Carson, D.A., and Douglas Moo An Introduction to the New Testament - Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. "New Testament Letters" Carson & Moo pp. 331-353
“The Pastoral Epistles” Carson & Moo pp. 554-587
The term “pastoral epistles” was given to 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus in 1703 by D.N. Berdot, followed in 1726 by Paul Anton. “Contemporary critical orthodoxy insists that the Pastorals were all written by someone other than Paul and at a time considerably later than that of the apostle” (p. 555). Considerations involved in that discussion involved vocabulary, syntax, rhetorical style, difficulty fitting the letters into what we know of Paul’s history, identification of the false teachers discussed in the letters, the interest shown in the organization of the church, and the way the theology is termed, though not necessarily its content. Carson and Moo speak to these issues, in each instance suggesting that traditional interpretation, which ascribes the letters to Paul and places them quite late in his life, is likely correct.
The section on the ecclesiastical organization strikes me as an important segment. I quote from p. 564. “Many scholars believe that the understanding of church life that is presupposed in these letters could not have appeared during Paul’s lifetime. Specifically, they see a strongly organized church with an ordained ministry.
“We should first notice that Paul seems to have had some interest in the ministry, for even on the first missionary journey he and Barnabas appointed elders in the churches they had so recently founded (Acts 14:23). The salutation at the head of the epistle to the Philippians finds Paul addressing the overseers (bishops) and deacons at Philippi as well as the saints there (Phil. 1:1).
Second, to find an interest in the ministry in the Pastorals we must exclude 2 Timothy, for in that letter there is nothing about an ordained ministry or any form of church organization. Paul does speak of God’s χάρισμα (charisma) that is in timothy through the laying on of his hands (2 Tim. 1:6), but this may well be the equivalent of a later confirmation rather than of ordination (it leads on to thoughts of “power, of love and of self-discipline,” which are just as relevant to the Christian life as to the Christian ministry). In Titus there is a direction to ‘appoint elders in every town’ (Titus 1:5) and an indication of the kind of people who should be made elder or bishop (the two terms appear to denote the same office). It is in 1 timothy that we get considerable teaching about the ministry. Here we find mention of the qualities that are to be sought in overseers and deacons (chap. 3) and an indication that elders are honored persons, to be treated with respect and to be paid for their work (5:17-20). The elder seems clearly to be equated with the overseer (bishop) in Titus 1:5-7, and there is nothing in the other two letters to indicate any other system. Despite the inferences drawn by some, there is really nothing in any of the Pastorals that demands any more organization than the ‘overseers and deacons’ of Philippians 1:1. There is also a ‘list of widows’ (1 Tim. 5:9), but it is not clear what this means (in any case, widows seem to have had a special place from the beginning [Acts 6:1]). Clearly, none of this amounts to much in the way of organization, certainly to nothing more than can have appeared in the church in comparatively early days.”
Recent study of the Pastorals has focused on the authorship, the seeming concern or lack of concern of church matters, and the types of codes of conduct and requirements of church leaders.
On p. 571 Carson and Moo turn their attention to walking through the letters in order in some detail. 1 Timothy has a good deal of exhortation to prayer and faithfulness, holding fast to the truth delivered to Timothy. The letter may well have been written from Macedonia, based on 1 Timothy 1:3. Carson and Moo suggest the letter probably dates from the early 60s, assuming that Paul was released from prison for a brief time after the end of the events detailed in Acts. Timothy is clearly the intended recipient, judging from the many personal comments, but the letter clearly applies also to the general Christian public. The text of 1 Timothy is well documented. The letter is quoted by early Christian writers as early as the second century. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to care for his personal character issues is of great importance as we consider qualifications for ministry.
2 Timothy is written with a clear consciousness on the part of Paul that his life is almost over. Carson and Moo therefore date it in the last year of Paul’s life, possibly as early as 64 and as late as 67. Again, the letter is addressed to Timothy and has a well preserved text and early adoption into the canon. The letter points out that we strive to live out our lives realizing the consequences of God’s work in Christ.
Titus is addressed, as indicated by the name, to Titus, who was left in Crete by Paul. We have no information about when Paul might have been working in Crete other than his brief stay there in Acts 27. Therefore this suggests a work during a gap in the narrative of Acts or a time after the end of the events in Acts. Carson and Moo do not make any firm conclusions about the date. Titus appears to be echoed in Clement of Rome and is quoted by some second century authors, indicating early acceptance into the canon. The letter to Titus strongly indicates that the Christian faith serves among other things to civilize people, something which seems to have been necessary for the believers in Crete. Through reliance on the grace of the Lord we find that we are changed into his image.