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Literature / Epistles to Timothy

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Two of the Pauline Epistles that were written by Paul the apostle to Timothy that appear in the New Testament. The second one was believed to be the last epistle Paul had written before his death.


Structure of the books:

1st Timothy:
  • Greeting (1st Timothy 1:1-2)
  • Warning against false teachers (1st Timothy 1:3-11)
  • Jesus Christ came to save sinners (1st Timothy 1:12-20)
  • A call to pray for all people (1st Timothy chapter 2)
  • Advertisement:
  • Qualifications for bishops/elders/overseers (1st Timothy 3:1-7)
  • Qualifications for deacons (1st Timothy 3:8-13)
  • The Mystery of Godliness (1st Timothy 3:14-16)
  • Some will depart from the faith (1st Timothy 4:1-5)
  • Being a good servant of Christ Jesus (1st Timothy 4:6-16)
  • Instructions for the church regarding widows and elders (1st Timothy chapter 5)
  • Instructions for the church regarding servants (1st Timothy 6:1-2)
  • False teachers and true contentment (1st Timothy 6:3-10)
  • Fighting the good fight of faith (1st Timothy 6:11-21)

2nd Timothy:

  • Greeting (2nd Timothy 1:1-2)
  • Paul's first directive to Timothy (2nd Timothy 1:3-18)
  • Being a good soldier in Christ Jesus (2nd Timothy 2:1-13)
  • Being a good worker approved by God (2nd Timothy 2:14-26)
  • Godlessness in the last days (2nd Timothy 3:1-9)
  • The inspiration of Scripture by God (2nd Timothy 3:10-17)
  • Advertisement:
  • Preaching the Word "in season and out of season" (2nd Timothy 4:1-8)
  • Personal instructions (2nd Timothy 4:9-18)
  • Final greetings (2nd Timothy 4:19-22)


These books provide examples of:

  • Absurdly Bright Light: Paul tells Timothy near the end of the first epistle that God dwells in "unapproachable light" which no man can see or could ever see.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Paul near the end of his second epistle tells Timothy that, because he has stayed the course and has kept the faith, there is a crown waiting for him, with which the Lord will crown him on the day of His return, and not just him but also those who love the Lord's appearing.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Near the end of his second epistle, Paul tells Timothy to "preach the Word" and to "be instant in season and out of season" in doing so, because a time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but will after their own lusts heap up teachers to themselves, "having itching ears", and will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to myths and fables.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: In the second epistle, Paul tells Timothy that athletes that compete in a race do not win the prize unless they compete according to the rules, setting up an analogy for a spiritual law.
  • Elective Mute: Paul's desired role for the women in the church, as addressed in his first epistle, is that they should be silent. Bible students are divided over whether that was intended as a cultural mandate or as a universal mandate for the body of Christnote .
  • The End Is Nigh: 2 Timothy 3:1-9 focuses on how there will be lack of godliness in the last days. See List of Transgressions.
  • Evil Vegetarian: The first few verses of 1st Timothy chapter 4 in the King James Version tends to be interpreted as those who fall away from the faith that give heed to "seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" will also be commanded to "abstain from meats", meaning that those people will become vegetarians with evil intents and purposes in mind.
  • Fair Weather Friend: Paul tells Timothy that "everyone in the province of Asia deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes" in the early part of his second epistle, and near the end of it that "Demas deserted me, since he loved the present age, and he went to Thessalonica; Crescens went to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me."
  • From Bad to Worse: "But evil people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves." (2nd Timothy 3:13, NET Bible)
  • God Is Good: Paul says in 1st Timothy that God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, which is why Paul says that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that believers in Christ may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Paul warns Timothy, "Those guilty of sin must be rebuked before all, as a warning to the rest." (1st Timothy 5:20, NET Bible)
  • Greed: Paul spoke against this in the sixth chapter of his first epistle, culminating in saying "the love of money is the root of all evil, for which some have fallen from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: In his second epistle, Paul tells Timothy that God has called us and saved us with a holy calling, "not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made visible through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus." (2nd Timothy 1:9-10, NET Bible)
  • The Hedonist: Paul says in first epistle that a widow who lives for pleasure is "dead while she lives." He also warns Timothy in his second epistle that there will be those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Paul advises Timothy in his first epistle that he should drink a little wine to deal with his stomach and his frequent infirmities rather than be a complete teetotalernote .
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Paul in his first epistle speaks of those who desire to be teachers, but don't know what they're talking about nor what they strongly affirm, that they have turned aside to empty talk.
  • Listing the Forms of Degenerates:
  • Make an Example of Them: In 1 Timothy 5:20, if an elder sins, they must be rebuked publicly so that "others may also fear".
  • Mandatory Fatherhood: Unlike in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 where Paul stated it's okay for men and women to marry and not marry, he plays this straight in 1 Timothy 3:5 where he says a man is not fit to run a church unless (among other traits) he first has experience running a family. The contradiction is possibly due to the fact that the epistle in question was written by someone else in the following century and attributed to Paul. Alternatively, it could be seen as an instruction that, while singlehood is fine for lay members of the congregation, marriage and fatherhood is mandatory for one who wants a position of authority. 1 Timothy 2:15 also says "women will be saved through childbearing".
  • Polyamory: Discouraged in Paul's writing about the qualifications of a bishop (also translated elder or overseer) as well as for a deacon, saying that such men who seek those positions must be "the husband of one wife". The Scripture is also alternately interpreted to exclude divorced religious leaders from continuing in their ministry if the cause for divorce is anything other than adultery or neglect, or if the religious leader was the offending spouse in those two aspects.
  • Rule of Three: "Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it can be confirmed by two or three witnesses." (1st Timothy 5:19, NET Bible)
  • Satan: Paul mentions in 1st Timothy that he has handed Hymenaeus and Alexander, two men who by rejecting conscience have their made their faith shipwreck, over to Satan so that they may learn not to blaspheme.
  • Scam Religion: Paul in 1st Timothy warns Timothy and his readers to avoid such people who are depraved of mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
  • Screw the Rules, They Broke Them First!: Averted as far as God is concerned, as Paul writes in 2nd Timothy: "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." (2nd Timothy 2:13)
  • Sinister Minister: Paul in his second epistle warns of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who were among a group of false teachers who have strayed from the truth of Scripture, teaching that the resurrection is already past, and overthrowing the faith of some.
  • The Usurper: Paul in 1st Timothy 2:12 does say that he does not permit a woman to "usurp authority" over a man. Whether this is talking about specifically church authority or societal authority in general is debatable.note 
  • Widow Woman: Paul gives Timothy detailed instructions in his first letter on how the church ought to care for widows. Specifically, younger widows are encouraged to remarry so they will not be tempted to idleness, and that it's a family's responsibility to take care of their widowed relatives, but the church should fully support any pious widow who doesn't have a family to look after her.

Alternative Title(s): First Timothy, Second Timothy

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