The author of this letter is Paul, as stated in the salutation (1:1). The evidence in the writing also supports the belief Paul as the author; especially in the way he greets the receiver in his letters, and the close relationship between Paul and Timothy. One of the supporting sources in the church history is found in Theophilus of Antioch, which dates back to 180 A.D. which confirms Paul is the author.
The letter was written to Timothy, Paul’s “true son in faith” (1:2,18). We first learn about Timothy in (Ac 16:1-3), where we find out that his mother was Jewish and his father was Greek. In 1 Timothy Paul desired that the disciple travel with him and therefore Paul circumcised him to fit in with the Jews they were going to preach to. This began a long relationship together where they worked with the Lord, where Timothy treated Paul as he would his father (Ph 2:19-24). This treatment would mean traveling with Paul, and remaining with the new congregations when Paul would have to leave suddenly (Ac 17:13-14). Timothy would also to go back to encourage the congregations (1 Th 3:1-3). Timothy also had the honor to sit with Paul as he wrote several epistles, and from these epistles we learn that Timothy had been with Paul during his imprisonment in Rome. Because of his faithfulness in his service helps us learn why Paul would leave him in Ephesus (1:3).
Many people believe that Paul may have written 1 Timothy after his long stay at Ephesus and departure for Macedonia on his third missionary journey (Ac 19:1-41). This would make 1 Timothy written around 53-67 (The NIV Study Bible, 1835). Most of the people thought that Paul wrote this epistle from Macedonia, following his first imprisonment in Rome (Ac 28:16). Paul was released and allowed to travel for several years before being finally arrested again and finally put to death by Nero. If 1st Timothy were indeed written during this period, the date would be around 63-64 AD
The purpose of this epistle was for Timothy to stay behind in Ephesus with a great responsibility: he was there to protect the community from false teachers and spread the correct word to the town. It was hard to keep this responsibility because of his youth and he was naturally shy and timid (4:11-12). This letter is addressed to Timothy full of responsibility of working with a congregation and guiding them in the right way. Everything that was written was to help to direct the congregation in doctrine and in conduct.
In the first chapter Paul begins by urging his “true son in the faith” to remain in Ephesus and tell the people not to teach false doctrines, or to believe in them, because they mess with your belief in the faith. The goal of this chapter is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, from which some of the people of Ephesis have strayed from because of the false teachers of the law. While the law is good when used properly, it is not designed for the righteous person, but for those whose actions are bad according to the doctrine, which is according to the gospel, committed to Paul’s trust (1:1-11). Paul speaks of thanksgiving and praise to Christ for counting on him faithful and letting him be part of spreading the word of God. He is even more thankful when he remembers that he used to be against the word until he found God, and God even forgave him for persecuting the believers. Paul knew that Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and Paul was a great sinner. Paul shows an example of Jesus’ longsuffering life to those who believe in him and everlasting life (1:12-17). Paul then charges Timothy to carry out his responsibility in keeping with stories that Paul preached concerning Jesus. The charge is to having faith and a good conscience.
In chapter two Paul is once again encouraged to stay in Ephesus and spread the good word and battle the blaspheme. Paul now introduces to Timothy the matters that are concerning the church. He starts with a prayer, where he tells who we should pray for and the reasons why we should pray for them. His thought is that men should pray everywhere they are, lifting up their prayers without doubting (2:1-8). Women are to treat themselves properly according to Paul. This means apparel worn with moderation, but it also includes good works, as in it is proper for women professing godliness. Also women should learn their faith in silence with all respect for the men. Basing this restriction in the relationship of Adam and Eve and that the man came before the woman. Paul reminds the women they are childbearing and they should continue in faith, love, and holiness with self-control (2:9-15).
In chapter three we find that the qualifications necessary for those who would like to serve as bishops in the local churches (3:1-7). A similar list is included for those who would like to be deacons (3:8-13). Paul then explains the purpose of writing this epistle. Even though Paul hopes to come soon, he writes to Timothy so that Timothy will be able to instruct himself in the church as the leader in the truth (3:14-15). Paul also brings up the “great mystery of God” which is where he is manifested in the flesh, or also know as the coming of Jesus (3:16).
Chapter four begins with describing how the spirit will be revealed in times when some people are straying from faith. This falling away would come about as people gave into the false stories. In regards to the letter Paul makes it clear that all foods are acceptable if they are received with thanksgiving, because God said to Paul in a vision they are alright to consume (4:1-5). In the last half of this chapter we find Paul instructing Timothy how he could become a good Minister of Jesus Christ by instructing the breathen in matters pertaining to doctrine. Now Timothy should be careful to avoid foolish fables, and rather exercise himself to godliness (4:6-10). Though Timothy is young he shouldn’t let anyone despise him for that. Instead he must demonstrate the proper example of how a believer should speak and live. Paul assures Timothy that if he follows these instructions his progress will show, and that he will save himself and those he saves (4:11-16).
This chapter is describing the church and various members. Chapter five starts out with all of the members in general, telling to consider them as family (5:1-2). A major section is then devoted to the widows of the church, it says to honor the “widows indeed”(5:3). Younger widows are expected to remarry and have children, while widows with children and grandchildren are to be supported by their own family rather than burden the church (5:3-16). Several remarks are made regarding elders. Elders who have good intentions are to be worthy of financial support, especially if they are spreading the word. Accusations against an elder are not to be taken seriously unless there are two or three witnesses. Those elders who are sinning need to be publicly forgiven so they are free of fear (5:17-20).
The final chapter begins with instructions concerning servants and their duties toward their masters, especially toward those masters who believe (6:1-2). A description then follows of those who might teach the false word of the Lord and his doctrine. (6:3-5). Paul mentions the people who are caught up in material possessions such as food and clothing, and those facing the desire to be rich (6:6-10). Now Paul gives his final instructions to Timothy, he tells him to forget all of the other things not concerning to God and to fully depend on God (6:11-16). The epistle ends with the Christians who are rich in the world, and with a plea for Timothy to stay committed to his trust, avoiding profane and false doctrines that have led others away from faith (6:17-21).
The final summary of this epistle is that Paul was worried that Ephesus and the people in it would fall away from the faith because of false doctrines that existed in the town. He wrote Timothy to warn of this happening and to teach and to encourage him.
Erdman, Charles R. The Pastoral Epistles. Philadelphia: Westminster Press,1929.
Gurthie, Donald The Pastoral Epistles. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964.
The NIV Study Bible Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corp. 1985.
Stedman, Ray C. “1Timothy: Pastor’s Primer” March 1968, On-line internet. 12/14/99. Available wwsiwy://15/http:/www.pbc.org/dp/stedman/adventure/0255.html.
“Timothy Honored of God” On-line internet. 12/03/99. Available http://azstarnet.com/~fbarnes/btim.htm.