Who were the Pastoral Epistles written to?

Of course we have the testimony of the epistles themselves along with the traditional titles proclaiming Timothy and Titus as recipients.

Some have taken issue with this on the basis of testimony within the epistles, particularly First Timothy.

After all, if Timothy had been with Paul for years (cf. Ac 16.1-5) and was beloved of Paul to the degree that Paul called him his “true child in the faith” (cf. 1Ti 1.2; 2Ti 2.2) why did Paul spend so much time on seemingly basic things? You know, like qualifications for overseers and deacons? Wouldn’t Timothy have known that stuff cold based on his previous experience?

And why the extended superscription with Paul justifying his apostleship with one of the longest such statements he uses (1Ti 1.1; 2Ti 1.1) for such purposes: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope”.

Paul didn’t really need to justify his apostleship for Timothy (you know, co-sender of a bunch of Paul’s epistles?), did he?

Same stuff goes for Titus.

I have my own ideas, of course, and they’re relatively mainstream. But I’m curious as to what others might think about these things.

Who was intended to receive (or intended to hear, if you think there is a distinction) the letters to Timothy? And the letter to Titus? And what was their purpose?

Feel free to use the comments. If you blog about it on your own blog, drop me a note [pe | pastoralepistles | com] and I’ll add a link here. Thanks!


  1. PLStepp says:

    My view is that, even if the letters are directly or indirectly Pauline, they’re "public personal letters," open letters intended for an audience bigger than just the addressee.

    Of course, if the letters are deutero-Pauline (or further removed from the apostle) then audience and situation depends on the interpreter’s reconstruction.

  2. It was not uncommon for a superior to reiterate the basic task when establishing a ‘lieutenant’ in a task. This makes sense to me with these letters. I remain convinced that Paul is writign to the rela Timothy and Titus.

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