Bags of Bran

1 Timothy Resources
March 2, 2018, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Bible, Pastor Stuff

A while ago (a Sunday back in January) I finished preaching through 1 Timothy. Paul addresses Timothy’s situation with immediacy and timelessness, and making the jump from the first to the twenty-first century was little strain on the imagination. This letter speaks to our cheapening age with a rebuke like the voice of many waters.

Another while ago (still back in January) I mused aloud about giving my opinion on the resources I used to prepare sermons from 1 Timothy. They varied somewhat from week to week, especially over the eight weeks I spent on 1 Timothy 3:16 alone. But I have some general opinions that may be of use to you, especially since 1) I actually preached through the book; and 2) I am not selling anything.


Marshall, I. Howard, and Philip H. Towner. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles. ICC 2004 (LOGOS edition)

I. Howard Marshall really did a good job for me. He seemed to anticipate where I would have questions with the text and give most of the possible explanations. I consulted this lucid, pithy volume every week. He accomplished this without atomizing the text: he was concerned to preserve the thread through the text and made connection to other passages within the Pastoral Epistles regularly.

Also: Marshall had the best introduction that I read, especially in setting the scene at Ephesus. This guided me all the way through the book: it is imperative to remember that Paul was tasking Timothy with a very unsavory task: reclaim the wayward church at Ephesus. He doesn’t believe that Paul wrote the letters, but believes that Paul had a hand in their composition, which, to me, comes across as fence-straddling.

Towner, Philip H. The Letters to Timothy and Titus. NICNT 2006

Towner is great as well. I don’t normally “read” commentaries, but Towner writes well enough that one can “read” him with profit. His introduction is lean, but he makes up for it with his excurses. This is where he develops key ideas in the letter and compares them within the rest of Paul’s letters. These helped me to avoid saying inaccurate things on more than one occasion!

Johnson, Luke Timothy. The First and Second Letters to Timothy. AB 2001

Normally I like Luke Timothy Johnson, but I felt that this volume was rather flat. It was very unlike his commentary on James. After a few weeks I discovered that Marshall and Towner were addressing everything that Johnson was, only more interestedly. I shelved Johnson early and consulted him seldom.

Fee, Gordon D. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. NIBC 1988.

Fee is occasionally helpful, occasionally providing broadly biblical support for his conclusions. But he is most helpful in demonstrating the transitions from one section to another: he shows the continuity and unity of the book.

Mounce, William D. Pastoral Epistles. WBC 2000 (LOGOS edition)

I seldom consulted Mounce because, for the most part, the meaning of 1 Timothy is not mired in difficult grammar. This is where Mounce shines (as any of us who have studied Greek will not be surprised to hear): but my questions (again) rarely related to grammar/syntax so much as tracking with Paul’s argument and Timothy’s charge.


This last resource was profitable for making the connections between the text and the congregation. A friend (thanks, Chuck!) gave me the sound and sage advice to consult John Calvin, and he gave me a link to this. It’s a collection of transcripts from Calvin’s sermons on 1 Timothy, translated into English. It is a marvel of pastoral insight. I didn’t go off about popery as much as Calvin did, but there are plenty of analogues in our day.

That about covers it. I occasionally consulted with the church fathers (mostly Augustine and Chrysostom) using LOGOS searches. I also used Calvin’s commentary, but that was just a summary of what was in his sermons. Invest the time: you’ll not regret it.


I didn’t buy Knight’s volume. I wish I would have bought it instead of Johnson, but no, I was stubborn and foolish.

Hope this helps!


2 Comments so far
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I found similar help from most of these. Calvin must always be read. I’d still recommend that you pick up Knight. He is so good and conservative.

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Comment by Ryan Martin

Looking back I really shorted myself by not purchasing Knight. It was a coin toss between him and Towner, but I should have foregone Johnson in favor of Knight. I will probably buy it for when I preach through 2 Timothy (which I really want to do).

Liked by 1 person

Comment by Mr Man

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