Three letters—1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus—are widely known as the “Pastoral Letters” because they each address problematic issues facing the earliest Christian leaders as they struggled to move their churches toward ever greater organization and regional interconnection. First Timothy was especially prized in the Early Church because of the helpful practical guidelines it includes for selecting and training leaders, for worship, for responsible behavior, for community building, and for organizing new churches. Although it originated as a personal letter to Timothy, it was later widely shared and much valued as a leadership manual.
Timothy was from Asia Minor and became a Christian as a youth because of Paul's ministry. He later went on to serve as an assistant to the apostle on Paul's mission journeys. When this letter with its guidelines for best ministerial practices was sent to Timothy, he was then on his own and carrying out pastoral responsibilities in Ephesus (1.3). Later church tradition indicates that he became bishop in Ephesus. The letter also warns against false teachings in the churches (1.3,4). The parts of the letter most studied and valued have been those dealing with church administration guidelines, and with the standards and virtues requisite for church leadership.
Because the Pastoral Letters deal so much with organizational and doctrinal issues, which became much more heated issues after the time of Paul, some have proposed that the author here is likely a disciple of Paul who writes in Paul's more authoritative name. Differences in language, style, and vocabulary have also been noted, but the issue of authorship is virtually impossible to resolve.
Instructions for Church Life (1.1—3.13)
True Faith and Warnings about False Teachings (3.14—4.5)
Advice to Timothy and Other Church Leaders (4.6—6.21)