Pastoral and General Epistles

Pastoral and General Epistles

The Pastoral and general Epistles are a collection of twelve books authored by Paul to various churches in the old times. Found in the New Testament, these books emphasize on specific key points including: the administration of the church in line with the doctrines of God and the relationship among individuals to acknowledge such doctrines; reinforcement of Godliness and his doctrines; the importance of proclaiming and observing sound doctrines; warnings given against false and misleading teachings; and church leaders qualifications (De Charms, 1860). These books consist of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & John and Jude (Fitzmyer, 2004).

Written during a time when the world witnessed an increase in moral decadency, spiritual degeneracy and all sorts of transgressions, these books are found to be offensive (Fitzmyer, 2004). Contemporary churches preach feel-good sermons that are bent on inventing new ways of worship, rather than being reminded of the old but unchanging ways of God. With special emphasis on church administration and the general characteristics of church ministers, these epistles are indispensible in the quest for proclamation of the true doctrines of God anchored on unblemished church management.

Paul outlines several issues pertaining to the administration of the church, and the individual qualifications/characteristics of the ministers. He greatly acknowledges God the Father as the source of authority, which condescends down through the Son, who is the head of the church. Furthermore, he gave directions on adjudication in the church; the criteria of recruiting new members and missionaries; worship and ritual; the way in which church members should lead their lives; unity in the church; and the individual behavior of the ministers (De Charms, 1860).


Unity in the Church

As concerns division in the church, Paul emphasized the need for togetherness, likening the church to a vine tree, which needs all its branches to function. The church in the ancient times was badly divided, as manifested in the Church at Corinth, where some people professed adherence to the teachings of Apollos, some to Paul, Peter, while others to Christ. A clear distinction was also created between the rich and the poor, such that there was complete lack of coherence in the church. Paul, in his epistle to the Corinthians, states that neither he nor Apollos was crucified for people’s sakes, nor are followers baptized in the name of the two above, but in Christ’s (King James Bible, 1999). He emphasizes the need for unity in the church, quoting that Christ is not divided, as unity is key in administration of the church.


The church at Corinth had an unbecoming practice of taking their disputes before the judges at the civil courts, which Paul greatly rebuked. He directs that disputes arising from within the church should be solved therein, and ultimate judgments proclaimed on the perpetrators of evil acts. This is witnessed when one man is found to have consorted with his father’s wife, and Paul gave a final judgment on the matter, that the man ought to be extradited completely from the congregation (King James Bible, 1999). An important lesson is learnt from this verse, which reminds church administrators that church doctrines are different from civil laws, and should thus be handled separately.

Worship and Ritual

Paul’s church did not confine their meetings to the church buildings; but they met in diverse places including people’s homes. In Philemon, Titus Justus is applauded for subletting his house for the purpose of God. When the believers met together, they participated in several rituals, including singing sacred songs, praying together, celebrating the Eucharist, tithes and offerings and sermons (King James Bible, 1999).

Personal Habits of Ministers

More importantly, Paul provides valuable teachings on individual qualifications of church ministers, and behaviors to which they should conform. He speaks of being obedient, just, gentle and wise in asking questions and readiness to rebuke evil (Goodrich, Zeitschrift,  & Kunde,  2013). In the letter addressed to Titus, chapter 3, all these qualities are outlined to set a standard for the operations of the ministers in the church. On obedience, Paul urges ministers to be submissive to magistrates, giving in to their principalities and powers, and being able to do all good works. In other words, a minister must first be a law-abiding citizen to be able to qualify for leadership in the church.

Justice is another quality that is greatly promoted in the pastoral and general epistles.  Paul asks the ministers not to speak evil of any man, considering that even they are subject to human shortfalls, being foolish, disobedient, lustful, hateful and deceiving to one another. It is the kindness of God that tops it all, by appearing to His people at the time they least expected. Ministers are thus urged to treat everyone equally, not forgetting that the Lord saves His people, not because of righteous deeds, but according to His mercy and grace (Fitzmyer, 2004).

Ministers are also encouraged to refrain from asking baseless and foolish questions and engaging in unfounded contentions about the law, for they are vain and unprofitable. Being a minister thus requires complete faith and trust in God’s infinite law, being blameless, not self-willed, slow to anger, non-drunkard, no striker and not bent on filthy lucre. On the other hand, they should be lovers of hospitality, righteousness, just, holy, sober and temperate, being an example to the flock by holding fast to the sound doctrines of God (Goodrich, Zeitschrift,  & Kunde,  2013). The book of first Timothy reverberates these sentiments, and further adds that a minister should be monogamous, vigilant, patient, professional and having good report of the people both from within and without. Being the head of church administration, bishops must thus adopt all the above qualities for a smooth and Godly operation of the church.

Most of the issues Paul dealt with in the old church are mirrored in the contemporary churches today. For instance, the question of punishing evil has been a borne of most contentions in the church. As opposed to Paul, today’s churches take their disputes to court, rather than solving them within the church as Paul instructed (Walker, 2012). Paul, in dealing with the man who consorted with his father’s wife, almost proclaimed a death sentence on him, which is not accepted on most societies today. Believers are left to handle challenges alone, being responsible for their own sins, and receiving no rebuke from the church ministers. On the other hand, Paul advised that worship and rituals be done in a specific manner, for instance, singing and praying ought to be done in a respectable and divine way. This is, however, not the case today, as singing in many churches is done in a loud and unholy manner that does not depict Godliness. Ministers are not as righteous as Paul outlined in his teachings, but are rather lovers of money and unsound doctrines. These show the erosion of sound and holy worship professed in the old times, and a disobedience to the Epistles of Paul.


De Charms, R. (1860). General epistles for pastoral instruction in the New Jerusalem.  Philadelphia, 72.

Fitzmyer, J. A. (2004). The Structured Ministry of the Church in the Pastoral Epistles. Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 66(4), 582-596.

Goodrich, J. K.,  Zeitschrift,  N. W. & Kunde, Ä. K. (2013). Overseers as Stewards and the Qualifications for Leadership in the Pastoral Epistles, 104(1), 77-97.

King James Bible (1999). Published: New York: American Bible Society.

Walker, P. (2012).  Revisiting the Pastoral Epistles — Part II.  Journal of Theology, 21(2), 120-132.


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