This is the first of three short letters, known as "the Pastoral Epistles," because Paul wrote them to encourage and instruct two young pastors, Timothy and Titus. This first letter to Timothy, and the letter to Titus, were probably written at the same time (c. 65 AD), late in Paul's ministry, and after his release from his first imprisonment in Rome (c. 64 AD). These two epistles have many similarities, and share one theme, which is: the necessity of establishing proper order and leadership in the local church. They differ slightly in emphasis, as First Timothy stresses the importance of teaching sound doctrine, while Titus emphasizes the importance of living in accordance with sound doctrine.
The second letter to Timothy, was written a short time later (c. 66 - 67 AD). Internal evidence, in that letter, indicates that Paul was again in prison, and was anticipating his imminent execution. The biblical narration of Paul's life ends with him under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16-31). However, according to early Christian tradition, following his release from that imprisonment, he traveled as far west as Spain, and then revisited some of the churches which he had established in Asia Minor, Macedonia and Achaia, before again being arrested and returned to Rome. This second Roman imprisonment, ended when he was beheaded, under Nero. Understandably, the tone of Second Timothy (Paul's last letter) is very tender, as the apostle urges his dear son in the faith to follow in his footsteps and remain faithful to the Lord, against every kind of opposition. While the care of the local church is also in view in that epistle, the focus is on the personal preparation of a man to be fit for the service of God.
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