We come now to three books that are typically called the Pastoral Epistles — 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus — because they are addressed to two men who were leading churches Paul had started and because of the attention given in these letters to ministry issues.
Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles toward the end of his life. As we read through the letters we will likely get the sense that these are the letters of a man who is about to hand his life’s work over to his protégés. He is reflective and slightly anxious. He pours every ounce of cautionary wisdom into his words. Paul wants to push westward past Rome and on to Spain, however Paul seems to know with prescience that he may not even get that far. Either way, it is time to entrust his work in Ephesus to Timothy and his work on the island of Crete to Titus. By the time 2 Timothy, Paul’s last preserved letter, is being written Paul is, in fact, imprisonment in Rome in a cold dungeon (2 Tim. 4:13) unable to be visited by friends. Tradition says Paul is killed by the Romans within a year.
The Pastoral Epistles are highly instructive. So much of these letters rotation around instructions about what makes a good leader, the threat of false teaching, the corruption that can easily come to church leaders when money is involved, and how to live as Christians in a decadent and immoral culture (idolatry in Ephesus, and sexual immorality and raucousness in Crete).
This Timothy was the same young Jewish man mentioned in Acts 16 who became Paul’s traveling companion and “son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2). Six of Paul’s letters were co-authored by Timothy (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon). Titus is never mentioned in Acts, yet he does show up in various other places in the Letters as a loyal companion to Paul. He evidently was an uncircumcised Gentile who Paul proudly took with him to the council in Jerusalem (Acts 15) to support his stand against attaching law observance to faith in Jesus (Gal. 2:1-3). Titus was especially important to Paul in Crete and he is left there to ensure the churches stayed strong.