november 26-December 2

letters of paul pt. iiI


Not all of Paul’s letters in the New Testament were originally addressed to whole churches. Three of them -- 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus -- are what are commonly referred to as the Pastoral Epistles. They are so named because in them, Paul discusses issues of church leadership and discipleship. All three letters flow out of the close personal relationships Paul had with Timothy and Titus, both of whom he discipled at various points in his own ministry.

Paul and Timothy’s relationship began during Paul’s second missionary journey. Timothy served alongside Paul as a sort of apprentice and was then left in Ephesus to oversee the church as Paul continued on to spread the gospel (1 Timothy 1:3). We learn of Paul and Titus’ relationship in Galatians 2, where we are told that Titus was present with Barnabas and Paul as they made a trip to Jerusalem. Eventually, Titus is sent to Crete to help organize and lead the church on the island.

Paul writes personal letters to both Timothy and Titus as a means of encouraging and instructing them as they lead their respective churches. In each, you can hear Paul’s love and care for Timothy and Titus. The letters overflow with insight into the personal, practical, and organizational necessities of leading a church. Some of the topics Paul instructs upon in the Pastoral Epistles include discipleship, personal holiness, the qualifications of a leader within the church, protecting sound doctrine, and the importance of scripture. Each of these are still foundational for the leadership and organization of churches today.

new testament visualized


Click to Enlarge

This chart depicts the four generations of 2 Timothy 2:2, but discipleship doesn't stop at four generations. It should continue perpetually through faithful followers of Christ.


 I Timothy 6:11-16


Our family ingredient this week is Responsibility. As pastors, Timothy and Titus both carried heavy responsibilities. They were instructed to carry the message of Christ to their individual congregations and lead their people in following Jesus more closely. While doing so, they face many challenges as those around them make choices to live their lives in ways that are not pleasing to God. Paul instructs Timothy specifically in how to act as a young man, urging him to be an example of how a Christian should live. Paul lists different behaviors he should pursue. He commands him to “fight the good fight of faith and take hold of eternal life.” As parents, we can use Paul’s words to Timothy to instruct our children in how to act as younger followers of Jesus. We can encourage them and challenge them to have the courage to be different than others with a spirit of humility. Paul closes this passage with a reminder that Jesus is coming back and God is the eternal King of Kings and Lord of Lords.


  • When we think of the word “pursue,” the picture is of something we are running to catch. What did Paul command Timothy to pursue?
  • What kind of athlete do you picture in I Tim. 6:12? How would Paul’s words encourage you not to give up?
  • What are some names that Paul uses to describe God?
  • If you were drawing a picture of eternal life, would you use a circle or a line? Why?


Activity: Helping Each Other

Did you know that in Japan, most schools don’t employ janitors? It’s true! Rather than have someone clean up after them, students and teachers take 15 minutes to scrub the school themselves each day. The practice is called “souji,” and educators say it helps kids learn about responsibility. By thinking of responsibility as “helping each other,” chores feel less like drudgery and more like teamwork. Discuss this and think about how you could do this at home. Get everyone involved.

Use a Chore Wheel: Chore wheels are a great way to establish routine without creating boredom. Spin the wheel to assign different chores to family members.

Choices: Think through a list of Saturday chores. Let the kids pick which chore they would like to do.

Older Kids: To encourage responsibility in the kitchen, have your kids browse through simple recipes and try their hands at making a meal. You may remember doing this as a child.

Source: The Family Dinner Project

Small Groups

Small Group Discussion

  • In 1 Timothy, there is a call to Christ-centered godliness for the sake of the gospel, particularly in Paul’s teaching of the qualifications of leadership within the church. What examples are there to follow?  What sins are there to avoid?
  • What encouragement to endurance and steadfastness do you find from Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus? Why is proper understanding of the gospel so vital?