And that brings us to :
F I R S T T I M O T H Y
First and Second Timothy and Titus are commonly referred to as the “Pastoral Epistles.” If by this terminology it is intended to convey the idea that the material contained in these letters helped to “pastor” or “shepherd” or “oversee” the church, I find no objection. However, if one is thinking that Timothy or Titus were “pastors” I have an objection. They were Preachers. There is a biblical distinction to be made.
These three books in our New Testament make up the last of the apostle Paul’s writings. They give personal counsel to young preachers about their work in the church. These letters are intensely personal and practical. First Timothy was probably written during the year 63 A.D.
Timothy was a native of Lystra (Acts 16:1) , his mother was a Jewess, his father a Greek. He was converted by the apostle Paul (1 Tim. 1:2) and joined Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:3). He was with Paul various places too numerous to mention here (see Acts) and sent by Paul on other occasions to preach the gospel to the Lord’s church.
One of the themes seen in First Timothy is stated this way:
1 Tim. 1:3-5
3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.
5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
The goal of the study of God’s Word is always Love from a pure heart.
As you can see from the verses above Paul begins this letter warning Timothy to be on guard against false teachers. In chapter two he gives instructions about prayer, and the role of men and women in the church, in chapter three Paul talks about elders and deacons qualifications, and in chapter four there is found a stern warning about false teachers.
1 Tim. 4:1 – 3
4:1 ¶ But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
Important teachings in First Timothy include: The concept of False Teachers, the Role of Women in the church, Elders and Deacons, The care of widows, and instructions to slaves and the rich.
And that brings us to:
S E C O N D T I M O T H Y
Second Timothy was written during Paul’s second Roman imprisonment around 64 or 65 A.D. A great fire had destroyed a large part of Rome, which the Emperor Nero blamed on the Christians. Paul sat in prison, waiting to be executed and lonely for Christian companionship. This letter is a personal charge to Timothy concerning his Work for the Lord. These are Paul’s final words.
This letter recalls Paul’s great love for Timothy, and he once again charges Timothy to be faithful to his calling. He tells him:
2 Tim. 1:13
13 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
This is a charge the church of Christ would do well to listen to today in a time when “doctrine” and “teaching” have been replaced by subjective “feelings.” It is interesting how many New Testament passages warn of False Doctrine, yet, if you listen to most of the “christian” world today there is no such thing. Paul tells us that the Scriptures are NOT the product of man’s thinking, they are inspired by God and therefore must be defended when contradicted.
Paul tells Timothy that some had turned away from the faith, he encourages Timothy to remain strong and endure hardships. He tells Timothy that apostasy is going to come, and that Timothy can expect the situation in the church to become even worse. Timothy can avoid being caught up in this apostasy by holding fast to the teachings of Paul:
2 Tim. 3:10-17
10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,
11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!
12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Important teachings in Second Timothy include: Timothy was to be an example of sincere service to the Lord, The Doctrine of Inspiration, Warnings about false teachers, encouragement to Christian living.
And that brings us to:
T I T U S
Titus was written by the apostle Paul about the same time as First Timothy in 63 A.D.. From Paul’s epistles we know that Titus was a close and trusted associate, Paul was responsible for his conversion (Titus 1:4) and we also know that he was of Greek ancestry.
Titus was left in Crete by the apostle Paul to help the church there learn the Word of God. Crete was a large island in the Mediterranean Sea. Paul had visited the island on his journey to Rome as a prisoner
(Acts 27:7-21). Cretans were widely known as immoral people:
12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith,
14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.
15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.
16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
So Paul writes to encourage Titus in his ministry and to give him some specific instructions about how to deal with the false teachers he is encountering. This letter in many ways is similar to First Timothy.
Important teachings in Titus include: The preacher in his work, Elders qualifications, Warnings about false teachers, the importance of Good Works.
And that brings us to:
P H I L E M O N
Philemon is a unique little book. It was written by the apostle Paul to a slave owner by the name of Philemon. This is one of the prison epistles (along with Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians). This little epistle was likely written in 60-62 A.D.
Philemon owned a slave by the name of Onesimus who had run away and somehow came into contact with the apostle Paul and was baptized into Christ (Phile 10). For some time Onesimus stayed with Paul and ministered to him. Paul knew that it was necessary for Onesimus to return to Philemon to make restitution for what he had done (Phile 12-14) so he sends him back to his owner with this letter.
It is extremely important that this letter be studied against the background of slavery in the Roman world of the first century. Estimates are that over one half the population of the Roman empire was made up of slaves. Men and women were considered as possessions and could be dealt with as their master wished. Often people became slaves as the result of war, the circumstances of their birth or poverty. Many served as slaves simply to stay alive, to have a roof over their heads and to be fed with some regularity. Roman civil law offered some protection to slaves, but penalties remained severe for those who ran away.
Paul writes to urge Philemon to forgive and take Onesimus back. Onesimus was once useless to Philemon, now, Paul says:
10 I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment,
11 who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.
12 I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart,
13 whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel;
14 but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.
15 For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever,
16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
Philemon is a practical application of the gospel to a complicated social problem.
Important teachings in Philemon include: The brotherhood in Christ, Christian integrity in difficult times, Christian duty.