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2 Timothy

  Date: 57-66 AD

The name Pastorals refers to the letters 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. They were first called that in the 18th century due to their instructions for the conduct of the office of the pastor. Although Johnson warns against treating them as a group, since for example, 2 Timothy has nothing about church order at all, and church order is one of the defining characteristics associated with the Pastorals (after all, instructions for the office of the pastor), the many factors, mainly style, which bind them together make this fairly irrelevant, and so we treat all three letters together below.

Authenticity of the Pastorals

The main argument against the authenticity of the Pastorals is the difference of their style and language from that of Paul's letters. The main points are:

1. Great difference between the language and style of the Pastorals and that of the other Pauline epistles.

2. Irreconcilable differences between the situation in the Pastorals and the known chronology of Paul (mainly Acts).

3. Characteristics of theology and ecclesiology too advanced for Paul's time.

Language and style of the Pastorals. Scholars have acknowledged that all three Pastoral letters, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus come from the same author due to the same style and vocabulary. Time and again, those who disagree with Pauline authorship point to the extent of the number of words not found elsewhere in Paul's letters, including the disputed ones (306 out of 848), and the number of words in the Pastorals not found elsewhere in the New Testament (175 out of 848). Perrin writes,
Indeed, the vocabulary of the Pastorals is closer to that of popular Hellenistic philosophy than it is to the vocabulary of Paul or the deutero-Pauline letters. Furthermore, the Pastorals use Pauline words in a non-Pauline sense: dikaios in Paul means "righteous" and here means "upright"; pistis, "faith," has become "the body of Christian faith"; and so on.
And in regards to style, Perrin also writes,
Paul writes a characteristically dynamic Greek, with dramatic arguments, emotional outbursts, and the introduction of real or imaginary opponents and partners in dialogue. The Pastorals are in a quiet meditative style, far more characteristic of Hebrews or 1 Peter, or even of literary Hellenistic Greek in general, than of the Corinthian correspondence or of Romans, to say nothing of Galatians.
Kümmel writes
In his statistics Morgenthaler has pointed out that the Pastorals, with 355 vocables in their special material, exhibit two and one half times the number of such words as over against the cross section of the Pauline epistles. The mathematically improved statistical method of Grayston and Herdan has confirmed these results, and in addition has shown that the ratio of the logarithms of vocabulary and text length in the Pastorals diverges considerably from the same ratio in the Pauline epistles as a whole (including Colossians, Ephesians, and II Thessalonians). Statistics about the ratio of Greek and Semitic conditional sentences in the NT writings indicate that the Pastorals exhibit ten to twenty times as many "Grecisms" as the Pauline epistles (see K. Beyer, Semitische Syntax im NT I, I, 1962, 232, 295, 298). Moreover, Harrison (Expository Times 1955-56) could refer to a larger number of words and phrases in the Pastorals which are not attested before the second Christian century. The result of these observations is that the language and style of the Pastorals do not allow the possibility that Paul wrote them. We cannot avoid this conclusion by contending that between the earlier Pauline epistles (supposing the composition of the "prison epistles" in Ephesus) and the Pastorals there was an interval of from five to seven years, which permitted a considerable change in Paul's style (Michaelis), or by making responsible for this change the influence of Latin upon Paul who was imprisoned the second time in Rome (Spicq). For even if these thoroughly questionable influences could have changed the vocabulary, it would still be completely incomprehensible that thereby the ratio of the logarithms of vocabulary and text length would change so decisively.
But such a mechanical view of the Pastorals cannot be accepted, just like it can't be accepted for any written work as can be seen from other examples. For example, authors have long known that Cicero's works have divergent styles. Johnson, who argues against authenticity for the Pastorals, has this to say about vocabulary statistics:
Trying to decide authorship on the basis of style is always hazardous, as the endless disputes concerning the real Shakespeare attest. Subjective judgments are always involved: how much range is an author to be allowed? What circumstantial factors are to be considered? Is the Laws of Plato to be considered as authentic as The Republic, even though the dialogical form is almost nonexistent and the style flat? And if these differences can be attributed to factors like age and disappointment in a life relatively free from stress, can we allow similar factors, such as imprisonment and abandonment, to affect Paul? We are fortunate that we are not called on to decide the genuineness of Lucian's On the Writing of History, having as a standard of comparison only his more scurrilous dialogues and tales.
And this is exactly the case with the Pastorals. The reason the Pastorals are nowhere nearly as "dynamic" or dramatic as Galatians is because in Galatians, as in most of his other letters, Paul is fighting heresies and endless problems. And yet, see Titus 1:10-16, 2 Timothy 4:9-18, and other similar reprovals/comments that genuinely sound Pauline. In fact, as J.A.T. Robinson pointed out, the hypothesis of genuine Pauline fragments scattered throughout the Pastorals has always been around in one form or another, though its certainly is seriously questioned by the fact that no one can agree just which the fragments are and how far they extend. This is especially evident in 2 Timothy, which sounds so genuinely Pauline, and has nothing worthy of forgery that Marxsen maintains the reason it was forged was to provide an example of what the true Christian should be like in times of suffering through the example of the Apostle's problems throughout it. Yet such minimal mention is made of persecution, which could so easily have been lifted from the earlier epistles which make their mention!

Therefore, the lack of use of small words which Kümmel maintains would be used instinctively in the Pastorals is certainly possible to be attributed to the fact that Paul is writing not to a congregation plagued with dissenters (1 Corinthians 1:13) or false teachings (Galatians 3:1-14), but to righteous friends he trusts who have some concerns about leadership and doctrine. As Robinson says, "Paul would not be the last church leader whose style (and indeed subject-matter) in an ad clerum differed markedly from his already highly diverse and adaptable manner of speaking and writing for wider audiences." This ad clerum can certainly be noticed by anybody in the fact that 2 Timothy has nothing to say about church order at all! Should we call it a forgery on a forgery? We can also exclude the argument of words and phrases not found elsewhere in Paul or the NT as all Pauline epistles have these in any case, though not to the same degree, but this has been explained why. That Paul uses despotes in the Pastorals instead of kurioi in Colossians for the owners of slaves shouldn't be much of a problem against authenticity with the above said; Paul certainly was capable of synonyms, and kurioi for owners of slaves is used only a handful of times in the other Pauline epistles to tie it down as the exclusive term Paul used, as is shown in the case of the typical Pauline greeting of eucharistein with the one in I Timothy 1:12 and 2 Timothy 1:3, charein echein, because hardly would a forgerer not use the obvious Pauline greeting from the very beginning of his forgery (and this in fact might be said speaks for authenticity). Kümmel also notes that in Paul, archai refers to spiritual powers but in Titus 3:1 it is earthly rulers, but this is the opposite of theological development, and so this can again be seen as a possible indicator that Paul is simply diverse (since would the term for spiritual powers have become the one for earthly powers by 120 AD, the proposed composition of the Pastorals?). This can be easily demonstrated by the fact that, as Kümmel notes, the epistolary form of the Pastorals matches exactly that of one of the latest Pauline epistle, Colossians, showing a progression from the earlier letters, which he explains as the fact that the forgerer had the letters at his disposal and imitated Colossians' form. Yet he included the wrong greeting in all three of his forged letters! The impossibility of such a skilled yet foolish forgerer at the same time has to be accepted.

As far as words not attested to until the second century, the list is certainly not extensive as J.A.T. Robinson found most, but not all, in the mid-first and before. But such a statistic is meaningless by itself, as can be seen by the fact that Ignatius is the first to mention the word leopardes and has been similarly cited as inauthentic because the word is not attested before him. Therefore, with the above reasoning we can hardly agree with Kümmel that, "If we consider all of these facts together, then we cannot deny that already the language and the style speak decisively against the Pauline origin of the Pastorals." The argument from language has to be dropped. As Johnson says,
Characterizations of "the Pastorals" are typically drawn from all three letters, although the contributions of the letters on separate points are very uneven. The Pastorals are often said, for example, to contain an elaborate church order. But 2 Timothy lacks any reference to order at all, and Titus contains only a bit more. Reference is also made to "the opponents in the Pastorals," even though they have a distinct profile in each of the letters. Such generalizing descriptions dull our perception of the individual letters, and this heightens our sense of their isolation from the rest of the Pauline corpus. A similar effect would result from treating the Thessalonians as a separate group without ever referring them to other Pauline writings. But if Titus is read with other travel letters, or 2 Timothy with other captivity letters, their strangeness is greatly diminished.
Opponents in the Pastorals

As far as the opponents in the Pastorals go, Kümmel notes that they are entirely possible in the time of Paul. He notes that Gnosticism was a pre-Christian movement, and a form of Christian Gnosticism could have easily developed by the late-50's, especially in the Hellenistic world, as it seems to have happened in Colossae. The situation has been noted by many to not be that during the controversies of the developed Gnostic systems of the second century, namely after 125, and so why it is placed by Kümmel before that time,
The opponents belong mostly to the peritomei (Tit. 1:10), want to be teachers of the Law (I Tim. 1:7), instigate quarrels over the (Mosaic) Law (Tit. 3:9), and take money for their doctrinal discourses (Tit. 1:11; I Tim. 6:5). They give "heed to Jewish myths" and "commands of men" (Tit. 1:14). They lead "dissensions, and quarrels over the (Mosaic) law" (Tit. 3:9). Adherence to ritualistic regulations about clean and unclean (Tit. 1:14 f.) also shows a Jewish root of the heresy. However, it is not only Jewish Christians who are the spreaders of improper teaching (Tit. 1:10 ff.). Although this statement expressly refers to Crete, it also applies to I and II Timothy. The false teachers boast of their higher knowledge (I Tim. 6:20), speculate about series of eons (I Tim. 1:4; 4:7; Tit. 1:14 f.), and accordingly hold the Gnostic view taht redemption comes through searching into the secrets of the upper world and through practice of asceticism. On that basis we can also understand the decidedly Gnostic concept, "the resurrection is past already."
Specifically the curious note in 1 Timothy 6:20 which says to turn away from "godless chatter and opposing ideas falsely called knowledge" have been seen sometimes as a polemical attack against Marcion, whose book was called "antitheseis" which is exactly the word used for "opposing ideas" in 1 Timothy 6:20. But as Kümmel notes, if there was any polemic against Marcion, the lack of arguments against his ideas makes this impossible, and so the mention has to be relegated as a coincidence, notwithstanding the fact that "antitheseis" is not a title exclusively invented by Marcion, but is a Greek word which no doubt predates his work.

And he continues,
If the Pastorals are concerned with a Gnosticism more or less modified by Jewish Christianity, then that corresponds exactly with that which we have observed as the danger to the congregation in Colossae. Although the false teachers who are opposed as Gnostics, there is, therefore, not the slightest reason for relating them to the great Gnostic systems of the second century. The supposition has been repeatedly advocated that the antiheretical polemic of the Pastorals is directed against Marcion, and that in connection with the antitheseis teis pseudunumon gnoseos (I Tim. 6:20) we are to think of the 'Antitheseis of Marcion, that great work in which the words and deeds of the creator of the world and of the good God were contrasted with one another. This supposition, however, is prohibited not only by Marcion's harsh opposition to the OT and Judaism, but also by the lack of any polemic in the Pastorals against specific Marcionite views. The Jewish-Christian, Gnostic heresy which the Pastorals combat is thus quite conceivable in the lifetime of Paul.
Kümmel objects to the prophecies of future dissenters and heretics being intertwined with the present, pointing to a false prophecy of the future,
But it is striking that in addition to prophecies about appearance of false teachers "in the last days" (I Tim. 4:1 ff.; II Tim. 3:1 ff., 13; 4:3 f.), we also find hints of the present activity of false teachers and instructions for their opposition (I Tim. 1:3 ff., 19 f.; 6:20 f.; II Tim. 2:16 ff.; 3:8; Tit. 1:10 ff.; 3:9 ff.). Moreover, we are unable to distinguish between the teaching of those who are active in the present and those who are to come "in the last days." Since in the Pastorals we nowhere find an allusion to the conscioussness of living "in the last days," the prophecy of the end-time, which obviously describes present phenomena, can only be a traditional literary device ("vaticinium ex eventu"), which "Paul" now uses.
But this is a very unstraightened view of what the letters say. While speaking about future heresies which will far surpass those existing today (2 Timothy 3:1-9), the letters nevertheless acknowledge the existence of current problems which more or less are the forerunners of those future days. For example, the prophecy 1 Timothy 4:1 ff. only extends to 1 Timothy 4:1, and the rest is an acknowledgement of the existence of such behavior not only in the future, but in the present, since such things aren't separated by time apparently. This is the case with 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13 as well. This is why we can't distinguish between the heretics of the future prophecized, and those of the letter's day. Only 2 Timothy 4:3-4 is a prophecy of the future, but the shifted emphasis to the present day in 4:5 and onwards is due to the possibility of this occuring in the present day, and combatting with it wherever it happens, as the verse implies. The very fact that the only warning received against the "future" dangers in 4:3-4 is verse 5 shows that this is not happening at that moment, and really is a foreshadowing of the future. In all, to mention something like a prophecy by the Spirit of future heretics and worse situations (1 Tim. 4:1) and then two verses down mix that prophecy with the current situation without keeping the tense in the future more befits a man who, yet having foreseen a worse situation in the future, is nevertheless currently plagued by problems like these, than for a forgerer who wants to paint his Gnostic opponents as heretics by a prophecy from Paul and yet forgetting his tense the next sentence.

One could question whether such Gnostic heresies were so widespread and powerful in Paul's day, and why they receive no mention in Acts, but there is also barely a word on the subject of the observance of the Law in Acts as well; we hear about it only because it's connected with the Council of Jerusalem in 48, and through incidental comments by the Jews when charging Paul, which serve as part of the story, so we can only say that the author was not concerned with these theological disputes, because he most certainly knew about them, not only because of the incidental mentions, but since hardly would such an ardent admirer not know, who knew such minor traditions like Paul's escape from Damascus in a basket.

The final problem with the opponents is that, whereas in other letters Paul combats false teaching with the gospel, here he relies on the argument that they fell away from the traditional teaching. Kümmel writes that this can't be due to Paul's expecting of his two disciples to know how to handle the heretics because he would not have explained the doctrines of the schismatics in detail. But that can't be true, because a forger would have explained exactly why these are errors, and he would have explained what the traditional doctrine was even moreso! The fact that this is left silenced is unexplainable, especially for a forgerer who had not one but three chances to pronounce his doctrine. Instead he only explains what the correct way of doing things insofar as vanity and other such minor points are concerned, and the types of people who should become deacons and bishops. In any case, 1 Timothy 1:3-4 is clear that the author expects, whether fictitiously or not, for his disciple to be able to take care of things, and a reiteration would be redundant if it is the real Paul speaking, but an elaboration of why the heretics are wrong would certainly be expected if it is a forgerer! As far as why the heretics' beliefs are enumerated, they are hardly explained at all. 1 Timothy 1:3-4 mentions them in passing, and the rest are the usual immoralities and their causes, which could be naturally expected to be mentioned along the way.

Ecclesiology in the Pastorals

The lack of a monepiscopacy is evident in the Pastorals. Kümmel writes,
Since in Tit. 1:5, 7 presbuterous is taken up by ton episkopon, and the "management" referred to in I Tim. 3:4 f. and 5:17 is applied similarly to a bishop and to a presbyter, the Pastorals probably designate with episkopos and presbuteros the same office, which is not yet monarchical. The change to the singular ton episkopon in Tit. 1:7 is explained by the adoption of a bishop's rule. If, therefore, the Pastorals know only presbyter-bishops and, in addition, deacons (I Tim. 3:8, 12), then the office of presbyter-bishop is a civil office which has claim to payment (I Tim. 3:1; 5:17).
And this is nothing foreign to Paul at all. In 1 Cor. 9:9 he writes that the preachers should be supported by the church, and it's no different for the clergy of bishops/presbyters to be as well. Timothy is consecrated as presbyter by the presbyters and he is one of the group, not a monarchical bishop, only he is entrusted by Paul as overseer of things due to his closeness to the Apostle and his teachings, and this is exactly what we see in 1 Cor. 4:17 (cf. 1 Tim. 1:11, 6:20, 2 Tim. 1:14, 2:2).

At this point Marxsen maintains that the ecclesiastical situation in the Pastorals reflects a church which no longer expects the imminent second coming, but instead is making preparations for, and expects, the continuation of the present situation long after the death of the Apostles and their disciples. We can say that whether Paul personally believed in the immediate parousia or not (as seems to be the case if one accepts 2 Thessalonians as authentic), there is nothing in the Pastorals that is beyond Paul. The presbyters' laying of hands occurred as early as the 40's according to Acts, and as J.A.T. Robinson notes, the office of the presbyter/elder was probably overtaken from Judaism and therefore whether Paul mentions it or not, does not negate its (early) existence. In fact, the only reason we know that Paul was aware of the office of the bishop is through a chance mention of it in Philippians 1:1! As far as the consecration of elders being in connection with the passing on of correct tradition, one would expect this to be natural, even in the time of Paul, especially seeing statements like 1 Cor. 4:17, and one can only wonder why Paul would not be concerned with a bishop having the correct set of doctrines and beliefs prior to being consecrated, and would not establish a system, through disciples he trusts (Timothy, Titus), who he knew would not set him back.

Other notes of developments is the widows who are to pray and have sexual abstinence, and are supported by the church. But the support from the church is already present in Paul's time (cf. again 1 Cor. 9:9), and can we really say with Kümmel that such a command for widows is foreign, especially seeing 1 Corinthian 7 and the commands and suggestions to the unmarried?

The only development in the ecclesiastical situation that seems to question Pauline authorship is the fact that the congregation is no longer an active part of the church, as well as the near-absense of prophets, those with the gift of tongues, and Spirit-bearers. But this impression is given only because of the fact that Paul is writing not to the community like he does in the rest of his letters (except for the brief Philemon), but to a friend with the subject matter of ecclesiastical matters and how to handle correct doctrine and the clergy. Of course in that case the letters would sound as if the congregation has no role in the church whatsoever. And Timothy cannot ordain prophets, bearers of the Spirit, or people with tongues, and that certainly is not an issue for either Paul (whether fictitiously or not) and Timothy.

Theology of the Pastorals

The theology along with the style is usually the decisive argument against Pauline authorship used by most. The different words used to express the same concepts in Paul are few and not entirely strange. soterion is used in Ephesians once, just like it is only used once in the Pastorals. soter for Savior is used in Philippians once, and epiphaneia for "coming" does not need to negate by itself Pauline authorship even if it is used only once in 2 Thessalonians with a different meaning (but a meaning connected with the coming). Of the seemingly odd phrases such as Titus 2:13, there is nothing in the style or language that needs to put this beyond Paul, especially when it comes down to only a couple of words and phrases (and keeping in mind what was said above regarding the style and language of the Pastorals). Finally, even if some of the phrases/words are the terminology of the emperor cult, this does not make Paul a syncretist anymore than using the Greek Theos for the Jewish Yhwh does, in order to describe the concept in familiar terminology.

As far as the theology itself, faith consists more of the correct Christian living code, eusebia rather than the living faith pistis, and even when pistis is used, it is often referred to as "the faith" or set of instructions which to follow. Furthermore, Kümmel notes that in Christ Jesus "appears connected only with concepts of salvation, not with persons." Also the Spirit of God is found only twice as given to the Christian, and soma not at all.

But we have to again bring up the point that Paul is not talking to the congregation, but to a friend about ecclesiastical order, who knew all the these things and would be pointless to reiterate them to the full detail that we see for example in 1 Corinthians or Romans. That the correct Christian living is emphasized over the faith in Christ, this can again be attributed to that, seeing how Timothy cannot account for the individuals' personal faith (he is not in their head), but can only do so through re-emphasizing the correct codes (which the group shared of course, so as to not contradict Romans 14).

Ultimately the only problem that seems to come from theology is the provision for future generations, combined with the lack of concern for the parousia, which in the other letters seems to be intertwined with the believer and the current group. But we cannot say this was not the case with the author of the Pastorals. If Paul, writing to Timothy and Titus saw the need for provisions for future generations (especially if 2 Thessalonians is Pauline), can we say that he could have shifted his focus away from what he still believed to be true, that the believer's faith in Christ makes him born and raised again with him, to more practical instructions as would be expected for an overseer to receive, just like in Romans? And furthermore, the charismatic components are not missing. We see prophecies surrounding Timothy (1 Tim. 1:18, 4:14), and really where and how else are we to expect Paul to express the charismatic part of the church in such a brief and to the point letter to a friend?

Overall, the theology does not present a great divergence from Paul. Everyone agrees that the main Pauline concepts are there: (i.e. Kümmel's list: salvation through Christ (1 Tim. 1:15-16), revelation of the grace of God through Christ's appearance (2 Tim. 1:9-10), justification by faith (Titus 3:5), faith as way to eternal life (1 Tim. 1:16).

Problems of History and Chronology

1 Timothy

The first objection anyone has with respect to the historical situation against 1 Timothy, and in that case against the Pastorals, is the fact that, whereas 1 Timothy 1:3 says Paul had recently left Timothy with the proper instructions, it seems odd that he should be writing a letter to him about these very same instructions (so Kümmel, Marxsen). But 1 Timothy 1:3 talks about false teachings, which are, in-keeping with authenticity, not enumerated, whereas the purpose of the letter is clearly stated in 1 Timothy 3:14-15: to give Timothy a basic idea and knowledge of church structure. Marxsen believes that there is nothing that Paul wouldn't have told Timothy here, but can we really say that Paul taught Timothy everything and did not want to reiterate, especially if he hadn't said anything? It seems that Paul left Timothy in Ephesus on his way to Macedonia due to urgency, and as 1 Timothy 1:3 says, left him there only to prevent false doctrines. Kümmel says that although addressed to Timothy, the letter doesn't seem to be primarily for him. But can we blame the apostle if he included parenetical material which Timothy would have known (especially seeing 1 Timothy 1:3), and also if Paul presupposed his epistle to be read in the whole church (as Colossians, which is certainly not after 70 as per most scholars). Both, whether exclusively for Timothy, or for the whole church, we could expect Paul to include such material (Philemon could be an example). Finally, the argument that these would not be necessary since the Apostle plans to return soon is pointless since by the letter's own admission (3:15), this is in case he delays.

The major problem comes with the chronology of Paul in Acts, which is generally upheld as reliable and authentic, and the Pastorals. Before starting a summary, the timeless example of the incompleteness of Acts (and in that case documents) has to be mentioned. Whereas after Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus Acts paints a picture which seems to have him preaching in Damascus until he visits Jerusalem a few years later, from Galatians we learn that Paul went to Arabia in the meantime (Gal. 1:17). So where Acts is vague, we can expect gaps.

But nevertheless, the only chronological problem with 1 Timothy is that whereas according to 1 Timothy 1:3 Paul went ahead to Macedonia and left Timothy in charge in Ephesus, Acts 19:22 has Timothy sent ahead of Paul to Macedonia, and Paul remaining a little more in Ephesus and then catching up (Acts 20:1). We can't say Acts is wrong, since the tradition there is certainly to be held more reliable, so either 1 Timothy is a forgery, or there is some sort of chronological solution.

It should be noted that, a chronology for 1 Timothy and Titus after the first Roman imprisonment is unlikely. First, Romans 15:23 is clear that Paul had no intention of work in Asia Minor, at least not for a while. Plans do change, but the tradition of his non-return there in Acts 20:25,38. just becomes too much of a challenge to any return after he left the region in 57. These two statements just can't be ignored.

But is it really impossible that during his three month stay Timothy and Erastus were recalled to Ephesus, and Timothy left there to avoid chaos especially after the recent incident? This is certainly not impossible, since Acts 20:1 says Paul said goodbye to the disciples and left for Macedonia, yet two of those disciples are later accompanying him throughout Greece and Macedonia (Acts 20:4). So clearly Acts has gaps, and it is not impossible that just like in Acts 16:4 Paul recalled Timothy and left him in charge in Ephesus. The only problem with this is that Paul intends according to 1 Timothy to return to Ephesus, whereas he does not do this in Acts. But the numerous travel changes throughout Acts can quite easily not only explain this, but in fact argue for its authenticity as a failed/changed plan to return to Ephesus. It's also not impossible that Timothy was recalled to Ephesus, while Paul left for Macedonia and Timothy, along with other disciples later caught on, which seems to be the plan in 1 Corinthians 16:11, at least for Timothy to be recalled to Ephesus. This wouldn't be abnormal, since we see similar sending and meeting up in Acts between Paul and Timothy. It might make better sense also, since he would be at Ephesus for three or so months. But overall, these are two possible solutions for the chronology of 1 Timothy.

Just about the only serious objection that can be raised is that, while 1 Timothy, Titus and 2 Timothy were written at the least about a year apart according to the below chronology and are so similar in style, Romans, which was written at most a month after Titus is not so. But Romans is admitted to be much closer to other "deutero-Pauline" letters such as Ephesians than the rest of the accepted Pauline corpus, and this combined with the already frequently mentioned fact of audience and purpose ("ad clerum"), should cast enough of a doubt on this objection so that it's not forceful against the Pastorals or the below chronology (where all 3 letters are placed in 57). In any case, 2 Timothy is already known to stand very close to Paul's style. As far as Jeremias' reference to 1 Timothy (and the Pastorals) standing in the natural development of the letter-form of the last of Paul's letters (Ephesians/Colossians), we can say this can be attributed to the closeness of chronology to them (less than half a year apart for all three; how can one show that the letter-form is developed after X writing? That is all three Pastorals show a letter-form "naturally" developed after Colossians?)


The main problem with Titus is that Paul never went to Crete as far as we know from Acts. But from the many gaps in Acts, this is not very decisive. Particularly, if we try to place this during the journey in Acts 20:2ff., then the only time Paul would have had a missionary opportunity is during the three months stay at Greece. Passover of that year, 57, fell on April 8, so he would have had at the most around 3 weeks, when there was a good opportunity to travel to Crete in March/earl-April. The situation in Titus seems to support this. Paul rushed without fixing the turmoil or appointing elders, which was left up to Titus (1:5). I don't think that I can agree with Robinson that Paul "left Titus" in the sense that he sent him to Crete. Metaphorically speaking this is not impossible, but Paul seems to be familiar with the situation, and the statements like Titus 1:5b, 10, 13 (10-16 overall), make it inescapable that he was there with Titus physically.

While staying in Achaia, he could have easily went to Crete with Titus after finally having him found in Corinth (2 Cor. 7:6-7). This would explain his lack of mention in the companions in Acts, if he had gone to Crete before Paul left for Troas. Many omissions due to the convoluted circumstances. As Robinson puts it,
We should have no idea from Acts that Paul visited Corinth three times (II Cor.13.1), the second visit having to be fitted somewhere into the thinly covered Ephesian period. This must make arguments from the silence of Acts very precarious, particularly since Acts never mentions Paul writing a single letter and omits all reference to Titus, one of his most constant emissaries.
Along with Robinson, by the time Paul writes Romans, Titus is not there, or he would have been included in the greetings in 16:1-3. This must mean he had already been left in Crete. Romans 15:23 is clear that Paul is writing very shortly before leaving for Jerusalem, which makes it no earlier than April, 57, and our hypothesis has Titus in Crete in March. Paul planned to go to Jerusalem by Pentecost, 57, which is late May. He then figured he would return back to Achaia/Greece by the fall, and planned to winter in Nicopolis, and go to Rome in early spring of 58. The circumstances, as we know, did not allow this, because he was imprisoned in Caesarea a week after arriving in Jerusalem, 57, until late 59. The statement in Titus 3:12 doesn't have to mean Paul is in Nicopolis, and less so, if he plans on Titus meeting him there only after he has sent Artemas or Tychicus to replace him on Crete (3:12a). Finally, Apollos. According to 1 Corinthians 16:8, he's with Paul in Ephesus. There is no problem if he had been in Corinth with Paul during his three month stay in Achaia in the winter of 57, and seeing how he and Zenas the lawyer are the bearers of Titus, had left Corinth for Crete prior to Romans' composition, and prior to the sail to Troas, with the list of companions in Acts.

2 Timothy

To start, Timothy according to 2 Timothy is clearly in Ephesus: the house of Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 1:16,18, 4:19). Paul is in jail, which means that there are only two possible places he's writing from: the Caesarean imprisonment (57-59), or the Roman (60-62). The note in 1:17 has always been taken to mean that he must be in Rome, because prior to that he had never been there (so Marxsen, INT), but just like J.A.T. Robinson says, Onesiphorus searched for Paul in Rome a lot, until finally finding him. This may mean he found Paul elsewhere (Caesarea?), or Rome. The weakness in the Roman theory is that Paul wouldn't have been that hard to find, but we can't second-guess how easily Paul could have been found. The fact is, it is possible that this does not have to mean Paul was (and therefore is in 2 Timothy) imprisoned in Rome. To quote Robinson,
Onesiphorus was evidently a man of some substance, whose household in Ephesus was the centre of notable church work (II Tim.1.16, 18; 4.19). In the last of these passages his name is linked with those of Prisca and Aquila, who, as we know, were in business (Acts 18.3) and are to be found at short intervals in a succession of places. Though hailing originally from Pontus, Aquila with his wife were, prior to 49, living in Rome (18.2). From 49 to 51 they were in Corinth (18.2-11), in 52 (18.26) and again in 55 (I Cor.16.19) in Ephesus, in 57 in Rome, where they had a house (Rom.16.3-5), and finally back once more in Ephesus (II Tim.4.19). It is not unreasonable to suppose that Onesiphorus was also an itinerant Jewish businessman, of the sort so vividly described by James, who say to themselves: 'Today or tomorrow we will go off to such and such a town and spend a year there trading and making money' (James 4.13). It was on some such business trip that we may guess that Onesiphorus found himself in Rome. As was his wont, for Paul said he had 'often' relieved his needs (II Tim.1.16), he looked out for Paul, expecting him to be there, since the apostle had made no secret of his intention to go on to Rome after visiting Jerusalem (Acts 19.21; Rom.1.15; 16.22-9). He failed to find him; but hearing he was in prison, he determined to search him out. He was 'not ashamed', says Paul, (though his business interests might have prompted otherwise?) to visit one who was 'shut up like a common criminal' (II Tim.1.16; 2.9). He made strenuous efforts to track him down, and eventually found him. If Paul had been in a Roman jail, it is hard to believe that with his well-placed Christian contacts Onesiphorus would have had difficulty in being directed to him. Paul's extravagant gratitude (II Tim.1.16, 18) seems to demand something more, and this would indeed be explained if Onesiphorus had made it his business to go out of his way to Caesarea to visit him before returning to Ephesus. At any rate the reference to Onesiphorus being in Rome cannot of itself be allowed to settle the question of Paul's being there, if the evidence points in another direction. We must judge the location of the epistle on its own merits.
We don't have to worry about that. 2 Timothy could be fitted in both Caesarea and Rome, so we'll have to come to that at the end. The problem comes with trying to equate the personal details in 2 Timothy with the journey in Acts 20:2ff., to which they clearly correspond (Troas, Corinth, Miletus; as Robinson puts it, the coincidence is too much, and there is no other time that such a journey really took place). According to 4:20, Trophimus was left sick in Miletus by Paul, yet he had been seen with Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21:29. This seemingly insurpassable difficulty makes it entirely dubious that, if 2 Timothy is a genuine Pauline letter with historically true chronology, it can refer to the journey mentioned in Acts.

But the sad and ironic fact is that even if Trophimus had not been mentioned by the author of Acts as having been seen in Jerusalem, he still could not have been left in Miletus. 2 Timothy was not written before 1 Timothy, and the interval of time could not have been very big, because Paul entrusts Timothy in Ephesus for not a very long time (1 Tim. 1:3ff., 3:14-15), but as long as it is needed. From 2 Timothy, it is clear that either Timothy had visited Paul, or that he had at least written to him again, most likely the former, because Timothy is expected to know where Paul is (2 Tim. 4:21) and there is no mention of the problems/duties of 1 Timothy, as if the controversies had died down and Timothy is now known to be handling his duties as Paul's delegate and presbyter there without problem. If this is the case, the note about Tychicus being sick in Miletus could not refer to the last time Paul left Miletus, since Timothy would have been told about this, whether in person in Caesarea (much less Rome), or by letter, much less about Erastus staying in Corinth, when Timothy was with Paul during that time (Acts 20:4-5) until Paul left for Philippi, though it's not impossible Timothy left and Paul was to go with Erastus and Luke, and whoever else to Philippi, but Erastus changed his mind; but this still means that such a detail was not related while Timothy was with Paul, and was only when it had become unimportant. I think that together with Trophimus being sick in Miletus, this refers to a different journey than the one depicted in Acts 20:1ff.

We have only one clue as to how Trophimus could have possibly been "left" sick in Miletus. In 2 Timothy 4:16 (cf. 4:10), everyone has deserted Paul, apparently for fear of their lives. This doesn't necessarily include Trophimus, since Luke, and apparently Tychicus, didn't flee. Titus went to Dalmatia, which is slightly north of Nicopolis, apparently having been instructed to instead evangelize there. With that connection, is it impossible that Trophimus was also sent to strengthen/send news of Paul to the churches? In that case, how did Paul "leave him there"? The only way is if he had a companion and of news of his illness made the decision to have him stay sick in Miletus. But who was he accompanied by? It could not be Tychicus, who would have went with Trophimus directly to Ephesus. The only person is the name mentioned in connection with Trophimus, Erastus. This would make sense, because Timothy was with Paul while Paul was in Corinth, Achaia, so he would not need to be informed about that by letter. If Paul, having developed an interest in Miletus after leaving from there for Jerusalem decided to send Trophimus and Erastus to it, where Erastus left Trophimus under Paul's direction and decided to stay in Corinth on a journey similar to the one in Acts, then this would all make sense.

As far as other problems, first, the Caesarean captivity epistles (Colossians, Philemon, and if one assumes its authenticity, Ephesians), would seem to contradict this. Timothy is with Paul (Col. 1:1, Phlm 1). But as we said, Timothy must have either visited or been written to by Paul prior to 2 Timothy, most likely the former from the looks of the easy way Paul expects Timothy to find him and so on. If he left after the composition of Colossians/Philemon, this would explain his absense from the greetings in Ephesians (so Robinson). This would also explain the note about Tychicus having been sent to Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:12). Interestingly, it's true that Ephesians was not written to Ephesus. But this does not mean that Tychicus was not sent to Ephesus from where he would visit Colossae with Philemon and Colossians and the church (the details in Ephesians clearly mark the epistle for a specific church) to which Ephesians was meant. In fact, the lack of an address plus the sending of Tychicus to Ephesus may explain why Ephesians was thought to be for Ephesus (the letter no doubt was read in Ephesus and circulated, as did all/most of Paul's letters, cf. Col 4:16). It's true that it would seem odd to send Tychicus to Ephesus, and then write to Timothy, who was in Ephesus, about this, but it is simply a small side-note, not doing any harm if included, in case Tychicus did not reach Timothy before it. Timothy was with Paul in Troas (Acts 20:4-5), so he would have known Carpus. Maybe it seems odd Trophimus' caretakers are not mentioned, but maybe Paul knows them just as little himself and Erastus simply sent him news of it.

Finally, the greetings in 2 Timothy. If we take the order of the three Caesarean captivity epistles to be Philemon-Colossians-Ephesians, each separated by no more than a few weeks of each other, then there is not only no problem with the greetings in them, but seem to support 2 Timothy having been written from Caesarea. In Colossians and Philemon (Ephesians' greetings are absent except for Tychicus who will tell "you all how we are", Eph. 6:22), Demas and Luke are with Paul. Mark, Epaphras, Jesus called Justus and Aristarchus are there as well. If 2 Timothy was written soon after Colossians-Philemon-Ephesians, when everyone deserted him, the situation may have changed. Of course, not everyone deserted him, as can be seen from the comment about Tychicus and Luke; only some such as Demas, against whom it's not to be held, so Aristarchus may have been released, Mark may have been sent or simply left, just like the others, which would make sense since Paul wouldn't want evangelization opportunities lost simply because he's in jail. Only the greetings in 2 Tim. 6:21 seem to contradict the hypothesis of a Caesarean jail, since they are not mentioned in Colossians or Philemon, and they are Latin names (as well as "all the brothers" suggesting many more than the names mentioned), but as Robinson says, this may simply be due to a difference of time.

How much time? Timothy would certainly know Tychicus would be sent to deliver Colossians and Philemon, so when he has hypothetically left, Paul could write Ephesians after some number of weeks. The situation in Ephesians may reflect a "deserted Paul", where no one's name is listed, except for the vague "I am sending Tychicus so that you may know how we are". But a Roman imprisonment surely would have mentioned the house of a Roman where the church met, such as Aquila and Priscilla (Rom. 16:3,5). Also, the greetings in Romans 16 are entirely absent, so this has to be turned against an argument for a Roman origin for 2 Timothy. We can be sure that the Alexander the metalworker in 2 Tim. 4:14 is the one mentioned not only in 1 Tim. 1:20, but Acts 19:33. With this in mind, is it more likely Timothy was informed about this in 57/58, when the incident had occured in late 56, or in 60-62? The point is a little weak, because presumably Timothy would have been told about this when he had visited Paul in Caesarea. But Alexander's lasting effect, especially with more news from Timothy, may have prompted such a comment. The problem is not in any case elaborated, as might be expected if Timothy knew it. I'm not sure what connection could be made between Colossians 4:10 and 2 Timothy 4:11 about Mark (possibly the carrier of 2 Timothy? Doubtful). Timothy is expected to arrive before the winter. Overall, it can be said that, the match of the personal references in Col, Eph, Phlm, and 2 Timothy, the situation and the chronology, although not impossible for Rome, make it much more likely that 2 Timothy was written in the summer/fall of 57 (not 58 as Robinson argues, that is too late in my opinion, with Tychicus having been sent). The only problem left is that some object that Paul would not have been afraid for his life while in Caesarea, since he could always appeal to Caesar. But can we really say this was the case? Fear of the Jews, a long imprisonment with the possibility of death? The whole situation is described as grim in Acts for Paul before he even set foot in Jerusalem (the farewell to the Ephesian elders, the prophet Abagus, etc.), so we can't second-guess that Paul wouldn't have had some doubts about surviving and being released.

Conclusion: Summary of the Proposed Chronology

Paul sends Timothy and Erastus ahead to Macedonia in the fall of 56 (Acts 19:22, 1 Cor. 4:17, 16:10). After the controversy in Ephesus and three months in Ephesus, Paul recalls his disciples, including Timothy (and presumably Erastus; inferred from Acts 20:1). Timothy stays behind in Ephesus as per Paul's instructions who goes in Macedonia (Acts 20:1-2, 1 Cor. 16:5-6). Paul writes 1 Timothy while in Macedonia, a few weeks after having left Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3). He goes through Greece and sometime during his 3 month stay there he has recalled Timothy (Romans 16:21). After about 2 months in Greece, he goes to Crete with Titus for a few weeks, leaves him there, sails back to Greece (probably Corinth), and writes Titus shortly after, around March 57. He sends his fellow travelers (except apparently a few, such as Luke) to Troas, goes to Philippi, sails to Troas, then to Miletus, and then with Timothy (and of course Trophimus), he goes to Jerusalem, becomes imprisoned, writes Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, becomes "deserted" and also sends most of his co-workers to various regions, including Titus to Dalmatia, to whom he has probably only written, and was not visited by in Caesarea. Tychicus goes to Ephesus with his three letters, the natural point from which to send them to Colossae and the other church, since Ephesus is nearby and is a major Christian center, and Paul is very familiar with it. Trophimus and Erastus embark on a missionary or other journey (one of news?), landing at Miletus, where Trophimus becomes sick and is left by Erastus under Paul's direction. Erastus goes through perhaps Macedonia and decides to stay in Corinth (just like Paul did in his three months in Greece). He shortly thereafter, in the summer, more likely fall, of 57 writes 2 Timothy.

Other factors weighing against and for authenticity

To begin, there are many small points from the Pastorals that make forgery very difficult. For example, the forgerer decided to make not one forgery, but three, and one of which is named to a different disciple! He certainly not only didn't bother to write a connected forgery (1 letter/epistle instead of 3), but didn't even set out his doctrines combatting the heretics! All the Pastorals' author has, is complementary instructions about minor facets of life, such as modesty for women (1 Tim. 2:9-15), or other statements of the sort of: "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." (1 Tim. 2:8).

Furthermore, we see a parallel to Titus 1:12 in Acts 17:28. However, in Titus the author is called a prophet, whereas in Acts the quotation is designated as from a poet. One can only wonder what imitator in his right mind would, for one, use terminology from the emperor cult, and refer to the Greeks' poets as prophets. The point can be quite well understood if coming from Paul, who using perhaps typical Jewish metaphors, to a half-Jewish friend who would be no doubt familiar with his way of thinking anyway, that this poet unwittingly spoke a "prophecy" about the Cretans. In any case, it makes much more sense if Titus was written to a person, as opposed to the adress being a cover for the forgery to spread, especially seeing statements like Tit. 1:13 and so on.

Also, what forgerer would make Demas, Paul's fellow worker in Philemon 1:24 (also Colossians 4:14), as well as two other of Paul's co-workers into deserters (2 Timothy 4:10)? How unthinkable is it for a forgery immersed in Paul's glory to make them desert him, not without Titus most of all! This is unimaginable, since no one would use this for verisimilitude, because nobody would have dared to do this out of honor for the Apostle.

Similarly, 2 Timothy has no valuable material in it which a forger would have included (or else what is the point of the forgery except to solidify theological positions?). Just about the only parenthetical material in there is the outlining of the Gospel in the beginning, an exhortation to endure persecution (which is not even hinted as severe), a few remarks against discord, a "prophecy" in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 of men who will come and lead others into godlessness, which is probably a perennial problem, and a catalogue of vices. This has pretty much forced the authentic Pauline fragments into the Pastorals theory upon biblical scholarship, liberal or conservative, since the mid-19th century. As mentioned above, Marxsen is forced to see a suffering Paul in 2 Timothy, which the forgerer wanted others to immitate in times of hardship and persecution. But such an obscure way of evoking this makes this untenable, especially when there is no mention by "Paul" in 2 Timothy of his many persecutions and perils such as 2 Corinthians 11:23-29. Not only this, but the lack of any doctrine or theology/ecclesiology make 2 Timothy a very confusing forgery.


1. Haenchen considers the mention of Timothy's grandmother and mother (2 Tim. 1:5) to be a sign of a pseudepigraphal note. But from Acts we know that Paul took Timothy as a disciple from his home in Lystra (Acts 16:1), his mother having been a Jewess, and the familiarity with which Paul seems to have been with Timothy (e.g. circumcises him, etc.), makes the note in 2 Timothy 1:5 not impossible. He also thinks that 2 Timothy 4:10-20's personalia is a sign of legends about Paul. But exactly why these would be such, especially when they don't mention many important names such as Barnabbas, is beyond explanation.

2. In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul refers to Titus having gone to Dalmatia, yet in Romans 15:19 he referred to that region as Illyricum. But, maybe Dalmatia had some broader meaning, or maybe Paul simply used its synonym, as it makes a lot of sense for Titus to leave Crete and go to the region, being the edge of Paul's preaching. In any case, a forgerer would have probably used Illyricum as per Romans.

3. The note in 2 Timothy 4:20 about Trophimus having been left sick in Miletus seems odd, since no caretakers or places are mentioned for him having been left at, in case Timothy is to see him. But it is more odd for a forgerer seeking verisimilitude to leave this out than Paul, especially since the verse by itself is unconnected, and so would have been at the forefront of the forgerer's attention to bring it into context, and so it is easier to suppose for whatever reason (maybe Paul and Timothy knew of the place in Miletus) Paul did not specify.

Other minor points

I think it's unlikely that Titus (2 Cor. 2:13, 7:6, 13-14, 12:18, Gal. 2:1) is another name for Timothy (1 Cor. 4:17, 16:10, etc.). The supposition is that the journey to Macedonia with Titus mentioned in 2 Cor. 2:13 is the same as that in Acts 19:22, which expressly mentions Timothy. But this can't be true, because Paul would have no reason to use two different names so extensively, and it is clear from 2 Cor. 2:13 that Paul expected to find Titus in Troas but did not, and therefore left for Macedonia, whereas Timothy was sent from Ephesus to Macedonia, and so Paul would have had no reason to look for him in Troas and would have known he was in Macedonia. If it is maintained that Paul was looking for Titus or "Timothy" at the journey to Troas when he sent some of his companions ahead of him (Acts 20:4-5), then this also doesn't match Acts, because it says he caught up with them at Troas (20:6), and if it's objected that due to Acts' gaps, Timothy was not found there, Paul didn't leave to Macedonia from Troas, but went on to Jerusalem (20:13ff.), and there is no room for gaps there, as there is for example in our revised chronology for 1 Timothy.

Dates of Composition

1 Timothy - Paul left Ephesus and went through Macedonia and then stayed in Greece for three months which ended with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover of 57 fell on April 8, so they left the next day, April 9, which means the stay began in early January, 57. It can't be known how long he traveled through Macedonia before that, but it could have been more than a month. This would put 1 Timothy, written when Paul had been in Macedonia only a few weeks at the most at either December 56/January 57, or maybe even November 56, though that's less likely.

But the uncertanties, although a lot less of them here, than for the other two letters, are enough to make us unsure that this is most likely the case. Robinson places it as early as 55, and that certainly could have been the case, or it could have been as late as the post-Roman imprisonment of 62-64 (or even 66). I don't think there was a second Roman imprisonment, the chronology for that is too sketchy and ad hoc for Paul to be rearrested again, but we simply don't know. I don't think Paul did or would have done any missionary work in the East, as per his statements in Romans, and the tradition in Acts, but Paul certainly expected to pass through the churches in the regions where "he had no more work" as seen in Philemon 1:22, and Philippians, which were written after his statements in Romans, and Acts 20's farewell is only to the Ephesian elders (though again, I think implicitly Acts says he no longer worked in the East, but again we can't definitely say that). So any time from 55 until 66 is open.

Titus - Paul's plans include wintering in north-western Greece/Macedonia - Nicopolis (3:12). He has recently been in Crete (1:5), and continues with his interest there (concerns of the Christian attitudes, sending of Apollos and Zenas). Such a broad range is unlikely before 57. Then again, this could have been after the Roman imprisonment, so 57-66.

2 Timothy - Paul is imprisoned under severe circumstances. This happened only twice: in Caesarea (early summer 57- late 59) and Rome (60-62/66). Prior to that he'd only been to local jails for no more than one night (Philippi, et al.). Any time between 57 and 66 is therefore possible.


  1. Perrin, New Testament Introduction, pp.264-265
  2. Perrin, New Testament Introduction, p.265
  3. Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament, pp.262-263
  4. Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Writings of the New Testament, pp.368-369
  5. Robinson, John Arthur Thomas, Redating the New Testament
  6. Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament, p.263
  7. Johnson, The Writings of the NT, p.382
  8. Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament, pp.266-267
  9. I think Kümmel's point about Marcion's rejection of the Old Testament and Judaism is that the Pastorals do not correct this view. Also, the statement in 1 Timothy 1:7 can't be seen as such a correction, since that statement by itself would not only be un-Pauline to a later imitator, but would not be the only thing that would be said to defend the OT as Scripture against Marcion
  10. Even if Paul's escape from Damascus was widespread and well-known in Christian circles, how much moreso would have been his disputes with Judaizers?
  11. That is, it explains the rules for selecting a bishop, but does not mean only one bishop can be selected; in other words, it's singular only in relative terms.
  12. The unknown church in Ephesus is not personally known to Paul, and do not seem to know him (Eph. 1:15, also nonexistent personalia for the brothers in 6:23), but Paul was in Ephesus for three years.
  13. Acts 20:4 mentions the accompanying by the group, including Timothy, after his stay and leaving back through Macedonia, so Timothy may have been recalled, as he is recalled elsewhere in Acts in a similar manner to the one we propose.
  14. Haenchen, Ernst, Acts of the Apostles