1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Timothy, Second Epistle to

19449771911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26 — Timothy, Second Epistle toJames Moffatt

TIMOTHY, SECOND EPISTLE TO. In this book of the New Testament, after a brief thanksgiving for the faith of Timothy (i. 1–5), Paul is represented as warning him against false shame (6 seq.), adducing his own example and that of Oncsiphorus. The need and the reward of endurance are then urged (ii. 1–13), and Timothy is bidden to adhere in his work to the Pauline gospel against the seductions of controversial and immoral heretics (ii. 14 seq.).[1] The practices of the latter are pungently depicted[2] (iii. 1–9); Paul reiterates his opening counsels (10 seq.) and then closes with a solemn charge to personal faithfulness. A note of personal matters concludes the epistle (iv. 6–22).

The last verse, with its two-fold greeting (ὁ κύριος μετὰ τοῦ Trvfvuark aov, -fj \hpis fieQ' bn&p), shows unconsciously but plainly that, while the epistle professes to be a private letter to Timothy, it is in reality addressed to a wider circle, like 1 Tim. and Titus. But its composite origin is also clear.[3] Thus iv. 6–22a, which is certainly authentic, is not homogeneous in itself, the situation of verses 6–8 hardly agreeing with that of 9 seq., while verse 11 (“Luke alone is with me”) cannot have been written at the same time as verse 21. Various schemes of analysis have been proposed to account for this and other passages of the same nature in the epistle, e.g. i. 15–18, iii. 10 seq. But the general result of such reconstructions is tentative. All that criticism has succeeded in establishing is the fact that the author had some reliquiae Paulinae at his disposal, notes written either before or during his last imprisonment in Rome,[4] and that these have been worked up into the present letter by one who rightly believed that his master would stoutly oppose the current errors of the age.

2 Timothy, like 1 Timothy, reveals with fair precision the period and aim of the writer of the pastorals. Evidently (cf. Acts xx. 20–30) the Pauline Christianity of Ephesus was imperilled seriously during the last quarter of the 1st century. Its very growth invited attempts to weave ascetic, theosophic, semi-Jewish fancies round the faith, not unlike the attempts often made in modern India to assimilate Christian and local philosophies of religion. Against such the writer argues in Paul's name, as Luke had already done. From the composition of a speech in Paul's name (for, though the farewell in Acts goes back to first-hand tradition, it represents the author's standpoint as well as Paul's) , it was but a step to compose letters in his name, especially on the basis of some of his extant notes. A genuine concern for local Christianity is the writer's justification for his work, and any idea of fraudulent aims must be dismissed at once.[5] " To a writer of this period, it would seem as legitimate an artifice to compose a letter as to compose a speech in the name of a great man whose sentiments it was desired to reproduce and record; the question which seems so important to us, whether the words and even the sentiments are the great man's own or only his historian's, seems then hardly to" have occurred either to writer or readers " (W. H. Simcox, Writers of the New Testament, p. 38). The address at Miletus is Paul's last word to the Christian elders of Ephesus, warning them against heresies (Acts xx. 29 seq.) and solemnly bidding them exercise their disciplinary duties. The Second Epistle to Timothy carries on this line of advice. Here Paul, being dead, yet speaks through Timothy to the local Christians who are exposed to such mischievous tendencies in their environment.

Where the writer has hardly succeeded in representing Paul is in his relations to Timothy. One may admit that, strictly speaking, the latter at the age of about thirty-five or forty could still be called vim, and that Paul might conceivably have termed him still his tUvov. But the counsels addressed to him seem rather out of place when one recollects the position which he occupied. To a writer who desired a situation for such advice on church life and doctrine from the lips of Paul to his lieutenant, it was natural to think of a temporary absence.[6] But many of the directions are much too serious and fundamental to have been given in this form; one can hardly imagine that Paul considered Timothy (or Titus) still in need of elementary advice and warning upon such matters, and_ especially on personal purity. When they are regarded as typical figures of the later episcopi of the Church, the point of this emphasis upon elementary principles and duties is at once clear; they outline graphically the qualifications for the church offices in question.

The pressing need of the Church, as the writer conceives it, is to maintain the true Pauline tradition (2 Tim. i. 13, &c.) against certain moral and speculative ideas. This maintenance takes the twofold practical form of (a) adherence to formulated statements of the "sound teaching" and (b) insistence on a succession of church officials (2 Tim. ii. 1–2) who are not merely to preside but to teach. The last point is significant in view of DidachS xv. 1. The standpoint of the author is practically that of Clemens Romanus (xlii. seq.), who asserts that the apostles preached " everywhere in country and town, appointing their first-fruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons." The interests of discipline and doctrine were thus to be conserved.[7] Paul's lieutenants possess the central deposit of the apostolic faith, and have the duty as well as the right of exercising the authority with which that position invests them.

The occasional coincidences between the pastorals and Barnabas or Clemens Romanus do not prove anything more than a common milieu of thought, but the epistles were plainly familiar to Polycarp, who alludes to 1 Tim. ii. 1, vi. 7, 10, and 2 Tim. ii. 11, 25, iv. 10 (for this and the other passages from Polycarp, see The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers, 1905, pp. 95 seq.). This indubitable use of the pastorals in Polycarp[8] throws the terminus ad quern of their composition back into the first decade of the 2nd century, and additional confirmation of this would be forthcoming were the evidence for their use in Ignatius more secure. The occasional similarities of thought and expression between them and the Lucan writings suggest that the period of their origin lies within a quarter of a century after Paul’s death, and, when one or two later accretions are admitted, the internal evidence, either upon the organization of the church[9] or upon the errors controverted, tallies with this hypothesis.

Literature.—Special monographs on this epistle by Leo (1850) and Bahnsen (Die sogenannten Pastoralbriefe, I., der 2 Tim., 1876) are to be noted. For a textual discussion of ii. 19, cf. Resch's Paulinismus, pp. 258–259. The allusion to the βιβλία, μάλιστα τὰς μεμβράνας (iv. 13) has produced a wealth of discussion; the latter were probably pugillares membranei, sheets for private memoranda. The books may have included the Logia or Evangeli Scriptures from which 1 Tim. v. 18 is quoted (so Resch), but this is a mere conjecture. Cf., on the whole question, Birt's Das antike Buchwesen, pp. 50 seq., 65, 88 seq., and Nestle's Einführung in das griechische N. T. (1899), pp. 39 seq.  (J. Mt.) 

  1. Bahnsen gives an ingenious analysis of this section in the epistle. In ii. 8–13, ii. 6 is developed; in ii. 14–26, ii. 4; and in iii. 1–4 (8), ii. 5. But this is as artificial as Otto’s attempt to classify the contents of the epistle under the three notes of the πνεῦμα in i. 7.
  2. On iii. 6 see the fragment from Philo quoted in Euseb. Praep. Evang. viii. 11.
  3. “If the epistle was an integral as we have it, its genuineness could scarcely be maintained” (Laughlin, p. 26).
  4. Bacon (Story of St Paul, p. 198) and Clemen both assign part of the epistle to the Caesarean imprisonment, the former disentangling iv. 9, 11–18, 20–21a, 22b, the latter iv. 9–18. Hitzig had already found a Caesarean letter in i. 15, iv. 13–16, 20–22a. One great point in favour of such theories is that they give a natural sense to iv. 1 6, Paul's first defence being that before the Jews or before Felix.
  5. Cf. the present writer's Historical New Testament (2nd ed., 1901, pp. 619 seq.), where the relevant literature is cited. An adequate^ monograph on ancient pseudonymous literature remains to be written; meantime, further reference may be made to the older essays of Mosheim (Dissertatio de caussis suppositorum librorum inter Christianas saeculi primi el secundi, 1733); Bentley's Disserta- tion on Phalaris, pp. 80 seq. ; K. R. Köstlin’s article in Theol. Jahrbücher (1851), pp. 149–221, on “Der pseud. Litteratur der altesten Kirche” ; and A. Güdemann, in Classical Studies in Honour of H. Drissler, pp. 52–74 (New York, 1894).
  6. The drawback was that, if Paul was soon to see his colleagues again (Titus i. 5; 1 Tim. i. 3), such detailed advice was hardly necessary; but this imperfection was inevitable.
  7. The post-Pauline atmosphere of the ecclesiastical regulations is felt most plainly in the references to such sub-apostolic features as the organized register of " widows." The iirloKoiros, the 8i4to«w and the xvp«- are also forbidden to contract a second marriage. Such, at any rate, seems the fairest interpretation of I Tim. iii. 2 (MtrKoiros) in the light of early Christian tradition, for although the phrase "husband of one wife" might conceivably be intended as a prohibition of polygamy or vice ( = faithful husband, or sober, married man), the antipathy to second marriages (cf. Jacoby, Neutest. Elhik, pp. 378 seq.) is quite in accord with sub-apostolic practice. It is almost as un-Pauline as the assumption that every liri<r/coiros must be married. Cf. on this whole subject Hilgenfeld (Zeitschrift fur wiss. Theologie, 1886, pp. 456 seq.) and Schmiedel (Encycl. biblica, 31 13 seq.) ; the opposite position is stated excellently by Hort (Christian Ecclesia, 1898. 189 seq.) and Dr T. M. Lindsay (Hibbert Journal, i. 166 seq., and in The Church and the Ministry in the early Centuries, 1903, pp. 139 seq.).
  8. The pastorals soon passed into great favour in the early Church. Their method andaim were entirely congenial to the rising Catholic Church, and one is not surprised to find from writers in the East (Theophilus of Antioch, Justin Martyr) and West (lrenaeus, Tertullian and the author of 2 Clement) that they were widely read and valued. Absent from Marcion's canon, they were included in the Muratorian, where they appear as private letters ("pro affectu et dilectione"). See, on the external evidence in general, Zahn’s Geschichte der neutest. Kanons, i. 634 seq.
  9. The pastorals in this aspect are closer to Clemens Romanus than to Ignatius.