Pastoral Epistles ETS Study Group, Next Week

If you are coming to ETS next week in San Antonio, I hope you will join us for our study group on the Pastorals. We have a great line up of papers again this year as you can see from the schedule below. I have included the room, date, time, speakers and titles. Jermo Van Nes will not be able to join us, but he has sent me his paper and I will read it in his stead.


8:30 AM-11:40 AM
Hyatt — Bowie C

Ray Van Neste, Union University

8:30 AM—9:10 AM
Ardel Caneday, University of Northwestern- St. Paul
“Save Yourself and the People Who Hear You: An Authentic Pauline Exhortation”

9:20 AM—10:00 AM
Jermo Van Nes, Evangelische Theologische Faculteit
“Motif-Semantic Differences in Paul? A Question to Advocates of the Pastorals’ Plural Authorship”

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
Andreas Köstenberger, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“An Investigation of the Mission Motif in the Letters to Timothy and Titus with Implications for Pauline Authorship”

11:00 AM—11:40 AM
Gordon Franz, Christian Information Ministries
“The Archaeological Background to the Epistle of Titus and the First-Century church on the Island of Crete”

Some Thoughts on 1 Tim 4.4-5

If you’ve followed me around for any amount of time, you might be aware that I’ve got 400+ pages of stuff written on First Timothy in a commentary format. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do anything with it, though, because it was written over a few years and style, content, writing ability and ability in handling the text changed and grew through the exercise.

Anyway, I saw a question on B-Greek about 1Ti 4.4-5, so I thought I’d take a quick shot to post here what I wrote about that section. Please note that I wrote this at least five years ago, perhaps longer. As you can tell, much of my interest was in how particular words were used in similar contexts, but outside of the NT.

1 Timothy 4.4-5: Freedom from False Requirements

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1Ti 4.4-5)

Verse 4

For everything created by God is good

The word “everything” is a translation of the Greek word πᾶς, a frequently-occurring word that means ‘all, each or every’.1 It modifies “created”, which is a translation of the Greek word κτίσμα. The word κτίσμα is not a verb with the meaning of “to create”; it is a noun indicating ‘something that has been created’ or ‘creature’.2 This combination of words also occurs in Re 5.13:

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Re 5.13)

The word κτίσμα is used similarly in the Epistle to Diognetus:

And if any of these teachings was acceptable, then every one of the other things created by God could also appear to be God.3

In Diognetus, the phrase “created by God” is used in much the same way that it is used here in First Timothy, to attribute the creation to God, the creator.

The previous context of First Timothy had to do with practices or items that false teachers forbid. Paul’s response is a realization that all things created by God are “good” and therefore are acceptable to be used by those for whom these things have been created. Paul may be reminding the reader of the creation account in Genesis:

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Ge 1.31)

and nothing is to be rejected

After noting that “everything” created by God is good and therefore acceptable, Paul states that “nothing” is to be rejected. The word “nothing” is a translation of the Greek word οὐδείς, which means ‘no one’ or ‘nothing’.4 The contrast between “everything” and “nothing” is notable. This contrast occurs in the epistle to the Hebrews as well:

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb 12.14)

The LXX has more examples of this type of contrast; one of which occurs in Judith:

And all went away from her presence, and none (from small to great) remained in the bedchamber, and Judith stood next to the bed and said in her heart, “Lord, God of all power, look in this hour to the work of my hands for the raising in exaltation of Jerusalem; now is the time to take hold of your inheritance and start my desired pursuit of destruction of the enemies which have risen against us”. (Jdt 13.4-5, LXX)5

Similar contrast occurs in the Shepherd of Hermas:

As to the believers from the fifth mountain, which has green plants but is rugged: they are faithful, but they are slow to learn and insolent and strive to please themselves, wishing to know everything but knowing nothing at all.6

In First Timothy, πᾶς and οὐδείς provide the same sort of contrast, emphasizing the wrongness of the false teachers in their approach restricting certain items from those who are believers.

According to Paul, everything was created by God so nothing need be rejected out-of-hand. The word translated “rejected” in this verse is the Greek word ἀπόβλητος.7 The word is seldom used in Christian literature. LSJ cites the Iliad, noting that ἀπόβλητος there means ‘to be thrown away or aside, as worthless’.8 Those things previously mentioned by Paul—marriage and certain foods—have been created by God and are good, and therefore should not be dismissed, or put aside as lacking worth or as evil.

if it is received with thanksgiving

There is one qualification, however, to the reception of the provision of God in the area of food. In verse 3, Paul describes these rejected foods as items “ … that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth”. Here, in verse 4, Paul reiterates this qualification to the Ephesians, noting that food should not be rejected “ … if it is received with thanksgiving.”9

Verse 5

for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer

If the status of the food is questionable,10 receiving the food with thanksgiving through prayer to God to purify it is all that is required. The food need not be avoided or disposed of, it is the provision of God and through God’s blessing it can be restored and eaten.11

The phrase “made holy” is a translation of the Greek word ἁγιάζω. In contexts where ἁγιάζω is used in reference to a thing, the sense is usually that of ‘consecrate, dedicate’.12 The word is used in Matthew:

Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Mt 23.16-19, emphasis mine)

In the above context, as well as in First Timothy, the thing13 is being made holy or sacred. The verb ἁγιάζω is in the passive voice implying that its object is being acted upon; it is not making itself holy or sacred. In First Timothy, this action is prompted “by the word of God and prayer”.14

The Greek word ἔντευξις is translated “prayer”. The word may mean prayer in a general sense, or it could imply some sort of intercession.15 Here the word likely carries the more general sense and could even have to do with thanksgiving. Verses 3 and 4 clearly use the term “thanksgiving” (εὐχαριστία) as describing the attitude with which the provision is received, so the prayer mentioned in verse 5 may therefore be prayer of thanksgiving for the food with the request (intercession) to make it holy and proper for consumption by a believer.16

Pericope Summary

Paul recalls earlier prophecies that tell of some who will depart from the faith. The “later times” he mentions are not in reference to a future date; they reference the here and now experienced by the Ephesian believers.

Paul warns the Ephesians about the dangers they are experiencing. False teaching is prominently warned against. The false teaching manifests itself in ascetic-like teaching; denying marriage and particular foods to Christians. Paul takes issue with this; contending that such things originate with God and were “created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1Ti 4.3).

As all things were created by God, and as God’s creation is good, his people have no reason to reject anything that has been received with thanksgiving. These thanksgivings are prayers offered to God, thanking him for what he has provided. This act of giving thanks to God cleanses any impurity or imperfection in what has been provided, making it acceptable for reception and use.

1 BDAG p. 782. Occurs 1243x in NT, 55x in PE. The word is briefly discussed in notes on 1Ti 2.1 and 2.4.

2 BDAG, p. 573. Occurs 4x in NT: 1Ti 4.4; Jam 1.18; Re 5.13; 8.9.

3 EpDiog 8.3 (Ehrman, emphasis mine)

4 BDAG, p. 735. Occurs 227x in NT.

5 author’s translation.

6 Hermas, Similitudes, IX.xxii.1 (Ehrman)

7 BDAG, p. 107. NT hapax. According to BDAG, this is a verbal adjective from the verb ἀποβάλλω.

8 LSJ, p. 193, citing Iliad 3.65, “οὔ τοι ἀπόβλητ᾽ ἐστὶ θεῶν ἐρικυδέα δῶρα”. [Note: provide translation]

9 On the phrase “received with thanksgiving” see notes on 1Ti 4.3.

10 e.g., perhaps it had been sacrificed or slain in honor of false gods, then sold in the marketplace.

11 [Note: perhaps a parallel to or reminder of how God restores us to be acceptable in his sight?]

12 BDAG, p. 9. Occurs 28x in NT, 2x in PE: 1Ti 4.5; 2Ti 2.21.

13 In these instances: gold, gifts, or food.

14 [Note: Need to insert discussion of “word of God”?]

15 BDAG, p. 339. See comments on 1Ti 2.1.

16 BDAG, p. 340.

Saving Yourself and Your Hearers (1Ti 4.16)

I’ve blogged about the phrasing found in this reference before, on ricoblog (here, here, here and here) and on the previous incarnation of (here).

It’s the phrasing that intrigues me, “you will save both yourself and your hearers” because similar phrasing turns up in other writings ($af(2Cl 15.1), $af(IEph 16.1-2)) as well.

Here’s what I found in Hermas, Mandates 2.2 (27.2):

First, speak evil of no one, and do not enjoy listening to someone who does. Otherwise you, the listener, will be responsible for the sin of the one speaking evil, if you believe the slander which you have heard, for by believing it you yourself will hold a grudge against your brother. In this way you will become responsible for the sin of the one who speaks the evil.

Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (377). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

Similar, but not quite the same. But still interesting as it tries to explain how the listener falls under guilt of the speaker. Blogged here for posterity so I can find it again when I look into it next.

The manuscript . . .

The manuscript for my commentary, Reading Paul’s Letters to Individuals: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Letters to Philemon, Titus, and Timothy, is officially in the mail to Smyth and Helwys.

S&H expects the commentary to be available in October, just in time for SBL. Maybe I’ll need to go to Boston after all.

This is the commentary that Glenn Hinson was supposed to write, then Marty Soards. Both ended up not filling the contract. Then Hulitt Gloer wrote a manuscript, but was not able to finish it for health reasons.

So in January–you may recall–the editor of the series, Charles Talbert (who was my doctorfather at Baylor) asked if I could finish Gloer’s manuscript.  And I’ve spent the last few months doing so.

I’d originally hoped to have 300 – 325 double spaced pages, and ended up with 425: OUCH! Did I type all that stuff?

What’s innovative or fresh about the commentary? Two things, off the top of my head:

First, it is a scholarly commentary, interacting extensively with primary sources (Philo and Josephus, especially) and cutting-edge secondary sources (e.g., Bruce Winter’s work on the new Roman woman), BUT the exposition is aimed at preachers and teachers. This would be the first commentary I would recommend for people who want to preach these letters.

Second, this is the first commentary on the Pastorals to take into account the role that succession plays in these letters.

Reconciling 1Ti 4.3 and 1Ti 3.2

I’ve had the question of how 1Ti 4.3 and 1Ti 3.2 fit together rolling around in my head for awhile.

1Ti 4.3 is in the context of a description of the false teachers of Ephesus, noting things they (unjustly) forbid. Below is 1Ti 4.1-3:

4.1 Τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως προσέχοντες πνεύμασιν πλάνοις καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, 2 ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων, κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν, 3 κωλυόντων γαμεῖν, ἀπέχεσθαι βρωμάτων, ἃ ὁ θεὸς ἔκτισεν εἰς μετάλημψιν μετὰ εὐχαριστίας τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ ἐπεγνωκόσι τὴν ἀλήθειαν. (1Ti 4.1-3, NA27)

4.1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1Ti 4.1-3, ESV)

1Ti 3.2 (along with 1Ti 3.12 and 1Ti 5.9) specify a marriage relationship for those in leadership positions in the fellowship.

3.2 δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίλημπτον εἶναι, μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, νηφάλιον σώφρονα κόσμιον φιλόξενον διδακτικόν, (1Ti 3.2, NA27)
3.12 διάκονοι ἔστωσαν μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρες, τέκνων καλῶς προϊστάμενοι καὶ τῶν ἰδίων οἴκων. (1Ti 3.12, NA27)
5.9 Χήρα καταλεγέσθω μὴ ἔλαττον ἐτῶν ἑξήκοντα γεγονυῖα, ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, (1Ti 5.9, NA27)

3.2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (1Ti 3.2, ESV)
3.12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. (1Ti 3.12, ESV)
5.9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, (1Ti 5.9, ESV)

So, how does all of this fit together? The false teachers say that marriage is forbidden, but Paul says that those in positions in the church (Overseer, Deacons, and Widows) should be or have been married.

This popped in my head again as I’ve been reading Lloyd K. Pietersen’s $amz(0567081834 The Polemic of the Pastorals), where he mentions the "status degradation" aspect of the whole thing:

Finally, Garfinkel draws attention to the fact that, in any successful status degradation ceremony, the typical, negative characteristics of those being denounced must be appreciated by the witnesses by means of a ‘dialectical counterpart’. In this way the community cannot conceive of those denounced without reference to this positive counter conception. In the Pastorals, the qualities of bishops, elders and deacons serve as dialectical counterparts to the deeds of the opponents. Thus, for example, the injunction in 1 Tim 1.2 [sic] that the bishop should be μιας γυναικος ανδρα serves as the dialectical counterpart to the opponents who, among other things, κωλυοντων γαμειν (1 Tim 4.3). Goulder is thus right to argue that the qualifications of leadership function polemically. (Pietersen 111)

I don’t buy all of what Lloyd mentions here (specifically that the Pastorals may be "a literary version of a status degradation ceremony" (Pietersen 111)), but I do think there is significant value to noting that what the false teachers forbid (marriage) is prominent in the descriptions of those in positions of leadership and influence in the church.

Whatever your view of the polemic/paraenesis of the Pastorals, this disparity between the what the false teachers espouse (no marriage) and what Paul espouses for those in prominence in the church (marriage is not just OK, it is expected) needs to be noted.

Why the Pastoral Epistles?

Sometimes I’m asked why I have an interest in the Pastoral Epistles. I’ve been fascinated by them for a long time. Here are some reasons:

  • 1Ti 4.12-16:

    Let no one treat you with contempt due to your youth, but you yourself become an example of the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. Until I come occupy yourself with public reading of Scripture, with encouragement, and with teaching. Do not neglect the gift in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands of the elder council. Practice these things, be immersed in them, so that your progress might be visible to all. Take pains with yourself and your teaching, persist in them: for in doing this you will deliver both yourself and your hearers. (1Ti 4.12-16, my own translation)

    I can remember reading these verses in Junior High and being astounded by the whole “youth” thing. Here Paul was telling someone perceptibly younger but still in a leadership position to stick to his guns and do the job he was entrusted with. That’s always stuck with me.

  • If you ascribe to Pauline authorship (and I do) then these are the last things we have from the mind of Paul. It’s his views on stuff nearer to the close of his ministry than the start of it. It isn’t systematic, but it does provide insight. How did Paul’s views develop over time? How did he see the church?
  • These are, ostensibly (though see this post and comments) letters to people, not to churches.
  • The Pastoral Epistles (and First Timothy, in particular) touch on some hot-button issues. You know: role of men and women in the fellowship, how to discern and handle false teachers, God desiring “all people to be saved” … you get the gist.
  • Titus 2.11-15:

For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men instructing us, so that having renounced impiety and worldly desires, we might live self-controlled and justly and godly in this present age, looking forward to the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and deliverer of us, Jesus Christ, who gave himself on behalf us, so that he himself might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a chosen people, zealous for good works. These things speak and exhort and set forth with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Tt 2.11-15, my own translation)

I treasure these words; they are both humbling and motivating. They remind me that I am saved, that Jesus Christ is the source of my salvation, and that He will come again to take us home. Marana tha!

There is more, but those are the biggies.

Updates and News

As you’ve likely noticed, there have been several changes here at

The biggest change is that there is now more than one blogger. In addition to Rick Brannan (yours truly), Perry L. Stepp, Lloyd Pietersen and Ray Van Neste have agreed to begin posting to

Perry is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Kentucky Christian University. He’s recently had a book published by the Sheffield Phoenix Press, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle. He’s also presented papers at SBL in the Disputed Paulines group. It’s great to have him aboard.

There will likely be at least one more blogger added to the team; more information on that in a future post.

Lloyd is a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies  at the University of Bristol. Here’s some further information on Dr. Pietersen from his web site:

Dr Lloyd Pietersen obtained his PhD from the University of Sheffield. His thesis has been published as The Polemic of the Pastorals: A Sociological Examination of the Development of Pauline Christianity (JSNTSup 264; London/New York: T & T Clark International, 2004). He is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol and is co-chair of the Social World of the New Testament Seminar at the British New Testament Conference.

Ray is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies and Director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University. He is also author of Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSup 280; Lonon/New York: T&T Clark International, 2004). And he has his own personal blog too.

What is this site all about, then?

Well, it’s about the Pastoral Epistles. Folks who blog here have a more-than-average interest in the Pastorals. We’ll blog about stuff like:

  • Quick reviews of books, articles, chapters, etc. that we read that have to do with the Pastorals. The same book or article may be discussed by multiple authors on the site.
  • Extended reviews.
  • Reviews of or interaction with conference presentations or papers.
  • Interaction with other web sites, blog posts, etc. that mention things that primarily or tangentially refer to the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Thoughts, musings and whatnot. We’ll feel free to use the blog as a scratch pad of sorts as we think through topics or exegetical points having to do with the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Whatever else seems interesting to us, as long as we can relate it back to the Pastorals.

If you’re familiar with the older site, it is still available at Content may or may not migrate over to the new site.

Anyway, thanks for your support of the site. Please bear with us while we get the place set up. And please do update your RSS / Feed reader links. The new link is You can use this in any feedreader/aggregator or online tool such as BlogLines.

Tell your friends!