10 months ago
Paul’s pastoral letters are written to individuals, but they’re meant for congregations. And they’re not meant only for the original individual and the original congregation to whom they are addressed: they are meant for us as well. Paul is not simply sharing his opinions in these letters, he is telling us God’s will and word for the church today.
“The Pastoral Epistles” is a term used to designate Paul’s two letters to Timothy and one letter to Titus. Two things distinguish these three epistles from Paul’s other letters: (1) They are among the last things Paul wrote, reflecting the sort of concerns which burdened the apostle near the end of his ministry. (2) They are ostensibly addressed not to a congregation but to two young men who were functioning in pastoral roles. They are highly personal, practical, and unsystematic in nature; and they deal with matters of church order which Paul had not addressed except in passing. Paul’s pastoral letters are written to individuals, but they’re meant for congregations. And they’re not meant only for the original individual and the original congregation to whom they are addressed: they are meant for us as well. Paul is not simply sharing his opinions in these letters, he is telling us God’s will and word for the church today. The pastoral epistles give us both a description and a prescription of the pattern and the life of the local church. The church was formed and instituted by God. Therefore, the church is to function according to God’s design.
Paul reminded Timothy that when he departed for Macedonia, the he instructed him to remain in Ephesus to confront and correct those who were teaching strange/incorrect doctrine. Paul restated his instructions to confront and correct any teaching that did not align with what he had taught previously in Ephesus.
Paul changes his tone and erupts into praise and thanksgiving for the grace of Christ and mercy of God that had been extended to him and placed him in the ministry. Paul repeatedly acknowledged that Christ trusted him and placed him in the ministry. It was not due to his own volition.
Paul pivots from his concerns about false teachers to matters pertaining to instructions for public worship. In chapter two, he provided directives concerning prayer (1-8) and women’s behavior in church (9-15). He wanted to ensure that divine worship would be carried out correctly.
As Paul addressed God’s order in the home and the church, his teaching is troubling and confusing for many in the contemporary church. Paul was not saying that women did not have a role or a voice in the church. This will become clear as we move forward in this study. To properly understand these verses, we must understand certain aspects of the first century Jewish culture, that did not allow women to study.
Continuing his instructions on how the church should conduct itself, Paul turned to the crucial matter of leadership qualifications. In this chapter, Paul provides a list of qualifications for the individual desiring to serve the church as an overseer or elder. These qualifications emphasize the character of the leader, not the duties to be performed. Of the qualifications listed, only one relates to ability, “they must be able to teach.” Paul places the greatest emphasis on the untarnished reputation of the potential leader. He wanted to encourage respect for the congregation leaders, and to help promote a healthy public perception of the church. This is central to its effectiveness to minister to the culture.
Paul moves from the qualifications of the overseer, to the qualifications of a deacon. The word translated “deacon” (diakonos) means “servant.” Their function in the congregation is significantly different from that of an overseer/bishop/elder.
Paul, after focusing on the exaltation of Christ and the future prospects of the church, the apostle next emphasizes the opposition to the Gospel. Whenever truth flourishes, false teaching will ensure. The apostle is concerned that Timothy should deal correctly with this insidious opposition. As the repository and guardian of God’s truth, the church must be aware of the strategies of the enemies against it. It is critical for the church to understand what God has revealed about these enemies. Paul is not concerned as much with the content of the false teachers’ doctrine, as he is with its source. Paul asserts that false teaching comes from deceptive spirits and demons.
The apostle Paul now begins a personal directive to Timothy, which serves at the same time to all ministers/servants/laborers of the gospel who are called to deal with similar situations. To be an effective servant of Jesus Christ, you must be faithful. Faithfulness dictates that you are sound in doctrine, strong in the Holy Scriptures, preserving these things in your spirit, and not neglecting the spiritual gifts that God has given you.
The one problem the early church faced is still being faced by today’s church. A group of church members felt they were being neglected. Paul provides detailed instructions for how Timothy was to treat and relate to various age groups of people in the church.
Oversight of church leadership requires a balance of respect, impartiality, and appropriate discipline. Paul writes to Timothy regarding elders in the church. These instructions have two main concerns—financial payments for elders (vv. 17–18) and the high standard of godliness for elders (vv. 19–22).
To this point, Paul has addressed three groups of people in the church at Ephesus: people of various ages (5:1-2), widows (5:3-16), and elders (5:17-25). This chapter continues Paul’s advice to Timothy on ministering to the diversity of believers in the church. He first addresses to a fourth group: slaves (6:1-2a), and a final group, the heretical and rich (6:17-19). Paul closes the book by exhorting Timothy to “guard what has been entrusted to him, to ensure that he does not stray from the faith.”
Paul began his concluding section of the epistle by addressing Timothy. As a man of God, he was to flee from all foolishness. Timothy was to pursue personal virtues that have eternal value: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. This guidance certainly applies to the present day follower of Christ.
In the opening verses Paul gives thanks for Timothy. He demanded that Timothy and his ministry be defined by power, love, and self-discipline which would enable him to stand against his adversaries, and he would not be ashamed to testify about the Lord or me (Paul) His prisoner. Paul exhorted Timothy to join courageously with him in suffering for the gospel. It is in such circumstances that the power of God is made manifest.
Paul directed Timothy to follow the example or pattern of his teaching. Timothy was to view what he had heard from Paul as the essential outline of sound teaching/healthy doctrine and he was to maintain the truth with faith and love in Christ Jesus. To hold to sound doctrine and to be balanced, necessitates a commitment to the truth which always requires faith and love, virtues which ultimately come only from being “in Christ” (1 Tim. 1:14).
Having just shared his disappointment over the growing apostasy spreading through Asia, Paul encourages Timothy to be completely devoted to face suffering, to be encouraged by the example of Paul and God’s faithfulness. He addressed Timothy with a direct application: " You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ.” Difficult circumstances, your own weaknesses and fears, and the negative attitudes or unfaithfulness of others should not determine your course in life. Earlier Paul wrote of the power which comes from the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 1:7), now he informs Timothy of the strength which comes from Jesus Christ.
As in his previous letter, Paul warned Timothy about the collapse predicted for the last days (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1–3) and Christ’s return. During this interim, according to the prediction, the world will see terrible times of societal degeneration. Given the present climate in much of the world, you wonder if the last days are quickly coming upon us and the eminent return of Jesus Christ the strong Son of God is very near. (No audio until 50 seconds)
A person’s last words are worthy of attention. They convey their heart, and express to others the things that are important and significant in their life. In chapter four, we have Paul’s last words to Timothy, the first century church, and to all of Christendom going forward. In his final recorded words, Paul expressed no regrets as he came to the end of his ministry and life. Seventeen people are referred to in this final chapter. Paul was always concerned about others and placed great value upon people. In his final days, Paul was thinking of others.
Paul concluded his second epistle to Timothy with personal concerns and greetings. These are the last words of the apostle to have survived. (This lesson has been edited for time, due to a technical issue with audio)