Who Wrote the Pastoral Epistles 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus? When Were They Written?

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EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 140 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Michael J. Kruger, the President and the Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. This author believed Reformed Theological Seminary to be a conservative Seminary.

I have read a few of Kruger’s papers, some other articles on what seems to be a website or a blog. I had appreciated many things he wrote, which gave me the impression that he was/is a conservative apologetic Christian. Thus, I was moved to buy his book: Christianity at the Crossroads (July 2017)


In The Early Text of the New Testament, Michael J. Kruger wrote …

On a discussion of whether 1 Timothy 5:18 is quoting Luke 10:7, Kruger writes, “The idea that a Pauline book would cite Luke is also more plausible when one considers the way other historical sources link the two together.” Now, this seems promising because he is referring to Paul as the author. However, he goes on to write, “The book of 1 Timothy is typically dated at the end of the first century, from 90–100 AD.” [e.g. Anthony T. Hanson, Werner Georg Kummel, I. Howard Marshall, John P. Meier, Hans Erich Freiherr von Campenhausen.  Well, herein lies the problem, Paul suffered martyrdom at the hands of Nero about 66 A.D. So, Kruger lets this dating go unchecked, it comes across as though he has no problem with such dating. At a minimum, if he disagrees he could say, ‘this author disagrees and would say Paul is the author and 1 Timothy dates to _______.’

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

This author’s position is that the apostle Paul was the author of 1 Timothy and it was written c. 61–64 C.E. [Norman L. Geisler dates it to 64-66 A.D.] 2 Timothy was written by Paul about c. 65 C.E. [Geisler 67 A.D.] and Titus c. 61–64 C.E. [Geisler 64-66 A.D.] The above dates (c.90–100 A.D.) from Kruger’s book would remove Paul as being the author of all of these pastoral epistles. The pastoral epistles themselves erases any doubts as to whether Paul is the author. The writer of 1 Timothy says he is “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” (1 Tim. 1:1) 2 Timothy 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.” Titus 1:1 says, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness.”

We can deal with 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, all in one post.

First and Second Timothy, as well as Titus have been accepted from the earliest times as the apostle Paul as the author and as being part of the inspired Scriptures. The early Christian authors, which include Polycarp, Ignatius, and Clement of Rome, are all in agreement. In addition, the letters are included in the catalogs of the first few centuries as Paul’s writings. The New Bible Dictionary writes: “There are few NT writings which have stronger attestation, for these Epistles were widely used from the time of Polycarp, and there are possible traces in the earlier works of Clement of Rome and Ignatius. The omission of the Epistles from Marcion’s Canon (c. ad 140) has been thought by some to be evidence that they were not known in his time, but, in view of his propensity to cut out what did not appeal to him or disagreed with his doctrine, this line of evidence can hardly be taken seriously. The only other possible evidence for the omission of the Epistles is the Chester Beatty papyri, but since these are incomplete it is again precarious to base any positive hypothesis upon their evidence, especially in view of the fact that the Epistles were known and used in the E at an earlier period than the papyri represent. Objections to authenticity must therefore be regarded as modern innovations contrary to the strong evidence from the early church. These objections began seriously with Schleiermacher’s attack on the genuineness of 1 Tim. (1807) and have been developed by many other scholars, among whom the most notable have been F. C. Baur, H. J. Holtzmann, P. N. Harrison and M. Dibelius. They have been based on four main problems. At different periods of criticism different difficulties have been given prominence, but it is probably the cumulative effect which has persuaded some modern scholars that these Epistles cannot be by Paul.[1]



1 Timothy

Who Wrote It?

The letter of 1 Timothy was written by Paul, the aged apostle (see information about Paul in chapter 10).

Internal Evidence

This book claims to be written by Paul (1:1). Further, it mentions Paul’s known companion twice (1:2; 6:20). What is more, the character of the polemical nature of the book is Pauline (compare Galatians and Colossians). Finally, the doctrinal content is Pauline, with its stress on sound doctrine (1:10).

External Evidence

This book was accepted in early biblical lists as Paul’s (for example, in the Muratorian canon). Also, the earliest known manuscripts have Paul’s name on them (1:1). What is more, it was cited by the earliest Fathers (for example, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria). It is also cited by the Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache. Likewise, the great Fathers to follow accepted the book with Paul’s name on it as genuine, including Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Eusebius, Jerome, and St. Augustine.

Answering the Critics

Some modern critics have rejected the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy. Two main arguments are set forth.

Fragmentary view. Some suggest that parts of the letter are Paul’s (for example, 1 Tim. 1:13–15, 18; 2 Tim. 1:4–5; 3:14–15; 4:6–8). These fragments are said to have been incorporated by a later writer into his own material.

Response. In response, defenders of Pauline authorship have argued, first, that the claim of authorship in 1:1 stands for the whole book and would be false if the whole book were not from Paul. Further, the book forms a literary unity so that there is no need to attribute parts of it to others. In addition, if the fragments had been known to be Pauline, the writer could not have pawned them off as his own. And if they were not known as Pauline, there would have been no advantage in using them.

Fictional view. Other critics argue that a later writer used Paul’s name to counter evils of his day and strengthen the Christian community. This is evidenced, they say, by a different (later) historical setting (2 Tim. 4:13, 20), different vocabulary from Paul’s other writing (131 new words, one-third of the book), different church organization (with bishops and elders), lack of emphasis on gifts and working of the Spirit, no emphasis on Christ’s return, and a doctrinal outlook that is different. These are serious charges and will be answered in order.

Response. None of these objections is telling and each is answerable. Hence, the internal and external evidence for the Pauline view stands.

  1. The different (later) historical setting is explained by Paul’s release from prison (Phil. 1:19; Philem. 22) and reimprisonment (2 Tim. 4:6–8). Paul had a desire to go to Spain, and Rome was on the way there (Rom. 15:28). Clement of Rome said he went to the “limits of the west” (1 Clement 5).
  2. As for new vocabulary: (a) The vocabulary fits the new topic. (b) The sample is too limited to be determinative of authorship. (c) It begs the question by assuming the other epistles are Paul’s style. (d) It overlooks the fact that Paul had different secretaries over the years. For example, Tertius helped with Romans (16:22), and Luke was with Paul when he wrote 2 Timothy (4:11). (e) Living authors express different styles in different books, depending on the topic and audience. One need only compare this author’s Philosophy of Religion written for scholars and Living Loud penned for teens. (f) Paul himself used different vocabulary in a book the critics accept. For example, Galatians, which critics accept, has thirty-five new words in it.
  3. The church organization is not different. Elders (bishops) and deacons are found in early Acts (6:1–8; 14:23) and in an earlier epistle—Philippians (1:1), so there were bishops and elders at that time.
  4. Gifts of the Spirit are mentioned (1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14). But sign gifts (2 Cor. 12:12; see 1 Cor. 14:22) may have ceased by that time, since they were needed by the apostles only to lay the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:19–20; see Acts 2, 10) and would die out with the apostles (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 9:1).
  5. While Christ’s return is not emphasized in Paul’s Pastoral Epistles, it is mentioned. Titus is told to look for it expectantly (2:13). Paul looks forward to it in 2 Timothy 4:8 (see 2:12, 18) and exhorts believers in view of it in 1 Timothy 6:14–15. There are other possible allusions to it in 1 Timothy as well: 1:17; 3:9; 5:24–25; 6:7. It is understandable that it is not the chief emphasis here since Paul is concerned with church organization.
  6. Finally, the doctrinal outlook in the Pastoral Epistles is Pauline. He stresses sound doctrine over and over (1 Tim. 1:3, 10; 4:6, 16; 6:3–4; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:15; 3:10, 15–17; 4:2; Titus 1:9; 2:1). He writes of God, election (2 Tim. 1:8–10), sin (5:24; 2 Tim. 3:1–17), grace (Titus 2:11–13; 3:5–7), Christ (1 Tim. 3:16; 6:14–15), resurrection (2 Tim. 1:10; 2:18), and the second coming—all Pauline emphases.

When Was It Written?

Paul wrote 1 Timothy from Macedonia between AD 64 and 66, during his release between the first and second imprisonments.[2]


2 Timothy

Who Wrote It?

Paul, the departing apostle (1:1; see 4:6), wrote the epistle to Timothy. Luke may have served as secretary (4:11; see Rom. 16:22).

Internal Evidence

Despite some modern criticism, the evidence for Paul’s authorship is strong. First, there is the clear claim of the book (1:1). Likewise, the companions mentioned—Mark and Luke—are Paul’s (4:11–21). Also the content is Pauline, with its stress on sound doctrine and the Word of God (1:13; 2:15; 3:15–17; 4:2). The circumstances are clearly those of Paul, speaking of his imprisonment and imminent death (4:6–8).

External Evidence

External support for Paul’s authorship is early and strong. The earliest known manuscripts bear his name. In addition, the early Fathers attribute it to Paul (Barnabas, Ignatius, Shepherd of Hermas, and Irenaeus). Also the great later Fathers, like Tertullian, Origen, Jerome, and Augustine, supported Pauline authorship. And the early Muratorian canon contained it. Finally, the objections of modern critics are based on specious arguments concerning alleged Pauline vocabulary (see the discussion of Paul’s vocabulary in chapter 19).

When Was It Written?

The letter was written ca. AD 67, just before Paul’s martyrdom under Nero, during his second Roman imprisonment (2 Tim. 1:16–17).[3]

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2


Who Wrote It?

Paul, the apostle, wrote Titus (1:1) (see introduction to 1 Timothy in chapter 19).

When Was It Written?

Paul wrote Titus around AD 64–66, between his two imprisonments and between the writing of 1 and 2 Timothy.[4]

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II


Authorship. The Pauline authorship of the Pastorals ( I, II Timothy and Titus) is contested. However, the prima facie evidence of the writings themselves indicates that Paul is the writer, since his name appears in the salutation of each, and autobiographical remarks fit the life of Paul as recorded elsewhere: e.g., I Tim 1:12, 13; II Tim 3:10, 11; 4:10, 11, 19, 20.

The basic rule of evidence regarding genuineness of documents was stated long ago by Simon Greenleaf: “Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise” (An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists, London, 1847, p. 7).

We have in the Pastorals ancient books, coming from the proper custody, the church. The church always accepted them as Pauline; there is no dissenting voice until modern times. What then does criticism offer to offset the prima facie evidence and the unanimous voice of tradition? Alleged marks of non-genuineness or forgery are four: (1) non-Pauline language and style; (2) the opposition of the Pastorals to second-century Gnosticism; (3) discrepancies between the Pastorals and Acts-it is assumed that Paul was put to death at the end of the one and only Roman imprisonment, as recorded in Acts, and hence it is concluded that Paul cannot be the author of the Pastorals; (4) advanced ecclesiastical organization, beyond the time of Paul, reflected in the Pastorals.

These arguments do not overcome the positive evidence. (1) The linguistic argument is inconclusive because psychologically absurd as well as difficult, if not impossible, to prove. Would a forger, seeking to have a book accepted as a work of Paul, introduce non-Pauline vocabulary at the rate of seventeen words per page of Greek text, and refer to incidents and persons which did not enter the known life of Paul? The unhesitating and unanimous reception of the books by the ancient church, under such conditions, would be impossible to explain. Indeed, this unhesitating reception is very good evidence that the epistles were well known to be genuine. The linguistic data may conceivably point to the joint authorship of Luke and Paul (Moffatt, Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 3rd ed., p. 414), but it is well to remember that at best the dating of literature by limiting a writer’s language and style is only conjecture. The readers of Paul’s Pastoral Epistles were different from those of any other epistles. Timothy and Titus had been intimately associated with Paul’s life and thought for fifteen to twenty years. We should therefore not be surprised if Paul chose to speak in language and style different from that used in addressing churches. Paul was encouraging and exhorting his sons in the faith, not correcting quarreling or wavering churches.

(2) The assumption in this objection is that if the Pastorals refute second-century Gnosticism, they must be second-century documents. Given the clear prima facie evidence of Pauline authorship, if there are statements answering later Gnosticism, the inference is that Paul has foreseen such developments, which is not impossible even from the standpoint of mere human sagacity. However, Paul has elsewhere in other epistles claimed, by inspiration, to foresee and predict the future. To deny that he could is to beg the whole question of the possibility of supernatural revelation. Moreover, Paul may not have been fighting in these epistles a Gnosticism as advanced as some have argued.

(3) That the names, places, and incidents alluded to in the Pastorals cannot be fitted into the outline of Acts, is a very good reason for extending the life of Paul beyond the narration of Acts. The Pastorals, then, would be the product of Paul’s fourth missionary journey and a second imprisonment.

(4) The elements of ecclesiastical organization found in the Pastorals are found elsewhere in the New Testament. Some have thought that the ranking of Luke’s Gospel as Scripture (I Tim 5:18) is an indication of late date. “By the time the author of the pastorals wrote, either Luke’s gospel or some evangelic collection containing Luke 10:7 was reckoned as graphé” (Ibid., p. 401f.). This argument also assumes the point to be proved, namely, that the book could not have been inspired and known to be inspired from the time of its writing and reception.

Fuller answers to these arguments have been worked out in the standard conservative commentaries and introductions. See especially Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, pp. 4-32. [See that very information below]

Date. The first letter to Timothy and the one to Titus were written during the period of travel and missionary work between Paul’s two Roman imprisonments. A date somewhere between A.D. 61 and 63 cannot be far wrong. The second epistle to Timothy contains the last words found from the apostle; they were written from prison shortly before his martyrdom (4:6-8). We should view them, as Calvin expresses it, “as written not with ink but with Paul’s own blood.” The date of the apostle’s death is generally set sometime between A.D. 65 and 68.[5]

The Epistle to the Hebrews Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL


Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, vol. 4,
New Testament Commentary

The term “pastoral epistles,” as a common title for 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, dates from the early part of the eighteenth century. Now these letters do indeed furnish worth-while directions for pastors. Yet, the title is not exact. Timothy and Titus were not “pastors” in the usual, present-day sense of the term. They were not ministers of local congregations, but rather vicars apostolic, Paul’s special envoys or deputies sent by him on specific missions. They were entrusted with concrete assignments according to the need of the hour. Their task was to perform their spiritual ministry here or there, carrying forward the work which had been started, and then reporting to the apostle their findings and accomplishments.

Marcion, in the middle of the second century, rejected these three letters. Tertullian states, “I am surprised, however, that when he (Marcion) accepted this letter (Philemon) which was written but to one man, he rejected the two epistles to Timothy and the one to Titus, which all treat of ecclesiastical discipline” (Against Marcion V. xxi). Now in a man like Marcion, who preached the strictest asceticism, denied the lawfulness of marriage, and issued rigid rules for fasting, such a rejection of the Pastorals, in which asceticism is condemned (1 Tim. 4:3, 4; Tit. 1:14, 15), is altogether natural. A heretic does not like a writing which directly or indirectly condemns his or a somewhat similar heresy.

In the nineteenth century (1807 to be exact) F. Schleiermacher rejected the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy. F. C. Baur in his work on the Pastoral Epistles (Stuttgart and Tübingen, 1835) defended the position that it is inconsistent to accept 2 Timothy and Titus but to reject 1 Timothy. All three must be considered in the class of pseudepigraphic literature. Many enthusiastic disciples—the Tübingen School—endorsed his view. Today this position is accepted by many, though some have adopted a somewhat more conservative view (see p. 17).

Can it be truthfully maintained that in this negative attitude the critics are as thoroughly objective as they claim to be? Is it just possible that the manner in which these three little gems deal with “some of the fondest shibboleths of the modern mind” has something to do with the decisive way in which their Pauline authorship is denied? The Pastorals place particular emphasis on such matters as the reality and importance of ecclesiastical offices (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1), the inspiration of the written word (2 Tim. 3:16), the necessity of maintaining doctrinal soundness (1 Tim. 4:1–6; 2 Tim. 3:14; 4:3; Tit. 2:1), the reality of the resurrection (2 Tim. 2:18), and the divine requirement that faith shall make itself militantly manifest (2 Tim. 4:2, 7, 8).

Now, whether or not subjective bias has asserted itself, one conclusion becomes inescapably clear when the facts are examined: the critics have failed to prove their thesis that Paul cannot have written the Pastorals.


The arguments of the critics may be summarized as follows:

(1) In vocabulary the three epistles are very similar to each other, but entirely different from the other ten epistles which are traditionally assigned to Paul, namely, Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, and Philemon.

The following points are emphasized under this general heading, some critics stressing one point, others another:

  1. The great similarity in the vocabulary of the three Pastorals.
  2. The contrast between the vocabulary of the Pastorals and that of the ten.

At times it would almost seem that a single glance at Harrison’s well-known diagrams (in his book, The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, Oxford, 1921) was enough to convince some that Paul could not have written 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. Is not the number of new words, per page (!) of Greek text, introduced by the author of these three letters, completely out of proportion to the much smaller number of new words per page used by Paul in his ten epistles? If the apostle wrote the latter, is it at all possible that he also wrote the former?

Besides, do not such expressions as the following clearly point away from Paul: “guard the deposit” (τὴν παραθήκην φύλαξον 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:12, 14); “follow doctrine” (a form of παρακολουθέω with τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ, 1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 3:10); “profane chatter” (βέβηλοι κενοφωνίας, 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:16); “man of God” (ἄνθρωπος θεοῦ, 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:17)?

And, on the other hand, is it not true that many words that are used again and again in the ten are absent from the three: “to do wrong” (ἀδικέω), “blood” (αἷμα), “uncircumcision” (ἀκροβυστία), “works of the law” (ἔργα νόμου), etc.? Burton Scott Easton points out that the real Paul uses “Spirit” about 80 times; the author of the Pastorals only 3 times!

  1. The presence of entirely new or greatly expanded word-families in the Pastorals.

Is it not true that the Pastorals present, either for the first time or with unparalleled ramification, not only many single words but even whole families of words? To give just one example: the family of compounds which center about the common idea of teaching or did actics:

Occurring nowhere in the ten are the following:



apt at teaching, 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24




a teacher of the law, 1 Tim. 1:7




a teacher of that which is good, Tit. 2:3




to teach differently, to teach a different doctrine, 1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3


Occurring also in two or three of the ten are:



a teacher, 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11; 4:3




teaching, in the Pastorals occurring with great frequency, in both the active and the passive sense (doctrine)




teaching, 2 Tim. 4:2; doctrine, Titus 1:9


Occurring also in six of the ten are:



to teach, 1 Tim. 2:12; 4:11; 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:2; Tit. 1:11.


  1. The absence of Pauline word-families.

This is the obverse of the preceding.

  1. The fact that several words found in 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, but not in the ten, occur in the vocabulary of the Apostolic Fathers, and the complementary fact that a large percentage of genuinely Pauline words which do not occur in the three have also dropped out of the vocabulary of the Apostolic Fathers. It is argued that for the Pastorals this points to a date early in the second century.

In this connection it is also usually pointed out that during the second century there was a revival of classical diction. It is maintained that this explains the presence of a considerable number of classical words in these letters.

  1. The frequent use of Latin words and idioms.

It is said that this indicates that the author of the Pastorals cannot have been Paul but must have been someone living in or near Rome. Or, if this conclusion is not stated in so many words, the argument from Latinisms occurring in the Pastorals is at least enlisted in the cause of skepticism.

  1. The totally different meaning which in the Pastorals is carried by words that are common to them and to the ten.



faith, in the Pastorals used objectively = what is believed, the true religion; but by Paul in the sense of subjective trust.



to take up, used in 1 Tim. 3:16 of Christ’s ascension, but in Eph. 6:13, 16 of “taking up” spiritual weapons.



letter, used in an unfavorable sense by Paul, but letters used in favorable sense in 2 Tim. 3:15 = the sacred writings.


  1. Finally, the fact that not only “the stones” differ from those used by Paul but also “the clamps and the mortar” (particles of transition and inference, which abound in the ten but are largely lacking in the Pastorals).

It is not difficult to show that the value of this argument and of its ramifications has been greatly over-estimated.

As to a., to a certain extent the very opposite is the truth. Of new words (new in the sense that they do not occur in the ten) only a very few are found in all three letters; only 9 out of a total of 306! Hence, if dissimilarity in new vocabulary proves different authorship, something can be said for the proposition that a different author would have to be posited for each of the Pastorals! Of new words 1 Timothy has 127, 2 Timothy has 81 others, and Titus has 45 others. Together 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy have only 17; 1 Timothy and Titus have only 20; 2 Timothy and Titus have only 7; all three together only 9. (Yet both vocabulary and style, taken as a whole, point rather to unity of authorship.)

As to b., fact is that slightly over one-fourth of the total vocabulary of Paul’s epistle to the Romans is “new” in the sense that these words do not occur in the other nine epistles. The percentage of new words, in proportion to total vocabulary, in 2 Timothy (words not occurring in the ten) is hardly any higher than in Romans. The same holds for Titus. In 1 Timothy about one-third of the words are new. Surely, on the basis of these facts the thesis of the critics, namely, that Paul cannot have written the Pastorals, does not follow!

In each epistle Paul uses the (Spirit-inspired) words which he needs in order to express his (Spirit-inspired) thoughts regarding the specific subject with which he deals. For this reason it is not surprising that certain words, found in the ten, are lacking in the three. As an example, let us take the first three words mentioned in Harrison’s list on p. 31, taking them just as they come. The first is ἀδικέω: to do wrong, to commit unrighteousness. The second is αἷμα: blood. The third is ἀκροβυστία: uncircumcision. Now this entire subject of righteousness, obtained for the sinner by the blood of Christ and not by means of rites such as circumcision, belongs to such epistles as Romans, Galatians, and to some extent I Corinthians. Hence, it is in these epistles that we must look for such or similar words. But surely the apostle did not need to expound in detail to Timothy and Titus, his intimate friends and fellow-workers, the doctrine of justification by faith! Hence, it is altogether natural that these three words do not occur here, though the doctrine itself is not completely absent; see Titus 3:5–7. The same holds for the other words given by Harrison on pp. 31 and 32 of his book. The absence of not a single one of them from the Pastoral epistles is strange, though in one case it is more immediately apparent why a word should not be found than in another. Moreover, if the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals must be rejected because the word “Spirit” occurs only 3 times, must we not also reject the Pauline authorship of Colossians, II Thessalonians, and Philemon?

As to c. and d., this is a sword that cuts both ways, for one might also say that the very presence of entire word-families here in the Pastorals just as in the ten, points in the direction of identical authorship. That the basic word around which the word-family has developed is not the same in the different epistles is easily explained: in the letters to Timothy and to Titus, who were definitely in need of good counsel with respect to their own specific task of imparting instruction, the word-family which centers about the idea of teaching is certainly not at all surprising.

Besides, it can be shown that if the presence or absence of certain words and word-families is decisive in determining authorship, it will not be easy for the critics to defend the Pauline authorship of all the ten, for in Harrison’s list of 41 words which occur in five Pauline epistles but not in the Pastorals (op. cit. p. 31), only one word out of the first 22 occurs in II Thessalonians! Some, of course, would be perfectly willing to drop II Thessalonians also!

As to e., our knowledge of actual vocabulary in use during the second half of the first century A.D., in comparison with the first half of the second century A.D., is far too scanty to be able to serve as a trustworthy criterion. How often has it not happened that words which were formerly considered “late” suddenly turned up in newly discovered writings of a much earlier date? The idea that the use of “classical” words indicates a second century A.D. author looks like begging the question. Why should it be accounted unreasonable to assume that Paul himself wrote the Pastorals, and that he derived his knowledge of “classical” vocabulary from his own reading or listening? Had he not been a student in his youth? Did Gamaliel’s curriculum provide nothing in the line of ancient and contemporary literature? Is it not true that the Paul whom we have learned to know from the ten recognized epistles must have had a rather extensive knowledge (direct or indirect) of Greek authors, so that he was able to quote Menander (1 Cor. 15:33) and Aratus (Acts 17:28)? Is it absurd to posit the possibility that during his lengthy first imprisonment (and according to some perhaps even during his second imprisonment, cf. 2 Tim. 4:13) the apostle added to this knowledge by now and then making excursions into extra-canonical literature? We know, at any rate, that some of the words not found elsewhere in the New Testament but used both by the author of the Pastorals and by writers of the second century A.D. were also used by the apostle’s contemporaries. Who will dare to maintain that many other words may not also have been in common use as early as the first century A.D. or even earlier?


The similarity in vocabulary which appears when the Pastorals are compared with Christian writings of the second century A.D. does not necessarily mean that whoever wrote 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus flourished in the days of the Apostolic Fathers and Apologists. It could also mean that these second century Christian authors had read, studied, and to a certain extent copied or paraphrased Paul!

As to f., the frequent use of words and idioms derived from the Latin, this argument hangs by a slender thread! The critics are able to point to a total of no more than two Latin words in the three Pastorals, namely,

μεμβράνα (Latin membrana), parchment, 2 Tim. 4:13; and (same passage)

φελόνης (Latin paenula), which has been variously interpreted as cloak, book-cover, brief-case. But Latin words also occur in those epistles which even by the critics are ascribed to Paul: θριαμβεύω, to lead in triumph (cf. Latin triumphus), 2 Cor. 2:14; Col. 2:15; μάκελλον, meat-market (Latin macellum), 1 Cor. 10:25; and πραιτώριον, Praetorian Guard (Latin praetorium), Phil. 1:13. Besides, in his Gospel and Acts, Luke, who had been Paul’s companion, and who, according to 2 Tim. 4:11, was again with him during the apostle’s second imprisonment, uses almost half of a total of about thirty different Latin words that occur in the New Testament. If Paul’s frequent companion can use Latin words, why cannot Paul do the same?

It is true that echoes of the Latin have also been heard in such expressions as:



(dominus), 1 Tim. 6:1, 2; 2:12; Tit. 2:9, master, lord




(bilinguis in one of its meanings), 1 Tim. 3:8, double-tongued




(firmamentum), 1 Tim. 3:15, support, bulwark, foundation




(pietas), 1 Tim. 2:2; 4:7, 8, piety, reverence, devotion, godly living, godliness, religion




(vaniloquium), 1 Tim. 1:6, futile talk


οἱ ἡμέτεροι


(nostri), Tit. 3:14, “our folk,” our people




(inclinatio), 1 Tim. 5:21, inclination, partiality




(praeiudicium), 1 Tim. 5:21, pre-judging, prejudice




(gravitas), 1 Tim. 2:2; 3:4; Tit. 2:7, dignity, respectability, gravity, seriousness


χάριν ἔχειν


(gratiam habere), 1 Tim. 1:12, to acknowledge gratitude


But in connection with this, observe the following:

  1. Words and phrases which remind one of parallels that are very common in Latin are also found in other New Testament writings.
  2. Even during the first century A.D. Greek and Latin had reached the stage of mutual loaning and back-and-forth translation.
  3. What may look like a copied idiom may be simply the result of parallel development in cognate languages.

Besides, even though one should admit a considerable measure of influence from the Latin upon the Greek of the Pastorals, would this in any way prove that Paul could not have written them? Is it not entirely natural that a man who had at last reached the world’s metropolis, where very recently he had spent not less than two years, a man, moreover, who was highly susceptible to environmental influences and eagerly desirous of becoming all things to all men, would now begin to make even fuller use of “Roman” diction and phraseology than he had done heretofore? On this point the argument of the critics would seem to break down completely!


With respect to g., these illustrations readily vanish upon closer examination. Thus, it is claimed that Paul uses the term faith in the subjective sense (reliance on God and on his promises), but that the author of the Pastorals uses it in the objective sense (creed, body of truth). But, to begin with the Pastorals, the expression “faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:14) indicates the exercise of these virtues. “To continue in faith and love and holiness” (see 1 Tim. 2:15) also illustrates the subjective use. And when the author teaches that one obtains “salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” everyone immediately understands that he is speaking about the attitude and exercise of trust in the Redeemer (hence, again subjective sense). See also 1 Tim. 3:13; 6:11, 12 and 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:10; 4:7.—And as to the ten epistles, their author does not always use the term in the subjective sense. Thus, in Gal. 1:23 he speaks about “preaching the faith.” In Gal. 6:10 he uses the expression, “those who are of the household of the faith.” And Phil. 1:27: “striving for the faith of the gospel,” furnishes another excellent example of the objective use. Moreover, it is not at all surprising that in the Pastorals Paul, being a man who is about to depart from this life, should be concerned about the preservation of “the truth,” and should, accordingly, frequently employ the term “faith” in this objective sense (1 Tim. 1:19; 3:9; 4:1; 5:8; 6:10; 2 Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:13).

As to the other examples that are supposed to prove that when the author of the three uses a Pauline word it frequently attains an altogether different meaning, thus proving that the apostle cannot have written the three, it is not at all clear why one and the same author would not be able to use the verb “to take up” both with respect to the “taking up” of spiritual weapons and the “being taken up” of Jesus into heaven. Similarly, the fact that the expression “the letter,” singular, is used in one sense, but the term “letters,” plural, in a different sense, is not so strange. Many languages contain idioms of this character: for example, to take in fresh air, singular, is very necessary, but to give oneself airs, plural, is not advisable. And is it not true that in those epistles which even by the critics are assigned to Paul the terms “flesh” and “law” are used in more than one sense, just as the author of the Fourth Gospel uses the term “world” in several senses?

Finally, anent h., in expository or argumentative discourses—think especially of Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians—we can naturally expect a much wider use of particles of transition and inference than in a manual of warnings and directives for “pastors.” In the latter we look for and find the imperative mood.

In brief, here is Paul, “the aged” (thus self-styled already in Philemon 9), writing a letter. Does a man of advancing years use the vocabulary of a younger person? In spite of vigorous denials, is it not possible that age and the experience of imprisonment, whether in the recent past or at the very moment of writing, might have something to do with vocabulary and/or grammar?

The author of the Pastorals is writing to intimate fellow-workers, his own deputies. Today when a minister of a large congregation gives advice to his “assistant” with whom he is on good terms, does he employ the Sunday pulpit-oratory style?

In writing to his assistants the author advises them how the church should be organized, what kind of elders should be appointed, what should be done about heretics, etc. Do subjects of this nature require the vocabulary which one would use in expounding to the congregation the doctrine of “justification by faith” (Romans) or of “the unity of all believers in Christ” (Ephesians)? N. J. D. White, op. cit., pp. 63, 65, 66, accounts for some of the new words that occur in the Pastorals by showing that their presence is quite natural in letters which condemn heresies. He places such terms under the heading “Polemical phraseology in reference to false teaching.” An example is “profane chatter:”

In conclusion, we would like to ask the critics, At the beginning of his writing-career was the apostle handed a list of words with the requirement that, no matter what the circumstances might be, either of himself or of the readers, and no matter what might be the purpose of any epistle or the subject on which he would write, he must invariably use these words, and only these words, and, in addition, must distribute them in equal proportion ever all his letters, like the spots on a polka-dot dress? In actual, physical compass the literary heritage which Paul has left us is not at all imposing: a mere 138 small pages of print in N.N. (for the ten epistles). Do we have any right to assume that what is written on these 138 pages (reduced to 67 larger pages in the English Bible that lies on my desk) comprises Paul’s total vocabulary and syntax, so that any deviation (either in words or in grammar) which one encounters in the Pastorals proves that the latter must be ascribed to another author? Has any person the right to apply to Paul’s writings a criterion which would do away with much of Milton, Shelley, and Carlyle, if it were applied to their writings?

The argument based on vocabulary and grammar leads nowhere. Even the staunchest defender of the authenticity of the Pastorals will readily grant that there is a remarkable difference in vocabulary, when these three are compared to the ten, just as there is considerable variation when each of the three is compared with either or both of the others. It is entirely possible that the explanations which have been given—such as, Paul’s age and imprisonment (past or present), the character of the readers, the subjects covered, the purpose—do not fully account for these differences. Other factors may also have been operative, for example, the rapid advance and development of the church as a new entity, growing, changing, vigorous, and of necessity developing a new phraseology. Such expressions as “guard the deposit,” “follow doctrine,” and “man of God” are by White considered to belong to this category. Here, we may assume, Paul is using phraseology which he hears round about him. It has also been suggested that Paul’s “secretary” or “secretaries” may have influenced the final product to some extent. On this point see footnote .

The point to note, however, is this: the burden of proof rests entirely on the negative critic! It is not the conservative believer who claims that vocabulary and grammar prove Paul to have been the author, but it is the critic who now loudly proclaims that vocabulary and grammar indicate that Paul could not have been the author. The literary critics of the early centuries, who were well aware of grammar and style peculiarities, and therefore called in question the Pauline authorship of Hebrews, never had any such difficulty with the Pastorals! The modern critic has failed completely to prove with respect to even a single word of the total Pastoral vocabulary, that Paul could not have written it! I have worked this out in detail in connection with the vocabulary of the second chapter of Titus. See footnote .

(2) The style of the Pastorals betrays their forged origin.

Some, in speaking about “style,” use this term in a sense which approaches “vocabulary,” “diction.” This has already been discussed. Others, however, give a broader connotation to the term, and under this heading discuss what the author of the Pastorals says and especially how he says it, the general character of his thoughts and particularly the manner in which he expresses them. We shall here take the term in this broader sense.

On one matter the critics are agreed, namely, on the proposition that the style of the Pastorals points away from Paul. But as soon as the question is raised, “Why is this true?” the answers divide and become contradictory, some asserting that the style itself is altogether un-Pauline, others that it reminds one at so many points of Paul that a forger, a conscious imitator, must have been at work. He must have had a copy of Paul’s genuine epistles in front of him. From these he copied phrase upon phrase, acting as if he were Paul!

From this confusion in the camp of the critics there is only one safe retreat, namely, a candid examination of the actual facts. These point to Paul as the author. Observe the following:

We find in these short letters the same kind of a person as is revealed in the ten. It is the character of Paul which is here reflected, just as, for example, in I Thessalonians and II Thessalonians. See N.T.C. on I and II Thessalonians, p. 22. The author of the Pastorals is deeply interested in those whom he addresses, namely, in Timothy and Titus, displaying warm affection for them (1 Tim. 1:2; 5:23; 6:11, 12; 2 Tim. 1:2, 5, 6, 7; 2:1, 2, 15, 16; 4:1, 2, 15; Tit. 1:4). He shares their experiences and is fond of commending whatever is good in them (2 Tim. 1:8; 3:10–15; 4:5–8; Tit. 1:4). He ascribes to the sovereign grace of God whatever good there is in himself or in those addressed (1 Tim. 1:12–17; 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6, 7, 13, 14; 2:1). He shows wonderful tact in counseling (1 Tim. 1:18; 4:6, 11–16; 5:1; 6:11–16; 2 Tim. 1:2–7; Tit. 1:4; 2:7). He takes up, one by one, matters of special concern to Timothy and Titus (evident to anyone who reads these three short letters from beginning to end). He is anxious to see them (2 Tim. 1:4; 4:9, 11; Tit. 3:12).

He is, moreover, fond of the figure of speech called litotes, that is, affirmation by negation of the opposite. This may be viewed as a kind of understatement or miosis. Thus, instead of saying that he is “proud” of preaching Christ, he states that he is “not ashamed” of the One whom he has believed (2 Tim. 1:12; cf. 1:8, 16). Similarly he affirms that the Word of God is “not chained” (2 Tim. 2:9) and that God is the One who does “not lie” (Tit. 1:2). This reminds strongly of Paul, the man who declared that he was a citizen “of no mean city” (Acts 21:39); that he had “not been disobedient” to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19); that he was “not ashamed of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16); that his entering in among the Thessalonians was “not emptyhanded” (1 Thess. 2:1); that his appeal did “not spring from delusion” (1 Thess. 2:3); that he does not want the readers to be in ignorance (1 Thess. 4:13); and that they “must not become weary in well-doing” (2 Thess. 3:13).

He is fond of enumerations. Thus, he groups virtues or vices, listing them in series (1 Tim. 3:1–12; 6:4, 5; 2 Tim. 3:2–5; 3:10, 11; Tit. 3:3). This is exactly what Paul does in the other epistles (see Rom. 1:29–32; 2 Cor. 12:20; Gal. 5:19–23).

He is not averse to introducing here and there a “play upon words.” Thus he admonishes the rich to fix their hope on him who gives richly (1 Tim. 6:17). He contrasts “lovers of pleasure” with “lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4). He informs us that one of the purposes of the inspired writings is “that the man of God may be complete (or equipped), furnished completely (or thoroughly equipped) for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17, a passage where the R.S.V., by its translation, misses the evidently intentional play upon words). And he admonishes Timothy that in preaching the Word he must “be on hand in season, out of season.”

Here again one thinks inevitably of Paul and his fondness for the same stylistic characteristic. It is Paul who, cognizant of the fact that the name Jew (cf. Judah) indicates “let him (that is, God) be praised,” writes, “But he is a Jew … whose praise is not of men but of God” (Rom. 2:29). It is also Paul who makes use of the fact that the name of a fugitive slave, namely, Onesimus, means useful, beneficial, profitable: “I appeal to you in the interest of my child … Onesimus, who once was unprofitable (or useless) to you, but now is profitable (or useful) to you and to me:”

Again, Paul likes “compendious compounds” (E. K. Simpson). He often chooses terms that are composed of several words (often one or more prepositions plus a verb). Thus, it is he who says that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Now this word help originally meant “he lays hold of (λαμβάνεται) along with (σύν) a person, either facing that person or else taking his turn, so that he carries the burden instead of (ἀντί) that person. The entire verb is συναντιλαμβάνεται.

Here also the Pastorals resemble the ten, witness such compounds as καταστρηνιάσωσιν they grow wanton, 1 Tim. 5:11), διαπαρατριβαί (mutual altercations or incessant friction, 1 Tim. 6:5), εὐμετάδοτοι (ready to share with others, generous, 1 Tim. 6:18), θεόπνευστος (God-breathed, 2 Tim. 3:16), and αὐτοκατάκριτος (self-condemned, Tit. 3:11).

Paul’s love for phrases “in apposition”—see, for example, Rom. 12:1, “to present yourselves as a living sacrifice … (which is) your service according to reason (or reasonable worship)”—is well-known and can be illustrated by several passages from the ten epistles. Similar instances of apposition occur throughout the Pastorals. See, for example, 1 Tim. 1:17; 3:15, 16; 4:10, 14; 6:14, 15; 2 Tim. 1:2; 2:1; Tit. 1:1, 10; 2:14.

The sudden breaking in of doxologies, which feature one has met in studying the ten (see Rom. 9:5; 11:36; 16:27; Eph. 1:3 ff.; 3:20) appears once more in the Pastorals (1 Tim. 1:17; 6:15, 16; 2 Tim. 4:18; and cf. other instances of elevated style—“near-doxologies”—in 1 Tim. 3:16; Tit. 2:13, 14).

The expression of personal unworthiness (Eph. 3:8; 1 Cor. 15:9) recurs in 1 Tim. 1:13; the “if not … then how” phraseology (1 Cor. 14:6, 7, 9) is found also in 1 Tim. 3:5; moreover, who but the Paul whom we have learned to know from the ten could have penned that intensely personal and exuberant line, “I have fought the noble fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith,” etc. (2 Tim. 4:7, 8)?

A glance at those phrases in the Pastorals which Harrison has underscored (to indicate that they are also found in the ten) adds to the accumulation of evidence in favor of Pauline authorship, though it was not Harrison’s intention to bolster that conclusion.

The argument according to which Paul cannot have written the Pastorals because the style of certain passages in the ten is not characteristic of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus proves either nothing or too much. Is there any author of note who always, under all circumstances, at every period of his life, and no matter to whom or on what subject he writes, employs the same unvaried style?

We admit, of course, that there is a striking contrast between the lengthy and involved, sentence-structure of such passages as Eph. 1:3–14; Phil. 2:5–8, on the one hand, and many short and pithy admonitions of the Pastorals, on the other. But is this comparison fair? Lengthy sentences are not entirely wanting in the Pastorals (see 1 Tim. 1:5–7; 1:8–11; 1:18–20; 2:5–7; etc.). Brief statements abound in the ten.

Neither is it fair to contrast the exuberant tone of certain paragraphs in the ten with the much calmer and more matter-of-fact manner of expression which characterizes much of the material of the Pastorals. One should not compare 1 Tim. 2:8–15 with the vigorous climax of Romans 8 but with the somewhat similar paragraph: 1 Cor. 11:1–16. Neither should one place Tit. 3:9–14 next to 1 Cor. 13 but next to 1 Thess. 5:12–22. If variation in style proves different authorship, then the author of 1 Cor. 13 cannot have written the letter to Philemon, and the author of Romans 8 cannot even have written Romans 13!

Moreover, is it not entirely natural that the man who was well along in years when he wrote the Pastorals should now, as the race was drawing to a close, employ a more reserved style? Are we surprised that rather often in the Pastorals we notice that the rugged fervor and fiery vigor of earlier years has disappeared?

When the Pastorals are compared with those sections in the ten which form the basis for legitimate comparison, it becomes evident—as has been indicated by numerous examples—that their style is characteristically Pauline. In fact, so signally Pauline is the style of these three short letters that several critics are willing to make a concession. They grant that here and there one encounters genuinely Pauline material; for example, the personal notes found in 2 Tim. 4:6–22. In that paragraph Timothy is urged to come before winter and to take along the prisoner’s “cloak” and books, especially the parchments. Demas is represented as a renegade, Luke as true-blue. There is a brief sketch of the “first defence.” And personal greetings are extended to several individuals.—A somewhat similar passage is Tit. 3:12.

Now though some critics (especially some of the earlier ones) have been bold enough to consider also these personal notes to be the work of a clever falsifier, who tried to lend color and verisimilitude to his crafty literary product, and who invented unreal—but seemingly real—situations in order to attain this end, meanwhile breathing the air of profoundest regard for the truth, this solution has not found general acceptance.

It is objectionable from many an angle. It is hardly probable that a forger would have used so many personal names. Moreover, he would have been hard-pressed to make his personal notes sound so real and lifelike. He surely would not have spoken in such an uncomplimentary tone about Demas (2 Tim. 4:10), who by Paul elsewhere is never pictured as a deserter, a man who had fallen in love with the world (contrast Col. 4:14; Philemon 24).

But is the alternative which other negative critics propose any better? That alternative would make of the author of the Pastorals a second century dove-tailer who took certain genuine Pauline passages, fitted them into his own composition, and thus created the impression that Paul was the author of the whole.

But this theory does not explain how it is that the transitions from genuine to forged material are so unobtrusive. As has been remarked, one would expect the seams to show! And besides, is it not strange that of the earlier correspondence between the great apostle and his associates only a few genuine personal notes have remained? In brief, the theory is vulnerable from several aspects, and today is rejected by many of the negative critics themselves. Albert Schweitzer who, as one could have expected, denies the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals, remarks that the repeated attempts to discover in them “short notes written by Paul” is “in vain.”

Now, the true alternative to the “scissors and paste” or “jigsaw-puzzle” theory of the critics is not total denial of Pauline authorship but, in conformity with the data which have been presented, acceptance of Pauline authorship for the entire contents. The argument from style, when all the facts are examined, points in only one direction, namely, to Paul as the author of the Pastorals.

  1. The theology is not that of Paul. The cross is no longer in the center. There is undue stress on good works.

One stands amazed that this argument is still being repeated. Any reader of the English Bible who carefully studies the Pastorals from beginning to end, and who is acquainted with Paul’s doctrine as unfolded in the other ten epistles can easily answer the critics on this point.

It is true, of course, that here in the Pastorals there is no detailed exposition of the doctrine of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ apart from the works of the law. Nevertheless, that doctrine is clearly stated in more than one passage, and is assumed throughout.

The truth is that the doctrine which is taught and presupposed in the Pastorals is clearly the same as that which is held before us in the ten:

The redeemed have been chosen from eternity. They are called the elect (2 Tim. 2:10; cf. Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:4).

Their salvation is due to the grace of God in Christ, and not to human works (1 Tim. 1:14; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 3:5; cf. Gal. 2:16; Rom. 3:21–24).

Christ is God (Tit. 2:13; cf. Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:6; Col. 2:9).

He is the Mediator between God and man, himself man, our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5; cf. Rom. 9:5; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6).

His purpose in coming into the world and assuming the human nature was to save sinners, of whom Paul considers himself chief (1 Tim. 1:15; cf. 2 Cor. 8:9; 1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 3:8).

Men are saved through faith in this divine and human Mediator Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 1:12; cf. Rom. 1:17; Eph. 2:8).

This faith implies mystic union with Christ: dying with him, living with him; enduring with him, reigning with him (2 Tim. 2:11, 12; cf. Rom. 6:8; 8:17).

Good works are necessary (1 Tim. 2:10; 6:11, 18; 2 Tim. 2:22; 3:17), and are to be viewed as the fruit of God’s grace (hence, also the fruit of faith) operating in the believer (Tit. 2:11–14; 3:4–8; cf. Gal. 5:22–24; Eph. 2:10).

The glory of God is the chief purpose of man (1 Tim. 6:16; 2 Tim. 4:18; cf. Rom. 11:36; 16:27).

Where, in all this, is there contrast in doctrine, a contrast supposedly so marked and definite that the author of the ten cannot have been the author of the three? When, even in recent literature, such a thoroughly unwarranted position is still being defended, and no evidence of any kind is furnished, one is led to ask, “Is the higher criticism scholarly?”

Most appropriately God, in his providence, has seen to it that in Paul’s final three epistles the fruit (good works) of faith is emphasized, the nature of faith and its necessity over against law-works having been fully set forth in the letters which preceded. The tree is first; then comes the fruit.

  1. The Pastorals controvert second century gnosticism, especially Marcionism. Now Marcion was expelled from the Roman church in the year 144 A.D. Hence, the Pastorals must have been written about this time, that is, not earlier than the second quarter of the second century. This shows that Paul cannot have been the author.

To lend support to the view that whoever wrote the Pastorals is here combating the views of second century gnostics the following points are usually emphasized:

(a) The “genealogies” (1 Tim. 1:4; Tit. 3:9) are the second century gnostic “aeons” which emanate from the bosom of God.

(b) The “fables” or “myths” (Tit. 1:14) represent second century gnostic speculations.

(c) The ascetic practices against which the author issues a warning when he condemns the views of those who forbid marriage and who enjoin abstinence from foods (1 Tim. 4:3) point to Marcion who practiced the strictest asceticism, revolting from marriage, meat, and wine.

(d) The denial of a physical resurrection (2 Tim. 2:18) was a feature of second century gnostic dualism.

(e) The affirmation that all Scripture is inspired and useful (2 Tim. 3:16), and that there is only one God (1 Tim. 2:5) cannot fail to remind one of Marcion, who rejected all the books of the Old Testament and drew a sharp antithesis between the merely just Jehovah of the Old Testament and the gracious God of the (i.e., of Marcion’s mutilated edition of the) New Testament.

(f) The “very title of Marcion’s book” (“Antitheses”) in 1 Tim. 6:20, clinches the argument! Surely one who mentions the title of the work of an author who flourished in the second century cannot have been Paul, who died in the first century!

It is, indeed, very strange that by some this six-point argument, which has been so often and so ably refuted, is still being repeated, either as a whole or in part, as if it contained at least a considerable element of value. The answer is clear and simple:

With respect to (a): The “genealogies,” in the light of the entire context, are clearly Jewish in character. One is immediately reminded of those which are found in the book of Genesis (cf. also Chronicles). Embellishing speculations with reference to Old Testament names and stories abound in the Book of Jubilees. The Jews were past masters in the art of eisegesis (introducing one’s own thoughts and sentiments into a passage; opposed to exegesis: bringing out the author’s own meaning). Now Marcion himself fails to discuss aeons. One must not confuse his teaching with that of Valentinus. But nowhere in gnostic literature is the term “genealogy” used as a synonym for “aeon.”

With respect to (b): The “fables” or “myths” are definitely called Jewish (Tit. 1:14). Hence, it simply is not fair to equate them with the vagaries of second century gnosticism.

With respect to (c): The critics seem to forget that the apostle Paul warned against similar ascetic tendencies in Col. 2:16–23. Must we conclude, then, that Colossians also belongs to the second century?

Besides, we may readily grant that 1 Tim. 4:3 warns against ascetic gnosticism, such as that of Marcion. But that does not prove that the author was Marcion’s contemporary. There is nothing here that disproves the fact that a first century author, namely, Paul, was able, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to predict a second century development of an error which, in its incipient form, was present already in his own day.

With respect to (d): Denial of a physical resurrection is “as old as the hills.” It manifested itself in different forms. Sometimes the idea that the body will rise again was frankly and directly rejected. At other times the rejection was by implication, just as in our own day: a spiritual meaning was assigned to the term resurrection. This was done, for example, by the heretics described in 2 Tim. 2:18. In any event, in view of Paul’s lengthy argument in 1 Cor. 15 against those who said, “There is no resurrection of the dead,” it is evident that the statement, “The resurrection is past already” (2 Tim. 2:18) does not prove what the critics are trying to prove. It does not prove that Paul cannot have written the Pastorals!

With respect to (e): The passages to which reference is made should be read in the light of their own specific contexts. Then it becomes clear that when the author is speaking of one God, he is not contrasting a New Testament God with an Old Testament “demiurge.” Neither is he placing the Old Testament in antithetical relationship to the New when he uses the expression “all Scripture.” He is contrasting the wrong with the right use of Scripture. If proper use is made of Scripture so that one abides in its clear teaching, the conclusion will prove inescapable that “all Scripture is inspired of God and profitable.”

Finally, with respect to (f): If this has any value, it would amount to the syllogism:

Major Premise: The author of the Pastorals makes use of the term “antitheses.”

Minor Premise: Marcion, a second century heretic, also makes use of the term “antitheses,” using it as the title of a book which he wrote.

Conclusion: Therefore, the author of the Pastorals must have been acquainted with Marcion’s book.

Similarly, one might say:

Major Premise: The author of the book of Genesis writes about Paradise, the river, the tree of life, the serpent.

Minor Premise: The apostle John, a late first century A.D. author, employs these same terms in his book of Revelation.

Conclusion: Hence, the author of the book of Genesis must have read the book of Revelation!

Now anyone who reads 1 Tim. 6:20 with an unbiased mind and in the light of the entire epistle will easily reach the conclusion that in speaking of “antitheses” what the author has in mind is not Marcion’s contrast between Christianity and Judaism but the conflicting opinions of those who speculated in Jewish genealogies! Surely, a merely verbal coincidence between a word used by one author and a title used by another cannot do duty as a convincing argument with respect to authorship.

In addition to what has been said in answer to the argument of the critics, note the following:

It is being increasingly recognized today that gnosticism did not arise full-blown in the second century but had its origin much farther back in history. Besides, it is not an organically unified system but a speculative religious syncretism or accretion, to which not only Platonic philosophy but also Oriental mysticism, Cabbalistic Judaism, and Christianity contributed. Hence, though it is certainly true that the heresy condemned in the Pastorals had certain traits in common with second century gnosticism, this by no means identifies the two.

The error against which the Pastorals warn is both present (1 Tim. 1:3–7, 19; 4:7; 6:4, 5, 9, 10, 17; 2 Tim. 2:16–18; Tit. 1:10–16; 3:9) and future (1 Tim. 4:1–3; 2 Tim. 3:1–9)—taken together it spans the entire new dispensation until Christ’s return—; both chiefly doctrinal (1 Tim. 4) and chiefly moral (2 Tim. 3); both within and without the gate.

One fact, however, is very evident, namely, that in the main, the error which is here condemned has reference to the Old Testament law and its interpretation (see 1 Tim. 1:7; cf. 6:4, 5; 2 Tim. 4:4; Tit. 1:14; 3:9). Here lies the emphasis. And it was exactly this law with which second century gnosticism would have nothing to do! Hence, there is nothing here which compels one to hunt for a second century author. On the contrary, everything points to the first century and to Paul’s day and age.

For the reasons indicated it is not surprising that even among the critics the more careful authors no longer mention “the argument based upon the heresy that is here condemned.” It seems that they would like to forget that it was ever seriously used against the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals.

(5) The Pastorals reveal a marked advance in ecclesiastical organization, far beyond the time of Paul. In his day there was as yet no official ministry. When the Pastorals were written, on the other hand, there was a rather complex organization, with salaried officials whose qualifications had become standardized.

One critic calls this “the chief argument” proving that Paul cannot have written the Pastorals. Some try to “strengthen” it by affirming that the beginning of pyramidal organization is evident from the fact that while the Pastorals recognize only one “bishop” (1 Tim. 3:1, 2; Tit. 1:7), they speak of many “presbyters” or “elders” (Tit. 1:5) who are evidently serving under him.

Other critics, however, scrupulously avoid making reference to the argument in any form. Apparently also in this case they would like to forget that anyone ever brought it up. And, indeed, among the many poor arguments that have been presented in defence of the thesis that Paul cannot have written the Pastorals this is one of the poorest. The facts are as follows:

(a) The entire conception according to which ecclesiastical office (divine commission with implied authority over life and doctrine) was a late development is erroneous. It simply is incorrect to say that at first there was nothing else than spontaneous leadership based only on spiritual endowment, and that at a later time this made way for elective office. See N.T.C. on the Gospel of John, Vol. II, pp. 461, 462. It is true, of course, that the extraordinary offices were gradually replaced by the ordinary. The Pastorals are Paul’s last writings. It is not surprising, therefore, that the “ordinary” office of “overseer” or “elder” comes into prominence here.

(b) The notion that in Paul’s day there was as yet no official ministry is in conflict with the facts mentioned by Scripture. Jerusalem had its deacons (men who “served tables”) long before Paul went on his missionary journeys (Acts 6:1–6). From very early times the church also had its elders (Acts 11:30), an office which in a way was a natural outgrowth of the institution of elders in ancient Israel. Already on his first missionary journey Paul “appointed for them elders in every church” (Acts. 14:23). It has been indicated that in one of the earliest letters written by Paul there is definite mention of “those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you” (see N.T.C. on 1 Thess. 5:12, 13). On the return from his third missionary journey Paul “calls to him the elders of the church” (of Ephesus or of Ephesus and surroundings). He characterizes them as “overseers” over God’s flock, even the church “which the Lord purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:17, 28). In a prison-epistle both “overseers and deacons” are mentioned (Phil. 1:1).

Now on the basis of all this it surely should cause no surprise that in the epistles which the apostle wrote just before his death the office of “overseers” or “elders” is recognized as well-known. It is also very natural that Paul, about to depart from this earthly realm, should specify certain qualifications and regulations for office, so that the church might be guarded against the ravages of error, both doctrinal and moral.

(c) In the Pastorals the term “elder” (or “presbyter”) and “overseer” (or “bishop”) are clearly synonymous, as is proved by Tit. 1:5–7 (cf. 1 Tim. 3:1–7; Phil. 1:1; 1 Peter 5:1, 2). See on that passage.

(d) The episcopate, a system of ecclesiastical government in which the bishop rules over the presbyters, seems to have arisen during the obscure transition period: the end of the first and the beginning of the second century. It emerges step by step and becomes evident first of all in the epistles of Ignatius of Antioch (who was sent to his martyrdom about the year 110 A.D.), where it appears as congregational (not diocesan) episcopacy. Now this very fact indicates that the Pastorals, in which the “overseer” or “bishop” is simply another name for the “elder” or “presbyter,” point back to the first century and away from the second.

(6) Since Paul was not released from his one and only Roman imprisonment but was put to death at the end of it, and since the book of Acts, which tells the story of his life from the time when he persecuted the church until the end of his imprisonment, leaves no room for the journeys that are implied in the Pastorals, therefore Paul cannot have written these letters.

  1. Moffatt boldly declares that as a matter of fact Paul was not released from his imprisonment. This view has been advocated both before and especially after him by many others.

Now if that be correct, then the critics have won the argument, for it is indeed true that the Pastoral Epistles imply a number of journeys which cannot be fitted into the itineraries of Paul that are recorded in the book of Acts, and, in fact, for which no room can be found in the life-span of the apostle as covered in Acts. The following will make this clear:

As to 1 Timothy, the author reminds Timothy of the fact that the latter had been instructed to stay behind in Ephesus while the author was headed north-westward from Ephesus toward Macedonia (1 Tim. 1:3). He also informs him (Timothy) that he (the author) hopes to come to him shortly (1 Tim. 3:14).

Now according to Acts, on his first missionary journey Paul never crossed over into Europe (toward Macedonia) at all. On his second journey: on the outward-bound trip the Holy Spirit prevented him from speaking the word in Asia (Acts 16:6); hence, he was not in Ephesus; and on the homeward-bound trip he went from Corinth in an easterly direction to Ephesus, then toward the south-east, by way of Cesarea to Antioch (Acts 18:18–23). On the third journey, outward-bound, Paul did, indeed, perform a mighty task in Ephesus (Acts 19). He continued there for a long time (three years, Acts 20:31) and he also afterward crossed over into Macedonia (Acts 20:1). But this time Timothy was not left behind in Ephesus, but was sent to Macedonia and Corinth (Acts 19:21, 22; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10), and soon is back with Paul in Macedonia (2 Cor. 1:1). With Paul he then goes to Corinth, returns with him to Macedonia, awaits him at Troas, and is probably with him in Jerusalem (Rom. 16:21; Acts 20:3–5; 1 Cor. 16:3). Finally, on the trip to Rome, Ephesus was left far to the north. Arrived in Rome, the two-year imprisonment followed. And with the recording of that event the book of Acts closes. It is clear that nowhere in this account in Acts is there any room for the journey presupposed in 1 Timothy.

With respect to Titus the situation is similar. According to this Pastoral Epistle the writer has left Titus in Crete to complete the organization of churches on that island (Tit. 1:5). He now instructs his fellow-worker to meet him at Nicopolis (in Epirus on the east coast of the Ionian Sea), where he expects to spend the winter (Tit. 3:12).

But according to Acts, on none of his three missionary journeys did Paul get anywhere near Crete. And on the journey to Rome, though he and Luke did sail “under the lee of Crete,” and did reach Fair Havens, the apostle is pictured as a prisoner, who is not carrying on any evangelistic work on the island and who has nothing whatever to say about the place where he expects to spend the winter or where he desires to meet Titus (see Acts 27:7–15).

And finally, 2 Timothy pictures a prisoner (in Rome, cf. 2 Tim. 1:17), considered “a malefactor” (2 Tim. 2:9), on the eve of his execution. The prospect, humanly speaking (but see 2 Tim. 4:7, 8!), is very gloomy. Only after diligent search does Onesiphorus succeed in finding Paul (2 Tim. 1:16, 17). Release is nowhere in sight. Nearly everyone has left him. Luke alone is with him (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:10, 11). The time of departure from the earthly scene has (or has just about) arrived (2 Tim. 4:6, 18).

In sharp contrast with this, the description of the Roman imprisonment which is recorded in Acts and in Paul’s prison-epistles (previous imprisonments certainly do not enter into the picture in this connection) closes hopefully (see also p. 26). The apostle is living in his own hired dwelling, and expects to be released shortly (Acts 28:30; Phil. 1:25, 26; 2:24; Philemon 22).

The conclusion is inescapable: if Paul wrote the Pastorals, he must have been released from that Roman imprisonment which is recorded in the book of Acts. He must have made further journeys, and he must have been imprisoned once more.

For a long time critics (intimidated by the prestige of Moffatt?) either denied the historicity of such a release or at least remained agnostic with respect to the subject. Of late, however, there seems to be the beginning of a return to the conservative position. In a recent issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature L. P. Pherigo argues strongly in favor of the position that Paul was actually released from the imprisonment recorded in Acts and that he labored a few years longer.

Now, it should be evident to anyone who is willing to examine the evidence, that the arguments against the position that Paul was released are very weak. For example, the contention that had he been released, the author of Acts would have said so—as if Acts were Paul’s biography!—, is met by the counter-argument, “Had he not been released, Luke certainly would have thus indicated, for the favorable note on which his account ends has caused the readers to expect Paul’s release” (Acts 28:30, 31).—And the conclusion that Paul never returned to Ephesus, hence, cannot have written 1 Tim. 1:3, an inference which is drawn from the apostle’s statement to the Ephesian elders, namely, “I know that you all, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will see my face no more” (Acts 20:25, cf. verse 38), is not warranted. In that passage from Acts the apostle did not say, “I know that I will never return to Ephesus,” but predicted that making the rounds of Asia Minor, confirming all the churches, going from place to place preaching the gospel of the kingdom and thus seeing believers everywhere he went, would never be resumed by him personally. Paul did not even say, “I know that none of you, elders here at Ephesus, will ever see my face again,” but he said, “I know that you all among whom I went about preaching the kingdom will see my face no more.” The apostle was addressing the elders as representatives of the churches of Asia Minor. An occasional brief visit to Ephesus is not excluded. What is excluded is anything comparable to three years of day-by-day Kingdom-activity in the Ephesus-region (see the context, Acts 20:31).

The arguments in favor of the traditional (and, as we see it, correct) position that Paul was, indeed, released from his first Roman imprisonment, made some more journeys, on one of which he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus, was imprisoned for the second time, during which final imprisonment he wrote 2 Timothy, and was then executed, are as follows:

  1. The book of Acts leads the reader to expect Paul’s release, and may even imply this release.

Luke constantly emphasizes the relative fairness, at times even the friendliness and helpfulness, of the Roman authorities. Rescued by the military tribune out of the hands of the murderous mob at Jerusalem, Paul is permitted to make his defence, first before the people, then before the Jewish council (Acts 21:31–23:9). By the tribune he is rescued once more, this time out of the hands of quarreling Pharisees and Sadducees (Acts 23:10); and even a third time, now from a band of more than forty oath-bound Jews. He is brought to Cesarea. Claudius Lysias writes a letter in his favor (Acts 23:12–35), addressing it to the governor Felix. The latter also permits Paul to make his defence, but desiring to do the Jews a favor, leaves him in prison. When Festus succeeds Felix, the apostle appeals to Cesar. Festus tells King Agrippa that Paul had done nothing worthy of death, and permits him to make his defence before the king. On board a ship on his way to Rome, the apostle is treated kindly by the Roman centurion, Julius (Acts 27:3), who also subsequently saves his life (Acts 27:43). After the storm and the shipwreck, having first been hospitably entertained by the chief of the island of Malta (Acts 28:7), and having afterward covered the final leg of the journey, he arrives at Rome, where he is permitted to stay by himself with a soldier to guard him (Acts 28:16). Though he is a prisoner awaiting trial, he is allowed considerable personal liberty as well as opportunity to preach the gospel (Acts 28:30, 31).—Surely, the notion that he was then condemned and executed is completely out of harmony with the entire preceding account. In fact, it has even been suggested (see the article by Pherigo above referred to) that the expression, “And he lived two whole years” in his own hired dwelling (or “at his own expense”) may have a legal meaning, namely, he waited the full two years (the limit established by law?) during which the accusers had the opportunity to press their charge. No one appearing (does Acts 28:21 hint in this direction?), the trial ended by default, and Paul was released, the legal requirement of two years having come to an end.—Whether or not this interpretation is correct has not been established. The main point is: the closing chapters of Acts point toward release, not toward execution.

  1. Paul’s prison-epistles show that he expected to be released (Phil. 1:25–27; 2:24; Philemon 22).
  2. The very fact that the Pastoral Epistles, which presuppose journeys that require such a release and re-imprisonment, survived and were accepted by the early church as authentic and inspired, would seem to point in the direction of a strong and early tradition to this effect.
  3. Even long before the Roman imprisonment recorded in Acts, the apostle had cherished the desire to go to Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28).
  4. That he actually was released, went to Spain, was afterward reimprisoned, and having borne witness before the authorities, was executed, is certainly the most natural interpretation of the much-disputed passage of Clement of Rome, who, writing about the last decade of the first century A.D., from Rome, the hub of the empire, to the Corinthians, admonishing them to put an end to their striving engendered by jealousy, says:

“Paul … having taught righteousness to the whole world, and having gone to the limits of the West, and having given testimony before the rulers, thus passed from the world and was taken up into the Holy Place, having become the outstanding model of endurance” (First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians V. vii).

The expression “the limits of the West,” especially when used by someone who is writing from Rome, the heart and center of the empire, most naturally refers to the extreme western part of Europe.

Similarly, the Muratorian fragment mentions Paul’s journey to Spain. And the great church-historian Eusebius states significantly:

“Luke also, who handed down the Acts of the apostles in writing, brought his narrative to a close by the statement that Paul spent two whole years in Rome in freedom, and preached the word of God without hindrance. Tradition has it that the apostle, having defended himself, was again sent upon the ministry of preaching, and coming a second time to the same city, suffered martyrdom under Nero. While he was being held in prison, he composed the second epistle to Timothy, at the same time signifying that his first defence had taken place and that his martyrdom was at hand” (Ecclesiastical History II. xxii. 1, 2). Later tradition also accepts a second Roman imprisonment (Chrysostom, Jerome, Theodore of Mopsuestia, etc.).

It has become clear, accordingly, that the so-called “historical” argument against the possibility that Paul could have written the Pastorals has no more substance than have any of the others. Better reasons will have to be found if the weight of tradition is to be counterbalanced.

Enough has been said to indicate the inadequacy of the arguments of the critics. On the supposition that the Pastorals were the last of Paul’s epistles, written after his first Roman imprisonment, with a purpose quite different from that of the other ten letters, the main problem has been solved, at least to a considerable extent.

According to the information furnished by the Epistles themselves the author was:

(1) A man by the name of “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1), or “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Tit. 1:1). Thus we see that these three letters are self-attested, in contrast with Hebrews which does not mention the name of its author. In this respect the three are like the ten.

(2) Not only does the writer name himself; he also describes himself. This description agrees with that which is found in Acts and in the ten with respect to Paul:

  1. The “Paul” of both used to be a blasphemer and persecutor (1 Tim. 1:12–17; cf. Acts 8:3; 9:1, 2; 22:4, 5; 26:9–11; 1 Cor. 15:9).
  2. Converted, he was divinely appointed to be a preacher and apostle (1 Tim. 1:1, 11; 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:1, 11; Tit. 1:1; cf. Acts 9:15; 22:14, 15; 26:16–18; 2 Cor. 12:12; Gal. 1:1; 2:7).
  3. In the defence of the truth he suffered much, for example, on his journey through Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra (2 Tim. 1:12, 13; 3:10, 11; cf. Acts 14; 2 Cor. 11; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2:2).

(3) This man writes three letters which, with minor variations, are similar in structure to the ten Pauline epistles. For the nature of Paul’s letter-plan, see N.T.C. on I and II Thess., p. 20. As an example let us take 2 Timothy. Here we find:

  1. The mention of the writer’s name and office (1:1)
  2. The designation of the one to whom the letter is addressed (1:2a), with brief description of that person
  3. The opening salutation (1:2b)
  4. The thanksgiving, blending into the body of the letter (1:3 ff)
  5. The concluding salutation, in the present instance rather detailed (4:19–21)
  6. The benediction.

Even in such a minor detail as e: the presence or absence of words of greeting at the end of the letter, these three letters exactly resemble the variation which is found among the ten. Thus 1 Timothy has a closing benediction (6:21b: “Grace be with you”) but no greetings. This reminds one of Galatians (6:18). In 2 Timothy those who wish to be remembered are mentioned one by one, and there are several names (4:19–21). This resembles what is found at the close of Romans (chapter 16) and of I Corinthians (16:19–21). In Titus, the closing salutation is very general (3:15: “All who are with me send greetings to you”). With this, one should compare II Corinthians (13:13).

(4) These three letters point to the same relation between the writer and the addressed (Timothy and Titus) that we know from letters commonly ascribed to Paul and (in the case of Timothy) from Acts.

It was a relationship of one who is in authority writing to one who recognizes this authority, of spiritual “father” to spiritual “son,” of friend to friend (implying both affection and confidence).

In this connection, for Paul’s relation to Timothy one should compare 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2 with 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10; Phil. 2:19–23; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess. 3:2; and Philemon 1; and for his relation to Titus one should compare Tit. 1:4 with 2 Cor. 2:13; 7:6, 13; and 8:17, 23.

(5) These three letters mention by name certain individuals whom, from other sources, we have learned to recognize as companions and co-laborers of Paul. See on 2 Tim. 4 and on Tit. 3.

(6) They reveal an author whose warm interest in the churches which he had established, whose style, and whose theology point clearly to Paul, as has been shown (see pp. 14–19).

The testimony of the early church is in harmony with the conclusion which has been derived from the three epistles themselves.

Thus Eusebius, having made a thorough investigation of the literature at his command, states: “But clearly evident and plain are the fourteen (letters) of Paul; yet it is not right to ignore that some dispute the (letter) to the Hebrews” (Ecclesiastical History III. iii. 4, 5). Obviously Eusebius, writing at the beginning of the fourth century, knew that the entire orthodox church accepted the Pastorals as having been written by Paul. We have already observed that he makes specific mention of 2 Timothy as having been composed by the great apostle “while he was being held in prison,” having come for the second time to the same city (Ecclesiastical History II. xxii. 1, 2; and cf. III. ii). The negative attitude of a few heretics (Basilides and Marcion) with respect to all three, and of Tatian and some like-minded persons with respect to 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, was probably due to the fact that the teaching of these men was out of harmony with the contents of the Pastorals. That, at least, is the explanation given by Tertullian, Clement, and Jerome. Surely the opinion of a few heretics must not be placed above the considered judgment of the entire church!

From Eusebius we can go back to Origen (fl. 210–250), who quotes ever so many passages from the Pastorals (for example, in his work Against Celsus: 1 Tim. 2:1, 2; 3:15, 16; 4:1–5, 10, 15, 16; 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:3, 10; 2:5; 3:6–8; 4:7, 11, 15, 20, 21; Tit. 1:9, 10, 12; 3:6, 10, 11), and ascribes them to Paul: “Moreover, Paul, who himself also subsequently became an apostle of Jesus, says in his epistle to Timothy: This is a faithful saying, that Jesus Christ came into the world sinners to save, of whom I am chief” (quoting 1 Tim. 3:15, Against Celsus I. lxiii).

From Origen we can go back still farther, to his teacher, Clement of Alexandria (fl. 190–200). The latter quotes the passage with reference to the “knowledge falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20, 21), ascribing this passage to “the apostle” (Stromata II. xi). He also quotes the prediction that “in later times some will fall away from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1, 3), referring it to “the blessed Paul” (Stromata III. vi). A look at the Textual Index of Clement’s works (for example, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, reprint 1951, Grand Rapids, Mich., Vol. II) and an actual reading of these passages in the original or even in a good translation suffices to prove that in the works of this early Father there are numerous references to—and actual quotations from—the Pastorals, regarded as having been written by the apostle Paul.

About the same time Tertullian (fl. 193–216), in the short compass of a few lines, quotes several passages from I and 2 Timothy (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14; 1 Tim. 1:18; 6:13; 2 Tim. 2:2, in Prescription Against Heretics XXV), definitely declaring that “Paul addressed this expression to Timothy.” We have already seen that he frowns upon Marcion’s rejection of the Pastorals (Against Marcion V. xxi).

Earlier by a few years, but still for a long time a contemporary of Clement of Alexandria and of Tertullian, was Ireneus. He opens his work Against Heresies (about 182–188) with a quotation from 1 Tim. 1:4 (the passage about the “endless genealogies” which fail to edify), which he definitely ascribes to the apostle (see the Preface to the aforementioned work by Ireneus). In the same work he quotes or alludes to several other passages, for example, 1 Tim. 1:9 (IV. xvi. 3); 2:5 (V. xvii. 1); 3:15 (III. i. 1); 4:2 (II. xxi. 2), and not only from the first but also from the second epistle to Timothy (2 Tim. 2:23; cf. Against Heresies, IV. Preface, 3), and from Titus (Tit. 3:10; cf. Ag. Her., I. xvi. 3). Note especially that in the last passage Ireneus states that it is Paul who commands us to avoid men who give heed to fables.

Now when Ireneus ascribes the Pastorals to “the apostle” namely to “Paul,” his word should carry considerable weight. He had traveled widely, was intimately acquainted with almost the entire church of his day, and had been a pupil of a pupil (Polycarp) of one of the apostles (John).

The Muratorian Fragment (about 180–200), a survey of New Testament books, states that “the blessed Paul … writes … out of affection and love one to Philemon, and one to Titus, and two to Timothy … held sacred in the honorable esteem of the church universal in the regulation of ecclesiastical discipline.”

Among the orthodox writers who flourished at one time or another during the period 90–180 we find that toward the close of that era Theophilus of Antioch refers to “the water and laver of regeneration” (To Autolycus II. xvi), which may be regarded as a collation of Eph. 5:26 and Tit. 3:5. He definitely quotes 1 Tim. 2:2: “that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life” (Same work, III. xiv).

Athenagoras—sometimes called “the Christian philosopher from the Athenian Agora” (cf. his name Athen—agoras)—, was an Athenian who has been pictured as having one day sauntered into the market-place where the Christians were being mocked, and then, moved by curiosity, having begun to read the Scriptures in order to refute them. It is claimed that in the process of this Scripture-study he was converted. He, a contemporary of Theophilus, describes God as “light inapproachable” (A Plea For the Christians XVI). This certainly reminds one of 1 Tim. 1:16.

Writing some time between 155 and 161, Justin Martyr also showed that he was acquainted with the Pastorals. It is true that not all the seeming resemblances between certain passages in his writings and the Pastorals have evidential value. Thus, for example, the expression “this very Christ … the Judge of all the living and the dead” (Dialogue with Trypho CXVIII), while reminding one of 2 Tim. 4:1 (“Christ Jesus who shall judge the living and the dead”), from which, indeed, it may have been derived, was probably a “faithful saying” which had gained currency at a very early stage of Christian belief (see also Acts 10:42; 1 Peter 4:5; cf. Matt. 25:31–46; John 5:25–29; 2 Cor. 5:10), so that no argument can be based upon it to prove that Justin knew the Pastorals. However, his reference to “the kindness of God and his love toward man”—note God’s philanthropy!—is almost certainly derived from Tit. 3:4 (“But when the kindness of God … and his love toward man appeared”).

Also when we come to Polycarp (probably writing some time between 100 and 135), we feel that we are on firm ground. The fact that he knew the Pastorals and quoted from them would seem to be indisputable. Let the reader judge for himself:

POLYCARP (To the Philippians)




“But the beginning of all evils is the love of money” (IV).


“For a root of all the evils is the love of money” (1 Tim. 6:10).


“Knowing therefore that we brought nothing into the world and that we can take nothing out of it, let us arm ourselves with the armor of righteousness” (IV).


“For nothing did we bring into the world … neither are we able to carry anything out of it” (1 Tim. 6:7).


“Likewise must the deacons be … not doubletongued, not lovers of money, temperate in all things …” (V).


“Deacons similarly must be … not doubletongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy of shameful gain” (1 Tim. 3:8).


“We shall also reign with him, if, indeed, we have faith” (V).


“If we endure, we shall also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12).


“For they did not fall in love with the present world” (IX).


“For Demas has deserted me because he fell in love with the present world” (2 Tim. 4:10).


“May the Lord grant them true repentance” (XI Lat.).


“… in the hope that possibly God may grant them conversion” (2 Tim. 2:15).


“Pray also for the rulers and for potentates and for princes …” (XII Lat.).


“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made in behalf of all men, in behalf of kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:1, 2).


Here, clearly, one writer is using the words of another, varying the language somewhat as the need requires. It is surely most natural to conclude that when one writer states “Demas … fell in love with the present world,” and the other refers to persons who “did not fall in love with the present world,” it is the latter writer who is borrowing from the former, and not vice versa. Moreover, if the pupil, Ireneus, ascribed the Pastorals to Paul, as has been shown, is it not probable that the teacher, Polycarp, did the same?

Ignatius (not later than 110), in urging Polycarp to be pleasing to him for whom he is soldiering (To Polycarp VI), immediately reminds one of 2 Tim. 2:4. (Other assumed resemblances are less convincing.)

Because of their debatable character we pass by a few possible allusions to the Pastorals in the Epistle of Barnabas, and we come, last of all, to Clement of Rome (90–100). The clearest resemblances are the following:

CLEMENT OF ROME (To the Corinthians)




“You were … ready for every good work” (II).


“Remind them to be ready for every good work” (Tit. 3:1).


“… those who with a pure conscience serve his excellent name” (XLV)


“I acknowledge gratitude to God whom I, like my forefathers serve with a pure conscience” (2 Tim. 1:3).


Summing up the entire argument regarding authorship we may now safely state the following:

(1) The arguments of the negative critics have been examined in detail and have been found wanting; that is, these critics have failed to prove that Paul could not have written the Pastorals.

(2) According to the evidence of the epistles themselves the author was no one else than the apostle Paul.

(3) Within the orthodox church there is a uniform tradition ascribing the Pastorals to the apostle Paul. This tradition can be traced back from Eusebius at the beginning of the fourth century to Ireneus and the Muratorian Fragment at the close of the second. Moreover, the Pastorals are included not only in this list (the Muratorian) but in all the ancient lists of Pauline epistles, and also in all the manuscripts and versions that have come down to us.

(4) Even in the period A.D. 90–180 we find clear evidence that I and 2 Timothy and Titus were already in existence, were held in high esteem as the very word of God, and were being frequently quoted and paraphrased. It is true that these early witnesses do not mention Paul by name as the author. Not mentioning authors of New Testament books by name is rather characteristic of them. They and their readers were living so close to the time of the apostles that this was not considered necessary.

The very fact that already in the days of these earliest witnesses—Theophilus of Antioch, Athenagoras, Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Ignatius, and Clement of Rome—the Pastorals have attained this high fame and wide circulation shows that their date of origin must go back to a period that is still earlier by several years. Hence, all the historical evidence points to Paul as the one who during the period 63–67 A.D. was in a real sense the responsible author of these three little gems of inspired truth.[6]



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[1] D. Guthrie, “Timothy and Titus, Epistles to,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 1191.

[2] Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 213–215.

[3] Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 226–227.

[4] Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 221.

[5] Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett Falconer Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962).

[6] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, vol. 4, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 4–33.

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