The letters to Timothy and Titus are considered the Pastoral Letters. Whereas other letters from Paul were written to congregations of people in one city or another (Ephesus, Corinth, etc), these were written directly to the bishops or pastors of Ephesus (Timothy) and Crete (Titus).
All three letters are considered by many scholars not to have been written by Paul, but perhaps by later followers. Several reasons are given, including a different style of writing, and the concept of a very organized church structure that probably did not exist during Paul’s time. While those who believe Paul wrote them place the letters at the end of his life (64 AD), many scholars believe they were written later - in the late 1st century or early 2nd century. One reason given for this timeframe is that Paul seems to deal with Gnostic issues, primarily in 1 Timothy, which did not become a major issue for the Church until long after his death.
2 Timothy may have been written prior to the other two letters, but was placed second behind 1 Timothy, as it is the shorter epistle.
Early Christian histories note that Timothy was bishop of Ephesus. The apostle John lived with Timothy several years, just prior to being exiled to the isle of Patmos. Around the age of 80, tradition states Timothy was beaten and killed by the pagans in Ephesus.
Titus was bishop or archbishop of the island of Crete. According to tradition, he remained bishop until his death of natural causes in his nineties.
Paul and Women’s role in the Church
Timothy was given special guidance by Paul to remain in Ephesus and be its primary leader. Paul had begun the Church, spending years there building up and strengthening the new converts. Now he writes Timothy to give guidance regarding issues that affect not only Timothy, but all ecclesiastical leaders in the Church. Paul does not tell Timothy to have just one wife, but that all bishops should only have one wife.
His description of duties and expectations for women in Timothy is controversial and differs from previous council given. One of his greatest assistants in preaching the gospel was Priscilla (Acts 18, Romans 16:3, 1 Cor 16:19). Paul had stated that there was “neither man nor woman in Christ” but that all were alike in salvation and in the work. Why would Paul allow Priscilla to actively preach, and then command that women be silent in Church?
Here in 1 Timothy, Paul places the blame of the Fall and sin on the woman. Yet, elsewhere, Paul squarely places the Fall on Adam’s shoulders (1 Cor 15). Clearly, either Paul had a major change of heart regarding his views of the gospel over just a few short years, or someone else wrote 1 Timothy.
While some Christian churches use Paul’s wording to place women as subservient to their husbands, many churches today see the words of 1 Timothy as only applicable to the culture of his day. While the priesthood was clearly reserved in Old and New Testament times to men, the ability to preach, teach, and even prophesy was given to women back then, and should be part and parcel of the Christian church today.
1 Tim 4
“1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
The author of 1 Timothy was probably pointing the finger at a group of Christians known as the Encratites. This Gnostic group started in the early 2nd century AD, and among their beliefs were the forbidding of marriage and the abstention from meats.
Here in the last days, we also find that religions would judge people on minor issues. Doctrines of salvation would be replaced with creeds and rules that would exclude people from the salvation of Christ. Today, we find many Christian religions that inevitably set up Pharisaic rules to set them apart from other religions. “We have salvation! All others are not real/true Christians!” Since the restoration of the gospel in these last times through Joseph Smith, the Church has dealt with Shakers (who forbid from marrying) and other religions that demand followers to be vegans.
Some religionists attempt to call other Christians either cults and/or non-Christian, while claiming the title for themselves. In doing so, they proclaim to be the “historical” Christianity. Yet, a look at the history of Christianity would show that Protestantism did not begin until 1300 years after the Nicene Council. Religions like the Southern Baptists have very little actual history of their own, having begun in 1845 over the slavery issue. Some pastors of today would cut Mormons out of Christianity AND Catholics as well! In doing so, they literally disconnect themselves from the history they claim to have. Such speak hypocrisy in their lies regarding those who, while of a different faith, have accepted Christ as their personal Savior.
2 Tim 4
“2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
The author of 2 Timothy is aware of the struggles occurring in Ephesus in the days of the apostle John. There are those appearing in the city who claim to be apostles, but are not. For some reason, people bore of the gospel teachings, and seek for new teachings that can satisfy their “itching ears.”
In Revelation 2, the Lord said the following to the angel or bishop of Ephesus, possibly Timothy:
“1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
Clearly the warning of Paul to Timothy was to keep preaching the gospel, otherwise he would lose his congregation to others. Jesus also warns Timothy through the apostle John to not leave his “first love” or that of diligently teaching the Church and protecting it from the false apostles and liars that were coming from Gnostic sects (Encratites and the Nicolaitans).
The Epistle to Philemon
The epistle to Philemon is considered an undisputed letter of Paul. It is the shortest letter written by Paul, written from Ephesus or Rome. If the letter to the Colossians is authentic, then Philemon probably dwelt there. Being wealthy, his home was large enough to house Church meetings for the poor Christian group there.
Paul wrote to Philemon on behalf of Philemon’s slave Onesimus (“useful”), who was described as not so useful at times. While the exact division between Philemon and Onesimus is unknown, various scholars believe Onesimus was a runaway slave. Onesimus probably escaped with his pockets full of Philemon’s wealth. Paul sent Onesimus back, accompanied by this letter not only to make things right, but also to achieve a reconciliation between the two Christians.
This is a very personal letter to Philemon. Martin Luther described Paul’s letter as “holy flattery.” Philemon should follow the forgiving attitude of a good Christian, while also reminded that Paul is his apostolic leader. Because of Onesimus’ conversion, he should be considered not just a slave, but a brother to Philemon. Paul basically asks Philemon to not only forgive Onesimus, but to redeem him by freeing him.
From this, we can learn that just as Paul had sinned grievously and still was reconciled to Christ, Philemon should be Christ-like in forgiving and embracing Onesimus. And so we do for those who are indebted to us, for regardless of the size of debt, ours to Christ is still vastly larger.
Pastoral Letters: http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Paul-Pastorals.htm
Epistles to Timothy and Titus, Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14727b.htm
Authorship of the Pastoral letters: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1timothy.html
1 Timothy - wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Epistle_to_Timothy
2 Timothy - wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Epistle_to_Timothy
Encratites - wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encratites
Titus - wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_to_Titus
Paul’s reference to Epimenides in Titus and the Epimenides’ Paradox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epimenides_paradox