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Who wrote the book of 1 Timothy? Who was the author of 1 Timothy?

author of 1 Timothy

Similar to other letters attributed to Paul, 1 Timothy takes its name from its recipient, not its author. The salutation reveals both the author and recipient, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” ‭‭(1 Timothy 1:1–2). The book of 1 Timothy is categorized as a Pastoral Epistle, along with 2 Timothy and Titus. All three letters exhibit unity, pointing to shared authorship.

‬‬ Among all the letters traditionally ascribed to Paul, the Pastoral Epistles are the most disputed, with even some conservative scholars expressing uncertainty about Paul’s authorship of these epistles. Critics argue that 1 Timothy is a pseudepigraphal text, akin to some later gospels written in the second century. According to this view, 1 Timothy was penned by someone close to Paul, probably a disciple of his.

Scholars who dispute the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy cite numerous reasons for their view. First, they point to the acceptance of pseudonymous works in the ancient world. Second, they note that 1 Timothy addresses the heresy of Gnosticism, which flourished in the second century. However, Gnosticism had already begun developing in the first century, often with mixed Jewish elements, accounting for the themes of the Pastoral Epistles.

Another objection concerns stylistic differences between the Pastoral Epistles and other, less disputed letters of Paul. But Paul used the service of an amanuensis for Romans (Romans 16:22) and possibly some other letters. If he wrote 1 Timothy and the other Pastoral Epistles himself, it would easily explain the difference in style. Moreover, 1 Timothy is a personal letter, unlike Romans, so the two letters would naturally differ in style. Also, who’s to say that writing style cannot evolve as the author grows older?

Critics further suggest that Paul had a theological school, and one of his students wrote 1 Timothy. They cite ancient figures like Plato and Pythagoras whose students wrote works in their names. This view lacks merit due to the lack of substantial evidence of a Pauline theological school, even among the writings of the early church fathers. Also worth noting are the personal words used by the author in the text. For example, 1 Timothy 1:15 states, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” It is unlikely that a student of Paul would call Paul the worst of sinners.

Other scholars reject the pseudepigraphal hypothesis in favor of a fragment theory, mainly due to the personal statements in the text. The fragment theory views 1 Timothy and other Pastoral Epistles as compilations of personal correspondence from Paul. This view is difficult to prove.

In conclusion, despite ongoing debates, the traditional view remains the most likely. Paul is the author of 1 Timothy.

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Who wrote the book of 1 Timothy? Who was the author of 1 Timothy?
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This page last updated: April 29, 2024