Sunday School Bible Survey:      I TIMOTHY

Theme: Church order

Key verse: "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Tim. 3:15).

From the Scofield Study Bible:

WRITER: The Apostle Paul

DATE: The date of this Epistle turns upon the question of the two imprisonments of Paul. If there were two (see Acts 28:30, note), then it is clear that First Timothy was written during the interval. If Paul endured but one Roman imprisonment, the Epistle was written shortly before Paul's last journey to Jerusalem.

THEME: As the churches of Christ increased in number, the questions of church order, of soundness in the faith, and of discipline became important. At first the apostles regulated these things directly, but the approaching end of the apostolic period made it necessary that a clear revelation should be made for the guidance of the churches. Such a revelation is in First Timothy, and in Titus. The key-phrase of the Epistle is, "That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God." Well had it been with the churches if they had neither added to nor taken from the divine order.

The divisions are five:

  1. Legality and unsound doctrine rebuked (1).
  2. Prayer and the divine order of the sexes enjoined (2).
  3. The qualifications of elders and deacons (3).
  4. The walk of the "good minister" (4).
  5. The work of the "good minister" (5, 6).

Introduction (adapted from J. Vernon McGee):

  1. The apostle Paul's First Epistle to Timothy is the first of the three (along with II Timothy and Titus) "Pastoral Epistles."
  2. They are called the "Pastoral Epistles" because they have to do with order in the local churches. These three epistles were written to two young preachers who worked with Paul: Timothy and Titus. They were led to Christ through the ministry of Paul. He had these men with him as helpers, and he instructed them about the local church.
  3. In all three epistles Paul is dealing with two things: the creed of the church and the conduct of the church. For the church within, the worship must be right. For the church outside, good works must be manifested. Worship is inside; works are outside. That's the way the church is to manifest itself.
  4. Paul deals with these two topics in each of the three epistles. For instance, in I Timothy, chapter 1, is faith, the faith of the church—its doctrine. In chapter 2 is the order of the church. Chapter 3 concerns the officers of the church. Chapter 4 describes the apostasy that was coming, and chapters 5 and 6 tell of the duties of the officers.
  5. In II Timothy, Paul deals with the afflictions of the church in chapter 1 and the activity of the church in chapter 2. Then the apostasy of the church and the allegiance of the church follow in chapters 3 and 4.
  6. Titus has the same theme. Chapter 1 tells of the order of the church, chapter 2 is about the doctrine of the church, and in chapter 3 is the good works of the church.
  7. So, there is creed on the inside of the church and conduct on the outside. Within is worship and without are good works.
  8. In order to be a local assembly, the church must have certain things to characterize it. It must have a creed, and its doctrine must be accurate. There are two verses that summarize Paul's message in these epistles: "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went to Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other [different] doctrine" (I Tim. 1:3). It is important that a church have correct doctrine.
  9. Doctrine is emphasized in the Pastoral Epistles (cf. I Tim. 1:3, 10; 3:2; 4:1, 6, 13, 16; 5:17; 6:1, 3, etc.).


  1. Timothy's name appears 24 times in the New Testament; 17 times in ten different Pauline epistles, more than any other of Paul's companions.
  2. Timothy was a native of the city of Lystra in Asia Minor (cf. Acts 16:1, 2). His mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois were devout Jewish Christians (Acts 16:1; II Tim. 1:5).
  3. Timothy's father was a Greek, probably not a Jewish proselyte, and probably not saved (Acts 16:1-3).
  4. Timothy's mother and grandmother taught him the Word of God from his childhood (II Tim. 3:14, 15).
  5. Paul probably led Timothy to faith in Christ (cf. I Cor. 4:17; I Tim. 1:2; II Tim. 1:2; 2:1).
  6. Paul was also influential in Timothy's call to full time Christian service (I Tim. 4:14; II Tim. 1:6).
  7. Timothy was with Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-4; 17:14, 15; 18:5), and third missionary journey (Acts 19:22; 20:4; II Cor. 1:1, 19).
  8. During that time, Timothy was sent by Paul on a mission to the church at Corinth to give special instructions (I Cor. 4:17; 16:10). Later he rejoined Paul and accompanied him back to Corinth, for he sends greetings along with Paul to the church at Rome. That epistle was written from Corinth (cf. Rom. 16:21).
  9. During Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, Timothy was his close companion (Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1; Philemon 1).
  10. Paul intended to send Timothy on a special mission to Philippi (cf. Phil. 2:19-23).
  11. Sometime during his ministry, Timothy was imprisoned, but the Bible does not give us the details (cf. Hebrews 13:23).
  12. Paul sent Timothy to help out at the church at Ephesus, and he was there when the first epistle to Timothy was written.
  13. He was probably also there when the second epistle was written (cf. I Tim. 1:3; II Tim. 1:18).
  14. However, it is not clear if Timothy ever served as the pastor of the church in Ephesus. There were elders (pastors) there before Timothy arrived (cf. Acts 20:17).
  15. The apostolic church had a congregational form of church government, but they were governed to a certain extent by the apostles. During the transition from apostolic to post-apostolic, Timothy and Titus served as representatives of Paul in assisting the churches.
  16. Paul was imprisoned in Rome twice. This epistle was probably written during an interim between the two imprisonments.
  17. Paul mentions being recently in Macedonia (I Tim. 1:3), and was hoping to visit Timothy in Ephesus (I Tim. 3:14, 15).

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —