You are on page 1of 8

Pontifical Gregorian University

Truth (avavlhqei,a)
in the Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy

An Exegetical and Historical Examination

Seminar - The Writings of St. Paul


Prof. COLOCRAI, Angelo
Academic Year 2009-2010

NIETZEL, Joseph 157609


SABO, Andrej 156999
DONNELLY, Raymond 158932
ALVAREZ YEPEZ, Jose Gregorio 156940
Introduction

The Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy is one of the so-called “Pastoral Epistles”. The authorship of
the letter is uncertain, but the themes confronted in the letter are certainly ideas of great value to the
early church. The letter can really be read as an encouragement by the author to Timothy to strengthen
him. One theme that recurs often in the letter is the idea of the truth, avlhqei,aj and it is this idea that
will be treated in this brief work. This paper is intended more than anything to be seen as an exercise
in biblical analysis using modern techniques of research and publication. Bibleworks, word
processing, and internet research sites are just a few of the means utilized for the realization of this
work. Some historical and geographical notes are included to help orient the reader with the people
involved and the locations of the protagonists. Next, a brief outline of the letter is presented
highlighting the major themes of the epistle. The next section deals with the chosen theme, avlhqei,aj
and its appearance in the letter along with some statistical analysis and confrontation. Finally, one of
the highlighted verses is broken down and analyzed, with an emphasis on the pastoral implications of
the theme for the world of today.

Historic and Geographical Notes

The Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy appears to be the last of the three Pastoral Epistles. Many
who would argue that the Pastorals Letters are the result of the so called Pauline school. It is generally
agreed upon that Second Timothy is the earliest of the three and the one most likely to have actual
fragments of writings from Paul himself, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. Most scholars
agree that the Second Epistle to Timothy was written shortly before his martyrdom.

It is not clear where Timothy was at this time. Some of the textual evidence favor the view of his
having been then at Ephesus; the salutation of Priscilla and Aquila, who generally resided there being
one example. Others can be found in 2 Timothy 4:19 household of Onesiphorus, who is stated in
2 Timothy 1:16-18 ministered to Paul at Ephesus, a circumstance implying his residence there. But
this data can not be totally confirmed. There are also pieces of evidence that would suggest another
location. For example, why did Timothy need to be told that Paul had sent Tychicus to Ephesus or
that Paul had left Trophimus, himself an Ephesian It does however seem quite likely that Ephesus or
another place in the northwest of Asia Minor, was Timothy's place of sojourn at the time. Most likely
he had the general superintendence of the Christian churches in Asia Minor, in accordance with his
mission combining the office of evangelist, or itinerant missionary, with that of presiding overseer.

2
From the terminology of the letter, one can deduce that St. Paul, very aware of his impending death
was anxious to see his disciple Timothy ( 2 Timothy 1:4 ; 2 Timothy 4:9 2 Timothy 4:11 2 Timothy
4:21). St. Paul, perhaps fearing that Timothy would not arrive in time, felt it necessary to give him by
letter a last warning as to the heresies, the germs of which were then being scattered in the Churches.
What one finds in the letter are a series of exhortations to faithfulness, and zeal for sound doctrine, and
patience amidst trials: a charge which Timothy seems to have needed, if we are to judge from the
apostle's earnestness in urging him to boldness in Christ's cause, as though Paul thought he saw in him
some signs of constitutional timidity ( 2 Timothy 2:2-8 ; 4:1-5 ; 1 Timothy 5:22 1 Timothy 5:23

General Notes on the Letter and Structure

The tone here is more personal than in First Timothy, for this letter addresses Timothy in clear and
warm terms (2 Tim 1:6-14; 2:1-13) and depicts Paul's courage and hope in the face of trials late in the
course of his apostolic ministry (2 Tim 1:15-18; 3:10-17; 4:9-18). Indeed, the letter takes on the
character of a last will and testament from Paul to the younger Timothy (2 Tim 4:1-8). The letter also
reveals that, with few exceptions, Christians have not gathered in support of Paul (2 Tim 1:15-18).
The letter describes a Paul who is fully aware of his impending death and who is looking only to God
for his deliverance (2 Tim 4:3-8, 18). Paul is presented as having been imprisoned because of his
preaching of the gospel and offers his own example of steadfastness in faith despite adverse
circumstances (2 Tim 1:6-14). The letter suggests Timothy should prepare others to replace himself as
Paul has prepared Timothy to replace him (2 Tim 2:1-2) and urges him not to continue without fear in
preserving and spreading the Christian message (2 Tim 2:3-7). The following is a brief outline of the
structure and major themes of 2 Timothy.

I. Introduction (1:1-5)
II. Stand Strong In the Present (1:6-2:26)
A. Timothy’s internal (personal) responsibility as a minister (1:6-1:18)
1. Maintain a fresh relationship with God (1:6, 7)
2. Stand strong (1:8-18)
B. Timothy’s external (public) responsibility (2:1-26)
1. Serve with a purpose (2:1-5)
2. Work consistently (2:6-19)
3. Be set apart (2:20-26)
III. Stand Strong in the Future (3:1-4:5)
A. Apostasy will come (3:1-9)

3
1. Description of lifestyles in the future (3:1-5)
2. Specific examples of Jannes and Jambres (3:6-9)
B. Tools to confront Apostasy (3:10-4:5)
1. Follow Paul’s example (3:10, 11)
2. Expect persecution (3:12, 13)
3. Remember what you were taught (3:14, 15)
4. Rely upon the Scriptures (3:16, 17)
5. Preach the Gospel (4:1-5)
IV. Paul’s Personal Example (4:6-22)
A. Hopeful in the face of death (4:6-8)
1. Content in his life (4:6, 7)
2. Hopeful in the future (4:8)
B. Paul’s situation (4:9-18)
1. Desires companionship (4:9-12)
2. Continues to study (4:13)
3. Warns against those who oppose the faith (4:14, 15)
4. Forgives those who abandoned him (4:16)
5. Strengthened in the Lord (4:17, 18)
C. Closing greetings (4:19-22)
1. Greet supporters (4:19)
2. News of friends (4:20)
3. Final call to come (4:21)
4. Final blessing (4:22)

Analysis of avlh,qeia in 2 Timothy

A textual analysis of the word avlh,qeia in the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy yields some
interesting statistical results, showing the importance of this idea to the Apostle in his writing to
Timothy. avlh,qeia occurs 6 times in 6 different verses in the letter. The verses are shown below in
Greek with the English translation from the New American Bible.

2 Timothy 2:15 spou,dason seauto.n do,kimon parasth/sai tw/| qew/|( evrga,thn avnepai,scunton(
ovrqotomou/nta to.n lo,gon th/j avlhqei,ajÅ

2 Timothy 2:15 Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no
disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation.

4
___________________________________________________________________________

2 Timothy 2:18 oi[tinej peri. th.n avlh,hqeian


qeian hvsto,chsan( le,gontej Îth.nÐ avna,stasin h;dh gegone,nai( kai.
avnatre,pousin th,n tinwn pi,stinÅ

2 Timothy 2:18 who have deviated from the truth by saying that (the) resurrection has already taken
place and are upsetting the faith of some

2 Timothy 2:25 evn prau<thti paideu,onta tou.j avntidiatiqeme,nouj( mh,pote dw,h| auvtoi/j o` qeo.j
meta,noian eivj evpi,gnwsin avlhqei,aj

2 Timothy 2:25 correcting opponents with kindness. It may be that God will grant them repentance
that leads to knowledge of the truth,
___________________________________________________________________

2 Timothy 3:7 pa,ntote manqa,nonta kai. mhde,pote eivj evpi,gnwsin avlhqei,aj evlqei/n duna,menaÅ

2 Timothy 3:7 always trying to learn but never able to reach a knowledge of the truth.

2 Timothy 3:8 o]n tro,pon de. VIa,nnhj kai. VIambrh/j avnte,sthsan Mwu?sei/( ou[twj kai. ou-toi avnqi,stantai
th/| avlhqei,a|( a;nqrwpoi katefqarme,noi to.n nou/n( avdo,kimoi peri. th.n pi,stinÅ

2 Timothy 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so they also oppose the truth-- people of
depraved mind, unqualified in the faith.
___________________________________________________________________

2 Timothy 4:4 kai. avpo. me.n th/j avlhqei,


hqeiajaj th.n avkoh.n avpostre,yousin( evpi. de. tou.j mu,qouj
evktraph,sontaiÅ

2 Timothy 4:4 and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.

Because of the brevity of this letter in contrast to some of Paul’s other writings, this recurrence
becomes significant. Comparing the number of times the word avlh,qeia appears in the letter with the
total number of words in the book, it can be seen that 2 Timothy has the highest ratio of usage of any
of the other works in the Corpus Paulinum. In fact, in the entire New Testament only 2 John and 3
John have a higher percentage of usage of the word avlh,qeia then 2 Timothy, showing a strong
thematic tendency towards the defense of the truth in the communities over which Timothy is
presiding. Another interesting statistic is that each of the usages of avlh,qeia occur in their own verse.
This is significant in that it is a recurrent theme and not just repetition of the same word on the interior
of a few verses. The percentage of versus containing compared to the number of versus in 2 Timothy
is more then 7%. This is higher than any other work by Paul, showing a strong emphasis in this letter
on the concept of avlh,qeia.
eia..

5
Analysis and Theology of 2 Timothy 4:4
Analyzing 2 Timothy 4:4 shows nicely one of the main themes of the letter. The passage consists of
the following words:
kai. - conjunction ,coordinating meaning and
avpo. – Preposition, genitive meaning from or away from
me.n – affirmative particle indicating contrast
th/j – definite article, genitive, feminine, singular
avlhqei,aj – noun, genitive, feminine, singular meaning truth, dependability, or uprightness
th.n – definite article, accusative, feminine
avkoh.n – noun, accusative, feminine, singular meaning the act of hearing
avpostre,yousin - verb indicative future active 3rd person plural meaning turn away
evpi. - preposition accusative from meaning to or upon
de. - conjunction coordinating from meaning and
tou.j - definite article accusative masculine plural from
mu,qouj - noun accusative masculine plural common from
evktraph,sontai- verb indicative future passive 3rd person plural from evktre,pw

The noun mu,qouj which is accusative masculine plural common from mu/qoj, ou, o` tale, story, with
special ref. to unreliability or fanciful character also appears in Timothy 1, Titus and Peter 1 Ti 1:4;
4:7; 2 Ti 4:4; Tit 1:14; 2 Pt 1:16. Use of the word mu,qouj is of particular interest here as it stands in
opposition to real truth and promises what is untrue or foolish. It emphasizes a reality in the present as
well as the future. Tit 1:14 suggests that false teaching (as in myths or fables) had a strong Jewish
element. In 2 Tim the word mu,qouj follows after an apocalyptic warning in 4:3 which predicts a time
when people will choose to fall away from established teaching and instead desire what suits their
desires at a given time. Its reference here is reminiscent of a similar tendency to turn away from truth
which is explored in the following verse of Jeremiah 2:19

"Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you; know therefore and see
that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God, And the dread of Me is not in you,"
declares the Lord God of hosts.

6
Clearly this apocalyptic idea is characterized by a decision to turn away from avpostre,yousin( and turn
to evktraph,sontai. an alternative which seems preferable. Tim 1:4 warns that such myths are in
opposition to the designs of God.

For this reason, the importance of the necessity placed on Timothy to preach the truth is shown by the
solemn adjuration: in the presence of God, and of Christ coming as universal judge, and by his
appearance and his kingly power (2 Tim 4:1). This exhortation to patience, courage, constancy, and
endurance in defense of the truth is clearly evidenced. The implication goes deeper, showing that the
teachings of Paul, Timothy, and the others the only true teachings, and all the others are false.
Remaining faithful to the teachings that Paul received from Christ, and Timothy received from Paul is
the most important thing.

Pastoral Emphasis of 2 Timothy Chapter 4:1-5

2 Timothy is as actual today as it was in the time of Paul. We see a great exhortation on the part of the
author towards a defending of the truth. Paul is especially modern in Chapter 4, where he writes,

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power, I charge you to preach the word, to stay with this task
whether convenient or inconvenient – correcting, reproving, appealing – constantly teaching and never
losing patience. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following
their own desires will surround themselves with teachers who tickle their ears. They will stop
listening to the truth and will wander off to fables. As for you, be steady and self-possessed, put up
with hardship, perform your work as an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Today, in a society that has no understanding or tolerance for even the slightest suffering or sacrifice,
many people are led away by “teachers who tickle their ears”. Feel good religions, esoteric practices,
and personal religion are all modern day examples of the difficulties against which Paul warns. This
beautiful exhortation by Paul to his spiritual son Timothy can serve as an encouragement to the
Catholic Church of today, who often finds herself alone in defending the truth of the teaching of
Christ. In world that calls for abortions, euthanasia, and birth control; no absolutes, no real truth, and
no responsibility, Paul reminds us that it exactly the vocation of all Christians to “impart a word of
truth” (2 Tim 2:15), to “correct opponents with kindness” (2 Tim 2:25), and to “preach the word,
whether convenient or inconvenient” (2 Tim 4:2). In this year dedicated to the Priesthood, 2 Timothy

7
could be seen as encouragement to all Catholics to defend the revealed truth of Jesus Christ with
courage and confidence. That is what St. Paul did, taught, and gave his life for and is the vocation of
each one of us.

Bibliography
Introduction to the Book of 2 Timothy, New American Bible.

Johnson, Luke Timothy, The First and Second Letters to Timothy: a New Translation with
Introduction and Commentary. Doubleday, 2001.

Smith, Barry D., 2 Timothy: Introduction and Outline by Professor Barry D. Smith, Atlantic Baptist
University, in Religious Studies 1023: The New Testament and Its Context

Towner, Philip H., 1-2 Timothy & Titus. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Leicester: IVP,
1994.