I respond: Regarding Mr. Lloyd’s article on reordering Paul’s post-Acts 28:28 epistles, I would have a few comments.
First of all, I could not better set forth an argument against II Timothy having been written before Ephesians and Colossians than Mr. Sellers already did in his article, Second Letter to Timothy, as I have included it here:
To the Apostle Paul was granted the stewardship of completing the Word of God. He tells us this in Colossians 1:25-26:
“Whereof I am made the dispenser, according to the stewardship of God, which was granted to me for you, to complete the Word of God; even the secret which has been hid from the eons and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.” Resultant Version.
It was Paul who brought the Word to its fullness. The word complete means filled up, with no part lacking. In view of this, Paul’s statement must necessarily mean that he revealed the final truth that filled up the Word of God, and that he wrote the final word of the sacred Scriptures.
Let no one think that I hold that Paul wrote the book of Revelation, or that Colossians was Paul’s final epistle. I do hold that every book that has a place in the Bible had to be written before Paul laid down his pen after writing his final inspired word. Thus the canon of Scripture was settled and closed by an inspired Apostle, and not by some uninspired and fallible church council, as is commonly believed.
The books that reveal the truths that had been kept secret are the books that complete the Word of God. These are 1 Timothy, Titus, Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians and 2 Timothy. Not all of these deal with the Church which is His body, but every one of them contains truth that had been concealed from eons and generations. Each one was written in the light of the great administrational change that occurred at Acts 28:28. That there was to be such a change was as much of a secret as the truth of the Church which is His body.
As a result of patient investigation and careful study it is my deep conviction that 2 Timothy is Paul’s final epistle, the capstone of the pyramid of divine revelation, the epistle that completes the Word of God. The evidence for this is found in the Word alone.
That 2 Timothy is Paul’s final epistle is seen by its relationship to the Colossian and Ephesian letters. Colosse and Ephesus were cities in the Roman proconsular province called Asia. This was not the continent of Asia, neither was it what we commonly understand by “Asia Minor.” It was a Roman province which embraced the western part of the peninsula of Asia Minor, and of which Ephesus was the capitol.
Some students hold that the Ephesian epistle was encyclical, that is, sent to all the churches in proconsular Asia. The epistle is of such nature that if it fit one church in Asia it would fit all of them. However, whether addressed to all the churches or to just one of them has no bearing upon this study. The fact remains that it was intended for saints in proconsular Asia, whether sent to one church or all of them.
In the Colossian epistle Paul addresses them as “faithful brethren in Christ,” speaks of the faith and love they have toward all saints, commends them for the fruit the truth has produced in them, refers to Epaphras’ declaration of their great love. The salutations of the fourth chapter reveal the warmest possible love and fellowship.
In Ephesians he speaks of their faith and love, the knowledge of which was based upon a report brought to him.
In 2 Timothy Paul sorrowfully, but emphatically, states that all in Asia had turned away from him.
If 2 Timothy were written before Colossians and Ephesians then all in Asia must have suddenly surged toward him again in love and faith as set forth in the Colossian and Ephesian epistle. Thus the order would be:
a. They were faithful saints whose love and loyalty could not be questioned.
b. They had suddenly turned away from Paul as seen in 2 Timothy 1:15.
c. They had suddenly turned back to Paul as seen in the Colossian and Ephesian epistles.
If 2 Timothy is Paul’s final epistle then the order would be:
a. They were faithful saints whose love and loyalty was commended in the Ephesian and Colossian epistle,
b. They had failed when tested by the highest of all truth and had forsaken Paul as set forth in 2 Timothy.
The first order is illogical. It could have taken place, but Paul would never have commended them for the steadfastness of their faith in Christ (Col. 2:5) if it had. He was not speaking hypocritically when he wrote these things. They were true when he wrote Colossians. They were not true when he wrote 2 Timothy. This alone is sufficient to show that it was Paul’s final epistle.
Further proof of the place of 2 Timothy in relationship to Colossians is seen in the references to Demas found in both epistles. When Paul wrote Colossians Demas was associated with him (Col. 4:14). When he wrote 2 Timothy Demas had forsaken him because of his love for the present eon.
Important evidence is also seen in the reference to Tychicus in 2 Tim. 4:12. In Eph. 6:27 Paul states:
“But that ye may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord shall make known to you all things: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.”
In 2 Timothy 4:12 we read: “And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.”
It makes no difference here whether the Ephesian epistle was sent to Ephesus only or to all the churches in proconsular Asia. When spiritual things are compared with spiritual these two statements go together and they afford one more proof that 2 Timothy was written after Ephesians, and is Paul’s final epistle.
Secondly, against his suggestion that it is incongruous to greet “Archipus in Philemon and allegedly in Colossians giving him a message, or repeating salutations from Epaphrus, Luke and Demas, (then back with Paul.)” In answer to this, I would make the following comments:
It would appear from the way Philemon is addressed that Archippus is the son of Philemon and Apphia, in which case it would have been rather rude of Paul to greet Philemon and his wife, but to omit greeting his believing son in Philemon. However, since Philemon was a personal letter addressed to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, it would have been out of character for Paul to have interrupted that letter to send a personal message to Archippus that had nothing to do with the topic of his letter. In Colossians this was not so, however, since this was a letter to all the believers in Colossae, and so it was quite all right for him to interrupt it with a personal message, especially at the end during the “personal greetings” section of the letter.
It also appears to me that this argument only makes sense if you assume that Philemon IS the Colossians, or that the only Colossians are Philemon and his household. Assuming this is not so, and one letter is written to all believers in Colossae whereas the other letter is written to one man along with his wife and son, it makes sense that Paul’s companions would have joined him in greeting the Colossians in general in one letter, and Philemon and his household in particular in the other. Mr. Lloyd seems to be laboring under the tenuous assumption that Paul’s companions should have said, “Our greeting to the Colossians included Philemon, so we won’t greet him again.” Why, then, does Paul greet him again? If I stand in front of a group of people and greet them all, and afterwards one particular person comes up to me and introduces himself, should I refuse to greet him since he was included in my general greeting? That is about the same as what Mr. Lloyd is arguing here. I see no incongruity whatsoever.
Finally, I would note that Mr. Lloyd generally provides little evidence for his reordering of Paul’s books other than just that one can imagine them in this order. Well, I can imagine them in a lot of orders, but that does not make those orders correct. He more seems to reorder in order to fit with his preconceived ideas of post Acts dispensationalism than for any real internal evidence, as the weakness of his arguments shows. I would insist that there is no reason to make the dispensational change any later than Acts 28:28, or to place II Timothy at any point other than as Paul’s last letter.