The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles: I Timothy. Part 2.

“First of all, then, I urge 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 in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:1–5 (ESV)

Many critics of God’s Word revel in attacking the plain statements of Scripture. For no good reason, they deny that Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles (1, 2 Timothy, Titus). They ignore the testimony of the letters themselves (1 Tim. 1:12 Tim. 1:1Titus 1:1) and that of the early church (which is as strong for the Pastoral Epistles as for any of Paul’s epistles, except Romans and 1 Corinthians). Unbelieving critics maintain that a devout follower of Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles in the second century.

As proof, there are supposedly five categories of supposed evidence: 1) the historical references in the Pastoral Epistles cannot be harmonized with the chronology of Paul’s life given in Acts; 2) the false teaching described in the Pastoral Epistles is the fully developed Gnosticism of the second century; 3) the church organizational structure in the Pastoral Epistles is that of the second century, and is too well developed for Paul’s day; 4) the Pastoral Epistles do not contain the great themes of Paul’s theology; and 5) the Greek vocabulary of the Pastoral Epistles contains many words not found in Paul’s other letters, nor in the rest of the NT.

In response to the critics’ arguments, the argument of historical incompatibility is valid only if Paul was never released from his Roman imprisonment mentioned in Acts. But he was released, since Acts does not record Paul’s execution, and Paul himself expected to be released (Phil. 1:19, 25–26; 2:24Philem. 22). The historical events in the Pastoral Epistles do not fit into the chronology of Acts because they happened after the close of the Acts narrative which ends with Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome.

Second, while there are similarities between the heresy of the Pastoral Epistles and second-century Gnosticism, there are also differences. The false teachers of the Pastoral Epistles were still within the church (cf. 2 Tim. 1:3–7) and their teaching was based on Jewish legalism (1 Tim. 1:7Titus 1:10, 14; 3:9).

Third, the church organizational structure mentioned in the Pastoral Epistles is, in fact, consistent with that established by the Apostle Paul (Acts 14:23Phil. 1:1).

Fourth, the Pastoral Epistles do mention the central themes of Paul’s theology, including the inspiration of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:15–17); election (2 Tim. 1:9Titus 1:1–2); salvation (Titus 3:5–7); the deity of Christ (Titus 2:13); his mediatorial work (1 Tim. 2:5), and substitutionary atonement (1 Tim. 2:6).

Fifth, the different subject matter in the Pastoral Epistles required a different vocabulary from that in Paul’s other epistles. Certainly a pastor today would use a different vocabulary in a personal letter to a fellow pastor than he would in a work of systematic theology, like Romans or Galatians.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The idea that a “pious forger” wrote the Pastoral Epistles faces several further difficulties: 1) The early church did not approve of such practices and surely would have exposed this as a ruse, if there had actually been one (cf. 2 Thess. 2:1–2; 3:17). 2) Why forge three letters that include similar material and no deviant doctrine? 3) If a counterfeit, why not invent an itinerary for Paul that would have harmonized with Acts? 4) Would a later, devoted follower of Paul have put the words of 1 Tim. 1:13, 15 into his master’s mouth? 5) Why would he include warnings against deceivers (2 Tim. 3:13Titus 1:10), if he himself were one? The evidence seems clear that Paul wrote 1 Timothy and Titus shortly after his release from his first Roman imprisonment (c. A.D. 62–64), and 2 Timothy from prison during his second Roman imprisonment (c. A.D. 66–67), shortly before his death.”

More to come. Please continue to read I Timothy. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!  

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