1 & 2 Timothy


Come on in to snoop on Paul's mail to his young mentee, Timothy. 1 and 2 Timothy are two short letters written by the apostle Paul to Timothy who he left in charge of the Ephesian Church. They are called 'pastoral epistles' alongside Titus because these three letters are uniquely written to individuals left to oversee troubled Churches. Don't underestimate Paul's letters to Timothy because of their size (nine chapters combined which you can read in about half an hour) - they're small but mighty. Both letters confront threats of false teaching to the Ephesian Christians that conflicted with the gospel message.

Don't be fooled, these letters are distinctly different too. I think 1 Timothy is like the big brother. It's got an infamous passage about women teaching (easily Paul's most difficult statements regarding women's roles in the Church) and a chapter describing character traits of Church leaders, and it kind of gets more traffic because of this. 2 Timothy is shorter in length and can get overlooked, but Paul wrote it from a completely different occasion and frame of mind and because of that, its contribution is fascinating. Paul wrote 2 Timothy whilst he was on death row, imploring Timothy towards a faith which endures in faithfulness to the end.

I can't help but think of how relevant these letters are to the Church today. We live in a time when tolerance has higher value than truth. Today it’s more appropriate to be accepting and nice than to be someone convinced that there are ultimate rights and wrongs - truth is seen as intolerance or closed mindedness. But Paul wrote to Timothy and said that there was right and wrong and truth and falsehood and that Timothy needed to fight earnestly to defend the truth against rotten doctrine. How can we Christians keep an eye on the health of our own doctrine? How can we not only know what the Bible says, but defend it when truth comes under accusation? How can we be careful of meaningless talk and empty distractions in the faith? How can our lives be a living example of the stuff these letters teach?

Bethan Uitterdijk