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Bible Commentaries

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary
1 Timothy

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 4 Chapter 5

Book Overview - 1 Timothy

by James Gray

1 TIMOTHY INTRODUCTION

We now reach the Pastoral Epistles of which there are three, 1 and 1 Timothy and Titus. They are so called because their contents are chiefly directions regarding the pastoral work of ministers. It is evident that they deal with persons and things belonging to a late period in the apostolic age. The heretics mentioned in them indicate this. These are of Jewish character, for they profess to be teachers of the law (1 Timothy 1:7), and are described as of the circumcision (Titus 1:10), and as causing men to attend to Jewish fables (1 Timothy 3:9). And yet they are not the same Judaizing teachers with which we became acquainted in Acts (1 Timothy 3:15), and Galatians, or even Colossians. They have progressed further on the “down grade,” and “are involved in a total apostasy from God and from good.” They had lost all true understanding of the law (1 Timothy 1:7); had repudiated a good conscience (v. 19); had become hypocrites and liars (1 Timothy 4:2); were branded with immorality (1 Timothy 4:2); of corrupt minds, using religion to better themselves in the world (1 Timothy 6:5; Titus 1:11); subverters of the faith (2 Timothy 2:17); victimizing foolish persons to their ruin (2 Timothy 3:6); confessing God with their mouths, but denying him in their works, abominable and disobedient, and for every good work reprobate (Titus 1:16). A dark catalogue this, corroborating the teaching of 2 Thessalonians as to the working already of the apostasy in the church. The false doctrines attacked by Paul in his earlier epistles were now bearing fruit in laxity of life and morals.

DATE OF THE EPISTLES

It is clear from the foregoing that the date of these epistles must have been later than the period of Paul’s history covered by the Acts, and that they were probably written after his liberation from imprisonment. There is reason to believe that he was imprisoned a second time, and in the interval between the first epistle to Timothy and that to Titus were written, while the second to Timothy followed during the second imprisonment, as it is thought.

Paul, after the imprisonment mentioned in the Acts, journeyed eastward as he anticipated in his letters to Philemon (Philemon 1:22), and the church at Philippi (Philippians 1:26; Philippians 2:24). He visited Ephesus again, and doubtless took further journeys West occupying three or four years. At Ephesus he left Timothy and passed into Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3), from which he wrote him the first epistle. Not far from this time he must have visited Crete in company with Titus and have left him there to complete the organization of the churches. This will appear when we come to the study of the epistle to Titus, which it is thought was written somewhere in Asia Minor, and when Paul was on his way to winter at Nicopolis in Greece. It was at this place he was arrested again probably, “as implicated in the charges made against the Christians after the fire in A.D. 64, and sent to Rome.” Once more in that city, he is treated no longer with the courtesy of his former residence there but as an ordinary criminal (2 Timothy 2:9). All his Asiatic friends avoided him except Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16). Only Luke was with him. Timothy is entreated to come to him before winter (2 Timothy 4:21). He is expecting execution (2 Timothy 4:6), and in view of it he writes his second epistle to Timothy, about A.D. 67 or 68.

HISTORY OF TIMOTHY

For the beginnings of Timothy’s history you will need to refer to Acts 16. He was converted perhaps on the occasion of Paul’s first visit to Lystra, since it was on his second visit he was chosen to be his traveling companion. He accompanies Paul throughout that second missionary journey, wintering with him at Corinth, and seems to have been with him pretty steadily, except for the commissions on which he was occasionally sent (Acts 19:22; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10), not only throughout the second, but the third journey as well. About A.D. 62 or 63 he was with the apostle while the latter was a prisoner at Rome (Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1; Philippians 1:1). In A.D. 66 or 67, after that imprisonment, he was left by Paul in charge of the church at Ephesus. It was while he was here that he received the first epistle or letter from Paul. A year later it may be, the second was written, when Paul was again a prisoner, and Timothy repairs to Rome to visit him, after which nothing further is heard of him.

In his character he was a very earnest and consecrated man, and yet timid and diffident, and hesitating to deal with certain difficulties of his work. Compare here 1 Corinthians 16:10; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Timothy 5:23; and 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:7; 1 Timothy 3:10.

QUESTIONS

1. Name the Pastoral Epistles and state why they are so called.

2. To what period do they belong, and why is it so believed?

3. Describe the heresies therein referred to.

4. Give Paul’s history between the end of Acts and the writing of 1 Timothy.

5. Give an outline of Timothy’s history.

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