Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read the entire book.
Orientation 1 Timothy is book #15 of 27 in the New Testament, and and is one of Paul's letters. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis Paul's last three letters, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are called the 'pastorals'. Taken together, these three comprise a manual of church organization and practice for church leaders. Paul wrote these to Timothy (pastoring in Ephesus) and Titus (pastoring in Crete) so they have definite, consistent guidelines for their pastoral work in Paul's absence.
Paul describes his charge to Timothy (1:1) and compares it to Christ's own charge to Paul (1:12). He urges his to 'fight the good fight' (1:18). He writes specific instructions on prayer in public worship (2:1), women's role in worship (2:9), qualifications of bishops (3:1) and deacons (3:8). He describes false teachers (4:1) and instructs the true teachers (4:6).
He describes proper church discipline in treating all people (5:1), widows (5:3), and elders (5:17). He provides an exhortation to servants (6:1), godliness (6:3), the rich (6:17).
Activity As you review the book, create three lists. (Three persons may volunteer to each compile one of these)
1. recommended practices during worship
2. qualifications for church leaders
3. advice for church leaders
Discussion points What about women? Paul's writings about women can be puzzling. Honor and office: In Romans 16:1 he commends Phoebe as a deacon, in Romans 16:7 describes Junias by the highest title of 'apostle'. Just be quiet: In 2:11-14 Paul describes women's role in worship as quietness and submission. In 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 he insists men be in charge, and in Ephesians 5:24 that women be subordinate to men in everything - or no mention: In other letters Paul is silent of the topic. (Some have suggested he only mentions it to those churches in which women's participation may be an issue). What do you think?
Chapter 3 lists qualifications for church leaders. Review the qualifications. Note the absence of worldly success or position. What is a conclusion about these qualifications? *
6:10 is often misquoted as 'money is the root of all evil'. What is the difference in meaning? Paul offers an alternative of contentment (6:6). Is it possible to content with the basics: food, clothing, shelter? What happens when churches focus on a 'prosperity' gospel?
Connections 1 Timothy is the first of three books called the 'pastoral letters'. Taken together, they provide a manual for church leadership and organization. The other two are 2 Timothy and Titus.
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 11 2014
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