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LEAVING now the Epistles of the Roman Captivity we come to the Pastoral Epistles. On the questions of their authenticity and integrity I shall say no more now than that in spite of by no means trivial difficulties arising from comparison of the diction of these and the other Epistles bearing St Paul’s name, I believe them to be his, and to be his as they now stand. The supposed difficulties of other kinds seem to me of no weight. About St Paul’s life after the time briefly noticed in the last verse of Acts, we know absolutely nothing from any other source beyond the bare fact of his death at Rome: and it is to the interval between the Roman Captivity mentioned in Acts and his death that the Epistles, with the recent incidents referred to in them, must assuredly belong. They differ essentially from all his Epistles except Philemon by being addressed to individual men, not to communities; while they differ 172no less from Philemon in having the welfare of Christian communities as indirectly a large part of their subject-matter.

The interpretation of 1 Tim. iii. 14 f.

This is definitely expressed in an important passage which we may well consider first, as it is the chief passage in which the term ἐκκλησία occurs, 1 Timothy iii. 14 f. “These things I write to thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in a household of God, which is an Ecclesia of a living God, a pillar and stay of the truth.”

The A. V. (and R. V. marg.) rendering “how thou oughtest to behave thyself” is doubtless a survival of the Vulgate quomodo to oporteat, a translation of the Western σε. But though the special ἀναστροφή of Timothy is included, the ἀναστροφή of each class mentioned and of all members of the Ecclesia is likewise included. Ἀναστροφή, for which there is no good English equivalent, includes all conduct and demeanour in converse with other men. Thus St Paul here describes his purpose in writing so as to point out what is a well-ordered life for Christian men in converse with each other. The force of the words that follow is only weakened and diluted by treating the absence of articles as immaterial. The close and obvious relations subsisting within each single Christian community afford the framework, as it were, 173for the teaching; and in instructing its members to regard it as invested with these high attributes St Paul was but doing as he had done to other Ecclesiae before.

The ‘house of God’ here spoken of is doubtless not His dwelling-house or sanctuary but (as several recent commentators) His household5050The word ‘house’ is not incorrect, but only ambiguous: in Acts xvi. 34 both senses stand together, the jailor at Philippi brings Paul and Silas into his house, and rejoices greatly with all his house.. It is the same ten verses back, “If a man knoweth not how to rule his own household, how shall he take care of an Ecclesia of God”? The same sense ‘household’ occurs also in Heb. iii. 5 f., x. 21 (from Num. xii. 7) and probably in 1 Pet. iv. 17. It is also implied in St Paul’s own use of the adjective οἰκεῖος, probably in Gal. vi. 10, “them that are of the household of the faith”; certainly in Ephesians ii. 19, “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Hence the ἀναστροφή or converse described as the subject of this part of the Epistle, is the converse of members of a household of which God is the Householder or Master.

Further it is described as “an Ecclesia of a living God.” Often the (a) living God is spoken of in contrast to dead idols: but sometimes (e.g. Heb. iii. 12; ix. 14; xii. 22) it implies a contrast with the true God made practically a dead deity by a lifeless and rigid form of religion; with the God in short in whom 174too many of the Jews virtually believed. Such is probably the force here as it evidently is in iv. 10.

The last designation here given to a local Christian community is “a pillar and stay of the truth.”

There are few passages of the New Testament in which the reckless disregard of the presence or absence of the article has made wilder havoc of the sense than this. To speak of either an Ecclesia or the Ecclesia, as being the pillar of the truth, is to represent the truth as a building, standing in the air supported on a single column. Again there is no clear evidence that the rare word ἑδραίωμα ever means ‘ground5151Probably translated by Tyndale from Luther’s Grundfeste.’ = “foundation.” It is rather, in accordance with the almost5252Fundamentum occurs in Iren. lat. [III. i. 1; but possibly as a translation of στήριγμα, see III. xi. 8. Ed.] universal Latin rendering firmamentum, a “stay” or “bulwark”.

St Paul’s idea then is that each living society of Christian men is a pillar and stay of “the truth” as an object of belief and a guide of life for mankind, each such Christian society bearing its part in sustaining and supporting the one truth common to all.

But while at least two of the Pastoral Epistles, and in a certain sense all of them, have thus the Ecclesiae for themselves to a great extent as the subject matter, they are still more truly in substance no less than in obvious form, instructions to individual men, 175having special responsibilities of leadership or guidance, and, as regards two of the Epistles, entrusted definitely with the special charge of Ecclesiae, though only for limited and temporary purposes. The purposes in the two cases were by no means identical, though they had much in common.

The mission of Titus in Crete.

The case of Titus is the simplest. He had been a convert from heathenism, made by St Paul himself (γνησίῳ τέκνῳ, i. 4), we do not know in what region. St Paul had taken him with him from Antioch to Jerusalem at the time of the great conference, and had refused to yield to pressure and let him be circumcised. He had employed him on a confidential mission to the Corinthian Ecclesia. This is all that is known of his antecedents: in the Acts he is not mentioned by name. After a long interval he now re-emerges into light, though only somewhat dim light. During a journey subsequent to the first Roman Captivity he had accompanied St Paul on a visit to the island of Crete. There are various indications in the Epistle that the Christian faith must have gained ground in the island long before this time: but at what time, and by whose preaching, we know not. It would seem that St Paul found the state of things unsatisfactory, but that he had no time to stay in person to attempt to rectify it. Accordingly he left Titus behind to correct, he says, the deficiencies 176and to appoint Elders in the several cities. Thus Titus was in this respect to do what Paul and Barnabas had done in the cities of Southern Asia Minor on their return from the first Missionary journey. But the circumstances were very different. The natural inference is that up to this time the Christians of Crete had gone on without any kind of responsible government, and that this anarchic condition was one considerable cause of the evidently low moral condition to which they had sunk. Accordingly the appointment of elders was a necessary first step towards raising the standard of Christian life generally. Zenas and Apollos were now starting on a journey in the course of which they were to touch at Crete, and so St Paul takes the opportunity of sending this letter, partly to remind Titus of the chief things to be attended to in this Mission, partly to prepare him for rejoining St Paul with all possible speed at Nicopolis so soon as Artemas or Tychicus should come to him. When 2 Timothy was written, he had gone to Dalmatia (iv. 10). Why Artemas or Tychicus was to be sent to Titus, is not mentioned; but in all probability whichever of them went was intended to take Titus’s place, and give the scattered Ecclesiae of the island the benefit of a little longer superintendence till the newly appointed Elders should have gained some really effective influence under the difficult circumstances of their new office.


Timothy’s mission in Ephesus.

The immediate occasion of Timothy’s mission resembled that of Titus’s mission. He too was evidently journeying with St Paul when they came to Ephesus, and the state of things in the Ephesian Ecclesia appeared to call for a longer and more comprehensive treatment than St Paul had himself time to apply, as he was journeying on to Macedonia. Accordingly he left Timothy behind, specially to resist the growth of certain barren and unprofitable teachings which were evidently gaining much ground at Ephesus. He was in hopes (iii. 14) of rejoining Timothy shortly, but in case of possible delay he desired to keep before Timothy’s mind the true aims which he should follow in helping to guide the Ephesian Ecclesia into right and salutary ways.

With the second Epistle we have little to do. It is silent about the affairs of an Ecclesia except so far as they are involved in the qualifications of an evangelist and associate of St Paul. Much of the first Epistle is an outpouring of St Paul’s thoughts for his cherished disciple, and the second Epistle is almost wholly of this character, with the added force that came from a sense of his own impending martyrdom. We do not even know with any certainty whether Timothy was still at Ephesus, though probably enough he was: that is, the supposition would harmonise with some of the details respecting other persons, though 178in other respects the supposed indications are quite worthless. Wherever Timothy was, St Paul urges his making a point (σπούδασον) of coming to him quickly (2 Tim. iv. 9), bringing Mark with him, for he was left alone. It is probable enough that the sending of Tychicus to Ephesus mentioned in iv. 12 was intended to carry on further Timothy’s work there: but we learn no particulars.

Timothy’s antecedents.

On the other hand a special interest attaches to the language used in several places of both Epistles respecting Timothy himself. Every one will remember how closely he is associated with St Paul’s labours and writings from the time of the ‘second missionary journey’ in Asia Minor, so that his name stands with St Paul, at the head of six of the earlier epistles, and occurs in two others of them. Behind this confidential intercourse and cooperation, however, there lay the exceptional circumstances out of which they arose. These circumstances are but imperfectly known to us, but something of their significance comes clearly out in comparison of St Luke’s account in the Acts (xvi. 1-4) and the language of the Pastoral Epistles, each of which illustrates the other. When Paul and Barnabas after returning from the Jerusalem Conference had been for some time preaching at Antioch, St Paul proposed to Barnabas that they should revisit the brethren in the various cities of Asia Minor 179where they had founded Ecclesiae. The dispute about Barnabas’s cousin St Mark made it impossible to carry out the plan as first intended. Barnabas and his cousin went off to his native Cyprus. St Paul chose for his companion Silas, one of the Jerusalem envoys who had accompanied the returning Antiochian envoys, a man having prophetic gifts; and “being commended” we read “to the grace of the Lord by the brethren, he (Luke does not say ‘they,’ but ‘he’) passed through Syria and Cilicia confirming the Ecclesiae. In due time he reached Lycaonia, specially its cities Derbe and Lystra: “And behold” (says St Luke, a phrase which when writing in his own person and sometimes even in speeches he reserves for sudden and as it were providential interpositions5353See i. 10; viii. 27; x. 17; xii. 7.), “And behold a certain disciple was there, Timothy by name, son of a Jewish woman that believed and a Greek father, one who had witness borne to him (ἐμαρτυρεῖτο) by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium: him St Paul willed to go forth with him (τοῦτον ἡθέλησεν ὁ Παῦλος σὺν αὑτῷ ἐξελθεῖν) and he took and circumcised him, because of the Jews that were in those parts, for all of them (ἄπαντες) knew that his father was a Greek. And as they (plural) went on their way through the cities they delivered them the δόγματα) to keep, which had been resolved on (κεκριμένα) by the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem”. This narrative needs but little paraphrase to 180become transparent, as far as it goes. Timothy’s Greek father like many Greeks and Romans of wealth or position in those days, had married a Jewish wife. He allowed his wife to bring up their boy in her own faith, but not to brand him with what to Greek eyes was the infamous brand of circumcision. As a result of the preaching of Paul and Barnabas on the former missionary journey, mother and son had passed from devout Judaism to the Christian faith, and the son came to be highly honoured by the Christians of more than one city. St Paul now resolved to take this young Timothy with him on his onward journey, and with this purpose (so the order clearly implies) he circumcised him in order to avoid giving a handle for misrepresentation to the Jews of those parts. In everything but the external rite Timothy was a bona fide Jew. If he was to go forth to stand by St Paul’s side in Jewish synagogues as Barnabas the Levite had done, to have let him remain uncircumcised would have been to court the imputation of taking advantage of an accident of education to extend to a Jew the Pauline exemption of Gentiles from circumcision. Yet it was a bold and startling act, and the fact that St Paul performed it, when he might have avoided it by choosing some other associate, shews that he must have had overmastering reasons indeed for fixing absolutely on this Lycaonian youth for a place of such peculiar responsibility.


Timothy’s original appointment.

What those reasons were Luke does not tell us, beyond the good testimony of Timothy’s Christian neighbours. But an early verse (i. 18) of the first Epistle gives the clue. “This charge I commit to thee, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way to thee, that in them (i.e. in their power) thou mayest war the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.” “The prophecies which led the way to thee” this (R.V. marg.) is much the most natural rendering of κατὰ τὰς προαγούσας ἐπὶ σὲ προφητείας. Doubtless it would be a strong phrase to use if the occasion referred to were the leaving behind at Ephesus, which is indeed by no means suggested by the very general words that follow of the good warfare, faith and a good conscience. But it fits in excellently with what his narrative suggests as at least a probable course of circumstances. The first missionary journey had been inaugurated at Antioch under circumstances of peculiar solemnity in which Paul and Barnabas were jointly charged with a momentous commission. The journey had been rich in fruitful results, which involved the opening up of a whole new world to be leavened by the Gospel; and the new advance had been ratified after full consideration by the Twelve and by the Ecclesia of Jerusalem. The new journey was preceded apparently by no fresh inauguration; it came 182simply from St Paul’s spontaneous desire to revisit the Ecclesiae which they had jointly founded. But now the actual journey was begun under the most disheartening circumstances. Barnabas, whose name had originally stood first, had now withdrawn from the work immediately in hand, and St Paul might well feel that, while he must needs go forward, it must be with a sense of foredoomed failure unless the breach in what had been at the outset a Divinely appointed enterprise were in some way closed up by a no less Divine interposition. He had indeed Silas with him: but this was by his own selection, and apparently Silas stood on the same subordinate footing as Mark had originally done (xiii. 5 ὑπηρέτην), though in the course of the journey the difference of footing seems to disappear. St Paul’s words in the Epistle suggest that while he was journeying on in some such state of mind as this, mysterious monitions of the kind called prophetic seemed to come to him, whether within his own spirit, or through the lips of Silas, or both; and that these voices taught him the course to take by which he should at last find a Divinely provided successor to Barnabas. Such prophecies as have been here supposed would in the strictest sense lead the way to Timothy, just as the heavenly voice in the vision seen by Ananias at Damascus led the way to Paul himself in the house of Judas in the street called Straight (ix. 10 f., 17), or the similar voice in the vision seen by Cornelius at 183Cæsarea led the way to St Peter in the house of Simon the Tanner at Joppa. When at last St Paul reached Derbe and Lystra (κατήντησεν is St Luke’s expressive word, as though these cities were in some way a goal to him), the testimony which the young Timothy received from the brethren might well seem to be a human echo of a Divine choice already notified by prophecy.

But we may reasonably go a step farther. If St Paul received Timothy as Divinely made the partner of his work in place of Barnabas, it would be at least not unnatural that there should be some repetition of the solemn acts by which human expression had been given to the Divine mission in the first instance. If this explanation of “the prophecies” is right, they must on the one hand have in substance included some such message as “Separate for me Timothy for the work whereunto I have called him”; and on the other hand that separation or consecration would naturally take outward form in fasting and prayer and laying on of hands by the representatives of the Lycaonian Ecclesiae, in repetition of what had been done at Antioch (xiii. 3). In this case however one additional element would be present, viz. the special relation in which St Paul stood to Timothy: he was Timothy’s father in the faith, and his subsequent language shews that this essential fact was to be of permanent significance. It would be natural therefore that as Jewish Rabbis laid hands on their 184disciples, after the example of Moses and Joshua, so not only the representatives of the Lycaonian Ecclesiae but also St Paul himself should lay hands on the disciple and spiritual son now admitted to share his peculiar commission.

Timothy’s χάρισμα.

Taking with us these antecedents, we shall be in a better position to understand the verse (iv. 14) in which St Paul bids Timothy, “Neglect not the gracious gift (χαρίσματος) which is in thee, which was given thee (διὰ προφητείας), through prophecy with laying on of the hands of the body of Elders (τοῦ πρεσβυτερίου). In i. 18 τὰς προαγούσας ἐπί σε προφητείας would be an extraordinary phrase to describe prophecies the purpose of which was to induce St Paul to leave behind him at Ephesus his coadjutor and often companion of many years; while Luke’s narrative in Acts xvi. enables it to be so interpreted as to give each word exact force; and if the prophecies of i. 18 are the prophecies which accompanied the early part of St Paul’s second journey, it must be at least worth while to consider whether the reference is different in iv. 14. Now if we think of St Paul’s own account of Timothy’s present mission at Ephesus, and its temporary and as it were occasional character, we must see that a laying on of hands by the Ephesian elders (and it is difficult to think of any others on this supposition) would be scarcely a 185probable though no doubt a possible act under the circumstances, and the addition of prophecy does but increase the incongruity.

If, however, the body of Elders meant was that formed by the Elders of Timothy’s own city or neighbourhood, as representing the Ecclesia which sent him forward in conjunction with St Paul to win new regions for the Gospel, the προφητεία spoken of is likewise explained by the prophecies of i. 18.

So too what is said of the χάρισμα or gracious gift of God in Timothy, which had been given him by prophecy with the laying on of hands, harmonises well on this view with the idea running through all the Pauline uses of the word χάρισμα. It was a special gift of God, a special fitness bestowed by Him to enable Timothy to fulfil a distinctive function. Speaking generally the base of this function was preaching the Gospel to those who had not yet heard it, the work of an Evangelist. But it was further limited by the peculiar circumstances: Timothy was to be not merely an Evangelist, but St Paul’s special associate in his quite unique evangelistic work.

In its origin it was apparently a substitute for the function discharged by Barnabas on the first journey. But owing to the difference of age and personal history between Barnabas and Timothy it must from the first have involved a subordination to St Paul which did not exist in the case of Barnabas. And on the other hand the vast increase in both the range 186and the importance of St Paul’s personal work brought about by the force of circumstances since that time involved a corresponding expansion in the responsibilities laid on Timothy. An expansion but not a change of characteristics. It was still the original χάρισμα to and in Timothy which St Paul would fitly desire Timothy to kindle anew.

In the second Epistle (i. 6) a similar admonition is couched in partly different language. Here St Paul passes from a thanksgiving to the God to whom he has himself done service as his forefathers had done (ἀπὸ προγόνων) in a pure conscience, to the thought of the channels through which Timothy had in like manner inherited his unfeigned faith, his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Then from this foundation laid in Timothy’s childhood he seems to pass to that which had been built upon it. “For which cause (i.e. because I am persuaded that in thee also dwells unfeigned faith) I put thee in remembrance to wake into life (ἀναζωπυρεῖν) the χάρισμα of God, which is in thee by the laying on of my hands: for God gave us (you Timothy and me Paul, us the heralds of His Gospel) not a spirit of fearfulness but of power and of love and of chastened mind. Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony (μαρτύριον, usually testimony in act) of our Lord nor of me His prisoner, but suffer hardship with the Gospel” &c. Here the context excludes the thought of a χάρισμα meant specially for Ephesian administration or teaching, to which 187there is no allusion whatever. The antecedents of Timothy’s χάρισμα lay in the atmosphere of unfeigned faith in which he had been bred up, a faith doubtless constantly put to severe trial through his mother’s position as the wife of a heathen; and the waking of Timothy’s χάρισμα into fresh life now desired by St Paul was to shew itself in a spirit which should animate Timothy’s whole personal being.

It is therefore no wonder that in this second Epistle the laying on of hands of which he speaks is the laying on of his own hands. In 1 Timothy, the Epistle which teaches how men ought to behave themselves in an Ecclesia of a living God, it was natural, especially in the immediate context of iv. 14, that St Paul should make mention of the laying on of hands of the body of Elders of the Ecclesia which then sent Timothy forth. But in the second Epistle the personal relation between the two men is everything; and so the human instrumentality to which he here refers, the reception of the χάρισμα or gracious gift which he [here] first describes emphatically as “the gracious gift of God,” is that act, the traditional symbol of blessing, by which he, already Timothy’s father in the faith and henceforth to have Timothy always joined with him as also a younger brother, had borne his part in solemnly inaugurating the beginning of his new career of duty.

No passages in the least like those which we have 188been now examining occur in the Epistle to Titus. It is no doubt possible that this is due to accident. But it cannot be said that this Epistle is poor in contexts when such passages would be quite in place, supposing them to refer to matters concerning Titus as much as Timothy. It is moreover remarkable that language so similar should be found in quite different contexts in two Epistles, themselves so differing in character as 1 and 2 Timothy. All these circumstances however explain themselves naturally if the passages in the two Epistles to Timothy refer to a single absolutely exceptional solemn act by which the one man Timothy received a commission to go forth as St Paul’s chosen colleague, because a prophetic oracle had singled him out for this unique function.

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