Author: Rick Brannan (Page 1 of 13)

New Coptic Fragments of 2 Timothy & Titus

In the most recent Journal of Biblical Literature, Brice C. Jones has published an article on three new Coptic papyrus fragments that witness text of the Pastoral Epistles.

Brice C. Jones, “Three New Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy and Titus (P.Mich. inv. 3535b)”. Journal of Biblical Literature, no 2 (2014): 389–397.

The article provides discussion and transcriptions of the fragments. Text on the fragments are:

  • Fragment 1: 2 Tim 2:14–18; 2:26–3:3
  • Fragment 2: 2 Tim 1:6–11; 1:18–2:6
  • Fragment 3: 2 Tim 4:18–20; Titus 1:7–9

Jones hesitates to provide dates any more specific than “sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries” (392).

I have yet to really read the article, but any time fragments of NT text are located, it is an important thing. Thanks to Brice C. Jones (see his blog) for his work in publishing these fragments.

Bible Study Magazine on the Pastorals and Philemon

The September-October 2012 issue of Bible Study Magazine has a special section on the Pastoral Epistles and Philemon.

I was happy to be able to write two of the articles in the special section, in addition to my normal “Thoughts from the Early Church” column. Here are some more details on some articles in the special section:

Special Section on the Pastoral Letters: In Transition

Fighter, Writer, More than a Conqueror

When authors use illustrations, they invite us to draw parallels between what we know and what they want us to learn. Their examples help us understand their ideas. And the illustrations they choose give us insights into how they see the world and what frames of reference they expect to have in common with their audience. —Eli T. Evans

The First-Century Abolitionist

Today, an estimated 27 million people are enslaved globally, and human trafficking is a $32 billion industry. Modern-day slavery is built on greed, fear and a disregard for human life, and it’s an issue we take very seriously. So when Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:1, “All those who are under the yoke as slaves must regard their own masters as worthy of all honor,” it seems surprising to us that he doesn’t denounce the practice. Instead, he addresses the attitude Christian slaves should have toward unbelieving masters. Why does Paul seem so nonchalant about slavery? Has he cowered under the pressure of Graeco-Roman culture and embraced it? —John D. Barry and Craig A. Smith

You Owe Me Your Very Soul

“And I won’t mention that you owe me your very soul,” Paul says in his letter to Philemon (Phlm 19). At first glance, Paul’s comment seems like a threat—a rhetorical hand grenade he tosses to pressure Philemon, a church leader in Colossae, to do what he wants. But is that what’s going on? —Perry L. Stepp and Rebecca Kruyswijk

See the Bible Study Magazine web site for more information (including subscription info).

Second Timothy 1.1–5

Almost three years ago now (yikes) I began blogging through the text of Second Timothy and created a “Phrasal Interlinear” with notes on grammar and syntax. Nothing comprehensive, just a high-level walk through the text, paying attention to grammar and syntax in the notes.

In that, however, I never actually had notes on verses 1-5.

I’m in the process of reviewing and editing those notes to work them into something else less bloggy and more suited to study. So I quickly wrote notes for vv. 1-5. They are below.

Question (for those actually still reading this blog): Are these kinds of notes useful? Do you like them?


Verses 1–2 are a relatively standard Pauline prescript. Ancient letters typically have a prescript consisting of superscription (sender’s name in nominative case), adscription (recipient’s name in dative case), and salutation (some expression of greeting). [[Letter component terminology (prescript, superscription, adscription, salutation, etc.) taken from Hans-Josef Klauck, Ancient Letters and the New Testament: A Guide to Context and Exegesis. Waco: Baylor Press, 2006, pp. 17–27]]

Verse 1

Παῦλος] Sender’s name in nominative case.

ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ] Appositional phrase, further describing Paul. He is an apostle of Jesus Christ.
διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ] Prepositional phrase adjectivally modifying ἀπόστολος, informing of the basis of Paul’s apostleship. Paul is an apostle of Jesus through the will of God.

κατʼ ἐπαγγελίαν ζωῆς] Prepositional phrase further  modifying ἀπόστολος, giving further information of the basis of Paul’s apostleship. Not only is it through the will of God, it is also according to the promise of life.

τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ] Here the article functions as a pronoun in a relative clause, providing clarification of the promise of life. The life is that which is had in Jesus.

Verse 2

Τιμοθέῳ] Recipient’s name in the dative case, beginning the adscription.

ἀγαπητῷ τέκνῳ] Appositional phrase further describing the relationship of the recipient to the sender. The sender considers Timothy to be his beloved son.

χάρις, ἔλεος, εἰρήνη] A new clause, the salutation. The subject of the salutation is threefold: grace, mercy and peace.

ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν] Prepositional phrase modifying an implied verb. The source of the grace, mercy and peace comes from both the God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

Verse 3

Χάριν ἔχω τῷ θεῷ] A new clause beginning the thanksgiving portion of the letter introduction. Paul’s letters (apart from Galatians) contain a thanksgiving section after the prescript.

ᾧ λατρεύω ἀπὸ προγόνων ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει] A relative clause. The pronoun referent is God (τῷ θεῷ). Two prepositional phrases adverbially modify the verb λατρεύω (I serve); these detail the reason for service (Paul’s ‘forbears’ served God) and the manner of service (Paul serves with a clear conscience).

ὡς ἀδιάλειπτον ἔχω τὴν περὶ σοῦ μνείαν] This clause functions subordinately, modifying the main clause. It provides some further reason and explanation for Paul’s giving of thanks.

ἐν ταῖς δεήσεσίν μου νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας] A prepositional phrase adverbially modifying the previous subordinate clause. Paul said he “constantly” remembers Timothy; here he provides further detail to his constant rememberance, it is in his prayers both night and day.

Verse 4

ἐπιποθῶν σε ἰδεῖν] This participial clause also modifies the subordinate clause, reiterating Paul’s closeness to Timothy. Not only does Paul pray constantly for Timothy, he also longs to see Timothy.

μεμνημένος σου τῶν δακρύων] Another participial clause. With “remembering your tears,” Paul further indicates the closeness of his relationship with Timothy.

ἵνα χαρᾶς πληρωθῶ] Subordinate clause further modifying the participial clause at the beginning of the verse. Paul longs to see his friend Timothy so that he may be filled with joy.

Verse 5

ὑπόμνησιν λαβὼν τῆς ἐν σοὶ ἀνυποκρίτου πίστεως] This begins a complex participial structure that further modifies the subordinate clause that began in the middle of verse 3. This parallels a previous participial structure, “longing to see you.” It includes a prepositional phrase, “in you” embedded within a noun phrase, “the sincere/unhypocritical faith.”

ἥτις ἐνῴκησεν] A relative clause referring to the sincere faith.

πρῶτον ἐν τῇ μάμμῃ σου Λωΐδι καὶ τῇ μητρί σου Εὐνίκῃ] Paul is tracing Timothy’s spiritual lineage. This clause provides order using “first” then a prepositional phrase with compound object. The sincere faith that Timothy has first dwelt in his grandmother and his mother (Lois and Eunice).

πέπεισμαι δὲ] The δὲ here is developmental. Paul noticed Timothy’s faith first in his grandmother and mother, from there Paul confirms it in Timothy as well.

ὅτι καὶ ἐν σοί] Subordinate clause modifying previous. The καὶ is what would typically be called “adverbial” and is best translated as “also.” The faith Paul saw in Timothy’s mother and grandmother also dwells in Timothy.

Some Thoughts on 1 Tim 4.4-5

If you’ve followed me around for any amount of time, you might be aware that I’ve got 400+ pages of stuff written on First Timothy in a commentary format. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do anything with it, though, because it was written over a few years and style, content, writing ability and ability in handling the text changed and grew through the exercise.

Anyway, I saw a question on B-Greek about 1Ti 4.4-5, so I thought I’d take a quick shot to post here what I wrote about that section. Please note that I wrote this at least five years ago, perhaps longer. As you can tell, much of my interest was in how particular words were used in similar contexts, but outside of the NT.

1 Timothy 4.4-5: Freedom from False Requirements

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1Ti 4.4-5)

Verse 4

For everything created by God is good

The word “everything” is a translation of the Greek word πᾶς, a frequently-occurring word that means ‘all, each or every’.1 It modifies “created”, which is a translation of the Greek word κτίσμα. The word κτίσμα is not a verb with the meaning of “to create”; it is a noun indicating ‘something that has been created’ or ‘creature’.2 This combination of words also occurs in Re 5.13:

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Re 5.13)

The word κτίσμα is used similarly in the Epistle to Diognetus:

And if any of these teachings was acceptable, then every one of the other things created by God could also appear to be God.3

In Diognetus, the phrase “created by God” is used in much the same way that it is used here in First Timothy, to attribute the creation to God, the creator.

The previous context of First Timothy had to do with practices or items that false teachers forbid. Paul’s response is a realization that all things created by God are “good” and therefore are acceptable to be used by those for whom these things have been created. Paul may be reminding the reader of the creation account in Genesis:

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Ge 1.31)

and nothing is to be rejected

After noting that “everything” created by God is good and therefore acceptable, Paul states that “nothing” is to be rejected. The word “nothing” is a translation of the Greek word οὐδείς, which means ‘no one’ or ‘nothing’.4 The contrast between “everything” and “nothing” is notable. This contrast occurs in the epistle to the Hebrews as well:

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb 12.14)

The LXX has more examples of this type of contrast; one of which occurs in Judith:

And all went away from her presence, and none (from small to great) remained in the bedchamber, and Judith stood next to the bed and said in her heart, “Lord, God of all power, look in this hour to the work of my hands for the raising in exaltation of Jerusalem; now is the time to take hold of your inheritance and start my desired pursuit of destruction of the enemies which have risen against us”. (Jdt 13.4-5, LXX)5

Similar contrast occurs in the Shepherd of Hermas:

As to the believers from the fifth mountain, which has green plants but is rugged: they are faithful, but they are slow to learn and insolent and strive to please themselves, wishing to know everything but knowing nothing at all.6

In First Timothy, πᾶς and οὐδείς provide the same sort of contrast, emphasizing the wrongness of the false teachers in their approach restricting certain items from those who are believers.

According to Paul, everything was created by God so nothing need be rejected out-of-hand. The word translated “rejected” in this verse is the Greek word ἀπόβλητος.7 The word is seldom used in Christian literature. LSJ cites the Iliad, noting that ἀπόβλητος there means ‘to be thrown away or aside, as worthless’.8 Those things previously mentioned by Paul—marriage and certain foods—have been created by God and are good, and therefore should not be dismissed, or put aside as lacking worth or as evil.

if it is received with thanksgiving

There is one qualification, however, to the reception of the provision of God in the area of food. In verse 3, Paul describes these rejected foods as items “ … that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth”. Here, in verse 4, Paul reiterates this qualification to the Ephesians, noting that food should not be rejected “ … if it is received with thanksgiving.”9

Verse 5

for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer

If the status of the food is questionable,10 receiving the food with thanksgiving through prayer to God to purify it is all that is required. The food need not be avoided or disposed of, it is the provision of God and through God’s blessing it can be restored and eaten.11

The phrase “made holy” is a translation of the Greek word ἁγιάζω. In contexts where ἁγιάζω is used in reference to a thing, the sense is usually that of ‘consecrate, dedicate’.12 The word is used in Matthew:

Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Mt 23.16-19, emphasis mine)

In the above context, as well as in First Timothy, the thing13 is being made holy or sacred. The verb ἁγιάζω is in the passive voice implying that its object is being acted upon; it is not making itself holy or sacred. In First Timothy, this action is prompted “by the word of God and prayer”.14

The Greek word ἔντευξις is translated “prayer”. The word may mean prayer in a general sense, or it could imply some sort of intercession.15 Here the word likely carries the more general sense and could even have to do with thanksgiving. Verses 3 and 4 clearly use the term “thanksgiving” (εὐχαριστία) as describing the attitude with which the provision is received, so the prayer mentioned in verse 5 may therefore be prayer of thanksgiving for the food with the request (intercession) to make it holy and proper for consumption by a believer.16

Pericope Summary

Paul recalls earlier prophecies that tell of some who will depart from the faith. The “later times” he mentions are not in reference to a future date; they reference the here and now experienced by the Ephesian believers.

Paul warns the Ephesians about the dangers they are experiencing. False teaching is prominently warned against. The false teaching manifests itself in ascetic-like teaching; denying marriage and particular foods to Christians. Paul takes issue with this; contending that such things originate with God and were “created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1Ti 4.3).

As all things were created by God, and as God’s creation is good, his people have no reason to reject anything that has been received with thanksgiving. These thanksgivings are prayers offered to God, thanking him for what he has provided. This act of giving thanks to God cleanses any impurity or imperfection in what has been provided, making it acceptable for reception and use.

1 BDAG p. 782. Occurs 1243x in NT, 55x in PE. The word is briefly discussed in notes on 1Ti 2.1 and 2.4.

2 BDAG, p. 573. Occurs 4x in NT: 1Ti 4.4; Jam 1.18; Re 5.13; 8.9.

3 EpDiog 8.3 (Ehrman, emphasis mine)

4 BDAG, p. 735. Occurs 227x in NT.

5 author’s translation.

6 Hermas, Similitudes, IX.xxii.1 (Ehrman)

7 BDAG, p. 107. NT hapax. According to BDAG, this is a verbal adjective from the verb ἀποβάλλω.

8 LSJ, p. 193, citing Iliad 3.65, “οὔ τοι ἀπόβλητ᾽ ἐστὶ θεῶν ἐρικυδέα δῶρα”. [Note: provide translation]

9 On the phrase “received with thanksgiving” see notes on 1Ti 4.3.

10 e.g., perhaps it had been sacrificed or slain in honor of false gods, then sold in the marketplace.

11 [Note: perhaps a parallel to or reminder of how God restores us to be acceptable in his sight?]

12 BDAG, p. 9. Occurs 28x in NT, 2x in PE: 1Ti 4.5; 2Ti 2.21.

13 In these instances: gold, gifts, or food.

14 [Note: Need to insert discussion of “word of God”?]

15 BDAG, p. 339. See comments on 1Ti 2.1.

16 BDAG, p. 340.

Con Campbell Teaching A Course on Pastorals

We received the following note from Richard Blight:

I thought you might be interested to know about a new MA (Theology) unit being offered at Moore College (Sydney, Australia) this year in the Pastoral Epistles. It is being taught by Con Campbell.  Info is here:

The required reading list is available online here:

If you’re interested, check out the reading material. I’ve read most of it and think most of it worth reading in the context of an MA level unit. I wish the list wouldn’t focus so much on 1Ti 2.9-15, though.

That said, I was thrilled to see Jakob Heckert’s stuff in the “further reading” list.

Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles

Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles, ed. Andreas Köstenberger and Terry Wilder, is set to be published April 2010. I previously mentioned this book as in progress. I am honored to be a contributor to this volume and excited about its potential.

The book aims to provide an overview of recent scholarship on the Pastorals and give an overall view of the message of these letters.

The contributors and chapter titles are as follows:

  • Köstenberger- “Hermeneutical and Exegetical Challenges in Interpreting the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Wilder- “Pseudonymity, the New Testament, and the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Alan Tomlinson- “The Purpose and Stewardship Theme within the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Ray Van Neste- “Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Greg Couser- “The Sovereign Savior of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus”
  • Daniel Akin- “The Mystery of Godliness Is Great: Christology in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • George Wieland- “The Function of Salvation in the Letters to Timothy and Titus”
  • Benjamin L. Merkle- “Ecclesiology in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Paul Wolfe- “The Sagacious Use of Scripture”
  • Thor Madsen- “The Ethics of the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Chiao Ek Ho- “Mission in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Howard Marshall- “The Pastoral Epistles in Recent Study”

You can see further information at the publisher’s site (

First Timothy 6.7, Job 1.21, and Palladas

This morning Michael Gilleland, at Laudator Temporis Acti, had a post called “Born Bare, Buried Bare”, reviewing several different translations of Palladas’ statement, “Naked I alighted on the earth, and naked I shall go beneath it” (Palladas, Greek Anthology 10.58, tr. W.R. Patton).

He (of course) ties it to Job 1.21, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return thither.”

I immediately thought of 1Ti 6.7, “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” (ESV)

Malherbe on sophrosyne

I recently read Abraham Malherbe’s essay, “The Virtus Feminarum in 1 Timothy 2:9-15” in Renewing Tradition and appreciated it.  He argues for a high degree of literary coherence in this passage and provides significant background for the passage in Greco-Roman philosophical writings.

Given my previous work on the coherence of the Pastorals I was particularly interested in his discussion of coherence.  Malherbe traces the train of thought briefly and concludes that “structurally, the text coheres” (50).  Then the bulk of the essay considers the various ethical ideas in this text arguing that the moral advice contained in it also coheres.  Malherbe also counters Roloff stating, “The two most extended Christological formulations in the Pastoral Epistles … are not mere appendages providing a theological sheen to rather prosaic moralizing” 52).

The bulk of the essay though is a discussion of sophrosyne and related terms in the context of Greco-Roman moral philosophy.  In this Malherbe interacts significantly with Helen North’s $amz(B000CJ3KKQ Sophrosyne: Self-Knowledge and Restraint in Greek Literature), which Malherbe calls a “magisterial study” (53)- no small praise from one of the preeminent scholars on Greco-Roman backgrounds!.  The parallels Malherbe cites here are very helpful and will be important for anyone work on the Pastorals (as these terms occur often in these letters beyond the text in the essay title). 

Malherbe does not in this essay get to the question of how this impacts one’s reading of 1 Timothy 2:9-15.  This essay he says is spade work preliminary to exegesis, which he will do in his forthcoming commentary on the Pastorals in the Hermeneia series.

Thinking about 2Ti 1.8-12

Our pastor has commenced working through Second Timothy (one of the reasons for my recent jaunt through Second Timothy) and today’s text was 2Ti 1.9-10 (he’d discussed the larger section, 2Ti 1.8-12, last week). But I really don’t see the rationale for splitting this out from the larger unit because it is all one sentence (in the Greek) with components building one upon the other to the crescendo of v. 12. Below is my translation of these verses:

And so do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner, but suffer together with me for the gospel according to the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace, which has been granted to us in Christ Jesus from times eternal, and now has been revealed through the appearance of our Savior Christ Jesus, who indeed abolished death and brought to light life and immortality through the gospel into which I was appointed herald and apostle and teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is quite capable to guard my deposit until that day. (2Ti 1.8-12)

On my reading, Paul’s first bit about not being ashamed of the testimony or being ashamed of Paul is an attention-getter that is then immediately trumped. This isn’t about Timothy being ashamed, it is about Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to “suffer together” with him for the gospel. In the underlying Greek, the portion after this initial “but” corrects. Timothy is not to be ashamed of Paul’s suffering (or the gospel for that matter), he is instead to join with Paul in his suffering for the gospel.

From here, Paul gives further information on how Timothy can in his right mind sign up for such suffering: the power of God is what will enable him.

As if that’s not enough, Paul then describes what God has already done: he’s saved them (the start of v. 9). In addition to that, he has called them with a “holy calling”.

But what is the holy calling? Paul explains that too. The holy calling is not one given because they are worthy based on the merit of their own works, they are worthy because God has called them to it. God has his own purpose and his grace will enable him to meet that purpose to which he has called Timothy (and Paul).

But Paul isn’t done; he next has to get in some explanation of how this grace works to enable for the holy calling. The grace has been in place since the foundation of time, only recently revealed in Jesus Christ.

And again, Paul isn’t done.

Note how Paul doesn’t just refer to “Jesus Christ”, but to “our Savior Jesus Christ”. This as well is for a reason, it is so Paul can remind Timothy once again of what Christ did. He abolished death (by his grace saving from eternal death) and brought life. He is the life-bringer. And this was done “through the gospel” (remember that thing Paul initially exhorted Timothy to not be ashamed of?). (this is the end of v. 10)

Still, Paul has more.

This gospel, the accounting of how our Savior provided for our deliverance, is what Paul has been called to proclaim. He is a “herald” (a proclaimer), an apostle and a teacher of the gospel. He proclaims it, he advocates it, he practices it and he teaches it.

Paul continues, “For this reason …”. This is Paul’s justification of his suffering. Paul doesn’t hide his suffering, he embraces it. And he wants Timothy to embrace it too. Again, as when the section started, there is a contrastive “but”: “I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed …”. This as the same contrast as the beginning of the section, between suffering and being ashamed of the suffering. Paul offers himself as an example to Timothy: “I’m embracing the suffering, you should too.” (an aside: recall 2Ti 1.7, immediately previous to this whole section, where Paul reminds Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and love and self-discipline”.)

Paul then gives reason for his embracing of the suffering he finds himself in: He knows that the one who saved him will bring him through it until “that day” (which is, in my opinion, an eschatological reference).

The whole section progresses, each clause or phrase expanding some portion of the previous one, making Paul’s case. And it ends up right where it started, advocating the embrace of suffering for the gospel over against being ashamed of the gospel.

From here, Paul will begin to contrast the gospel against the false teaching prevalent in Ephesus, holding up the standard of the gospel. But before then, Paul needs to make the reader aware that there is a choice between the hard way (holding to the gospel and undergoing the suffering which will come) and the easy way (letting go of the gospel and not challenging the false teachers). Paul makes Timothy aware of this choice, encouraging his embrace of the gospel and related suffering, before getting into the ramifications of it.

Also interesting (at least to me) is that throughout this section, Paul is exhorting Timothy to join together with him in this suffering for the gospel; he is not exhorting Timothy to take his place in this suffering. So many times Second Timothy is read as “Paul’s last will and testament” but, at least here, we see that Paul has no hint of wanting to let go of the reins. Timothy is joining together with Paul, he isn’t taking Paul’s place.

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