1. Paul's letter to Timothy

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New Testament
Acts of the Apostles
Paul's letters
Catholic letters

The 1st letter of Paul to Timothy , also called 1st Timothy for short , is a book of the New Testament of the Christian Bible . In the prescript ( 1 Tim 1,1  EU ), Paulus of Tarsus describes himself as the author ; he also refers to his biography ( 1 Tim 1,12  EU , 1 Tim 2,7  EU ). The letter names Timothy , a companion of Paul, who is mentioned several times in the Pauline letters and who had to fulfill pastoral tasks in the community as the recipient ; therefore one counts the letter to the pastoral letters . The letter was not designed as a private letter, so that it is doubtful that Timothy was actually the primary recipient of this letter.

Author, time and place of origin

Majority opinion

The following arguments are given against Pauline authorship of 1st Timothy:

  • Typical vocabulary that differs from Paul's usage: "piety" ( ancient Greek εὐσέβεια eusébeia ), "sound doctrine", "knowledge of the truth", "good works", "the word is reliable", "unbelievable faith", "pure conscience" , " Entrusted goods" ( ancient Greek παραθήκη parathḗkē ).
  • Timothy is referred to in the authentic Pauline letters as a close collaborator who repeatedly visits churches on behalf of Paul and represents the absent apostle there. Why does Paul have to give instructions to such a tried and tested man "how one should walk in the house of God" (1 Tim 3:15) or how one should pray (1 Tim 2.1ff.)?
  • The composition of 1st Timothy is as follows: Paul did missionary work with Timothy in Ephesus; then Paul left the city for Macedonia, while Timothy stayed in Ephesus. Although this is reminiscent of Acts 19 : 21-22  EU , it does not really fit the information there. But the details of the situation in 1st Timothy are also contradicting themselves, because Paul announces his imminent visit to Ephesus and for the short time until then he will send detailed written instructions to Timothy.
  • Of particular importance is the observation that the situation in the recipient congregation differs significantly from Paul's congregations: there is a congregation order with institutionalized governing bodies and officials.

If, for these reasons, one considers 1st Timothy to be a pseudepigraphic letter, this means that all the concrete statements that "Paul" makes about himself and about the situation in Ephesus, all the details of the church there communicated in the letter, are means of literary fiction . It is assumed that an unknown person made use of the apparently undisputed great authority of Paul "in order to use it to gain a norm for the current disputes in his community."

A basic decision of many more recent works on the pastoral letters and thus also on the 1st Timothy can be summarized as follows:

“The pastoral letters are pseudepigraphic; the constant attempts to understand the author as a kind of moderate, tempered or transformed Paul are fruitless, as are the attempts to identify the author with an early Christian author who is known by name. The author was neither Paul nor Luke nor Polycarp. The theology of the pastoral letters does not owe its framework to any of these sources, because the pastoral letters offer a unique and independent form of Christian theology. "

This means that a comparison of the pastoral letters with the "real" Pauline letters, for example with regard to the vocabulary or theological conceptions, obscures the view of the author's performance, who has to be measured against Paul's standard and does relatively poorly.

Minority opinions

Paul as the author

Because, from his point of view, the information about the composition situation could not be reconciled with the biography of Paul, as it is known from the Acts of the Apostles, Joachim Jeremias assumed that after the final scene of the Acts of the Apostles in Roman custody, Paul had been released again and had his be able to put into action the plan of a trip to Spain presented in Rom. 15 : 23-25 : 28  EU . The pastoral letters came from this last phase of the apostle's life.

Also Heinz-Werner Neudorfer and Edward E. Ellis sticking to the authorship of Paul but think of writing by a confidant of the Apostle, which explains the different theological expressions easily.

Open pseudepigraphy

Ferdinand Christian Baur assumed that in early Christianity there was an “open pseudepigraphy” without intent to deceive; however, he did not apply this model to the pastoral letters. This is what Percy Neale Harrison attempted: There was no need to assume that the author was trying to deceive anyone. "They [the pastoral letters] went out for what they were, and the warm appreciation with which the best minds in the Church received them was not tarnished by a misunderstanding of the way in which they were written." In fact, Harrison could not argue for his thesis; he was motivated apologetically because an intention to deceive was offensive from his point of view. Harald Hegermann ( The historical place of pastoral letters, 1970) assumed that a student of Paul wrote in the name of his master. But there are neither signals in the texts for such student work on the implicit reader , nor can one assume the milieu from which open pseudepigraphy is known in antiquity, namely educated philosophers and medical schools, in early Christian communities. At present, an open pseudepigraphy for pastoral letters is only rarely used; an exception is RI Pervo (Romancing an Oft-Neglected Stone, 1994), who understands the three letters as a letter novel.


Lorenz Oberlinner divides 1st Timothy as follows:

1.1-2 Apostolic Letter
1.3-20 Mission to Timothy: Keep the right faith, fight false teachers
2.1-3.16 Order of community life: the Christians' mission to pray for all people; Men and women in worship; Characteristics of the episcopes ("bishops") and deacons. The Church is entrusted with the mystery of faith.
4.1-11 Confrontation with false teachings: rejection of ascetic demands, benefit of piety
4.12-6.2 Instructions for community life and church order: conduct of life that corresponds to the mandate; Dealing with Christians of different age groups; Estate of widows; Status of the presbyters ("elders"); Christian slave lifestyle
6.3-21 Exhortation to defend and maintain the faith: here also the warning against greed for money and the dangers of wealth

Impact history

The Bible passage 1 Tim 2:12 is quoted when it comes to the position of women in church offices, and often to justify the rejection of the ordination and ordination of women ( 1 Tim 2:12–15  EU ).

According to chap. 3 a bishop should be married. This passage is regularly translated differently in older Protestant and Catholic Bible translations.

“From the Bishops 1 That is certainly true: if someone desires a bishopric, he desires a great task. 2 But a bishop should be irreproachable, husband of one woman, sober, […] 4 one who is well in charge of his own house and has obedient children in all honesty. 5 For if a man does not know how to run his own house, how can he look after the church of God? "

In older Evangelical Bibles it often says: "Man of one woman", in older Catholic Bibles "Man of one woman". The standard translation (1980) reproduces the passage as follows:

1 The word is credible: whoever aspires to the office of bishop, aspires to a great task. 2 Therefore the bishop should be a man without blame, married only once, sober, [...] 4 He should be a good father and raise his children to obedience and all decency. 5 Whoever cannot manage his own household, how can he care for God's Church? "

In early Christianity there was no compulsory celibacy . Proponents and opponents of celibacy interpret this chapter differently. Another reference to marriage can be found in Chapter 4.

2 seduced by the hypocrisy of the lying speaker […] 3 They forbid marriage and demand the renunciation of certain foods that God created so that those who have come to believe and to know the truth can eat them with thanksgiving . 4 For everything that God has created is good and nothing is reprehensible if it is enjoyed with thanks. "



Monographs and journal articles

  • Johannes Beutler : Deaconesses, presbyters and episcopes: Church offices in pastoral letters. In: Voices of the Time . Volume 144, 2019, pp. 3–12. ( online )
  • Lewis R. Donelson: Pseudepigraphy and Ethical Argument in the Pastoral Epistles (= Hermeneutical Studies on Theology. Volume 22). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1986, ISBN 978-3-16-149082-8 .
  • Annette Merz : The fictional self-interpretation of Paul: intertextual studies on the intention and reception of the Pauline letters (= Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus. Volume 52). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2004, ISBN 3-525-53953-3 . ( online )
  • Bernhard Mutschler: Faith in the pastoral letters: Pistis as the center of Christian existence (= scientific research on the New Testament , 256). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-16-150544-7 .
  • Jennifer H. Stiefel: Women Deacons in 1 Timothy: A Linguistic and Literary Look at 'Women likewise…' (1 Tim 3:11). In: New Testament Studies 37 (1995), pp. 442-457.

Web links


  1. Helmut Merkel: The pastoral letters. Göttingen 1991, p. 5 f.
  2. ^ A b Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr: The collection of Paulus letters. In: Ders., Basic Information New Testament. 4th edition. Göttingen 2011, pp. 196–293, here p. 286.
  3. ^ Lewis R. Donelson: Pseudepigraphy and Ethical Argument in the Pastoral Epistles. Tübingen 1986, p. 7.
  4. Heinz-Werner Neudorfer: The first letter of Paul to Timotheus. P. 30. Cf. Joachim Jeremias: The letters to Timothy and Titus. Göttingen 1981.
  5. Heinz-Werner Neudorfer: The first letter of Paul to Timotheus. Pp. 15-19.
    Edward E. Ellis: The Making of the New Testament Documents. Leiden 1999, pp. 326-329.
  6. ^ Percy Neale Harrison: The problem of the Pastoral Epistles. London 1921, p. 12.
  7. Annette Merz: The fictional self-interpretation of Paul. P. 198.
  8. 1 TimLUT
  9. 1 TimEU
  10. Celibacy. Catholic Life: The Jesus Brothers !, archived from the original on April 30, 2010 ; Retrieved December 23, 2012 . On the early history of celibacy. Opus Dei, May 11, 2010, accessed December 10, 2019 . NN. (No longer available online.) Association of Catholic Priests and their Wives, formerly the original ; accessed on December 10, 2019 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archives )

    @1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.vkpf.de
  11. 1 TimEU