Bibliotheca Sacra 154 (April-June 1997) 189-204.

          Copyright © 1997 by Dallas Theological Seminary.  Cited with permission.

 

 

                 RHETORICAL DESIGN

                      IN 1 TIMOTHY 4

 

                                       Barth Campbell

 

Many writers view 1 Timothy as an assemblage of in-

structions by Paul that have no logical plan. Hanson, for exam-

ple, says, "The Pastorals are made up of a miscellaneous collec-

tion of material. They have no unifying theme; there is no devel-

opment of thought."1

            Yet other Pauline literature, when examined in light of

Greco-Roman rhetorical principles, shows evidence of skillful

discursive artistry,2 even where (in the case of Philippians) any

 

Barth Campbell is a Bible teacher in Modesto, California.

 

1 A. T. Hanson, The Pastoral Epistles, New Century Bible Commentary (Grand

Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 42. See the outlines of 1 Timothy in Earle E. Ellis,

"Pastoral Letters," in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne,

Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: 1993), 665; and George W.

Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New Interna-

tional Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), viii–ix. Ben-

jamin Fiore states that the Pastoral Epistles have a loose style that reflects horta-

tory literature of Paul's day (The Function of Personal Example in the Socratic

and Pastoral Epistles, Analecta Biblica 105 [Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1986],

10).

            Peter G. Bush argues for "a clearly defined and well planned structure" in 1

Timothy ("A Note on the Structure of 1 Timothy," New Testament Studies 36

[January 1990]: 152–53). His study, though helpful in its assertion that the letter is

structured, goes no further than to point out an inclusio (1 Tim. 1:12–20 and 6:11–16,

20–21) and concluding markers that demarcate sections of the epistle (3:14–15; 4:11;

6:2b; 6:17). The rhetorical structure proposed in the present article (see note 4)

builds on Bush's structural ideas, and suggests that 1 Timothy displays a structure

that is consistent with Greco-Roman rhetorical principles.

2 Examples of the growing body of literature on Paul's Greco-Roman rhetorical

skill include Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians: A Commentary on Paul's Letter to the

Churches in Galatia, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979); L. Gregory

Bloomquist, The Function of Suffering in Philippians (Sheffield: JSOT, 1993);

Robert Jewett, The Thessalonian Correspondence: Pauline Rhetoric and Mil-

lenarian Piety, Foundations and Facets (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986); Margaret

M. Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Exegetical Investigation

of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians (Louisville: Westminster/Knox,

 

                                                189



190 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April—June 1997

 

argumentative design has been denied.3 This article proposes

that 1 Timothy demonstrates rhetorical design in the classical

mode, with the discussion focused on 1 Timothy 4.4

 

         FIVE STEPS IN RHETORICAL ANALYSIS5

DETERMINE THE RHETORICAL UNIT

A classical-rhetorical analysis of a New Testament book begins

with the definition of the rhetorical unit. A discernible begin-

ning, middle, and end delineate the rhetorical unit, which may

be an entire discourse or a segment within it. First Timothy is

obviously a rhetorical unit—it is a communication framed by an

introductory salutation (1–2) and by a concluding charge and

benediction (6:20–21). Chapter 4 constitutes a smaller rhetorical

unit within the larger unit.

 

1993); Walter B. Russell, "Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians, Part 1,"

Bibliotheca Sacra 150 (July-September 1993): 341-58; and idem, "Rhetorical

Analysis of the Book of Galatians, Part 2," Bibliotheca Sacra 150 (October-Decem-

ber 1993): 416-39.

3 Duane F. Watson refutes the contention of some interpreters that Philippians

is marked by "artlessness" ("A Rhetorical Analysis of Philippians and Its Implica-

tions for the Unity Question," Novum Testamentum 30 [1988]: 57).

4 First Timothy exhibits an oratorical design after Greco-Roman standards. Be-

low is an outline of the rhetorical arrangement in the letter (on the study of ar-

rangement in rhetorical criticism, see note 13).

            Exordium (1:1-2)

            Proposition (1:3-7)

            Narration (1:8-20)

            Proof (2:1-6:2)

                        Proof A (2:1-15)

                        Proof B (3:1-16)

                        Proof C (4:1-16)

                        Proof D (5:1-6:2)

            Refutation (6:3-10)

            Epilogue (6:11-21)

            The thorny question of authorship of the Pastoral Epistles is outside the scope

of this study. Whether one considers these letters Pauline or not matters little in a

rhetorical study of them. However, a presupposition in this article is that 1 Timo-

thy is authentically Pauline. For discussions on the Pauline authorship of these

epistles see William Hendricksen, Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, New Tes-

tament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1957), 4-33; 'Thomas D. Lea and Hayne

P. Griffin Jr., 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, New American Commentary (Nashville: Broad-

man, 1992), 23-40; and Philip H. Towner, 1-2 Timothy and Titus, IVP New Testa-

ment Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994), 30-35.

5 For these steps see C. Clifton Black II, "Keeping Up with Recent Studies XVI:

Rhetorical Criticism and Biblical Interpretation," Expository Times 100 (April

1989): 254-55; G. Walter Hansen, "Rhetorical Criticism," in Dictionary of Paul and

His Letters, 824; George A. Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation through Rhe-

torical Criticism (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1984), 33-

38; and Duane F. Watson, Invention, Arrangement, and Style: A Rhetorical Study of

Jude and 2 Peter, SBL Dissertation Series 107 (Atlanta: Scholars, 1988), 8-28.



                    Rhetorical Design in 1 Timothy 4                       191

 

            The resumptive de<6 in 4:1 elaborates on the subject of the false

teachers that was introduced in the proposition (a brief statement

of the argument for the entire letter) in 1:3-7. The termination of

the rhetorical unit is 4:16, since 5:1 is a partition, a restatement of

the epistolary proposition by listing the components to be dis-

cussed in the ensuing rhetorical unit.7

 

DETERMINE THE RHETORICAL SITUATION

The rhetorical situation is "a complex of persons, events, objects,

and relations presenting an actual or potential exigence which

can be completely or partially removed if discourse, introduced

into the situation, can so constrain human decision or action as to

bring about the significant modification of the exigence."8 In 1

Timothy the exigence is the activity of those who teach different

doctrines and concern themselves with speculative myths and

genealogies.9 Timothy, Paul's emissary in Ephesus, was to in-

struct such people to desist from heresy, and at the same time he

was to counteract their influence with wholesome instruction.

 

DETERMINE THE OVERRIDING RHETORICAL PROBLEM

At this point in rhetorical analysis the student addresses the

species, stasis, and question of the discourse. One of three species

usually predominates in a rhetorical unit. Either the discourse is

judicial (concerned with accusation and defense), or deliberative

(dealing with persuasion or dissuasion of the audience), or epide-

ictic (featuring praise or blame). First Timothy is deliberative in

that Paul sought to persuade Timothy (and the Ephesian churches

generally10) to oppose false teaching and to conduct themselves

 

6 "Now" in the New Revised Standard Version is preferable to "but" in the New

American Standard Bible. (The particle is ignored completely in the New Interna-

tional Version and the Revised English Bible.) The Greek New Testament, United

Bible Societies, 4th ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), places a section break after 3:16.

7 A proposition is sometimes divided into its constituent parts (Cicero, De in-

ventione 1.22-23; Rhetorica ad Herennium 1.10.17; Quintilian, Institutio Oratio

3.9.1-5, 4.4-5; and Watson, "A Rhetorical Analysis of Philippians," 66).

8 Lloyd F. Bitzer, "The Rhetorical Situation," Philosophy and Rhetoric 1 (Winter

1968): 6.

9 For the false teaching and false teachers in 1 Timothy see 1:3-11, 19-20; 4:1-10;

and 6:3-5, 20-21; in the Pastoral Epistles generally see Martin Dibelius and Hans

Conzelmann, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles,

trans. Philip Buttoiph and Adela Yarbro, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress,

1972), 65-67; Ellis, "Pastoral Letters," 662-63; and Oskar Skarsaune, "Heresy and

the Pastoral Epistles," Themelios 20 (October 1994): 9-14.

10 The plural u[mw?n in 6:21 is to be preferred to sou? so that the phrase reads, h[

xa<rij meq ]  u[mw?n (Hanson, The Pastoral Epistles, 116; and Bruce M. Metzger, A Tex-

tual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [n.p.: United Bible Societies, 1971], 644).



192     BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April—June 1997

 

within the household of God in an appropriate manner. Exhorta-

tion is the decisive tone throughout the epistle.11

            Stasis is the basic issue of a case, the issue on which an accu-

sation or defense hinges. In judicial rhetoric, stasis may be ei-

ther fact (whether something is), definition (what something is),

or quality (what kind something is). In epideictic and delibera-

tive discourse, quality is usually the stasis, as it is in 1 Timothy

since Paul addressed the quality of Timothy's ministry and the

quality of life within the Christian community generally. The

rhetorical question is twofold and thus is complex: How should

Timothy handle the phenomenon of false teachers (1:3–10), and

how should all believers conduct themselves in the household of

God (cf. 2:1–15; 3:14–15)?

 

INVESTIGATE THE INVENTION, ARRANGEMENT, AND STYLE

Invention.12 Invention refers to the rhetor's selection of material

(known as proof) that contributes to the convincing nature of the

case being argued. Proof can either be artificial (constructed out

of the orator's own skill or artifice), or inartificial (i.e., evidence

that is ready-made for the rhetor's purpose). Witnesses, docu-

ments, and legal precedents are examples of inartificial proof.

            Proof may be one of three kinds: ethos, pathos, and logos.

Ethos is the orator's own good reputation, credibility, and esteem

before the judge or audience. The auditors' goodwill, favorable

self-estimation, and receptivity to the case constitute positive

pathos. Throughout a discourse the rhetor seeks to establish his

own ethos and to promote both positive pathos among the audience

and negative pathos (opposition and revulsion) for opponents and

their cause.

            Logos, logical argument within a discourse, is of two vari-

eties: inductive, which utilizes examples and draws a conclusion

from them, and deductive, whereby the rhetor argues a point de-

duced from premises presumed to be acceptable to an audience.

Topics are employed in both inductive and deductive argument.

Topics are the "places" (to<poi) where an orator looks for argu-

mentative material. They are the rhetorical "material" from

which proofs are composed. Topics can be either principles appli-

cable to all argumentation (e.g., argument from the greater to the

lesser) or subjects within a given body of knowledge or experi-

ence (e.g., Jesus' death and resurrection for Christians).

 

11 See Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 10-11.

12 Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric 1.2.1356a.1; Cicero, De inventione 1.31.51-37.67;

Cicero, Topica; Herodotus, Histories 3.2.3-5.9; Kennedy, New Testament Interpre-

tation through Rhetorical Criticism, 14-18; and Watson, Invention, Arrangement,

and Style, 14-20.

 



                   Rhetorical Design in 1 Timothy 4                 193

 

            Arrangement.13  The general pattern of rhetorical discourse

is variable, but the basic arrangement for judicial discourse

serves as a standard outline. A proem or exordium that seeks to

obtain the auditors' attention and goodwill precedes a narration

of the facts of the case and the proposition that sometimes features

a partition into separate headings. The proof containing the

speaker's arguments is followed by a refutation of the opponent's

views. Then an epilogue or peroration sums up the rhetor's argu-

ments and seeks to sway the emotions of the hearers toward the

orator's view.

            Style.14 Style refers to the rhetor's choice of literary devices

and language that are used to package the argument. Tropes,

such as metaphor and simile, are concerns of style. So too is the

degree of force and ornament in the language of the discourse.

The rhetorical critic will be sensitive to the three kinds of style:

grand, middle, and plain. All three may be present in a dis-

course, but one usually is predominant.

            The examination of invention, arrangement, and style of a

piece of rhetoric constitutes the major part of rhetorical criticism.

This article examines these three elements in 1 Timothy 4.

 

EVALUATE THE RHETORICAL EFFECTIVENESS15

In this step the rhetorical critic seeks to determine the effective-

ness of the rhetorical argument in the unit studied.

 

A CLASSICAL-RHETORICAL ANALYSIS OF 1 TIMOTHY 4

NARRATION (4:1-5)

The exordium for the entire letter (1:1-2) provides the introduc-

tion of the individual sections within the proof. Hence Paul im-

mediately began the rhetorical unit of 1 Timothy 4 with narra-

tion. Pauline ethos is enhanced with the formula to> de> pneu?ma

r[htw?j le<gei ("but the Spirit explicitly says"). The apostle placed

himself within the prophetic tradition as one who knew the mind

 

13 See Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric 3.13.1414a.2-1414b.4; Rhetorica ad Heren-

nium 2.18.28-29.46; 3.9.16; Quintilian, Institutio Oratio 3.9.1-6; Kennedy, New Tes-

tament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism, 23-24; Burton L. Mack,

Rhetoric and the New Testament, Guides to Biblical Scholarship: New Testament

Series (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), 41-48; and Watson, Invention, Arrangement,

and Style, 20-21.

14 Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric 3.1-12; Demetrius, On Style; Herodotus, Histo-

ries 4; Longinus, On the Sublime; Ernest W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in

the Bible Explained and Illustrated (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1898; reprint,

Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968); and Watson, Invention, Arrangement, and Style, 22-26.

15 Watson, Invention, Arrangement, and Style, 28.

 



194             BIBLIOTHECA SACRA/ April June 1997

 

of God and whose writings were inspired by the Holy Spirit to ad-

dress, in this case, the subject of false teachers. The urgency of

Paul's prophetic utterance is intensified by the present active in-

dicative le<gei.

            The construction e]n u[ste<roij kairoi?j a]posth<sontai< tinej

("in later times some will fall away") further lends a prophetic

dimension to Paul's ethos. The future tense may refer here to

something already present, thereby informing the hearers that

Paul was indeed a prophet warned by the Spirit. As Knight ex-

plains, "the NT community used futuristic sounding language to

describe the present age. . . . Therefore, Paul is speaking about a

present phenomenon using emphatic future language character-

istic of prophecy."16

            Serving as the object of le<gei is the o!ti clause. Within that

clause is the construction pneu<masin pla<noij kai> didaskali<aij

daimoni<wn ("deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons"), which is

an example of accumulation, an amassing of words identical in

meaning.17 Here each synonymous noun is modified by an ad-

jective that, in combination with it, forms an alliteration.18 The

accumulation creates negative pathos among the hearers toward

the apostates.

            In verse 2 the apostates are aligned with demons, are hypo-

critical, and are said to be kekausthriasme<nwn th>n i]di<an

sunei<dhsin ("seared in their own conscience"). The perfect pas-

sive participle for "seared" refers, as a metaphor,19 to the searing

or cauterization of a hot iron to the point of moral insensitivity (as

suggested in the New Revised Standard Version) and not to the

branding of the hearers with Satan's mark like the branding of

fugitive slaves (as suggested in the Revised English Bible).20  The

former meaning is consistent with what Paul had already said

about Hymenaeus and Alexander, men who rejected a good con-

science (1:19-20).21

 

16 Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 189.

17 Quintilian, Institutio Oratio 8.4.26–27; cf. Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.40.52–

41.53; and Watson, Invention, Arrangement, and Style, 27.

18 See A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of

Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934), 1201.

19 A metaphor "occurs when a word applying to one thing is transferred to an-

other, because the similarity seems to justify this transference" (Rhetorica ad

Herennium 4.34.45).

20 Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 189.

21 Apparently Paul delivered these men to Satan only after they had rejected a

good conscience (1:19–20). The consignment to the devil did not brand their con-

science (4:2)—it only recognized the fact that their conscience was already seared.

 



                 Rhetorical Design in 1 Timothy 4                    195

 

            In the narration Paul explained the nature of the false teach-

ing at issue in 1 Timothy. The heretics forbade marriage and ad-

vocated abstaining from certain foods (v. 3). The construction

kwluo<ntwn gamei?n, a]pe<xesqai brwma<twn (lit. "forbidding to

marry, to abstain from foods") features a zeugma, a figure in

which one verb serves two objects, whereas the verb actually suits

only one.22 The New American Standard Bible overcomes the el-

lipsis with the translation, "men who forbid marriage and advo-

cate abstaining from foods."

            Paul elsewhere disputed Christian ascetics who forbade sex-

ual intercourse within marriage (1 Cor. 7:1-7) and who advo-

cated prohibitions against certain foods (Rom. 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 8:1-

13; 10:14-33). In 1 Timothy, Paul argued (consistently with those

passages) when he maintained against the false teachers, that

foods are created by God and that sexual relations23 within mar-

riage24 are designed by Him, all to be accepted with thanksgiving

by believers who know the truth. The error of the false teachers is

that by forbidding God's good gifts to the community they had de-

nied God as Creator and the created order as His good work. Such

a denial marked one as a heretic in Judaism.25 Believers, who

know the truth, are to share in what God has created (1 Tim. 4:3b).

            The reason believers should thankfully receive God's cre-

ation is stated in verse 4. The word o!ti ("for" or "because") intro-

duces the conclusion of an enthymeme, a syllogism with part of it

suppressed.26 The syllogism behind the enthymeme may be stated

 

22 F. Blass, A. Debrunner, and Robert W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Tes-

tament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago

Press, 1961), § 479.2; and Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 190.

23 This is an example of metonymy, a figure by which an object is called not by its

own name, but by something associated with it (Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.32.43).

Here "marriage" is a euphemistic metonymy for marital sexual relations.

24 The relative clause a} o[ qeo>j e@ktisen ("which God created," 1 Tim. 4:3c) has as

its antecedent, not just the proximate brwma<twn, but also gamei?n. Knight concedes

the reference to gamei?n as directly or indirectly possible (The Pastoral Epistles,

190). If the relative clause does refer to marriage as well as foods, then kti<zw ("to

create") is another example of a zeugma (see n. 22): the verb suits brw<mata, but ex-

tends to gamei?n (a word such as "designed" or "ordained" linked with gamei?n is un-

expressed). God did not create marriage and the sexual relations within it in the

sense that He created tangible foods, but in His creation of male and female His

design is that conjugal relations should be enjoyed by believers. A possible transla-

tion of verse 3c that considers the zeugma places a full stop before the relative

clause and continues, "God designed marriage, and He created foods, so that they

all might be received with gratitude."

25 Skarsaune, "Heresy and the Pastoral Epistles," 10–11, 13.

26 Artistotle, The Art of Rhetoric 1.2.1357a.13–14; 2.22–26; 3.17.1418a.6–1418b.17;

Quintilian, Institutio Oratio 5.10.1–3, 14.1–24, 26; Kennedy, New Testament Inter-

pretation through Rhetorical Criticism, 16–17; and Watson, Invention, Arrange-

ment, and Style, 17–19.



196       BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April-June 1997

 

as follows:

Premise A:     Everything created by God is good and nothing is to

                        be rejected when it is received with thanksgiving.

Premise B:     Marriage and foods are created by God.

Conclusion:   Marriage and foods are good and to be received with

                        thanksgiving and not rejected (by those who believe

                        and know the truth).

 

            The enthymeme of verses 3c-4 is itself substantiated by an-

other enthymeme whose presence is evinced by ga<r in verse 5.27

This underlying syllogism is the following:

Premise A:     Whatever one receives is sanctified by God's Word

                        and prayer.

Premise B:     God's creations are received by the Word of God and

                        prayer.

Conclusion:   God's creations are sanctified by the Word of God

                        and prayer.

            "The Word of God and prayer" (lo<gou qeou? kai> e]nteu<cewj)

may refer to the divine pronouncement on the goodness of things

He has fashioned (Gen. 1:31) and thankful prayer by those who

receive them.28 One would normally expect to find enthymemes

in the proof of the discourse. Paul, however, used them in the

narration itself to dispense with heresy. His primary focus was

on Timothy's character and activity in the face of false doctrine.

 

"A GOOD SERVANT OF CHRIST JESUS": AN EXPOLITIO (4:6-10)

Proposition, reason, and contrary (4:6-7a). The arrangement of

proposition and proof in 1 Timothy 4 follows that of an expolitio,29

a refinement of a topic by one's comments on it. Paul followed one

of many possible variations of arrangement. In 4:6-10 a theme or

proposition is expressed with a subjoined reason. Following this

are a contrary, a restatement of the theme, a comparison, an ex-

ample, and a conclusion. Such a refinement can be quite ornate,

accompanied with numerous figures of diction and thought,30

 

27 The conjunctives ga<r and o!ti are common indicators of an enthymeme

(Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism, 16).

28 Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 192. The noun e@ntucij suggests a prayer of

thanksgiving in 1 Timothy 4:5, synonymous with eu]xaristi<a in verses 3-4 (Walter

Bauer, William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the

New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2d ed., rev. F. Wilbur Ging-

rich and Frederick W. Danker [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979], 268).

Hanson's reading of eucharistic language in verse 5 is anachronistic, imposing the

thinking of second and subsequent centuries on the text (The Pastoral Epistles,

88-89).

29 Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.42.54-44.57.

30 Ibid., 4.43.56-44.56.



                    Rhetorical Design in 1 Timothy 4                       197

 

            Grammatically verse 6 is a conditional construction with the

conditional participle tau?ta u[potiqe<menoj31 ("pointing out these

things") serving as the protasis, and kalo>j e@s^ dia<konoj Xristou?

 ]Ihsou? ("you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus") standing as

the apodosis. The force of verse 6, however, is imperatival since

the imperatival sentence in verse 7a, introduced by an adversa-

tive de<, stands as a direct antithesis32 to verse 6. The proposition of

the expolitio lies here: "be a good servant33 of Christ Jesus."

            In verse 6 e]ntrefo<menoj, a causal participle may be translated

"since you are nourished." Timothy was to be a good servant of

Christ who put good instruction before the believers. He had been

nourished on wholesome doctrine and thus was capable of being

such a servant. The causal-participial construction constitutes

both the reason for the proposition ("be a good servant since you

are nourished") and the guarantee of its successful execution by

Timothy ("you will be a good servant since you are nourished").

            By means of an opposite or contrary statement in verse 7a,

Paul made the conditional construction in the first half of verse 6

more emphatic. To be "a good servant" of Christ Jesus, Timothy

must avoid "worldly fables fit only for old women." The words

bebhlouj ("profane") and graw<deij ("fables") are highly emotive.

The former term has already appeared as a negative description

of the false teachers (1:8-11),34 whereas the latter word (an ephi-

thet commonly used in philosophic abuse during the first cen-

tury35) assesses the doctrines of the false teachers as no better than

the idle chatter, gossip, and tales told by old women. Both expres-

sions evoke negative pathos in the audience toward the heretics.

The imperatival verse 7a carries the proposition by expressing it

conversely.

            Restatement and Comparison (4:7b-8). The contrary, set off

by de> in verse 7a, is itself contrasted by another antithesis in

verse 7b: gumnaze de> seauto>n pro>j eu]se<beian ("discipline your-

self for the purpose of godliness"). As a restatement this com-

mand elaborates on verse 6; it explains that a good servant of

 

31 The present middle participle is conditional (as in Goodspeed, the NIV, and the

NRSV).

32 Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.15.21, 45.58.

33 The word dia<konoj could mean "deacon" here in 4:6, as it does in 3:8-12, but it

likely has the more general notion of "servant, one who waits at tables."

34 The string of substantives in 1:9-10 is an instance of attenuation (negative am-

plification by accumulation) in which all the aspects and topics of a subject are

amassed, thus giving force to the argument. See Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.40.,52-

41.53; and Quintilian, Institutio Oratio 8.4.26-28.

35 Hanson, The Pastoral Epistles, 90.



198        BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April—June 1997

 

Christ Jesus is one who exercises himself in godliness. Therefore

one who presents sound teaching to fellow believers, being

"nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine" one

has received, and who exercises himself in godliness is a good

Christian servant.

            The word gumna<zw means "to exercise naked, to train" but it

also has figurative applications as in the training of one's mental

or spiritual powers (cf. Heb. 5:14; 12:11), which is its meaning

here.36 The life of piety is similar to athletic training. Hence gum-

na<zw, a comparison within the expolitio, is a metaphor emphasiz-

ing the effort necessary to acquire and progress in godliness.

            "Godliness" (eu]se<beia), mentioned eight times in 1 Timothy

(2:2; 3:16; 4:7–8; 6:3, 5–6, 11), refers to "the right attitude to God

and to the holiness, the majesty and the love of God."37 Paul

maintained in 4:7 that eu]se<beia is something for which one must

strive.38

            The conjunction ga>r in verse 8 is continuative, not en-

thymematic. It serves to extend the comparison (begun in verse

7b) of a good Christian servant's conduct with an athlete's con-

duct. Paul used the rhetorical topic of arguing from the lesser to

the greater39 when he affirmed the value of godliness over physi-

cal exercise (v. 8). Godliness has benefit for the present and the

future, whereas physical exercise is useful only for the present

age. The value of eu]se<beia is a convincing proof in Paul's argu-

ment for Timothy to be a good servant of Christ.

            Conclusion (4:9-10). In verse 9 Paul wrote, pisto>j o[ lo<goj

kai> pa<shj a]podoxh?j a@cioj ("It is a trustworthy statement deserv-

ing full acceptance"). What he was referring to is widely de-

bated. The formula could refer to the preceding discussion or part

of it.40 However, o[ lo<goj could point to elements of verse 10.41 The

 

36 Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

and Other Early Christian Literature, 167.

37 William Barclay, New Testament Words (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1964),

113.

38 Ibid. This is not to deny that eu]se<beia is the gift of God as well (2 Pet. 1:3).

39 Quintilian, Institutio Oratio 5.10.87, 92; and Heinrich Lausberg, Handbuch der

literarischen Rhetorik: Eine Grundlegung der Literaturwissenschaft, 2 vols.

(Munich: Hueber, 1960), §397.

40 Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 201-2. Marvin L. Reid maintains that

"syntactically, 1 Tim. 4:9 legitimizes the admonition in verse eight" and thus has a

backward emphasis ("An Exegesis of 1 Timothy 4:6-16," Faith and Mission 9 [Fall

1991]: 53).

41 This is suggested in the New English Bible, the New International Version,

and the Revised English Bible.

 



                     Rhetorical Design in 1 Timothy 4                       199

 

opinion that verse 9 is a solemn assertion about the text as a whole

is advanced by Hanson.42 The translations that make no com-

mitment at all in their punctuation and paragraphing to either a

backward or forward reference buttress his claim.43

            Rhetorically verse 9 functions (with v. 10) as a conclusion to

the expolitio begun in verse 6. The words o[ lo<goj would seem to

refer to the entire rhetorical subunit of verses 6-8. Verse 10 func-

tions as a parenthetical note44 by Paul that extols God and also the

apostle's own conduct as a servant of Christ.45 Paul used himself

as an example of the action to which he summoned Timothy in the

proposition (v. 6). The apostle was an example of a good Christian

servant from which Timothy could learn. Paul labored

(kopiw?men) and toiled (a]gwnico<meqa46) to encourage Timothy to be

"a good servant." Again the apostle used an athletic metaphor in

describing his work (a]gwni<zw suggests exerting oneself or strug-

gling like an athlete). Like the athlete, the Christian minister

must undergo rigorous discipline in order to complete the contest

(cf. 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7).47 Paul enhanced his ethos when he

maintained that he exerted himself strenuously for Christ.

 

EPILOGUE (4:11-16)

A series of ten exhortations, whose imperative verbs are all in the

present tense, concludes chapter 4. The injunctions in this exhor-

tation may be classified under the following headings: the pas-

tor's public ministry (vv. 11, 13), the pastor's example (v. 12), and

the pastor's personal growth (vv. 14-16).48

 

42 Hanson, The Pastoral Epistles, 92.

43 Examples are the New American Standard Bible, the New Revised Standard

Version, and the Revised Version.

44 The New International Version perceives to some degree the parenthetical na-

ture of verse 10, with the parenthesis ending after "strive" (a]gwnizo<meqa).

45 The first-person plural of the verbs kopiw?men, a]gwnizo<meqa, and h]lpi<kamen elim-

inates any haughtiness in Paul's claim, since the plural embraces the audience as

well as the apostle (cf. ma<lista pistw?n). Thus positive pathos and positive ethos

are evoked.

46 The reading a]gwnizomeqa ("struggle," NRSV) is better suited to the context and is

preferred over o]neidizo<meqa ("suffer reproach," NRSV, margin). See Metzger, A Tex-

tual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 641-42; and Knight, The Pastoral

Epistles, 202.

47 See Karl Heinrich Ringwald, "a]gw<n," in New International Dictionary of New

Testament Theology, 1 (1975), 644 48.

48 For these categories see Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 193. An alternative ar-

rangement is to regard Paul as one counseling his son (Timothy) in the faith in a

manner reminiscent of the educator in the pedagogical rhetoric of Proverbs, in

which an educator counsels a protege in wisdom (see Michael V. Fox, "The Peda-

 



200           BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April-June 1997

 

            The pastor's public ministry (vv. 11, 13). The items men-

tioned in verses 1-10 are to be insisted on and taught publicly (v.

11).49 Moreover, public ministry for Timothy was to involve at-

tention to "the public reading [a]na<gnwsij50] of Scripture" with its

concomitant appeal (para<klhsij) for the hearers to respond to

instruction in the principles of Scripture (didaskali<a).51

            The pastor's example (v. 12). Paul enjoined Timothy to be an

example (tu<poj) for the believers. The range of qualities that ex-

emplary character encompasses is prescribed in an appealing

rhetorical fashion by means of epanaphora52 with e]n, allitera-

tion,53 and homoeoptoton.54 These rhetorical devices emphasize

the urgency of the task laid on Timothy. An antithesis exists in

verse 12 with the positive tu<poj gi<nou and the negative command

mhdei<j sou th?j neo<thtoj katafronei<tw ("let no one look down on

your youthfulness"). The "youthful" Timothy, though perhaps in

his thirties,55 may have been despised by older members of the

congregations who resented a younger person as Paul's emis-

sary. However, his youthfulness was inconsequential if he was a

positive, influential example. In secular writing the word tu<poj

was used in reference to the stamp or impression made on a coin,

to a mold, or to an outline of a book's contents. Paul used it to

 

gogy of Proverbs 2," Journal of Biblical Literature 113 [Summer 1994]: 233–43).

Proverbs 2 urges attention to the educator's teachings (vv. 1-4), their benefits (vv. 5-

11), and the salvation they guarantee (vv. 12–22). First Timothy 4:11–16 features

these same elements: attention to Paul's instructions (vv. 11–12), their benefits (vv.

13–14), and the salvation they promise (vv. 15–16). Fiore observes that in ancient

times the teacher of rhetoric acted as a surrogate parent. Instruction was typically

the role of the parent or a surrogate (The Function of Personal Example in the

Socratic and Pastoral Epistles, 34–35).

49 The present writer views 1 Timothy 4:11 (para<ggelle tau?ta kai> di<daske) as

having a retroactive force, pointing to what has come before. This is also the view of

Bush ("A Note on the Structure of 1 Timothy," 154), except that he regards verse 11

as "the concluding marker" for 3:16–4:11 that concerns apostasy. For the view that

tau?ta in verse 11 has a forward reference to the admonitions of verses 12–16, see

Reid, "An Exegesis of 1 Timothy 4:6-16," 54.

50 This was to be public not private reading of Scripture (Oscar Cullmann, Early

Christian Worship, Studies in Biblical Theology [Chicago: Regnery, 19531, 24; and

Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 207).

51 Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 208.

52 An epanaphora is a figure by which similar and different ideas appear in close

succession in phrases begun by the same word (Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.13.19).

53 The alliteration occurs with the Greek letter alpha: e]n a]nastrof^?, e]n a]ga<p^, e]n a[gnei<a.

54 This is a figure in which two or more words in the same case with similar end-

ings appear in the same phrase, clause, or sentence (Rhetorica ad Herennium

4.20.28). In 1 Timothy 4:12 the figure is formed by a]nastrof^?, a]ga<p^, and pi<stei.

55 Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 205.



                       Rhetorical Design in 1 Timothy 4                      201

 

mean an example, one that serves as a model for others (Phil.

3:17; 1 Thess. 1:7; 2 Thess. 3:9; Titus 2:7).56

            The pastor's personal growth (vv. 14-16). The foremost ex-

hortation for Timothy's personal spiritual development was that

he not neglect his spiritual gift (mh> a]me<lei tou? e]n soi> xari<smatoj,

v. 14). The words mh> a]me<lei ("do not neglect") are a litotes, a fig-

ure of speech by which an affirmation is expressed by its nega-

tion.57

            The urgent necessity of this directive is supported by a rela-

tive clause that describes the origin of the spiritual gift: o{ e]do<qh

soi dia> profhtei<aj meta> e]piqe<sewj tw?n xeirw?n tou? presbu-

teri<ou ("which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance

with the laying on of hands by the presbytery"). The laying on of

hands by a group of elders58 recognized Timothy as one whom the

Holy Spirit had already designated by way of prophecy for a par-

ticular task. The xa<risma ("spiritual gift") was bestowed by the

Spirit, whom Timothy had already received. So reflective of

God's intentions for Timothy were the inspired predictions about

him (cf. 1:18) that Paul could say that those prophecies themselves

effected the bestowal of the xa<risma. The phrase may be rendered

"on account of prophecies," taking dia> profhtei<aj as an ac-

cusative plural, rather than a genitive singular.59

            Prophecy is weighty evidence for the reality of the xa<risma.

Oracular evidence, as supernatural testimony, was oratorically

superior to other evidence. The Christian prophets' testimony

would be considered oracular and thus persuasive to Timothy and

others.60

            Final exhortations of the epilogue are expressed by the verbs

mele<ta (lit., "put into practice" or "take pains with") and i@sqi ("be

devoted to" or "be absorbed in") these teachings (v. 15), and by

e@pexe ("pay close attention") to yourself and to your teaching and

e]pi<mene ("continue") in these things (v. 16). In verse 16b ga>r is

enthymematic, introducing a conclusion based on this syllo-

gism:

 

56 Leonhard Goppelt, "tu<poj, a]nti<tupoj, tupiko<j, u[potu<pwsij,'' in Theological Dic-

tionary of the New Testament, 8 (1972), 246-59 passim.

57 J. B. Sykes, ed., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, 7th ed.

(Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), 589.

58 This is more likely the meaning here rather than the presbytery (Knight, The

Pastoral Epistles, 209).

59 So Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 208.

60 See Quintilian, Institutio Oratio 5.11.37, 42-44; Cicero, Oratoriae Partitiones

2.6; and Watson, Invention, Arrangement, and Style, 16-17.



202      BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April—June 1997

 

Premise A:     One ought to pay attention to what saves himself and

                        his hearers.

Premise B:     By paying attention to one's life and teaching and

                        continuing to do so, that person saves himself and

                        his hearers.

Conclusion:   One ought to pay attention to himself and his teach-

                        ing.

 

            The salvation of oneself and others reflects the topic of honor

and advantage, the twin goals of deliberative discourse.61 The

verb sw<zw ("save") may refer to Timothy's delivery of himself

and his flock(s) from the deceptive, erroneous teachings of liars.

            That Paul could make such a pronouncement on the ultimate

destiny of others enhances his ethos. In an epilogue the rhetor typ-

ically sought to enhance his own ethos and positive pathos for his

cause.62  In verse 16 Paul succeeded in this quest by stressing his

own inspired perceptions and the honor and advantage at stake in

his exhortation.

 

SUMMARY AND EVALUATION OF PAUL'S RHETORICAL

EFFECTIVENESS

 

Paul was successful in his goal to argue persuasively his case

that Timothy (and his fellow Ephesian Christians) should be a

good servant of Christ Jesus. No precise historical evidence exists

to prove that Paul succeeded in his rhetorical efforts,63 but the

rhetorical critic can be satisfied that the conditions for success in

the endeavor have been met.

            Paul's narration both denounces the falsehoods of the heretics

and supplies reasons for their untruthfulness. In verses 6-10 his

proposition is artfully presented as a future state (e@s^, "you will

be") resulting from a present action (putting the apostolic instruc-

tions before the believing community). In a skillfully con-

structed expolitio Paul defined what it means to be a good Chris-

tian servant: negatively a person is to avoid erroneous doctrines,

and positively he is to exercise himself in godliness, since such a

practice has perpetual benefits:

            This rhetorical analysis of verses 6-10 suggests a solution to

the question of the reference of verse 9. Since it appears where one

 

61 Cicero, De inventione 2.51.156.

62 See Watson, "A Rhetorical Analysis of Philippians," 78.

63 Second Timothy could be adduced as indirect evidence that Paul was persua-

sive in 1 Timothy, since Timothy was still in the service of the apostle as a faithful

and trusted representative (2 Tim. 1:14; 2:2; 3:14; 4:5, 9, 11, 13, 21).



                   Rhetorical Design in 1 Timothy 4                          203

 

would expect a conclusion to an expolitio, it probably refers to the

subunit of verses 6-8.

            In the epilogue (vv. 11-16), which includes a chain of exhor-

tations in light of the narration and expolitio, Paul instructed

Timothy on the pastor's public ministry, example, and personal

growth. The instruction on the pastor's example in verse 12 is

stylistically rich and thereby emphatic. Verse 16 is an effective

parting directive in its enhancement of Pauline ethos and in its

stress on the honor and advantage to be gained by an obedient

Timothy.

 

                        PASTORAL CONSIDERATIONS

 

"TRAIN YOURSELF IN GODLINESS" (1 TIM. 4:7-10)

The difficulty in establishing a consistent and effective physical

exercise program is well known. The effort required to block out

time for exercise three or four times a week sometimes seems in-

surmountably difficult, and therefore many individuals remain

sedentary and physically unfit. Yet the benefits of physical exer-

cise are significant for those who persevere in their efforts to ex-

ercise and eat healthy foods. Paul maintained, however, that

those who train themselves in godliness, that is, for the purpose of

attaining that quality, will find far greater rewards.

            Devotion to God and the development of Christlikeness have

recompense for this life and the life to come. Great effort, how-

ever, is required. Like the athlete in training, the believer must

discipline the body and its actions (by devotion to prayer and

avoidance of sin) and habitually consume vital and wholesome

"nutrients" (through study of the Word of God).

            On this passage Stauffer perceptively remarks, "This is not

contempt for the world. It is insight into the law of life that the bet-

ter is the enemy of the best, so that even what is right and good

may have to be renounced."64

 

"SET THE BELIEVERS AN EXAMPLE" (1 TIM. 4:12)

No one can prevent others from looking down on him or her be-

cause of lack of talent, attractiveness, experience, wealth, or age.

In Ephesus some despised Timothy's youthfulness. They, likely

older than he was, must have assumed that someone younger

could not adequately give oversight as an apostolic envoy.

            The solution to the contempt of others is attention to one's own

 

64 Ethelbert Stauffer, "a]gw<n, ktl.," in Theological Dictionary of the New Testa-

ment, 1 (1964), 137.



204           BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April—June 1997

 

example in the face of that contempt. Like a mold that reproduces

its shape in other material, or like an outline that others follow, a

positive example can change others' attitudes and influence them

for the good.

            Paul did not counsel Timothy to step back from his responsi-

bility (until he was "older and wiser"), nor did he suggest that

Timothy retaliate. Instead, the apostle maintained that Timo-

thy's speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity win over his despis-

ers. In that way he was not allowing anyone to despise him.

 

"DO NOT NEGLECT THE GIFT THAT IS IN YOU" (1 TIM. 4:14)

 

Each believer has been endowed with a spiritual gift, a manifes-

tation of the Spirit to be used in service for the good of the entire

body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7). Yet according to 1 Timothy 4:14, that

gift can be neglected. By being left idle and unused or unim-

proved, one's gift is neglected. Sometimes the fear of failure or of

the censure of others keeps a person from using his or her spiri-

tual gift and it is thus neglected.

            Paul admonished Timothy to use his gift. The young protege

ought to seek ways for it to be expressed and to be refined for

greater usefulness. When one considers a business or job oppor-

tunity, a geographical move, or any other life change, he or she

ought to ask questions such as these: "Will this enable me to im-

prove my spiritual gift and use it more effectively? Will the

change enhance the development and expression of my spouse's

and children's gifts?"

            First Timothy 4 indicates something about God's guidance in

the life of a believer. Timothy knew God's will by means of what

others said about him (the prophecies) and their confirmation of

God's work in his life (the laying on the elders' hands). God's di-

rection for believers' lives is by these means (though not exclu-

sively so)—means that are corporate as well as private.

 

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:       x-Gk   

Dallas Theological Seminary

            3909 Swiss Ave.

            Dallas, TX   75204          

www.dts.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:  thildebrandt@gordon.edu