Keith Hunt - Church History #34 - Page Thirty-four   Restitution of All Things

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History of the Church #34

The Epistles of Paul #4


30-100 AD

From "History of the Christian Church " by Philip Schaff



The three Pastoral Epistles, two to Timothy and one to Titus,
form a group by themselves, and represent the last stage of the
apostle's life and labors, with his parting counsels to his
beloved disciples and fellow-workers. They show us the transition
of the apostolic church from primitive simplicity to a more
definite system of doctrine and form of government. This is just
what we might expect from the probable time of their composition
after the first Roman captivity of Paul, and before the
composition of the Apocalypse.

They are addressed not to congregations, but to individuals, and
hence more personal and confidential in their character. This
fact helps us to understand many peculiarities. Timothy, the son
of a heathen father and a Jewish mother, and Titus, a converted
Greek, were among the dearest of Paul's pupils. They were, at the
same time, his delegates and commissioners on special occasions,
and appear under this official character in the Epistles, which,
for this reason, bear the name "Pastoral."

The Epistles contain Paul's pastoral theology and his theory of
church government. They give directions for founding, training,
and governing churches, and for the proper treatment of
individual members, old and young, widows and virgins,
backsliders and heretics. They are rich in practical wisdom and
full of encouragement, as every pastor knows.

The Second Epistle to Timothy is more personal in its contents
than the other two, and has the additional importance of
concluding the autobiography of Paul. It is his last will and
testament to all future ministers and soldiers of Christ.


There never was a serious doubt as to the Pauline authorship of
these Epistles till the nineteenth century, except among a few
Gnostics in the second century. They were always reckoned among
the Homologumena, as distinct from the seven Antilegomena, or
disputed books of the New Testament. As far as external evidence
is concerned, they stand on as firm a foundation as any other
Epistle. They are quoted as canonical by Eusebius, Tertullian,
Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus. Reminiscences from them, in
some cases with verbal agreement, are found in several of the
Apostolic Fathers. They are included in the ancient MSS. and
Versions, and in the list of the Muratorian canon. Marcion (about
140), it is true, excluded them from his canon of ten Pauline
Epistles, but he excluded also the Gospels (except a mutilated
Luke), the Catholic Epistles, and the Apocalypse.

But there are certain internal difficulties which have induced a
number of modern critics to assign them all, or at least First
Timothy, to a post-Pauline or pseudo-Pauline writer, who either
changed and adapted Pauline originals to a later state of the
church, or fabricated the whole in the interest of Catholic 
orthodoxy. In either case, the writer is credited with the best
intentions, and must not be judged according to the modern
standard of literary honesty and literary property.    

Doctrinally, the Pastoral Epistles are made the connecting link
between genuine Paulinism and the Johannean Logos-philosophy;
ecclesiastically, the link between primitive Presbyterianism and
Catholic Episcopacy; in both respects, a necessary element in the
formation process of the orthodox Catholic church of the second

The objections against the Pauline authorship deserve serious
consideration, and are as follows: (1) The impossibility of
locating these Epistles in the recorded life of Paul ; (2) the
Gnostic heresy opposed; (3) the ecclesiastical organization
implied; (4) the peculiarities of style and temper. If they are
not genuine, Second Timothy must be the oldest, as it is least
liable to these objections, and First Timothy and Titus are
supposed to represent a later development.


The chronology of the Pastoral Epistles is uncertain, and has
been made an objection to their genuineness. It is closely
connected with the hypothesis of a second Roman captivity, which
we have discussed in another place.

The Second Epistle to Timothy, whether genuine or not, hails from
a Roman prison, and appears to be the last of Paul's Epistles;
for he was then hourly expecting the close of his fight of faith,
and the crown of righteousness from his Lord and Master (2 Tim. 4
:7,8). Those who deny the second imprisonment, and yet accept
Second Timothy as Pauline, make it the last of the first

As to First Timothy and Titus, it is evident from their contents
that they were written while Paul was free, and after he had made
some journeys, which are not recorded in the Acts. Here lies the
difficulty. Two ways are open:

1. The two Epistles were written in 56 and 57. Paul may, during
his three years sojourn in Ephesus, A.D. 54-57 (see Acts 19:
8-10; 20:31), easily have made a second journey to Macedonia,
leaving Ephesus in charge of Timothy (1 Tim.1:3); and also
crossed over to the island of Crete, where he left Titus behind
to take care of the churches (Tit.1:5). Considering the
incompleteness of the record of Acts, and the probable allusions
in 2 Cor.2:1; 12:13,14,21; 13:1, to a second visit to Corinth,
not mentioned in the Acts, these two journeys are within the
reach of possibility. But such an early date leaves the other
difficulties unexplained.
2. The tradition of the second Roman captivity, which can be
raised at least to a high degree of probability, removes the
difficulty by giving us room for new journeys and labors of Paul
between his release in the spring of 63 and the Neronian
persecution in July, 64 (according to Tacitus), or three or four
years later (according to Eusebius and Jerome), as well as for
the development of the Gnostic heresy and the ecclesiastical
organization of the church which is implied in these Epistles.
Hence, most writers who hold to the genuineness place First
Timothy and Titus between the first and second Roman captivities.
Paul certainly intended to make a journey from Rome to Spain
(Rom.15:24), and also one to the East (Philem.22; Phil.1:25,26 ;
2:24), and he had ample time to carry out his intention even
before the Neronian persecution, if we insist upon confining this
to the date of Tacitus.
Those who press the chronological difficulty should not forget
that a forger could have very easily fitted the Epistles into the
narrative of the Acts, and was not likely to invent a series of
journeys, circumstances, and incidents, such as the bringing of
the cloak, the books, and the parchments which Paul, in the hurry
of travel, had left at Troas (2 Tim.4:13).


The Pastoral Epistles, like Colossians, oppose the Gnostic heresy
(Greek  1 Tim.6:20) which arose in Asia Minor during his first
Roman captivity, and appears more fully developed in Cerinthus,
the contemporary of John. This was acknowledged by the early
Fathers, Irenaeus and Tertullian, who used these very Epistles as
Pauline testimonies against the Gnosticism of their day.
The question arises, which of the many types of this manysided
error is opposed? Evidently the Judaizing type, which resembled
that at Colossae, but was more advanced and malignant, and hence
is more sternly denounced. The heretics were of "the
circumcision" (Tit.1:10); they are called "teachers of the law"
(Greek 1 Tim.1:7, the very reverse of antinomians), "given to
Jewish fables" (Greek  Tit.1:14), and "disputes connected with
the law" (Greek  Tit.3:9), and fond of foolish and ignorant
questionings (2 Tim. 2:23). They were, moreover, extravagant
ascetics, like the Essenes, forbidding to marry and abstaining
from meat (I Tim.4:3,8; Tit.1:14,15). They denied the
resurrection and "overthrew the faith of some"(2 Tim.2:18).

Baur turned these heretics into anti-Jewish and antinomian
Gnostics of the school of Marcion (about 140), and then, by
consequence, put the Epistles down to the middle of the second
century. He finds in the "genealogies" (1 Tim.1:4 ; Tit.3:9) the
emanations of the Gnostic aeons, and in the "antitheses" (1 Tim.
6:20), or anti-evangelical assertions of the heretical teachers,
an allusion to Marcion's "antitheses" (antilogies), by which he
set forth the supposed contradictions between the Old and New
Testaments. But this is a radical misinterpretation, and the more
recent opponents of the genuineness are forced to admit the
Judaizing character of those errorists; they identify them with
Cerinthus, the Ophites, and Saturninus, who preceded Marcion by
several decades.

As to the origin of the Gnostic heresy, which the Tabingen school
would put down to the age of Hadrian, we have already seen that,
like its counterpart, the Ebionite heresy, it dates from the
apostolic age, according to the united testimony of the later
Pauline Epistles, the Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude, the
Apocalypse, and the patristic tradition.


The Pastoral Epistles seem to presuppose a more fully developed
ecclesiastical organization than the other Pauline Epistles, and
to belong to an age of transition from apostolic simplicity, or
Christo-democracy - if we may use such a term - to the episcopal
hierarchy of the second century. The church, in proportion as it
lost, after the destruction of Jerusalem, its faith in the speedy
advent of Christ, began to settle down in this world, and to make
preparations for a permanent home by a fixed creed and a compact
organization, which gave it unity and strength against heathen
persecution and heretical corruption. This organization, at once
simple and elastic, was episcopacy, with its subordinate offices
of the presbyterate and deaconate, and charitable institutions
for widows and orphans. Such an organization we have, it is said,
in the Pastoral Epistles, which were written in the name of Paul,
to give the weight of his authority to the incipient hierarchy.

But, on closer inspection, there is a very marked difference
between the ecclesiastical constitution of the Pastoral Epistles
and that of the second century. There is not a word said about
the divine origin of episcopacy; not a trace of a congregational
episcopate, such as we find in the Ignatian epistles, still less
of a diocesan episcopate of the time of Irenaeus and Tertullian.
Bishops and presbyters are still identical as they are in the
Acts (20:17,28), and in the undoubtedly genuine Epistle to the
Philippians (1:1). Even Timothy and Titus appear simply as
delegates of the apostle for a specific mission.  The
qualifications and functions required of the bishop are aptness
to teach and a blameless character; and their authority is made
to depend upon their moral character rather than their office.
They are supposed to be married, and to set a good example in
governing their own household. The ordination which Timothy
received (1 Tim.4:14; 5:22) need not differ from the ordination
of deacons and elders mentioned in the early part of the Acts
(6:6; 8:17; comp. 14:23; 19:6). "Few features," says Dr.
Plumptre, himself an Episcopalian, "are more striking in these
Epistles than the absence of any high hierarchical system." The
Apocalypse, which these very critics so confidently assign to the
year 68, shows a nearer approach to episcopal unity in the
"angels" of the seven churches. But even from the "angels" of the
Apocalypse there was a long way to the Ignatian and
pseudo-Clementine bishops, who are set up as living oracles and
hierarchical idols.


The language of the Pastoral Epistles shows an unusual number of
un-Pauline words and phrases, especially rare compounds, some of
them nowhere found in the whole New Testament, or even in Greek
But, in the first place, the number of words peculiar to each one
of the three epistles is much greater than the number of peculiar
words common to all three; consequently, if the argument proves
anything, it leads to the conclusion of three different authors,
which the assailants will not admit, in view of the general unity
of the Epistles. In the next place, every one of Paul's Epistles
has a number of peculiar words, even the little Epistle of
Philemon. The most characteristic words were required by the
nature of the new topics handled and the heresy combated, such as
"knowledge falsely so called" (Greek  1 Tim.6:20); "healthful
doctrine" (Greek  1 Tim.1:10); "Jewish myths" (Tit.1:14)
"genealogies" (Tit.3:9); "profane babblings" (2 Tim.2:16). Paul's
mind was uncommonly fertile and capable of adapting itself to
varying conditions, and had to create in some measure the
Christian idiom. The Tubingen critics profess the highest
admiration for his genius, and yet would contract his vocabulary
to a very small compass. 

Finally, the peculiarities of style are counterbalanced by
stronger resemblances and unmistakable evidences of Pauline
authorship. There are flashes of the deepest feeling, outbursts
of the most intense expression. There is rhythmic movement and
excellent majesty in the doxologies, and the ideal of a Christian
pastor drawn not only with an unfaltering hand, but with a
beauty, fulness, and simplicity which a thousand years of
subsequent experience have enabled no one to equal, much less to

On the other hand, we may well ask the opponents to give a good
reason why a forger should have chosen so many new words when he
might have so easily confined himself to the vocabulary of the
other Epistles of Paul; why he should have added "mercy" to the
salutation instead of the usual form; why he should have called
Paul "the chief of sinners" (1 Tim.1:15), and affected a tone of
humility rather than a tone of high apostolic authority?


The Epistles have been charged with want of logical connection,
with abruptness, monotony, and repetitiousness, unworthy of such
an original thinker and writer as Paul. But this feature is only
the easy, familiar, we may say careless, style which forms the
charm as well as the defect of personal correspondence. Moreover,
every great author varies more or less at different periods of
life, and under different conditions and moods.

It would be a more serious objection if the theology of these
Epistles could be made to appear in conflict with that of his
acknowledged works. But this is not the case. It is said that
greater stress is laid on sound doctrine and good works. But in
Galatians, Paul condemns most solemnly every departure from the
genuine gospel (1:8,9), and in all his Epistles he enjoins
holiness as the indispensable evidence of faith; while salvation
is just as clearly traced to divine grace alone, in the Pastoral
Epistles (1 Tim.1:9; Tit.3:5), as in Romans.

In conclusion, while we cannot be blind to certain difficulties,
and may not be able, from want of knowledge of the precise
situation of the writer, satisfactorily to explain them, we must
insist that the prevailing evidence is in favor of the
genuineness of these Epistles. They agree with Paul's doctrinal
system; they are illuminated with flashes of his genius; they
bear the marks of his intense personality; they contain rare gems
of inspired truth, and most wholesome admonition and advice,
which makes them to-day far more valuable than any number of
works on pastoral theology and church government. There are not a
few passages in them which, for doctrine or practice, are equal
to the best he ever wrote, and are deeply lodged in the
experience and affection of Christendom.

And what could be a more fitting, as well as more sublime and
beautiful, finale of such a hero of faith than the last word of
his last Epistle, written in the very face of martyrdom: "I am
already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I
have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have
kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to
me at that day: and not only to me, but also to all them that
have loved his appearing."


Schleiermacher led the way, in 1807, with his attack on 
1 Timothy, urging very keenly historical, philological, and other
objections, but assuming 2 Timothy and Titus to be the genuine
originals from which the first was compiled. DeWette followed in
his "Introduction." Baur left both behind and rejected all, in
his epoch-making treatise, "Die sogenannten Pastoralbriefe,"
1835. He was followed by Schwegler (1846), Hilgenfeld (1875),
Mangold, Schenkel, Hausrath, Pfleiderer (both in his Paulinismus
and in his Commentary in the Protestanten-Bibel, 1874),
Holtzmann; also by Ewald, Renan (L'Eglise chretienne, pp.85
sqq.), and Sam. Davidson (Introd., revised ed., TI. 21 sqq.).    
The most elaborate book against the genuineness is Holtzmann's
"Die Pastoralbriefe kritisch and exeg. behandelt," Leipzig, 1880
(504 pp.); comp. his "Einleitung" (1886).
Reuss (Les epitres Pauliniennes, 1878, II. 243 sq., 307 sq., and
Gesch. des N. T., 1887, p.257 sqq.) rejects 1 Timothy and Titus,
but admits 2 Timothy, assigning it to the first Roman captivity.
He thinks that 2 Timothy would never have been doubted except for
its suspicious companionship. Some of the opponents, as
Pfleiderer and Renan, feel forced to admit some scraps of genuine
Pauline Epistles or notes, and thus they break the force of the
opposition. The three Epistles must stand or fall together,
either as wholly Pauline, or as wholly pseudo-Pauline.

The genuineness has been ably vindicated by Guericke, Thiersch,
Huther, Wiesinger, Otto, Wieseler, Van Oosterzee, Lange, Herzog,
von Hofmann, Beck, Alford, Gloag, Fairbairn (Past. Ep., 1874),
Farrar (St. Paul, II. 607 sqq.), Wace (nn the Speaker's Com. New
Test., III., 1881, 749 sqq.), Plumptre (in Sehaff 's Com. on the
New Test., 111., 1882, pp.550 sqq. ), Soiling (Der erste Br. a.
Tim. 1882), Salmon (1885), and Weiss (1886).

To be continued


All three of the Pastoral Epistles are expounded for you under
"The New Testament Bible Story" on this website, and will be
found eventually (have not done them yet as of July 2012) on my
youtube (1horsesrcool).

Keith Hunt  

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