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Have you ever sat with someone close to death and listened to their last words? If you have, you know the tremendous weight someone’s final thoughts carry with them. Those words, few as they may be, are ripe with meaning – every word filled with emotion and every thought of the utmost importance. The Pastoral Epistles are just that, Paul's last words. The books of 1Timothy and Titus are written to help young pastors know how they ought to conduct themselves in ministry, and 2 Timothy was written from death row to convey Paul’s final thoughts to his young apprentice. The overall theme of these three books is a call to remember that the people of God should be a people of the book. With a harsh tone and a commanding style, Paul calls these young men to hold fast to the faithful word, and to call the church to handle the word of God with excellence.
Paul, originally named Saul, a Pharisee until confronted by Jesus Christ.
The second letter to Timothy was written no later than A.D. 67. It may have been as early as A.D. 64-65, since Paul asked Timothy to attend to him before winter (2 Timothy 4:21), and Paul was put to death by Nero, who committed suicide in June of A.D. 68. This means 1 Timothy and Titus were written between A.D. 62 and 66.
The Church’s Leadership
Church leadership, including pastors and elders, should meet certain qualifications and should lead and conduct their lives honorably.
These epistles have been dubbed “the pastorals” because they were addressed to pastors, and they outline the pastor’s duties, sound teaching and maintaining discipline. This is most readily seen in Titus, but it is also present in the other two epistles. Christianity had become an illegal religion in the Empire. (The burning of Rome took place in A.D. 64.) Paul was arrested by his accusers and imprisoned once again in Rome. This time Paul had no hope of release and expected to be executed (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 18). He asked Timothy to come to him before his demise (2 Timothy 4:9). According to tradition, Paul, an old man at this time, was beheaded west of Rome on the Ostian Way.
© Dr. Rick Taylor
Resources for 1, 2 Timothy and Titus