Paul’s two letters to Timothy were written around AD 64. Timothy was a young missionary companion of Paul and was treated tenderly like a son. Timothy’s father was a Greek and his mother (Eunice) was Jewish. Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to watch over the body of believers. In 1 Timothy, Paul gives him advice concerning his leadership duties and warns about the sinful behaviors common in society at that time.
1 Timothy 1:1-2 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour (He is a saving God), and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope. Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” Paul starts out by warning Timothy about those in Ephesus who were teaching false doctrines, fables (or falsehoods), endless genealogies, and questioning rather than godly edifying the body of Christ. These false teachers were trying to reintroduce elements of the Law of Moses back into the Gospel of Grace.
Then Paul reminds us of his former life as a Pharisee. And, how grateful he is to have been rescued FROM HIMSELF by God and called into the ministry. 1 Timothy 1:12-14 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the GRACE OF OUR LORD was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” Then Paul summarizes and personalizes the Good News: Jesus didn’t come merely to show us how to live a better life or to challenge us to be better people. He came to offer us salvation that leads to eternal life. 1:15-16 “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom, I am chief (one of the worst). Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy (forgiveness), that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering (incredible patience), for a pattern (or example) to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
The next verse clarifies the nature of God. Verse 17 “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, INVISIBLE, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” God is unseen – we cannot see Him or touch Him – He is Spirit. He alone is God.
1 Timothy chapter 2:4-6 “Who (speaking of God) will have ALL men to be saved (not just some elect), and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all (who paid the cost of redeeming us from sin), to be testified in due time (according to God’s plan).” Christians understand that Christ Jesus is our mediator because He is God. There is only one God; there is only one Mediator; that Mediator gave himself as a ransom – He paid the price. There is nothing more to do – except believe that He accomplished it all in our behalf and simply accept the gift of salvation.
Then, Paul reassures Timothy and the church in Ephesus that Verse 7 “Whereunto (to whom) I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity (or truth).” When Paul says he was “ordained” it doesn’t mean what the LDS interpret it to mean. In Mormonism, to be ordained is to have Melchizedek priesthood holders lay hands on a male person’s head and confer authority and an office – in this case Apostleship. However, the Greek word for ordained means “to appoint” – without involving the laying on of hands. Paul, as we know, was ordained or appointed by no one else than the resurrection Lord.
The rest of Chapter Two can be a source of contention and hurt, if not read in the larger context of the scriptures. Paul was counseling Timothy with respect to rather drastic local problems where women were being very contentious and effected by cultural conditioning, and false teachers. Paul’s advice was that Christian men pursue holiness and Christian women to conduct themselves appropriately in the church.
1 Timothy Chapter Three, Paul now gives Timothy instructions regarding what kind of men he should appoint as bishops and deacons. The words “bishop” and “elder” are used interchangeably and refer to the same office. Among those qualifications – Bishops should be “the husband of one wife.” Plural marriage was not an acceptable practice in the church. Deacons should be “the husband of one wife.” There was no association mentioned with the Aaronic Priesthood, nor was an office conferred on teenagers as it is today in the LDS Church. Deacons here in the New Testament were to be adults – married adults.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 we read, “Now the Spirit (Holy Spirit) speaketh expressly (specifically), that in the latter times (the last days before Jesus comes again) SOME shall depart from the faith (will abandon the gospel of Christ – the gospel of grace), giving heed to seducing (deceiving) spirits, and doctrines of devils (false teachers). Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron (their consciences desensitized).” Paul warns about the dangers of being influenced by false teachers – those who wanted to re-introduce laws and ordinances into the gospel of grace. Also, those people who believed in Gnostic dualism.
According to Mormon leaders, this passage contains another prophesy of the great apostasy – foretelling how the true gospel would be lost and doctrines of devils would be substituted for it. Thus, the need for a restoration of the church. But, Verse 1 reads, “SOME shall depart from the faith.” How many will abandon or apostatize from the faith? “SOME!” Can we please agree, then, that this verse does not teach there would be a complete apostasy of the entire Christian church? There was limited apostasy in pockets of the church, but nothing that called for a full restoration of the church 1800 years later. Remember, Jesus Christ promised that the “gates of hell” would not prevail against the church. I take Him at His word!
Paul tells Timothy in Verses 12-13 “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come (to Ephesus), give attendance to reading, to exhortation (teaching), to doctrine.” Great advice even to us, today.
Now, let’s jump over to the Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy.
This letter was written during Paul’s second imprisonment, shortly before he was executed around AD 65 during the extreme persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor, Nero. Facing imminent execution, Paul urged Timothy to hasten to Rome for one last visit with the apostle. Whether Timothy made it to Rome is not known. This letter stands as one of the great moments – to faith and hope in the face of loneliness and adversity.
Listen to the affection expressed here in Chapter 1:1-3 “Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life (eternal life) which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers (as my ancestors did) with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.” And Paul goes on conveying his love for, and his faith in Timothy.
Verses 7-11 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power (spiritual power), and of love, and of a sound mind (Godly wisdom). Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works (our performance and good deeds), but according to his own purpose and grace (unmerited favor), which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (not in the pre-existence), But (God’s plan) is now made manifest (made clear to us) by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished (overcome) death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Whereunto (for which gospel) I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”
Next, Paul stresses the importance of knowing our Scriptures, 2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman (a servant in God’s kingdom) that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (the Scriptures).” He is saying, precision with exactness and accuracy are required in biblical interpretation and instruction.
Now, we once again come to a controversial passage with the LDS. Paul reminds Timothy in Chapter 3 Verse 1 “This know also, that in the last days (before His Second Coming) perilous (or dangerous) times shall come.” In which there would be evil men Verse 5 “Having a form of godliness (claiming to be religious), but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” When this passage is read in context (verses 1-9), you see that Timothy was living at a time when these false teachers would be posing a threat to the church. Paul is trying to get Timothy to realize that the reason he and others were being persecuted on all sides (verses 8-12) was because they were then living in the last days before Jesus’ return in AD 70.
Chapter 3 verse 16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable (beneficial) for doctrine; for reproof (rebuking), for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” When Paul says “all scripture” he is referring definitely about the Old Testament – but since most of the New Testament books had been written by the time of this statement – Paul is safely speaking about all 66 books of the Bible that would be acknowledged as belonging to the canon of Scripture. The word “inspiration” is from the Greek word meaning “God-breathed.” So, we know then, that the Bible originated from God.
That will conclude our review of 2 Timothy.
Now we take a look at the Epistle of Paul to Titus. Most Bible scholars believe Titus was a Greek who was converted by Paul, and that he accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey. This letter was written between AD 65 and AD 68. Sometime before writing this letter, Paul and Titus had visited the Island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. When Paul had to leave, Titus stayed to work with the new believers. Sometime later, Paul wrote this epistle to him, giving counsel on various doctrinal matters.
Chapter 1:1-2 “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect (those who have responded to the gospel), and the acknowledging of the truth (of the death and resurrection of Christ) which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” The promise of eternal life had been planned by God from the beginning. God has always been in supreme control of the universe, world events, and the future of His people. Paul also, said “God that cannot lie.” Because God is truth and the source of all truth.
Verse 3 “But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Savior.” Did you catch that? – “God our Savior.” Verse 4 “To Titus, mine own son (who is like a son to me) after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.” Did you catch that? Paul used the term “Savior” for both God the Father and Jesus Christ – thereby revealing his understanding of Gods nature and work in salvation. Three times in the short epistle to Titus, Paul calls God “our Savior” and then immediately calls Jesus “our Savior.” They equate Christ’s position as Savior with that of God. Jesus Christ is both God AND Savior.
Chapter 2:13-14 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (His imminent Second Coming). Who gave (sacrificed) himself for us, that he might redeem us (set us free) from all iniquity (sinfulness), and purify (sanctify) unto himself a peculiar (special, chosen) people, zealous (eager) of good works.” Always keeping in mind that good works are the product, not the means of salvation.
Now let’s wrap this lesson up, by summarizing the tiny, one-chapter Epistle of Paul to Philemon written about AD 60 to AD 62. Philemon was a prominent member of the church at Colosse, who owned at least one slave. Onesimus, was not a believer at the time he stole some money from Philemon and ran away to Rome. Punishment for runaway slaves was death. Slaves constituted 25% of the population of the Roman empire. Through circumstances not recorded in scripture, Onesimus met Paul and became a Christian. Paul quickly grew to love this runaway slave, who not only became a Christian, but – who was providing valuable service to Paul in prison. Paul was legally bound to encourage Onesimus to return to Philemon, but Paul’s challenge was to help Philemon understand that the Onesimus will be coming back different – not as a slave – but as a brother in Christ.
This lesson concludes our study of 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
Don’t forget we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast, and check out our website at Talking to Mormons.com.
Learn more in the links below.
Until next time, God Bless!