The Two Epistles of St. Paul to Timothy
General Introduction (contd.)
1- Paul and Timothy (See Part 1)
2- Saint Paul’s two epistles to Timothy (See Part 1)
3- When did Saint Paul write his epistles to Timothy?
It is believed that St. Paul was sentenced to death after his first imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:3-31); nevertheless, as mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea in his “Church History,” he was more likely released after two years, and had the opportunity to continue his evangel-ization. This is a more plausible scenario, since he mentions in some of his epistles that he expected his release, given that he was only under house arrest in a house he had rented: “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (Acts 28:30,31)
Furthermore, in his letter to the Philippians which he wrote in prison, he said he would send them Timothy, and “… I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.” (Philip. 2:24) Also, in his letter to Philemon – authored in jail – asking forgiveness for Philemon’s slave Onesim-us, he said, “But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.” (Philemon 22)
Following his release from prison, St. Paul probably went to Spain, as was his desire; he thus concludes his letter to the Romans with: “… whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, … Therefore, … I shall go by way of you to Spain.” (Rom. 15:24-28) This was mentioned by Saints John Chrysostom and Jerome. This view, how-ever, is not corroborated by evidence of St. Paul’s visit to, and evangelization in, Spain; it is also not supported by any historical writings or archeological findings. On the other hand, there is no concrete proof that he never evangelized in Spain.
With respect to the place and timing of his first epistle to Timothy, these are Macedonia (Philippi) or Ephesus, and 64 or 65 A.D. respectively.
There is general agreement that St. Paul’s second epistle to Timothy was the last of his epistles. It was written in Rome during his second imprisonment (2 Tim. 1:8) prior to offering himself to be slaughtered – a martyr for Whom he loved – in 67 A.D. This epistle gives us a glimpse of his last hours, and is filled with words describing submission to the Savior; hence: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Tim. 1:12) Also, “This is a faithful saying: for if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.” (2 Tim. 2:11) and:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:6-8)
Finally, he expresses feelings of loneliness, and urges Timothy to join him without delay and be with him during his last hours, since Demas had forsaken him, and Crescens and Titus had gone to Galatia and Dalmatia, respectively – only Luke remained with him. The simple life which St. Paul led is reflected in his request to Timothy to bring with him (to Rome in Italy) the cloak which he had left at Troas (in Asia) with Carpus; he did not consider buying a cloak to protect himself against winter’s cold! Hence:
“Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica–Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come–and the books, especially the parchments.” (2 Tim. 4:9-13)
Elements of the epistle
Chapter 1: 1. Introduction (1:1,2)
- Timothy’s service in Ephesus, which St. Paul had assigned (1:3-11)
- St. Paul’s thanksgiving for God’s grace which transformed him from a blasphemer and a per-secutor to an apostle of Jesus Christ (1:12-17)
- Urging resistance to heresies (1:18-20)
Chapter 2: 5. Asking prayers for the leaders and those in authority (2:1-3)
- Christ is God and the only advocate between God and humanity (2:4-7)
- Spiritual conduct for men and women (2:8 – 15)
Chapter 3: 8. Conditions for nominees for the position of bishop (3:1-7)
- Concerning deacons (3:8 – 13)
- Great is the mystery of godliness (3:14-16)
Chapter 4: 11. Resisting departures from the Faith (4:1-12)
- Teaching and setting the example (4:13-16)
Chapter 5: 13. Dealing with the elderly and the widows (5:1-16)
- Dealing with church elders and their account -ability (5:17-22)
- Advice to cure a physical ailment (5:23)
- Let us leave judgment to God (5:24,25)
Chapter 6: 17. Concerning slaves (6:1,2)
- Avoiding deviants (6:3-6)
- Between contentment and the love of money (6:7-19)
- Conclusion (6:20 – 22)
- Introduction (1 Timothy 1:1 & 2)
St. Paul does not need to introduce himself to Timothy – after all, this was his disciple, who later became his service companion, since the day they met in Lystra at the beginning of St. Paul’s second journey (Acts 16:1-3). Timothy crossed over to Europe with Paul who, practically, was like a father to him. St. Paul introduces himself as “… an apostle [emissary or ambassador] of Jesus Christ, …1, and states that this was “by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, …” (1 Tim. 1:1, 2:3 and 4:10)2. Here, he attributes salvation to God the Father (as stated in his epistle to Titus (Titus 1:3, 2:10 and 3:4)), since salvation was not the work of the Son acting alone, rather, the work of the Holy Trinity: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son …” (John 3:16) Hence, the Father sent His Son, Who was incarnate for our salvation; we reap redemption through the Holy Spirit through the sacraments of “… the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
St. Paul is also an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of Jesus Christ, Who confronted him on the road to Damascus, and transformed his life to serve Him; from that moment, Paul became an apostle of Jesus Christ. St. Paul refers to Christ as “our hope” (1 Tim. 1:1), and “the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) He is our hope throughout our life’s journey, as we complete our salvation in fear and trembling, and He is our hope for inheriting eternal life.
St. Paul refers to Timothy as “a true son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2)3. He made similar statements with respect to Titus (Titus 1:4), and Onesimus “whom I have begotten while in my chains [meaning, during his imprisonment in Rome]” (Philemon 10). This, in turn, points to the work of faith which shines through his life and service.
Timothy, several years prior to his encounter with Paul, “… was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.” (Acts 16:2) Behold, he now proceeds in the path of faith, dedicating his life to the Lord’s service, and shouldering the responsibility for a Church.
Finally, Paul entreats the Lord that Timothy be engulfed in “Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.4
(To be contd.)
The Coptic Church Calendar starts on the 11th of September each year by celebrating her Martyrs (Feast of Nayrouz)
- Everyone bearing the name of Christ presents Christ to the world through their lives, deeds and speech, since they are in the Lord’s service ↩
- Also, in Saint Mary’s “Ode of the Theotokos,” before Elizabeth, she says: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46) ↩
- This is his fatherly address to the congregation of the Church of Corinth: “… for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” (1 Cor. 4:15) ↩
- This is similar to his second epistle to Timothy (2 Tim. 1:2), his epistle to Titus (Titus 1:4), St. John’s second epistle (2 John 3), and Saint Peter’s first epistle (1 Peter 1:3) where he refers to God’s abundant mercies, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, …” ↩