Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day.

Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

1 Timothy

- 1 Timothy

by A.T. Robertson






A.D. 65 TO 68


It is necessary to discuss introductory matters concerning the three because they are common to them all. It is true that some modern scholars admit as Pauline the personal passages in 2 Timothy 1:15-18; 2 Timothy 4:9-22 while they deny the genuineness of the rest. But that criticism falls by its own weight since precisely the same stylistic characteristics appear in these admitted passages as in the rest and no earthly reason can be advanced for Paul's writing mere scraps or for the omission of the other portions and the preservation of these by a second century forger.

The external evidence for the Pauline authorship is strong and conclusive (Clement, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Theophilus, the Muratorian Canon). "Traces of their circulation in the church before Marcion's time are clearer than those which can be found for Romans and II Corinthians" (Zahn, Introduction to the N.T., tr. II, p. 85). Marcion and Tatian rejected them because of the condemnation of asceticism by Paul.

Objections on internal grounds are made on the lines laid down by Baur and followed by Renan. They are chiefly four. The "most decisive" as argued by McGiffert (History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, p. 402) is that "the Christianity of the Pastoral Epistles is not the Christianity of Paul." He means as we know Paul in the other Epistles. But this charge is untrue. It is true that Paul here lists faith with the virtues, but he does that in Galatians 5:22. Nowhere does Paul give a loftier word about faith than in 1 Timothy 1:12-17. Another objection urged is that the ecclesiastical organization seen in the Pastoral Epistles belongs to the second century, not to the time of Paul's life. Now we have the Epistles of Ignatius in the early part of the second century in which "bishop" is placed over "elders" of which there is no trace in the New Testament (Lightfoot). A forger in the second century would certainly have reproduced the ecclesiastical organization of that century instead of the first as we have it in the Pastoral Epistles. There is only here the normal development of bishop (=elder) and deacon. A third objection is made on the ground that there is no room in Paul's life as we know it in the Acts and the other Pauline Epistles for the events alluded to in the Pastoral Epistles and it is also argued on late and inconclusive testimony that Paul was put to death A.D. 64 and had only one Roman imprisonment. If Paul was executed A.D. 64, this objection has force in it, though Bartlet (The Apostolic Age) tries to make room for them in the period covered by the Acts. Duncan makes the same attempt for the Pauline scraps admitted by him as belonging to the hypothecated imprisonment in Ephesus. But, if we admit the release of Paul from the first Roman imprisonment, there is ample room before his execution in A.D. 68 for the events referred to in the Pastoral Epistles and the writing of the letters (his going east to Ephesus, Macedonia, to Crete, to Troas, to Corinth, to Miletus, to Nicopolis, to Rome), including the visit to Spain before Crete once planned for (Romans 15:24; Romans 15:28) and mentioned by Clement of Rome as a fact ("the limit of the west"). The fourth objection is that of the language in the Pastoral Epistles. Probably more men are influenced by this argument than by any other. The ablest presentation of this difficulty is made by P. N. Harrison in The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles (1921). Besides the arguments Dr. Harrison has printed the Greek text in a fashion to help the eye see the facts. Words not in the other Pauline Epistles are in red, Pauline phrases (from the other ten) are underlined, hapax legomena are marked by an asterisk. At a superficial glance one can see that the words here not in the other Pauline Epistles and the common Pauline phrases are about equal. The data as to mere words are broadly as follows according to Harrison: Words in the Pastorals, not elsewhere in the N.T. (Pastoral hapax legomena) 175 (168 according to Rutherford); words in the other ten Pauline Epistles not elsewhere in the N.T. 470 (627 according to Rutherford). Variations in MSS. will account for some of the difficulty of counting. Clearly there is a larger proportion of new words in the Pastorals (about twice as many) than in the other Pauline Epistles. But Harrison's tables show remarkable differences in the other Epistles also. The average of such words per page in Romans is 4, but 5.6 in II Corinthians, 6.2 in Philippians, and only 4 in Philemon. Parry (Comm., p. CXVIII) notes that of the 845 words in the Pastorals as compared with each other 278 occur only in I Tim., 96 only in Titus, 185 only in II Tim. "If vocabulary alone is taken, this would point to separate authorship of each epistle." And yet the same style clearly runs through all three. After all vocabulary is not wholly a personal problem. It varies with age in the same person and with the subject matter also. Precisely such differences exist in the writings of Shakespeare and Milton as critics have long ago observed. The only problem that remains is whether the differences are so great in the Pastoral Epistles as to prohibit the Pauline authorship when "Paul the aged" writes on the problem of pastoral leadership to two of the young ministers trained by him who have to meet the same incipient Gnostic heresy already faced in Colossians and Ephesians. My judgment is that, all things considered, the contents and style of the Pastoral Epistles are genuinely Pauline, mellowed by age and wisdom and perhaps written in his own hand or at least by the same amanuensis in all three instances. Lock suggests Luke as the amanuensis for the Pastorals.

The conclusion of Lock is that "either they are genuine 'letters' or artificial 'Epistles'" (Int. Crit. Comm., p. XXV). If not genuine, they are forgeries in Paul's name (pseudepigraphic). "The argument from style is in favour of the Pauline authorship, that from vocabulary strongly, though not quite conclusively, against it" (Lock, Op. Cit., p. XXIX). I should put the case for the Pauline authorship more strongly than that and shall treat them as Paul's own. Parry (Comm., p. CXIII) well says: "It is not reasonable to expect that a private letter, addressed to a personal friend, for his own instruction and consideration, should exhibit the same features as a letter addressed to a community for public, oral communication."

Special Books on the Pastoral Epistles (besides Introductions to the N.T., Apostolic History, Lives of Paul, the Epistles of Paul as a whole): Belser (1907), Bernard (Cambridge Gr. T., 1899), E. F. Brown (Westminster, 1917), Bowen (Dates of P. Letters, 1900), Dibelius (Handbuch, 1913), Ellicott (1883), P. Fairbairn, P. N. Harrison (Problem of the Past. Eps., 1921), Harvey (1890), Hesse (Die Entst., 1889), Humphreys (Camb. B., 1897), Huther (1890), H. J. Holtzmann (1880), James (Genuineness and Authorship of P. Eps., 1906), Kohler (Schriften N.T., 2 Aufl. 1907), Knabenbauer (1913), Kraukenberg (1901), Laughlin (Past. Eps. in Light of One Rom. Imp., 1905), Lilley (1901), W. Lock (Int. & Crit. Comm., 1924), Lutgert (Die Irrlehre d. P., 1909), Maier (Die Hauptprobleme d. P., 1910), Mayer (1913), Meinertz (1913), Michaelis, W (Pastoralbriefe etc. zur Echtheitsfrage der Pastoralbriefe, 1930), Niebergall (Handbuch, 1909), Parry (1920), Plummer (Exp. B., 1896), Pope (1901), Riggenbach (1898), Stock (Plain Talks on, 1914), Strachan (Westm. N.T., 1910), von Soden (Hand-Comm., 1891), Wace (Sp. Comm., 1885), B. Weiss (Meyer Komm., ed. 5, 1886), White (Exp. Grk. T., 1910), Wohlenberg (Zahn's Komm._, 1906).





Assuming the Pauline authorship the facts shape up after this fashion. Paul had been in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3) after his arrival from Rome, which was certainly before the burning of Rome in A.D. 64. He had left Timothy in charge of the work in Ephesus and has gone on into Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3), possibly to Philippi as he had hoped (Philippians 2:24). He wishes to help Timothy meet the problems of doctrine (against the Gnostics), discipline, and church training which are increasingly urgent. There are personal touches of a natural kind about Timothy's own growth and leadership. There are wise words here from the greatest of all preachers to a young minister whom Paul loved.