New Testament Lesson 44 (1 & 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon)
Paul’s First Imprisonment at Rome
● Because of his Roman citizenship, Paul was brought to Rome to stand trial in Nero’s court. While waiting for trial, Paul was placed in house arrest at a home near the Imperial Palace. He remained under house arrest for two years, preaching the gospel to everyone he could. Guarded continually, he converted some of the soldiers and others of the royal household. When his case was finally heard, we have reason to believe he was acquitted and released.
A Brief Interval of Freedom
● After his release, Paul went to Philippi to rest, then to Ephesus to strengthen the Church. There is some evidence he went to Spain before his return to Ephesus and finally Macedonia. It was from Macedonia that he wrote 1st Timothy and probably Titus, between AD 63–68. Later Paul traveled back to Rome, where he was imprisoned a second time.
Paul’s Second Imprisonment at Rome
● Paul’s second imprisonment was different from the first in that the Roman authorities did not treat Paul with the same deference which they had shown to him before. The attitude of the Roman government toward the early church had undergone a radical shift.
● Nero blamed the Christians for the great fire of Rome and launched a series of intense persecutions against them in Rome. Paul and Peter were caught up in this new hostility and were martyred with many other Christians. During his second imprisonment, friends still visited Paul, but his freedom to preach the gospel was greatly restricted.
● At his trial no one came forth to plead his cause. Apparently, only Luke remained with him. In spite of these adverse circumstances, he remained optimistic and was buoyed up by faith in Christ.
When and where was Philemon written?
● It was written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome (AD 61–62).
Why was Philemon written?
● It was written to convince Philemon to accept back his runaway slave, Onesimus.
Philemon was apparently a rich and faithful member of the Church, a resident of Colossae.
Philemon appears to have been converted by Paul (v. 19–20).
— Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway Greek slave, had apparently also joined the Church by this time.
— Slavery, or servitude, was not viewed as evil by the Judaeo-Christian culture at the time of Christ. Slaves actually constituted twenty to thirty percent of the population of the empire.
— Under Roman law, Paul was legally bound to encourage Onesimus to return to Philemon. Paul says Onesimus would be coming back different—not as a slave but as a brother (v. 16).
— Encased in prison walls, Paul’s tender Christ-like feelings reveal themselves as he pleads the cause of a poor runaway who has nobody but Paul to recommend him.
Paul’s Faithful Colossian Friends
● It is highly probable that these persons were members of the Church in Colossae and friends—perhaps converts—of Paul during his stay in Ephesus on his third mission (Philemon 1:2, 17). Some have suggested that Apphia was Philemon’s wife and Archippus, his son. Ancient tradition holds that Philemon became bishop of Colossae and, during the persecution under Nero when Peter and Paul met their deaths, was martyred in Colassae with his wife Apphia, his son Archippus, and his slave Onesimus.
● Paul speaks of having his “bowels” refreshed by the Saints in Colassae, meaning he had been refreshed by their kind and righteous responses (Philemon 7,12, 20).
Paul’s Appeal Concerning Onesimus
● The Greek verb translated as “convenience” means “to measure up” to a certain standard (Philemon 8–9). Paul is suggesting that Philemon’s forgiveness of his runaway slave would be the most fitting thing for a true follower of Christ.
— “The aged” is more properly translated as “the elder”—a priesthood title.
● The Greek name Onesimus means “helpful” or “profitable” and was a common name for slaves (Philemon 1:10–11). Note the play on his name in verse 11.
● Under Roman law runaway slaves were put to death. Paul asks Philemon to accept Onesimus back as a “brother” and forgive him, but does not suggest he cannot continue as a slave. In fact, Paul offers to pay Philemon back for any financial loss suffered by this incident (Philemon 1:15–19).
Other Information from Philemon
● Paul is interested in making a personal visit soon (Philemon 1:22).
● Epaphras was a resident of Colossae who carried Paul’s letter (Philemon 1:23).
● Paul’s companions and fellow missionaries: John Mark and Aristarchus were fellow prisoners (Philemon 1:24; Colossians 4:10). The name Demos is probably a contraction of Demetrius or Demarchus. He had been imprisoned at first with Paul but later apostatized (2 Timothy 4:10).
THE PASTORAL EPISTLES
● These three letters are called Pastoral Epistles because they were written to church leaders.
● Timothy was a Church leader and teacher at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3). Because he appointed bishops, Timothy was apparently a regional officer (area authority).
● Titus was a Church leader and teacher on the island of Crete, probably a bishop.
● With death approaching, Paul’s counsel reflects eternal perspective. He speaks movingly of the trials which the youthful Timothy must face. He counsels both men concerning Church leadership, doctrine and spirituality. And now, before his impending death, he speaks confidently of his own exaltation to come.
FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY
Who Was Timothy?
● Timothy was a very young man when he was converted by Paul in Lystra. Paul always spoke of him with great pride, calling him a “dearly beloved son.” Paul also gave Timothy important assignments (1 Cor.4:17; 1 Thess. 3:1–2).
● Paul mentions Timothy in the beginning verses of 7 of his letters, and commends Timothy’s faithfulness and trustworthiness in 3 of them (1 Timothy 1:1–3).
● Speaking of Timothy’s family background, Paul admonished Timothy to continue in the things he had been taught from childhood, including reading the scriptures (1 Timothy 4:12–13).
When and Where Was 1st Timothy Written?
● It appears to have been written from Macedonia between Paul’s 1st & 2nd Roman imprisonments. The year was approximately AD 66.
Why Was 1st Timothy Written?
● The central theme is “proper care of the Church” by church leaders. Paul challenged Timothy and other leaders to be true to their trust in the ministry. He encouraged Timothy to teach true doctrines, keep the faith, pray diligently, and walk in holiness.
● At the time, Timothy was a priesthood leader at Ephesus with major administrative responsibility and of proven worth whom Paul regarded highly. Paul himself had placed Timothy in charge of the Ephesus church. Some prominent members were older than Timothy and had difficulty accepting his authority. This appears to have been a major reason why Paul sent Timothy this letter.
What are 1st Timothy’s Significant Contributions?
● Church administration, the conscientious performance of duties, the teaching of correct doctrine, the faithful conduct of an appointed servant in Christ’s church are some of the topics.
● Interwoven into the text are some of the references to Jesus Christ, to salvation, to the great latter-day apostasy, and to the necessity for obedience to the principles of the gospel.
ADVICE TO CHURCH MEMBERS
Eight Virtues of Obedience to the Commandments
● 1 Timothy 1:5:
— Charity or pure love.
— A good conscience.
— Faith unfeigned [not pretended].
● 1 Timothy 1:15–16:
— Patience or long-suffering.
● 2 Timothy 2:19:
— Knowledge of sound doctrine.
● The most important of all these virtues is charity (1 Timothy 1:5–7).
— Avoiding “vain jangling” means avoiding fruitless debate or intellectualizing.
More Advice for Church Members
● Pray for those in authority in the Church and the nation (1 Timothy 2:1–3).
● Remember that God wants to save everyone (1 Timothy 2:4–6).
— Jesus is the “mediator” between us and God, having provided for the salvation of all of us—if we want it.
● Grooming and behavioral standards for women (1 Timothy 2:9–15).
— Women should avoid the vain styles and practices of the world (v. 9).
— The Greek word translated here as “silence” means tranquillity—to support their leaders and not try to usurp authority (vv. 11–12).
— The Greek word parabasis used here does not mean “transgression;” it means “to overstep” (vv. 13–14). Eve overstepped her bounds by usurping authority to make a decision that affected both herself and Adam.
ADVICE FOR TIMOTHY
Maintaining Confidence and Judgment
● Timothy was not to be intimidated by those who “despised his youth.” His call came by prophecy and the laying on of hands, and God would support him if he would lead righteously (1 Timothy 4:12–16).
● Advice on how Timothy should respond to those older and younger than himself (1 Timothy 5:1–4). This is good advice for all of us.
● Judging righteous judgment as a “judge in Israel” (1 Timothy 5:19–21).
Qualifications for a Bishop (1 Timothy 3:1–7)
● The title “bishop” derives from the Greek episcopos—to oversee or watch. Therefore, a bishop, is one who watches over the flock
● v. 2
— “Husband of one wife”Not practicing polygamy.
— “Vigilant” (Watchful).
— “Sober” (Serious-minded).
— “Of good behavior” (Well behaved).
— “Hospitable” (Friendly).
— “Apt to teach” (Able to teach).
● v. 3
— “Not given to wine” (Temperate; Not a drinker of alcohol).
— “No striker, Not a brawler” (Not violent).
— “Not greedy of filthy lucre” (Does not obtain money by dishonorable means). Note that not all money is “filthy.”
— “Not covetous.”
● vv. 4–5
— “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection in all gravity” means with all due diligence, not abuse or dominance. His pattern in the home will translate to his “fatherhood” of the ward.
● v. 6
— “Not a novice” is translated from neophyton—one who is newly “born” (baptized). A bishop should be an experienced priesthood holder.
● v. 7
— “Hav[ing] a good report of those without” means a good reputation with people outside the Church—the community at large.
Qualifications for a Deacon in Paul’s day (1 Timothy 3:8–13).
— In that time, Deacons were mature men with different responsibilities than deacons today.
Selecting Priesthood Leaders
● The process by which Timothy was to select and ordain priesthood leaders (1 Timothy 5:22–25).
— “Lay hands suddenly on no man” (v. 22).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Brethren should be seasoned, tried, and found worthy before they are ordained and set apart to serve in positions of power and influence in the Church.”1
— “Water-drinker” was a title used in Paul’s day for a rigid ascetic (v. 23). Timothy was to avoid such extremes of behavior.
— “Open beforehand” in this context means “conspicuous” (v. 24). Timothy was to be thoroughly familiar with them.
Righteous Temporal Welfare
● Timothy’s responsibilities as a bishop for the poor and the widows (1 Timothy 5:1–16).
— For a man to fail to take care of his family (including alimony payments, if required) is to deny the faith (v. 8).
— The Church was keeping a list of widows needing welfare assistance. Paul clarified Church policy that widows must meet certain qualifications, including age and commitment to service in Christ (vv. 9–10).
— Advice to young, marriageable women in the Church (vv. 11–15).
— Let families take the first responsibility to support the needy (v. 16).
Avoiding Apostate Doctrines
● This prophecy applies to the last part of Paul’s dispensation, as well to our own latter-day dispensation. He is warning of doctrines that will enter the Church as it slips into apostasy (1 Timothy 4:1–9).
● “Forbidding to marry”—there is no special holiness in celibacy (v. 3). Marriage is ordained of God and one of life’s great purposes. The Gnostics of Paul’s day were already preaching against it.
● “Abstain from meats” has reference to Mosaic restrictions on eating certain meats and foods (vv. 3–5). Some apostates would continue to insist on the rituals and rules of the law of Moses.
● “Bodily exercise” (v. 8). The meaning in Greek is not that physical exercise is worthless, but rather that its usefulness is limited.
● “Science” is translated from gnosis (“knowledge”) in Greek. The problem is Gnostic heresies, which are pseudo-knowledge (1 Timothy 6:20–21).
● A warning concerning material riches (1 Timothy 6:5–12, 17–19).
— Wealth is not a sign of righteousness (v. 5).
— If we have sufficient for our needs, we ought to be content (vv. 6–8). When contentment is combined with godliness great blessings result.
— It is the “love of money,” not money itself, that is evil (v. 10). One can covet material possessions while rich or while poor. In either case, the soul is cankered.
— Those who are rich should not be arrogant, but should bless the lives of others as an “investment” in the life to come, where they will have the true riches of eternal life (vv. 17–19).
EPISTLE TO TITUS
Who Was Titus?
— He was apparently converted by Paul in Antioch.
— He attended the Jerusalem Conference with Paul.
— He was a missionary companion to Paul at times.
— He carried 1 & 2 Corinthian epistles to Corinth for Paul.
— He was in Crete when he received Paul’s letter to him.
— He later served a mission to Dalmatia.
● Paul’s greeting to Titus shows his love and confidence in his “son after the faith” (Titus 1:1–4).
● “Before the world began” (v. 2)—Paul again clearly teaches the doctrine of the premortal existence, where eternal life was promised through the plan of salvation.
When and Where Was the Epistle to Titus Written?
● We do not know the letter’s point of origin, but it was probably written at or very near the same time as 1st Timothy, about AD 67 or 68. This would put it sometime between his first and second imprisonments at Rome.
Why Was the Epistle to Titus Written?
— Titus was an early Greek convert to the Church.
— He was present with Paul at the Jerusalem conference (Galatians 2:1).
— Paul had left Titus on Crete (Titus 1:5) and Titus became the first bishop of the Cretans.
— Crete is an island approximately 160 long and 25 miles wide, with many cities.
— This epistle was written to strengthen and encourage Titus.
What Are the Epistle to Titus’ Most Significant Contributions?
● Like 1 Timothy, this letter deals with priesthood organization and the duties of leaders in the Church.
— Specifically, Paul warns Titus to beware of false ministers and doctrines.
— He also speaks regarding the character and conduct of those called to priesthood leadership.
CONTENDING AGAINST EVIL
● Paul again outlines qualifications for a bishop as part of explaining the evils they must contend against (Titus 1:6–9; compare to 1 Timothy 3:2–7).
● Conditions on Crete (Titus 1:9–16).
— “Gainsayers” is an old Anglo-Saxon word which means “contrary to” or “in opposition of” (v. 9). Today we would translate it “those who speak against something in order to enrich themselves at the expense of others.”
— “Unruly” means “insubordinate or rebellious” (v. 10).
— Paul condemned false teachers on Crete who were perverting the gospel in order to make money (v. 11). Cretans were well known for their greed and dishonesty, according to Cicero and Plutarch. “Slow bellies” is better translated “idle bellies,” suggesting lazy gluttony.
— “One of themselves, even a prophet of their own”—the early Church Father Jerome thought that Paul was quoting from the poet Epimenides (v. 12).
— Jewish apostates were preaching “fables” concerning Mosaic law (v. 14).
— “The pure” are compared to those for whom nothing is pure (v. 15).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “The pure in heart are those who are free from moral defilement or guilt; who have bridled their passions, put off the natural man and become Saints through the Atonement (Mosiah 3:19); who have been born again, becoming the sons and daughters of Christ (Mosiah 5:7); who are walking in paths of uprightness and virtue and seeking to do all things that further the interests of the Lord’s earthly kingdom. . . . One of the chief identifying characteristics of a saint is that he has a pure mind. (2 Peter 3:1)”2
The Sin of Heresy
● Heresy is the belief and espousal of false doctrine.
● Heretics belong to the Church yet adhere to religious opinions which are contrary to the official doctrine of the Church.
● Our “good works” do not save us; We are saved by the grace of Christ (Titus 3:3–7).
— Paul confesses, “We ourselves. . .were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.”
— The “washing of regeneration” has reference to their baptism.
● Saints should avoid the foolish questions contentious strivings that heretics espouse, and also avoid association with heretics (Titus 3:9–11).
● Avoid debate, argumentation, and criticism that stir up ill feelings; instead, teach with gentleness and meekness (2 Timothy 2:22–25).
SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY
More Information about Timothy
● Timothy’s family’s righteousness spanned three generations (2 Timothy 1:1–5).
—Note that Paul refers to Timothy as his beloved “son.”
● Timothy was reared by a mother and grandmother who taught him the scriptures. They were converts on Paul’s first missionary journey (2 Timothy 3:14–15).
When and Where Was 2nd Timothy Written?
● Paul wrote 2nd Timothy during his second Roman imprisonment, just prior to his execution. This imprisonment was different; he was not treated with deference by the Roman authorities. Nero had blamed the great fire of Rome (which he himself probably set) on the Christians. Both Paul and Peter were caught up in this new hostility, as were many Church members.
● Facing certain execution, Paul’s friends deserted him in fear, and others betrayed him. At his trial no one came forth to plead his cause. Apparently only Luke remained with him. Yet he remained calm and even exultant. “I am now ready to be offered,” he writes without remorse or pity. “The time of my departure is at hand. ” (2 Timothy 4:6).
● We believe Paul was executed in Rome around AD 67 or 68 by being beheaded.
● Peter was also executed about that same time by being crucified upside down.
Why Was 2nd Timothy Written?
● 2nd Timothy is a letter of encouragement to Timothy and to all priesthood leaders.
— Paul challenged him to magnify the calling to which he had been ordained and to endure to the end.
— Paul also warned Timothy against the spiritual apostasy that was rising in the Church.
● Paul counseled his young friend in the ministry to:
— Be strong in the faith.
— Keep the commandments.
— Shun contention.
— Strive for complete victory over the temptations of the world.
— Study the holy scriptures.
— Preach the word with power.
What Are 2nd Timothy’s Most Significant Contributions?
● It is a clear manifestation of Paul’s triumphant faith. In spite of the adverse circumstances of his time, he was optimistic and buoyed up by his faith in Christ.
● 2nd Timothy stands as a great monument to faith and hope in the face of loneliness and adversity. It serves as a concise, powerful description of the great apostasy. It is a graphic and prophetic picture of that fearful spiritual pollution which covers this latter-day world. This, Paul’s final letter, is a timeless letter for all mankind.
ADVICE FOR TIMOTHY
Do Not Be Afraid
● Righteousness dispels fear, replacing it with power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:6–7).
Devotion to the Work
● Be not ashamed of Christ (2 Timothy 1:8–12).
— This contains another reference to foreordination to priesthood callings during the premortal existence (v. 9). This occurred in the Grand council in Heaven.
● Hold fast against apostasy with sound doctrine and the guidance of the Holy Ghost (2 Timothy 1:13–15).
● Paul paid tribute to Onesiphorus, one who was not ashamed of the Apostle’s prison chains and helped him while he was in prison (2 Timothy 1:16–18).
● Three metaphors of faith: (2 Timothy 2:1–7)
— A military metaphor of a soldier who was single-minded to his work (vv. 3–4). Like a stalwart warrior, Timothy was to be whole-souled in his devotion to Jesus in the great battle between light and darkness.
— An athletic metaphor of a man who wins a prize by conforming his life to rigorous training and the rules of the game (v. 5). By keeping the commandments, Timothy can win the prize of eternal life.
— An agricultural metaphor that teaches that if Timothy diligently labors in the Lord’s vineyard, he will reap salvation to his own soul (v. 6).
DEALING WITH APOSTASY
Know the Truth
● Be knowledgeable of the gospel and avoid vain arguments about things that do not matter to our salvation (2 Timothy 2:14–16, 23–25).
● Dealing with apostates (2 Timothy 2:17–18).
— The word “canker” is from the Greek word gangreina—gangrene (v. 17). Gangrene kills living cells as it spreads. Apostates do the same to the faith of believers.
— False notions concerning the resurrection—that it was already past (v. 18).
Turn Away from Apostates
● Conditions in the “latter days” (our day) (2 Timothy 3:1–7).
Men will be . . .
— “lovers of their own selves” (selfish).
— “disobedient to parents.”
— “without natural affection.”
— “false accusers” (slanderers).
— “incontinent” (without self control).
— “despisers of those that are good.”
— “heady” (rash or reckless).
— “high-minded” (conceited).
— “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”
— “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”
— “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
● According to Jewish tradition, Jannes and Jambres were two magicians who opposed Moses in the court of Pharaoh (2 Timothy 3:8–9).
● Those who follow Christ will be persecuted by the wicked (2 Timothy 3:10–13). The world will become increasingly wicked over time.
Read and Follow the Scriptures
● Timothy was raised in a home where the scriptures were valued (2 Timothy 3:14–15).
● The benefits of scripture: (2 Timothy 3:15–17).
— able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ (v. 15).
— given by inspiration from God (v. 16).
— a good source for doctrine.
— a good source for reproof and correction.
— a good source for instruction in righteousness.
— through them we learn how to be perfect.
— through them we learn to do good works.
— Nevertheless, the scriptures alone do not save us (v. 17). The Jews believed that in their scriptures they had eternal life (John 5:39), but they failed to live the principles taught by the scriptures or to believe in the Messiah of whom they testified.
PAUL’S FINAL WORDS
● “Instant” means urgent, serious, or diligent (2 Timothy 4:1–2). Those who are not serious about salvation need reproof.
— The Prophet Joseph Smith revised this verse to read, “Preach the word (JST v. 2). Be instant in season; Those who are out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.”3
● Teachers with “itching ears” are those who will teach whatever you want to hear (rather than the truth). “Fables” are false doctrines (2 Timothy 4:3–5).
● Paul’s work on earth was now complete, and he knew it (2 Timothy 4:6–8).
— Paul had already been promised a “crown of righteousness” (v. 8).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Paul’s calling and election had been made sure. He was sealed up unto eternal life. He had kept the commandments, been tried at all hazards, and the Lord had given him the promise: `Son, Thou shalt be exalted.’ And since no man is or can be exalted alone, this is one of the crowning reasons why we know Paul was married.”4
● Praying for those in authority in the nation (1 Timothy 2:1–3). “In the storied and historic city of Boston—known for its central role in American history and American Revolutionary War battles—President M. Russell Ballard stood before 12,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and spoke of the United States, which, as in times past, is “at another crossroad.”
“I plead with you this evening to pray for this country, for our leaders, for our people, and for the families that live in this great nation founded by God,” he said.
Speaking to an estimated 12,000 people gathered in the DCU Center, President Ballard reminded the congregation that “this country was established and preserved by our founding fathers and mothers who repeatedly acknowledged the hand of God through prayer.”
“My dear brothers and sisters, our nation was founded on prayer, it was preserved by prayer, and we need prayer again.
“Tonight I invite you to join in a new movement. Invite your neighbors, your colleagues, your friends on social media to pray for this country.”
President Ballard, who arrived in New England on Friday, October 18 , asked the congregation to begin today. “We must stand boldly for righteousness and truth, and must defend the cause of honor, decency, and personal freedom espoused by Washington, Madison, Adams, Lincoln, and other leaders who acknowledged and loved God.”5
1. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:92.
2. Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 612–613.
3. Taken from the original manuscript by Robert J. Matthews. (Note the punctuation changes in addition to the word changes made by the Prophet).
4. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:116.
5. Weaver, Sarah Jane, editor, Church News Newsletter, October 22, 2019, 8:04 PM.