Pastoral Epistles Overview: Developing Church Leadership— 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus

Written by Paul J Bucknell on December, 12, 2019

Pastoral Epistles Overview: Developing Church Leadership— 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus

The Apostle Paul believed that the troubles leaders face in a church have both a cause and a solution. Throughout these pastoral epistles (1, 2 Timothy, and Titus), the Apostle Paul both diagnoses these church problems as well as provides helpful solutions. These solutions might not always be easy or instant but always improve the situation.

Troubles Churches Might Face

Tensions in the church can lessen the confidence of a pastor. Paul wrote these letters to encourage Timothy and Titus, the two Christian leaders, to stand strong in God’s Word so that God’s sheep might be protected.

Solutions Churches Might Use

Paul supplied a significant number of instructions and exhortations to these young pastors so that they might stand strong in their calling to God and faithfully carry out the needed steps to protect the flock of God.

Project: Analyze a Church’s Health

Think of a church that you are familiar with. Identify any struggles that are threatening the welfare of the church. Paul does this exact thing in these epistles.

  • Be objective as possible.
  • Briefly describe each problem.
  • Identify what harm is threatening God’s people.
  • Take steps to strengthen that which is being weakened.

#1 Difference in Church Policies in Pastoral Epistles

The main purposes of 1 Timothy and Titus focus on better defining the function of the church and helping the elders to handle different church problems and policies rightly. In this case, inefficient or nonexistent policies enabled false teachers to exert undue influence on the church. Often a pastor is unaware of problems until numerous people have been hurt. Each new wave of false doctrine, by necessity, by God’s grace leads to clearer standards.

  • 1 Timothy 2:1-15; 3:1-16; 4:10-16; 5:1-25; 6:1-6, 17-19
  • Titus 1:5-9; 2:1-15; 3:1-10

Teach Authoritative Guidelines

“But in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).


  • Go through the above sections of scripture and list what church policies Paul instructed them?
  • Why is each of these instructions important? Are they essential today?
  • Are any of the areas that Paul mentioned needed for the church you attend? If so, which ones? If not, what areas of need exist?
  • Are the leadership standards only for the leaders? Why or why not?

Acts 20:28-30 Be on guard against false teachers

#2 False Teachers in Pastoral Epistles

False teachers are as destructive today as ever. (Some might say worse due to media, and yet, this same media provides warnings about the excesses of certain teachers.)

The Apostle Paul foresaw at the end of his life a tsunami of attacks coming against the church of God. He responded with three letters. We call them the Pastoral Epistles: 1, 2 Timothy, and Titus. After Paul’s first imprisonment, he was released. He visited different places, including the island of Crete, an island only 160 miles long south of Greece and Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea. He wrote this letter to Titus around 62 AD from somewhere in Macedonia.

If Paul made his last charge to the Ephesian elders in 57 AD, then it was a mere five years before the scene in 1 Timothy develops (62-63 AD). Paul persevered in the battle to keep the Ephesus church pure and strong. He did the same thing for the church in Crete through Titus. Titus was also written soon after Paul’s release from prison (end of Acts). 2 Timothy was written a little bit later before he was martyred.

Teach the Word of God

  • 1 Timothy 1:1-11, 18-20; 4:1-9; 6:3
  • 2 Timothy 1:14-18; 2:14-26; 3:1-9; 4:1-4
  • Titus 1:10-16; 3:9-11

From above, we see Paul busily confronting these false teachers. They were full of advice. Paul was very critical of them, but he countered their efforts by teaching four things. Let’s look at Acts 20:17 and 28-31.

17 ... He sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:17, 28-31, NASB)

Qualifications for Leaders

Paul taught the qualifications for an elder (1 Tim 3:1-2; 2:12; Tit 1:5-9). The false teachers couldn’t live by God’s standard.

Inspired new Leaders

He encouraged the qualified to contemplate to join the ministry (1 Tim 3:1).

Content of Teaching

He made sure one’s teaching was based on God’s Word (2 Tim 3:16).

Instructions on how to train

He instructed those on training (2 Tim 2:2; Tit 2:1-5).

The path to a fast learner

#3 Oppression and Persecution in Pastoral Epistles

The fight against Paul intensified in 2 Timothy as he prepares to give his life for Christ. He was concerned that Timothy joins in and endure the struggle. Paul is said to have died when Nero began his persecution against Christians in 64 AD, soon after he wrote 2 Timothy.

The false teachers in 1 Timothy and Titus have gone from teaching false things to actually hurting down God’s people.

Persevere and Train Others

Paul wasn’t sure how long he would be around. Notice the way Paul encouraged Timothy to pass the gospel on.

“And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

Four Generation of Believers

List the four generations of believers mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:2.

(1) Paul

(2) Timothy and others

(3) Entrust to faithful men

(4) Be able to teach others also.

GOAL: Able to Teach Others

How many people get stuck doing something without quite knowing how to do it? I can think of several examples in my life—in the area of discipleship, speaking, visiting someone at the hospital, selling books and preaching at a night market, visiting an unbelieving family who spoke a language I did not know well. I’m sure many of you also have faced such problems too.

  • We must be able to teach _____________ .
  • We must teach them so that they can _____________.

The more I go along in life, the more things I see my self unequipped for. My Dad says, “Play it by ear.” What do you do when you face such situations?

One of the things I have been doing through the web site I operate is to show people how to do things they would not otherwise be able to do. Or perhaps, they could do it, but the learning curve is so long and drawn out that many people do not enjoy the fruits of their labor and frustrations.

One would think seminaries would train people for pastoral ministry. Interestingly, most seminaries and professors are content-oriented rather than process-oriented. They spend 98% of their time showing one why one must do something but rarely get down to actually how to do it. Isn’t there a better way?

Persevere and Train Others

It is particularly hard to help another person in ministry. We appreciate the hard work of others but find that in many cases, they could be so much more productive. We want to think about how leaders can be more effective by training them to be open to guidance from others.

Hindrances to helping leaders

• People do not know what to say to help leaders.

• People fear offending leaders.

• Some teachers make it clear that they do not need help.

Paul could write to Timothy

• Because he was his spiritual father

• Because he was the apostle of the region

• Because Timothy was close to Paul.

A Leader’s Root Problem

One of our biggest challenges as leaders is to be open to advice. Wisdom is gained by seeking it. Think of these books as Paul’s advice! Most of us think too much of ourselves and never seek the help of others. This delusion stems from the condemnation of ‘professionalism’ which makes us feel that we must appear to know the answer even when we don’t have it.

In today’s world, when we see a problem, we think we can find an answer. But this confidence is different from actually having worked through the issue before. As disciples of Christ, we instead must be humble and learning.


• Learn to regularly and sincerely ask the Lord for wisdom to rightly lead God’s people.

• Be ready to learn from anyone. Anyone can be God’s teaching instrument (2Sam 16:10). (Of course, we are to refrain from learning worldly things!)

• Cultivate a few special mentoring situations where you are accountable to others for a different aspect of your lives (e.g. moral thoughts, an improvement in teaching, praying together).

• Remember how close Paul and Timothy were and how Timothy profited from that.

• Start praising others for things that they do better than you!

“Wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions” (1 Timothy 1:7).

“And for this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:7).