Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4: 12

The author writing in the name of Paul (see deutero-Pauline letters) is encouraging Timothy. Timothy, a young man doing great things as a leader and preacher in the church, is lacking a bit of confidence and is probably taking some flak because he is young. At the same time, because Timothy has so much going for him, people do look to him as a role model. Skeptics, of course, will hope he screws up. Timothy is encouraged to prove that he is the real deal by how he speaks, behaves, how he loves and how faithful he is. Being faithful doesn’t mean being perfect— it means being committed to keep trying.

1 Timothy is one of three pastoral letters among the epistles of the New Testament. It is a passionate and intimate letter in which the author expresses the genuine care of a shepherd for this young leader. Because 1 Timothy is written later than several other Pauline epistles, we see certain things about the church for the first time. As the Christian community began to grow, it encountered new challenges, such as being more aware and sensitive to new cultures as the missionaries traveled to new places. It needed to take a wider view as people from both Jewish and Greek cultural backgrounds were converting to Christianity.

The church grew as the original apostles became martyrs. As the church went on, special care needed to be given to seeing that the faith was handed on authentically and properly. 1 Timothy deals almost exclusively with this challenges. It addresses sounds teaching (ch. 1), problems of discipline (chapters 2-4), relationships and responsibilities (ch. 5), and false teaching/true wealth (ch. 6). We also see special care given to encouraging two kinds of leadership or ministry within the church. The first, of which Timothy consists, has to do with a full-time commitment and extending the mission of the church. The second concerns people who are trained within and for specific faith communities which have called them to service.

1 Timothy is one of the deutero-Pauline letters.