Call for Papers

The Pastoral Epistles group in the Evangelical Theological Society is accepting paper proposals for the meeting this Fall. We are continuing to examine ways in which a more vigorous, intentional engagement with the Pastorals can impact our understanding of Paul. Too often evangelicals explicitly or implicitly bracket off the Pastorals when doing Pauline theology whether in order to gain a hearing among those who dispute them or simply because we have grown accustomed to overlooking them. We have already seen a number of ways in which the absence of 1-2 Timothy and Titus impoverish our reading and have a sneaking suspicion there are yet more aspects and nuances to be explored. So, if you would be interested to pursue this topic, we would be glad to hear from you. Send questions or proposals to me at rayvanneste at gmail dot com.

The Pastorals at SBL 2015

I was unable to attend SBL this year, but Chuck Bumgardner was kind enough to gather titles and abstracts for PE related papers at SBL from the helpful abstracts page on the SBL site.

Here is what was listed. It is encouraging to see this much work being done on these letters.

The Cretan Quote of Titus 1:12: Why Paul Appears to Be Such a Bigot 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Isaiah Luke Allen, Asbury Theological Seminary

Conventional readings of Titus 1:12-13 present real grammatical and contextual problems. Taken at face value, the apostle Paul addresses Titus and quotes Epimenides, a (5th-6th Century BCE) Cretan poet, in a descriptive and highly disfavorable moral assessment of the Cretans that Paul himself shares. This paper exposes some of the literary-contextual, grammatical, and semantic problems with this reading and suggests an interpretation that coheres with the NT portrayal of the canonical Paul and Titus, the grammar of the passage, and the context of the argument in the letter to Titus. Rather than being a bigot, Paul is exposing and attacking bigotry in the church.

Satan: The Author of False Teaching in the Pastoral Epistles 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Derek Brown, Lexham Press

The Pastoral Epistles reveal a number of intriguing developments within the Pauline tradition. One area which has not received sufficient attention is the references to the devil within Pastoral Epistles. Both 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy mention the malevolent figure— whether by the well known term satanas (1 Tim 1:20; 5:15), diabolos (1 Tim 3:6, 7; 2 Tim 2:26), or even ho antikeimai (“the opponent” or “the enemy,” 1 Tim 5:14; cf. 1 Clem. 51.1; Mart. Pol. 17.1)—but the collective importance of these references is rarely discussed in scholarly literature. The present paper will explore the nature of the allusions to Satan within the Pastorals by considering their function within their epistolary context, the theology of Satan which they imply, and their relationship to references to Satan in the other Pauline letters (both undisputed and disputed; see Brown, The God of this Age: Satan in the Churches and Letters of the Apostle Paul [Mohr Siebeck], forthcoming 2015). It will be argued that although the Pastoral Epistles sometimes reflect, or perhaps mimic, the earlier Pauline references to Satan (e.g., 1 Tim 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 5:5), the references to Satan in 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy aim to establish a direct connection between false teaching and Satan that is intended to warn and prevent the readers of the letters from subscribing to teaching that would separate them from the truth of the gospel and the community of faith.

Kinship and Leadership in 1 Timothy: A Study of Filial Framework and Model for Early Christian Communities in Asia Minor 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Daniel K. Darko, Gordon College

This paper examines kinship framework and language in the directives for leadership in early Christianity communities of Ephesus, aiming to curb the influence of false teachers and bolster mutual support in the membership. It investigates direct appeal to responsible household management, portraits of natural and fictive kinship, and group dynamics couched in filial parlance in the leadership correspondence (1 Timothy). The Greek text will be examined carefully against the background of Greco-Roman conventions on kinship and use of kinship lexemes in relation to leadership. The study of the household code alongside other references to kinship in the prism of Christian leadership will lead to new and perhaps alternate insights regarding how we read the institutional structure of the house churches, even the notion of monarchical leadership. The manner in which fictive and natural kinship are utilized will receive critical attention in the quest also to answer the question: Does fictive kinship override natural kinship or are there interface of the two to harness group identity and group dynamics?

“Apocalyptic Rhetoric” in the Pastoral Epistles 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Mark Harding, Australian College of Theology

The Apostle Paul is rightly termed an apocalypticist not only because his message originated in an apocalypse (Gal 1:12, 16), but also because he continued to receive visions and revelations. He imparted these to his hearers. The post-Pauline authors of Ephesians and Colossians mediate Paul’s apocalypticism chiefly through the discourse of “mystery.” Although it has been fashionable to downplay the apocalypticism of the Pastoral Epistles (PE), the letters do subscribe to this worldview. In the PE, Paul’s apocalypticism is encountered not only in their espousal of apocalyptic eschatology but also in their discourse of the finality of the mystery and revelation uniquely received and authoritatively mediated by the Apostle. This discourse—rooted as it is in revelation—is aptly termed “apocalyptic rhetoric.” This is a term that was first applied to the rhetoric of the New Testament Apocalypse by Adela Yarbro Collins and Barry Brummett in the early 1980s. The term can be applied to the rhetoric of the PE, although the PE (like the Pauline corpus as a whole) are letters and not apocalypses. In this discourse, the authority of the Apostle in the highly contested context of the PE is grounded in the epiphany of Christ and the moral and creedal implications that are in accord with that epiphany and to which his ministry, and the ministry of those he commissions, finally, infallibly and exclusively bears witness. The apostolic “deposit” vouchsafed to Paul and through him to his delegates and their successors is full, perfect and sufficient, such that teaching that is not in accord with it is a betrayal of the Pauline heritage. In this way, the PE are testimonies of the power of speech grounded in revelation and mediated by a writer who uniquely articulated the apostle’s authority.

The Rhetoric of PIETAS: First Timothy and the Negotiation of Roman Imperial Pietas 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Chris Hoklotubbe, Harvard University

This paper provides a postcolonial reading to 1 Timothy that attends to how the author negotiates the imperial situation in his appeal to piety (eusebeia) within the context of instructing the community to offer prayers on behalf of imperial authorities (1 Tim 2:1–2) and how women and widows ought to behave within the household of God (1 Tim 2:9–15). Scholars including Mary Rose D’Angelo and Angela Standhartinger convincingly argue that 1 Timothy’s instructions on prayer and admonitions for women to marry, bear children, and remain subordinate to their husbands accommodate to conservative social values promoted in imperial legislation and propaganda. However, scholars like Ben Witherington and Phillip Towner insist that these passages are not indicative of accommodation, but rather a missiological approach that Christianized secular virtues and even resisted imperial culture. I argue that a postcolonial optics is helpful for moving beyond a dichotomy of accommodation/resistance and allows us to better observe how both elements are present within the author’s negotiation of imperial social values and Christian doctrine within the scope of his construction of a hybrid Christian identity and piety. This paper will also succinctly contextualize 1 Timothy’s appeals to piety within the prevalence of rhetorical claims to piety (pietas/eusebeia) that occur in Roman poetry, monumental inscriptions, and coins in order to clarify the cultural significance of this virtue for how both elite Romans and provincial subjects, including the author of 1 Timothy, conceptualized imperial power and their relation to it. I argue that both claims to piety that pervaded the imperial propaganda of Trajan and Hadrian as evidenced in coins, reliefs, panegyrics, and building campaigns as well as elite Roman discourses that contrasted Roman pietas against foreign superstitio textualized the structures that comprised the imperial situation of 1 Timothy’s and illuminate its rhetoric of piety.

Timothy in Ephesus? First Timothy, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Acts of Timothy Reconsidered 
Program Unit: Ancient Fiction and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative
Meira Z. Kensky, Coe College

This paper will analyze the way Timothy’s association with Ephesus is remembered and constructed in early Christian literature. While 1 Timothy imagines Timothy as an Ephesus-based administrator, and Eusebius tells us that the tradition holds Timothy as the first bishop of that city (Eus., Hist. Eccl. 3.4), other texts are ambiguous at best on this issue. The lack of a clear association between Timothy and Ephesus in the Acts of the Apostles is particularly striking. In addition to having ambiguous presence throughout Acts 19, Timothy is not located in Ephesus during the riot (19:23-41), and is also not named as present in the speech to the Ephesian elders in 20:17-38. Since many people think that Acts might have been written in Ephesus, Timothy’s absence during the Ephesian ministry is even more notable. Should we infer from Timothy’s absence that he was not really associated with Ephesus at all, and that this is a later invention by the author of 1 Timothy? The Acts of John, also set in Ephesus, is entirely silent not only on the presence of Timothy, but on the presence of any early Christian there before John, erasing the record of Pauline presence in the city. Ephesus is thus contested territory. And while the early tradition is ambiguous, the Acts of Timothy, a late addition to the corpus of Apocryphal Acts, details exactly how Paul ordained Timothy as Ephesus’ first bishop, and then narrates Timothy’s violent death during a pagan festival there. The text also talks about John’s activities in the city, and thus represents an attempt to harmonize early Christian traditions about this crucial center of early Christianity, who was working there at the same time, and what their relationship was to each other. Studying the way the Acts of Timothy paints its portrait of Timothy’s leadership and violent death in the city can shed light both on the memory of this crucial tradent as well as the memory of the city itself. What is gained in 1 Timothy by locating Timothy in Ephesus? And what is gained by having him die there in the Acts of Timothy?

Insisting on a Gospel of Resurrection in the Face of Suffering: An Initial Exploration of the Intersection of Religion and Politics in the Context in 2 Tim 2:8 
Program Unit: Disputed Paulines
Edward Pillar, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David

The writer of 2Timothy is presented as imprisoned, chained like a criminal, and suffering ‘for the gospel.’ Thus the writer asserts that his crime is inextricably linked with his gospel, and it seems apparent that his suffering is not only considerable (2:9), but some have suggested that it may well be linked to the severe, brutal, and cruel persecutions recorded by Tacitus of the Neronian era. The writer appears to be seeking to encourage Timothy not to be afraid to commit more fully to the gospel and thus perhaps inevitably to enter into the prospect of suffering (1:8). The gospel, which has led to such vicious persecution and inhumane suffering, is precisely and succinctly articulated in 2:8, ‘Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, out of the seed of David.’ In this paper we will explore the political nature of the gospel that is not simply an intersection of politics and religion, but appears to create an inexorable conflict with imperial politics. We will consider the thesis that in this letter the context of severe persecution and suffering is crucial in this instance to understand how religion and politics intersect. Jesus, as the Christ, is thus God’s alternative emperor or king. ‘Jesus Christ’, uniquely ordered at this point in the letter, taken alongside ‘out of the seed of David’ suggests an ancient narrative as an alternative to the imperial story that perpetuated the tyranny of the emperor. Further, the insistence of an alternative gospel – itself a challenge to empire – in proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus following crucifixion at the hands of the Romans Empire is both a challenge to imperial assertions of supreme power but also subverts this power in the act of resurrection.


Fred Sanders on Most Helpful PE Resources

After teaching a semester-long Bible Institute class on the Pastorals (“congregational-level teaching plus homework,” he said), well-known systematic theologian, Fred Sanders, has posted a list of commentaries are resources which he found most useful. I almost always find it helpful and interesting to read about what others found useful, and this list does not disappoint. Sanders not only list the titles but explains what he found useful (or not useful) about each item. He also graciously put in a good word about this blog. I am glad he found it helpful.

Additions to our list of 2014 PE publications

Thanks to those who have pointed out items we have missed. Each of these items have been added to the 2014 publications post, but I thought it might be useful to include this separate post announcing their inclusion. If you see others we’ve missed, please send them our way at pastoralepistles at gmail dot com. Also, if you publish something on the Pastorals this year, feel free to send us a notice so we can include it in this year’s list and perhaps review it.

Barentsen, Jack. “Stereotyping and Institutionalization as Indications of Leadership Maintenance in the Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy as a Test Case.” Pages 389-406 in T&T Clark Handbook to Social Identity in the New Testament. Edited by J. Brian Tucker and Coleman A. Baker. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014.

Bolt, Peter and Tony Payne, ed. Women, Sermons and the Bible: Essays interacting with John Dickson’s Hearing Her Voice. Matthias Media, 2014.

Hylen, Susan E. “Modest, Industrious, and Loyal: Reinterpreting Conflicting Evidence for Women’s Roles.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 44 (2014): 3-12.

Jones, B. C. “Three New Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy and Titus (P.Mich. inv. 3535b).” Journal of Biblical Literature 133 (2014): 389-97.

Mbamalu, Abiola I. “‘The Woman Was Deceived and Became a Sinner’: A Literary-Theological Investigation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15.” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 70 (2014). doi: 10.4102/hts.v70i3.2062

Paya, C. “Note exégetique: ‘L’exercise corporel est utile à peu de choses . . .’ (1 Tm 4.8).” Théologie Évangélique [Vaux-sur-Seine—Montreal] 13 (2014): 49-61.

Westfall, Cynthia Long. “The Meaning of αὐθεντέω in 1 Timothy 2.12.” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 10 (2014): 138-73.

Pastorals Session at 2013 ETS

If you are attending the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting next month in Baltimore, come and join us at the Pastoral Epistles Study Group. Here is the basic information on time, place, speakers and topics.


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

Greg Couser
Cedarville University

08:30 AM—09:10 AM
Randy Richards
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Ancient Authorship Models and the Pastoral Epistles

09:20 AM—10:00 AM
L. Timothy Swinson
Liberty University
Paul’s use of “Graphe” in 1 Cor 15:3-4 and 1 Tim 5:18

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
Ray Van Neste
Union University
Coherence and Authorship in the 1 Timothy

11:00 AM—11:40 AM
Panel Discussion with:
L. Timothy Swinson
Ray Van Neste
Greg Couser

Christian Union and 2 Timothy

Last August I was privileged to teach through 2 Timothy for the leadership of the Christian Union, a wonderful ministry to Ivy League schools. 2 Timothy was the focus of their Bible studies this academic year, and two young men from the Harvard group decided to memorize 2 Timothy.  The video below is of them reciting 2 Timothy together at the Harvard College Faith and Action Christmas party.

(also posted at my blog)

Christmas and the Pastoral Epistles

As you listen to Handel’s Messiah this season, remember that the man who wrote the text listed 1 Timothy 3:16 as a moto for the oratorio:
And without controversy great is the Mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Merry Christmas!

Pastoral Epistles Consultation at ETS

A new consultation on the Pastoral Epistles will begin at next year’s annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The title of the consultation is “The Pastoral Epistles and Pauline Theology.” Co-chairs are Greg Couser and Ray Van Neste with steering committee members Ben Merkle, Tom Schreiner, and Tim Swinson.

This consultation begins with the assumption of Pauline authorship. We are aware that in contemporary scholarship this is a significant assumption. However, since most work on Paul for many decades (even among those who affirm Pauline authorship) has set aside the Pastorals, we believe it is fair to take up the work from the other perspective. If we take the Pastorals as genuinely Pauline, how would this impact our view of Paul and his theology? What would be the result of a robust integration of the Pastorals into Pauline theology? Has our view of Paul been significantly shaped by the exclusion of the Pastorals?

We hope to pursue these questions in the next several years. We will have a full section at ETS in Fall 2011 with four presentations, and will announce more information at this site as things develop. We hope to see you at the session next year.

K. Edward Copeland on Second Timothy 3.1-9

The Gospel Coalition’s recent national conference had the theme “Entrusted with the Gospel” and was focused on Second Timothy. Each plenary session focused on a different portion of the epistle.

K. Edward Copeland’s session on 2Ti 3.1-9 was titled “Shadowlands: Pitfalls and Parodies of Gospel-Centered Ministry”.

Second Timothy 3.14-17

[This is part of a running series on translating Second Timothy. See the introductory post for more information — RB] 

Phrasing/Translation: 2Ti 3.14-17

14 Σὺ δὲ μένε
14 But you remain
    ἐν οἷς ἔμαθες καὶ ἐπιστώθης,
    in what you learned and became convinced of,
    εἰδὼς παρὰ τίνων ἔμαθες,
    knowing from whom you learned,
    15 καὶ ὅτι
    15 that
        ἀπὸ βρέφους [τὰ] ἱερὰ γράμματα οἶδας,
        from infancy you knew the sacred writings,
            τὰ δυνάμενά σε σοφίσαι
            which are able to make you wise
                εἰς σωτηρίαν
                into salvation 
                    διὰ πίστεως 
                    through faith 
                        τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. 
                        which is in Christ Jesus.

16 πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος
16 All scripture is breathed out by God and useful
    πρὸς διδασκαλίαν,
    for teaching,
    πρὸς ἐλεγμόν,
    for rebuke,
    πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν,
    for improvement,
    πρὸς παιδείαν
    for training
        τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ,
        which is in righteousness,
    17 ἵνα ἄρτιος ᾖ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος,
    17 so that the man of God might be capable,
        πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος.
        having been equipped for all good work.


The unit is 2Ti 3.10-17. NA27 insert a subparagraph break after 2Ti 3.13, which was a decent point to break the section for posting. See Second Timothy 3.10-13 for previous section.

Verse 14

Σὺ δὲ μένε] again, note the superfluous Σὺ (cf. v. 10 in previous post) which serves to bring Timothy back into focus. Note also the imperative verb.

ἐν οἷς ἔμαθες καὶ ἐπιστώθης] prepositional phrase, modifying the imperative verb. Specifies the content of what Timothy is to remain in. The two finite verbs in the prepositional phrase agree in everything but voice (the first active voice, the second passive). These provide the bounds of understanding the relative pronoun: “in what you learned and became convinced of”.

εἰδὼς παρὰ τίνων ἔμαθες] Note repetition of verb ἔμαθες; it adverbially modifies imperative verb; εἰδὼς is further modified by the prepositional phrase. Paul has covered the basics in Timothy’s learning, not only reminding him of what he’s learned but the examples he’s learned from (Paul, and Lois and Eunice, among others — the pronoun is plural here).

Verse 15

καὶ ὅτι] This clause is provides further modification to εἰδὼς (cf. Marshall ICC 788).

ἀπὸ βρέφους [τὰ] ἱερὰ γράμματα οἶδας] The prepositional phrase is fronted in the clause creating a temporal frame. Paul is stressing not only the content of Timothy’s knowledge of the truth, but the duration. He’s known this stuff since he was knee-high to a grasshopper.

τὰ δυνάμενά σε σοφίσαι] Participial clause, providing purpose of the sacred writings. Note again the articular, substantive participle + infinitive structure.

εἰς σωτηρίαν] prepositional phrase, modifying the previous clause, showing the end of “being made wise”.

διὰ πίστεως] prepositional phrase. This could be modifying the previous prepositional object or, as the previous prepositional phrase, modifying the verbal idea of the previous clause. Most see it as the former, though annotate it as the latter. Paul uses this prepositional phrase 12 times (Ro 3.22, 30, 31; 2Co 5.7; Ga 2.16; 3.14, 26; Eph 2.8; 3.12, 17; Co 2.12; 2Ti 3.15) and it evokes the image of “salvation through faith” in Eph 2.8. It seems reasonable to see this prepositional phrase modifying the previous prepositional object.

τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ] Here the article functions like a pronoun; the structure clarifies the source of the faith by use of the article with prepositional phrase.

Verse 16

πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος] The clause has no explicit verb, the verb “to be” (εστιν) is implied. The conjunction καὶ joins the two adjectives, θεόπνευστος and ὠφέλιμος, which agree in case, number and gender; θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος functioning as a predicate adjective structure. This attributes these qualities to the subject of the clause, “all Scripture/writings”. A series of four prepositional phrases follows; each providing some further information on how scripture can be helpful (ὠφέλιμος).

πρὸς διδασκαλίαν] prepositional phrase functioning adjectivally, modifying ὠφέλιμος. Scripture is helpful because it informs teaching.

πρὸς ἐλεγμόν] prepositional phrase functioning adjectivally, modifying ὠφέλιμος. Scripture is helpful because it rightly sheds light on those things worthy of rebuke.

πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν] prepositional phrase functioning adjectivally, modifying ὠφέλιμος. Scripture is helpful because it provides the basis of correction or improvement.

πρὸς παιδείαν] prepositional phrase functioning adjectivally, modifying ὠφέλιμος. Scripture is helpful for training.

τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ] Here the article functions like a relative pronoun, it is further modified by a prepositional phrase. This qualifies the training; it is not just any training, it is training which is in righteousness.

Verse 17

ἵνα ἄρτιος ᾖ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος] subordinate clause. From the perspective of traditional sentence diagramming, this is modifying the verb implied in v. 16 (εστιν). What is traditionally translated “the man of God” here is generic; ἄνθρωπος need not take an exclusively male referent.

πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος] participial clause with prepositional phrase modifying the participle. The prepositional phrase is fronted, marking it as the most important material in the clause. The whole structure modifies the primary verb in the subordinate clause ().