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The MOST Theological Collection: Commentary on the Pauline Epistles (The Thought of St. Paul)

"Chapter 12. The Pastoral Epistles"


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Denials of Paul's authorship of these Epistles is even stronger than it was for Colossians and Ephesians. But the reasons given are not really stronger.

The ancient witnesses who say these are by Paul are very similar to those for other Epistles. The Muratorian Canon, from the second half of the second century, lists them as Scripture, and seems to mean they are by Paul. St. Irenaeus, Tertullian, St. Hippolytus and Origen quote lines from these and explicitly say they are from Paul. Eusebius the first church historian says the 14 Epistles (including Hebrews) are clearly by Paul.

Still earlier, they seem to have been used by St. Clement I (in 2.7 he cites an expression used in Titus 3:1; 2 Timothy 2:21 and 3:17). St. Polycarp (in 4.1) cites from 1 Timothy 6:7.

Objections against Pauline authorship are all merely internal, and not very strong:

1) Style and vocabulary -- but we have already seen especially from the example of Tacitus (in introduction to Colossians) that such arguments are never conclusive.

2) Errors he opposes seem to be Gnostic, but Gnosticism was not around in the first century. But at least the beginnings of Gnosticism are now known to have been around then. Further, the errors need not be strictly Gnostic. The errors much more likely came from within Judaism, as we can see for example from Titus 1:14 and 3:9.

3) Organization of Church seems more advanced. This is not surprising for these are the latest Pauline letters. In fact, already in Philippians we find mention of Bishops and Deacons. Acts 14:23 reports that at the end of Paul's first missionary expedition he installed presbyters in every town. And 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 speaks of authorities at Thessalonika. In the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch (c.107-110) we find a very well developed hierarchy.

4) Stress on deposit of faith -- not strange for these are two major pastors, Timothy in charge of Ephesus, Titus, of Crete. But we find Paul stressing tradition elsewhere: 1 Corinthians 11:2 & 23; 15:1 & 3; Galatians 1:8-9; Philippians 4:9; Colossians 2:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

On the other hand, Paul does often speak in these letters of justification by faith, not by works, as we shall see.

5) Paul's travels after 63 hard to fit in. -- Really, we have little definite information about his movements after he was released from captivity in Rome in 63, since Acts breaks off at that point. But we can make a plausible reconstruction: Soon after his release, Paul did go to Spain, and then came back to Rome. In July 64 came the great fire, and persecution followed. Paul soon left Rome, hiding from the imperial police. Early in 65 he was in Ephesus with Timothy (1 Tim 1:3). After some time he set out for Macedonia, where he wrote First Timothy. From there he may have gone to Corinth, and then went with Titus to preach in Crete. After making a good start there, he left Titus in charge in Crete, and he himself went somewhere else, we know not where. He decided to spend the winter in Nicopolis (probably the winter of 65-66. But there are several cities of that name, probably he went to the one in Epirus). He wrote to Titus to join him there. He must have worked hard in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12) and nearby. Later he sent Titus to Dalmatia (2 Tim 4:10). The next thing we know he has been arrested, and is a prisoner at Rome. He seems to have left in a hurry when arrested, for he left his cloak and parchments at Troas (2 Tim 4:13). From there he would have gone to the capital of the province. He then had few defenders. He was probably in prison in Rome in about 67, and wrote 2 Timothy there.

Then came a second hearing, and a death sentence was given. He was beaten, and then beheaded, probably outside the city. A tradition from the second century says it was at Aquas Salvias, which is about three miles from Rome, on the road to Ardea. He was buried at once nearer Rome, along the Ostian Way. In 258 because of threat of desecration in the persecution of Valerian, the body of Paul was moved to catacombs on the Appian Way. Later it was brought back to its original place, and Constantine built a basilica over it.

Whether or not this reconstruction is correct, and whether or not Paul wrote these Pastorals, they are part of inspired Scripture. If one denies Paul was their author, the dates suggested would be 61-63 at Rome.

We even have a detailed account, of uncertain value, of the end of Paul in the apocryphal Acts of Paul (2nd-3rd century) which says Paul had been brought before the Emperor, and then condemned. Paul told the Emperor he would arise after his death and appear to him.

Paul told of Christ to the prefect Longus and the centurion Cestus. When Paul as beheaded, milk spurted upon the soldier's clothing. Paul later came, about the ninth hour, and appeared to Caesar. He said: "Caesar, here I am, Paul, God's soldier. I am not dead, but alive in my God. But for you, unhappy man, there will be many evils and great punishment, not many days after this."

Longus and Cestus went at dawn and approached the tomb of Paul with fear. They saw two men, Titus and Luke, praying there, and Paul between them. Titus and Luke baptized Longus and Cestus.

Summary of 1 Timothy, Chapter 1

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus, by the command of God our Savior, and Jesus Christ our hope, writes to Timothy, his true son in the faith and wishes him grace, mercy, peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ the Lord.

Just as he had urged him before, when setting out for Macedonia to stay at Ephesus . . . [so now] he urges him to command certain persons not to teach a different doctrine, and to give up myths and endless genealogies, which are the occasion for discussions instead of divine learning in faith. Paul commands this out of love, from a clean heart, and a good conscience, and unfeigned faith. But certain persons have not complied, and instead have gone into vain talk, wanting to be teachers of the law, without understanding what they say, or the things they strongly assert.

We know the law is good if one uses it lawfully. We know that the law is not laid down for the righteous, but for lawless and disobedient ones, who are impious and sinners, unholy and profane, killers of fathers and mothers, murderers of men, sexually loose, who lie with males, kidnappers, liars, perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine as it is found in the Gospel of the glory of the Blessed God, the doctrine entrusted to Paul.

Paul thanks Christ Jesus the Lord who has made him able to work, for the Lord considered Paul faithful and established him in the ministry, even though he was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a proud man. But Paul received mercy, since he acted in ignorance and in unbelief. But the grace of the Lord has been superabundant for him, along with faith and love that are in Christ. We can be sure of this: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of which Paul is the chief. On account of this Paul was given mercy, so that in him first of all Jesus Christ might display all His long-suffering, and might provide a compendious example of those who are going to believe in Him for everlasting life. Therefore: to the King of the ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, may there be honor and glory for ages of ages. Amen.

Paul solemnly commands his son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously spoken about him, to fight a good fight according to these prophecies, having faith and a good conscience, which certain persons reject, and as a result have made a shipwreck of their faith. Such are Hymenaeus and Alexander whom Paul has handed over to Satan, so they may learn not to blaspheme.

Comments on Chapter 1

In verse three Paul starts a sentence, and then completes it in a different structure: anacolouthon. The summary above makes the sense clear.

We see soon that Paul is concerned about errors in doctrine, involving myths and endless genealogies. These could be Gnostic errors, equally well could be Jewish speculations. He asks Timothy, who is in charge of Ephesus, to guard against them.

He indulges in a play on words: the law is good if used lawfully. He means that the just, since they follow the Spirit of Christ, do not have to look at the law -- they will be led by the Spirit and so avoid any violations. Paul enumerates some of the chief great sins against the law. For to violate the law means eternal ruin.1 As one student said, whom we have quoted more than once above: "As to salvation, you cannot earn it, but you can blow it."

Paul next says he was once a persecutor and a blasphemer -- he means, when he persecuted Christians. He was in good faith, but that did not excuse it. So he calls himself the chief of sinners. Please recall the comments made on 1 Corinthians 4:4.

In verse 18 he solemnly commands Timothy to fight a good fight, according to the prophecies previously made about him. Most likely by prophecy Paul means not predictions of the future -- though that is possible -- but the words spoken with the imposition of Paul's hands in ordination, as we could gather from 4:14 below, and from the way Paul uses the word prophecy elsewhere, especially in 1 Corinthians 12-14.

Paul even mentions by name two of the false teachers. Hymenaeus, according to 2 Timothy 2:17-18, taught that the resurrection had already taken place. The Alexander mentioned here is probably the same as Alexander the coppersmith of whom Paul speaks in 2 Timothy 4:14-15, who did Paul harm at his trial. Paul considers both as apostates, they have made shipwreck of the faith. So he has handed them over to Satan. This is probably more than a mere excommunication. Compare comments on 1 Corinthians 5:5. Paul hands them over to Satan to be worked over, to be brought to their senses, so save them from final ruin.

Summary of 1 Timothy, Chapter 2

Paul urges prayers for kings and all in authority, so that they may make it possible for Christians to live peacefully in piety and dignity. God wants all to be saved, to come to the knowledge of the truth in His Church.

There is only one God and one mediator between God and man, a man Christ Jesus. He gave Himself as the price of our redemption. He gave testimony at the proper time to the plans of the Father for our salvation. Paul was appointed herald and apostle of this truth, the teacher of the truth and faith to the gentiles.

Paul wants men to pray with hands upraised in every place where Christians assemble, without anger, without hostile thought. In a similar way he wants the women to adorn themselves in suitable dress, with respect and moderation, not with artificial hair styles and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather, as it fitting for women, showing a promise of piety through good works. A woman should learn silently, in submission. Paul does not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, and then Eve. Adam was not the first to be deceived -- the woman was, and was involved in transgression. But a woman will be saved through bearing and rearing children, if she remains in faith and holiness with modesty.

Comments on First Timothy, Chapter 2

Paul asks for prayers for rulers, so they may let Christians live in peace. At this time the chief Roman authority was Nero, then at about his worst. God wants all to reach salvation, and wants it to be done through full membership in the Church, even though as we saw in Romans 2:14-16, without formal entrance into the Church, a person can be saved.

There is only one God and one Mediator, Jesus Christ. He is the only one who by His very possession of two natures, divine and human, naturally goes between God and our race. Further, He is the only necessary Mediator, and the only Mediator that can act by His own power. Paul does not thereby exclude other lesser, secondary mediators, whose very power to act depends on the great Mediator. In His love of good order2 God loves to have one thing in place to serve as a reason or title for giving the other thing, even though that reason does not strictly move Him, for He cannot be moved. Hence, in His love of objective order, and His love of us, He is pleased to make everything as rich as possible: He could have restored our race by even a mere animal sacrifice -- or could have sent His Son to be born in a palace, and to ascend after a short prayer -- that would have been infinite in worth -- but He chose to go beyond infinity, to go beyond the palace to the stable, beyond a short prayer to the cross.

He even, as Vatican II tells us,3 wanted to join the obedience of Our Lady, His Mother to the obedience of Jesus, in the covenant condition which was obedience, to make the titles for giving grace and forgiveness as rich as possible. This all pertains to the objective redemption, the process of acquiring a title to all forgiveness and grace, once for all.

There is also the work of giving out the fruits of this objective redemption, namely, the subjective redemption. And again in it, He wills to make all as rich as possible, and so in spite of the infinity of the merits of Christ, and the

marvelous merits of Our Lady, He wills to add even ordinary mediators, the saints.

Jesus gave Himself as the price of our Redemption, as we saw in commenting on 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23. In this way, Jesus showed the concern of the Father for all good, and for our well-being. As part of this, He appointed Paul teacher of the gentiles.

Paul wants men to pray with holy hands upraised in every assembly of the Church, with placid mind. He also wants the women to be there in suitable dress, with respect and moderation -- in contrast to artificial hairdos, and adornments of gold and pearls and expensive robes, which could unduly distract men. We think again of 1 Corinthians 11 on veils for women. They should not distract the men by making themselves needlessly appealing during services in the church. As he said in 1 Corinthians 14:34, he wants women to be silent in the church, and not to take authority. Adam was made first, the woman second. And Adam was not deceived, but Eve was and she deceived Adam.

Women will reach salvation by carrying out the duties of their state in life -- ordinarily (except for those who will profess religious virginity) this will mean having a family and raising the children in the love and fear of God. To form children in the likeness of Jesus and His Mother is a far greater accomplishment than to carve marble like Michelangelo. In speaking of childbearing Paul perhaps also speaks against the false teachers who forbade marriage at that time. In this connection we recall that Jesus Himself spent about 30 out of 33 years in family life, showing how highly the Father values a good family life.

Summary of 1 Timothy, Chapter 3

We can be sure of this: that if someone desires to be a Bishop he desires a good work. So the Bishop must be blameless, married only once, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, a good teacher, not addicted to drink, not violent but gentle, abstaining from quarreling, and not fond of money. He should be fully in charge of his own house, keeping his children in subjection with all dignity. If someone does not know how to manage even his own home, how could he manage the Church of God? A Bishop should not be a recent convert, for then he might become proud and fall into the condemnation of the devil. He must also have a good reputation with those outside the Church, so he may not be reproached or fall into a trap of the devil.

Similarly deacons must be worthy of respect, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not desiring filthy gain, holding to the mystery of faith in a clean conscience. They should be tested first, and then, if they are found to be without reproach, serve as deacons. The women similarly must be worthy of respect, not slanderers or detractors, sober, faithful in all things. The deacons must be married once, well in charge of their children and their own homes. For those who serve well as deacons gain for themselves honor and much confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Paul is writing thee things to him, even though he hopes to come to him very soon, but if he is delayed, so he may know how it is necessary to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, and is the pillar and support of the truth. All agree that the mystery of piety is great, "which became manifest in the flesh, was shown righteous in the Spirit, appeared to angels, was preached among the gentiles, was believed in the world, and was taken up in glory."

Comments on Chapter 3

Paul does not mention priests or presbyters. The two words were not clearly separate at that time. Thus in Acts 20:17 & 28 the same persons are given the two names. In Titus 1, if we compare verses 5 & 7, Paul seems to use the two words indiscriminately.

The qualities required of bishops and deacons are rather similar and obviously needed.

It is puzzling that Paul injects a mention of women in the middle of his words on deacons. Most likely he means the wives of deacons, for that would fit well enough. To mention deaconesses would be a strange sequence of thought. Deaconesses were not ordained, as Canon 19 of the First General Council, Nicea, tells us, but helped with baptisms and with the sick.

Some have understood verse 13 to mean that if a man serves well as a deacon he has taken a good step, on the way to becoming a priest. This would not fit well historically, for then the diaconate was permanent.

The last words, "who was manifested in the flesh . . ." refer to Christ. They seem like an early hymn. The "mystery of piety" could refer to Him, or to God's plan for the world.

Summary of 1 Timothy, Chapter 4

The Spirit foretells that in the last times some will give up the faith, and give themselves to lying spirits, to the teaching of demons. They will speak falsely in hypocrisy, they will be branded in their consciences. They will forbid marriage, and order abstention from foods which God created to be eaten with thanks. For every creature God has made is good, and nothing should be rejected that is taken with a prayer of thanks to Him. For the food is made holy by the word of God and by prayer.

In proposing these things to the people, Timothy will be a good servant of Jesus Christ, nourished by the words and faith, and by the good teaching he has followed. He must avoid profane, old-womanish fables. Go into training for piety. Bodily exercise is useful for a little, but piety is useful for everything since it contains the promise of life, the present life, and the future life. What Paul has just said is dependable, and worthy of all belief. It is for this reason that we labor and struggle, because we have had hope in the living God, who is the savior of all, especially the savior of the faithful.

Timothy must command this and teach it. He should not let anyone look down upon him because he is young. Rather, he should become a model of the faithful in word, in his way of life, in love, faith, and purity. While Paul is on the way to him, he should apply himself to reading, exhortation, and teaching. He should not neglect the grace he has received by prophecy with the imposition of the hands of the presbyterium. He must train himself in this, be involved in this, so his progress may be evident to all. He should attend to himself and to doctrine, and persevere in these things, for by doing this he will save himself and those who hear him.

Comments on Chapter 4

This is not the first time Paul warns of false teachers to come. In Acts 20:29-30 he predicted savage wolves would come and distort the truth. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 he foretells a great apostasy before the end. In 2 Timothy 3 and 4 there are more predictions, even stronger than the present lines. When he says the false teachers will be branded in their consciences, he is alluding to the practice of branding criminals and fugitive slaves.

The prohibitions against marriage, and restrictions on food need not come from Gnostics -- there were various other groups that said these things.

In verse 6 he says if Timothy teaches the truth he will be a good diakonos, servant. Again as we saw in chapter 3, the words bishop and priest have not yet become precise.

Paul tells him not to let anyone make light of him because of his youth -- he was about 35 at the time.

Just as in 1:18, there is mention of "prophecies" about Timothy. In view of this verse, 4:14, it seems Paul refers to the prayers of ordination said with the imposition of hands. We recall from 1 Corinthians 12-14 that Paul's use of the word prophecy did not usually mean directly predictions of the future. Rather it referred to a moving exhortation to the people.

Summary of 1 Timothy, Chapter 5

In giving corrections, Timothy should not be harsh on an elder, but should entreat him as a father, and speak to younger men as to brothers, to older women as to mothers, to younger women as to sisters, in all purity.

He should give financial support to widows, who really are such. But if some widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn to do their duty towards those of their own household, and to make a return to parents. For this is pleasing in the eyes of God. The real widow is left alone, has hoped in God, and perseveres in supplications and prayers night and day. But a widow who indulges in pleasure is dead, even though seeming to be alive. Timothy should command too, that they live a life free of reproach. If anyone does not provide for his own and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.

A woman may be officially designated as a widow if she is not less than 60 years old, if she has been the wife of only one man, and has a record of good works, has raised her children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the holy ones, if she has helped those in trouble, if she has followed every good work.

Timothy should avoid designating younger women as widows, for when they have indulged in pleasure not in accord with Christ, they want to marry. And they will be charged with having set aside their first commitment. At the same time they are idle and get used to going from one house to another, not only idly, but also as babblers and busybodies, speaking what they should not say.

So it is better that the younger ones marry, have children, manage their houses, and give no occasion to the enemy so he can reproach them. For already some have turned and followed Satan. If any Christian woman has relatives who really are widows she should aid them, and not let the church be burdened, so the church may be able to aid those who really are good widows.

Presbyters who preside well should be thought worthy of double honor, especially if they labor in the word and in teaching. For Scripture says: "You shall not muzzle the ox that is treading the grain" and "the laborer is worthy of his hire."

Do not listen to a charge against a presbyter unless it is backed by two or three witnesses. Rebuke those who do sin in front of all, so the rest may fear.

Paul charges Timothy before God and Christ Jesus and the good angels to observe what Paul has just said without prejudice and in impartiality.

He urges Timothy not to hastily ordain anyone -- for he might share in the sins of another. He should keep himself pure, and no longer drink only water, but should take a little wine because of his stomach and his frequent infirmities.

The sins of some are obvious, even before they go to judgment; but the sins of others are obvious only later on. Similarly, the good works of some are evident and even when they are not, they will eventually come to light.

Comments on Chapter 5

The "elder" in verse 1 is probably just any older man, not necessarily a presbyter/priest (as seems to be the cases in verse 19). Paul here is teaching respect for old age.

The widows of whom he speaks are those who are officially designated by the church as such, and who therefore receive support from the church. Paul insists that if they have close relatives, these should care for them, and spare the church the burden.

As to those whose husbands die when they are young, Paul does not favor putting them in the official status. Rather, he urges them to remarry. This does not contradict his advice in 1 Corinthians 7:8 that it is better not to remarry. There he was speaking of a spiritual plus to be had in abstention from marriage, as we explained there. But here he sees that those who are widowed young are not taking up the spiritual advantage, but rather are living in unsuitable ways, becoming busybodies.

In verse 22 he warns against ordaining anyone without a careful check -- Timothy could be responsible for the sins of a bad candidate. We think here of Paul's teachings on involuntary sins in 1 Corinthians 4:4.

Summary of 1 Timothy, Chapter 6

Paul urges those who are slaves to honor their masters, so that God's name and the way of Christ may not get a bad name. Even if the master is Christian, the slaves should not neglect their duties. Rather, they should be more inclined to serve them.

Those who teach false doctrine are inflated with pride, and do not have true knowledge -- rather, they wander in word-battles and endless discussions, from which come envy, strife, blasphemies, evil suspicions, conflicts with those who think religion is a means of financial gain. Religion with contentment really is a great gain, though not financially. We came into this world with nothing, and when we leave we cannot take anything material with us. If we have food and shelter, that should be enough. For those who want to be rich fall into temptations and foolish desires. Love of money is a root of all evils. Some in this have wandered from the faith. But Timothy should flee these things, and instead pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, patience, meekness. He should fight the good fight and gain the eternal life to which we are called, for which he made the good profession of faith before many witnesses. Just as Jesus Himself made the good confession before Pilate so Timothy should imitate Him while waiting for the manifestation of Jesus at the end. He alone has immortality, and lives in inaccessible light. To Him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

He wants Timothy to tell those who are rich in the worldly way not to be proud, or to put their hope in uncertain riches. Rather they should hope in God who provides us with all things. They should do good, and become rich in good works, sharing their wealth with others, and laying up a real treasure for themselves in the world to come.

He ends by exhorting Timothy to guard well what has been entrusted to him, and to avoid vain and foolish ideas. Some going into those notions have erred in the faith. May grace be with him.

Comments on Chapter 6

Paul's words about slaves here may be surprising. Please recall the explanations given earlier, in comments on 1 Corinthians 7:21.

Paul returns again to warning about false doctrine. As we said earlier, we cannot be sure what kind of false teachers he may have in mind. They are more likely Jewish speculators than Gnostics, to judge from Paul's comments in the Epistle to Titus 1:14 and 3:9. In Titus 3:10 Paul will advise him to avoid such false teachers if they do not reform after one or two warnings. It seems these teachers are also trying to make money.

So Paul speaks against the love of money. He calls it a root of all kinds of evils. He did not say the for there are other roots too. He says we cannot take money out of this world with us. But later, in verses 18-19, he says one can have treasure in heaven by doing good now with money or otherwise, cf. Matthew 6:19-20.

The profession of faith mentioned was that required for acceptance into the Church. Paul spoke of it also in Romans 10:9-10.

Summary of Letter to Titus, Chapter 1

Paul, a slave of God, and Apostle of Jesus for the faith, in the hope of eternal life which the truthful God promised ages ago and revealed at the proper time by the word, which was entrusted to Paul, [Paul] wishes grace and peace to Titus, his true son in the common faith.

Paul left Titus in Crete to put in order what Paul had not finished, and to establish presbyters city by city as Paul ordered. Titus should choose for this office men married once, having children who are of the faith, and having a good reputation. For a bishop should be above reproach, a servant of God, not self willed, not given to anger or wine, not quarrelsome or given to base gain. He should love hospitality and goodness, should be prudent, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding firm to the word of faith as it is taught so he may be able to give exhortations in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict the faith.

For there are many who are insubordinate, speaking foolishly, and are deceivers, especially those who are of the circumcision. It is important to silence these, for they overturn entire houses, teaching what is not right, for the sake of shameful gain. In fact, a Cretan prophet said: "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." Paul believes this is true. So Titus must answer them sharply, to bring them to the sound faith instead of Jewish myths and the commands of men who turn aside from the truth. To the pure all things are pure. But to those who are defiled and without faith, nothing is clean, even their mind and conscience are defiled. They claim to know God, but deny Him with their actions, for they are abominable and disobedient and unfit for any good work.

Comments on Chapter 1

Just as Paul put Timothy in charge of Ephesus, so he put Titus in charge of Crete. One work to be done is to establish presbyters in each city. Acts 14:23 says Paul established presbyters in each city already on his first missionary journey. First Thessalonians 5:12 speaks of those who are in authority, even though no name for the office is given. We note too that if we compare verses 5 and 7, the words presbyter and bishop are used indiscriminately. The qualities given for them here are much the same as those called for in First Timothy.

The false teachers in verse 10 and following are clearly Jews. Titus 3:9 confirms this conclusion. They are proposing myths, claiming some foods are unclean by nature, and taking pay for their teaching. Paul speaks strongly. He says in verse 11 that Titus must refute them sharply (apotomos). In 3:10 he will say that if they do not reform after one or two warnings, Titus should avoid them.

It is remarkable to see the sweeping words against Cretans in verse 12. Clement of Alexandria says the "prophet" was a Greek poet Epimenides of the 6th century B.C. The Greek historian Polybius, writing in the second century B.C. (6.46-47). makes the same sweeping charges. He says greed and avarice are "native to the soil" in Crete. He adds that the Cretans are full of treachery.

Summary of Titus, Chapter 2

Paul urges Titus to give sound teaching, saying that the elders should be temperate, worthy of respect, prudent, sound in faith, in love, in patience. Similarly, older women should live the kind of life proper for those dedicated to God, should not be slanderers or given to drink, but teaching good to others, so they may prudently encourage the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to be prudent, chaste, taking good care of their homes, kind, submissive to their husbands, so the word of God may not be ill-spoken of. He should encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

Titus should make himself a model of good works, in his teaching he should show integrity, seriousness, speaking soundly and such that any enemy may be ashamed of not having anything to reproach him with.

He should exhort the slaves to obey their masters in all things, being well-pleasing, not contradicting, not stealing, but displaying real fidelity, so that they may be a credit to the teaching of our Savior God.

For the grace of God our Savior has appeared to all, teaching them that they should avoid infidelity and worldly desires, and live lives of self control, righteously and piously in this world, as they wait for the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our Great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, so He might redeem us from all sin and cleanse for Himself a people of His own, one zealous for good works. Titus should speak these things with all authority, and should not let anyone look down on him.

Comments on Chapter 2

The elder men in verse 2 are not priests/presbyters, as the context shows. He had already spoken of them in chapter 1. (The Greek word used here is presbytes, whereas in 1:5 it was presbyteros -- slightly different forms of the same root). Similarly the elder women are not widows officially accepted as such. They are merely older women inclined to be especially devout. The comments on slaves are much like what he has given in First Timothy.

It is interesting that in verse 13 he speaks of Jesus as God. Ordinarily Paul uses the title Lord, which means the same. And we note the title of Savior -- true of course in view of the redemption. There may be also an implied comment on civil rulers who liked to have the title Savior.

Summary of Titus, Chapter 3

Titus should remind the Christians to be submissive to the government and officers, ready to obey for every good work, so as to speak ill of no one, not to be inclined to quarrel, but to be gentle, and meek to all. We when we were not Christians were once foolish, disobedient, going astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, spending our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating each other. But when the kindness and love-of-men of God appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of works of righteousness that we did, but according to His mercy, through the bath of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out richly on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, being justified by His love, we might be heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The truth of these things is dependable. Paul wants to confirm Titus in these things, so that those who have come to the faith may be concerned to be outstanding in good works. This is good and useful to people.

He warns Titus to stay away from foolish investigations and genealogies, and strifes, and battles about the Mosaic law. After one or two warnings he should avoid a heretical man, for such a man is perverted and sins, and is self-condemned.

When Artemas comes or Tychicus, Paul wants Titus to come to him at Nicopolis, for he has decided to spend the winter there. Titus should send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way in such a way that they lack nothing.

People should learn also to be outstanding in good works to meet important needs, so they may not lack fruit. All those who are with Paul greet Titus. May Titus greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with all.

Comments on Chapter 3

It is striking that Paul calls for obedience to the government at the very time when Nero was near the peak of his insanity. But they are to obey only in what is not wrong, being ready for every good work.

Once they lived in an evil way, but when God's love appeared He saved us not by works -- but in justification by faith -- by His mercy, through Baptism and the Holy Spirit. We hyphenated "love-of-men" to indicate that in Greek it is just one word: philanthropia (philein -- love and anthropos -- man). By God's gift, which made us His adopted sons, we are heirs along with Christ (cf. Romans 8:17) and so can inherit eternal life. We do not basically earn it, even though as heirs we have a claim to it (which could be called, in a secondary sense, a merit: cf. DS 1532, 1582).

Again, Paul warns of foolish genealogies and debates about the law -- it looks again as though the opponents are Jews.

In verse 10 Paul speaks of a man as hairetikos, which we rendered "heretical". But we must note that that word did not then have its modern technical sense. It could mean anyone who deviated from the teaching of the Church in any way. Such a man is autokatakritos, a very rare word. By its roots is must mean "self-condemned".

We do not have any other mention of Artemas, but Tychicus may have been the bearer of the Epistles to Ephesus and Colossai, mentioned in Acts 20:4 as from the province of Asia. He is also mentioned in Ephesians 6:21. There were several cities called Nicopolis -- the one here is likely the one in Epirus, on the west coast of Greece. Zenas and Apollos may have brought this letter to Titus. Apollos is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:12. Please recall the comments given there.

Summary of 2 Timothy, Chapter 1

Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God for the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, wishes grace, mercy, and peace from the Father and from Jesus to Timothy his beloved son.

Paul gives thanks to God, whom he serves as his ancestors did, when he remembers Timothy in his prayers night and day, wanting to see him, remembering his tears so that Paul might be filled with joy, recalling Timothy's sincere faith, which was first in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, and surely is also in Timothy.

Paul urges Timothy to reenkindle the grace which he received by the imposition of Paul's hands. God has not given a spirit of fear but of power, love and prudence. So Timothy must not be ashamed to bear witness to the Lord, nor be ashamed of Paul, the prisoner. Rather he should join Paul in suffering for the Gospel according to the power of God who saved all, and has called them in a holy calling, not because of their good works, but because of His own design and grace, given in Christ Jesus, before eternal ages, but made manifest now, through the manifestation of the Savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death, brought life and incorruption to light through His Gospel. Paul was appointed herald, apostle and teacher of it. For that reason Paul suffers as he does. Paul is not ashamed, for he knows who it is that he has put his faith in, and is convinced He has the power to keep his deposit until the final day. He urges Timothy to keep the standard of sound teaching which he has heard from Paul in faith and love in Christ. May Timothy keep the good deposit through the Holy Spirit who dwells in them.

Timothy knows that all those in Asia deserted Paul, among them Phygelus and Hermogenes. He asks the Lord to have mercy on the house of Onesiphorus, who many times refreshed Paul and was not ashamed of Paul's chains. Rather, when he was in Rome, he earnestly sought Paul out and found him. So Paul prays that the Lord will grant mercy to Onesiphorus on that day. Timothy knows better than others how much he ministered to Paul in Ephesus.

Comments on Chapter 1

Paul remembers Timothy's tears -- probably at their final parting, when both knew they would never see each other again in this world. Timothy was taught the faith by his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice -- Eunice is mentioned, not by name, in Acts 16:1, where we see his mother was Jewish.

Just as in First Timothy, and in Titus, Paul urges them to reenkindle the grace of their ordination and to be brave. For God has not given them the spirit of fearfulness but of power, love, and prudence. Paul encourages Timothy to be prepared to suffer too for the Gospel. Jesus called them to their mission of preaching by an eternal decree. This was because of His own will, not because of good works they did. (This is not referring to justification by faith, but to the gift of apostleship).

The deposit which Paul is sure Jesus will keep for him was, according to the Latin Fathers, the merit of his good works, according to the Greek Fathers, the deposit of the Gospel entrusted to Paul.

At Paul's first hearing in the Roman province of Asia, nearly all deserted him, especially Phrygelus and Hermogenes.(We know only their names. They probably did not give up the faith, but were afraid). But Onesiphorus has proved faithful and managed to hunt up Paul in prison in Rome.

Summary of 2 Timothy, Chapter 2

Paul begs Timothy to be strong in the grace of Christ, and to commend to other faithful men the things he has heard from Paul, so they in turn may be able to teach still others. He should be willing to endure evil like a good soldier of Christ. When one is on a military campaign, he does not involve himself in ordinary business -- he wants to please the commander. Similarly, if one competes in an athletic contest, he cannot win the crown unless he competes according to the rules of the game. And the farmer who labors should be the first to share in the fruits. Paul urges him to understand, and promises the Lord will give him the needed understanding.

He should remember that Jesus, of the line of David, was raised from the dead, as Paul preaches. For this Paul suffers evil, even to being in chains as if he were a worker of evil. But the word of God is not bound. Hence Paul patiently bears everything for the sake of the elect, so they too may attain the final salvation that is in Christ, with eternal glory. The teaching is dependable: [namely] If we have suffered with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure patiently, we will reign with Him. If we deny Him, He too will deny us on the day of judgment. But if we are unfaithful to our commitment, He will still keep his covenant, for He cannot deny Himself.

Timothy should keep on reminding people of these things and charge them before God not to get into wordy disputes, which are useless, and tend to the ruin of those who hear them. Rather, he should aim to make himself worthy of God's approval, a worker that is not ashamed, following a direct course on the word of truth. He should avoid wordy emptiness, for it tends to more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene. It is of this sort that Hymenaeus and Philetus are. They have left the truth, and say that the resurrection has already taken place. They subvert the faith of some. But the solid foundation of God holds, and has this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are His," and: "Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."

In a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also some of wood and of clay -- some for honor, some for dishonor. Those who cleanse themselves from such errors will be honorable vessels, sanctified, well-useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

Timothy should avoid youthful passions, and instead pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord with a pure heart. He should avoid foolish discussions and those that do not help spiritually, knowing that they beget strife. The servant of the Lord should not be quarrelsome, but meek to all,ready to teach, patient, in meekness teaching those who oppose. Perhaps God may give them repentance, so as to know the truth and escape the snare of the devil which captured them, to do his will.

Comments on Chapter 2

We note especially in verse 2 how Paul makes provision for oral transmission of the faith -- Our Lord never told the Apostles: "Write some books -- get copies made -- pass them out -- tell the people to figure them out for themselves."

This would be real folly. Yet that is what Protestantism supposes.

Paul seems to know his end is near, he is glad to suffer for Christ, and he urges Timothy to be prepared to do so too. He says he will suffer for other Christians. This is the same thought as that we saw in Colossians 1:24: one member of Christ can make up for the failure of others to make reparation for their own sins, to rebalance the objective order. He restates a grand theme of his compactly: If we suffer with Him, we will also reign with Him. We saw this in Romans 8:17 too.

When Paul says that Christ remains faithful even if we are not faithful, He does not mean that we can sin, and He will still send us to Heaven. No, Pauline faith, as we saw before, includes the obedience that is faith (Rom 1:5). Faith which includes obedience cannot be the way to excuse disobedience as Luther held in writing to Melanchthon in Epistle 501: "Sin bravely but believe still more bravely." And in another Epistle to Melanchthon of August 1, 1521: ". . . you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. . . . as long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day."4

Paul warns again about the false teachers and even mentions two of them by name (we saw Hymenaeus in 1 Timothy 1:20 -- we know nothing of Philetus), who hold the resurrection has already taken place. They seem to mean only a mystical resurrection, in baptism, and deny a physical resurrection at the end of time. So many Greeks, especially Platonists, disliked the idea of a physical resurrection, as Paul found out on the Areopagus in Athens. They wanted eventually to escape reincarnation.

The first of the two sayings on the foundation of God in verse 19 comes basically from Numbers 16:5. The second is suggested by expressions found in Isaiah 52:11; Numbers 16:26. The thought is an exhortation to sound doctrine. The comparison of the various vessels in a large house can stand for good and bad Christians, of various degrees.

Verse 26 seems to mean that after being freed from the nets of the devil, the Christian can do God's will.

Summary of 2 Timothy, Chapter 3

In the last days there will be difficult times, for people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, speaking evil against others, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, impious, lacking love, implacable, slanderers, profligates, inhuman, not loving good, betrayers, reckless, inflated with pride, loving pleasure rather than God, having the outward appearance of piety, but lacking its power. Timothy should avoid these. Some of these are men who worm their way into homes, and take captive silly women, weighed down with sins, led by manifold desires, always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of truth. As Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so too these resist the truth, for they are men corrupted in their minds, reprobate in regard to the faith. But they will not get far, for their mindlessness will be evident to all, just as it was in the case of Jannes and Jambres.

But Timothy has followed Paul's teaching, his conduct, his resolution, his faith, his long-suffering, his love, his patience, and the persecutions, the sufferings that came to him in Antioch, in Iconium, in Lystra -- such persecutions Paul bore, and the Lord delivered him out of all of them.

All who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

But evil men and charlatans will go on to the worse, deceiving and being deceived. But Timothy should hold to the things he has learned and believed, and remember how from childhood he has known the sacred writings which can give wisdom for salvation, through the faith that is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture inspired by God is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be proficient and equipped for every good work.

Comments on Chapter 3

"In the last days" can mean either all the time from the ascension to the return of Christ, or, more specially, the period just before His return at the end. Times then will be hard. Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 had predicted a great apostasy before the end. Jesus Himself said the same in Luke 18:8. Matthew 24:12 spoke similarly. How completely opposite this picture is to that foolish one drawn by Teilhard de Chardin, who held that just before the end, many or most people will be closely joined in love -- and perhaps even in telepathy!

Some of these evil men will be false teachers, who will worm themselves into the homes of silly women who are loaded with sins. They will be always learning, yet never reaching the truth. It reminds us of some today who say: "Don't give me pat answers -- just questions!"

Jannes and Jambres were traditional Jewish names for the magicians at the court of Pharaoh. (They are mentioned in the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan on Exodus 1:15; 7:11; Numbers 22:22).

The prophecy that all who want to live religiously in Christ will encounter persecution is still true basically today (We may allow for a bit of Semitic exaggeration).

In speaking of all Scripture as inspired, Paul does not give us a list. Surely, he refers only to the Old Testament, for most of the New Testament was not written at this time (probably 65 A.D.).

Summary of 2 Timothy, Chapter 4

Paul charges Timothy before God and Jesus Christ, Who is going to be the judge of the living and the dead, and by His coming and His kingdom -- to preach the word, to apply himself to it, whether the time be opportune or inopportune, to correct, reprove, exhort, in all long-suffering and doctrine. For a time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, according to their whims, they will accumulate teachers for themselves, since they will be wanting to have their ears tickled. They will turn aside their ears from the truth, and will turn instead to fables.

But Timothy should be sober in everything, should endure evil, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill his ministry. Paul is already being poured out like a libation. The time of his being loosed from this life is at hand. Paul says he has fought the good fight, he has finished the course, he has kept the faith. For the rest, there awaits him the righteous crown which the Lord, the Just Judge, will give to him on that day -- not only to him, but to all who have loved His coming.

He asks Timothy to come to him quickly, for Demas, loving this world, has left him and gone to Macedonia. Crescens went to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with him. He asks Timothy to take Mark along, for he would be very useful for the ministry. Paul has sent Tychicus to Ephesus. He asks Timothy to bring the cloak he left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did Paul much harm. The Lord will repay him according to his works. Paul asks Timothy to watch out for Alexander, for he has greatly resisted Paul's words.

At Paul's first hearing and defense, no one stayed with him, all left him. He prays the Lord may not hold it against them. But the Lord stood by him and gave him strength so that through him the preaching might be completed and all the gentiles might hear it. Paul was delivered from the mouth of the lion. The Lord will deliver him from every evil work, and will save him for his kingdom, which is in the heavens. To Him be glory for ages of ages. Amen.

He asks Timothy to greet Prisca and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus has stayed at Corinth. Trophimus was left behind, sick, at Miletus. He asks Timothy to hurry to come before winter. Eubulus greets Timothy and Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers. May the Lord Jesus be with Timothy's spirit. May grace be with him.

Comments on Chapter 4

After charging Timothy most solemnly to preach the truth in season and out of season, Paul predicts a time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, will prefer fables, will listen to various teachers, wanting their ears tickled.

If one believes in the Fatima prophecy of the conversion of Russia, followed by a "certain" period of peace, then he will not think we have the fulfillment of this prophecy today, for Paul seems to refer to the time shortly before the end. Before that end must come the period of peace, which has not yet been seen. But there is a multiple fulfillment of many prophecies, and so one could say that today we have in our evils such a fulfillment, indeed, a dress rehearsal as it were.

Paul in a touching way reveals he knows his death is near. He, without violation of humility -- which is truth (cf. comments on Philippians 2:13) -- says he has fought the good fight and has kept the faith. He looks forward to a crown due to him in justice from the Just Judge. This does not contradict his great theme of justification by faith (unearned). No, it refers to something extra, and also, since he has in mind the covenant, within the covenant we can speak of two levels of reasons why God gives good things. On the most basic level all is mercy, unearned, since no creature by its own power can generate a claim on God. But on a secondary level, i.e., given the fact that God has freely entered into a covenant, then if people do what is required, He owes it to Himself to give, to reward. Please recall our comments on Romans 2:6. The Council of Trent speaks of three stages: 1) We receive sanctifying grace for the first time, justification, without any merit at all: DS 1532; 2) that grace makes us adopted children of God. Children have a claim to inherit. A claim can be called merit: DS 1582. 3) Being made children of God, with even a share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), our works acquire a great dignity, which makes it suitable that they be rewarded. So we can earn increases of sanctifying grace (that is, increases in the ability to take in the vision of God in the next life). In all, though, inasmuch as we are members of Christ, and are like Him, we get in on the claim He generated: we are not saved as individuals, but as His members, who are like Him.

Even though he previously wanted Timothy to stay in Ephesus, now, temporarily, he wants his help in his last hours. Only Luke is with him -- probably the Evangelist, who often traveled with Paul. Paul, forgetful of self, has sent others on missionary work to various places.

He asks Timothy when he comes through Troas -- which would be naturally on his route -- to bring his cloak, books, and parchments. When arrested he must have had to leave suddenly. He speaks again of the harm done to him by Alexander the coppersmith (cf. 1 Timothy 1:20 and Acts 19:33). He says God will repay him, not in spirit of revenge, but citing Psalm 62:12, as he did in Romans 2:6.

He says the Lord delivered him from the mouth of the lion. This is figurative, for as a Roman citizen, Paul could not be thrown to the lions.

He sends greetings to Prisca and Aquila, with whom he stayed at Corinth (Acts 18:2; Rom 16:3;1 Cor 16:19), and to Onesiphorus (cf. 1:16-18). Erastus was an official, perhaps a treasurer, at Corinth (Acts 19:22; Romans 16:24). Trophimus was from Ephesus, mentioned in Acts 20:4; 21:29. We know nothing of Eubulus. There is a tradition that Pudens was the first senator converted by St. Peter. Claudia, according to the Apostolic Constitutions5 was the mother of Linus, who is probably the first successor of St. Peter at Rome.6


1 Cf. comments on 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
2 Cf. Summa I, q.19, a.5, c.
3 Lumen Gentium §61.
4 Luther's Works, American Edition, 48, 181-82.
5 7.46.17-19.
6 Cf. St. Irenaeus 3.3.3.

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