the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Timothy and Titus Epistles to
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
1. Purpose.-The Epistles to Timothy and Titus are conveniently, if inaccurately, called the Pastoral Epistles, because, in contrast to Paul’s other letters, their object has been thought to be primarily that of equipping his two lieutenants, Timothy and Titus, for pastoral work in two particular regions-Ephesus, with its circle of churches, and Crete. This is, however, too narrow a scope. The letters deal with a situation, and are only secondarily concerned with the personal equipment of Timothy and Titus, whose ministry is not essentially different from that which Paul exercised throughout his churches (1 Timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 4:5, 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11, Ephesians 3:7, Colossians 1:23; Colossians 1:25; Colossians 4:7, 1 Thessalonians 3:2). They cannot be regarded as outlining the character and work of the ideal pastor, but are intended, especially 1 Tim. and Titus, to impress upon the recipients the necessity of taking measures to preserve in its purity and strength the gospel which they had learnt from Paul, in view of special false teaching already present in Ephesus and Crete and threatening to increase. In the face of error, Timothy must boldly preach the gospel, and he and Titus must organize the churches with capable moral and spiritual leaders. The Second Epistle to Timothy is much more personal, and emphasizes his duty as an evangelist in a difficult situation.
The Epistles possess common elements of language, similar features of doctrine, discipline, and organization, and an atmosphere laden with kindred varieties of error, which constitute them a group distinct from the other Epistles of Paul, in fact so distinct that many scholars of varied schools have found difficulty in accepting them as authentic.
2. The text.-For the full discussion of noteworthy readings reference must be made to the standard works. Our purpose will be served by the mention of a few, chiefly from 1 Timothy.
(1) 1 Timothy 1:4 (a) οἰκονομίαν, א A G3 K L P, most cursives, arm. boh. Chr.
(b) οἰκοδομίαν, D2c and a few cursives.
(c) οἰκοδομήν, D2* Lat. vg. go., syr. pesch., Iren.
Most editors accept (a), and with good reason.
(2) 1 Timothy 3:16 (a) ὄς ἐφανερώθη, א* A* C* F2 G3 boh. sah. go. arm. syr. hl.
Origen, Theod. Mops., Cyril Alex.
(b) ὁ ἐφανερώθη, D2* lat. vg., syr. vg., arm.
(c) θεὸς ἐφανερώθη, θς אc Cc D2c K L P.
For treatment of evidence see the notes in Hort’s Greek Testament, who rightly accepts (a) and is followed by nearly all modern editors.
(3) 1 Timothy 4:3 κωλυόντων γαμεῖν, ἀπέχεσθαι βρωμάτων. Hort believes that there is a primitive corruption, and suggests that the reading may have been ἤ ἅπτεσθαι or καὶ γεύεσθαι. Bentley conjectured that κελευόντων had fallen out, but Blass finds an ellipsis in which κελευόντων is to be supplied from κωλυόντων.
(4) 1 Timothy 4:10 (a) ἀγωνιζόμεθα, א* A C E G.
(b) ὀνειδιζόμεθα. אc D2 vg. go. syr. boh. arm.
Most modern editors place (a) in the text, and yet (b) has much in its favour both externally and intrinsically. That Christians we’re held in scorn for their unsubstantial hope is an excellent interpretation of the passage.
(5) 1 Timothy 6:7 (a) ὅτι οὐδὲ ἐξ., א* A G3 17 vg. sah. boh. arm.
(b) ἀληθὲς ὅτι οὐδὲ ἐξ., D2* m. [Note: . margin.] go.
(c) δῆλον ὅτι, אc D2bc K L P Chr.
(d) οὐδὲ ἐξ., arm. Cyr., apparently Cyprian.
Hort seems to be right in accepting (d), and he suggests that ὅτι may have come in by dittography after κόσμον.
(6) 2 Timothy 4:10 (a) Γαλατίαν, A D G K L P, vg. syr. Chrys., Theod. Mops.
(b) Γαλλίαν, C 5 cursives, vg. Epiph.
(a) is best attested and accepted by most editors, though it may mean European Gaul.
In the text, especially of 1 Timothy, apart from readings there are difficulties, occasioned apparently by some disorder owing possibly to a disarrangement of notes in the hand of an editor. Of this disorder the most evident traces are 1 Timothy 5:1-2; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16; 1 Timothy 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; also 1 Timothy 3:11, 1 Timothy 5:23, 1 Timothy 6:20-21 may be later interpolations. Less is to be said for the view, which, however, is plausible, that Titus 1:7-9 has been inserted by a later hand, and that 1 Tim. originally ended at 1 Timothy 5:16.
(i.) 1 Timothy 1:1-2. Greeting.-Paul, in the full apostolic authority which he had received from God our Saviour and Christ Jesus, the surety for the Christian hope, formally addresses Timothy, his true son in the faith.
1 Timothy 1:3-7. General occasion of the letter.-Formal reminder of warning once given at Ephesus in person against false teaching, which substitutes idle speculation for Christian love, springing out of a pure heart and unfeigned faith, which it is the aim of preaching to produce. Already this error has shipwrecked some would-be teachers of the Jewish Law, who, without understanding it, pervert its meaning.
1 Timothy 1:6-11. The right use of the Law.-According to its true spirit the Law is to be invoked against such vices as are condemned by the healthy teaching of the gospel.
1 Timothy 1:12-17. Paul’s stewardship.-The gospel ministry of Divine power and salvation from sin was granted by an act of God’s grace in Christ Jesus to the most unworthy Apostle, whose redemption is an example of many others to come; for all of which the writer makes solemn thanksgiving to God.
1 Timothy 1:18-20. Paul recommits this ministry to Timothy. He encourages him that in spite of hard warfare he will not be defeated, because the Holy Spirit had led him to choose Timothy for this service. The fearful example of two apostates excommunicated in the hope that punishment would lead to their reformation.
(a) The furtherance of the ministry of the gospel.-(1.) The ministry of the gospel is furthered by rightly ordered public prayer and worship (1 Timothy 2:1-15).
1 Timothy 2:1-8. Since Timothy is to preach the gospel of salvation for all, constant prayer must be made for all sorts and conditions of men, who have one Father and one Mediator of His will for men, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all. Special supplication is to be made for kings, because if they are favourable the Church will have rest, its worship will continue undisturbed, and salvation will come to all men.
1 Timothy 2:9-15. These verses set forth woman’s function in the Christian community. She is not to teach or pray in public, but is to be modest in apparel and to adorn herself with good works, performing her function in salvation by her maternal calling, whereby she will, in a life of faith, love, and holy restraint, redress the balance against her through the sin of Eve. (The formula πιστὸς ὁ λόγος probably refers to what precedes; if to what follows, it means that in the Church it is a common saying, ‘if a man desires the office of a bishop, etc.’ An inferior reading, ἀνθρώπινος, would be connected with what follows-‘It is a common human saying.’)
(2) It is furthered also by the appointment of officials of worthy character (1 Timothy 3:1 to 1 Timothy 4:6).
1 Timothy 3:1-7. The type of man to be chosen as bishop.-This office is eagerly sought after, and Timothy is to employ discretion in choosing candidates. They must be men of irreproachable character, possessing self-restraint, tact, ability to control others, as shown by the control of their own family, given to hospitality, able to teach, not youthful but fortified by experience against dangers to which such an office would expose the immature.
1 Timothy 3:6-13. The type of man for the diaconate.-Tested men with personal qualities and administrative powers similar, except for ability to teach, to those of the bishop. Their wives, probably bishops’ as well as deacons’, must be respected, discreet, and trustworthy (1 Timothy 3:11 reads in this connexion like an interpolation, and it may refer to deaconesses). Honourable service secures a good degree of honour and greater confidence in the gospel ministry (or a good basis for the next grade, i.e. bishop).
1 Timothy 3:14-16. The Church holds forth the truth, in opposition to error, of which an example is given (1 Timothy 4:1-6). After an interjected reference to the possibility of delay in coming to Ephesus, the Apostle states that the purpose of the letter is to instruct Timothy as to his right ordering of the Church, which, as the dwelling-place of the God of Israel, supports and is the foundation of the truth. This truth is a great mystery revealed in a Person only to those who lead godly lives, and is summed up in the words of a Christian hymn setting forth the gospel of the Incarnation.
The Spirit, through prophets in the Church, perhaps also through the words of written prophecy, foretells that there will be a great apostasy, led by teachers under demonic influence, who will enjoin abstinence from marriage and certain foods. But by the gospel the old Jewish distinctions of clean and unclean and heathen asceticism have been abolished, and the Christian may sanctify by prayer, and possibly by a psalm, any meat set before him, and thankfully partake of it.
Timothy is to fulfil his ministry by transmitting to his brethren the wholesome teaching of the Apostle (1 Timothy 4:6).
(b) Personal advice to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:7-16). 1 Timothy 4:7-10. The man of God must practise piety, and not asceticism. Piety has the sure promise of life here and hereafter; but the pursuit is arduous, and the goal will be attained only as we set our hope on the living God, who will save the believer unto eternal life.
1 Timothy 4:11-16. Timothy must overcome his diffidence, which arises partly from his youth, and in the constant exercise of his Divinely inspired gift of teaching become an example in life and doctrine of what the Christian minister should be.
(c) Further advice as to various classes in the Church (1 Timothy 5:1 to 1 Timothy 6:2).-Evidently there is insubordination, and the Apostle warns Timothy not to allow himself, when he breaks through his diffidence, to be swept into passionate rebuke.
1 Timothy 5:3-16. Widows in the Church.-(1) Those who have children or other relatives, or who are in the employ of a Christian woman: Christian piety demands that their support must fall upon these (1 Timothy 5:3-4; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16). (2) The real widows above sixty years of age and destitute who have a character for stability, hospitality, and good works are to be enrolled for service in the Church, on whom their support must fall if their relatives are poor (1 Timothy 5:5-7; 1 Timothy 5:9-10). (3) Since younger widows may fall into sin under passion, or into indolent enjoyment, they are advised to marry (1 Timothy 5:11-15).
(Note the disordered arrangement of this section, esp. 1 Timothy 5:1-2; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16.)
1 Timothy 5:17-25. The honourable position of the elder.-The elder who fulfils his function well, especially if he can preach and teach, is to be given double honour (or it may be double pay), and, in accordance with our Lord’s instructions, is to be supported for his work’s sake. The dignity of the office demands that charges preferred against elders are not to be lightly received; though, if they be substantiated, the rebuke is to be public. Judgment must be well considered and impartial, and no one is to be ordained without careful consideration. In order to be able to give such a judgment and not be involved in the sins of others, Timothy must keep himself pure, though he is not to be an ascetic. (Possibly 1 Timothy 5:23 is interpolated to meet ascetic tendencies.) Such sins as drunkenness and open vice will be evident at once, but secret sins will come out in time. So with men’s good deeds. With care he will not make mistakes.
1 Timothy 6:1-2. Slaves.-Service honourable to the faith must be paid to masters unbelieving or believing, in the latter case inspired by the knowledge that it is a service of love to brethren.
(d) Final exhortations (1 Timothy 6:3-21).
1 Timothy 6:3-5. Teach healthy doctrine, based on the teaching of Jesus, which ensures piety.-The befogged teacher of false doctrine does not practise virtue, but by his empty disputations stirs the churches into strife, and in the muddy waters he fishes, using so-called piety as a means of gain.
1 Timothy 6:6-10. The practice of godliness in contrast with the pursuit of riches.
1 Timothy 6:11-16. Solemn adjuration to Timothy.-The Christian minister must pursue those virtues the possession of which brings life, and Timothy must give a pure testimony to the gospel, even if through suffering. In a liturgical formula he reminds him that the Lord will come to judge.
1 Timothy 6:17-19. Advice to the rich as to the use of wealth.
1 Timothy 6:20-21. Final exhortation to guard the deposit of Christian faith and avoid the meaningless profanities of men who claim a ‘gnosis’ falsely so called, the pursuit of which has already caused some to lose their faith.
(This chapter also has a disordered arrangement. Cf. 1 Timothy 6:3; 1 Timothy 6:20-21 and 1 Timothy 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:17-19.)
(ii.) 2 Timothy 1:1-2. Greeting.-Paul, appointed by God as an apostle of Jesus Christ to proclaim the promise of life in Christ Jesus, addresses Timothy, his well-beloved son in the gospel.
(a) Timothy to succeed Paul in the service, suffering, and final reward of the gospel of Christ (2TI 2 Timothy 1:3 to 2 Timothy 2:13).
2 Timothy 1:3-14. Timothy is exhorted not to be ashamed, through fear of suffering, to preach the gospel for which Paul is a prisoner. Timothy, the thought of whose hereditary faith is a constant source of intense joy and affection to the Apostle, is urged to fan into flame his gift of preaching the gospel of Divine power, which cannot fail, even though thereby he, like Paul, may suffer. Of this gospel of salvation from death unto eternal life in Christ Jesus, Paul is an apostle and teacher, and he has made no mistake in committing himself to God in its service though he is a prisoner; and now Timothy is, by his preaching through the indwelling Spirit, to guard this pure gospel of faith and love in Christ.
2 Timothy 1:15-18. Defections of followers in Asia serve as a warning, and devoted service on the part of Onesiphorus towards the Apostle as an encouragement.
2 Timothy 2:1-13. Timothy is to be Paul’s successor in the transmission of the gospel with its suffering, its triumph, its final reward. He is to draw his strength from the grace which is in Christ Jesus, and transmit the gospel to a succession of worthy men. The Christian teacher must, as a good soldier, endure the hard conditions of the campaign, or, like the athlete, obey the rules of the game, suffering being one of the conditions. Only the toiling husbandman gets his reward. When discouraged, Timothy must think upon the gospel that Jesus died and has risen in triumph. Paul also suffers as a malefactor, but these sufferings are for the furtherance of the gospel, and will bring a glorious reward in Christ’s Kingdom, as is set forth in a verse of a hymn or a liturgical formula. (The formula πιστὸς ὁ λόγος here refers to what follows.)
(b) Circumstances which demand faithful service in the gospel on the part of Timothy (2TI 2 Timothy 2:14 to 2 Timothy 4:8)
2 Timothy 2:14-18. Timothy must prove himself a reliable workman, and set forth the gospel according to the pattern laid down by Paul, and avoid profane idle talk which leads to apostasy, and which, like a running sore, will eat into the Church’s life. Already some are teaching that there is no bodily resurrection.
2 Timothy 2:19-26. The Church of God, however, is built upon a firm foundation, and its members must be pure; but, like a large house, it contains vessels of all qualities: some will have honourable, others dishonourable uses, and Timothy, as the true servant of God, must choose for Divine service vessels cleansed of the vices of the false teachers. Christian virtues are to be cultivated among the faithful as a protection against error, and the disputations of false teachers are to be avoided, though in a gentle spirit, in the hope that some of those who are in error may be granted repentance and be saved.
2 Timothy 3:1-9. The worst has not come yet. Though already the Church has a commingling of good and evil, in the last days it will be invaded by men who, under the mask of piety, will practise manifold and abominable vices, and will cause some to apostatize, women especially becoming an easy prey. This will be a sign not that God has forsaken His Church, but of the end of the age; and, as was the case with the magicians who resisted Moses, these corrupt men will be detected in their folly.
2 Timothy 3:10-17. To this error Paul’s gospel and manner of life are the only antidote. He has always been Timothy’s example, even in suffering; and with the invasion of these impostors sufferings will multiply. Timothy must abide by Pauline doctrine, which is the fulfilment of what was taught to him as a true Israelite; it is the doctrine of salvation contained in the inspired Scriptures from which the man of God must equip himself for his ministry.
2 Timothy 4:1-8. Solemn appeal by the dying Apostle.-The Lord will assuredly return to judge the living and the dead, and to set up His eternal Kingdom. Timothy is therefore urged to preach the gospel, whether men are willing to receive it or not, and with much patience to rebuke sin and error. For soon many will refuse to listen to him and will turn to false teachers with their gossipy fables. He must not be discouraged, but must take up and carry to its completion, as far as in him lies, the work which the Apostle is about to lay down, when he will close a life of sacrifice in a martyr’s death. St. Paul’s bark is about to cast off from the shore of time; having kept the faith he will soon receive the crown of life, a reward which Timothy and all others will also get if they are faithful and eagerly look forward to greet their Lord.
(c) The Apostle’s lonely state and his recent deliverance (2 Timothy 4:9-22)
2 Timothy 4:9-13. Only Luke is with Paul. Some have failed him; others have gone on missionary duty. He urges Timothy to hasten and bring Mark to minister to him, also to bring his cloak and parchments from Troas.
2 Timothy 4:14-18. Timothy is to be on his guard against Alexander the coppersmith. In spite of his abandonment by men the Lord gave the Apostle a wonderful deliverance from deadly peril which has enabled him to complete his ministry, and now he has received confidence in his final salvation.
2 Timothy 4:19-22. Greetings to and from other friends.
(iii.) Titus 1:1-4. Greeting.-Paul addresses Titus, his son in the Christian faith. This gospel, in the service of which he is an apostle, is the irreversible truth of God revealed according to His promise in Christ Jesus, and brings hope of eternal life to those who hold fast to its truth in a life of godliness.
Titus 1:5-9. The character of the men to be chosen by Titus for the eldership.-Titus was left behind in Crete, ‘the island of an hundred cities,’ to complete Paul’s work by appointing elders. These men (also called ‘bishops,’ though possibly one bishop might preside over a presbytery) must be of blameless reputation, and as stewards of God’s House prove their fitness by ruling well in their own families. Self-controlled, hospitable also and pious, they must hold so firmly to healthy doctrine that they will be able to refute perverse teachers.
Titus 1:10-16. False teachers.-In these churches, false and insubordinate teachers, of Jewish origin, full of empty talk, have arisen, who for money have perverted many of the Cretan families, inclined as they are by nature to sensuality. (He quotes a hexameter of Epimenides, one of the seven wise men of Greece, giving the Cretans a poor character.) These teachers and perverts must be sharply refuted so as to check the apostasy and to discountenance idle Jewish tales and Jewish precepts as to clean and unclean. Their professed distinctions between clean and unclean are meaningless when the heart is pure, for then outer distinctions vanish; and on the impure heart they have no effect. Though these errorists may profess to believe in God, like good Jews, their defiled lives prove that they are infidels.
Titus 2:1-10. Titus is to regulate the conduct of various classes within the Church. Old men must be self-restrained and dignified, and set forth healthy Christian virtues; especially must the older women be models of goodness, self-control, and family virtue to the younger women. Titus also must be a pattern of self-restraint, gravity, and sound doctrine for the young men. Slaves are to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour by faithful service.
Titus 2:11-15. The gospel motive.-The saving grace of God in Christ is for all men, and challenges us to a life in this present of self-restraint, justice to our fellows, and reverent holiness towards God; at the same time it creates the hope of the appearing of our Saviour, who died for us that He might redeem us as His true Israel, zealous of good works. These demands of the gospel must be authoritatively set before the people.
Titus 3:1-8. A life of goodness the fruit of Divine mercy.-These Cretans must defer to authorities and lead lives of gentleness and goodness, as all Christians do who have been converted from disobedient, sensual, and hateful lives. Everything is due to the goodness of God appearing in Christ, who, not for any righteousness of ours but of His grace, saved us from sin, when in baptism the Holy Spirit of renewal was poured out upon us through Jesus our Saviour, so that being justified by His grace we may become heirs of eternal life. It is all-important that believers should be careful to maintain good works.
Titus 3:9-11. Final advice as to false teachers.-Titus is to avoid disputations with the false teachers, and if, after warning, the factious man proves obdurate, he must be left alone.
Titus 3:12-15. Personal references.-Titus is to come to Paul at Nicopolis as soon as the Apostle can send Artemas or Tychicus to relieve him of his post. Hospitality in general is enjoined, and in particular towards certain visiting brethren.
4. The condition of the churches.-The churches of which Timothy has oversight are within the circle of Ephesus, and those under Titus are in the island of Crete. Their members are drawn from different social strata. Some are rich, and others aspire to become rich, though probably the average is similar to that of other Christian communities. There are masters, and there are slaves. Some were formerly Jews, and Jewish influence is strong (1 Timothy 1:7, Titus 1:10; Titus 1:14), but the majority are, it would appear, of pagan origin. The Cretans, a people of crude morality and insubordinate temper, have fallen an easy prey to the same kind of error as was working havoc in Ephesus. Envy, strife, blasphemies, and suspicions abound (1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:4-5; 1 Timothy 6:21, 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 2:23; 2 Timothy 3:6-9, Titus 1:11; Titus 1:13). The Church has become a commingled body or household with good and bad elements (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 2:20), the gospel having been cast upon poor soil or choked by evil doctrine. Paul’s influence in Asia has been seriously impaired (2 Timothy 1:15); already there has been apostasy, and worse is yet to come; grievous times are impending (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1). For such a serious state of affairs the only remedy is a powerful ethical revival, induced by the preaching of the gospel in its purity, and maintained in a healthy church organization, directed by officials of the highest character.
Either as a cause or as an effect of this condition false teaching has vogue in the churches.
(a) In form it was a ‘knowledge which is falsely so called’ (1 Timothy 6:20), concerned with ‘fables and endless genealogies’ (1 Timothy 1:4), ‘profane and old wives’ fables’ (1 Timothy 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:4), ‘foolish inquiries and genealogies,’ ‘profane babblings and oppositions’ (1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 2:16), ‘Jewish fables, and commandments of men’ (Titus 1:14). It gave rise to ‘questionings and disputes’ (1 Timothy 6:4, 2 Timothy 2:23), ‘strifes, and fightings about the law’ (Titus 3:9), and it was eating into the life of the churches like a cancer (2 Timothy 2:17).
(b) Those who propagated this error seem to have done so by an abuse of the liberty of prophesying, and also by a house-to-house propaganda, which carried away many women. The teachers, who were evidently of Jewish origin, talked much about the Law, but acted in a manner that was contrary to its spirit, turning that which was pure to impure purposes (1 Timothy 1:7-10, Titus 1:15). They clung for self-enrichment to forms of piety (1 Timothy 6:5, 2 Timothy 3:5, Titus 1:11), some of them perhaps practising magic (2 Timothy 3:13); but they were indifferent to Christian virtue, being of corrupt minds, consciously insincere, full of lust, reprobate and unholy men (1 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Timothy 6:5, 2 Timothy 3:1-8; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:15-16). As might be expected, they revolted against authority, as did Jannes and Jambres, the opponents, according to the Midrash, of the Divine prophet Moses (2 Timothy 3:8, Titus 1:10; cf. also 2 Timothy 2:19, with quotation from Numbers 16:5 referring to the rebellion of Korah).
(c) It is held by some that there were varieties in the form of error, the teachers of 2 Timothy 2:18 being thought to differ from the supposed magicians of 2 Timothy 3:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:13; and those of 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 6:21, who missed the goal of faith, from the false teachers of the Law (1 Timothy 1:7). But, while there are not sufficient data to arrive at a confident opinion, it is probable that the differences might be explained as being common elements in a Hellenistic-Jewish type of thought which pervaded the Christian churches of Asia Minor and Crete like an atmosphere. Though the descriptions are vague, certain features stand out connecting this error with tendencies which prevailed during the latter half of the 1st century.
It is frequently assumed that it was a type of Gnosticism-in particular, such a phase as the Ophite sect-and the words ἀντιθέσεις τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως, μῦθοι, γενεαλογίαι might easily describe their speculations, which were accompanied, as here, by emphasis on knowledge and on the practice of asceticism. It is not improbable, however, that 1 Timothy 6:20-21 is a later addition. W. Bousset holds that ‘ “Gnosis” first appears in a technical sense in 1 Timothy 6:20.’ But the developed characteristics of Gnosticism, as he describes it, are not found in the false teaching condemned in the Pastorals-‘a mystic revelation and a deeply-veiled wisdom … the ultimate object is individual salvation, the assurance of a fortunate destiny for the soul after death.… The Gnostic religion is full of sacraments.… Sacred formulas, names, and symbols are of the highest importance among the Gnostic sects,’ … in order that the soul may find ‘its way unhindered [by demons] to the heavenly home.’ The basis of the Gnostic world-philosophy is a dualism and a theory of emanations, including a belief in the Demiurge, who created and rules over this lower world, together with a hostile attitude towards the Jewish religion, which was represented in the later Christian Gnosticism. ‘In Gnosticism salvation always lies at the root of all existence and all history, … is always a myth, … not an historical event’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 11 xii. 152 ff.).* [Note: Wendland, Die hellenistisch-römische Kultur3, pp. 165, 168, 184 f.] In these Epistles we have no trace of any fundamental philosophical contrast between the Creator God, who is the God of the Law in the OT, and the God and Father of Jesus Christ. As regards the ‘mystery’ element, there are far fewer indications of the sacramental spirit than in the Epistles of Paul written to Corinth, where the ‘Gnostic’ tendencies were perhaps less strong than in Ephesus. There is, it is true, a reference to ‘magicians,’ but the Jewish world was only too submissive to their spells.
A primary fact is that this teaching was more or less of Jewish origin, which is to say that it was not ‘Gnostic,’ though the Judaism of Asia Minor had been much influenced by the pagan world, and had even yielded to some of the tendencies which were more powerfully expressed in Gnosticism, such as star worship and ‘mystery’ ideas. Ascetic practices found favour even with such a good Jew as Philo, who held to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. It is quite intelligible, therefore, that teachers who inculcated a false asceticism, forbidding marriage and enjoining abstinence from foods (1 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Timothy 5:14; 1 Timothy 5:23, Titus 1:13; Titus 2:4), who also discounted historical facts and taught that there was no resurrection (2 Timothy 2:18), were Jews of the 1st century or had come under their influence. Indeed, Colossians presents similar teaching on the part of those who extended the old Jewish prescriptions as to clean and unclean, and probably enjoined abstinence from marriage (cf. Colossians 2:16-23 with Titus 1:13-15). Even in the Roman Church there were those who practised asceticism, which may have been supported by speculative theories (Romans 14; Wendland, op. cit., p. 237). The spiritualization of the resurrection also was, according to Hippolytus, found among the Nicolaitans of Revelation 2:6; Revelation 2:15.
Moreover, the Jew of the Dispersion had fallen under the influence of the peripatetic schools of Hellenism and of the Greek lecturer, who played a large part in the Hellenistic world, speculating with empty verbal dialectic and setting forth pretentious moral theories about the simple and ascetic life. They freely used myths, romances, and love-stories for decking out traditions and historical personages, applying them even to the gods. In such ‘myths’ and ‘genealogies,’ profane and gossipy legends couched in rhetorical phrases (ἀντιθέσεις) with immoral tendencies, there was no reality (κενοφωνία). Borrowing the use of allegory from the Greek, perhaps also his frivolous literary methods, the Jew, even the Pharisaic Jew of Palestine, had long before this set to work upon the OT with such an aptitude that in his Haggâdic Midrash, full of senseless stories and supposed genealogies of Hebrew heroes, and in the Book of Jubilees, which sets forth mythical lines of descent of the families of the Patriarchs, he easily rivalled his master in riotous imagination and subtlety* [Note: Wohlenberg (p. 31 n.) quotes two relevant passages-Polyb. IX. ii. 1, who says that he will not follow the method of many who deal with τὰ περὶ τὰς γενεαλογίας καὶ μύθους, καὶ περὶ τὰς ἀποικίας ἔτι δὲ καὶ συγγενείας καὶ κτίσεις; and Philo, Vit. Mos. ii. 8, τὸ γενεαλογικὸν μέρος τοῦ νόμου, deals with the history of the human race until the giving of the Law.] (Wendland, op. cit., pp. 199-202). This method did away with the reality of the fact; history was turned into phantasy. As applied to the Law, especially by the Hellenized Jew of Asia Minor, and to the facts of gospel history, it would produce similar results-that is to say, a false spiritualization, followed by indifference to the facts of morality; and so these triflers with silly tales may have undermined the reverence for the moral order of the Law which had been the bulwark of the Jew against the pagan world. This evil tendency would be further aided by the widespread influence in Asia Minor of pre-Christian Gnosticism and the mystery-religions, from which even the Jew could not escape; and, though he may not have adopted the pessimistic philosophy that lay at their roots, he often glided insensibly into asceticism or licence.
There are still traces in these Epistles of opposition to Paul on the score of the Law, though it is different from that of the earlier Epistles (1 Timothy 1:7, Titus 1:10; Titus 3:9). Here it comes from teachers who by their interpretation and method take all the moral meaning out of the Law. These errorists are a piratical crew, who have seized the good ship and kept her in a pestilential harbour till her timbers are befouled and worm-eaten.
It may be that in the emphasis placed upon the conception of God as One and the Saviour of all, and of Christ as the only Mediator (1 Timothy 2:1-7, Titus 2:10-14), there is an allusion to contemporary Gnostic tenets, but it is more justifiable to see in it a veiled protest against the tendency to ascribe divine honours to heroes or local dynasts, to whom, as possessing the manifest power of the Divine presence, the word ‘Saviour was often applied (ἐνεργὴς ἐπιφάνεια [Wendland, op. cit., pp. 126, 127]). Quite probably Christians were often tempted to secure favour from their rulers by this homage and to cloke the profession of their faith. When 2 Timothy was written, the confession of Christianity, or at least the preaching of it, seems to have been dangerous (2 Timothy 1:8; 2 Timothy 2:11-13), and Timothy is warned not to refrain on this account from delivering Paul’s message. In 1 Tim. the skies are clearer, and the Christians are bidden to pray for kings and rulers in order that under their governance the Church may have freedom in worship (1 Timothy 2:1-4). If her testimony is open and unmolested, the gospel will have freer course. Possibly the words may mean that by this time Christianity had penetrated to circles near the throne, and the Church may have been looking for permanent relief. The Cretans, who are urged to obey rulers (Titus 3:1), seem to have led a secure life unless they provoked reprisals by violence or a harsh spirit, which might have given them the reputation of being haters of their kind (Titus 3:2-3). There is not sufficient evidence in any of the Pastorals to assume the existence of systematic persecution arising from an Imperial policy.
5. Organization and worship of the Church.-The Church is the household of God, the successor of the old theocracy, to which the living God had at all times committed His Word (1 Timothy 3:15, 2 Timothy 2:19; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; cf. Ephesians 2:19). As the warden of Divine truth, which has been fully revealed in Christ, it must be pure in life, sound in doctrine, and firmly organized. Apostasy from or injury to its fellowship incurs the worst consequences (1 Timothy 1:20; 1 Timothy 3:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:18; 2 Timothy 3:8-9, Titus 3:10-11). (It is to be observed, however, that, though the Church is to be kept pure by the removal of unclean elements, the excommunication of Hymenaeus and Alexander, who were delivered over unto Satan [1 Timothy 1:20], was intended to have a reforming effect upon them, whereas in other Christian communities, on occasion at least, a similar act had a severer issue [Acts 5:1-11, 1 Corinthians 5:5].)
In the earlier Epistles Paul addresses his churches both with authority in the name of Christ and with paternal solicitude (1 Corinthians 7:17; 1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Corinthians 16:1, Galatians 4:12-20, 1 Thessalonians 4:2). In the Pastorals also the same notes rise clear in his urgent commands or appeals to Timothy and Titus (1 Timothy 1:18, 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Titus 1:5; Titus 1:13). As formerly he handed on ‘traditions’
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Hastings, James. Entry for 'Timothy and Titus Epistles to'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​t/timothy-and-titus-epistles-to.html. 1906-1918.