The Pastoral Epistles – My Approach

I love that scene…take it for what it is, just a quick illustration of how simple making a choice can be without truly knowing the implications of that choice.

A word of caution, if you will, before I/we depart on this journey through what are commonly known as The Pastoral Epistles.

I am taking a critical path. One that will begin with the premise that the Apostle Paul did not write 1 & 2 Timothy or Titus. The texts I cite for the most part have already traveled this path in one manner or another. Likely, as I progress I will build upon my posts regarding methodology, approach and hermeneutic. But for now, this short advanced warning will do.

This is a bit of an experiment for me, since I have only been taught the standard Evangelical take on the matter: that Paul wrote these letters in one way or another and as such they are infallible, inerrant and authoritative for the church past, present and future. Yet, over the years, I have increasingly struggled with this point of view and have seen other ways of interpreting these texts. Since then, I have come to realize that I don’t need to win any arguments or prove anything to anyone.

Indeed, one of the most memorable moments of my time in seminary was when a professor introduced the word “plausible.” It didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now. For what I didn’t comprehend at the time was the incredibly deep and vast gray space he was opening up to us as students. Such a gray fog can be haunting to first year seminarians seeking the truth. Yet, I have come to rest in that space, realizing that we are so very far removed from the first Christians and their culture that connecting with them through the scriptures often takes time and effort.

Therefore, as we read, study, contemplate and live out our faith we would do well to embrace the plausible among the things we hold dear. Consider them, push their limits, milk them for all they are worth.

So, enough sermonizing. I appreciate that not everyone who landed on this page will enjoy this critical study, so for those who are looking for the more standard Evangelical and conservative fare, I can heartily recommend the following books:

1 & 2 Timothy, Titus – Gordon Fee

The Letters to Timothy and Titus (NICNT) – Phil Towner

Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 46, Pastoral Epistles  – Bill Mounce

For those, like me, who are curious and want to see “how deep the rabbit hole goes,” well, let’s begin!


Almost 100 Views – No Comments!

OK, so I am starting to think that perhaps my initial launch stumped those who I sent it to.

It makes me wonder a little more purposefully about my goal with this blog.  I don’t want it to be merely a diary of my own thoughts and studies.  I don’t want it to be purely academic.  A blog focusing on the early church is most purposeful when it reaches the essential church – those who read and interact here because it speaks to their “church”/life experiences.

That said, I intend to write more specifically to that end.

I suppose without having started I may have never reached this conclusion!  So much for pre-planning…it seems blogging is best learned while doing it!

Most Pressing Issues In Early Church Studies – A Top 10 List

Here is a partial list that I will update and edit as needed.  In general, this will serve as a guide to future posts as the site develops. 

My hope is that my readers may help me fill in the blanks and/or rearrange the list a bit, so let me know what you think!


9.  Gender issues in ministry.


7.  Application of the kingdom of God to governmental rule.


5.  The role of tradition and non-canonical writings in the early church. 


3.  The distinction/development of offices and gifting in ministry.


1.  The definition and/or perception of the term “church.”

About Me…

I made a theme change and just realized my “About” page disappeared!  So, here goes…

My name is John Contabile, and my goal with this blog is to search out the beliefs, traditions and practices of the early church, specifically within the first three centuries AD. 

I expect to spend most of my time in the writings of the New Testament, with occasional forays into historical and extra-biblical works.  Of course, I have an agenda, so I may as well confess it up front.  I am specifically looking for the teachings and practices of the earliest church, the essential church, the simple church, in order to discern how current church teaching and practice has evolved over the centuries and across cultures.  I seek to find such evidence as it presents itself and pass this on in an easily accessible format.

I am a Christian, and enthusiastically confess the Apostle’s Creed.

I have an earned Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in Biblical Languages (Magna Cum Laude), and a Certificate in New Testament Studies at the graduate level.  My main interests lie in New Testament interpretation, exegetical method, discourse analysis, oral tradition, early church practice and the history surrounding the early church.  As I am not a professional, so I will happily receive encouraging words of correction should the need arise. 

A little more about me: I am a husband, a father and a grandfather.  I have proudly served my country as a United States Marine.  I currently work as a Real Estate Agent in southern California.  I am a hardcore Pittsburgh Steelers fan. 

Thanks for reading my blog, and feel free to comment as you see fit…I look forward to it!

You may also contact me by e-mail at:

Blessings to you in Christ Jesus!


Greetings in Christ Jesus!

 It is my hope that this blog will provide an informal and beneficial community for those interested in the study of the early church.   

The rationale in beginning this venture revolves around providing a centralized place to organize my own personal thoughts, questions, studies and developments.  The specific focus will center around the development, beliefs, traditions and practices of the early church.  While the first three centuries will be fair game, the emphasis will be primarily on the New Testament documents themselves, as well as surrounding support and background information.  As such, the material will favor an academic/technical approach but will hopefully not be out of reach of those interested in following along.

So, if you feel you have something to contribute, please do share it!  Comments and questions are welcomed, as are suggestions for future posts.

All the best!


Getting Started…

I am going to be brainstorming some categories to work on, so feel free to make a suggestion or two.

I am also currently working through the Gospel of Mark, so there will be lots there to post about.

Also, I’ll post some general exegetical method stuff to explain some of the methodology I hope to employ.