In a new commentary series by Lexham Press, Andreas Köstenberger has written a commentary on 1–2 Timothy and Titus which studies the content of the letters and shows how they both fit within redemptive history and contribute to understanding that redemption. (This commentary was published originally under the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series by B&H Academic, but it has been acquired and updated by Lexham Press).
Andreas Köstenberger, research professor of New Testament and director of the Center for Biblical Studies at MBTS, is well-known for his extensive work on John’s Gospel, as well as his work on hermeneutics, biblical theology, marriage and family, and mission. He writes this commentary not only for fellow academics, but primarily for pastors, teachers, students, and the whole church.
Köstenberger’s volume is divided into five sections:
- Exposition of 1 Timothy
- Exposition of 2 Timothy
- Exposition of Titus
- Biblical and Theological Themes
Köstenberger believes these three letters (LTT—letters to Timothy and Titus) were originally written by the Apostle Paul to his apostolic-delegates Timothy and Titus. These letters “primarily aim to equip individuals who were dispatched by the apostle to establish and maintain proper church governance in conjunction with the false teaching in Ephesus and Crete, respectively” (1). Though don’t know the chronological order of 1 Timothy and Titus, 2 Timothy was probably written last as it is “the most personal of the three” and it constitutes “Paul’s final appeal to his longtime coworker and protégé” (1). There is no reason good enough to see these letters as non-Pauline. Even if they are not as similar to Paul’s other letters as some scholars think they should be, the LTT can stil be seen as complimentary to those letters (23).
Köstenberger balances his exegesis with the historical setting, literary character, and theological message of each letter. He analyzes the background of each letter, as well as the genre, literary structure, and the meaning key terms in their ancient context. Köstenberger notes that since many other commentary cover detailed exegetical matters too, his primary focus is on theological themes found in the LTT. In fact, he gives us almost 190 pages of material on seven different biblical and theological themes found in the LTT:
- God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and Salvation
- The Church
- The Christian Life
- The Last Days
- The LTT and Canon
These 188 pages could have been a book on their own, and they are immensely helpful in connecting the LTT together, as well as to Paul’s letters, the NT, and the whole Bible.
Each passage covered begins with the biblical text (say, 2 Tim 2:8–13) from the CSB translation (which Köstenberger can differ from in his comments). He offers a paragraph on how these verses fit with the surrounding context. Then he provides the literary structure before looking at each verse. Köstenberger is careful and meticulous in showing his work. He notes that when Paul exhorts Timothy to “remember Jesus Christ” in verse 8 and later to “remind” the congregation of “these things,” it is part of the “rememberance” motif in this letter (as seen in 1:3–6 and 3:14–15 as well as Luke 17:32; Acts 20:31, 35; Heb 13:7).
When Paul writes that he suffers for the gospel (or Christ) “to the point of being bound like a criminal,” Köstenberger notes other places in these letters and in the Prison Epistles where Paul speaks of being “bound.” Yet “the Word of God is not bound” (v.9), and the gospel has “its own inherent power” with a fate that “doesn’t rely on any one human messenger” (234–235). Each passage ends with a brief section titled Bridge which shows how this passage relates to the full letter and to our lives today.
I have one critique with the section on Biblical and Theological Themes, and that has to do with the layout. At the top left center of every page in this section stands “1–2 Timothy and Titus,” and at the top right center of every page stands “Biblical and Theological Themes.” What would have been more helpful is to let the reader who which sub-section they are in. When I open a page, am I looking at a section under “Mission,” “the Church,” or “the Christian Life”? Seeing 126.96.36.199 Older and Younger Men may tip me off that I’m in the section on “the Church,” but what if I don’t remember the seven different sections, or even what chapter 4 is? Essentially, when flipping through 188 pages of biblical and theological material, it would be helpful to know which sub-section I’m in if I could read it on the top of the page instead of flipping through the pages to find the beginning of that section (to see if it’s even the one I’m looking for).
The content is superb. In section 7: The LTT and the Canon, Köstenberger compares the Psalmist and Paul in how the righteous one suffers. Paul’s gospel ministry extends to the ends of the earth, similar to how the Psalmist “says his rescue ‘from the lion’s mouth’ (Ps 22:21) would effect that ‘all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord'” (529). We also see a pattern of apostolic succession between Moses-Joshua and Paul-Timothy. Paul evens describes Timothy’s opponents as being prefigured by Moses’ antagonists during the exodus (530). Köstenberger lists many similarities and differences between the LTT and Paul’s other letters.
Köstenberger is a careful and detailed scholar who wants people to know God’s Word rightly. He doesn’t want the church to be led astray by false teaching, and his care and love for God’s Word shines through his commentary. This is a fantastic series, and I’m happy that Lexham Press picked it up. This is a dense work, one which many laypeople may have a hard time getting into. But it will be wise guidance for pastors, teachers, scholars, and students.
- Series: Evangelical Biblical Theology Commentary
- Author: Andreas J. Köstenberger
- Hardcover: 640 pages
- Publisher: Lexham Press (January 13, 2021)
- Interview with Books at a Glance
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Disclosure: I received this book free from Lexham Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.