Survey of 1 Timothy

Book Type: Pastoral Epistle, 15th book of the New Testament.

Author: The apostle Paul, as directly named in 1 Timothy 1:1.

Audience: First Timothy was one of only four letters in the New Testament written by Paul to individuals. The others are 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Timothy was the only person to receive two individual letters from Paul in the New Testament. Timothy was from Lystra, in modern-day Turkey, the son of a Greek father and Jewish mother. Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were also believers (2 Timothy 1:5). They had raised him to know the Old Testament (2 Timothy 3:15). He was converted to Christianity by Paul (1 Timothy 1:2). In Acts 16:1–5, we learn that believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy. Paul wanted to take him on his missionary journey, but Timothy was not circumcised. Paul circumcised him and they traveled together on Paul’s second missionary journey.

Timothy would be with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. When 1 Timothy was written, however, Timothy was in Ephesus, serving as a leader among the various house churches that existed then. His work included evangelism, teaching, reading Scripture, appointing elders and deacons, and standing against false teachings. Paul wrote to him, likely from Macedonia, to encourage his faithful service to Christ. Timothy served some time in jail for his faith, and was later released (Hebrews 13:23).

Date: Approximately AD 63—66, prior to Paul’s second Roman imprisonment, mentioned in 2 Timothy.

Overview: This six-chapter letter focuses both on Timothy and his work among the church members of Ephesus. The book of Ephesians discusses this congregation in more detail, and was written a few years earlier.

Chapter 1 includes a greeting followed by three areas of emphasis: a warning against false teachings (1 Timothy 1:3–11), Paul’s testimony (1 Timothy 1:12–17), and words of encouragement to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:18–20).

Chapter 2 discusses two areas of importance to the Ephesian Christians under Timothy’s care: the role of prayer in the church, and teachings regarding the role of women in the church.

Chapter 3 focuses on three areas: qualifications of elders (1 Timothy 3:1–7), qualifications of deacons or servant leaders (1 Timothy 3:8–13), and emphasis on the importance of the church (1 Timothy 3:14–16).

Chapter 4 highlights various dangers in the local church, while chapters 5—6 highlight duties among various groups of people. These include older and younger people (1 Timothy 5:1–2), widows (1 Timothy 5:3–16), elders (1 Timothy 5:17–25), masters and servants (1 Timothy 6:1–2), and false teachers (1 Timothy 6:3–5). First Timothy 6:6–19 addresses the relationship between godliness and finances, with a concluding word for Timothy to guard himself (1 Timothy 6:20–21).

Key Verses (ESV):

1 Timothy 2:5: "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,”

1 Timothy 3:1–3: "The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money."

1 Timothy 4:9–10: "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

1 Timothy 6:12: "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."