1 Timothy

Chapter 1

The Funny: Paul’s (well, probably the author wasn’t Paul, but whoever) advice includes “Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees” (v 4) – what, like the bible? Bahaha!

endless genealogies

The Bad: In v 3, the author urges Timothy to stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Yup – censor those who oppose your version of the truth. But how does one know what the truth is if it’s never allowed to be challenged?

The Ugly: V 8-10. Read the list of behaviors Paul condemns – it’s a mishmash and highly subject to interpretation by the translators; in fact, I’m sorry I cannot read the original Greek for this one, because that might be interesting. In the KJV, “the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine“.Anyone care to define those terms? The first few suggest blasphemy, but what about ‘defile’? or ‘menstealer’?

In the NLT, the list is “people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching…” Well this is a bit more specific, but still, it does not define ‘sexually immoral’, and homosexuality is only a guess for ‘defile’. How about the slave traders? I’m not so sure about this one. In modern lingo, it appears that the bible condemns slavery, but back in the day, ‘menstealer’ might only have referred to someone who steals another man’s slave.

V 20 – Paul doesn’t mince words when describing the punishment for blasphemy. He would be right at home among Islamic extremists today. Same song, second verse.

Quotes: V 15 is used in the Book of Common Prayer with slightly different wording “This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, the Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and then the last part is left off – haha.

Chapter 2

The Ugly: V 8-11. God doesn’t seem to care what the men wear to church. The women, however… The rest of this passage speaks for itself; I will refrain from comment. Wanna hear how one apologist tries to twist these verses into something less offensive? Then think about why people who agree with Sarah Palin shouldn’t vote for her. Hmmm.


Quotes: V 1 The Book of Common Prayer contains the words ‘intercession’ and ‘supplication’. I recited them for years and never bothered to look up the definitions. (Intercession: “the act of intervening on behalf of another”; and supplication: “the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.”) And re v 2 – for years the monarch was prayed for at each service (not sure if she still is, and can’t be bothered to research that now). I remember the words ‘we pray for the queen and all who are in authority under her, so that we may lead a good life…’. Ah, the good old days – nope, don’t miss it a bit.

Chapter 3

The Funny: V 2-12 These verses, if followed, would exclude a great many, if not the majority, of today’s clergy – and their wives. Jim and Tammy Faye, anyone?

The Bad: In the KJV, v 2 reads “the husband of one wife”. Kidding, right? Maybe not… but nevertheless, modern translation cover up this little slip by interpreting the passage as “faithful to his wife”.

V 16 contains a basic statement of faith, with an interesting controversy about who was ‘manifest in the flesh’. The KJV says God, but apparently the original Greek just said “He” – pretty non-specific. So Christians have interpreted that to mean god, or Christ (used in the NLT). Gotta beware those interpreters.

Chapter 4

The Bad: V 7 – Isn’t Paul doing the exact thing he is criticizing? And v 8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better…” – another admonition to neglect the one life (and health) we have in favor of pie-in-the-sky. V 11-16 Boring Christianese zzzzzz.

The Ugly: V 1-2 Classic lines from every fundie preacher ever! Directed at non-believers or anyone who belongs to a religion other than Christianity. Intolerance at its finest.

Chapter 5

The Good: V 1-2 (sort of). I think the intentions may be good, but ‘treat young women with purity’? And v 23 and 24 have some merit. Remember, the advice to drink wine comes from a time when many water supplies were contaminated; in many cases, wine might have been safer. Of course, if Paul (or Jesus, for that matter) had really wanted to save lives and promote public health, he could have issued a ‘boil water’ advisory.

The Bad: V 8, for two reasons. First, it lays a terrible guilt trip on families truly unable to cope with a relative who needs professional or constant personal care. And second, the comparison with unbelievers is an insult, as though they are the worst example of human beings that Paul can think of.

The Ugly: The whole section on the care of widows (v 3-16). Beyond nasty. Basically, it starts out advising church members to take care of widows – a noble undertaking – but then undermines that advice by listing a whole pile of conditions. Basically these conditions concern two matters –

1. If there is any possible way to transfer the burden of care to someone else, then do it. Don’t offer help or take on the responsibility unless there is absolutely no one else.

2. Create a whole list of circumstances under which the responsibility can be shirked by judging the widow unfit for support. Basically, trash her character and deem her unworthy. And then leave the unworthy to fend for themselves.

Sounds like the Republican Party platform. Jesus said “judge not” (Matt 7:1) – I guess Paul never got that message.

Coming right after the section on widows, v 17-19 provide a sharp contrast, showing that clergy are well-protected and well-provided for. They are well paid, and shielded from criticism – and unfortunately that persists even today, as v 19 has been used to cover up countless crimes of sexual abuse, particularly of children.

Chapter 6

The Good: V 6-10 Some truisms there. And v 17-19 contain some good advice, if the religious references are removed. However, the motivation to share should be caring for humanity, not just rewards in the afterlife.

The Bad: V 13 “…and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate,…” Now I see why many scholars believe that this letter was not actually written by Paul. None of Paul’s genuine letters contain this kind of reference to Jesus’ earthly life. That suggests that this letter is a forgery, written much later, after the gospels. V 15-16, by contrast, portray a spiritual Jesus, more typical of Paul.

V 20-21 Paul concludes the letter with a stern warning to his followers not to engage with anyone who promotes reason and science. That might lead people to abandon their faith. Well, at least he got that right!

The Ugly: V 1-2 More about slaves and masters. In fact, slaves should work even harder if their masters are Christians. Enough said. V 3-5 Intolerance – Anyone who disagrees with Paul’s brand of Christianity is arrogant, corrupt, and wrong.

1 Tim 6-10Quotes V 7 and 10. V 7 is part of the funeral liturgy. And v 10 is thought of as an adage; most people who quote it probably don’t even realize its source. V 12 is frequently seen in obits, but in the past tense (he fought the good fight).

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