ETS Study Group

I am pleased to announce that the Program Unit on the Pastoral Epistles at the Evangelical Theological Society has been renewed and upgraded to a Study Group. This means we are renewed for six more years of investiagting the Pastoral Epistles together.

With this site operational again, one use of the site will be as a clearing house for information on the ETS Study Group. Further information about this year’s meeting is forthcoming. I invite you to plan on joining us if you are at ETS. Here is the time and place for this year’s session:

08:30 AM-11:40 AM
Hilton — Johnson A
Pastoral Epistles: Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles

If you are interested in participating in our dialogue and/or presenting a paper for the study group in the future drop me a line through this site.

Calvin: 2 Timothy the most Profitable Book of Scripture

John_CalvinI am working through Calvin’s sermons on the Pastoral Epistles in preparation for the Reformation Commentary on Scripture volume on the PE and editing a new edition of the English translation of these sermons. Today I came across this strong statement in Calvin’s first sermon on 2 Timothy.

As no doubt, if a man reads this epistle diligently he shall find the spirit of God shown to him in this way, and in such majesty and virtue, that whether he wants to or not, he will be as it were ravished with it. As for me, I know I have profited and do daily profit more by this epistle than by any book of the scripture, and if every man will look into it diligently, I doubt not but that he will find the same.

And if we desire to have witness of God’s truth pierce through our hearts, we may well keep ourselves here.  For a man must be very heavy on sleep, and more than a block if God does not work in him when he hears the doctrine that is drawn out from here.

Luther seems almost to say that whatever book of the Bible he is working on is the most important. Calvin though is typically more careful and deliberate with such praise, so this is quite striking.

Update on Pastorals Section at ETS

The draft of the schedule for the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society has now been posted. I have previously announced the presenters and titles for the new section on the Pastoral Epistles, but now I can post the date, times and location. I am excited about this beginning of our conversation about how the avoidance of the Pastorals has impacted our view of Paul.

I hope to see you there.

Thursday, November 17, 2011




The Place of the Pastoral Epistles in Pauline Theology

Moderator: Ray Van Neste

(Union University)


Robert W. Yarbrough

(Covenant Theological Seminary)

The Theology of the Pastorals in NT Theologies


L. Timothy Swinson

(Liberty University)

The Pastoral Epistles and Perspectives Old and New


Greg A. Couser

(Cedarville University)

‘Life on Life‘: Explorations in Paul‘s Understanding of Eschatological Life


Frank Thielman

(Beeson Divinity School)

The Pedagogy of Grace: Soteriology, Ethics, and Mission in Titus 2:11-14

Pastoral Epistles Consultation at ETS, paper titles

I previously announced the creation of a new consultation of the Pastorals at the Evangelical Theological Society to begin meeting this Fall. As stated before, the overall goal of this consultation is to explore the ways that the exclusion of the Pastoral Epistles has impacted the work of Pauline theology and how the inclusion of the Pastorals would inform the same work.

Now, I am pleased to announce the presenters and paper titles for this inaugural session. Here are the details of the session:

Session Title: “The Place of the Pastoral Epistles in Pauline Theology”

Moderator: Ray Van Neste

Robert Yarbrough: “The Pastoral Epistles in New Testament Theologies from Tübingen to Thielman”

Timothy Swinson: “The Pastoral Epistles and Perspectives, Old and New”

Greg Couser: “Life on Life”: Explorations in Paul’s Understanding of Eschatological Life

Frank Thielman: The Pedagogy of Grace: Soteriology, Ethics, and Mission in Titus 2:11-14

We are pleased to have each of these scholars participating. Bob Yarbrough’s paper will open the discussion by surveying how the Pastorals have been treated or ignored. Tim Swinson’s paper will examine what the Pastorals might contribute to one of the major discussions in Pauline theology, the New Perspective. Greg Couser will examine “life” terminology in 1 Timothy in comparison with the wider Pauline usage seeking to discern how 1 Timothy would contribute to Pauline theology in this area. Frank Thielman will investigate soteriological themes in Titus 2-3 in comparison with those themes elsewhere in Paul.

This promises to be a very beneficial discussion. I hope to see you there.

Recent Commentary Reviews

The latest issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (53:2, June 2010) contains two reviews of commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles. My positive review of George Montague’s commentary (initial volume of the new Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) appears in this issue. I have mentioned this book positively on this blog before.

Bob Yarbrough provides a very helpful and thorough review of Samuel Ngewa’s 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, the inaugural volume of the Africa Bible Commentary Series. Yarbrough notes strengths of the commentary in pastoral reflection but points out significant weaknesses in the actual exegetical work. Yarbrough stated that the book has “more of a Christian education feel and less the heft of a work of NT exegesis and scholarship proper” (418).

Review of Biblical Literature also contains a recent review of Ngewa’s volume, written by Teresa Okure who is in Nigeria. This reviewer provides a view of the commentary from Africa. She notes many helpful points about the commentary but registers some critiques similar to Yarbrough’s.

These two reviews of Ngewa’s work will be helpful to those engaging this commentary.

New Dissertation on the Pastorals

I am currently reading Tim Swinson’s dissertation “GRAFH in the Letters to Timothy” recently passed at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I was eager to read it after hearing a number of good papers from Tim at ETS meetings along the way. I am only into the second chapter but already find this to be a well done, useful work. Swinson is more conversant with French, German, and Spanish sources than is common in American PhD’s. His writing is clear and forthright. His brief argument for Pauline authorship is well done and gathers a lot of helpful information.

I am eager to finish the reading. If you are working on the Pastorals concerning authorship or the references to scripture (1 Tim 5:18; 2 Tim 3:16), you would do well to check with the library at TEDS for this dissertation.

More negative on the Pastorals

I have previously posted a list of quotes on the negative view of the Pastorals.
Just today I came across another to add to the list. Henry Sheldon in his 1922 New testament Theology covered Pauline theology and then added a brief piece on the Pastorals, opening with this statement:
The Pastoral Epistles add so little of theological subject-matter to the content of the other epistles bearing the name of Paul that it will not be necessary to devote to them more than a few sentences. (266)

Hopefully current work (including this book: is disproving this dismissive assessment.

Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles

Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles, ed. Andreas Köstenberger and Terry Wilder, is set to be published April 2010. I previously mentioned this book as in progress. I am honored to be a contributor to this volume and excited about its potential.

The book aims to provide an overview of recent scholarship on the Pastorals and give an overall view of the message of these letters.

The contributors and chapter titles are as follows:

  • Köstenberger- “Hermeneutical and Exegetical Challenges in Interpreting the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Wilder- “Pseudonymity, the New Testament, and the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Alan Tomlinson- “The Purpose and Stewardship Theme within the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Ray Van Neste- “Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Greg Couser- “The Sovereign Savior of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus”
  • Daniel Akin- “The Mystery of Godliness Is Great: Christology in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • George Wieland- “The Function of Salvation in the Letters to Timothy and Titus”
  • Benjamin L. Merkle- “Ecclesiology in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Paul Wolfe- “The Sagacious Use of Scripture”
  • Thor Madsen- “The Ethics of the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Chiao Ek Ho- “Mission in the Pastoral Epistles”
  • Howard Marshall- “The Pastoral Epistles in Recent Study”

You can see further information at the publisher’s site (

Africa Bible Commentary Series

Just this week I received an advanced copy of the inaugural volume of the Africa Bible Commentary series, and this volume is on the Pastoral Epistles! I have not had time to read much of it yet, but I wanted to go ahead and mention this volume to others.

The series grew out of work on the one volume Africa Bible Commentary. The introduction for the series states:
The contributors are Anglophone or Francophone African scholars, all of whom adhere to the statement of faith of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa.
The series is aimed at pastors and sermon preparation with more technical issues handled in footnotes. It is also self-consciously aimed at the African context- illustrations are drawn from life there and the current concerns of churches in Africa are addressed. Study questions at the end of each section raise specific issue current in African churches. One of the key aims of the series is then to be more directly accessible by African readers. Of course, for those of us in North America or Europe, it offers us the opportunity to hear from the church in Africa, to see how they are wrestling with the scripture in their context. I am particularly interested to read how the issues discussed in the Pastorals are being dealt with by my African brothers and sisters. This looks like a promising series.

Early(ish) Witnesses to the Pastoral Epistles

I&rsquot;ve recently taken the time to work through the contents of papyri and uncials dated 5th century and before, from a few different sources. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of MSS witnessing the Pastoral Epistles.

MS Date Contents
P32 ca 200 (Comfort & Barrett: 150-200) Titus 1.11-15; 2.3-8
01 (Sinaiticus) 5th century 1Ti, 2Ti, Titus
02 (Alexandrinus) 5th century 1Ti, 2Ti, Titus
04 (Ephraemi) 5th century 1Ti 1.1-3.9; 5.20-6.21; 2Ti 1.1-2; Titus 1.1-2
016 5th century 1Ti 1.1-3, 10-13; 1.19-2.1, 9-13; 3.7-9; 4.1-3, 10-13; 5.5-9, 16-19; 6.1-2, 9-11, 17-19; 2Ti 1.1-3, 10-12; 2.2-5, 14-16, 22-24; 3.6-8, 3.16-4.1, 8-1, 18-20; Titus 1.1-3, 10-11; 2.4-6, 14-15; 3.8-9
048 5th century 1Ti 5.5-6.17, 20-21; 2Ti 1.4-6, 8; 2.2-25; Titus 3.13-15
061 5th century (Tisch: 4th-6th) 1Ti 3.15-16; 4.1-3; 6.2-4, 5-8
088 5th-6th century Titus 1.1-13
0240 5th century Titus 1.4-8
0241 5th-6th century 1Ti 3.16-4.3, 8-11

Dates are from NA27 unless otherwise specified.

My sources include:

Comfort & Barrett, $amz(0842352651 The Text of the Earliest Greek New Testament Manuscripts). [Logos Version]

Tischendorf’s Novum Testamentum Graece, Editio Octavo Critica Maior, prolegomena volume [Logos Version]

NA27 Appendix I, Codices Graeci et Latini in hac editione adhibiti.