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New Testament Survey

The Pastoral Epistles


1 & 2 Timothy


Key Verse(s):

Key Chapter(s):

Key Word(s) or Concept(s)


            What is the main theme of each letter?

            Do your church leaders resemble those described in these letters?

            Can you recognize unsound doctrine?

            What would you do if your church started preaching unsound doctrine?

Suggested Reading beyond the Key Chapter(s):

The Pastoral Epistles –

1 & 2 Timothy


These three epistles are referred to as the Pastoral epistles, that is, as the letters written to pastors of local churches. The letters set forth church structure and offer encouragement to their recipients in the face of adversity and problems. Along with Philemon, these are the only letters of the New Testament written to individuals. Philemon, as we will see, does not deal with pastoral issues. While written to an individual, it does not fit into this grouping.

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
1 Timothy 3:15

Who are Timothy and Titus?


Born of a Gentile father and a Jewish mother (Acts 16:1), Timothy represents the walking picture of the church, the mystery of the union of Jew and Gentile in one body. From Lystra, Timothy most likely received the Gospel during Paul’s first missionary trip (Acts 14:6). Paul views Timothy as his spiritual son (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Phil. 2:22). Timothy is described as a faithful disciple (Acts 19:22; 1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Cor. 1:19; Phil. 2:19; 1 Thess. 3:2,6) and a fellow laborer of the Good News ((Rom. 16:21; 1 Cor. 16:10; Phil. 2:19-22; 1 Thess. 3:2).

Titus is also one of Paul’s converts (Titus 1:4). He was probably younger than Timothy, possibly still a fairly young man at the time Paul writes to him (Titus 2:6-7; but note also 1 Tim 4:12 which suggests Timothy was comparably young as well). Other than the fact that Titus was a Gentile, nothing is known about his conversion. He was the subject of the debate over circumcision (Gal 2:3), so his conversion must have occurred on during the first missionary journey as well. Titus originally served in Corinth, but between Paul’s two stays in the Roman jails, the Apostle visited Crete with Titus. When Paul moved on, Titus stayed behind (Titus 1:5). Titus appears to have moved onto Dalmatia at some point during Paul’s second imprisonment (2 Tim 4:10).


Timothy and Titus are not equivalent to modern day Pastors. They acted as the second installment of leadership in the local churches, Paul being the first. It is to be inferred from these letters that their task was to establish the local leaders and provide them with guidance in the operation of the local churches. Paul’s letters serve as the instruction from the “company vice-president” to the “regional managers” for the “local managers.”


The dating of these three epistles has been anticipated by the discussion on Timothy and Titus. All three were written in the period between Paul’s two imprisonments, or at some point into the second jailing. Second Timothy, in particular, appears to have been written by a Paul facing imminent death, so this is the last of the three. First Timothy dates to 63 and Titus to 63/64, with 2 Timothy being dated slightly later, probably around 64/65, but perhaps as late as 66/67.

Theme and Purpose

Written near the end of his life, these letters reflect Paul’s continuing concern for the welfare of the church. These letters provide ecclesiastical and pastoral instructions to his two protégée on the procedures and qualifications to be employed in the local churches. At the same time, trouble is brewing on the horizons for both men and Paul writes to help encourage them to “fight the good fight.” This good fight includes, foremost, the need to preach and maintain sound doctrine and discipline in the churches.

Outlines and Comments

1 Timothy


First, and foremost perhaps in the Apostle’s mind, Paul writes to warn Timothy against false teachers (1 Tim 1:3). This is an on-going theme of almost all of the Apostle’s epistles. It is so important to maintain sound doctrine within the church that Paul touches upon this point frequently (as do the other writers of the New Testament). This entire letter, even the description of the qualifications of bishops and deacons, stems from Paul’s demand to limit the spread of false doctrine and to prohibit false teachers from entering the church.

At the same time, this letter is full of encouragement to Timothy. Time and again Paul slips words of comfort and encouragement into this letter. The benediction sums it all up.

20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
1 Timothy 6:20, 21

Chapter 3 sets forth the qualifications of bishops and deacons. Paul sets forth these qualifications to keep the church leaders holy – morally and spiritually upright. As one reads these qualifications, note, however, that they should apply not just to the church leaders, but to all of us, for they are the keys to leading a godly life.

Remember my comments when we started investigating Romans as to Paul’s trait of presenting the Gospel message in one or two verses? Here is my favorite.

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
1 Timothy 3:16

2 Timothy

12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
2 Timothy 1:12-14

The letter outlines as follows:

I.         Introduction and greeting - 1:1, 2

II.        A long discourse appealing to faithfulness - 1:3-2:13

III.       A workman appointed to God who does not need to be ashamed - 2:14-26

IV.      The coming Apostasy - 3:1-9

V.        Fight apostasy by defending the faith - 3:10-4:8

VI.      A long section of personal greetings and benediction - 4:9-22

Another way to outline the letter is topical:

A.        Paul the Preacher - Chp 1

B.        Paul the Example - Chp 2

C.        Paul the Prophet - Chp 3

D.        Paul the Prisoner - Chp 4


This is the last letter of the great Apostle. Paul longs for his spiritual son (1:4). The pain and suffering of the man of God may be felt as he gives his instructions to Timothy to come before the winder and to bring warm clothing (4:9, 11, 13, 21). But, most importantly “when thou comest, bring with thee, . . . the books, but especially the parchments” (4:13). Even as Paul sees the end of life in the very near future and after a life filled with preaching and evangelism, the Apostle still desires to study God’s Word!

As with all of these Pastoral letters, the overriding theme is the need to spread the Gospel message and to live a life which does not conflict with what you are preaching and teaching. The basis for this is that the Bible is God’s sacred Word. This is the Word we are to bury in our hearts (Ps 119:11).

Paul again conveys concerns and exhortations about false preachers, but the tone is different. The letter conveys this important information in a more urgent, personal manner (2:14-3:9). Paul recognizes that his time on earth is nearing its end. The aged Apostle feels the urgency of the moment. In the opening verses of chapter 3, he gives a description of the apostasy to be faced by the church. People will have “itching ears” (4:3), turning to their own lusts and desires. Remember apostasy is a falling away from God. On one side the church is attacked by cults. On the other side, by those who claim not to believe in any form of religion. This condition has always been with the church. It will get worse as we near the end of this current age.

Notice that Paul’s defense against apostasy is the same defense he used against the cults. Rely upon Christ and His Word. As he tells Timothy, “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season” (4:2). Why? Simply because it is the Word of God!

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Timothy 3:16, 17

Finally, Paul recognizes the need to “pass the mantle” of leadership. This letter is as close to Paul’s "last will and testament" as we possess. It is time to turn the ministry over to Timothy (3:10-11; cf. 1:3-5; 1:6-14; 2:1-13; 3:10-4:5). In so performing this transfer of leadership, Paul entrusts to Timothy the ongoing task of teaching others to become faithful ministers and teachers (2:2). The Gospel ministry must be continued (1:6-8, 13, 14, 16; 2:3; 3:12; 4:5; 4:2) despite all of the opposition, hardships, apostasy, defections, and criticism which Timothy will encounter (1:5, 8-10, 14; 2:3-7, 9, 11-13 19; 3:14; 4:5, 8). God’s Word and ministry must continue at all costs!

17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Timothy 4:17, 18


For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
Titus 1:5

The letter would outline as follows:

I.         Introduction and greeting - 1:1-4

II.        Qualifications for elders - 1:5-9

III.       How to deal with false teachers - 1:10-16

IV.      Doctrine and conduct for preaching - 2:1-15

V.        Faith and works - 3:1-11

VI.      Final words and benediction - 3:12-15

Titus’s task was to appoint elders in the towns where churches had previously been started. Paul writes this letter to provide guidance for this task and to warn his young spiritual son of the problems of false teachers. It appears that the false teachers were already present in these churches, so the task of appointing morally and doctrinally qualified elders would be both extremely important and difficult (1:6-16, 11; 2:15; 3:9-11).


These letters talk about the pastors of today. In these verses, Paul uses the Greek word presbuteros; a word which means elder, or old or older men (although it is also translated as older women). Our English word presbyter or Presbyterian comes from this Greek word. In 1 Timothy 3:1, 2, Paul used the word episkopos. The King James translates this as bishop while the NASB and NIV translate it as overseer. Overseer is the more literal translation of the word. In the Septuagint, episkopos is used in place of a Hebrew word translated in the Old Testament as overseer and carrying the meaning of one to whom something is entrusted, a superintendent (Gen 39:4, 5; 2 Kings 25:19; Neh 11:9, 14, 22; Dan 1:11). As you might have guessed, from this word comes our word episcopal or Episcopalian.


In 1 Timothy 3:8 Paul uses the word diakonos. We have moved this word into English as deacon. It carries the meaning of a servant. Such a definition fits the description of the first deacons appointed by the Apostles in Acts 6.

Chapter 2 and the first verses of chapter 3 may be used as a guideline for all preaching and teaching of God’s Word. God’s Word is not simply the mechanism to lead one to salvation, but it is the guide for a moral life both in the church, in business, and in social contacts. Paul lists the guidance that a preacher should bestow upon his congregation so that they might understand the real point of being a Christian.

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Titus 2:11-15

As we have been reviewing the New Testament I have tried to point out different doctrines presented in Scripture so that you might better understand the teachings being presented. The Bible is not a textbook of systematic theology. Rather, the writers of Scripture use small pieces of doctrine with the belief that we should be as the Bereans and study God’s Word in order to make sense of it. So, statements of doctrine are frequently mixed and if one does not understand the overall sense of the doctrine, the meaning of passages is lost. Consider the following verse from Titus.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Titus 3:5

Here, Paul talks of works, righteousness, mercy, salvation, regeneration and renewal. We have already discussed many of these, but this passage does present the opportunity to discuss a couple of more.


Regeneration (renewal) is the process of creating a new spirit within us. The word translated “regeneration” is found only twice in the New Testament (Matt 91:28; Titus 3:5). It has been used in ancient classical Greek to refer to the changes produced by the coming of spring. The above passage speaks of a change and renewal involved with the individual at the time of salvation. This is the equivalent of the “new birth” (John 3:5), the turning of all things new making the saved person a new creature (2 Cor 5:17), passing from death to life (1 John 3:14), a renewal of the mind (Rom 12:2); a resurrection from the dead (Eph 2:6); and being quickened (2:1, 5). Scriptures make it clear that regeneration involves the depositing of a new principle in the soul involving a new disposition. This new disposition is a renewal of the spirit in those who were previous dead in their sin. This renewal is the work of God (John 1:12, 13; 1 John 2:29; 5:1, 4). More specifically, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.


Just as the concept of the Trinity is difficult to understand, so, too, is the concept of God the Holy Spirit. Faith demands that we accept this third Person of the Trinity as in integral part of God. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word ruah occurs 379 times in Old Testament, while the Greek word pneuma occurs 378 times in the New Testament. Both words are translated as wind, breath, and spirit. These are the words used to name the Holy Spirit. This is the invisible power of God which indwells a person when he accepts Christ as Lord and Savior. It is fitting that one of the uses of the Greek word pneuma is to describe the inner spirit of man.

The gift of the Holy Spirit marks the adoption of one into the family of God and occurs at the salvation experience (Acts 8:14-17; 9:17; 10:44ff; 11:15-17; 18:25; 19:2, 6). A review of Scripture will demonstrate that the Holy Spirit possesses the characteristics of a Person. At the same time, the Holy Spirit has the powers and essence of God. His work involves the regeneration of man at the time of salvation and then the Spirit becomes the guide of a person’s walk in Christ. The use of the term “washing” above brings to mind the thought of water, one of the symbols used for the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures (7:38, 39). Other symbols include fire (Acts 2:3), oil (John 3:34), wind (John 3:8; Acts 2:2), a dove (Matt 3:16), a seal or mark (Eph 1:13; 4:30), and an earnest or deposit (Eph 1:14).


In Old Testaments, the Holy Spirit came upon those persons whom He chose to empower for a particular service (Exod 28:3; 31:3; Judges 14:6, 19; Sam 23:2). In this wonderful New Testament time, the Spirit indwells each person at the time of salvation as part of the act of regeneration (Rom 8:9-15, 1 Cor 6:19; Gal 4:6; 1 John 2:27).



Are you ready to pay the price to spread God’s Word?

Do you feel the presence of the Lord next to you providing you with strength?

When was the last time the Lord delivered you from evil?




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