As is the case with most of his epistles, Paul’s first letter to Timothy is the subject of much speculation and some disagreement. Some scholars believe that Paul wrote this letter toward the end of the Rome imprisonment that occurred in the final chapters of the Book of Acts. Others are convinced that Paul was released after two years there, and that this first letter to Timothy was written after that release and before a second, final imprisonment in Rome.
There is some secular evidence to support a fourth missionary journey, including writings by Clement of Rome, who some say was a friend to the apostle. None of this comes from inspired scripture, of course. But in 1 Timothy 1:3, Paul tells his young friend “as I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…” Of course, Paul could be talking about a previous trip to Macedonia, but it seems more likely that he is speaking of a fairly recent occurrence. Either way, the date of the letter is generally accepted as from 62-64 A.D. (almost certainly no later than 65 A.D.).
Paul covers several points with Timothy in this letter. Foremost of course is the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He also addresses the problem of false doctrine, and the urgency of teaching others the right way to both worship and to serve God. Paul recognized the importance of the local body of the church at each location being unified and caring for one another. But in chapter two, he wants Timothy to instill in them a different attitude toward the rest of the world, urging “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified.”
Paul also recognizes the fact that Timothy’s youthfulness may sometimes be an impediment to being taken as seriously as he needs to be. But he advises him to overcome that with godly living, abstaining from youthful passions and irreverent speech, and just generally being a prime example of a child of God. He also outlines how the church should care for its widows, as well as limits for such responsibility.
One of the most important matters that Paul instructs Timothy about is the qualifications for, and expectations of, overseers (or elders), as well as those of deacons (1 Timothy 3). All over the world today, this chapter is used as a blueprint for choosing men among the local church that will “shepherd the flock” among them. As he says, “if anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.”
Young men of every congregation today need to be constantly reminded (yes, and taught and trained) on the importance of these areas of their lives. There is nothing so vital to the future of the Lord’s church as the nurturing and grooming of godly men to assume those roles when they are ready. It is an awesome responsibility that such a man takes on and, more often than not, it is a thankless job. But we know how important it is to God because of Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21:17 before he ascended – “Feed my sheep.”
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.