The title “Pastoral Epistles” is often used to describe Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus but, to the modern reader, it is an expression that means little. A key concept is to realize that these “epistles” are better defined as letters or, maybe even “e-mails” from Paul, the mentor, to his prize apprentices in ministry, Timothy and Titus, as they take up very different ministries in very different places and cultures. Timothy in Ephesus with a cultured, established church and Titus on the island of Crete with a young church planted in the midst of a culture that was known for its chicanery.
While there are great similarities between these letters there are also significant contrasts that reveal challenges to the early church as it spread across idiosyncratic peoples and their divergent cultures. Sadly, much of what is found in common between them back then is still a challenge to us today for one fundamental reason; the story of man separated from God is that of brokenness, failure and decay.
While these two churches are distant memories lost in a pile of modern day reconstructed ruins, in their time those congregations were learning to lift up Christ in cultures that were becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian community. Echoes of Paul’s encouragements can still be heard in pulpits today as Christians wrestle with lifting up Christ in the midst of the deepening darkness of the world around them.
And so, our Sunday night small group at the building will start this study in the letters to Timothy and Titus on September 13, Lord willing.