An Overview Of The Book Of 1 Timothy

The Historical Background To The First Letter To Timothy

See The Historical Background To Paul's Pastoral Letters--The Books Of First & Second Timothy And Titus

The Writer Of The First Letter To Timothy

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 1:1

The Recipient Of The First Letter To Timothy

Timothy, my (Paul's) true son in the faith, 1 Timothy 1:2

Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother, who had become a Christian believer, and of a Greek father. Timothy's home was in Lystra in the Roman province of Galatia in what is now Turkey (cf. Acts 16:1). He was well spoken of by the Christians in Lystra and the neighboring city of Iconium (cf. Acts 16:2). When Paul revisited the church in Lystra on his second missionary journey, he wanted this young man of sincere faith to accompany him on his mission travels as his co-worker (cf. Acts 16:3). Paul circumcised Timothy as a matter of Christian liberty to avoid offending the Jews in that area where they would be doing mission work, for the Jews there knew Timothy's father was a Greek.

In his letters Paul wrote of Timothy with love and respect. He called him his son whom he loved and who was faithful in the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:17). Paul said Timothy had a genuine spirit like his own. He said Timothy was a co-worker who was concerned about the welfare of the Christians and their churches, who sought the interests of Christ Jesus, and who was of proven worth in furthering the gospel like a child serving his father (cf. Philippians 2:19-22). Paul called Timothy his true son in the faith (cf. 1 Timothy 1:2). In instructing Timothy for his pastoral ministry Paul addressed him as “my son” (cf. 1 Timothy 1:18).

Timothy became a close associate of Paul. He was with Paul during much of Paul's second and third missionary journey's. Six of Paul's letters bear Timothy's name with Paul's in the opening greeting--2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

Timothy joined Paul on Paul's second missionary journey and traveled with him through the cities in which Paul had established congregations on his first missionary journey. Paul's purpose in revisiting those churches was to deliver the decrees of the apostolic council in Jerusalem that assured the Jewish and Gentile Christians that they were saved by the grace of Jesus and faith alone without following the laws of Moses (cf. Acts 16:1-5). Timothy then traveled with Paul through Asia Minor to Troas, where Paul was given the vision of a man in Macedonia who called him to cross over the Aegean Sea to do mission work there in Europe. From Troas Timothy traveled with Paul, Silas, and Luke to Macedonia and the city of Philippi. There he assisted Paul and the others in establishing the church of the Philippians. Either Timothy remained with Luke in Philippi for a short time, or he journeyed with Paul and Silas over the Egnatian Way to Thessalonica. In any case, after Paul left Thessalonica and went to Berea, when Paul pressed on from Berea to Athens Timothy was left with Silas to continue the ministry in Berea (cf. Acts 17:14). Following Paul's instructions to rejoin him (cf. Acts 17:5), Timothy did join Paul in Corinth (cf. Acts 18:1,5). There he assisted Paul in the gospel ministry to establish the church of Corinth. From Corinth Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica as his personal agent to strengthen and encourage the Thessalonian Christians who were being severely persecuted (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5). Afterwards Timothy returned to Corinth to report the good news of the Thessalonians' faith and love (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:6). At the conclusion of Paul's second missionary journey, Timothy may have remained with Silas in Corinth to continue the work there while Paul returned to the church of Antioch in Syria to report on his mission efforts.

Timothy was with Paul on his third missionary journey, most of which was spent in the city of Ephesus on the west coast of Asia Minor. This is clear from Acts 19:22. When trouble arose in the church of Corinth, Paul sent Timothy from Ephesus to Corinth as his agent to address the problems there (1 Corinthians 4:17). Near the end of the third mission journey Paul again sent Timothy as his agent from Ephesus back to the churches in Macedonia--Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea--before Paul himself returned to those churches and then proceeded to Corinth where he spent three months (cf. Acts 20:1,2). It is thought that from Corinth Paul wrote his letter to the Romans. Timothy was with Paul when Paul wrote his letter to the Romans. This is certain because Paul included in that letter a greeting from Timothy (cf. Romans 16:21).

At the end of Paul's third missionary journey Timothy accompanied Paul and others when they carried the collection from the Gentile churches to the church in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 20:3,4). It would appear, then, that Timothy was there in Jerusalem when Paul was taken into Roman custody. Timothy was also with Paul during Paul's first imprisonment in Rome and when Paul wrote from there his prison epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and to Philemon. After Paul was released from his imprisonment in Rome, Paul left Timothy in charge of the church of Ephesus (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3). Paul wrote his First Letter to Timothy in the fall of A.D. 63 from Philippi to Timothy who was in Ephesus.

Paul was martyred in Rome around A.D. 67 to 68. In his Second Letter to Timothy shortly before his martyrdom Paul asked Timothy to come to him in Rome, for he longed to see Timothy yet once more (cf. 2 Timothy 1:4; 4:9,21).

The Scriptures tell us nothing more about Timothy and his ministerial activities. The only bit of information given about Timothy is in Hebrews 13:23. The writer stated Timothy had been released. Where, when, or why Timothy was imprisoned is not stated. In any case, the writer of the Book of Hebrews was waiting for Timothy to join him, so together they could visit the Jewish Christians to whom he had written.

Date Of The First Letter To Timothy

The fall of A.D. 63. See The Historical Background To Paul's Pastoral Letters--The Books Of First & Second Timothy And Titus

Where The First Letter To Timothy Was Written

Philippi. See The Historical Background To Paul's Pastoral Letters--The Books Of First & Second Timothy And Titus

Purpose Of The First Letter To Timothy

1. To instruct Timothy in writing to oppose the false doctrines that Paul had personally urged him to oppose while they were together in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3).

2. To give Timothy the instructions needed to fight the good fight of faith ( 1 Timothy 1:18,19).

3. To instruct Timothy in how God's New Israel of believers should conduct themselves in the church (1 Timothy 3:14,15).

4. To instruct Timothy on how to conduct his pastoral ministry (1 Timothy 4:1-6:19)


Fight the good fight of the faith (1 Timothy 1:18,19; 6:12)

Outline Of The First Letter To Timothy

Part 1: Greeting, 1 Timothy 1:1,2

Part 2: Timothy, Carry Out Your Oral Instructions To Oppose The False Teachers There In Ephesus, 1 Timothy 1:3-11

A. Oppose The False Teachers, 1 Timothy 1:3-7

1. Command the false teachers not to teach their false doctrines and controversial myths and genealogies any longer, 1 Timothy 1:3,4

2. The goal of this command is love from a good conscience and a sincere faith, 1 Timothy 1:5

3. The false teachers have strayed from this goal into meaningless talk, 1 Timothy 1:6

4. The false teachers want to be teachers of the law, but they don't know what they are talking about, 1 Timothy 1:7

B. The proper use of the law, 1 Timothy 1:8-11

1. The law is good when it is used properly, 1 Timothy 1:8

2. The purpose of the law, 1 Timothy 1:9-11

Part 3: Paul Encourages Timothy To Fight The Good Fight, 1 Timothy 1:12-20

A. Paul thanks God for the grace and mercy shown to him, the sinner that he was, 1 Timothy 1:12-14

B. Paul declares the trustworthy gospel that deserves full acceptance, 1 Timothy 1:15-17

1. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15

2. This mercy of God shown to Paul, the worst of sinners, is an example of God's mercy for all who would believe in Jesus, 1 Timothy 1:16

3. Paul's doxology of praise to God, 1 Timothy 1:17

C. Paul urges Timothy to fight the good fight by holding on to this faith and a good conscience, so he does not shipwreck his faith as others have done, 1 Timothy 1:18-20

Part 4: Instructions For The Congregation's Worship Life, 1 Timothy 2:1-3:16

A. Instructions on praying, 1 Timothy 2:1-7

1. Pray for everyone, 1 Timothy 2:1

2. Pray for governing officials so we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness, 1 Timothy 2:2

3. Prayers in behalf of everyone please God, who wants all to be saved and to come to know the truth of the gospel, 1 Timothy 2:3,4

a The gospel proclaims Jesus is our mediator with God and that he ransomed us all, 1 Timothy 2:5,6

b Paul was appointed a herald of this gospel and a teacher of this true faith to the Gentiles, 1 Timothy 2:7

B. Instructions for the men in the congregation, 1 Timothy 2:8

C. Instructions for the women in the congregation, 1 Timothy 2:9-15

1. Let the women adorn themselves in modest clothing and with good deeds, 1 Timothy 2:9,10

2. Let the women quietly learn instruction with hearts that are fully submissive, 1 Timothy 2:11

a For the women are not to teach or exercise authority over the men but to remain silent, 1 Timothy 2:12

a.1 For the roles of man and women were established in connection with God's creation of the first man and woman, 1 Timothy 2:13

a.2. For the man was not deceived in the fall into sin, but the woman was deceived, 1 Timothy 2:14

b The women will be saved in their role as mothers, if they continue in the faith that saves them and results in love and a holy manner of living, 1 Timothy 2:15

D. The qualifications for those who serve as pastors and overseers of the church, 1 Timothy 3:1-7

E. The qualifications for those who serve as lay leaders and deacons of the church, 1 Timothy 3:8-13

F. The preceding instructions are given so God's new Israel of believers will know how to conduct themselves as members of God's household and church, which upholds the mystery of Christ's godliness, 1 Timothy 3:14-16

Part 5: Instructions For The Pastor's Ministry In The Congregation, 1 Timothy 4:1-6:19

A. Be aware of the coming of false teachers into the visible church, 1 Timothy 4:1-5

1. The Spirit says some will abandon the true faith to follow the doctrines taught by demons, 1 Timothy 4:1

2. These demonic doctrines come through hypocritical liars whose consciences are hardened to the extent they remain unaffected by the heretical things they teach, 1 Timothy 4:2

3. Following these demonic doctrines, the false teachers forbid marriage and certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving, 1 Timothy 4:3-5

B. Instructions for being a good minister who combats these false, demonic doctrines, 1 Timothy 4:6-16

1. Pastor Timothy, point out these demonic doctrines to your fellow Christians, 1 Timothy 4:6

2. Pastor Timothy, have nothing to do with these myths and fables. Rather, train yourself in what is true godliness, 1 Timothy 4:7,8

3. Pastor Timothy, we labor and strive to further the trustworthy statement that we have put our hope for salvation in the living God, who is the Savior of us all, 1 Timothy 4: 9,10

4. Pastor Timothy, command and teach these things without letting anyone disrespect you because you are younger, but set an example for your believing members that they must respect, 1 Timothy 4:11,12

5. Pastor Timothy, devote yourself to reading the Scripture lessons and to preaching and teaching in the worship services, 1 Timothy 4:13,14

6. Pastor Timothy, be diligent, giving yourself fully to these matters, as you watch your life and doctrine closely for the saving of yourself and those in the church who listen to you, 1 Timothy 4:15,16

C. Instructions for ministering to all the people in the church, 1 Timothy 5:1-6:19

1. Instructions for ministering to all age groups, 1 Timothy 5:1,2

2. Instructions for ministering to widows, 1 Timothy 5:3-16

3. Instructions for ministering to the elders of the church, 1 Timothy 5:17-25

4. Instructions for ministering to slaves and masters, 1 Timothy 6:1,2

5. Insights into the false teachers who promote doctrines that disagree with the instructions of Jesus and godly teaching, and who think exhibiting a godly life is the way to enrich themselves, 1 Timothy 6:3-5

6. Instructions for ministering to the discontented who want to become rich, 1 Timothy 6:6-10

7. The charge given to Timothy, the man of God, to fight the good fight of the faith, 1 Timothy 6:11-16

8. Instructions for ministering to the rich, 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Part 6: Conclusion, 1 Timothy 6:20,21

A. Closing exhortation to guard the truth Pastor Timothy was entrusted with, 1 Timothy 6:20,21a

B. Closing benediction, 1 Timothy 6:21b