1 Timothy 1-3

While 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus, were personal correspondence, their contents were directed toward the church communities in Ephesus and Crete. These new assemblies, and their leaders, were forced to deal with issues of both Christian doctrine and Christian practice. Paul was concerned that his readers understand the law in light of Christ (1 Tim 1:3-11, Tit 3:9-11). He urged the churches to distribute money justly (1 Tim 5:3-18), endure the battles of ministry (1 Tim 4:1-5:2; 2 Tim 4:1-8), and choose church leaders who would demonstrate and teach the message of Christ (1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9). In the Pastoral Epistles, Paul wrote that Christian doctrine was to form the beliefs and behavior of an orderly church. He advanced his argument by referencing Old Testament individuals and texts in light of God’s revelation in Christ.

(1) In 1 Tim 1:3-5, Paul contrasted the truthfulness of his ministry with the deceptive patterns of his opponents, reflecting Jeremiah’s statements about his own ministry situation. Repeatedly in Jeremiah, the prophet lamented that he spoke God’s truth while the other prophets of Judah proclaimed lies to the people. In Jeremiah 7, Jeremiah stood in the temple and exhorted the people to repent. He confronted those who proclaimed deceptive words and urged the people that they were secure because they could yet go to the Lord’s temple (Jer 7:4). The false prophets deceived the people by urging them to trust in their national status rather than God. These false prophets spoke lies in God’s name (Jer 14:14). Jeremiah wrote, “They keep on saying to those who despise Me: The LORD has said: you will have peace, To everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his heart they have said, No harm will come to you” (Jer 23:17). Paul’s opponents operated from the same frame of thought, promoting salvation through myths and Jewish genealogical records rather than faith (1 Tim 1:3-4). Like the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day, those who opposed Paul and Timothy engaged in fruitless discussion of the law and gave their audiences a sense of false security (1 Tim 1:4-7). Paul countered that the law could not provide any greater security than what God provided His people in Christ (1 Tim 1:8-11).

(2) In 1 Tim 2:5, Paul’s theological paradigm reflected Israel’s confessional statement in Deut 6:4. After Moses reviewed Israel’s travels from Mount Sinai to their settlement on the far side of the Jordan river (Deuteronomy 1-4), he reviewed for Israel the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5. Moses then said, “Listen, Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is One” (Deut 6:4). As long as Israel recognized the unity and singularity and holiness of the Lord, and loved Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut 6:5), they would enjoy success in the Promised Land. In 1 Tim 2:1-7, Paul wrote that the church was to be devoted to prayer in its public gatherings, interceding especially for kings and those in authority so that the church would be an evangelistic and peaceful community. Paul grounded his instructions regarding prayer in the theology of Deut 6:4, writing, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time” (2 Tim 2:5-6).

(3) In 1 Tim 2:13-15, Paul wrote that church order was to reflect the roles of Adam and Eve described in Gen 2:18-3:16. In the record of Genesis, the Lord formed Eve from Adam and set them in the garden to work it together in fellowship with Him. When the serpent tempted Eve, she ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—disobeying God’s command. Then, Adam took and ate, entering into the same sinful state Eve had entered when she ate. The Lord judged the serpent, Eve, and Adam, telling Eve that she would have to endure pain in childbearing. Paul wrote that when the church gathered for prayer, it was to be led by temperate men (1 Tim 2:8) and modestly adorned women (1 Tim 2:9-11). Paul’s instructions reflected the gender curses the Lord issued to Eve and Adam in the garden. He wrote that when the church gathered, women were not to usurp the authority of their husband. Though women would have to endure the pain of childbirth, they would yet be saved by faith and its fruit in the community of the church (1 Tim 2:13-15).