Introduction to 1 & 2 Timothy

By James M. Rochford

Download a free mp3 teaching series on 1 Timothy here. 3

Who was Timothy?. 3

How did Paul and Timothy team-up in ministry?. 3

Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles. 4

Canonicity of the Pastoral Epistles. 7

Where was Paul when he wrote these two letters?. 8

Date. 8

Personal Letter. 8

The False Teaching in Ephesus. 9

Commentary on 1 Timothy. 9

1 Timothy 1:1-20 (Avoiding shipwreck). 10

1 Timothy 2:1-8 (Petitionary Prayer). 16

1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Women). 18

1 Timothy 3:1-16 (Character and Leadership). 19

1 Timothy 4:1-5 (False teachers). 22

1 Timothy 4:6-16 (Transformational leadership). 25

1 Timothy 5:1-23 (The Stewardship of Giving). 28

1 Timothy 6 (The High Price of Materialism). 34

Commentary on 2 Timothy. 37

2 Timothy 1 (Standing for the gospel). 37

2 Timothy 2 (Soldier, farmer, athlete). 41

2 Timothy 3 (Battling falsehood). 46

2 Timothy 4:1-8 (Standing for the Truth). 49

Download a free mp3 teaching series on 1 Timothy here

Who was Timothy?

Timothy may have grown up without a father. Acts records that his mother was a “believer” but “his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1). Later Paul refers to the fact that Timothy’s mother and grandmother raised him his faith (2 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 3:15), but Paul makes no mention of Timothy’s father. Did his father die? Was his father simply disengaged? Did he abandon the family? Was he merely not a believer in Christ? We’re not entirely sure, but he didn’t seem to play a very big role in Timothy’s life.

Paul played the role of a father in Timothy’s life. In 1 Timothy 1:2, Paul refers to Timothy as his “true child in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2). Stott comments, “Gnēsios (‘true’ or ‘genuine’) was used literally of children ‘born in wedlock, legitimate’ (BDAG). It is possible, therefore, that Paul is hinting at the circumstances of Timothy’s physical birth. Since his father was a Greek, Jewish law will have regarded him as illegitimate.”[1]

How did Paul and Timothy team-up in ministry?

Paul handpicked Timothy as his disciple, because he had a good reputation (Acts 16:2). In fact, Timothy may have met Christ on Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13-14). By the time Paul came around the second time, he took Timothy as a disciple and co-worker.

Paul must have been close with Timothy. After all, Timothy was able to show the Corinthians how Paul operated in ministry (1 Cor. 4:17). Elsewhere, Paul sent Timothy to strengthen the Thessalonians and the Philippians (1 Thess. 3:2; Phil. 2:20). This shows us that Paul believed that Timothy was capable of being sent to lead independently of him. Paul grew so close to Timothy that he calls him his son (Phil. 2:22; 1 Tim. 1:2). This isn’t condescending, however, because Paul also speaks of him as a brother (1 Thess. 3:2). In other words, Paul eventually viewed him as his peer. Timothy coauthored six of Paul’s letters (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Philemon)—three of which were in prison.

Timothy helped Paul plant a church in Corinth, which was a particularly scary place (Acts 18:5; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10; 2 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:19), and Timothy was also a particularly fearful and nervous guy (1 Cor. 16:10). However, to be fair, even the strident and stalwart Paul the apostle himself was terrified to preach the gospel in Corinth (1 Cor. 2:3; Acts 18:9).

These two must have gone through a lot together in ministry. It has been said that Timothy was Paul’s closest disciple, and it is difficult to disagree.

Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles

Critical scholars deny that Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles—even though these letters claim to be written by him. What arguments do they provide to deny Pauline authorship? Let’s consider a few of their arguments:

ARGUMENT #1: Paul mentions events in the Pastoral Epistles that are not recorded anywhere in the book of Acts.

RESPONSE: For example, Paul mentions leaving Titus being a leader Crete (Titus 1:5), yet Acts never mentions Titus. A number of counter arguments can be made:

First, this is an argument from silence. While Acts tells the story truly, it does not tell it fully. This is because no account can be absolutely complete. If it was, then all of the books on Earth would not be able to contain the information (Jn. 21:25). Therefore, we cannot expect Luke to mention every single historical detail of the early church in a 28 chapter book.

Second, Paul mentions Titus in his other letters, which critics hold to be authentic (e.g. Galatians and 2 Corinthians). Paul mentions Titus in Galatians (Gal. 2:1) and 2 Corinthians (2 Cor. 2:13), which are held to be authentic Pauline letters—even by the critics. Therefore, critical scholarship is using a double standard: If the Pastorals cannot be authentic, because they mention Titus, then neither can Galatians and 2 Corinthians.

Third, Acts never states that Paul dies at the end of his Roman custody. In fact, Paul himself believed that he would beat his charge and get out of Roman imprisonment (Phil. 1:19; 25). Therefore, Paul was probably released from house arrest, and then, he continued to preach. Clement of Rome (AD 95) said that Paul went “to the extreme limit of the west” (1 Clement 5). Since Clement wrote from Rome, he is most likely referring to Spain.[2] The Muratorian Canon (AD 180) speaks of “Paul’s departure from the city as he was proceeding to Spain.”[3] Moreover, Paul himself stated that he intended to preach in Spain, if he was allowed (Rom. 15:24). Eusebius writes:

Paul is said, after having defended himself, to have set forth again upon the ministry of preaching, and to have entered the city [Rome] a second time, and to have ended his life by martyrdom. Whilst then a prisoner, he wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy, in which he both mentions his first defence, and his impending death.[4]

In addition, there are also a list of places that Paul mentions that aren’t recorded in the book of Acts. For instance, he mentions Spain (Rom. 15:24), Crete (Titus 1:5), Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20), Colossae (Philemon 22), and Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). These would all be best explained by a fourth missionary journey. For these reasons, it shouldn’t surprise us to see Paul mentioning details that are not recorded in the book of Acts, because these events probably occurred after his Roman house arrest on an unrecorded fourth missionary journey.

ARGUMENT #2: The Pastoral Epistles mention church leadership.

Critics argue that official church leadership didn’t exist until the 2nd century AD. Because the Pastoral Epistles contain so much regarding church leadership, this must demonstrate that they date to the second century.

RESPONSE: The concept of church leadership was already present in the book of Acts and the first century church. For instance, Luke mentions “elders” throughout the early church (Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2; 20:17), and James mentions “elders” as well (Jas. 5:14), which is one of the earliest NT letters.

Critics retort that “elders” were present in the early church, but “overseers” (or “bishops”) were not. Since bishops were widespread in the second century church, they argue that the mention of bishops in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim. 3:1) suggests a second century date. However, Paul mentions “overseers and deacons” in the church of Philippi (Phil. 1:1). Moreover, Titus 1:5-9 uses the terms “overseers” and “elders” interchangeably. Paul called the “elders” to meet with him at Miletus (Acts 20:16-17), and he called these same men “overseers” (Acts 20:28). In other words, an overseer and an elder were the same office.

ARGUMENT #3: The Pastoral Epistles contain words not used by Paul in the rest of his letters.

Critics argue that the dissimilarities in vocabulary demonstrates that another author must have written the Pastoral Epistles. P.N. Harrison gives statistics concerning Paul’s language in the Pastorals:[5]

  • The Pastorals use 902 words. 54 are proper names. This leaves us with 848 words in the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Of these 848 words, 306 (over one-third) do not occur in any of Paul’s other letters.
  • Of these 306, 175 do not occur anywhere else in the New Testament.
  • Of these 306, 211 of them occur in second century writings by the early church fathers.

RESPONSE: A number of counterpoints can account for this literary argument against Pauline authorship:

First, Paul was older, when he wrote these letters. Do you think that you’ll write differently twenty years from now? If you do, then you should acknowledge that Paul probably did as well. As a young missionary, Paul probably wrote differently than he did as an old, imprisoned man.

Second, Paul’s other epistles were written for a PUBLIC audience, but these were for a PRIVATE audience. With the exception of Philemon (an incredibly short letter), Paul wrote all of his other epistles to groups of people. However, the Pastoral Epistles were written to individuals—either Timothy or Titus. Do you think that you would write differently to a group than you would to an individual? Paul probably did as well.

Third, the subject matter in Paul’s letters was different. When Paul was writing his other epistles, he was addressing specific needs of the church. However, when he wrote the Pastoral Epistles, he was addressing the specific needs of these pastors (e.g. discipleship, raising up leaders, combating false teachers, etc.). Since there were different needs, it shouldn’t surprise us to see Paul using unique language.

Fourth, the amount of words in the Pastorals is too small of a sample. An 848 word sample is far too small to generate any undeniable conclusions. Carson and Moo write, “Statisticians object to the brevity of the Epistles and to the lack of statistical controls.”[6] Moreover, they point out that opposite conclusions could be reached from this data:

The arguments sound impressive, but they are not as convincing as they seem to be at first sight. Those who put them forward do not always notice, for example, that most of the words shared by the Pastorals and the second-century writers are also found in other writings prior to A.D. 50.[7]

Fifth, Paul might have written these letters by hand, rather than collaborating or using an amanuensis. Paul normally allowed an amanuensis (pronounced uh-man-you-EN-sis) to write his letters for him (Rom. 16:22). Moreover, Paul wrote six of his letters with Timothy, as a coauthor (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Philemon). Since Paul usually wrote his letters with others, the difference in the Pastoral Epistles might be accounted for by observing that Paul wrote these letters alone. Carson and Moo write,

On other grounds, Michael Prior stands the amanuensis theory on its head: he recognizes that the Pastoral Epistles are somewhat different from the ten Paulines, but suggests that the reason is not because they are pseudonymous but because they ‘are private letters in a double sense’—not only were they written to individuals, but they were written by Paul himself without an amanuensis. For most of the ten, and perhaps for all of them, Paul used an amanuensis; for six of the ten, Timothy is listed as the coauthor. But in the case of the Pastorals, Prior suggests, Paul wrote everything himself—and this accounts for the differences.[8]

Therefore, these arguments do not weaken the conviction that Paul wrote these letters himself.

Canonicity of the Pastoral Epistles

The second-century Church Fathers refer to the Pastoral Epistles approximately 450 times.[9] Moreover, by the second century, these letters had already been translated into Latin and Syriac.

Polycarp (AD 110) cites 1 Timothy 6:10 (Philippians, 4.1).

Irenaeus (AD 180) cites 1 Timothy 6:20, “Paul well says [of them, that they make use of] ‘novelties of words of false knowledge’” (Against Heresies 2.14.7; 3.3.3).

The Pastoral Epistles are missing from Marcion’s canon (AD 150), but Tertullian says Marcion rejected them (Against Marcion 5.21). This is likely because of the fact that 1 Timothy 4 was antithetical to Marcionism.[10]

The Chester Beatty Papyri (AD 250) do not contain the Pastoral Epistles. But they also do not contain Philemon, which is regarded as authentic by critical scholars. Mounce hypothesizes, “The absence of Philemon may suggest that the codex included only Paul’s public letters, omitting letters to individuals such as Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.”[11] Mounce also speculates that the copyist simply may have run out of room, because his writing grows smaller and smaller toward the end of the manuscript.


The Pastoral Epistles have a wide variety of support with regard to their canonicity. Gordon Fee writes, “By the end of the second century they are firmly fixed in every Christian canon in every part of the empire and are never doubted by anyone until the nineteenth century.”[12]

Where was Paul when he wrote these two letters?

The best suggestion is that Paul wrote this letter from Macedonia. 1 Timothy 1:3 suggests that Paul left Timothy behind in Ephesus, and he travelled to Macedonia from which he wrote this letter. However, Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy from prison (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:9; 4:13).


Paul died under the persecution of the Roman emperor Nero. Since Nero died in ~AD 68, this would date the Pastoral Epistles some time before then. Paul tells Timothy to come before the winter (2 Tim. 4:21), placing it in AD 67. Since Paul was released from Roman house arrest in roughly AD 62, this would place the date of the Pastoral Epistles sometime between AD 62 and 67.

Personal Letter

Paul had a very close relationship and correspondence with Timothy. We know this because of the abundance of personal comments in these two letters:

“This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son” (1 Tim. 1:18).

“I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long” (1 Tim. 3:14).

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness” (1 Tim. 4:12).

“No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Tim. 5:23).

“Longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy” (2 Tim. 1:4).

This makes us wonder why God would include this book in the Bible, if it is such a personal letter between Paul and Timothy. And yet, upon reflection, we see that we are given tremendous insight into the nature of discipleship and oversight through this letter.

Similarly, God could have given us a step-by-step instruction manual on prayer, but instead, he gave us the Psalms. The psalmists model a vibrant prayer-life. Here, Paul models a vibrant discipleship relationship with his friend Timothy. Moreover, we can point out that Paul’s final words were addressed in the plural—not the singular (1 Tim. 6:21). Therefore, we need to keep in mind that this letter was meant for all of us in addition to Timothy.

The False Teaching in Ephesus

Paul encouraged Timothy to promote sound doctrine and fight heretical teaching in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3). We know that Timothy succeeded in this mission, because Revelation states that the church in Ephesus was free from heresy (Rev. 2:1-3), even if they fell short on love (Rev. 2:4). But, what false teaching was Timothy battling in Ephesus? This is disputed.

To understand the false teaching in Ephesus at this time, we actually need to incorporate Paul’s letter to the Colossians, which was a neighboring city. Because of their close proximity, these two cities probably had the same false teaching. When we compare these two cities, we see that Timothy must have been battling both (1) Jewish legalism and (2) proto-Gnosticism in Ephesus:

Historically, full blown Gnosticism hadn’t erupted yet, but an early version of it had begun to arise in Ephesus—called proto-Gnosticism. Paul writes, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’” (1 Tim. 6:20). The word “knowledge” (gnosis) is the Greek word from which we get the term Gnosticism. The fact that these false teachers were forbidding marriage (1 Tim. 4:3) suggests Gnostic thinking (i.e. asceticism). When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he was fighting against angel worship and ungodly philosophy, which would also fit with Gnosticism—not Judaism (Col. 2:8; 18-19). Finally, Paul’s use of the word pleroma (“fullness” Col. 2:9) was a term that Gnostics used for the “fullness” of their deity. Paul must have been turning this Gnostic language on its head.

However, proto-Gnosticism doesn’t fully explain the false teaching in Ephesus or Colossae. Legalistic Judaism was in full force as well. In Colossae, Paul argued against circumcision (Col. 2:11-15), kosher laws, Sabbath keeping, and seasonal festivals (Col. 2:16). In Ephesus, Paul spoke about the false teachers as those “wanting to be teachers of the Law” (1 Tim. 1:7). Surely, there were Jewish false teachers as well.

While some commentators try to blend these two types of false teaching together (i.e. some kind of Jewish mysticism), we feel most comfortable stating that there could have been more than one type of false teaching going on at this time.[13] Similarly, in the modern church, a pastor might speak about the problems of postmodernism and modernism; or, he might speak about the teachings of cult groups and New Age mysticism. Likewise, Timothy could have been battling various forms of false teaching. (For more on this subject, see “Introduction to Colossians”).

Commentary on 1 Timothy

Unless otherwise stated, all citations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

1 Timothy 1:1-20 (Avoiding shipwreck)

(1:1-2) “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul took his leadership qualifications directly from God. “Savior” refers to the past, and “hope” refers to the future. This speaks to what is behind and what is ahead. Our hope is focused in the person of Jesus. Earle writes, “He is our only hope.”[14]

Timothy was Paul’s spiritual “child.” Clearly, Paul viewed Timothy as a close friend. Notice the direct and yet gentle way in which Paul exhorts Timothy to lead change in Ephesus.

(1:3) “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines.” We’re not sure when Paul left Ephesus for Macedonia. This most likely occurred after his two year house arrest in Rome, after he left Timothy in charge to lead the Ephesian church.

Right from the beginning of this letter, we discover that false teachers had entered this church. Paul warned the Ephesians about this when he was leaving them. He said, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert” (Acts 20:29-31).

How did Paul know this? Probably, Paul could foresee this because he was a tenured church planter and leader at this point. He had seen false-teaching creep in everywhere else—even right from the beginning of his ministry (Gal. 1:6-9; 4:17; 5:10). It’s also possible that this was some sort of prophetic insight from Paul. Either way, his prediction was correct.

(1:4) “Nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” There must have been some proto-Gnosticism or Jewish mysticism that plagued this church (see comments on 1 Timothy 2:12-15).

“Strange doctrines” must refer to Jewish mysticism (see v.7).

“Myths and endless genealogies” might be the same as Titus 1:14, which refers specifically to Jewish teachers. Guthrie writes, “An example of the way in which Jewish delight in such speculations led to the composition of mythical histories based on the Old Testament is found in the Jewish book of Jubilees.”[15]

(1:4) What was the false teaching in Ephesus?

(1:5) “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” The word “goal” is translated from the Greek telos (cf. Rom. 10:4). Every preacher has a goal in mind when they teach. Some stress that the Christian worker should be a good husband and father; some stress a deeper knowledge of God; others stress a radical commitment to God; some stress an assortment of Bible details; others stress truth, etc. When you hear these preachers every week, this goal pervades every teaching. Because they have a picture in their mind, it flows out of their teaching.

What was Paul’s “goal” in his teaching? Paul’s emphasis was staying under grace, building our faith, and radical love.

Jesus taught that those with a “pure heart” would see God (Mt. 5:8).

The concept of keeping a “good conscience” comes up throughout this letter. Later, Paul writes that Hymenaeus and Alexander lost their “faith” and “good conscience,” and this shipwrecked their faith (1 Tim. 1:18-20). Paul tracks the roots of apostasy back to a searing of the “conscience” (1 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:15). Moreover, elders should serve God with a “clear conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9; cf. 2 Tim. 1:2).

(1:6) “For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion…” In context, what did they stray from? They strayed from love, good conscience, and faith mentioned in verse 5. Later, Paul will mention two men by name who lost their faith over this (vv.19-20). Some men replace “love” with “fruitless discussion.” The false teachers loved to talk about esoteric theology, but they didn’t love people.

Nobody wakes up one day and tells themselves that they want to become a false teacher. Instead, they “stray” from these essentials. If we’re not careful, we can slowly drift from the main emphases of the Christian life.

(1:7) “Wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.” Paul has the clout to say that these men don’t know how to be good law-teachers, because he himself had been a master Pharisee. He is saying, “Not only do these guys not grasp the gospel, but they don’t even know how to exposit the Old Testament law, either!” While they had many words, they had a complete lack of insight.

(1:8) “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” There is nothing wrong with the Law. It is our use of the Law that can be unbiblical.

(1:8) What is the proper use of the Law? (cf. Rom. 7:6)

(1:9-10) “Realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.” The Law is not for the believer; it is for the “lawless… rebellious… ungodly… sinners… unholy… profane.” We wouldn’t create laws unless we assumed people were going to break them. For instance, the purpose of the speed limit sign is because we know that people won’t naturally drive 65 mph down the highway. Likewise, the Law is meant to show sinful people their need for the gospel (v.11). In this section, Paul practically repeats the entire 10 commandments:

(1-2) for the ungodly and sinners, [all sin is idolatry (Col. 3:5)]

(3-4) for the unholy and profane,

(5) for those who kill their fathers or mothers,

(6) for murderers

(7) and immoral men and homosexuals

(8) and kidnappers

(9) and liars and perjurers,

(10) and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

Paul uses the word arsenokoitēs in this passage. It is a compound word which literally means “male” (arsēn)[16] and “bed” (koitē)—or “to lie down” (keimai).[17] Pro-homosexual interpreters claim that not all compound words carry a literal meaning. For instance, “honeymoon” and “butterfly” are both compound words, but they do not carry a meaning from the words that compose them. For this reason, commentators debate whether this refers to homosexuality, male prostitutes, or pedophilia.

Since the Greek word arsenokoitēs does not appear in extrabiblical Greek before Paul’s time,[18] we need to consider where Paul is drawing this term. Remember, in verse 8, Paul writes, “We know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” Clearly, he had the OT law on his mind. But from where (in the OT) was he drawing this concept?

The clearest source is the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus 18:22, we read: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 20:13 explains: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act.” In fact, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) renders both Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 very closely to Paul’s term arsenokoitēs:[19]

(Lev. 18:22) meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gunaikos.

(Lev. 20:13) hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos.

Moreover, after the time of Paul, the church fathers consistently used this term to refer to homosexuality. Copan writes, “Every usage of the word after Paul by the Christian church fathers indicates male homosexual activity, and it is frequently placed on their ‘vice lists.’”[20] By contrast, if Paul was merely attacking male prostitution (as some have claimed), he would have used the common word porneuon or porne, as seen in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:15 (“Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her?”).

“Contrary” is the Greek word heteros (cf. Gal. 1:6; 1:9; 2 Cor. 11:4). This can either refer to adding to the gospel or subtracting from it (Rev. 22:18-19).

“Sound” (hygiainō) is where we get our modern word “hygienic.”[21]

(1:11) “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.” Paul viewed his commission from God as being trusted (episteuthen) with the truth.

(1:12) “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service…” Paul was thankful for the privilege of being commissioned to serve God. Our service to God is a privilege—not an obligation.

God provides the strength and the calling to serve. We provide the faith.

Compare how Paul got into ministry versus how the false teachers were trying to get into ministry. The false teachers got in through law, but Paul got in through grace. The false teachers gave themselves the glory, while Paul gave God the glory (“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord…”).

(1:13) “Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief…” Paul moved from blaspheming (i.e. his former worldview) to violent persecution (i.e. the logical outworking of his worldview). Our worldview affects the way we live in the world.

In verse 20, Paul writes that the false teachers were taught “not to blaspheme.” Why was Paul put into ministry as a “blasphemer,” but Hymenaeus and Alexander were thrown out of ministry for being “blasphemers”? The key to understanding this is in the fact that Paul acted “ignorantly in unbelief.” There is such a thing as willful ignorance: “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph. 4:17-18). Furthermore, Paul committed this sin before conversion, while Hymenaeus and Alexander persisted in this sin after conversion.

(1:14) “And the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.” We can never fully exhaust the grace of God.

(1:15) “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” This is the first of the five “trustworthy statements” in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim. 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Titus 3:8). Paul must use this repetition to signify the importance of these verses.

Paul’s understanding of God’s grace made his new life possible. He revisits his sinful life through the lens of the grace of God. Many Christians are quick to point to the list of vices in verses 9-10. Paul agrees that these are sinful. But instead of becoming self-righteous, he calls himself the worst of “all” sinners—even those mentioned in verses 9-10.

Is Paul’s statement hyperbole? Perhaps, but it’s also possible that he realized just how sinful he was. As my friend Jim Leffel likes to say, “Since only we know our own motives and sinful hearts, we are the most sinful people that we know!”

(1:16) “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” Paul explains that God had a reason in choosing the worst of all sinners. This choice glorified him. If God worked through a pretty decent person, we would generally glorify the person—not God. But, if God worked through a rebellious man like Paul, it shows just how great God is.

A portrait becomes more magnificent if the artist paints it with worse materials. (“You painted this with a children’s paint set?!”) A poor kid who learns how to play competitive chess is much more impressive than a rich kid who plays at the same level with the use of a computer, tutor, and parental support. Likewise, God enjoys using broken people like us to bring about the greatest results.

Paul is “an example.” But to whom? He is an example to the rest of us! We might feel inadequate to follow God; yet if God could work through a man like Paul (“the worst of all sinners”), he can work through the rest of us as well.

As we reflect on our poor work for God, we too realize Jesus’ “perfect patience” to keep working through us.

(1:17) “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” This is why God gets the glory. It seems as though Jesus is being called “the only God.” In context, this entire section is about Jesus. At the same time, this could be a shift in context, because Paul calls the King “invisible,” which is not true of Jesus.

(1:17) Can we see God or not?

(1:18) “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight.” Paul was “entrusted” with the gospel (v.11)… So was Timothy… And so are we.

(1:18) Did a prophet predict Timothy’s ministry?

(1:19-20) “Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” The way to avoid spiritual death as a leader is to keep faith and a good conscience. If we don’t pursue these two things, we will suffer shipwreck in our faith. Paul mentions two guys by name who are bad examples of this. Perhaps these were personal friends of Timothy.

By handing them over to Satan, this could be a form of passive discipline—similar in principle to Romans 1:24, 26, 28.

It is not uncommon to see walking Christians wreck their relationships with Christ (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5; 3:9; 4:2). If we don’t cling to grace to cleanse our conscience, we will be no different. Paul wept over these people who were sent out of the church (Phil. 3:18-19). Jesus said that we are to treat them “as the Gentiles” (Mt. 18:17). Yet, Jesus still cared for the Gentiles with compassion and love.

Hymenaeus is mentioned in Paul’s second letter (2 Tim. 2:17). He spread a false teaching that Jesus had already returned in his Second Coming.

Alexander could refer to the man in Acts 19:33-34, and/or Alexander “the coppersmith” who personally betrayed Paul (2 Tim. 4:14).

The purpose of their removal from fellowship was not punitive, but redemptive.[22] Paul wanted them to learn “not to blaspheme.” Paul himself had been a “blasphemer” (v.13). So the issue is not with the sin itself, but with the lack of repentance on their part.

(1:20) Handed over to Satan?

Discussion questions

Based on verse 5: No one really ever thinks that they are getting off track from the main goal of Christianity (v.5). What would be some signs that a group of Christians was slowly starting to lose an emphasis on grace, faith, and love?

What are some ways that we can guard ourselves from losing our focus on grace, faith, and love?

Paul told the Ephesian elders, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27). This means that Paul taught about Scripture in a robust and exhaustive way. How does this harmonize with choosing to emphasize God’s grace, faith, and love?

1 Timothy 2:1-8 (Petitionary Prayer)

Remember, this is a Pastoral Epistle (or “Leadership Letter”), which is given to train Timothy, as well as all subsequent leaders down throughout Christian history. After getting through his introductory material, what does Paul place at the top of the list for leadership…?

Petitionary prayer!

(2:1) “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.” Paul begins chapter 2 writing, “First of all…” This means that prayer is the first in its importance—not just in its order (first, second, third…). Earle writes, “‘First of all’ probably emphasizes primacy in importance rather than in time.”[23]

“Entreaties” (deēsis) refers to an “urgent request to meet a need” (BDAG).

“Prayers” (proseuchē) is the most common word for prayer. BDAG defines it as a “petition.” It’s more generally defined as prayer.

“Petitions” (enteuxis) refer to “requests.” BDAG defines it as “a formal request put to a high official or official body, petition, request.”

“Thanksgiving (eucharistia) shows that Paul was able to sit and give thanks for every person—even the rulers and authorities in his day. An unfortunate tendency in serving God is to become negative and critical—even with fellow believers. One way to combat this is to give thanks for them regularly. Earle writes, “Thanking God for what he has done for us in the past strengthens our faith to believe that he will meet our needs in the future.”[24]

Notice that we pray for all men.” We should never say, No, for someone else, deciding in advance who would be interested in the message of Jesus. Instead, we should pray for all people, and pray that all would come to faith.

(2:2) “For kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” The believers may have felt disgruntled toward the authorities. In verse 8, Paul tells them to pray “without wrath and dissension.” The “kings and all who are in authority” are likely the last people that they would want to pray for. But instead of grumbling under their leadership or cursing them, Paul teaches that they should pray for them. Paul prayed that the government would leave the Church alone (“…so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life…”). That is, he prayed that the government would respect the rights of believers to practice their faith without persecution.

(2:3-4) “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God is pleased when we pray for “all men” (v.1), because he desires to save “all men.” The 5-point Calvinistic doctrine of Limited Atonement doesn’t fit with verse 1 (or verse 6), which states that we’re supposed to pray for all men—not just the “elect.”

(2:5) “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Since Jesus was fully God, he can represent God. Since he was fully human, he can represent humanity. Like an ambassador with dual citizenship, Jesus can represent both parties fairly—being truly God and truly man (Heb. 2:17).

The five-point Calvinist needs to interpret “men” here to refer only to the “elect.” However, we are supposed to pray for “all men” and Jesus died for “all.” Clearly, Jesus died for “all,” not just for the elect.

(2:6) “[Jesus] gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” Jesus also used this concept of a “ransom” to describe his atoning death (Mk. 10:45; Mt. 20:28), though he used a different Greek word from Paul. The term “ransom” (antilytron) can mean “either a ‘ransom’ (involving ‘payment’) or ‘redemption’ (in the Exodus sense of delivery from bondage). In both Mark 10:45 and here, the latter is to be preferred (as well as in Titus 2:14).”[25] Guthrie writes, “The anti in the noun means ‘instead of,’ and the hyper following the verb means ‘on behalf of’ (although it should be noted that hyper can in some contexts sustain the meaning ‘instead of’). Christ is pictured as an ‘exchange price’ on behalf of and in the place of all, on the grounds of which freedom may be granted.”[26]

He also came at the “proper time.” Elsewhere, Paul says that Jesus came in the “fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4). See our earlier article, “Why Did God Decide to Spread the Gospel When He Did?”

(2:7) “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” While Jesus died for all people, God uses human agency to spread this message. Was Paul’s mission to the Gentiles so scandalous that he felt the need to interject, “I am telling the truth, I am not lying”?

Paul uses the emphatic egō in Greek (I was appointed…”). Earle writes, “Perhaps he is thinking ‘even I’—the one who blasphemed Christ and persecuted the church (see 1:12–14).”[27] Even toward the end of his life, Paul was just as shocked as anyone else that he was allowed to be a minister of Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness.

(2:8) “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” Many (or most?) commentators believe that Paul is describing a worship service here. However, he is referring to prayer—not singing. The “holy hands” refers to our lifestyle with our hands (Ex. 30:19-21; Ps. 24:4; Isa. 1:15; 59:3). Notice that Paul does not use the standard word for “holy” (hagios). He uses the term hosious, which means to be “without fault relative to deity, devout, pious, pleasing to God, holy” (BDAG). Our lifestyle is in view here. Remember, in verse 2, Paul told them to pray and “lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

The people in this church may have experienced persecution from the governing authorities (v.1), and Paul is teaching that they need to pray for these authorities, rather than grow embittered (“without wrath and dissension”). Jesus taught that we should forgive our brother before we engage in religious activities (Mt. 5:23–24; 6:12-15; Mk. 11:25). James writes that we need to find repentance in order to draw close with God: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8). Peter writes that we should treat our wives with respect and love, so that our “prayers will not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).

1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Women)

(2:9-10) “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” The term “modesty” (aidous) can also be translated “respectful” as in Hebrews 12:28. The KJV (“shame-faced”) is surely a poor translation! Paul is encouraging women not to abuse their liberty in the way that they dress. The context here refers to obsessing over their appearance (e.g. “braided hair”), and also non-materialistic attire (e.g. “gold or pearls or costly garments”).

Why is Paul against “braided hair”? This might refer to showing off their hair in general, which was considered scandalous in this culture. Fee writes, “Indeed, for a married woman so to dress in public was tantamount to marital unfaithfulness (see, e.g., Sentences of Sextus 513: ‘A wife who likes adornment is not faithful’).”[28] (See further comments on 1 Corinthians 11:5-6). Paul may have been writing to addressed specific concerns in this church, whose women were having “sensual desires in disregard of Christ” (1 Tim. 5:11). If these women were “making a claim to godliness,” but were dressing in a scandalous way, then this would send a mixed message.

While modern Western culture takes offense at Paul’s view of modesty, most cultures in world history would see no problem at all with this. At the same time, modesty is not an emphasis in the NT, so this shouldn’t turn into a focus for Christian women. The emphasis should be on showing good character. As the Proverbs state, “Strength and dignity are her clothing” (Prov. 31:25).

(2:11-15) “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

(2:12-15) Are women allowed to teach men or not?

Discussion questions

Based on verse 1: What are some goals that we would like to see in the area of prayer?

Based on verse 1: What might be some signs that someone close to you has a vibrant prayer life? What would be some signs that they do not?

1 Timothy 3:1-16 (Character and Leadership)

(3:1) “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” The term “aspire” (orego) means “to seek to accomplish a specific goal, aspire to, strive for, desire” (BDAG).

Isn’t it arrogant to want to be a spiritual leader? No, not when we understand the definition of leadership—namely, servant leadership (Mk. 10:45). God assigns ministry to us (2 Cor. 10:13), and therefore, properly understood, it is actually arrogant to say, “No,” to God, when he calls us to step forward for him (consider Moses’ objections in Ex. 3-4).

Serving as a leader leads to a “great confidence” in our faith (v.13). In other words, it builds your faith to see God come through over and over again in Christian work.

What kind of qualities does a spiritual leader need? Winsomeness? Gifting? Good looks? Boldness? Surely, none of these qualities would hurt, but these are simply not the qualities Paul lists. Instead, God wants to call forward men and women of character. Character is the backbone or skeletal structure that holds our muscles together. Like a man on steroids whose muscles develop faster than his bones, gifted leaders will snap if they have not developed character.

Why does Paul bring up the importance of leadership? It could be that he’s trying to get Timothy to get some backup to fight against the false teachers. It could also be that this would serve as a stark contrast between what true and false spiritual leaders. By describing the characteristics of true leaders, the false teachers would stick out like a sore thumb!

(3:2) “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.”

(3:2) Does this passage preclude female eldership?

For a thorough word study of these character qualities and questions for discussion, see our earlier article, “Character and Leadership.”

(3:3) “not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.”

(3:4) “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.”

(3:5) (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?).

(3:6) “Not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.

(3:7) “And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

(3:8) “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain.”

(3:9) “But holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”

(3:10) “These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.”

(3:11) “Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.”

(3:12) “Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.”

Again, for a thorough word study of these character qualities and questions for discussion, see our earlier article, “Character and Leadership.”

(3:11) Are these instructions for “female deacons” or “the wives of deacons?”

(3:13) “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” Their “high standing” could refer to both in the Church and with God.[29]

Their “great confidence” could refer to others having confidence in them. It could also refer to their own confidence in their faith, because they have seen God’s faithfulness in ministry over time.

(3:14) “I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long.” Paul wanted to come and check in with Timothy. Even though he was trying to empower him as a leader, he also wanted to come and get his hands dirty with the work of leadership. He wasn’t leading from a “crow’s nest” far away. He wanted to be down on the deck with Timothy.

(3:15) “But in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

(3:15) Is the Church the foundation for the Bible?

(3:16) “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness.” Why does Paul refer to the basic gospel truths as a “mystery”? He could be wagging his finger at the Gnostic false teachers.

Scholars believe that what follows was an “an early creedal statement about the incarnation, vindication, and ascension of Jesus.”[30] The difficulty of this passage is whether or not to take it chronologically. The passage seems to be chronological until you reach line 6.

“He who was revealed in the flesh.” This seems to refer to the incarnation (Jn. 1:14).

“Was vindicated in the Spirit.” The term “vindication” is the same word for “justified” (Rom. 1:3-4), which seems to refer to the resurrection. This passage is parallel: “in flesh” and “in spirit.”

Romans 1:3-4

1 Timothy 3:16

[Jesus] was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh.

He who was revealed in the flesh.
[Jesus] was DECLARED the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Was VINDICATED in the Spirit.

It’s also possible to take this to refer to Jesus’ baptism, where he received the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:16) and the vindicating words of God: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Mt. 3:17).

“Seen by angels.” The word “seen” is the “regular formula in the NT for resurrection appearances (Luke 24:23; Acts 9:17; 1 Cor. 15:5-8).”[31]

“Proclaimed among the nations.” This would refer to the spread of the gospel after Pentecost.

“Believed on in the world.” This would be the ongoing spread of the gospel through the “world” (kosmos) the Church Age.

“Taken up in glory.” The words “taken up” elsewhere in the NT refer “to the Ascension (Luke 9:51; Acts 1:2, 11, 22; cf. Mark 16:19).”[32] Again, everything seemed to be in chronological order until we reached this line. How do we explain this? Fee writes, “The answer seems to lie with the phrase in glory, which less likely refers to the place of his exaltation as to its manner, that is, it was ‘glorious’ or ‘accompanied with glory.’ Like line 3, then, this line also emphasizes his triumph and glorification more than the actual event of the Ascension itself, chronologically understood.”[33] Furthermore, Fee adds, “Indeed, in this view, line 6 is the glorious climax of the whole that begins in line 1 with the humiliation of Incarnation.”[34]

Another way to understand this is simply to hold to a non-chronological view. Under this reading, the passage starts with Jesus’ humiliation and ends with Jesus’ exaltation. A good parallel would be Philippians 2:5-11.

1 Timothy 4:1-5 (False teachers)

(4:1) “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith…” What does Paul mean by the Spirit speaking to him about the future?

Does this refer to the OT revelation? Not likely. Fee writes, “Such a formula is never used by Paul when referring to the Old Testament.”[35] Also, it’s hard to know exactly where in the OT we read about people apostatizing at the end of history.

Does this refer to Jesus’ teaching through the Olivet Discourse? Jesus taught, “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many” (Mt. 24:10-11). This is possible that this is what he has in mind. The difficulty with this view is that Paul states that this came from the Spirit—not from the Lord Jesus (compare with 1 Cor. 7:10; Gal. 1:12).

Does this refer to the Holy Spirit directly speaking to Paul? This view seems most likely. This could be in conjunction with God inspiring all Scripture through the Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; cf. 2 Pet. 1:20-21), or perhaps the Spirit speaking to and through Paul at his farewell discourse in Ephesus: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

“In later times” doesn’t necessarily refer to the end times—though it could. Earle understands this to refer to within Paul’s own lifetime.[36] Of course, Paul taught that a great apostasy would occur at the end of human history (2 Thess. 2:3ff).

“…paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” The term “demons” (daimonion) definitely refers to actual demons, because it is combined with “deceitful spirits.” Moreover, these demons work through the agency of the “hypocrisy of liars” (v.2). That being said, in other contexts, the term is used of “slanderers” in general (1 Tim. 3:11; 2 Tim. 3:3; Titus 2:3).

Doctrine is important! Some people are teaching the “doctrine of demons.” Surely, no one thinks that they are teaching Bible studies from Satan’s perspective, but Paul certainly believed this to be true in the case of the false teachers.

(4:2) “By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.” How does someone lose their faith to the point that they could be teaching the Bible from Satan’s perspective?! Paul has already addressed that the goal of our instruction “is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). When people have sin on their conscience, this causes a poisoning effect on the soul. When we lose “faith and a good conscience,” Paul describes this as “shipwreck” in regards to our faith (1 Tim. 1:19), and even gives two examples of men who lost their faith this way: Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20).

Here in verse 2, Paul elaborates on this concept. When we have sin on our conscience, we can confess it and agree with God, or we can turn to the “hypocrisy of liars.” Hypocrisy has a numbing effect on our conscience. Like burning your finger with a “branding iron,” our conscience becomes “seared” and calloused and numb. The Greek term for “seared” (kaustēriazō) is the root from which we get the term “cauterized.” When we live a double-life like this, we open ourselves to hypocrisy and refuse to come under the grace of God.

If you are caught in hypocrisy, this cognitive dissonance will lead to false teaching, because of the need to align your hidden sin-life with your teaching. Instead of accepting God’s righteousness, the hypocritical believer starts to teach the Bible according to self-justification.

Some commentators believe that Paul is referring to a brand from Satan on their conscience.[37] But we disagree. Branding is a verb—not a noun. Hypocrisy is the way that the conscience is seared. As we have argued above, a clear conscience is a major theme in Paul’s letter.

(4:3-4) “Men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.” Paul confronts two components to the Gnostic teaching in Ephesus:

(1) Is marriage inherently wrong? Not at all. Gnostic teachers believed that marriage was sinful, because the physical body was inherently dirty and evil. By contrast, Genesis 1-2 teaches that God created marriage, and he called it “good.” Stott writes, “The Encratites, for example, are described by Irenaeus as having ‘preached against marriage, thus setting aside the original creation of God, and indirectly blaming him who made them male and female for the propagation of the human race’.”[38]

(2) Are different forms of food inherently wrong? Not at all. God created everything, and over and over he said, “It was good… And it was good… And it was good… And it was very good” (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).

This ascetic view really pictures God as unloving and unnecessarily restrictive. By contrast, Paul writes, “[God] richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Tim. 6:17).

(4:4) Does the Bible condone drug use?

(4:5) “For it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” Many interpreters understand this as a reason for “saying grace” before meals.[39] However, it seems that Paul’s reference to “the word of God” is simply a statement that God’s word allows us to eat anything we want (Gen. 1; Gen. 9:3; Mk. 7:19).

1 Timothy 4:6-16 (Transformational leadership)

(4:6) “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.” God’s word (“the words of the faith”) and doctrine (“the sound doctrine”) are combined together. We need sound theology.

As we teach God’s word to others, this has a nourishing effect on our own souls. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of teaching a biblical truth only to realize, “I needed to hear that just as much as them!”

(4:7) “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women…” These weren’t just fables in the modern sense. The content of these “myths” was leading people from the truth.

“…On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” To “discipline yourself” (gymnazo) draws on the concept of an athlete in a “gymnasium.” God “trains” us with discipline (Heb. 12:11). By contrast, false teachers have hearts “trained in greed” (2 Pet. 2:14). We often gravitate to works when we think of pursuing God. We jump straight to good works or loving others, when really our training starts in daily Bible study, meditation, and prayer.

(4:8) “For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” The Gnostics had all sorts of “bodily discipline” (v.2). But this asceticism isn’t “godliness” according to Paul. Paul isn’t against bodily discipline; however, he writes that it’s of little profit. Many people focus on sculpting their bodies in the gym, while their minds and souls atrophy!

(4:9) “It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.” Here is one of the five “trustworthy statements” in the Pastoral Epistles. Most commentators believe that Paul is referring to verse 8.[40] Though, it’s possible that the trustworthy statement refers to verse 10 and following.

(4:10) “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God…” Where have you “fixed your hope”? What do you think about throughout the day? What do you dwell on? Spiritual growth begins in the mind (“fixed our hope…”), but it results in hard work:

“Labor” (kopiomen) means “to become weary or tired” or “to exert oneself physically, mentally, or spiritually, work hard, toil, strive, struggle” (BDAG). John uses it of Jesus who was weary in the noon-day sun (Jn. 4:6). Of course, we need to remember that Jesus welcomes the weary to give them rest (Mt. 11:28). There is a strange paradox that we find rest from our labor, when we get into Jesus’ “yoke” (i.e. his labor). In other words, we don’t get rest unless we’re working alongside Jesus.

“Strive” (agōnizō) refers to “agony.” Earle writes, “The second (agōnizō, ‘agonize’) was used for competing in an athletic contest. So it meant ‘struggle’ or ‘strive.’ Just as athletes exert what seems to be their last ounce of energy to win a race, so Paul was giving the ministry all he had.”[41]

“[God] is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” Earle understands this to refer to God as the potential Savior of all men, but only the actual Savior of those who trust in him for salvation.[42] The atonement was universal in its scope, but not in its application. We agree. Even five-point Calvinists agree that a person is born under God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3) until they receive Christ. Therefore, the person doesn’t experience the application of the atonement until they receive it.

(4:11) “Prescribe and teach these things.” The terms “prescribe and teach” are in the present tense, which means would more literally be translated “keep on preaching and keep on teaching.” We should never feel like God’s truth isn’t relevant because people have “heard this all before.” Human nature forgets and rejects God’s truth, and we need frequent reminders.

(4:12) How old was Timothy?

(4:12) “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” Timothy was supposed to be an “example” (typos) or a “type” for believers to follow.

“Speech, conduct, love.” As leaders, we lead through our words and also through our works—through our lips as well as our lives.

“Faith.” Leaders model faith to their church. When circumstances are poor, God uses the faith of leaders to galvanize the church.

“Purity” (hagneia) is only used here and in 1 Timothy 5:2. It refers to “the quality of moral purity” (BDAG). As Paul has already taught (1 Tim. 3:2ff), leaders need character.

(4:13) “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” Publicly reading the Scriptures builds our faith (Rom. 10:17). However, in addition, we should teach the Scriptures and exhort people to follow Christ. This is the best solution for the false doctrine happening in Ephesus: get the people reading and hearing the teaching of Scripture.

(4:14) “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.” To “neglect” literally means “to be careless.”[43] Not all leaders have the gift of leadership. But all leaders are gifted in some way. Leaders should learn what their gifts are and exploit them as much as possible to make an impact for Christ.

(1 Tim. 4:12) How old was Timothy? (cf. 2 Tim. 1:6)

(4:15) “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.” It’s easy to focus on all of the problems in the church—many of which are out of our control. Instead of focusing on what is out of our control, Paul instructs us to focus on what is in our control—namely, our own faith, love, teaching, and sanctification. Timothy was to focus on nourishing his own soul through the Scriptures (v.6), living a disciplined life (v.7), being an example to others (v.12), giving out quality teaching (v.13), and using his spiritual gifts (v.14).

Leaders who focus on these things ask questions to see if there is “progress” in their lives: Can people around me see that God is still changing me? Are all of my examples of spiritual growth from years ago? What might this imply? Is my inner life with God one of the highest priorities in my leadership of others? Does my personal study of the Word motivate others around me?

(4:16) “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching…” This isn’t a “self focus.” Instead, the point of watching and evaluating ourselves is to bring transformation into the lives of others. Earle writes, “While he is watching over others, the pastor must keep an eye on himself.”[44]

“…persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” The term “persevere” (epimene) means “to remain at or in the same place for a period of time, stay, remain” (BDAG). Instead of panicking or jumping from one theological fad to another, mature leaders know how to stand firmly on the truth.

(4:16) How could Timothy ensure salvation for people?

Discussion questions

Read verses 12-16: What key principles of leadership can you learn from this section?

Based on verse 15: What would be key differences between seeking progress in spiritual growth versus seeking perfection?

Based on verse 16: At what point do we cross the line from evaluating our spiritual lives and falling into morbid introspection?

1 Timothy 5:1-23 (The Stewardship of Giving)

In this chapter, Paul covers what our stewardship should look like toward the poor (vv.3-16) and toward Christian leaders (vv.17-23).

How to correct others

(5:1-2) “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mothers…” Paul compares Christian community to a family. This implies that we correct all people in the Christian community, but we should do so as dearly loved family members.

We can correct or admonish older men. In fact, according to verse 20, we are even told to rebuke elders in the church. But Paul qualifies this by saying that we should not do this “sharply” (NASB) or “harshly” (NIV). After all, it’s already difficult enough for older people to listen to younger people—especially in Paul’s culture! (cf. 1 Tim. 4:12)

“…and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” Paul brought up “purity” (hagneia) in a list of virtues that Timothy should strive toward (1 Tim. 4:12). This term refers to “the quality of moral purity, purity; of a pure mind” (BDAG). Paul’s way of changing this lustful mindset is to rethink how leaders should look at their people. Leaders should look at young women in the church as sisters—as a part of their flock—not as people to be sexually objectified.

Discussion questions

Based on verses 1-2: How is the Christian community similar to a family? How is it different? Why do you think Paul might use this imagery so frequently in describing the Christian community?

How to properly care for the poor

(5:3) “Honor widows who are widows indeed.” In this section, Paul spills a lot of ink describing how the church should allocate its money for the poor. He gives a list of criteria for the people who should receive help.

Remember, these were poor communities. It would’ve been awful to see the generosity of these early Christians squandered on people who didn’t really need financial aid. Widows especially needed help in this culture:

(Ps. 68:5) A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows is God in His holy habitation.

(Ps. 146:9) The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked.

(Prov. 15:25) The Lord will tear down the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow.

(Jas. 1:27) Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

(Gal. 6:10) Let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Remember, this was in a time before hospitals, retirement, social security, or elderly homes. Elderly widows were in a state of utter helplessness and hopelessness. Yet Paul even places stipulations on these people who were getting financial assistance from the church. For an example of this pattern, see the account in Acts 6:1-6.

(5:4) “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.” The widow shouldn’t get help from the church, if she can get help from her family. It’s a duty for children to take care of their parents in their old age (see verses 8 and 16).

The term “practice piety” (eusebein) was a word for worship in the ancient world. Caring for elderly relatives is a way to worship God.

(5:5) “Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.” The widow “who has been left alone” is the one who is “childless.”[45] The widow should be a woman of character: In this context, this means being prayerful.

(5:6) “But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.” The term “wanton pleasure” (spatalosa) means “to indulge oneself beyond the bounds of propriety, live luxuriously/voluptuously” (BDAG). James uses this term to refer to the rich who “have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure” (Jas. 5:5). We shouldn’t give aid to those who waste it. In a sense, Paul is asking, “Are they needy or greedy?”

(5:7) “Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach.” We need to be “above reproach” in how we give our money to the poor. People need to see that we are taking precautions for how we collect, hold, and give money to the poor. The whole process needs to be above the board.

(5:8) “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Even non-Christians know how to love their own families (Mt. 5:46-47). This fits with verse 4, which states, “These should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family” (NIV). If we don’t care for our families, we are not putting our faith into practice (“…denied the faith…”).

(5:9) “A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old…” The widow needs to be elderly—not young. Making it to 60 years old was rare in this culture.

“…having been the wife of one man.” This is the same expression used for elders (3:2) and deacons (3:12). Literally, she is a “one man woman.” That is, she isn’t promiscuous. We know that this isn’t referring to remarriage, because Paul addresses that in verse 14.

(5:10) “Having a reputation for good works…” A widow needs to have been a woman of character.

“…if she has brought up children…” This could refer to her own children or perhaps to taking care of orphans.[46]

“…if she has shown hospitality to strangers…” The term “hospitality to strangers” (xenodocheō) refers to welcoming strangers, and seems similar to philoxenos (“loving strangers,” 3:2).

“…if she has washed the saints’ feet…” It could refer to the practice Jesus initiated at the last supper (Jn. 13:15), which refers to serving fellow believers.

“…if she has assisted those in distress…” How could we give money to a distressed widow, if she herself never helped distressed people around her?

“…if she has devoted herself to every good work.” In summary, widows qualified for aid if they had good character and love for others.

Does our church have a list of widows? No, but culture has changed: Widows back then couldn’t easily get remarried, couldn’t work, didn’t have Social Security, etc. At the same time, we still follow the principle behind this passage, which is to take care of the poor and destitute (whether or not they are widows). We follow the spirit of this command—not the letter of the law.

In this culture, the sons would inherit the property and money. In our culture, widows inherit the holdings of their husband. It would be especially sinful to inherit our father’s money, and not care for our own mothers.

(5:11-12) “But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12 thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge.”

(5:11-12) Can widows remarry or not?

(5:13) “At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.” The term “busybodies” (periergoi) refers to false teachers. Kroeger and Kroeger write, “They speak nonsense, a characteristic of Gnostic communication, and are called periergoi, often translated ‘busybodies’; but the Greek word might well be translated ‘workers of magic.’”[47] Likewise, Keener writes, “A survey of every word in extant Greek literature translated ‘busybodies’ …[refers to] those spreading false or improper teaching.”[48]

(5:14-15) “Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.” Earle doesn’t understand “the enemy” to refer to Satan, because “Satan” is mentioned in verse 15.[49] However, we could flip this argument on its head. After all, verse 15 begins with the connecting word “for,” and thus the context would imply that “the enemy” is indeed Satan. This fits with the lexical argument stated above that the “busybodies” were, in fact, false teachers (v.13).

(5:16) “If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.” Again, the family should take care of widows in general. We might summarize Paul’s view of financial giving in this way:

Eligible Widows

Ineligible Widows

“really in need and left all alone”

“lives for pleasure”
“over sixty…”


“faithful to her husband”

“sensual desires overcome [her]”
“well known for her good deeds”

“gossips and busybodies”

Discussion questions

Consider these statistics from Robert Lupton’s book Toxic Charity:

Africa has received $1 trillion in benevolent aid in the last 50 years, and per capita income is now lower, life expectancy has stagnated, and adult literacy is lower.

85 percent of aid money flowing to African countries never reaches the targeted areas of need.

U.S. missions teams who rushed to Honduras to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Mitch spent on average $30,000 per home—homes locals could have built for $3,000 each.

The money spent by one campus ministry to cover the costs of their Central American missions trip to repaint an orphanage would have been enough to hire two local painters and two new full-time teachers and purchase new uniforms for every student in the school.

What might happen if our church failed to be good stewards of our financial resources? What impact might this have on us? On others?

How to properly pay elders

(5:17) “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” The term “rule well” (proestōtes) means “to exercise a position of leadership, rule, direct, be at the head of” (BDAG). It is used of military leadership outside of the Bible (1 Macc. 5:19). Inside the Bible, it surely refers to spiritual authority, but this is done out of loving and humble service to Christ and the Church.

“Double honor” doesn’t refer to being paid twice what the widows make. It could simply refer to “ample provision.”[50] They should be adequately paid for their work, but certainly not overpaid for their work. The NLT understands the “double honor” to refer to (1) being “respected” and (2) being “paid well.”

Elders should be “able to teach” or more literally “skilled at teaching” (1 Tim. 3:2). Leaders should focus on leading, studying, teaching, and prayer (cf. Acts 6:1-4). There is a tendency among leaders to give into the “tyranny of the urgent.” This is a major mistake. Instead, we should focus on the main things to which God has called us.

(5:18) “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’” Clearly, Paul is thinking of financial pay in verse 17 based on this passage. Note that Paul quotes both Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7 as “Scripture.” This is one reason why we believe that the canon of Scripture was recognized early. By contrast, this is another reason why critics want to late-date the Pastoral Epistles—namely, they don’t believe that Scripture was recognized as early as the 60’s AD!

(5:18) Why does Paul cite Deuteronomy 25:4?

What should we do if an elder is in sin?

(5:19) “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.” Why should we favor the word of an elder over others? Isn’t this biased or unfair? Not at all. This makes sense in light of the character requirements needed for elders in chapter 3. If an elder really has these character requirements, then we should give him or her the benefit of the doubt. The principle here is that we should move people into eldership cautiously and out of eldership cautiously. Paul presupposes that we should not be biased or partial to anyone, and take our time recognizing elders or removing them (vv.21-22). It’s also possible that Paul is thinking of a public accusation—based on verse 20 (“…in the presence of all…”).

If an accusation is made, we should still investigate this. But if it comes down to one person’s unfounded accusation versus an elder’s statement of innocence, we should drop the case. Of course, an elder’s sin could come out later (vv.24-25).

If we don’t follow this process, then one person could make unfounded accusations against every elder, and this could single-handedly decapitate a church’s leadership!

 (5:20) “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.” If an elder is busted, he should stand before the entire church. If you’ve led the entire church, then you need to hear the rebuke of the entire church.

Earle understands this rebuke to only take place in the presence of the other elders, understanding “the rest” to refer to other elders.[51] But the language of “in the presence of all implies the entire church. Paul didn’t shy away from publicly talking about false teachers—even by name (1 Tim. 1:19-20). When Peter was in error, he “opposed him to his face” (Gal. 2:11) and “in the presence of all” (Gal. 2:14).

(5:21) “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.” It can be scary to confront leaders in the church. But we should not give way to the fear of man. All believers are under the authority of Christ. Therefore, we shouldn’t show “bias” or “partiality,” even when adjudicating situations with elders.

(5:22) “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” Some commentators understand the “laying on of hands” to refer to reconciliation after repentance. But this view is anachronistic, coming from the practice of bringing heretical elders back into the church in the fourth century. For instance, Eusebius (4th century AD) writes, “The ancient custom prevailed with regard to such that they should receive only the laying on of hands with prayers” (Ecclesiastical History, 7.2.). Instead, when Paul refers to the “laying on of hands,” he is speaking about recognizing leaders—not reconciling leaders. After all, Paul used this expression to refer to Timothy being recognized as a leader (cf. 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:7).[52]

This teaches us to be cautious when recognizing leaders. Paul already taught that an elder should “not [be] a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). When we recognize leaders too hastily, we “share in the sins of others.” That is, when we raise up leaders prematurely, we share in their sin because it wreaks havoc on the church.

Paul concludes by warning Timothy to “keep [himself] free from sin.” He’s warning Timothy not to be one of these fallen elders. We shouldn’t be so self-righteous to think that we could never fall into sin.

(5:23) “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”

(5:23) Is it right or wrong to drink alcohol?

(5:24) “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. In the context of recognizing leaders, this passage implies that we won’t always make the right call. Some sins are hidden from our recognition. But this passage promises that sin cannot be hidden indefinitely. Eventually, our lying and hypocrisy will come to the surface. The real question that confronts leaders is this: Are we willing to take a strong stand once an elder’s sin comes out? Or will we turn a blind eye to sin in the leadership of the church?

(5:25) “Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.” If we feel like we aren’t being recognized quickly enough, then we need to be patient. If we are doing good work, others will be able to see this with time. Solomon writes, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2).

1 Timothy 6 (The High Price of Materialism)

(6:1-2) “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. 2 Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.” The reason for submission was so that the gospel could spread more easily to more people.

(1 Tim. 6:1-2) Does the Bible support slavery?

(6:3-4) “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions.” Paul began his letter by addressing the false teachers, and he is ending it in the same way. These false teachers didn’t have “love” as their end goal (1 Tim. 1:5). Instead, their teaching led to ripping apart people’s spiritual lives, including their own (1 Tim. 1:20).

(6:5) “And constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” Paul has been identifying false teachers by their doctrine, but now, he turns to recognizing them by their deeds. The false teachers use spirituality for financial gain.

(6:6) “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” The key to overcoming materialism is to reach a state of contentment, wherein we do not feel the unquenchable thirst for more and more (2 Cor. 9:8; Phil. 4:11). Instead, we feel happy with what we’ve already been given. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just be happy with what we have, rather than constantly longing for more and more?

It’s interesting that most Americans are incredibly wealthy by global standards, but they always think that they are just scraping by.

(6:7) “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” Our possessions cannot follow us into eternity. Like the stock market crash during the Great Depression, seconds after we die, all of our possessions will immediately lose their value.

(6:8) “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” We need the basics to survive: food and shelter. While we should work to meet our need, we should not work for our greed.

(6:9) “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” Look at how many different ways Paul explains the perils of materialism. Materialism (the inordinate love of money) leads to abject, spiritual ruin! Being rich is not a sin (1 Tim. 6:17-19), but desiring to become rich is a sin based on this passage (“those who want to get rich”).

(6:10) “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil…” Money isn’t intrinsically evil, but the love of money” is evil. It is a root of all kinds of evil—not the root (as is often misquoted).

“…and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The term “wandered away” (apeplanēthēsan) is the same term used for people following false teachers in Mark 13:22.

The result is a self-inflicted grief. When we preach against materialism, we are trying to spare people from bringing grief into their own lives. This is why it says that Jesus “felt a love” for the rich young man, when he told him to sell his possessions (Mk. 10:21). It is ultimately loving to speak against materialism in the lives of others.

(6:11) “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” Paul instructs us to flee from sexual sin (1 Cor. 6:18). Why? Sexual sin is so entangling and difficult to resist that we usually succumb to it, if we entertain it for too long. In precisely the same way, he tells us to flee from materialism. If we flirt with materialism, we will likely end up succumbing to it. Moreover, we need to replace materialism with our love for God and other people. It is hard to battle the former without the latter.

(6:12) “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Fight (agonizou) refers to “agony.” We are able to endure this by taking hold of our position in Christ (“take hold of the eternal life”).

What is the “good confession”? Earle understands this to be Timothy’s baptism.[53] But in context, Paul is probably referring to evangelism, because in the next verse Paul refers to Jesus’ “good confession” in front of Pontius Pilate.

(6:13-14) “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Timothy already knew to stay above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2). But Paul felt the need to remind him again. He points to Jesus as the model of keeping our confession with integrity.

(6:15) “Which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Just as Jesus’ First Coming was at the “proper time” (1 Tim. 2:6), so his Second Coming will be at the “proper time” as well.

(6:16) “Who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” Notice the terms Paul uses to describe Jesus: the “only Sovereign,” “King of kings,” “Lord of lords,” who “alone possesses immortality,” and “dwells in inapproachable light.” These are all descriptions of God, but the nearest antecedent is Jesus. Hence Jesus is God.

(6:16) Does this passage support annihilationism?

(6:16) Can we see God or not?

(6:17) “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God…” We might expect Paul to have sharp words against the rich here. Instead, he encourages them to get the focus off of themselves, learn to become givers, and focus on eternity. Paul instructs the rich to reset their mindset, focusing on eternity and God, rather than their fortunes.

“…who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” The Gnostics would argue that God doesn’t give us physical pleasures to enjoy (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-5), but Paul takes a different view. God is the one who gives us our money, and he does this for us to enjoy it.

(6:18) “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” How should wealthy Christians think about their wealth? Paul doesn’t argue for guilt, but for gratitude. Gratitude leads to generosity.

(6:19) “Storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” Jesus taught, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:20-21).

(6:20) “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’—” Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, which means “knowledge.” Paul encourages Timothy to fight with these false teachers.

(6:21) “Which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.” Paul opened the letter describing how false teachers had strayed from their faith. Here, he ends the letter with the same message. He must have been worried for this to happen to his friend, Timothy.

Paul extends grace to them all using the plural pronoun (“you”).

Discussion questions

How can we prepare now for handling materialism later on when we get older and into our careers?

What would we see in a Christian who was beginning to fall into the sin of materialism? How would you counsel a fellow Christian who was beginning to fall into the sin of materialism?

Commentary on 2 Timothy

Unless otherwise stated, all citations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

2 Timothy 1 (Standing for the gospel)

(1:1) “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus.” Paul believed that his role as a Christian leader was based on God’s will and God’s promise. Later, he writes that this was also based on God’s mercy (v.9). Paul didn’t make himself a leader—the merciful God of the Bible sovereignly placed him into this role.

(1:2) “To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is Paul’s final letter before he died by execution. He calls Timothy his “beloved son.” They had done ministry together for decades, and now, he realizes that he’s reaching the end.

(1:3) “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.” Why does Paul emphasize the fact that his forefathers followed God in the way that he did? He might be trying to connect his story (and Timothy’s) with the larger story of salvation history.

Even though Paul had sent out Timothy with his own church, he still prayed for him “night and day.” This implies the need to pray for leaders—even if we believe they are ready to lead on their own.

(1:4) “Longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.” Timothy may have been with Paul as he made his final address to the elders at Ephesus (Acts 20:37). This gives us an insight into the nature of Paul’s close friendship with Timothy. Earle writes, “Paul was a stalwart soldier, but he had a tender heart.”[54] When we serve together in Christian work, we form a unique bond with our coworkers.

(1:5) “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” The term “sincere faith” (anhypokritou) is literally “unhypocritical.”

“Grandmother” (mammē) was used in classical Greek like our modern term “mama.”[55] Timothy grew up in a Christian family. He was a “mama’s boy,” so to speak, because his father was not a Christian (Acts 16:1). Yet he turned out to be Paul’s most loyal and influential disciple.

(1:6) “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Fires tend to go out unless they are maintained. William Booth wrote, “The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of your heart.”[56]

(1:6) What was Timothy’s spiritual gift?

(1:7) “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” Timothy didn’t have an active father in his life, but Paul played that role for him. He speaks the encouraging and exhorting words of a good father (cf. 1 Thess. 2:11).

The term for “timidity” (deilias) literally means “cowardice” (BDAG). We often think that we need to muster courage to serve Christ. Yet Paul says that this comes from the Holy Spirit. While Timothy was most likely temperamentally inclined toward fear (1 Cor. 16:10), Paul also battled with fear in doing Christian work (1 Cor. 2:3; Acts 18:9). In fact, there are two kinds of Christian servants: those who experience fear and those who are lying!

“Power” (dynamis) is the root from which we get our modern term “dynamite.” (Of course, we do not want to anachronistically import this definition back into the first century!). Peter denied that he had his own “power” to cause miracles (Acts 3:12). We gain God’s “power” through the gospel (Rom. 1:16) and the “word of truth” (2 Cor. 6:7). Paul wrote that God gives us his power when we faithfully suffer for him (2 Cor. 4:7; 12:9).

“Love” (agapē) refers to sacrificial love—not mere love feelings.

“Self-discipline” (sōphronismos) is an unfortunate translation. The root sophron means “wisdom.” This term should rather be rendered “sound mind.” For instance in Mark 5:15, after Jesus healed the demon-possessed man, he was “in his right mind” (NASB) or “perfectly sane” (NLT). To call this formerly demon-possessed man “self-disciplined” wouldn’t capture the nature of this term!

None of these qualities are commands. Instead they are truths about us. These aren’t imperatives; they are indicatives. In the next verse, Paul writes that we gain these virtues “according to the power of God.”

(1:8) “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” While we can gain freedom from fear in a number of areas, in this context, the primary application is evangelism. While we ordinarily think of the fear of evangelism in civil contexts (e.g. friendships, family, etc.), Paul was calling on Timothy to surpass his fear in the context of Roman imprisonment before the Roman Emperor Nero himself! God’s “power” is truly powerful if it can be accessed in such a frightening situation.

(1:9) “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” We were not saved by works. Neither were we given a role or “calling” in God’s plan according to our works. Our service and influence for Christ is according grace.

(1:10) “But now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Normally, the word “appearing” (phanerōtheisan) is used of Jesus’ Second Coming. Here it is applied to his First Coming. If Jesus appeared literally and physically at his First Coming, then he will appear the same way at his Second Coming (cf. Acts 1:11).

(1:11) “For which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.” Our role is not to make God’s plan happen (i.e. the Cross of Christ, the Atonement, etc.). Instead, our role is to tell others about this, and teach them these core truths.

(1:12) “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Paul told Timothy not to be ashamed (v.8), but he himself wasn’t ashamed (“I am not ashamed”). It’s easy to overlook the social pressure that Paul must have felt. Being in jail is one thing, but being falsely accused is another. Paul would’ve gotten an earful of derisive criticism for his faith in Christ. Yet he writes that he still isn’t ashamed (cf. Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 1:8). He kept his focus on God (“I know whom I have believed”).

Here he writes that God will guard his deposit. Earlier, he told Timothy to guard what was entrusted to him (v.14; cf. 1 Tim. 6:20). Earle understands this to be a broad promise that includes his teaching, his ministry, and his life.[57]

(1:13) “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” The “standard” (hypotypōsin) is used of Paul’s example of teaching and doctrine. How do we keep this? We do it through “faith and love.” If we don’t actively trust in these truths (“faith”) and live them out (“love”), then we can lose our doctrine. Paul grounded his convictions in the truth (“sound words”), and he feels that this is the most important gift he can pass on to Timothy.

(1:14) “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” When God gives us his truth, this is something to be “treasured” and “guarded.” In the movie Contact with Jodie Foster, an advanced alien civilization reaches out to humanity using binary code. They reveal instructions for a complex space ship (which turns out to be a teleporter), so that we can make “contact” with them. As you watch the film (or read the original book by Carl Sagan), you realize just how coveted it would be to have communication like this from an advanced alien civilization.

As believers in Christ, we have something far, far greater! We have the very words of God, the thoughts of God, and the mind of God revealed to us through the pages of Scripture. This is something that deserves to be “treasured” and “guarded.”

(1:15) “You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.” The province of “Asia” refers to the Roman province of Asia Minor—not the modern continent of Asia. Ephesus was the capital of this region. Remember, Paul had spent three years in Ephesus (Acts 20:31), and his ministry there had far reaching effects to the entire region (Acts 19:10). Even though Paul had invested so deeply in this region, he writes, All who are in Asia turned away from me.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that the church went apostate, but rather that no one had the courage to come to his defense. This could explain why Paul exhorted Timothy not to shrink back in fear, but to stand alongside him (vv.7-8).

“Phygelus and Hermogenes” are two men that we know nothing else about.[58]

(1:16-18) “The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; 17 but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me— 18 the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.” If everyone abandoned Paul in Ephesus, this must have been quite devastating. Yet Paul chose to focus on the one man who supported him: Onesiphorus. It takes a disciplined mind and heart to focus on the positive people in ministry, rather than the ones who abandon or betray our trust.

Discussion questions

Based on verse 8: What are some signs that we’ve started to lose our love for lost people? How do we regain zeal for sharing our faith if we’ve felt like we’ve lost it?

Based on verse 15: We know that we will face abandonment in pursuing Christ—even from those we’ve loved. What are some keys to keeping a tender heart toward people, rather than becoming self-protective or jaded?

2 Timothy 2 (Soldier, farmer, athlete)

(2:1) “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” We are not only saved by grace, but we need to learn the lesson of serving under grace. We get our strength to serve by clinging to grace.

(2:2) “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Paul is describing four-tiered discipleship here: (1) Paul, (2) Timothy, (3) faithful men, and (4) others also. This is a biblical command—not just an example.

“Faithful men.” The goal of discipleship is to discern and select faithful men to invest in. Just as Jesus invested in his twelve disciples, we are “entrusting” the truth and our time with other believers.

“Able to teach others.” A large part of discipleship is teaching. The word for “disciple” (mathētēs) means “learner.” Discipleship is more than just passing on knowledge, but it is never less than that. It’s interesting that the expression “able to teach” is used in Paul’s earlier letter to refer to the qualifications of elders (1 Tim. 3:2).

From here, Paul gives three metaphors or analogies for discipleship: (1) soldier, (2) athlete, and (3) farmer.

1. Soldier

(2:3) “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” What might happen if we weren’t prepared for the Christian life to include substantial suffering? Why does Paul compare serving Christ to serving as a soldier in war? In what ways are these similar? In what ways are they different?

(2:4) “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” If a soldier is in “active service,” he volunteers to give up benefits that he would have during peace time. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with “the affairs of everyday life,” but it’s preposterous to participate in these things during wartime. For example, a soldier who was on leave might spend his time watching movies, vacationing, etc. But when he’s at war (i.e. active service”), it would be absurd to lounge around and relax like this. Similarly, believers are involved in a spiritual war, and the war won’t be over until Jesus returns. We need to freely volunteer to give up activities that could get in the way of our service to the cause of Christ.

2. Athlete

(2:5) “Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.” Athletes who cheat are disqualified from the work. It is tempting to cut corners or use unrighteous human force to accomplish ministry goals. We need to make sure we aren’t disqualifying ourselves when we’re engaged in Christian work.

The “prize” (stephanos) was a wreath placed on the head of a winning athlete. This is different from the “crown” (diadēma) which was a “royal crown.”[59] Athletes freely give up pleasures in life for the purpose of this prize.

“According to the rules.” This is the word nomimōs, which was earlier translated as “lawfully” (1 Tim. 1:8).

3. Farmer

(2:6) “The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.” Farmers can’t control the results of the growth. But they can be faithful to work hard at tilling the soil, spreading the seed, and irrigating the plants.

(2:7) “Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” It’s wise to teach these three concepts through discussion in order to fulfill Paul’s command to “consider what I say…” These concepts should be reflected upon and discussed. See discussion questions below.

(2:8) “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.” We don’t worship a dead Messiah, but a risen King (Rom. 1:3-4).

(2:9) “For which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.” As believers in the sovereignty of God, we can be content even in the face of imprisonment. If we’re being faithful to Christ, we can rot in a prison cell, knowing that the word of God can never be imprisoned (Rom. 8:28).

(2:10) “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” Paul knows that there are people who are chosen in God’s foreknowledge. It’s encouraging to know that God has many people to reach, as we move out to spread the message of Christ (Acts 18:9-11).

(2:11) “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him.” This refers to being crucified with Christ in our identity (Rom. 6:3-5).

(2:12) “If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us.” Those who have suffered for Christ will later be rewarded by serving Christ in the Millennium and the New Heaven and Earth (Mt. 19:28; Lk. 19:17).

(2:12) Does this passage threaten eternal security?

(2:13) “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” Since we are identified with Christ (v.11), he cannot deny himself.

(2:14) “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.” Paul has been writing about the “word wrangling” of the false teachers in Ephesus. He is surely referring to the Gnostic teachers here. This isn’t merely “useless,” but it is also hurtful (“leads to the ruin of the hearers”). This stands in contrast to the next verse, which implores us to accurately interpret Scripture.

(2:15) “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” The term for “diligent” (spoudason) means “zealous.” Why is it such a serious imperative to have an accurate interpretation of Scripture? This flies in the face of postmodern values—namely, that all interpretations are equally valid. Paul seems to think that our role in Christian work is to accurately interpret the word. “Accurately handling the word” (orthotomounta) literally means “holding a straight course.”[60]

(2:16) “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness.” We are supposed to refute false doctrine (Titus 1:9), and we are also to “avoid” it. We can get wrapped up in fruitless discussions with false teachers who may never listen. This project could be a giant waste of time. Paul writes that it will “lead to further ungodliness.” At a certain point, we need to stop “throwing pearls before swine” (Mt. 7:6), though this requires wisdom to discern (Prov. 26:4-5).

(2:17) “And their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus.” The term “gangrene” (gangraina) was used by ancient “medical writers… for a sore that eats into the flesh.”[61]

Hymenaeus (1 Tim. 1:20) and Philetus (only mentioned here) were two of the false teachers in Ephesus. Notice that Paul has no qualms about calling them out by name and naming their sin. Since they publicly sinned against the entire church, they should be publicly rebuked in front of the entire church.

(2:18) “Men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.” What was their false teaching? These two men both taught that the resurrection had already occurred. Hyper-Preterism is surely false.

(2:19) “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’” Some interpreters understand the “firm foundation” to refer to the Church (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15).[62] They also argue that this firm foundation has the “seal” from God: “The Lord knows who are His.” But, it seems odd that the Church would be the firm foundation. Instead, God’s truth about the Church seems to be in view.

This seal could be an allusion to Numbers 16:5, 26, which is a passage given in the context of false teachers (i.e. Korah’s rebellion).

We can’t see God’s elect, but he can (“The Lord knows those who are His…”).

(2:20-21) “Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” In a house, we have some plates that are for important purposes, and others for less important. Around Christmas time, we put out the good silverware and plates for dinner. Similarly, by learning to accurately handle the word, we become “sanctified” or “set apart” for more useful work.

Many believers long for being useful and influential in the cause of Christ. The key to doing this is to accurately handle the word of God. We can’t get around this important aspect of Christian growth. Think of all the people who have influenced you for Christ. Surely, it is no coincidence that they were all strong in the word of God!

(2:22) “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” The battle of sanctification is not done in a vacuum. We need to replace lust with healthy, godly relationships. We do this “with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Moreover, it isn’t enough to simply cling to Christian friends in a “holy huddle.” Sanctification becomes effective when it is combined with victorious love-output. The goal of sanctification is “love” (1 Tim. 1:5).

(2:23) “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.” There are times when should refute the false teachers (Titus 1:9) and times when we should refuse false teachers. This isn’t a contradiction. We need wisdom to know when to give an answer and when such a course of action would be a foolish waste of time (Prov. 26:4-5).

(2:24) “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.” When we do Christian work, it’s easy to view contentious people as the enemy. It’s easy for us to become contentious and combative in the process. Paul had a different view. He saw the true Enemy behind these people (v.26). Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers, principalities, and spiritual forces (Eph. 6:10-18).

When we’re dealing with a foolish or immoral brother, we shouldn’t become foolish in the process. We want to model the behavior that we want to see in the other person.

(2:25) “With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” The goal is not to defeat our brother, but to win our brother over to the truth.

(2:25) Can we repent or does God cause us to repent?

(2:26) “And they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” In our estimation, this doesn’t refer to demon possession. This refers to being a tool of Satan in the Church, when we freely give in to false teaching (1 Tim. 4:1-2).

Discussion questions

Based on verse 1: What are some ways we might learn to become stronger in the grace of God?

Based on verses 3-4: Why does Paul compare Christian work with being a soldier? In what ways are these concepts similar? In what ways are they different?

Based on verse 5: Why does Paul compare Christian work with being an athlete? In what ways are these concepts similar? In what ways are they different?

Based on verse 6: Why does Paul compare Christian work with being a farmer? In what ways are these concepts similar? In what ways are they different?

2 Timothy 3 (Battling falsehood)

In this chapter, Paul tells Timothy of the theological and ethical challenges that he will face as time moves on. What does he give Timothy to support him? Church councils? Catechisms? Popes? Not at all. This chapter closes with Paul telling Timothy that “all Scripture is God-breathed…”

The false teachers

(3:1) “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.” Some interpreters contend that “the last days” refers to the entire Church Age (citing Peter’s usage in Acts 2:17). However, others argue that this term points toward the end of human history (cf. 2 Pet. 3:3; Jude 18).[63] Notice that Paul uses the future tense (“difficult times will come”), even though these characteristics are present throughout the Church Age. Timothy was already seeing this change in his own day (1 Tim. 4:1ff), but it will continue to get worse as history reaches its climax.

(3:2-5) “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.” In verses 2-5, we have a list of 18 sinful attitudes or actions:

“Lovers of self” (philautos) reflects much of the philosophy behind much of modern counseling theory today—even in Christian circles. It is argued that we cannot learn to love others unless we love ourselves first.

“Lovers of money” (philargyros) is literally the “love” (phileo) of “silver” (argos). The Pharisees were “lovers of money” (Lk. 16:14).

“Boastful” (alazōn) can be rendered “imposters,”[64] but the standard translation is “boaster” or “braggart” (BDAG). Our modern cult of celebrity worship fits under this description. Watching the Disney Channel really brings this to mind as well: Every show ends with the main character singing on stage and being surrounded by kids worshipping him or her.

“Arrogant” (hyperēphanos) is used by Josephus in the context of wealth and riches (Antiquities, 4.224).

“Revilers” (blasphēmos) refers to “defaming, denigrating, demeaning” (BDAG).

“Disobedient to parents” sounds odd to modern ears. We don’t think of disobedient kids to be as serious as these other qualities. Yet it could be that our modern world is so alienated—even within the family unit—that we are deceived of how serious this is. Paul uses the same term in Romans 1:30.

“Ungrateful” (acharistos) is obviously the opposite of gratitude. Jesus said that God is kind toward “ungrateful” people like us (Lk. 6:35).

“Unholy” (anosios) means “being in opposition to God or what is sacred” (BDAG).

“Unloving” (astorgos) means to “be lacking in good feelings for others” or “hardhearted, unfeeling, without regard for others” (BDAG; cf. Rom. 1:30).

“Irreconcilable” (aspondos) refers to someone “who is unwilling to negotiate a solution to a problem involving a second party, irreconcilable” (BDAG).

“Malicious gossips” (diabolos) is an adjective meaning “slander” (BDAG), but the noun form is the term for Satan—the slanderer.

“Without self-control” (akratēs) fits with modern Western culture very well. We have more addictions than we can count: food, drinking, drugs, pornography, etc.

“Brutal” (anēmeros) is literally “untamed, savage, brutal” (BDAG).

“Haters of good” (aphilagathos) comes from the root a (“non”), phileo (“love”), and agathos (“the good”).

“Treacherous” (prodotēs) is used of Judas (Lk. 6:16) and the murderous religious leaders (Acts 7:52).

“Reckless” (propetēs) literally meant “falling down or forward” (BDAG). Negatively, it is used of being “rash” (Acts 19:36) or “doing any rash thing” (Josephus, Antiquities, 15.82).

“Conceited” (tetyphōmenoi) means to “be puffed up” or to “be blinded, foolish” (BDAG). Those who are “conceited” also “understand nothing” (1 Tim. 6:4).

“Lovers of pleasure” (philēdonos) seems to pair well with being “without self-control.” We often hear parents on sitcoms say to their children, “I don’t care what you do… I just want you to be happy.” Why do they never say that they want their kids to be humble? Virtuous? Loving?

“Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…” When we deny the gospel, we lose the power of God (Rom. 1:16).

To “avoid” these men doesn’t mean that we fearfully stay away from them. The term apotrepou means “purposely to avoid associating with someone, turn away from, avoid” (BDAG). The point is that we shouldn’t associate with false teachers like this.

(3:6) “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses.” The same people who hold these attributes above also live them out by taking advantage of others—in this case “weak women” (NASB) or “weak-willed women” (NIV).

To “enter” households means “to worm their way into homes.”[65]

“Captivate” (aitmalōtizō) means to “take captive” or “deceive.”[66]

Could it be that these women’s lives are a wreck, and so they welcome any false teacher who will make them feel better?

(3:7) “Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” This really rings true of modern day skepticism, postmodernism, and naturalism.

(3:8-9) “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also”

(3:8-9) Who were Jannes and Jambres?

Even though these false teachers seem scary, Paul comforts Timothy, “Don’t worry about them… They won’t get far. Their sin will catch up with them. They’ll be publically exposed.” For arrogant and boastful men like this, public disgrace would be a living hell!

(3:10) “Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance.” Timothy has already stood up for the truth, and he followed Paul’s example.

(3:11) “Persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! These persecutions most likely refer to Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13-14). At one point in Lystra, they stoned Paul to the point that they thought he was dead. Timothy likely came to Christ at this time, so this would’ve been a stirring thought for Timothy to remember.

Paul brings this up to Timothy to remind him of the faithfulness of God. Of course, God didn’t spare Paul from the suffering and persecution, but he saved him through these things.

(3:12) “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Timothy would’ve remembered Paul’s sufferings from Antioch and Lystra. Here Paul tells him that all servants of Christ will face suffering.

(3:13) “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” False teachers are themselves deceived because they reject the truth, and as a result, they deceive others. This is probably connected with the work of Satan mentioned in the previous chapter (2 Tim. 2:26).

Paul’s answer for false teaching? Scripture!

How are we supposed to battle such an army of perverse false teachers? Paul tells Timothy that the central weapon at our disposal is Scripture (vv.14-17). We need to be better interpreters (2:15) and sharper thinkers than the false teachers. This is a powerful argument for Sola Scriptura. Paul does not point to Peter as the solution or a church council or a teaching magisterium. He points to the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture alone.

(3:14) “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” This is the key to true motivation: We need to become “convinced Christians” like Timothy.

(3:15) “And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Both Philo (Life of Moses, iii.39) and Josephus (Antiq. x.10.4) refer to “the sacred writings” as the OT.[67] Paul doesn’t give a Gnostic “secret mystery” to Timothy. Instead, he reminds him to “continue” in his study, devotion, and defense of Scripture.

Apparently, Scripture is not an enigma. Even children can understand it. Timothy didn’t come to Christ through his study of Scripture, but it did “lead to salvation,” most likely when he was led to Christ by Paul.

(3:16) “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The term “inspired by God” (theopneustos) literally means “God breathed.” God inspired the Scripture itself—not the authors of Scripture. While God used human agents to write Scripture (2 Pet. 1:20-21), the claim is that the final product was inspired—not the people.

While “bodily discipline is only of little profit (ophelimos)” (1 Tim. 4:8), Scripture is “profitable” (ophelimos) for everything God calls us to do in Christian service (“teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”).

(3:17) “So that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Scripture isn’t only inspired, but also sufficient for Christian work.

2 Timothy 4:1-8 (Standing for the Truth)

Scholars believe that Paul made it out of his first imprisonment, but that he was recaptured and placed in prison a second time when he wrote 2 Timothy. Therefore, this is the final chapter Paul ever wrote…

(4:1) “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom.” Based on the high view of Scripture in chapter 3, this is Paul’s reason for exhorting Timothy to “preach the word.” The public teaching of the word is our best defense against heresy creeping into the church.

This is really emphatic language! Paul is charging Timothy to preach the word in the presence of God and in view of Jesus’ Second Coming. When we teach, we need to consider the fact that we will have to give an account to Jesus at the end of our lives (Heb. 13:17). We’re pleading that others will be on the right side of the fence, when Christ comes back.

(4:2) “Preach the word…” We need to teach the truth—not our own opinions. Paul viewed this as something entrusted to him (2 Tim. 1:14), something to be guarded (1 Tim. 6:20), and something to be watched carefully (1 Tim. 4:16).

“…be ready in season and out of season…” Sometimes we see God using us powerfully in our preaching and our leadership. Other times, we don’t. Our role isn’t to cause growth. Instead, our role is to be ready for God to work, rather than falling into a perfunctory or unthinking minimalism.

“…reprove, rebuke, exhort…” Sometimes, leaders will say, “I checked out early because there weren’t any new faces at our Bible study.” This is a direct dismissal of this passage! Whether or not God is bringing the visible fruit, we always need to show up ready to build up the church. There is always someone who needs corrected, encouraged, or taught in the things of God.

“…with great patience and instruction.” Unless we have great patience and sound persuasion (“instruction”), our reproof will likely not have a good effect. We cannot simply correct people all of the time. We need to teach and persuade them of the truth of the Scriptures (“instruction”).

(4:3) “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” The term for sound doctrine” (hygiainousēs) is the root from which we get our word “hygiene.” Earle calls this “the key phrase of the pastoral Epistles.”[68] Paul has already given a description of the false teachers and their rejection of God (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

According to the Bible, a burgeoning group of supposed Christian teachers will malign the teaching of Scripture. They will teach whatever people want to hear, supporting their own desires. It’s scary to think that Paul could write this in his day. How much worse could it get?

(4:4) “And will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” Is it that people will find myths to believe in? Or is it that they will treat the Bible as a “myth”? Donald Guthrie writes, “The reason appears to be the superficial fascination of myths; but the verb used (ektrepō) points to deviation from the true course, and suggests a wandering into counterfeits (RSV has ‘wander into myths’), with no awareness that truth has been left behind.”[69]

(4:5) “Be sober in all things…” at the very least refers to sobriety from drunkenness, but it implies more than just this (all things”). Given the presence of false teachers, we need to be sharp and “sober” in our thinking. We need to be sharp enough to have answers to refute false teachers.

Standing for the truth is equated with the ability to “endure hardship” (cf. 2:3). As time progresses, true Christians will face more and more social pressure to succumb to what the culture dictates: Will you follow culture or Scripture?

“…do the work of an evangelist…” When we’re getting pummeled with false teaching, it’s easy to make that our focus. Paul foresees this, and he encourages Timothy to keep an outward focus (“do the work of an evangelist”). This doesn’t mean that every leader should drop their preaching, leading, and discipleship ministry to go reach the lost. But it does mean that we need to keep soft hearts toward the lost world around us, and pray for opportunities to share our faith. We can also do the work of an evangelist during our times of fellowship, in our preaching, and in our leadership of others, helping them reach their loved ones for Christ.

“…fulfill your ministry.” God has good works for all of us to walk in (Eph. 2:10). Paul urged Timothy to fulfill the plans that God had for him.

(4:6) “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” This refers to the drink offering of Numbers 28:24. Earlier, Paul wrote that this might happen (“Even if I am being poured out…” Phil. 2:17). Here he realizes that this will happen (“I am being poured out…”). Earlier Paul believed that he would make it out of imprisonment (Phil. 2:24), but here he believes that he will face martyrdom (“the time of my departure has come”).

(4:7) “I have fought the good fight…” The Greek term for “fought” (agōnizomai) means to “agonize.” Standing for the truth is going to be a fight. Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight, and he had moral authority for doing this himself (1 Tim. 6:12).

“…I have finished the course…” In Paul’s farewell to the leaders in Ephesus, he wrote, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Likewise, believers like John the Baptist had a “course” to finish (Acts 13:25). Paul doesn’t write that he has “won” the race—merely that he has “finished” it. He’s content with the work that God has put in front of him.

Paul has fought the good fight, but he knows Timothy is still in the middle of it as a young man (1 Tim. 4:12). Time flies so fast. We’re going to be sitting in Paul’s seat relatively soon.

“…I have kept the faith.” This isn’t a personal subjective faith, but the faith. Paul stuck to the truth.

(4:8) “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” An athletic contest is in view here. The “crown” (stephanos) was a “laurel wreath given to the winner of the Marathon race (cf. 1 Cor 9:25).”[70] Jesus will personally award this crown to Paul. James (Jas. 1:12) and Peter (1 Pet. 5:4) focused on our eternal rewards as well.

This reward isn’t just for Paul, but for all who have loved His appearing.”

(4:9) “Make every effort to come to me soon.” Paul knows that his execution is coming “soon.” He’s pleading with Timothy to get there before he dies. He wants to see him one last time.

(4:10) “For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.”

Demas was one of Paul’s trusted coworkers (Col. 4:14; Phile. 24), but not anymore. He was taken out by the world-system (“loved this present world”).

Crescens is only mentioned in this verse. We don’t know anything about this man, except that he was in Galatia, rather than in Rome with Paul. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he was a “deserter” like Demas. Paul could just be reflecting on the fact that he is was lonely.

Titus must have finished his work in Crete (Titus 1:5).

(4:11) “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.”

Luke was a physician (Col. 4:14). He could’ve been medically treating Paul, as well as scribbling down notes to document the history found in Acts. It’s also possible that Luke was Paul’s scribe for this letter.[71]

John Mark (the author of the gospel of Mark) served with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts), but he defected from their mission (Acts 13:13). Paul refused to take Mark on his second missionary tour, but Barnabas continued to believe in Mark’s potential (Acts 15:36-40). Here we learn that Mark turned out to be a good Christian worker (cf. Col. 4:10). He was so good that Paul wanted to see him on his deathbed. Even though Mark stumbled, he was able to finish strong. Earle comments, “John Mark is a vivid example of a young man who failed in his first assignment, but finally made good.”[72]

(4:12) “But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.” Tychicus was a faithful believer (Acts 20:4; Col. 4:7-8; Eph. 6:21).

We can translate “I sent” as an epistolary aorist (“I am sending”).[73] This could mean that Tychicus was the one to bring this letter to Timothy in Ephesus.

(4:13) “When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.” Paul was probably cold in his imprisonment. He wanted his “cloak” because winter was approaching (v.21).

“The books” (biblia) probably refers to the OT Scriptures.[74] Paul wanted his OT Bible to read as he awaited death.

“The parchments” (Latin membrana) were “scrolls or codices written on animal skins (vellum).”[75] Michael Kruger writes, “Not only does Quintilian use the term to refer to parchment notebooks, but the Roman poet Martial (writing AD 84-86) refers to a small codex called membrana that can be easily carried on journeys and held in one hand.”[76] Other works from Homer, Virgil, and Cicero were put into this format, according to Martial.[77] Cicero kept copies of his own letters, in case they were damaged or lost (Fam. 7.25.1; 9.26.1).[78] This evidence suggests that Paul kept a copy of his own letters as Scripture. Thus he was asking Timothy for the OT scrolls and the NT books at the end of his life. This would mean that Paul’s inspired letters were already being collected in the first century as Scripture.

(4:14-15) “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.”

Alexander was a common name, so we cannot be certain who this man is.[79] In our estimation, it most likely refers to the man in 1 Timothy 1:20, who was removed from fellowship for false teaching. This would make sense of Paul’s warning to Timothy to be on his guard against him, because “he vigorously opposed our teaching.” It could also refer to the man mentioned in Acts 19:33.

(4:16) “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.” Paul knows that God will repay Alexander for his deeds, but he doesn’t hold the same view toward the cowardly Christians who deserted him at his trial in Rome. Earle writes, “He could and did forgive his deserters for their weakness in fearing to stand by him.”[80] Most likely, Paul had a trial before Nero, and he was released. At this moment, however, Paul had been captured again and would face capital punishment.

(4:17) “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.” Everyone might desert us, but the Lord will never desert us (cf. Heb. 13:5).

“Strengthened me” (enedynamōsen me) can be rendered “infused me with strength, empowered me, made me dynamic!”[81] This “strengthening” led to Paul boldly preaching the gospel to Nero and the Gentiles in Rome.

(4:18) “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Christ rescued Paul by taking him to Heaven. This is an interesting parallel with Jesus’ own prayer: “Deliver us from evil” (Mt. 6:13).

(4:19) “Greet Prisca [Priscilla] and Aquila…” This was a dynamic Christian couple. They took Paul into their house when he came to Corinth. They sailed with Paul to Ephesus (Acts 18:18-19). They played a role in correcting Apollos’ teaching when they were there (Acts 18:26). After Emperor Claudius’ edict to expel the Jews from Rome was rescinded, the couple returned to Rome to start a house church ministry (Rom. 16:3). They had “risked their lives” for Paul (Rom. 16:4). Regarding this couple, Earle comments, “In those days prosperous Jews traveled a great deal from city to city. In four of the six places where Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned, Priscilla’s name comes first. Evidently she was the stronger character of the two. It may well be that their moves were due as much to her missionary concern as to her husband’s trade.”[82]

“…and the household of Onesiphorus.” Paul mentioned Onesiphorus earlier in this letter (2 Tim. 1:16-18).

(4:20) “Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.” The name Erastus appears in Romans 16:23 and Acts 19:22. These references could all refer to the same person, but we’re not sure.

Trophimus is mentioned in Acts 20:4 and 21:29.

(4:21) “Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.” Because winter was coming, Paul really needed his “cloak” (v.13). We don’t know any of these people mentioned here. Irenaeus mentions Linus as the first bishop of Rome after Peter (Against Heresies, 3.3). Roman Catholics believe that Linus was the next pope after Peter. This is a doubtful inference. As we have already seen, Paul entrusted Timothy to the Bible (2 Timothy 3), rather than a pope or other Christian leader.

(4:22) “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” Paul’s last words were about “grace.” The “your” is singular (referring to Timothy), but the “you” is plural, implying that this letter was written for more than just Timothy.


Some people “finish the race” (Paul). Some defect from the race (Alexander). Some neglect the race (Demas). Some stumble but still finish (John Mark). Which will you be?

[1] Stott, John. Guard the Truth: The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 1996. 40.

[2] Mounce, W. D. (2000). Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 46, p. lv). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[3] Mounce, W. D. (2000). Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 46, p. lv). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] Ecclesiastical History (A. D. 326) 2:22.7-8. Cited in Earle, R. 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11: Ephesians through Philemon (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1981. 342.

[5] Harrison, Percy Neale. The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, [London]: Oxford UP, H. Milford, 1921. 20ff.

[6] Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Second ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. 558.

[7] Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Second ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. 556.

[8] Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Second ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. 560.

[9] Mounce, W. D. (2000). Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 46, p. lxv). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[10] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 23). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[11] Mounce, W. D. (2000). Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 46, p. lxv). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[12] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 23). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[13] Blomberg, Craig. From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation. Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2006. 286.

[14] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 348). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[15] Guthrie, Donald. The Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1957. 58.

[16] Arsēn means “male” or “man.” Brown’s New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology states, “Arsēn… means male as opposed to female, thēlys.” Brown, Colin. ἄρσην. In L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther & H. Bietenhard (Eds.), . Vol. 2: New international dictionary of New Testament theology (L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther & H. Bietenhard, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1986. 562.

[17] This term is only used four times in the NT. It is translated as bed (Lk. 11:7), marriage bed (Heb. 13:4), pregnancy (Rom. 9:10), and sexual promiscuity (Rom. 13:13). Koitē means “bed” or “marriage bed.” Brown’s New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology states, “In secular Greek koitē, besides its common meaning bed, connotes the marriage bed (Aeschylus, Sophocles)… In the LXX koitē stands for a number of Hebrew words, most frequently forms of the verb šāḵah, lie down.” McComiskey, T. κοίτη. In L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther & H. Bietenhard (Eds.), . Vol. 2: New international dictionary of New Testament theology (L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther & H. Bietenhard, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1986. 586.

[18] Hays, Richard. ‘First Corinthians’, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching, 1997. 97.

[19] White, James. Jeffrey Niell. The Same-Sex Controversy. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 2002. Kindle loc. 1542-1550.

[20] Copan, Paul. When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008. 89.

[21] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 353). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[22] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 356). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[23] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 357). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[24] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 357). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[25] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 66). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[26] Guthrie, D. (1990). Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, p. 86). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[27] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 359). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[28] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 71). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[29] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 369). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[30] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 370). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[31] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 94). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[32] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 94). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[33] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 94). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[34] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 94). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[35] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 97). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[36] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 371). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[37] Fee writes, “But it is equally possible that he intends to suggest that their consciences carry Satan’s brand (as neb, Bernard, Kelly). This seems more in keeping with the context. By teaching in the guise of truth what is actually false, they have been branded by Satan as belonging to him and doing his will.” Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 98–99). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[38] Stott, J. R. W. (1996). Guard the Truth: The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus (p. 113). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[39] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 372). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[40] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 373). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[41] Earle, Ralph. 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11: Ephesians through Philemon. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1981. 373.

[42] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 373). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[43] Earle, Ralph. 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11: Ephesians through Philemon. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1981. 374.

[44] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 375). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[45] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 377). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[46] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 378). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[47] Kroeger, Richard Clark., and Catherine Clark. Kroeger. I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992. 62-63.

[48] Craig Keener “Women in Ministry,” Two Views of Women in Ministry. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 2001), 54.

[49] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 379). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[50] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 380). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[51] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 381). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[52] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 381). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[53] Earle, R. (1981). 1 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 386). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[54] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 394). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[55] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 394). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[56] Cited in Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 395). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[57] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 396). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[58] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 398). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[59] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 399). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[60] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 402). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[61] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 402). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[62] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 403). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[63] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 406). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[64] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 406). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[65] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 407). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[66] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 407). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[67] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 409). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[68] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 411). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[69] Guthrie, D. (1990). Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, p. 186). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[70] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 413). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[71] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 414). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[72] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 414). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[73] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 414). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[74] The term biblia can simply refer to letters (cf. Mt. 19:7; Mk. 10:4).

[75] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 415). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[76] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 252.

[77] Kruger adds, “If parchment rolls were meant, then the term diphtheria would surely have been used.” Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 252.

[78] Richards, E. Randolph. “The Codex and Early Collection of Paul’s Letters.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 8 (1998) 151-166. Found here.

[79] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 415). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[80] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 416). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[81] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 416). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[82] Earle, R. (1981). 2 Timothy. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 417). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.