1 Timothy 1-3

Introduction: This letter is the first of the pastoral epistles, which consist of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus.  The pastoral epistles claim to be by Paul, but scholars are almost unified in believing they are forgeries.  The epistles all instruct Timothy and Titus on matters of basic church organization and sometimes doctrine, even though they had been Paul’s trusted co-workers for decades.  This instruction presupposes a hierarchical church, which doesn’t exist in Paul’s authentic letters.  In addition, the pastoral epistles share a Greek vocabulary and style that is not found in Paul’s authentic letters.  1 Timothy, in particular, is addressed to Timothy; it presents Paul’s vision of church ethics, qualifications for church positions, and warnings against false teachers.

1 Timothy 1-3: I urge you, Timothy, to remain in Ephesus to instruct false teachers not to occupy themselves with endless genealogies.  What is important is faith and a good conscience.  God judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent man; the grace of our Lord overflowed for me, making me an example of his utmost patience.  Timothy, my child, have faith and a good conscience.

Make prayers and supplications for everyone, including kings and elites, so that we may lead a peaceable life.  Men should pray without anger; women should dress modestly, not with braided hair, gold, or expensive clothes.  Women should be silent and submissive; no woman should teach or have authority over a man, because Adam was formed first, then Eve.  Bishops must be above reproach, married only once, respectable, gentle, and not greedy; he must keep his children submissive.  Deacons must also be serious, not greedy, and married only once.  I hope to come to you soon, but if I can’t, this letter will tell you how one ought to behave in church.


  • Paul (or rather, pseudo-Paul) is a strong supporter of the Roman patriarchal household, and models his ideal church on this household.  Hence, women should be submissive (to the extent of being silent and never having authority over a man), and deacons and bishops must keep their children submissive.  The real Paul has a very different view of women.  Compare 1 Timothy 2:11-12:

    Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man

    With Romans 16:

    I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae (16:1)
    Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus […] Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles (Rom 16:3-7)

    Phoebe, Prisca, and Junia are all female names.

  • Pseudo-Paul believes women will be saved through childbearing (2:15), something never mentioned by Paul
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