, 14; 3:9). Traces of beginning Gnosticism are also unequivocal (1Ti 1:4). The Gnostic theory of a twofold principle from the beginning, evil as well as good, appears in germ in 1Ti 4:3, &c. In 1Ti 6:20 the term Gnosis (|science|) itself occurs. Another Gnostic error, namely, that |the resurrection is past,| is alluded to in 2Ti 2:17, 18. The Judaism herein opposed is not that of the earlier Epistles, which upheld the law and tried to join it with faith in Christ for justification. It first passed into that phase of it which appears in the Epistle to the Colossians, whereby will-worship and angel-worship were superadded to Judaizing opinions. Then a further stage of the same evil appears in the Epistle to the Philippians (Php 3:2, 18, 19), whereby immoral practice accompanied false doctrine as to the resurrection (compare 2Ti 2:18, with 1Co 15:12, 32, 33). This descent from legality to superstition, and from superstition to godlessness, appears more matured in the references to it in these Pastoral Epistles. The false teachers now know not the true use of the law (1Ti 1:7, 8), and further, have put away good conscience as well as the faith (1Ti 1:19; 4:2); speak lies in hypocrisy, are corrupt in mind, and regard godliness as a means of earthly gain (1Ti 6:5 Tit 1:11); overthrow the faith by heresies eating as a canker, saying the resurrection is past (2Ti 2:17, 18), leading captive silly women, ever learning yet never knowing the truth, reprobate as Jannes and Jambres (2Ti 3:6, 8), defiled, unbelieving, professing to know God, but in works denying Him, abominable, disobedient, reprobate (Tit 1:15, 16). This description accords with that in the Catholic Epistles of St. John and St. Peter, and, in the Epistle to the Hebrews. This fact proves the later date of these Pastoral Epistles as compared with Paul's earlier Epistles. The Judaism reprobated herein is not that of an earlier date, so scrupulous as to the law; it was now tending to immortality of practice. On the other hand, the Gnosticism opposed in these Epistles is not the anti-Judaic Gnosticism of a later date, which arose as a consequence of the overthrow of Judaism by the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, but it was the intermediate phase between Judaism and Gnosticism, in which the Oriental and Greek elements of the latter were in a kind of amalgam with Judaism, just prior to the overthrow of Jerusalem.
The DIRECTIONS AS TO CHURCH GOVERNORS and ministers, |bishop-elders, and deacons,| are such as were natural for the apostle, in prospect of his own approaching removal, to give to Timothy, the president of the Church at Ephesus, and to Titus, holding the same office in Crete, for securing the due administration of the Church when he should be no more, and at a time when heresies were rapidly springing up. Compare his similar anxiety in his address to the Ephesian elders (Ac 20:21-30). The Presbyterate (elders; priest is a contraction from presbyter) and Diaconate had existed from the earliest times in the Church (Ac 6:3; 11:30; 14:23). Timothy and Titus, as superintendents or overseers (so bishop subsequently meant), were to exercise the same power in ordaining elders at Ephesus which the apostle had exercised in his general supervision of all the Gentile churches.
The PECULIARITIES OF MODES OF THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION, are such as the difference of subject and circumstances of those addressed and those spoken of in these Epistles, as compared with the other Epistles, would lead us to expect. Some of these peculiar phrases occur also in Galatians, in which, as in the Pastoral Epistles, he, with his characteristic fervor, attacks the false teachers. Compare 1Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14, |gave Himself for us,| with Ga 1:4; 1Ti 1:17; 2Ti 4:18, |for ever and ever,| with Ga 1:5: |before God,| 1Ti 5:21; 6:13; 2Ti 2:14; 4:1, with Ga 1:20: |a pillar,| 1Ti 3:15, with Ga 2:9: |mediator,| 1Ti 2:5, with Ga 3:20: |in due season,| 1Ti 2:6; 6:15; Tit 1:3 with Ga 6:9.
Time and place of writing. -- The First Epistle to Timothy was written not long after Paul had left Ephesus for Macedon (1Ti 1:3). Now, as Timothy was in Macedon with Paul (2Co 1:1) on the occasion of Paul's having passed from Ephesus into that country, as recorded, Ac 19:22; 20:1, whereas the First Epistle to Timothy contemplates a longer stay of Timothy in Ephesus, Mosheim supposes that Paul was nine months of the |three years| stay mostly at Ephesus (Ac 20:31) in Macedonia, and elsewhere (perhaps Crete), (the mention of only |three months| and |two years,| Ac 19:8, 10, favors this, the remaining nine months being spent elsewhere); and that during these nine months Timothy, in Paul's absence, superintended the Church of Ephesus. It is not likely that Ephesus and the neighboring churches should have been left long without church officers and church organization, rules respecting which are giver in this Epistle. Moreover, Timothy was still |a youth| (1Ti 4:12), which he could hardly be called after Paul's first imprisonment, when he must have been at least thirty-four years of age. Lastly, in Ac 20:25, Paul asserts his knowledge that the Ephesians should not all see his face again, so that 1Ti 1:3 will thus refer to his sojourn at Ephesus, recorded in Ac 19:10, whence he passed into Macedonia. But the difficulty is to account for the false teachers having sprung up almost immediately (according to this theory) after the foundation of the Church. However, his visit recorded in Ac 19:1-41 was not his first visit. The beginning of the Church at Ephesus was probably made at his visit a year before (Ac 18:19-21). Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla, carried on the work (Ac 18:24-26). Thus, as to the sudden growth of false teachers, there was time enough for their springing up, especially considering that the first converts at Ephesus were under Apollos' imperfect Christian teachings at first, imbued as he was likely to be with the tenets of Philo of Alexandria, Apollos' native town, combined with John the Baptist's Old Testament teachings (Ac 18:24-26). Besides Ephesus, from its position in Asia, its notorious voluptuousness and sorcery (Ac 19:18, 19), and its lewd worship of Diana (answering to the Phoenician Ashtoreth), was likely from the first to tinge Christianity in some of its converts with Oriental speculations and Asiatic licentiousness of practices. Thus the phenomenon of the phase of error presented in this Epistle, being intermediate between Judaism and later Gnosticism (see above), would be such as might occur at an early period in the Ephesian Church, as well as later, when we know it had open |apostles| of error (Re 2:2, 6), and Nicolaitans infamous in practice. As to the close connection between this First Epistle and the Second Epistle (which must have been written at the close of Paul's life), on which Alford relies for his theory of making the First Epistle also written at the close of Paul's life, the similarity of circumstances, the person addressed being one and the same, and either in Ephesus at the time, or at least connected with Ephesus as its church overseer, and having heretics to contend with of the same stamp as in the First Epistle, would account for the connection. There is not so great identity of tone as to compel us to adopt the theory that some years could not have elapsed between the two Epistles.
However, all these arguments against the later date may be answered. This First Epistle may refer not to the first organization of the Church under its bishops, or elders and deacons, but to the moral qualifications laid down at a later period for those officers when scandals rendered such directions needful. Indeed, the object for which he left Timothy at Ephesus he states (1Ti 1:3) to be, not to organize the Church for the first time, but to restrain the false teachers. The directions as to the choice of fit elders and deacons refer to the filling up of vacancies, not to their first appointment. The fact of there existing an institution for Church widows implies an established organization. As to Timothy's |youth,| it may be spoken of comparatively young compared with Paul, now |the aged| (Phm 9), and with some of the Ephesian elders, senior to Timothy their overseer. As to Ac 20:25, we know not but that |all| of the elders of Ephesus called to Miletus |never saw Paul's face| afterwards, as he |knew| (doubtless by inspiration) would be the case, which obviates the need of Alford's lax view, that Paul was wrong in this his positive inspired anticipation (for such it was, not a mere boding surmise as to the future). Thus he probably visited Ephesus again (1Ti 1:3; 2Ti 1:18; 4:20, he would hardly have been at Miletum, so near Ephesus, without visiting Ephesus) after his first imprisonment in Rome, though all the Ephesian elders whom he had addressed formerly at Miletus did not again see him. The general similarity of subject and style, and of the state of the Church between the two Epistles, favors the view that they were near one another in date. Also, against the theory of the early date is the difficulty of defining, when, during Paul's two or three years' stay at Ephesus, we can insert an absence of Paul from Ephesus long enough for the requirements of the case, which imply a lengthened stay and superintendence of Timothy at Ephesus (see, however, 1Ti 3:14, on the other side) after having been |left| by Paul there. Timothy did not stay there when Paul left Ephesus (Ac 19:22; 20:1; 2Co 1:1). In 1Ti 3:14, Paul says, |I write, hoping to come unto thee shortly,| but on the earlier occasion of his passing from Ephesus to Macedon he had no such expectation, but had planned to spend the summer in Macedon, and the winter in Corinth, (1Co 16:6). The expression |Till I come| (1Ti 4:13), implies that Timothy was not to leave his post till Paul should arrive; this and the former objection, however, do not hold good against Mosheim's theory. Moreover, Paul in his farewell address to the Ephesian elders prophetically anticipates the rise of false teachers hereafter of their own selves; therefore this First Epistle, which speaks of their actual presence at Ephesus, would naturally seem to be not prior, but subsequent, to the address, that is, will belong to the later date assigned. In the Epistle to the Ephesians no notice is taken of the Judaeo-Gnostic errors, which would have been noticed had they been really in existence; however, they are alluded to in the contemporaneous sister Epistle to Colossians (Col 2:1-23).
Whatever doubt must always remain as to the date of the First Epistle, there can be hardly any as to that of the Second Epistle. In 2Ti 4:13, Paul directs Timothy to bring the books and cloak which the apostle had left at Troas. Assuming that the visit to Troas referred to is the one mentioned in Ac 20:5-7, it will follow that the cloak and parchments lay for about seven years at Troas, that being the time that elapsed between the visit and Paul's first imprisonment at Rome: a very unlikely supposition, that he should have left either unused for so long. Again, when, during his first Roman imprisonment, he wrote to the Colossians (Col 4:14) and Philemon (Phm 24), Demas was with him; but when he was writing 2Ti 4:10, Demas had forsaken him from love of this world, and gone to Thessalonica. Again, when he wrote to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon, he had good hopes of a speedy liberation; but here in 2Ti 4:6-8, he anticipates immediate death, having been at least once already tried (2Ti 4:16). Again, he is in this Epistle represented as in closer confinement than he was when writing those former Epistles in his first imprisonment (even in the Philippians, which represent him in greater uncertainty as to his life, he cherished the hope of soon being delivered, Php 2:24; 2Ti 1:16-18; 2:9; 4:6-8, 16). Again (2Ti 4:20), he speaks of having left Trophimus sick at Miletum. This could not have been on the occasion, Ac 20:15. For Trophimus was with Paul at Jerusalem shortly afterwards (Ac 21:29). Besides, he would thus be made to speak of an event six or seven years after its occurrence, as a recent event: moreover, Timothy was, on that occasion of the apostle being at Miletum, with Paul, and therefore needed not to be informed of Trophimus' sickness there (Ac 20:4-17). Also, the statement (2Ti 4:20), |Erastus abode at Corinth,| implies that Paul had shortly before been at Corinth, and left Erastus there; but Paul had not been at Corinth for several years before his first imprisonment, and in the interval Timothy had been with him, so that he did not need to write subsequently about that visit. He must therefore have been liberated after his first imprisonment (indeed, Heb 13:23, 24, expressly proves that the writer was in Italy and at liberty), and resumed his apostolic journeyings, and been imprisoned at Rome again, whence shortly before his death he wrote Second Timothy.
Eusebius [Chronicles, Anno 2083] (beginning October, A.D.67), says, |Nero, to his other crimes, added the persecution of Christians: under him the apostles Peter and Paul consummated their martyrdom at Rome.| So Jerome [On Illustrious Men], |In the fourteenth year of Nero, Paul was beheaded at Rome for Christ's sake, on the same day as Peter, and was buried on the Ostian Road, in the thirty-seventh year after the death of our Lord.| Alford reasonably conjectures the Pastoral Epistles were written near this date. The interval was possibly filled up (so Clement of Rome states that Paul preached as far as |to the extremity of the west|) by a journey to Spain (Ro 15:24, 28), according to his own original intention. Muratori's Fragment on the Canon of Scripture (about A.D.170) also alleges Paul's journey into Spain. So Eusebius, Chrysostom, and Jerome. Be that as it may, he seems shortly before his second imprisonment to have visited Ephesus, where a new body of elders governed the Church (Ac 20:25), say in the latter end of A.D.66, or beginning of 67. Supposing him thirty at his conversion, he would now be upwards of sixty, and older in constitution than in years, through continual hardship. Even four years before he called himself |Paul the aged| (Phm 9).
From Ephesus he went into Macedonia (1Ti 1:3). He may have written the First Epistle to Timothy from that country. But his use of |went,| not |came,| in 1Ti 1:3, |When I went into Macedonia,| implies he was not there when writing. Wherever he was, he writes uncertain how long he may be detained from coming to Timothy (1Ti 3:14, 15). Birks shows the probability that he wrote from Corinth, between which city and Ephesus the communication was rapid and easy. His course, as on both former occasions, was from Macedon to Corinth. He finds a coincidence between 1Ti 2:11-14, and 1Co 14:34, as to women being silent in Church; and 1Ti 5:17, 18, and 1Co 9:8-10, as to the maintenance of ministers, on the same principle as the Mosaic law, that the ox should not be muzzled that treadeth out the corn; and 1Ti 5:19, 20, and 2Co 13:1-4, as to charges against elders. It would be natural for the apostle in the very place where these directions had been enforced, to reproduce them in his letter.
The date of the Epistle to Titus must depend on that assigned to First Timothy, with which it is connected in subject, phraseology, and tone. There is no difficulty in the Epistle to Titus, viewed by itself, in assigning it to the earlier date, namely, before Paul's first imprisonment. In Ac 18:18, 19, Paul, in journeying from Corinth to Palestine, for some cause or other landed at Ephesus. Now we find (Tit 3:13) that Apollos in going from Ephesus to Corinth was to touch at Crete (which seems to coincide with Apollos' journey from Ephesus to Corinth, recorded in Ac 18:24, 27; 19:1); therefore it is not unlikely that Paul may have taken Crete similarly on his way between Corinth and Ephesus; or, perhaps been driven out of his course to it in one of his three shipwrecks spoken of in 2Co 11:25, 26; this will account for his taking Ephesus on his way from Corinth to Palestine, though out of his regular course. At Ephesus Paul may have written the Epistle to Titus [Hug]; there he probably met Apollos and gave the Epistle to Titus to his charge, before his departure for Corinth by way of Crete, and before the apostle's departure for Jerusalem (Ac 18:19-21, 24). Moreover, on Paul's way back from Jerusalem and Antioch, he travelled some time in Upper Asia (Ac 19:1); and it was then, probably, that his intention to |winter at Nicopolis| was realized, there being a town of that name between Antioch and Tarsus, lying on Paul's route to Galatia (Tit 3:12). Thus, First Timothy will, in this theory, be placed two and a half years later (Ac 20:1; compare 1Ti 1:3).
Alford's argument for classing the Epistle to Titus with First Timothy, as written after Paul's first Roman imprisonment, stands or falls with his argument for assigning First Timothy to that date. Indeed, Hug's unobjectionable argument for the earlier date of the Epistle to Titus, favors the early date assigned to First Timothy, which is so much akin to it, if other arguments be not thought to counterbalance this. The Church of Crete had been just founded (Tit 1:5), and yet the same heresies are censured in it as in Ephesus, which shows that no argument, such as Alford alleges against the earlier date of First Timothy, can be drawn from them (Tit 1:10, 11, 15, 16; 3:9, 11). But vice versa, if, as seems likely from the arguments adduced, the First Epistle to Timothy be assigned to the later date, the Epistle to Titus must, from similarity of style, belong to the same period. Alford traces Paul's last journey before his second imprisonment thus: To Crete (Tit 1:5), Miletus (2Ti 4:20), Colosse (fulfilling his intention, Phm 22), Ephesus (1Ti 1:3; 2Ti 1:18), from which neighborhood he wrote the Epistle to Titus; Troas, Macedonia, Corinth (2Ti 4:20), Nicopolis (Tit 3:12) in Epirus, where he had intended to winter; a place in which, as being a Roman colony, he would be free from tumultuary violence, and yet would be more open to a direct attack from foes in the metropolis, Rome. Being known in Rome as the leader of the Christians, he was probably [Alford] arrested as implicated in causing the fire in A.D.64, attributed by Nero to the Christians, and was sent to Rome by the Duumvirs of Nicopolis. There he was imprisoned as a common malefactor (2Ti 2:9); his Asiatic friends deserted him, except Onesiphorus (2Ti 1:16). Demas, Crescens, and Titus, left him. Tychicus he had sent to Ephesus. Luke alone remained with him (2Ti 4:10-12). Under the circumstances he writes the Second Epistle to Timothy, most likely while Timothy was at Ephesus (2Ti 2:17; compare 1Ti 1:20; 2Ti 4:13), begging him to come to him before winter (2Ti 4:21), and anticipating his own execution soon (2Ti 4:6). Tychicus was perhaps the bearer of the Second Epistle (2Ti 4:12). His defense was not made before the emperor, for the latter was then in Greece (2Ti 4:16, 17). Tradition represents that he died by the sword, which accords with the fact that his Roman citizenship would exempt him from torture; probably late in A.D.67 or A.D.68, the last year of Nero.
Timothy is first mentioned, Ac 16:1, as dwelling in Lystra (not Derbe, compare Ac 20:4). His mother was a Jewess named Eunice (2Ti 1:5); his father, |a Greek| (that is, a Gentile). As Timothy is mentioned as |a disciple| in Ac 16:1, he must have been converted before, and this by Paul (1Ti 1:2), probably at his former visit to Lystra (Ac 14:6); at the same time, probably, that his Scripture-loving mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were converted to Christ from Judaism (2Ti 3:14, 15). Not only the good report given as to him by the brethren of Lystra, but also his origin, partly Jewish, partly Gentile, adapted him specially for being Paul's assistant in missionary work, laboring as the apostle did in each place, firstly among the Jews, and then among the Gentiles. In order to obviate Jewish prejudices, he first circumcised him. He seems to have accompanied Paul in his tour through Macedonia; but when the apostle went forward to Athens, Timothy and Silas remained in Berea. Having been sent back by Paul to visit the Thessalonian Church (1Th 3:2), he brought his report of it to the apostle at Corinth (1Th 3:6). Hence we find his name joined with Paul's in the addresses of both the Epistles to Thessalonians, which were written at Corinth. We again find him |ministering to| Paul during the lengthened stay at Ephesus (Ac 19:22). Thence he was sent before Paul into Macedonia and to Corinth (1Co 4:17; 16:10). He was with Paul when he wrote the Second Epistle to Corinthians (2Co 1:1); and the following winter in Corinth, when Paul sent from thence his Epistle to the Romans (Ro 16:21). On Paul's return to Asia through Macedonia, he went forward and waited for the apostle at Troas (Ac 20:3-5). Next we find him with Paul during his imprisonment at Rome, when the apostle wrote the Epistles to Colossians (Col 1:1), Philemon (Phm 1), and Philippians (Php 1:1). He was imprisoned and set at liberty about the same time as the writer of the Hebrews (Heb 13:23). In the Pastoral Epistles, we find him mentioned as left by the apostle at Ephesus to superintend the Church there (1Ti 1:3). The last notice of him is in the request which Paul makes to him (2Ti 4:21) to |come before winter,| that is about A.D.67 [Alford]. Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.42], reports that he was first bishop of Ephesus; and [NICOPHORUS, Ecclesiastical History, 3.11], represents that he died by martyrdom. If then, St. John, as tradition represents, resided and died in that city, it must have been at a later period. Paul himself ordained or consecrated him with laying on of his own hands, and those of the presbytery, in accordance with prophetic intimations given respecting him by those possessing the prophetic gift (1Ti 1:18; 4:14 2Ti 1:6). His self-denying character is shown by his leaving home at once to accompany the apostle, and submitting to circumcision for the Gospel's sake; and also by his abstemiousness (noted in 1Ti 5:23) notwithstanding his bodily infirmities, which would have warranted a more generous diet. Timidity and a want of self-confidence and boldness in dealing with the difficulties of his position, seem to have been a defect in his otherwise beautiful character as a Christian minister (1Co 16:10; 1Ti 4:12; 2Ti 1:7).
The DESIGN of the First Epistle was: (1) to direct Timothy to charge the false teachers against continuing to teach other doctrine than that of the Gospel (1Ti 1:3-20; compare Re 2:1-6); (2) to give him instructions as to the orderly conducting of worship, the qualifications of bishops and deacons, and the selection of widows who should, in return for Church charity, do appointed service (1Ti 2:1-6:2); (3) to warn against covetousness, a sin prevalent at Ephesus, and to urge to good works (1Ti 6:3-19).