corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

1 Timothy Overview

 

 


THE PASTORAL EPISTLES

BY PROFESSOR H. BISSEKER

1. AMONG the Pauline letters, the apostolic authorship of the Pastoral Epistles is still the most keenly contested. The view of earlier critics—that these documents are solely the work of a later imitator of the apostle—must be frankly abandoned. A post-Pauline date is certainly not required by the errors assailed, for even if, as is unlikely (1 Timothy 1:3-11*), Gnostic tendencies are implied, these arose earlier, not later, than Paul's lifetime. Just as little is such a date involved in the ecclesiastical situation disclosed, since that, as we shall see, necessitates the directly opposite conclusion. Moreover, the letters contain statements highly improbable in an admiring imitator (e.g. 1 Timothy 1:15 b, 2 Timothy 1:15), and embody a series of personal and historical allusions which are transparently authentic, being partly independent of any existing source of information and partly out of harmony with extant references to the persons and the places named (1 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 4:10-15; 2 Timothy 4:20, Titus 1:5, etc.). So cogent are the last considerations that, even among liberal critics, many of the sections concerned are now acknowledged to be Pauline, the remainder of the letters being assigned to a later writer who embedded these genuine fragments in his own compositions.

2. It is between this and the traditional view that we have to choose. And the choice is difficult. Against the apostolic origin of the entire letters it is urged that (1) much of their teaching, both in content and in method, is un-Pauline; (2) the vocabulary and style are unlike those of the apostle; (3) the epistles cannot be fitted into Paul's life as portrayed in Acts, and we lack proof of his release from his first Roman imprisonment; and (4) the letters themselves reveal broken sequences and self-contradictions (e.g. contrast 2 Timothy 4:11 a and 2 Timothy 4:21). Careful examination shows that in the case of (3) and (4), much of (1), and the first part of (2) the evidence is inconclusive. But the difficulty respecting the un-Pauline use of particles and connecting links is serious: it is just in such subtle points that a writer unconsciously reveals himself. A further difficulty must be allowed in Titus 3:3 : such a description seems scarcely applicable to Paul. The main strength of the critical theory, however, lies not in any single difficulty, but in the cumulative effect of a long series. Were the problem only that of language or style or teaching or historical situation or apparent contradictions in the text, it might more easily yield to opposing considerations. It is the fact that, on the traditional theory, so many independent points have to be "explained" that provokes doubt and hesitation.

3. On the other hand, the critical view itself is not without its perplexities. (1) The external evidence for the epistles is strong; (2) the schemes of partition suggested are over-intricate and unconvincing; (3) there is no satisfactory theory of a "tendency" which would account for the letters, that usually advanced being manifestly inadequate. A greater difficulty remains. The continued identity of "bishop" and "presbyter," the fact that the peculiar position of Timothy and Titus would be highly improbable at any later period (points appearing outside the "Pauline fragments"), and, possibly, the ground of Paul's imprisonment (2 Timothy 2:9*), require an apostolic date for these documents. But if they were issued by another writer before or shortly after Paul's death, how could they so easily have gained currency as the apostle's own composition? Finally, it is only just to point out that the chief individual difficulty in the traditional view is largely neutralised if we suppose (as the literary customs of the age unquestionably allow) that many of the stylistic traits of the letters are due to Paul's amanuensis.

4. There are thus strong arguments and serious difficulties on both sides, and the final solution of the problem is not yet. More light is required, and meanwhile the verdict must remain an open one. The Pauline authorship is assuredly not disproved: on the contrary, the evidence is more favourable to it to-day than for many years past, and it is reasonably certain that particular sections of the epistles come from the apostle's own hand. At the same time, the Pauline authorship of the letters as a whole has not been positively established—a statement which governs all allusions to "Paul" as their writer, throughout the present commentary.

5. The traditional authorship is usually held to necessitate Paul's release from his first Roman imprisonment (contrast Bartlet, Exp. VIII, v. 28). On this assumption, his subsequent movements may be conjectured as follows: (1) a visit to Macedonia and Asia (Philippians 2:24, Philemon 1:22); (2) evangelisation of Spain (Romans 15:24; Romans 15:1 Clem. 5); (3) a mission in Crete (Titus 1:5); (4) a journey up the coast of Asia Minor (1 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:20) towards Macedonia and Achaia (2 Timothy 4:20), with a view to wintering in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). During this last journey 1 Tim. and Tit. may well have been written about A.D. 66 from Macedonia. Shortly afterwards the apostle was rearrested and taken back to Rome, whence he despatched 2 Tim. The critical theory dates the letters between A.D. 90 and 115, and in the order 2 Tim., Tit., 1 Tim. See also pp. 772, 815f.

6. Literature.Commentaries: (a) Humphreys (CB), Horton (Cent.B), Strachan (WNT), Brown (West.C); (b) Ellicott, Alford, Bernard (CGT), Liddon, White (EGT); (c) Von Soden (HC), B. Weiss (Mey.), Köhler (SNT), M. Dibelius (HNT), Wohlenberg (ZK); (d) Plummer (ExB). Other Literature: Articles in Dictionaries. Discussions in Histories of Apostolic Age, Introductions to NT and to Pauline Epistles; Hort, Christian Ecclesia and Judaistic Christianity.

I. TIMOTHY

Grave perils beset the churches in Asia. False teachers threaten to subvert the Christian faith and corrupt Christian conduct. Confronted by this delicate situation, Timothy, Paul's delegate, seems to have revealed a certain lack of decision and a tendency to heed mere theoretical discussion concerning truth. Paul sends him solemn and fatherly counsel. The antidote to error consists partly in the true positive doctrine and partly in strong organisation, capable of safeguarding it. The letter contains detailed guidance on these points, accompanied by instruction and encouragement regarding Timothy's own conduct in the crisis.

THE PASTORAL EPISTLES

BY PROFESSOR H. BISSEKER

1. AMONG the Pauline letters, the apostolic authorship of the Pastoral Epistles is still the most keenly contested. The view of earlier critics—that these documents are solely the work of a later imitator of the apostle—must be frankly abandoned. A post-Pauline date is certainly not required by the errors assailed, for even if, as is unlikely (1 Timothy 1:3-11*), Gnostic tendencies are implied, these arose earlier, not later, than Paul's lifetime. Just as little is such a date involved in the ecclesiastical situation disclosed, since that, as we shall see, necessitates the directly opposite conclusion. Moreover, the letters contain statements highly improbable in an admiring imitator (e.g. 1 Timothy 1:15 b, 2 Timothy 1:15), and embody a series of personal and historical allusions which are transparently authentic, being partly independent of any existing source of information and partly out of harmony with extant references to the persons and the places named (1 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 4:10-15; 2 Timothy 4:20, Titus 1:5, etc.). So cogent are the last considerations that, even among liberal critics, many of the sections concerned are now acknowledged to be Pauline, the remainder of the letters being assigned to a later writer who embedded these genuine fragments in his own compositions.

2. It is between this and the traditional view that we have to choose. And the choice is difficult. Against the apostolic origin of the entire letters it is urged that (1) much of their teaching, both in content and in method, is un-Pauline; (2) the vocabulary and style are unlike those of the apostle; (3) the epistles cannot be fitted into Paul's life as portrayed in Acts, and we lack proof of his release from his first Roman imprisonment; and (4) the letters themselves reveal broken sequences and self-contradictions (e.g. contrast 2 Timothy 4:11 a and 2 Timothy 4:21). Careful examination shows that in the case of (3) and (4), much of (1), and the first part of (2) the evidence is inconclusive. But the difficulty respecting the un-Pauline use of particles and connecting links is serious: it is just in such subtle points that a writer unconsciously reveals himself. A further difficulty must be allowed in Titus 3:3 : such a description seems scarcely applicable to Paul. The main strength of the critical theory, however, lies not in any single difficulty, but in the cumulative effect of a long series. Were the problem only that of language or style or teaching or historical situation or apparent contradictions in the text, it might more easily yield to opposing considerations. It is the fact that, on the traditional theory, so many independent points have to be "explained" that provokes doubt and hesitation.

3. On the other hand, the critical view itself is not without its perplexities. (1) The external evidence for the epistles is strong; (2) the schemes of partition suggested are over-intricate and unconvincing; (3) there is no satisfactory theory of a "tendency" which would account for the letters, that usually advanced being manifestly inadequate. A greater difficulty remains. The continued identity of "bishop" and "presbyter," the fact that the peculiar position of Timothy and Titus would be highly improbable at any later period (points appearing outside the "Pauline fragments"), and, possibly, the ground of Paul's imprisonment (2 Timothy 2:9*), require an apostolic date for these documents. But if they were issued by another writer before or shortly after Paul's death, how could they so easily have gained currency as the apostle's own composition? Finally, it is only just to point out that the chief individual difficulty in the traditional view is largely neutralised if we suppose (as the literary customs of the age unquestionably allow) that many of the stylistic traits of the letters are due to Paul's amanuensis.

4. There are thus strong arguments and serious difficulties on both sides, and the final solution of the problem is not yet. More light is required, and meanwhile the verdict must remain an open one. The Pauline authorship is assuredly not disproved: on the contrary, the evidence is more favourable to it to-day than for many years past, and it is reasonably certain that particular sections of the epistles come from the apostle's own hand. At the same time, the Pauline authorship of the letters as a whole has not been positively established—a statement which governs all allusions to "Paul" as their writer, throughout the present commentary.

5. The traditional authorship is usually held to necessitate Paul's release from his first Roman imprisonment (contrast Bartlet, Exp. VIII, v. 28). On this assumption, his subsequent movements may be conjectured as follows: (1) a visit to Macedonia and Asia (Philippians 2:24, Philemon 1:22); (2) evangelisation of Spain (Romans 15:24; Romans 15:1 Clem. 5); (3) a mission in Crete (Titus 1:5); (4) a journey up the coast of Asia Minor (1 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:20) towards Macedonia and Achaia (2 Timothy 4:20), with a view to wintering in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). During this last journey 1 Tim. and Tit. may well have been written about A.D. 66 from Macedonia. Shortly afterwards the apostle was rearrested and taken back to Rome, whence he despatched 2 Tim. The critical theory dates the letters between A.D. 90 and 115, and in the order 2 Tim., Tit., 1 Tim. See also pp. 772, 815f.

6. Literature.Commentaries: (a) Humphreys (CB), Horton (Cent.B), Strachan (WNT), Brown (West.C); (b) Ellicott, Alford, Bernard (CGT), Liddon, White (EGT); (c) Von Soden (HC), B. Weiss (Mey.), Köhler (SNT), M. Dibelius (HNT), Wohlenberg (ZK); (d) Plummer (ExB). Other Literature: Articles in Dictionaries. Discussions in Histories of Apostolic Age, Introductions to NT and to Pauline Epistles; Hort, Christian Ecclesia and Judaistic Christianity.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Timothy:4 Overview". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-timothy-0.html. 1919.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology