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An Introduction to the New Testament



Occasion. As the years went by and Christianity grew, it became more and more evident that Paul's conception of its work as a short, intensive campaign in preparation for the Lord's return must give way to a longer perspective. The church must take the long look and gird itself for a long, long conflict. It must adjust itself to an extended, perhaps even a permanent, activity in the world. So the churches must be definitely organized with responsible officers having specific qualifications and duties.

Christian leaders had come to realize that their officers must be people of good reputation not only within but outside the church. Money had to be collected, handled, and dispensed, and this must be scrupulously done. There must be no financial or other scandals in the conduct of Christian bodies. Provision for the needy in the churches, at first made spasmodically or as occasion arose, needed to be regulated and organized, especially in the matter of those Christian widows who had no means of support.

The sects which we have seen first obscurely referred to in the Acts (20:29, 30), the Revelation (2:6, 15), and Ephesians (4:3-6, 14) became more and more active through the first half of the second


century, and by 150 were, to use Harnack's figure, in full bloom. By 139, Marcion of Sinope, in Pontus, reached Rome, where he tried to win the church to his views. He thought the creator-God of the Jewish scriptures a different being from the merciful Father revealed by Jesus and rejected the whole Jewish scripture, which had been almost from the first the Bible of the church. Marcion put in place of it the Gospel of Luke and ten letters of Paul, and worked vigorously to persuade the churches to adopt a Christian scripture. He added a book of his own, the Antitheses, or Contradictions. But the Roman church refused his advances, and in 144 he withdrew from it. Yet such was his success that Justin could say in his Apology, ca. A.D. 150, that he had many followers in every nation of mankind (xxvi. 5).

As the Docetic and Johannist sects had clouded the sky of the beginning of the second century, Marcionism and Gnosticism overhung its middle decades. Cerinthus, Cerdo, Valentinus, and Basilides were leading Gnostic teachers. Cerinthus flourished early in the century, Cerdo about 137, and the others around 150. So the atmosphere of the middle of the century was murky with sectarian movements, Marcionism and Gnosticism in particular being at their height.

From the point of view of standard non-sectarian Christianity, it was unfortunate that Marcion had made himself the champion of Paul. Paul's letters composed more than half of his new Scripture. This is the explanation of the curious reticence about Paul that characterizes Justin in the two works of his that


have come down to us: the Apology and the Dialogue. He uses Paul freely in them, it is true, but never once mentions his name. It is instructive to compare with chis the mention of Paul and his letters in II Pet. 3:15 (a document contemporary with Justin), where it is accompanied by what is almost a quaint apology, certainly an explanation; the writer clearly feels that, if be is to mention Paul, he must at once safeguard himself from being classed with Paul's principal adherents, the Marcionites:

Look upon our Lord's patience as salvation, just as our dear brother Paul, with the wisdom that God gave him, wrote you to do, speaking of it as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which ignorant, unsteadfast people twist to their own ruin, just as they do the rest of the scriptures.

There were four elements, therefore, in the Christian situation that underlay the writing of the Pastoral Epistles: (1) the lack of efficient church organization; (2) the menace of the sects; (3) the undermining of the old Scripture; and (4) the misuse of Paul. It was to meet these needs and perils that the letters to Timothy and Titus were written. They are addressed to two of Paul's closest lieutenants, well known to readers of the ten letters of the first Pauline corpus, in which Titus is mentioned eleven times (nine in II Corinthians, twice in Galatians), and Timothy twelve times. Timothy is also spoken of six times in the Acts, but it was probably the frequency of these mentions in Paul's letters that suggested the names for the missionary leaders to be addressed in these Pastoral Letters, so


called from the fact that they are largely concerned with the qualifications and duties of Christian pastors, being really addressed to Christian ministers, as represented under the guise of historic representatives of their class. [1] They were, therefore, the men to whom Paul might most naturally be expected to have written, and who might most naturally represent the first Christian ministry in the Greek world.

This situation behind the writing of the letters explains the fact that they form a corpus, conceived and executed at one time and by one hand, obviously as a supplement to the Pauline corpus. Hardly a generation later, Irenaeus begins his great Refutation of Gnosticism in language drawn from them, using I Tim. 1:4, which he ascribes to "the Apostle." In fact, the very title of Irenaeus' work. The Refutation of What Is Falsely Called Knowledge [Gnosis], is based on a well- known phrase in I Tim. 6:20.

I Timothy represents Paul as writing from Macedonia or Greece after leaving Timothy at Ephesus, 1:3. We may assume that he has been released from his Roman prison and is once more a free man. In II Timothy, Paul is again in prison, evidently at Rome, 1:17; 4:21, facing sentence or execution, 4:6-18. His emissaries have gone to various provinces and cities—Galatia, Dalmatia, Asia (Ephesus). Paul has visited Miletus, Troas, and Corinth.

In Titus, however, Paul is at liberty, so that Titus is meant either to precede the other two or, more probably,

[1] Silas is mentioned more often than either of them in the Acts, but only four times in Paul's letters.


to come between them. He is planning to winter in Nicopolis where he wishes Titus, whom he has left in Crete, to join him, 3:12.

It would seem that the movements here implied are to be understood not as among those reported in the Acts but as subsequent to them, the writer assuming that Paul was acquitted at Rome and only after extended travels in the East rearrested, taken there, and condemned. This is quite in line with the view and procedure of the author of the Acts of Paul, writing in Asia a few years later, ca. 160-70, who finds room for extended wanderings on the part of Paul after his supposed release from his Roman imprisonment. He may have taken this hint from the Pastorals.

Contents. I Timothy opens in the name of Paul, "an apostle of Christ Jesus," natural enough if the intention is to claim his authority for what follows, but very strange if the letter were in fact addressed to his closest associate, who would need no assertion of apostolic authority to make him heed a message from Paul.

Timothy is addressed as the representative of all Christian pastors and teachers. He is warned against Gnosticism, strange views, fictions, interminable pedigrees—fruitless talk from people who have missed the heart of the Christian experience—purity, sincerity, and faith, 1:3-7. The old problem of the Christian use of the Law is dealt with, the Law being dismissed as applicable to violent, lower beings who have not the exalted Christian attitude, 1:8-11. Paul is pictured, as in I Cor. 15:9 ("not fit to be called an


apostle, because I once persecuted God's church") and Eph. 3:8 ("the least of all his people") as rescued from the depths of unbelief by the mercy of God, 1:12-17.

The instructions that follow are to help Timothy in his Christian warfare, and to save him from falling into sectarian errors, 1:18-20. All Christians should pray for their rulers, emperors, and governors, 2:1-4 (the loyal attitude of Romans, already expressed in I Peter). There is but one God (not two, as Marcion seemed to think) and one intermediary—the man Christ Jesus, 2:5-7. Public prayer is to be offered by men, not women; women are to dress simply and live piously. They are not to teach but to subordinate themselves to their husbands, 2:8-3:1a.

Superintendents and assistants must have certain definite qualifications for these offices, 3:1^-13. The church is of great importance, for it is nothing less than the household of God, the pedestal on which is mounted a religion of divine truth. A few lines of a Christian hymn, of almost credal quality, are quoted in support of this, 3:14-16.

Not only its officers but its doctrines are therefore of great importance. Heretical teachers, inspired by demons (cf. Justin Apology xxvi. 4, 5, where Menander of Samaria and Marcion of Pontus are said to be actuated by demons), inculcate a false asceticism, 4:1-5. The principles of the faith and the traditional teaching of the church are to be preferred to the worldly fictions and old wives' tales of the Gnostics. Physical training is good, but the training for the religious life is what matters most, 4:6-10.


The Christian minister must be an example of behavior. He must read the Scripture, preach, and teach, devoting himself to such activities, 4:11-16. Elderly widows who have been useful in the church and are now dependent must be looked after, under proper restrictions, 5:1-16. Elders must be held in high respect. They should not be ordained until they have shown their fitness. Ascetic practices should be avoided, 5:17-25. Slaves must serve their masters faithfully, 6:1, 2.

The heretical leaders are mercenary and self-seeking, but love of money is a fruitful source of evil, 6:3-10. The Christian minister must hold to the highest ideals, 6:11-16. The rich must do good with their money, 6:17-19. The minister must be on his guard against the pretensions of Gnosticism; the mention of "Contradictions" ("Antitheses") looks like an express warning against Marcion's book of that name, 6:20, 21.

Titus in its salutation describes Paul as a slave of God (cf. Phil. 1:1) as well as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Both God and Christ are spoken of as Savior (a word used by Paul only in Phil. 3:20), 1:1-4.

Titus, in Crete, is to appoint elders (cf. Acts 14:23) who must as God's overseers have certain qualifications and characteristics, 1:5-9. Heretical teachings, which seem to have a Jewish base, must be corrected, 1:10-16. Old and young, men and women, slaves and freemen, have their several Christian duties, 2:1-14. Christians must obey the laws and be useful members of society. They have been saved, baptized, and


renewed by the holy Spirit, and they must make it their business to do good and avoid the schismatics and the fruitless follies of the sects, 2:15-3:11. Personal messages and instructions conclude the letter, 3:12-15.

II Timothy is written from Rome where Paul is again in prison, 1:8, 12, 17; 2:9; 4:6, 16, 17. Paul rejoices in Timothy's faith and urges him to follow his example of courage in standing up for the gospel, as Onesiphorus has done, 1:1-18. Timothy is to communicate the gospel to suitable men who will teach it to others. Paul's example will strengthen them to meet hardship as he has done, 2:1-13. The idle arguments and foolish speculations of the sects are to be avoided. The Christian minister must pursue uprightness, faith, love, and peace, 2:14-26. He must be prepared to meet all sorts of wickedness on the part of the schismatics; he must expect persecution but must imitate Paul's example and stand by the Scriptures and what he has been taught, 3:1-17. The duties of the Christian minister are again contrasted with the practices of the schismatics, 4:1-5.

Paul's work is at an end; he has run his race, he has preserved the faith, he has won the victor's crown, 4:6-8. Echoes of his trial, the movements of his aids, and personal messages conclude the letter, 4:9-22.

Problems. These are very different interests from those that absorbed Paul and are reflected in his genuine letters. They find their appropriate setting in the middle of the second century, when Marcionism and Gnosticism confronted the church, Paul was being discredited through Marcion's adoption of him as his


patron saint, the Christian use of the Jewish scripture was being undermined, and church organization needed to be standardized. These are precisely the matters with which the Pastoral Letters are principally concerned, and with them in mind every paragraph of these three letters is seen to be significant and timely.

It is not so much that style, vocabulary, and idiom in these letters are unlike those of Paul; what matters most is that the interests and attitudes of the writer are so far removed from those Paul reveals in his own letters. Paul was an inspirer, a prophet; the writer of the Pastorals is an organizer, a conserver of the values achieved by the prophet—in short, a priest. No less useful in his own way, but in a very different and much less lofty and unusual way. The difference is that between the dynamic and the static in religion. It was not like Paul to belabor opposition without defining it; Titus 1:12 is an incredible utterance for him. [1] On the other hand, a man writing in the name of Paul almost a century after his death might well hesitate to be too explicit in pushing back into Paul's time the sectarian views of his own day, and his polemic might well be loose and vague, as that of the Pastorals is.

In the Pastorals faith is no longer the great vital inward experience that Paul described; it has become the faith, a set of beliefs and principles received from the past to be preserved and transmitted. Paul's great epitaph, II Tim. 4:7, comes much more naturally and

[1] Probably quoting Epimenides On Oracles 6.


suitably from a later Paulinist than from Paul himself, and Paul would never have said it. For him faith was not "the faith," something to be scrupulously preserved against adulteration; it was the controlling inner experience of his life. The whole outlook of the Pastorals, planning the organization of the officers of the church and its charities, faces a long future, quite unlike that before the author of I Cor. 7:26-31, with his immediate apocalyptic expectation. To quote the gospels (Luke 10:7) as Scripture side by side with Deut. 25:4 (I Tim. 5:18) is hardly possible much before A.D. 150. And, finally, the historical background, disclosed by the letters, of rampant sectarian movements with strange doctrinal perversions cannot be matched until a hundred years after Paul wrote his first extant letter in A.D. 50.

But about 150 every element falls into place.

1. The vague polemic against heresy and schism, which is on every page of the Pastorals, is fully satisfied by the ravages of the Marcionite and Gnostic sects. "Endless genealogies," I Tim. 1:4, sounds like the aeon speculations of the Valentinian Gnostics (Irenaeus Refutation i. 11; cf. Titus 3:9). But it would be difficult to refer to Marcionism and Gnosticism more explicitly than is done in the last lines of I Timothy, "Keep away from the worldly, empty phrases and contradictions [Antitheses] of what they falsely call Knowledge [Gnosis]." Gnosis was the name of the chief prevalent heresy, and The Antitheses was the name of Marcion's one book. These alone would not prove the point, but taken in conjunction


with all the evidence of date and occasion supplied by the letters themselves, they must be given more decisive weight than has hitherto been allowed them.

2. The need of standardization in church organization is met in the Pastorals by the recognition of a twofold ministry—overseers (or presbyters) and deacons, for each of which definite qualifications are laid down. Against the ascetic sects, marriage is recognized, but there must be no remarriage for those who are to serve as officers or to be enrolled as widows and provided for by the church. It is true that Ignatius of Antioch, in A.D. 107-17, advocated a threefold ministry, but that did not become standard procedure until the founding of the Catholic church, toward 180. It is the absence of this fully developed polity in the Pastorals that shows us that they are earlier than the founding of the Catholic church.

3. Marcion's repudiation of the Jewish scripture, which had long been the Bible of the church, leads to the reassertion of its authority; the consecrating effect of its use in prayer, I Tim. 4:5; the duty of reading it publicly before the church, 4:13; and above all the great assertion of II Tim. 3:16: "All scripture is divinely inspired, and useful in teaching, in reproof, in correcting faults, and in training in uprightness." This is a denial of one of Marcion's most emphatic tenets, and much more; it is the extension to the whole of the Greek Old Testament of the doctrine of verbal inspiration, which Palestinian Judaism had applied only to the five books of the Law—a step that brought allegorical interpretation in its wake.


4. Most important of all, the danger that the influence of Paul's letters would be reduced and even destroyed by their appropriation by Marcion gives us the explanation of the otherwise inexplicable composition of this group of letters in the name of Paul. Marcion had made himself the champion of Paulinism, as he understood it, and had elevated Paul's letters to the position of Scripture. He was clearly the first to do this. They had been collected and published perhaps fifty years before his time, but there is no recognition of them as a part of Scripture before Marcion, A.D. 140-50. Justin (about 150) does not recognize them as Scripture; it is only "the memoirs of the apostles [the gospels] or the writings of the prophets" that are read in Christian meetings, "as long as time permits," Apology lxvii. 3. Indeed, as we have seen, he does not mention Paul or his letters though he shows no little familiarity with them.

The writer of the Pastorals grasps the situation boldly. For the people of his day, as someone has pointed out, it was as natural to write a letter in the name of Paul as it was to compose a speech or a sermon and put it in his mouth. Paul is being made a tool of Marcionism, and he must be rescued, and recovered for the uses of the church. The Pastoral Letters accomplish this. They disown Marcion and his chief positions in the name of Paul; "There is but one God," I Tim. 2:5; "All scripture is divinely inspired," II Tim. 3:16. "Keep away from the .... contradictions [Antitheses]," I Tim. 6:20. In this way Paul himself is made to disclaim Marcion.


This is effected not by a single letter but by a corpus of letters. It is a mistake to approach the Pastorals atomistically and seek to determine which is earlier and which later. They are to be understood as a unit. The same situation and the same purposes run through them all. The same errors are again and again attacked and denounced. The same reforms of organization are set forth. It was as a corpus that they were produced and put forth, for they mutually buttress and support one another. In fact, as we have seen, Titus is made to intervene chronologically between I and II Timothy, thus integrating the three inseparably. They are personal in form, though not in purpose, for it was too late to offer another church letter of Paul's. And by this time Titus and Timothy belonged to everybody and had become suitable symbols of the Christian minister of the Pauline type. Through them the contemporary Christian ministry could be addressed and guided.

The new corpus is no independent unit, however; it is to be a supplement to the existing Pauline literature. That is just what it became, as Irenaeus' use of it a generation later shows, Refutation, Preface. It effected just the recovery of Paul for standard Christianity that was intended; indeed, its influence upon polity was less than its effect upon canonization, for it swept not only Paul but itself into Christian scripture. When the first New Testament was organized some twenty-five years later, it included thirteen letters of Paul (just the number of Plato's letters), and thenceforth no Christian canon contained less.


The Pastoral corpus met a critical situation and met it with signal success. It reflects an attitude like Justin's as to the demonic inspiration of the schismatics; it successfully opposes the rising disposition to let women teach in church, evidenced by the Acts of Paul a dozen or twenty years later [1] and the Montanist movement a little later still. [2] Like Justin (Apology lxvii. 3), it recognizes the gospels as Scripture, for in I Tim. 5:18, "The workman deserves his wages" (from Luke 10:7) is quoted as Scripture side by side with Deut. 25:4, "You must not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain." The mention of Pontius Pilate, I Tim. 6:13, also suggests Lucan influence, for he alone gives Pilate's nomen, or gentilic name. Luke 3:1; Acts 4:27.

Efforts have been made to identify scraps of genuine Pauline material in the Pastorals, but these invariably include just the things that Paul can hardly be imagined to have written, such as his own great epitaph, II Tim. 4:7. The idea that "many of the details, e.g., the references to Paul's cloak and books (II Tim. 4:12, 13), are too circumstantial and concrete to be explained" on the hypothesis "that these writings were nothing more than the products of a later Paulinist's inventive imagination and reverence" [3] shatters upon the fact that just such details characterize the Acts

[1] M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford, 1924), pp. 270-99.

[2] Eusebius Church History v. 14. Montanus, Maximilla, and Priscilla were the chief prophets of Montanism.

[3] Moffatt, Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament (New York, 1911), p. 399.


of Paul, written a dozen or twenty years later. For example, the description of Paul—"a small-sized man with thin hair and crooked legs, of vigorous physique, with eyebrows meeting and a hooked nose, but full of grace"—is quite as circumstantial and concrete as the reference to Paul's cloak and books but can hardly be accepted on that account as an authentic portrait of Paul. Such touches really belong, of course, to the very rudiments of fiction. Both are simply attempts at verisimilitude.

But the chief point in the art of the Pastorals lies in this—that instead of being encyclicals they are focused upon individuals. Their author means them for the whole church (the encyclical intention shows itself for an instant in the "everywhere" of I Tim. 2:8), but he addresses them to Timothy and Titus, two individuals often mentioned by Paul, but really little known apart from him. The pseudonymity is, as it were, double; both author and recipient are assumed. The result of this was greatly to enhance the interest and effect of the letters. Not only did they gain in probability, for private letters were much more likely to have lain long unnoticed than church letters, but they possessed the interest of private and, as it were, confidential letters, so much greater than that of semi- public communications to a body of people. This is a trait in the art of the Pastorals that has not been fully appreciated.

Not only did the letters gain in interest but they actually gained in authority from this personal address in each of them. They seemed to come with the


authority not only of Paul but of his chief lieutenants, the men closest to him in his missionary travels. These men became the medium through which he could speak to the pastors and teachers of the later day. They were like an inheritance not only from Paul the apostle but from my brother Titus (II Cor. 2:13) and our brother Timothy (Col. 1:1). An author capable of such a brilliant reversal of the familiar encyclical technique may certainly be credited with such small literary details as the cloak and books left at Troas.

The influence of the Pauline corpus is, of course, strong in the Pastorals (all ten letters are reflected [1]), as is that of the Acts, II Tim. 1:5, compare Acts 16:1;

II Tim. 3:11, compare Acts 13:13-14:28; 16:1. Of ten places mentioned in the Pastorals nine are spoken of in the Acts—all but Nicopolis. The four provinces or countries mentioned—Asia, Galatia, Crete, Dalmatia—all appear in Paul or the Acts, the last under the name of Illyricum of which it was really the southern part. Of twenty-seven persons named, ten are known to us from Paul's letters. Pudens, Linus, and Claudia are appropriately located at Rome, where Linus was afterward recognized as the first bishop (Irenaeus Refutation iii. 3. 3).

The regulative tone of the letters with their definite statements of the requisite qualifications for church superintendents, assistants, assistants' wives, I Tim. 3:11, and dependent widows suggests the atmosphere

[1] A. E. Barnett, "The Use of the Pauline Letters in Pre-Catholic Christian Literature," p. 612; University of Chicago Abstracts of Theses ("Humanistic Series'"), IX, 509.


of Rome rather than that of Ephesus. The conflict with the sects seems to have been hottest at Rome. Cerdo, Marcion, and Valentinus appeared there in person, no doubt seeking to dominate the Roman church as the strategic center of the Christian movement. There, too, the feminism which was advancing in the province of Asia (cf. Thecla in the Acts of Paul, ca. A.D. 160-70, and the high position of Priscilla and Maximilla in Montanism not long after) would be sternly repressed, I Tim. 2:12. The fact that feminism went on to such lengths in Asia long after the Pastorals were written makes it less likely that they were written there than in Rome, which was definitely antifeminist (as Tertullian reflects) and was soon to take other steps against Marcion and the contemporary sects in the development of its great baptismal symbol—the Apostles' Creed, almost every clause of which denies some heretical doctrine. Perhaps the words "Everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me," II Tim. 1:15, refers to Asian laxity about the place of women in the church, or to the general neglect of Paul on the part of Christians of the nonsectarian type there.

We may therefore suppose these letters to have been written in Rome, about the middle of the second century or soon after, and made a part of a new edition of the Pauline letters for the use of Christians of the non-schismatic type, who followed neither Marcion nor the Gnostics. Our first real witness to them [1] is

[1] Unless their influence be detected in the Acts of Paul in the common assumption that he was released from prison and resumed his missionary travels; that work also mentions Demas and Onesiphorus but can hardly have approved the Pastorals' denial of woman's right to teach. Perhaps it was written, among other things, to correct their reactionary attitude on that point.


Irenaeus of Lyons who grew up in the neighborhood of Smyrna and went to Gaul probably well after 150. The supposed use of the Pastorals in Ignatius and Polycarp must be interpreted the other way, in view of the historical situation so clearly reflected in the Pastorals themselves.


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