With PJ King currently attending seminary, and (God willing) formal theological education in Chris' relatively near future as well, Pillar on the Rock will make some of our papers available for wider reading and discussion as they're applicable for our audience. These papers are necessarily academic in tone and content, but we hope they will be informative to the interested reader, as well as accessible to the internet-searching theologian with a penchant for paper-reading.
This first paper was completed by PJ King a little over a week ago, and hits on a topic near and dear to our hearts at Pillar: church leadership. We've provided the introduction; the PDF of the full file is available here as a download. (Note that we have omitted citations in this introduction; they are found in full in the paper.) Enjoy!
The passage of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 is generally understood to be a list of character-based qualifications for overseers in the New Testament Church. Although the majority of the passage is straight-forward and uncontroversial, there are a few matters which have generated much debate. First, there are questions about the tradition of Pauline authorship for the whole of the Pastoral Epistles (PE, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus). Second, in limited circles there is concern over the language of drunkard (πάροινος, v. 3). Finally, and of concern to all, is the ambiguous phrase husband of one wife (μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα) in v. 2.
The First Epistle of Paul to Timothy has been traditionally viewed as a letter written by the historical Paul to the historical Timothy. However, throughout the modern era there has been ongoing debate over the validity of the traditional view. I. Howard Marshall (who theorizes against Pauline authorship) provides this view of the scholarly divide:
A significant minority of scholars hold that the PE are the work of Paul, whether directly or indirectly by the use of a secretary/amanuensis. Nevertheless, most other scholars now take it almost as an unquestioned assumption that the PE are not the work of Paul.
The authorship debate hinges primarily on the author’s language, style, and thought, and not on historical timelines. This lack of historical concern undermines the majority argument. The linguistic and stylistic differences between the PE and the definitive Pauline corpus can be accounted for in at least two ways. First, consider the different style and vocabulary Paul might use with the recipients of the Pastoral Epistles (Timothy and Titus, with whom Paul has a close relationship) to the typical audience of a Pauline letter (a particular church facing a particular crisis, with the expectation of other churches reading the letter). A second explanation, which has been offered by many minority scholars, is that the amanuensis (secretary) changed between Paul’s other writings and the PE, or more license was given to the writer, which brought about the linguistic differences. Furthermore, the assumption of non-Pauline authorship brings with it a number of problems concerning the authenticity and authority of the Pastoral Epistles. As Walter Liefeld comments, “If the historical Paul and the historical Timothy and Titus are not the author and recipients, we move away not only from history towards fiction, but also away from a natural, legitimate understanding of the text.” For these reasons, this paper will take Towner’s position regarding authorship: “Paul is the author of these three letters however much or little others contributed to their messages and composition.”
Paul’s first letter to Timothy is noteworthy because of its unique blend of pastoral, ecclesiological, and relational concerns. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to oversee the city’s church, perhaps as an apostolic delegate, in order to bring it back to health. Timothy remained behind, in particular, to protect the church from false teachers, who had already done the church some harm. This letter aimed to teach and encourage Timothy in the building up of the church in Ephesus, including instructions on corporate worship, church offices, and personal relationships. Between Paul’s instructions for corporate worship and methods for dealing with false teaching, we find a most important topic: the qualifications for church officers.
In this passage, Paul presents Timothy with a set of qualifications for elders, and follows with a similar list for deacons and a group of women. The qualifications largely focus on character and seem specifically nuanced for the problems facing the church in Ephesus. Each of these offices come from appointment or selection and clearly includes a period of testing (either before or after selection). Utmost importance is placed on the character of the candidates, followed by the quality of personal relationships (with the family, Christians, and the world), and lastly, a few qualifications fall directly on ability, e.g., having the ability to teach.
You can read the rest of the paper here. Let us know what you think!