It was customary for a writer to introduce himself to his addressee. Paul introduced himself in 2 Timothy 1:1. But when Paul comes to the essence of this letter, he emphasizes his position of authority with which he comes to Timothy. For this reason he was appointed. But here in 2 Timothy 1:11 we find two variations in the manuscripts.
The first variation indicates Paul in a general ministry to all:
“Of which I was made a preacher and an Apostle and a teacher;” (BBE)
But the second variation indicates Paul as an apostle and teacher specific to the gentiles: “to which I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher OF THE NATIONS.” (MKJV)
So how did Paul introduce himself here in the second epistle to Timothy?
To find an answer, we first examine the manuscripts available.
The variation that indicates a general ministry are represented in Codices Sinaiticus (±350) and two codices from around 450 A.D. as well as a minuscule manuscript from ±1050 A.D. This variation is also present in a Syriac translation (±450 A.D.).
The variation indicating Paul in a ministry dedicated to the non-Jews is represented in uncial codices Ephraemi (±450), Bezae (±550) as well as four later codices (±850 A.D.) Another 21 minuscule manuscripts later than 900 A.D. as well as most of the medieval manuscripts and lectionaries. And all the Ancient Translations including the Sahidic (±250), nine old Latin (±500 – 1250) and the Vulgate (±450). Also the Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Armenian and Ethiopic translations (±250 – 650). All seven Church Fathers (±373 – 749) also use this version, indicating Paul as teacher to the heathens. The great geographic area where this version is found, makes a strong appeal to it being in accordance with the original autograph.
Our second criterion is to try and reconstruct how the variations could have originated. We call it the intrinsic criterion.
Paul has already introduced himself to Timothy as teacher to the non-Jews in his first epistle (1 Timothy 2:7). If he indeed repeated that introduction here in the second epistle, someone must have deliberately removed this indication, something for which no reason could be indicated. On the other hand, if he stopped short of introducing himself this way, the addition of this clause from memory or as a direct “correction” is quite possible. That indicates the shorter version rather to be the original and the version with the statement “to the non-Jews” added, as the deviating version.
Lastly we look at the context.
Paul begins this conversation with Timothy in chapter two with the statement in verse three that he served God, as did his ancestors, with a clear conscience. His ancestors surely didn’t know Jesus as anointed Saviour. And his conscience is clear though he himself prosecuted those deviating from the Old Testament faith. He also refers to the faith of Timothy’s mother and grand mother that surely must have been the Jewish faith before Jesus was introduced to them. Therefore we can see that to Paul there is a seamless progression from the Old Testament faith to the New Testament faith acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God, the anointed Saviour of all. In Paul’s ministry he first sought the Jews to bring the gospel to them. Directly after his conversion he preached Jesus as Saviour in the synagogue of Damascus (Acts 9:20). Also in Jerusalem he openly preached Jesus to the Greek speaking Jews (Acts 9:29). Since his first missionary journey he always went to the synagogue first to proclaim the gospel (Acts 13:5). Where there was no synagogue, he looked for a place of prayer. In Philippi for instance he went to the river where he expected such a place (Acts 16:13).
It is clear the for Paul there was no break or difference between his calling to the Jews and the non-Jews. Peter first had to receive a vision from heaven and a direct commission (Acts 10). But he indeed accepted this message as he writes in 2 Peter 3:9 that God “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
In 1 Timothy 2:7 Paul clearly introduced himself as teacher to the gentiles. Within that context it was imperative since he urges that prayers and supplications be made for everyone, even those in authority like the Romans. And that while he was writing from the prison in Rome!
But now in the second epistle to Timothy the context clearly is not the different people, but the ongoing gospel from the Jewish Old Testament faith to the New Testament faith through Jesus Christ, as was explained above. The rest of this epistle handles aspects concerning the work of the teacher in the local church. There is no direct focus on ministry to non-Jews.
From the above it is clear that in this context Paul would rather confirm his authority in support of a general ministry and not a ministry directed towards the non-Jews.
There is no logical reason to remove this clause from this statement, if indeed it had been part of the original autograph. But there are several explanations for its addition to an original autograph lacking it.
From the context it is clear that the non-Jews is not the focus of this epistle at all.
Therefore the version without this clause should be accepted as in correspondence with the original autograph, and the addition from 1 Timothy 2:7 the deviating variation.
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