This is one of the four letters of St. Paul which were not addressed to entire congregations, but to individuals. Of these, the Epistle to Philemon was written for a very special reason, concerning the return of the runaway slave Onesimus to Colossae. The two letters to Timothy and that to Titus are known as the Pastoral Letters, because they mere addressed to these men chiefly in their capacity as ministers and pastors, and because their contents are concerned chiefly with the pastoral care of the churches.
The home of Timothy was at Lystra in Lycaonia, a country in Central Asia Minor. He had learned the Holy Scriptures from a child, 2Ti_3:15, from his pious mother, Eunice, a Jewess who was married to a Greek, Act_16:1, and his grandmother Lois, 2Ti_1:5. Timothy seems to have been converted to the Christian faith during Paul's first visit to Lystra and Derbe, on his first missionary journey. On the apostle's second visit to this region, several years afterward, the young convert was so highly spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium as to be considered worthy by the great teacher of the Gentiles of being associated with him as a laborer in the Gospel, Act_14:9-21; Act_16:1-3. Having been converted by Paul, he is called by him "my own son in the faith" and "my dearly beloved son," 1Ti_1:2-18; 2Ti_1:2. Throughout the apostle's remaining years, Timothy was practically his constant companion and one of his most intimate friends, whom Paul commends time and again in words of the highest praise. Timothy was his attendant during his first imprisonment at Rome, Php_1:1; Php_2:19-23; Col_1:1. After his release from this imprisonment, Paul took his young helper with him on another missionary tour, but left him for a time in charge of the congregation at Ephesus, 1Ti_1:3; 1Ti_3:14. It was while in this trying and responsible position that Timothy received the two letters which are called by his name. At one time he was also imprisoned, for the letter to the Hebrews speaks of his release, Heb_13:23.
The Pastoral Letters, being addressed to intimate pupils and friends, are not written according to the exact outline which the apostle made use of elsewhere. In spite of this fact, however, a certain sequence of thought cannot be denied, all connected with the central thought which Paul voices: "That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God," 1Ti_3:15. We may divide the first letter to Timothy, which was probably written from Macedonia in the summer of 65 or 66, as follows. After the address and opening greeting the apostle discusses the duties of Timothy in his pastoral care for the congregation as a whole, showing that the true purpose of the Lam must be emphasized over against the Judaizing teachers, that apostasy must be avoided, that prayer in public services must be made decently and in order, always with the proclamation of the vicarious satisfaction and the full redemption through Christ in mind. The apostle also gives instructions concerning the position of women in the congregation and at home and concerning the various offices in the Church, and closes this section with a doxology and a reference to the false doctrines of the last days. In the second part of his letter, Paul discusses the personal conduct of Timothy as preacher and pastor, his attitude toward teaching and further study, toward people in various stations, toward elders, toward slaves, toward rich people. From time to time the apostle refers again to apostasy from the pure faith and includes other admonitions, all of which serve to, make the letter very vivid and interesting. It closes with a final personal admonition and a short apostolic benediction. The spirit of fatherly kindness pervades the epistle.