Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles

By George W. Knight, III
Grand Rapids : Eerdmans (1992). 514 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Alex Montoya
4.1 (Spring 1993) : 110-111

Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles is a scholarly critical commentary written by George W. Knight, III, professor of New Testament at Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The author begins with a list of sources consulted to acquaint the reader with the abbreviations used, but this also is impressive as to the serous nature of the volume. The style is weighty but lucid, scholarly yet readily accessible to those with a limited knowledge of the original languages. This makes it helpful for the diligent pastor or preacher, a feature this reviewer looks for in a book of this type. The treatment of the text is thorough with a rich display of textual and syntactical research.

The author treats the authorship of the Pastoral Epistles extensively, and ends by saying,

Our conclusion is that the Pastoral Epistles were indeed written by the apostle Paul to his colleagues. This conclusion is based not only on the clear self-testimony of the letters to Paul as their author, their frequent personal references to Paul, their basic Pauline teaching, and their basic Pauline vocabulary and style, but also on the satisfactory resolution of the perceived or real differences, which in the end point toward rather than away from that authorship (52).

He dates the epistles somewhere after Paul's release from the first imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28) and the death of Nero, "from the latter part of the early 60's to the mid-60's" (54)

The exposition follows the order of writing of the three: 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy. There are two excursuses, the former on "the Bishops/Presbyters and Deacons: 3:1-13" and the latter on "Motivation for Appropriate Conduct: 2:1-10." The latter shows that Paul's instructions in Tit 2:1-10 do not arise from cultural appeasements, but from the rule of righteousness prescribed for all believers. This is a timely section in light of current pressures on the church to water down its stand on righteous living by conforming to a changing culture.

The treatment of 1 Tim 2:11-15 reinforces the traditional interpretation of the role of women in ministry. The author states, "Here he prohibits women from publicly teaching men, and thus teaching the church" (141), and concludes, "It is noteworthy, however, that Paul does not use 'office' terminology here (bishop/presbyter) but functional terminology (teach/exercise authority). It is thus the activity that he prohibits, not just the office" (142).

All in all, this is a commendable commentary, extremely helpful in dealing with the difficult passages in the text. It deserves to be added to any preacher's library as a primary source on the study of the Pastoral Epistles. The Bible student will be satisfied with this investment.