1 Timothy Overview

Why are these called the Prison Epistles ?

1 Timothy was one of only four letters in the New Testament written by Paul to individuals. The others are 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

  • Timothy was the only person to receive two individual letters from Paul in the New Testament.
  • Timothy was from Lystra (modern-day Turkey).
  • He was the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were also believers (it will be mentioned in his 2nd letter).
  • They had raised him to know the Old Testament.
  • He was converted to Christianity by Paul in Acts 16:1–5.
  • We learn that believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy.
  • Paul wanted to take him on his missionary journey, but Timothy was not circumcised. So Paul circumcised him, and they traveled together on Paul’s second missionary journey.

Timothy would be with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. However, when 1 Timothy was written, Timothy was in Ephesus, serving as a leader among the various house churches that existed then.  Paul wrote to him to encourage his faithful service to Christ. Timothy will serve some time in jail for his faith but will be released (Hebrews 13:23).

This letter will read differently since it is written to an individual.

  1. Written to a co-worker instead of a Church
  2. The letter will be easier to read (less complicated) (YAY!!)
  3. He will use strong Greek terminology since it was his native language
  4. It will describe ‘overseers’ and ‘bishops’- the character needed to serve as a leader
  5. Reminders of basic truths about dealing with false teachings.
  6. Most of the scriptures will be an amplified or clarified version already spoken.

The name Timothy means “one who Honors God.”


  • Law and Grace (Ch 1)
  • Prayer and Worship (Ch 2)
  • Leadership (Ch 3:1-13)
  • True and False Religeion (Ch 3:14-5:2)
  • Widows, Elders, and Slaves (Ch 5:3-6:2_
  • Money and Wealth (Ch 6)


From the first verse, we know that this is an established organized church because it uses the terms overseers and deacons. “To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.”

Paul expresses his wishes on the church:

  • that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
  • so that you may be able to discern what is best
  • be pure and blameless for the day of Christ
  • be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ

That should be our desire too.


12 Now, I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Gospel.  

Paul was in chains FOR Christ. So how can he carry out his mission work?  Paul tells the Philippians that his chains would spread the Gospel in 2 ways:

  1. People began to understand why he was in prison, and they began to spread the Gospel in boldness.  He is not in chains just because of Christ, but he was in chains FOR Christ.  The scriptures say even the prison guards were hearing the Gospel!
  2. Because Paul was imprisoned, others began “replacing” him and preaching the Gospel for notoriety.  Who cares what their motive was? The Gospel was being spread.   So who cares??

18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice.

Paul is on trial.  He knows he may walk away, but he also knows he might be handed a death sentence. Nevertheless, he is at peace knowing that regardless of the outcome, Christ will be exalted.

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

When I first read that verse, it really hit me.  While here, we live for Christ, but our real reward comes when we die.

Chapter 2, starting in verse 5, is called “The Christ Hymn.”  This is one of the most quoted scriptures in the Bible in churches today.  The hymn follows a pattern of increasing humiliation followed by an increasing exaltation.

Paul follows the hymn with a reminder to obey God even in his absence.  Timothy and Epaphroditus are models for them to follow in Paul’s absence.

Chapter 3- As usual, every city had Judiazers coming in speaking against Faith and relying on their hierarchy and genealogy.  Paul confesses he was one of them once.  His Hebrew pedigree is outstanding.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But all of that is garbage (actually, if you research the word, the Greek root word is where the word ‘rubbish’ comes from, and Paul actually was using a word that meant “fecal matter.”)

He calls the body of believers to “join together.”  Be in community, following those who are models of being a Christain.  (who are you following?)

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 

Chapter 4

In his final exaltation, he tells them not to be anxious.  He knows that his imprisonment has caused them great stress.   Look at the big picture.  They were being persecuted under Nero.  It is Nero that has him in Chains.  Paul is a Peace.  Paul has Joy…he tells them not to be anxious about it!  Why?  Because in chapter 1, he had said: 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

So what should they do?  Nothing?  No, they should BEG GOD.  The Word supplication is a powerful word.  I like the ESV version of this scripture:Philippians 4:6-7 Peace of God - Free Bible Verse Art Downloads - Bible Verses To Go

Supplication means to plead or beg humbly.  Don’t just make a quick prayer request.  Ask in repetition.  Pray on your knees!

Ok, read every word.  Don’t just underline the scriptures you see on coffee mugs.  Read WHY we have that scripture.  For example:1

3. I can do all this through him, who gives me strength.

Read that scripture in the context God created it!

 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

WOW!! We can be CONTENT.

Philippians 4:13 - Bible verse of the day - DailyVerses.net