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Introduction to the Pastoral Letters

Introduction to the Pastoral Letters

Pastor H.C. Chou

I.       The Pastoral Letters

I & II Timothy and Titus are known as the pastoral letters.  These three letters were written by Paul to Timothy and Titus, instructing them how to pastor the church.  The contents and the main theme of these letters are in agreement.  The time of these epistles are also in the same period.  These are the final letters of Paul.

II.    The Author

These three letters are understood to be the works of Paul from early times.

III. Background of Authorship

The first time Paul was imprisoned in Rome (Acts 28:16), he was released after two years.  He then proceeded to Spain to preach (Rom 15:28).  Next he went on to the east to preach with Timothy, Titus, Erastus, and Trophimus (II Tim 4:20).  They stopped at Macedonia to cross the sea to Troas.  Due to the warm weather, he left his coat at the house of Carpus (II Tim 4:13).  Later, they went on to Ephesus (Some scholars doubt whether he stayed at Ephesus. Ref. Acts 20:36-38).  They received the hospitality of Oneisiphorus (II Tim 1:16-18), and Timothy stayed at Ephesus (I Tim 1:3) to preach the gospel to neighboring cities.  Paul himself went south to go to Miletus where Trophimus stayed in Miletus due to illness (II Tim 4:20).  Paul crossed the sea to Crete where Titus stayed to preach (Tit 1:5).  Later, he went on to Iconium, and also left Erastus at Corinth to preach (II Tim 4:20), and planned to stay at Nicopolis for the winter (Tit 3:12).  Before he could carry out his plan, he was captured by the Roman officials and imprisoned.  He was executed by King Herod. I Timothy and Titus were most likely written in Iconium, II Timothy was completed in the prison of Rome.  The date of authorship for I Timothy and Titus was estimated to be around the time of 63-64 A.D. II Timothy was written at around 66-67 A.D.  The city of Rome commemorates the martyrdom of Paul on June 29, 67 A.D.  Titus was the last epistle of Paul.

IV.  The Condition of the Church

During the time of Paul, there were no edifices for the church.  Many members gathered in the house of one believer to worship the Lord.  In Ephesus, thousands of believers worshipped in the houses of numerous members.  The diligent observers of the Mosaic Law described in Galatians were non-existent but there were many false prophets who preached heresies (I Tim 1:3-7; 4:1-3;  6:3-5; II Tim 2:16-18; Tit 1:10-11; 3:9).

V.     Believers-Timothy and Titus

A.     Timothy

Timothy was born in the city of  Lystra in Asia Minor.  His mother was a Jewish Christian, his father was a Greek.  He was raised in accordance with the law of the Old Testament (II Tim 1:5; 3:15).  He traveled with Paul during his second missionary journey.  To help the pastoral work, he received circumcision from Paul.  He followed Paul to preach the gospel throughout his life.  He was a good assistant to Paul, their relationship was as close as father and son (I Tim 1:2).  Timothy often worked with Paul for the holy work in Macedonia and Iconium.  He stayed with Paul in Ephesus( Acts 17:14-15; 18:15; 19:22).  They also traveled through Macedonia, Corinth, and Jerusalem (Acts 20:1-6).  The first time Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he had the company of Timothy (Phil 1:1; Heb 1:1; Philemo 1).  In many of Paul’s letter, Paul greeted the churches along with Timothy; through this we can see their close relationship.

Timothy had also been imprisoned (Heb 13:23).  He represented Paul many times to strengthen the faith of the churches.

B.     Titus

Titus was a Greek.  Paul and Barnabas once brought him from Antioch to Jerusalem to see the apostles (Acts 15:16).  He was an example of the Gentiles’ exemption from circumcision (Gal 2:1-3).  Paul once sent him to the church of Corinth to visit and to help funding (II Cor 8:16-24).  He was also commanded to stay in Crete to preach (Tit 1:5).  He, like Timothy, was also one of Paul’s assistants.  Paul refers to him as his True Son (Tit 1:4).