Sometimes I’m asked why I have an interest in the Pastoral Epistles. I’ve been fascinated by them for a long time. Here are some reasons:
- 1Ti 4.12-16:
Let no one treat you with contempt due to your youth, but you yourself become an example of the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. Until I come occupy yourself with public reading of Scripture, with encouragement, and with teaching. Do not neglect the gift in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands of the elder council. Practice these things, be immersed in them, so that your progress might be visible to all. Take pains with yourself and your teaching, persist in them: for in doing this you will deliver both yourself and your hearers. (1Ti 4.12-16, my own translation)
I can remember reading these verses in Junior High and being astounded by the whole “youth” thing. Here Paul was telling someone perceptibly younger but still in a leadership position to stick to his guns and do the job he was entrusted with. That’s always stuck with me.
- If you ascribe to Pauline authorship (and I do) then these are the last things we have from the mind of Paul. It’s his views on stuff nearer to the close of his ministry than the start of it. It isn’t systematic, but it does provide insight. How did Paul’s views develop over time? How did he see the church?
- These are, ostensibly (though see this post and comments) letters to people, not to churches.
- The Pastoral Epistles (and First Timothy, in particular) touch on some hot-button issues. You know: role of men and women in the fellowship, how to discern and handle false teachers, God desiring “all people to be saved” … you get the gist.
- Titus 2.11-15:
For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men instructing us, so that having renounced impiety and worldly desires, we might live self-controlled and justly and godly in this present age, looking forward to the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and deliverer of us, Jesus Christ, who gave himself on behalf us, so that he himself might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a chosen people, zealous for good works. These things speak and exhort and set forth with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Tt 2.11-15, my own translation)
I treasure these words; they are both humbling and motivating. They remind me that I am saved, that Jesus Christ is the source of my salvation, and that He will come again to take us home. Marana tha!
There is more, but those are the biggies.