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Timothy and Titus

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TIMOTHY AND TITUS, Epistles to. Pastoral Epistles.—The two letters which pur port to have been written by the Apostle Paul to his young friend and assistant Timothy and the letter which in the same way purports to have been written to his fellow-worker Titus are commonly called from the nature of their contents the ((Pastoral Epistles?' They sustain so many resemblances to each other that it is simplest and most helpful to treat them as a group, as, indeed, is commonly done.

Arguments as to Paul's Be fore touching on their contents and significance, it is best to take up the much debated problem of their authorship. External evidence in favor of Paul's having written them, consist ing of quotations and citations by name, is abundant from the earliest times, going back, in fact, to Polycarp and Ignatius (before 120), if not to Clement of Rome (95). The one case of rejection, that by Marcion, is plausibly ex plained on the ground of antagonism to the doctrines taught. This strong attestation caused them to be unhesitatingly accepted as from Paul down to about the beginning of the last century, but since that time scarcely any point in New Testament criticism has been more constantly and strenuously disputed, and at present there is no point on which critics wl.o deserve consideration are more evenly divided.

(1) The first objection to be noted is that these letters cannot be from Paul's pen because i the circumstances implied do not agree with the conditions otherwise known to have existed at any time in the apostle's life. It is admitted on all sides that there is no period described in Acts into which these letters fit, but the latest criticism, under the influence of Har nack, holds that Acts was written before the end of Paul's imprisonment at Rome and, if so, it is as legitimate to hold that he was released as that he was put to death soon after the time reached in the story of Acts. This re lease is rendered plausible by the facts that there was no charge against him on which he could have been fairly condemned (cf. Acts xxvi, 32) ; that Paul certainly not only hoped but expected release (Phil. i, 25; Philemon 22) ; and that what ancient tradition exists on the subject is to the effect that he visited Spain as he earlier intended, which would imply re lease from his first imprisonment. The ques tion of the genuineness of these letters must be settled apart from this point. (2) Another argument against the Pauline authorship is that the vocabulary, the formation of the sentences and the way in which they are related to each other vary irreconcilably from Paul's acknowl edged writings. A difference on these points must certainly be recognized, but when we con sider the difference in the topics discussed, the lapse of time, which, if not more than five years since the composition of Philippians, might have brought many new circumstances to influence language, and the possible freedom with which Paul's amanuensis may have re produced what he gave out, it is held by many critics of acuteness and standing that the dif ferences may be harmonized with Pauline au thorship. It is interesting to note in this rela tion that it has lately been urged that the language and style of the °Pastorals° approach in many points those of Luke and that, as it is said in 2 Timothy that he was Paul's only companion when that letter was written, it is presumable that he put that letter on paper, and if so, almost certainly the other two, a fact which would go far to explain the differences under consideration. It is also to be taken

into account that the peculiarities of vocabu lary and style are equally, if not more, diffi cult to explain on the theory that the letters were fabricated in direct imitation of Paul's genuine letters, since such a literary artist would naturally have avoided such striking deviations from Paul's previous usage as are recognized to exist. (3) It is also urged that the doc trinal content of these Epistles is inconsistent with Paul's teaching in other letters, and it should be recognized that a difference at least in the form of presentation of truth actually exists. But when it is taken into account that the opponents of Pauline authorship commonly hold that these letters were written by a °Paul probably by a disciple who felt that he was merely reproducing his master's ideas, .it must also be recognized, as it generally that no doctrinal contradiction or essential in consistency exists between the two types of teaching. When the variations in Paul s pre sentation of his theological views in his ac knowledged Epistles, as in 1 Thessalonians, Gala tians, 1 Corinthians and Colossians, are taken into account, it should equally be recognized that in the circumstances presupposed in these Epistles Paul might have given the teaching which stands in them. (4) It is also insisted that the conditions which are implied as ex isting in the churches, alike as to heresies and as to church government, require a later date than can fall in the lifetime of Paul. But it is answered that the government of the churches is by no means so advanced as is sometimes asserted, and that there is no ground for deny ing that this stage of ecclesiastical development and also such a prevalence of error as is im plied, might have been reached by the year 65. (5) It is also objected that the tone of these letters is more formal and distant than it is in the other Epistles, though they were sent to churches; that directions are given to Timothy which are unnatural, as in relation to affairs at Ephesus when Paul had himself just been on the ground, as is implied in 1 Timothy, or when he urges his leaving his work imme diately, as in 2 Timothy, and that it is incon ceivable that Paul should have addressed Tim othy as a youth and a weakling. In answer it is argued that the letters, especially 1 Timothy and Titus, were in reality gopen letters,' in tended to be read to the churches at Ephesus and in Crete; that 1 Timothy i, 3 does not imply that Paul had himself been lately at Ephesus i that as Timothy might be unavoidably delayed in leaving at Paul's request, directions might well be given to apply in case of such hindrance; that it is not unnatural that Paul, who years before had called himself a the aged," should still think of Timothy as a youth, it being a not uncommon characteristic of elderly men to think of men of the next genera tion as more youthful than they really are; and that it is by no means unreasonable to hold that Timothy may have needed the strengthening and heartening of the appeals in these letters, as Paul the strong may personally have been especially drawn to him by the very traits which would show as weakness when he had to live his own independent life as a church leader. It is also to be noted that almost every one of these points tells as strongly against the supposition of fabrication, since a fabricator would naturally avoid these diffi culties, and, in particular, would not have in serted anything which might seem to reflect discreditably upon Timothy.

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