1 & 2 Timothy, Titus by Paul M. Zehr

By Paul M. Zehr

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In John 10, Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd, in contrast to other shepherds, who were like a thief or a hired hand and did not care for the sheep (10:10, 12). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:15-16a; cf. also Mark 13:21-22; Acts 20:29-30). Distinguishing between true and deceitful teaching was a major task of the early church. When the gospel reached Samaria, a magician by the name of Simon heard the good news of the kingdom of God, believed, and was baptized.

Paul offers two reasons for these Christian prayers. First, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. Paul hopes that through their prayers, the Ephesian Christians will not be under suspicion of disloyalty to the governing authorities and can practice Christian living without disturbance. Christians live in godliness and dignity. These two terms represent the Hellenistic counterpart to the Hebraic terms for holiness and righteousness. The Ephesian Christians are not to be boisterous, but through quiet demeanor (not silence) and upright behavior, the Christian church will survive and grow in the Roman Empire, despite its expanding civil religion.

God our Savior, therefore, opens up a major theological theme in 1 Timothy [Names for God and the Imperial Cult, p. 357]. Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ and belongs to Christ. His apostolic command came both from God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope. More than wishful thinking, hope implies a sure future because its substance and foundation rests in Christ. The word group for hope occurs eight times in the letters to Timothy and Titus (1 Tim 1:1; 3:14; 4:10; 5:5: 6:17; Titus 1:2; 2:13; 3:7).

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