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Gendered Letters: The Pastoral Epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Reta Halteman Finger began her Bible study blog, Reta’s Reflections, with a study of 1 Corinthians. Since then she has completed studies of the Gospel of John, the book of Jonah, a series on Hermeneutics, a brief series on Philemon, and studies in the book of Revelation. Her seventh series focuses on three short letters, often called the Pastoral Epistles. They are attributed to the Apostle Paul and addressed to two of Paul’s co-workers, Timothy and Titus.

This is an index of posts in that series.

(Posts are in reverse order on this page, with the first of the series at the bottom.)

Marriage and Food: The Intra-Church Struggle Continues—1 Timothy 4:1-5

Lesson 10: “So the false teachers ‘forbid marriage and demand abstinence from [certain] foods’? Is that all the fuss is about? No wild orgies or murderous rampages? Maybe not, but these beliefs have extensive consequences. Theologically, they imply that true Christians will strive for union with a God who is pure spirit. They must leave behind earthy pleasures like sex and ordinary family life, as well as most tasty foods.”

“Bishops” and “Deacons” in Context—1 Timothy 3:1-16

Lesson 9: “Overall, why is the author of this letter so concerned to shape the Ephesian churches in the mold of Roman ideals of dignified, socially respectable, patriarchal household management? Such instructions differ widely from the social-reversal teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and the countercultural theology in Paul’s undisputed letters.”

That Troublesome Paragraph on Women—1 Timothy 2:9-15

Lesson 7: "The pastor provides what he sees as scriptural authority for women’s submission in 1 Timothy 2:13-14: Adam was formed first and only Eve was deceived by the serpent. That is a traditional Jewish interpretation of the Genesis 2-3 story, but a very limited and male-oriented one. Since both Adam and Eve sinned, is it worse to be deceived or to deliberately sin?"

Dangerous Arguments or Peaceful Worship? — 1 Timothy 2:8-15

Lesson 6: “In this context, women’s behavior was a typical concern. The pastor would have assumed that men were natural leaders, and women did not have that capacity for leadership. They were considered more emotional and prone to be taken in by the ‘myths and genealogies’ of the opponents. Thus, observes Jouette Bassler, the pastor has more instructions for women than he has for the men.”

Negotiating Salvation for All — 1 Timothy 2:1-8

Lesson 5 - In striking contrast to an emperor’s assumed role as mediator between the divine and humans because of his military conquests, Jesus as mediator generously and nonviolently gives up his life as a ransom for all—Jews, Romans, and ‘barbarians’ alike.

How to Describe Opponents—1 Timothy 1:8-20

Lesson 4 - “The metaphor of the church as a Roman household will pervade 1 Timothy. Major questions will be: how closely does this description of church organization conform to Roman ideals of household management? Or, is the hierarchical aspect blunted by the stated aim in 1:5 of ‘love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith'?"

“Speculations” or a “Divine Economy”? 1 Timothy 1:1-7

Lesson 3 - “In a Roman household, inheritance always passed from father to son (not to daughters). So Paul has an inheritance for Timothy: the ‘instruction’ (1 Tim 1:5, 18), also called ‘the sound teaching’ (1:10). In Paul’s absence, Timothy functions as the head of the church(es) in Ephesus.”

Paul the Person, Paul the Personage

Lesson 2 - "Christian feminists who haven’t already tripped over 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and 14:34-36, will probably stop dead in their tracks while reading 1 Timothy 2:9-15, along with various other statements in the Pastoral Epistles limiting women."

The Pastoral Epistles — Introduction and Questions of Authorship

Lesson 1 - "... the letters to Timothy and Titus can seem like outliers. They differ so much in tone and content that most Pauline scholars today assume they are pseudonymous."

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Marriage and Food: The Intra-Church Struggle Continues—1 Timothy 4:1-5

Lesson 10: “So the false teachers ‘forbid marriage and demand abstinence from [certain] foods’? Is that all the fuss is about? No wild orgies or murderous rampages? Maybe not, but these beliefs have extensive consequences. Theologically, they imply that true Christians will strive for union with a God who is pure spirit. They must leave behind earthy pleasures like sex and ordinary family life, as well as most tasty foods.”