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Pastoral Epistles

PASTORAL EPISTLES, the name given to three epistles of the New Testament which bear the name of St Paul, and of which two are addressed to Timothy and one to Titus. The reason of their being grouped together is that they are marked off from the other Pauline epistles by certain common characteristics of language and subject-matter ; and the reason of" their special name is that they consist almost exclusively of admonitions for the pastoral administration of Christian communities. None of the Pauline epistles have given greater ground for discussion, partly on account of the nature of their contents, partly on account of their philological peculiarities, and partly on account of their historical difficulties.

1. Contents.—The Pastoral Epistles are chiefly distin-guished from the other Pauline epistles by the prominence which they give to doctrine. From an objective point of view Christian teaching is "the word" (2 Tim. iv. 2), or "the word of God" (2 Tim. ii. 9), or " the doctrine of God our Saviour" (Tit. ii. 10), or "the truth" (1 Tim. iii.'l5, 2 Tim. ii. 18; iv. 4; Tit. i. 14), or "the faith" (1 Tim. iv. 1). From the point of view of the individual it is "the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. ii. 25; iii. 7); and Chris-tians are those who " believe and know the truth" (1 Tim. iv. 3). It had existed long enough to have become perverted, and hence a stress is laid upon "sound" doctrine (1 Tim. i. 10 ; 2 Tim. iv. 3 ; Tit. i. 9 ; ii. 1 ; in the plural, "sound words," 1 Tim. vi. 3 ; 2 Tim. i. 13). It had also tended to become dissociated from right conduct; hence a stress is laid upon a " pure con-science" (1 Tim. i. 19; iii. 8), and the end which it endeavours to attain is "love out of a pure heart, and out of a good conscience, and out of unfeigned faith " (1 Tim. i. 5). Consequently the " things that befit the sound doctrine " are moral attributes and duties (Tit. ii. 1 sq.), and the things that are " contrary to the sound doctrine " (1 Tim. i. 10) are moral vices. This combina-tion of sound doctrine and right conduct is " piety" (evo-lBua, 1 Tim. ii. 2 ; iii. 16; iv. 7, 8; vi. 5, 6, 11 ; 2 Tim. iii. 4) or "godliness " (Ocoo-eBfia, 1 Tim. ii. 10); and sound doctrine is, in other words, "the doctrine," or "the truth, that is in harmony with piety" (1 Tim. vi. 3; Tit. i. 1). This doctrine or truth is regarded as a sacred deposit in the hands of the church or community (1 Tim. vi. 20; 2 Tim. i. 14), and is therefore a "common faith" (Tit. i. 4), of which the church is the "pillar and stay" (1 Tim. iii. 15). Its substance appears to be given in 1 Tim. iii. 16, which has been regarded, not without reason, as a rudimentary form of creed, and possibly part of a liturgical hymn. But the church is no longer identical with "them that are being saved" or "the elect"; it is compared to "a great house" which contains vessels " some unto honour, and some unto dishonour" (2 Tim. ii. 20). It is in other words no longer an ideal commu- nity, the "Israel of God" (Gal. vi. 16), but a visible society. And, being such, its organization had come to be of more importance than before. But the nature of the organization to which these epistles point is an unsolved problem. The solution of that problem is attended by the preliminary question, which in the absence of collateral evidence cannot be definitely answered, of the relation in which Timothy and Titus are conceived to stand to the other or ordinary officers. According to a tradition mentioned by Eusebius, but for which he gives no definite authority, Timothy was " bishop " of Ephesus and Titus of Crete; according to others their position was rather that of the later " metropolitans "; and some modern writers, accepting one or other of these views, take it as part of the proof that the epistles belong to a period of the 2d century in which the monarchical idea of the episcopate was struggling to assert itself. On the other hand, it appears from the epistles themselves that [ the positions of Timothy and Titus were temporary rather 1 than permanent, and that they were special delegates rather than ordinary officers (1 Tim. iii. 14, 15; iv. 13; Tit. iii. 12). For the ordinary officers the qualifications are almost all moral, and they are so similar to each other, and to the moral qualifications of all Christians, as to imply that the sharp distinctions of later times between one grade of office and another, and between the officers and the other members of the communities, were not yet developed (1 Tim. iii. 2-12; Tit. i. 6-9, possibly also ii. 2-6). The most probable solution of the difficulties which present themselves in relation to the apparent interchange of the names " bishop " and " elder," and to the apparent double use of the word " elder," sometimes as a title and sometimes as a designation of age, is that in these epistles there is an imperfect amalgamation of two forms of organization, Jewish and Gentile : in the former the dis-tinction between the governing and the governed classes was mainly that of age, and the functions of the govern-ing class were mainly those of discipline; in the latter the distinction was mainly that of functions, and the functions were mainly those of administration. (1) The distinction between elder and younger appears in regard to both men and women (1 Tim. v. 1, 2; Tit. ii. 2-6). Out of the elder men some appear to have been chosen or appointed to preside (ot ffpoeorron-es:, 1 Tim. v. 17; a cognate form of the designation is found in Rom. xii. 8, 1 Thess. v. 12, and constitutes almost the only link of connexion between the organization of these and that of the other Pauline epistles), and to have constituted a collective body or "presbytery" (1 Tim. iv. 14, the word was in use to designate the Jewish councils of elders, for which the more common word was yepovarla). Their func-tions, like those of the corresponding officers in the Jewish communities, were probably for the most part disciplinary; to these some of them added the function of teaching (1 Tim. v. 17). The elder women also were charged with disciplinary functions; they had to " train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded " (Tit. ii. 3, 4). Out of such of them as were widows some were specially entered on the roll of church-officers (/caraXoyos), and formed a class which, though it did not long survive the growth of monasticism, is mentioned in almost all early documents which refer to ecclesiastical order (see Smith and Cheetham, Diet, of Chris. Antiq., s.v. "Widows"). Whether the younger men and women, or a selected number of them had, as such, corresponding duties is not clear, but an inference in favour of the supposition may be drawn from a comparison of 1 Tim. v. 1, 2, 13, Acts v. 6, 10. (2) Side by side with this, and sometimes, but not always, blended with it, was the organization which was probably adopted from the contemporary civil societies, especially those in which, as in the Christian communities, there were funds to be administered; the presiding elders, or some of them, were also "bishops" or administrators, and some of the younger men were " deacons " or servants. A bishop was " God's steward " (Tit. i. 7); a deacon was the active helper of the bishops in both administration and discipline.

2. Language.—These epistles are distinguished from the other Pauline epistles by many peculiarities of language, of which only a few can be mentioned here. (1) In 1 Timothy there are seventy-four words which are not elsewhere in the New Testament; in 2 Timothy there are forty-six such words, and in Titus forty-eight. In the three epistles taken together there are one hundred and thirty-three words which are not found in the other Pauline epistles, though they are found elsewhere in the New Testament; and many of the most marked and frequent expressions of St Paul are absent, (2) There is a tendency which is not found elsewhere in the Pauline epistles to form unusual compounds, e.g., Xoyopa^flv, irepoSiSarrKaXeiv, {nj/r]\o(ppovcLv, avTOKaraKpLros. (3) Words are used for which the other Pauline epistles invariably substitute a different, though nearly synonymous, word; e.g., Sca-n-oTTji is used for Kvpio^, KTia-pa for KTLO-IS. (4) The particles, which are even better tests of identity of style than nouns and verbs, are different: the Pauline yap is rare; apa, dpa ovv, eri, prjirw;, irdXiv, uxnrtp, are absent. (5) "In the other Pauline epistles the fulness of the apostle's thought struggles with the expression, and causes peculiar difficulties in exposition. The thoughts slide into one another, and are so intertwined in many forms that not seldom the new thought begins before a correct expression has been given to the thought that preceded. Of this confusion there is no example in the Pastoral Epistles" (Huther, Introduction, Eng. tr.,*p. 10). A complete account of the linguistic peculiarities of these epistles will be found in Holtzmann, pp. 84-117.

3. Historical Difficulties.—The historical difficulties, to which these epistles give rise are of two kinds:—(1) that of finding a place for them in any period of the recorded life of St Paul, and (2) that of determining the state of theo-logical opinion to which they are relative.

(1) In regard to the first kind of difficulties, each of the three epistles has its own problems.

The data of the historical position of 1 Timothy appear to be (a) that St Paul had gone into Macedonia, (6) that he had left Timothy at Ephesus (i. 3). The chief hypotheses which have been framed to satisfy the con-ditions which these data imply are the following. (1) The majority of older writers suppose that St Paul left Timothy at Ephesus when he went into Macedonia after the emeute in the theatre (Acts xx. 1). The difficulties in the way of this hypothesis are that Timothy had been sent into Macedonia (Acts xix. 22), and probably at the same time to Corinth (1 Cor. iv. 17), that he had not returned when St Paul himself reached Macedonia, inas-much as St Paul waited for him there (1 Cor. xvi. 11), that the two were together in Macedonia when 2 Corin-thians was written (2 Cor. i. 1), and that they returned together to Asia Minor (Acts xx. 4). Some of these difficulties have been met by the conjecture that Timothy never reached Corinth, but returned to St Paul at Ephesus and rejoined him in Macedonia; but the conjecture implies that Timothy disobeyed the apostle's exhortation to tarry at Ephesus almost as soon as he had received it, and that the apostle, so far from "hoping to come unto him shortly" (1 Tim. iii. 14), was in reality intending to go to Jerusalem and to Rome (Acts xix. 21), not even calling at Ephesus on his way (Acts xx. 17). (2) It has been supposed that there was an unrecorded journey of St Paul into Macedonia during his long stay in Ephesus (Acts xix. 1-20; so Mosheim, Schrader, Wieseler, and Reuss, the last of whom makes the journey extend to Crete and Illyricum). There is little difficulty in the supposition of such a journey into Macedonia, but there is great difficulty in supposing that the epistle was written in the course of it,—first, because its language is not compatible with the idea that Timothy was merely left in temporary charge during a short absence of the apostle, and, secondly, because the epistle implies the existence of an organized community which had existed long enough to have had errors growing up in it (whereas in Acts xx. 29-30 the coming of heretical teachers is regarded as still future), and in which it was possible that a bishop should be "not a novice" (1 Tim. iii. 6). (3) It has been sup-posed that St Paul wrote the epistle during his imprison-ment at Csasarea or at Jerusalem; but this does not avoid the difficulty which is fatal to the two preceding hypotheses, that Timothy had been left at Ephesus when the apostle was " going into Macedonia." (4) In order to avoid this fatal difficulty some writers (especially Otto, Die gesehichÜichen Verhdltnisse cler Pcistoralbriefe, Leipsic, 1860, and Rolling, Per erste Brief Pauli an Timotheus, Berlin, 1882) have attempted a new but impossible trans-lation of 1 Tim. i. 3, so as to make it appear that it was Timothy and not Paul that was going into Macedonia (for criticisms of this attempt see Huther's edition of Meyer's commentary ad loe., and Weiss in the Studien u. Kritiken for 1861, p. 577).

The data of the historical position of 2 Timothy appear to be (a) that St Paul either was or had been in Rome (i. 17), (¿) that he was in prison (i. 16; ii. 9), (c) that he had already had a trial (iv. 16), (d) that he believed himself to be near the end of his life (iv. 6), (e) that he was expecting shortly to see- Timothy (i. 4; i v. 9, 21), (/) that he had been, apparently not long before, at Troas, Corinth, and Miletus (iv. 13, 20). Upon these data two hypotheses have been framed, (l) It has been supposed that the required his-torical position is to be found at the beginning of the " two whole years" of Acts xxviii. 30, and that con-sequently the epistle was written before those to the Philippians and Colossians (so, among others, Schrader, Otto, and Reuss). The difficulties in the way of this hypothesis are chiefly two,-—first, that of accounting for the complete change of tone between the close anticipation of death of 2 Tim. iv. 6 and the hopefulness of Philippians ii. 23, 24, Philemon 22, and, secondly, that of accounting for the " first defence " of 2 Tim. iii. 16 ; this Otto does by supposing it to be the process before Festus at Cassarea, a supposition which implies the very improbable further supposition that the process before Felix was not what was technically known as an " actio," and that the term " make my defence " (Acts xxiv. 10) was wrongly applied by St Paul himself to his own speech. (2) It has been supposed that the required position is to be found in the period immediately succeeding the " two whole years " of Acts xxviii. 30, and that the epistle was written after those to the Philippians and Colossians (so, among others, Wieseler). One of the main difficulties in the way of this hypothesis is that it implies an interval of at least four years since the journey referred to in chap, iv., and that it is incredible that St Paul should have written to a disciple in Asia Minor to mention the casual incidents of a voyage —such as the leaving a cloak at Troas and a companion sick at Miletus—which had occurred several years before; the difficulty would not be much lessened even if the ingenious conjectures were adopted by which Wieseler endeavours to identify this voyage with that of Acts xxvii.

The data of the historical position of the epistle to Titus are (a) that Paul and Titus had been in Crete together, and that Titus had been left there, (b) that Paul was intending to winter at Nicopolis (wherever that may be, places of that name being found in several Roman pro-vinces). Upon these data many conjectures have been built. It has been supposed that St Paul visited Crete either (1) at the commencement of this second missionary journey (Acts xv. 41), or (2) during his residence at Corinth (Acts xviii. 1, 8; so Michaelis and Thiersch). Each of these conjectures is met, in addition to other difficulties, by the fact, which seems fatal to it, that Apollos, who is mentioned in Titus iii. 13, was not known to Paul and his company until after the second missionary journey (Acts xviii. 24). (3) The same fact is also fatal to the supposition of Hug and others that the visit to Crete took place during the journey from Corinth to Ephesus (Acts xviii. 18, 19), a supposition which is also inconsistent with the apostle's apparent desire to reach Syria without much delay, and which requires for its support the further supposition that, although on his way to Antioch and Cssarea, he had selected the almost unknown town of Nicopolis in Cilicia to winter in. (4) It has been supposed (Credner) that the visit to Crete was made as a detour in the course of the journey from Antioch to Ephesus (Acts xviii. 22, 23 ; xix. 1); this is not only improbable in itself but also inconsistent with the summary of that journey : " Paul, having passed through the upper," i.e., the inland, "country, came to Ephesus." (5) It has been supposed that St Paul called at Crete in the course of a journey which he probably made to Corinth during his long sojourn at Ephesus (so Wieseler, who thinks that he went first to Macedonia, 1 Tim. i. 3, and thence to Corinth, Crete, and back to Ephesus; and Reuss, who thinks that the route was Ephesus, Crete, Corinth, Illyricum, Macedonia, Ephesus); but this supposition seems to be excluded by the inconsistency between the expressed intention to winter in Nicopolis (Tit. iii. 12) and the similar intention to pass the same winter at Corinth (1 Cor. xvi. 6), unless the ingenious hypothesis of Wieseler be adopted that he intended to spend part of the winter in one place and the rest in the other. (6) It has been supposed that he made his journey from Macedonia to Greece (Acts xx. 1-3) by way of Crete (so Matthies); but this supposition seems to be excluded by the fact that in 2 Cor. viii. 6, 17 (which was written from Macedonia), Titus who had been with Paul in Macedonia had gone forward on his own account not to Crete but to Corinth. And all these endeavours to find a place for the epistle in St Paul's life before his voyage to Rome are met by the improbability that, if Crete had been already so far Christianized as to have communities in several cities (which is implied in Tit. i. 5), there should be no hint of the fact in Acts xxvii. 7-13.

The difficulties of all endeavours to find a place for these epistles in the recorded history of St Paul have been so strongly felt by most of those modern writers who support their authenticity that such writers have generally trans-ferred them to an unrecorded period of his life, subsequent to the close of the Acts of the Apostles. The external authorities for the belief that there was such a period, and that in the course of it St Paul underwent a second im-prisonment, are chiefly the statement of Clement of Rome that he went to "the goal of the West," and that of the Muratorian fragment that he went to Spain (see PAUL, infra, p. 422). Both these statements admit of much dis-pute, the one as to its meaning, the other as to its authority; and their value as evidence is weakened by the fact that Irenams, Tertullian, and Origen, though they mention the death of the apostle at Rome, say nothing of any journeys subsequent to his arrival there. In the 4th century Eusebius, for the first time, mentions a second imprisonment, but prefixes to his statement the ambiguous words Aoyos- e^ei, " there is a story " or " tradition holds." Several fathers subsequent to his time repeat and amplify his statement; but that statement, if accepted, involves the further difficulties on the one hand of finding room for St Paul's journeys before the great Neronian persecution of 64 A.D., and on the other hand of accounting for the fact that, supposing the apostle to have survived that per-secution, he makes no mention of it. For all these diffi-culties more or less plausible answers have been framed, and many narratives of St Paul's unrecorded travels have been written; but, although it may be admitted that such narratives are conceivably true, yet it must be conceded on the other hand that they rest rather upon conjecture than upon evidence. It may be added that the hypothesis of a second imprisonment is rejected not only by writers like Baur and Hilgenfeld, who deny the authenticity of both the Pastoral Epistles and the other " Epistles of the Captivity," but also by conservative writers, such as Meyer, Ebrard, Otto, Wieseler, Thiersch, and De Pressense.

(2) The second kind of historical difficulties, that of determining the state of theological opinion to which these epistles are relative, arises partly from the incidental nature of the references to false teachers in the epistles themselves and partly from the fragmentary character of our knowledge of contemporary teaching. The character-istics of the false teachers are mainly the following, (i.) They once held " sound doctrine " but have now fallen away from it (1 Tim. i. 6, 19; vi. 5, 21; 2 Tim. ii. 18); and, puffed up with self-conceit (1 Tim. vi. 4) and claiming to have a special " knowledge " (yjwis, vi. 20 ; implied also in Tit. i. 16), they oppose the truth (Tit. i. 9 ; 2 Tim. ii. 25 ; iii. 8) and teach a different doctrine (1 Tim. i. 3); yet they remain within the church and cause factions within it (Tit. iii. 10). (ii.) They profess asceticism, " forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats," apparently on the ground that some " creatures of God " are evil (1 Tim. iv. 3), and at the same time their moral practice is perverted, they are " unto every good work reprobate " (1 Tim. vi. 5; 2 Tim. iii. 13 ; Tit. i. 16), and they make their teaching of religion a means of gain (1 Tim. vi. 5 ; Tit. i. 11). (iii.) Their teaching is concerned with " fables and endless genealogies " (1 Tim. i. 4 ; Tit. i. 14), with questionings and disputes of words (1 Tim. vi. 4), with empty sounds and contradictions (1 Tim. vi. 20), with " profane and old wives' fables " (1 Tim. iv. 7), with " foolish questionings and genealogies, and strifes and fightings about the law " (Tit. iii. 9), and they held that the " resurrection is past already " (2 Tirn. ii. 18). It has been sometimes held that these statements refer rather to errors of practice than errors of doctrine, and rather to tendencies than to matured systems (Reuss); and it has also been sometimes held that different forms of opinion are referred to in either different epistles or different parts of the same epistle (Credner, Thiersch, Hilgenfeld); but the majority of writers think that the reference is to a single definite form of error. The main question upon which opinions are divided is whether the basis of this false teaching was Judaistic or Gnostic, i.e., whether that teaching was a rationalizing form of Judaism or a Judaiz-ing form of Gnosticism. (1) The former of these views branches out into many forms, and is held on various grounds. It is sometimes held that the reference is to the allegorizing and rationalizing school of which Philo is the chief representative, and which was endeavouring to take root in Christian soil, the " fables " being the alle-gorical interpretations of historical facts, the " genealogies " those of the Pentateuch, or possibly the Pentateuch itself, which served as the basis of philosophical speculations (Wiesinger, Hofmann). It is sometimes held that the reference is to what in later times was known as the Kabbalah, the assumption being made that the Kabbalah must be dated many centuries earlier than other testimony warrants us in believing (so Vitringa, Grotius, Schottgen, and more recently Olshausen and Baumgarten). It is sometimes held that the false teachers were not so much theosophic as thaumaturgic, allied to the Judso-Samaritan school of which Simon Magus is the typical representative, and that this is the point of the reference to Jannes and Jambres and to "jugglers .... deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. iii. 8, 13). It is sometimes supposed that they combined Essenism with a form of Ebionism, and this view (the ablest supporter of which is Mangold, Die Irrlehrer der Pastoralbriefe, 1856) is that which now prevails among those who contend for the early date of the epistles, if not for their authenticity. (2) It is con-tended on the other hand that none of these theories quite cover the facts. It is maintained that genealogies did not take the place in the Jewish speculative schools which they evidently had in the false teaching to which these epistles refer; that even if they had done so it is difficult to account for the epithet " endless " which is applied to them ; that there is no sufficient proof that the Essenes held a dualistic theory of the relation of spirit to matter, or that they denied the resurrection (the testimony of LTippolytus on this point being more probable than that of Josephus), or that they taught for gain, or that they pro-secuted a propaganda among women (2 Tim. iii. 6). It is further contended that all these points are generally characteristic of Gnosticism. The use of the epithet " falsely so called," it is urged, shows that " knowledge " (yvojo-is) is used in a technical sense; in the " endless genealogies" writers so early as Irenaeus and Tertullian recognized Gnostic systems of aeons, to which the phrase seems exactly to apply; the abstinence from meats and from marriage belongs not to any form of Judaism but to Gnostic theories of the nature of matter; the description of the teachers as making a gain of their teaching and as " taking captive silly women laden with sins" suits no one so well as the half-converted rhetoricians who brought into Christian communities the practices as well as the beliefs of the degenerate philosophical schools of the empire. It is probable that this view is substantially correct; at the same time it may be granted that the evidence is too scanty to allow of the identification of the Gnostics to which reference is made with any particular Gnostic sect, and that the several attempts which have been made so to identify them have failed.

The result of this combination of difficulties—the differences between the pastoral epistles and the other Pauline epistles in respect of the character of their con- tents, their philological peculiarities, the difficulty of reconciling the historical references with what is known from other sources of the life of St Paul, the difficulty of finding any known form of belief which precisely answers to the opinions which they attack, and the further difficulty of believing that so elaborate a debasement of Christianity had grown up in the brief interval between St Paul's first contact with Hellenism and his death—has been to make the majority of modern critics question or deny their authenti- city. The first important attacks were that of Schleier- macher, who, however, only rejected 1 Timothy, and a few years afterwards that of Eichhorn, who rejected all three : . but the modern criticism of them practically begins with Baur's treatise Pie sogenannten Pastor albriefe des Apostel\. Paulus in 1835. Since then the controversy has been keenly waged on both sides; the history of it will be found in Holtzmann, Die Pastoralbriefe (Leipsic, 1880), which is by far the ablest work on the negative side of the con- troversy, and which, whether its conclusions be accepted or not, is more full of accurate information than any other. The most available works on the conservative side, for English readers, are the translation of Huther's edition of Meyer's Commentary (Edinburgh, 1881); Dr Wace's introduction to the Pastoral Epistles in the Speaker's Commentary (London, 1881); and Archdeacon Farrar's excursus on " The Genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles " in his St Paul (vol. ii. p. 607). (E. HA.)


Most commentators have omitted to note that the word rendered " sound " is a common expression of some of the later Greek philo-sophers, denoting simply "true," e.g., Epictet., Dissert., i. 11, 28; ii. 15, 2.

The above article was written by: Rev. Edwin Hatch, M.A., D.D., Vice-Principal, St Mary Hall, Oxford.

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