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Timothy - Paul's Son in the Faith

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Timothy was quite young when he first met the apostle Paul. His father was Greek, a gentile. His mother was Jewish, an Israelite. Some think, based on comments in Paul’s letters to him, that Timothy was timid. Yet a closer look tells a different story. He encountered persecution, faced it and weathered it well.

Timothy kept company behind bars with Paul. More than once he nearly died. He was a faithful courier for Paul. He served the church at Ephesus, in Asia Minor, where members were predominantly gentile. We can learn much from the young evangelist Timothy, a Greek to gentiles, a Jew to Jews.

Timothy’s early years

It is encouraging to read about the faithful parents or grandparents of a saint. Such is the case with Timothy. Scripture contains little direct information about him, but we can catch glimpses through the thoughts and writings of others who knew and worked with him.

Timothy’s grandmother was named Lois, his mother Eunice. God doesn’t shirk from mentioning the names of people who set themselves against Him (as in Hymenaeus and Philetus, named in 2 Timothy 2:17 2 Timothy 2:17And their word will eat as does a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
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), so it is encouraging to see how often God mentions the names of some who honored Him, especially when He gives honor to a disciple’s parents.

God sometimes works in a physical family, as He did here, establishing Jesus’ faith in one family member so it can be passed along to others. 

Paul speaks highly of both Lois and Eunice. He wrote to Timothy: “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:3-5 2 Timothy 1:3-5 3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of you in my prayers night and day; 4 Greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelled first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in you also.
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, emphasis added throughout).

Let’s explore Paul’s commendation of Timothy’s grandmother and mother. Doing so can help us better understand Paul’s high regard for Timothy.

Faithful grandmother

Grandmother Lois was a Jewess, married to a Jew. Lois’s husband—Timothy’s grandfather—is not mentioned, which suggests, according to several commentaries, that he was deceased. God does things with purpose, so there must be some good reason why Lois’s husband wasn’t named.

God sometimes works in a physical family, as He did here, establishing Jesus’ faith in one family member so it can be passed along to others. Sometimes God uses the child in a more obvious way than He uses the parents or grandparents, as happened with Timothy. The faith of God can be nurtured, seasoned and matured as it passes through grandparents and parents to a child. It’s not only an honor for a parent to serve in this way but a high calling.

In modern times, awash as they are in the technology of instantaneous communication, nearly everyone strives for his 15 minutes of fame. We know God doesn’t look at a saint’s worth in this way. He uses people in different settings in different ways.

Every person is important to God. In Timothy’s case perhaps God used his grandmother and mother to prepare him for His service. This should be highly encouraging to all of us. God’s perspective extends beyond the horizon while we often limit ourselves through tunnel vision.

Faithful examples for Timothy

The crowning characteristic of Timothy was his unfeigned faith, which he shared with Lois and Eunice.

Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
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tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God-“because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (New International Version).

Abraham and Daniel prospered under circumstances that would have defeated lesser men because they had this kind of faith. King Saul’s son Jonathan exhibited genuine faith in God, though his father failed in this regard. Faith and love for God go hand in hand. True followers of God can do no better than to love and have faith.

Faithful mother

When Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, introduces Timothy, we read about Paul journeying to Derbe and Lystra.

“And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

“Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily” (Acts 16:1-5 Acts 16:1-5 1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2 Which was well reported of by the brothers that were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. 4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
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).

Consider what these verses tell about the character of Eunice and Timothy. Luke describes Timothy’s mother as “a certain Jewish woman who believed” (Acts 16:1 Acts 16:1Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
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). She believed God’s Word and obeyed it. She accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah.

Consider Luke’s and Paul’s opinion of Timothy. First, the members of God’s Church at Lystra and Iconium, two cities in Asia Minor, spoke highly of Timothy’s faith as evidenced by his conduct. They commended Timothy to those who passed their way, including Paul, Luke and his companions. When Paul heard the good words these members said about the young man, he determined to take Timothy with him on his missionary journeys. Since Timothy’s father was a gentile and his mother Jewish, and since Paul was aware that many Jews lived in the areas Paul and Timothy would visit, he circumcised young Timothy (Acts 16:3 Acts 16:3Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
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). This helped Timothy function as Paul did within the multicultured world of the day, to be all things to all people (1 Corinthians 9:19-22 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant to all, that I might gain the more. 20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
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). To the gentiles Timothy could identify as a gentile because of his Greek father. To the Jews he could identify as a circumcised Jew.

Serving with Paul

Paul began to train and use Timothy to strengthen the churches in the faith; the congregations increased in number daily (Acts 16:4-5 Acts 16:4-5 4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
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). Timothy soon began to serve not only as a companion to Paul in his travels but as a pastor. After all, he had been personally trained by one of the most zealous of the apostles, Paul himself. Timothy was to suffer along with Paul in many of the apostle’s trials.

Timothy was a constant companion of Paul. In Acts 16:12 Acts 16:12And from there to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
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we read that Paul and Timothy, along with Silvanus and Luke, journeyed to Philippi. Years later, when Paul wrote his letter to the Philippian Christians, he offered encouragement by informing them of his intention to send Timothy to see them.

“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me” (Philippians 2:19-23 Philippians 2:19-23 19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly to you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man like minded, who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. 22 But you know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he has served with me in the gospel. 23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
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).

Was Timothy timid?

Let’s pause to discuss the apparent contradiction that Timothy seemed a little timid (2 Timothy 1:6-8 2 Timothy 1:6-8 6 Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not you therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be you partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
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) yet was one who was heralded as strong in the faith (2 Timothy 1:5 2 Timothy 1:5When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelled first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in you also.
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). How can we reconcile the two views?

We can better understand Timothy when we evaluate him through the eyes of God rather than through the eyes of the world.

The world perpetuates the deceptive notion that might makes right, that only the strong should survive. For society to take note of a man he often must project an aggressively virile image, just as a woman must display a sexually appealing, glamorous persona. With God such is not the case. God looks on the heart, not on one’s attractiveness or stature (1 Samuel 16:7 1 Samuel 16:7But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.
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). God is not impressed by anyone’s outward appearance.

Timothy fit the mold of other notable Bible personalities. Moses, for example, didn’t want to be God’s spokesman and even begged God to choose someone else (Exodus 4:1 Exodus 4:1And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor listen to my voice: for they will say, The LORD has not appeared to you.
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: Exodus 4:10 Exodus 4:10And Moses said to the LORD, O my LORD, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since you have spoken to your servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
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; Exodus 4:13 Exodus 4:13And he said, O my LORD, send, I pray you, by the hand of him whom you will send.
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), yet God powerfully used him. The prophet Jonah ran from God’s calling to warn ancient Nineveh (Jonah 1:3 Jonah 1:3But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
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). Even Jeremiah tried to explain to God why he was not the man for the job (Jeremiah 1:6 Jeremiah 1:6Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
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).

It should be no surprise that Timothy might hesitate at times. He was expected to be strong in the face of persecution and death. One could scarcely spend much time around Paul without also receiving threats of physical violence.

God tells us, again through Paul, that when He calls someone to represent Him He often passes over the apparently strong of the world for those the world might consider as weak. Notice Paul’s revelation about God’s methods: “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 26 For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are:
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, NIV).

What purpose could God’s choice of the weak of the world accomplish? The next verse tells us why God typically uses the physically unimpressive to accomplish His purpose. It is “so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:29 1 Corinthians 1:29That no flesh should glory in his presence.
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, NIV). Don’t miss this key to understanding how God works through human beings. If God used vain, egotistical people to do His work, a work of humility and service, how far would He get? It’s a contradiction of terms to utter “godly service” and “arrogance” in the same breath. They can’t fit together. Reconciling them is an impossible task.

For God to really be able to use a person, that person must come to a recognition and acknowledgment of his human weakness. God can use human beings who know they are weak. When someone knows he is nothing to speak of physically, who knows he can’t save himself, God can teach and lead that person to serve Him and mankind. Such a person knows the credit belongs to God, not to himself.

Such was the case of young Timothy. Ultimately he proved to be stronger than any robust, masculine character, for he would rely on God for his strength. Timothy’s faith in God made him strong. This is why God could use a young man who, to others, might have seemed timid.

Paul and Timothy in Ephesus

Paul speaks of Timothy’s service with him in Ephesus. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, to Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia-remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith” (1 Timothy 1:1-4 1 Timothy 1:1-4 1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; 2 To Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3 As I sought you to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that you might charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
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).

Paul called Timothy his true son in the faith. When Paul said these words, he was offering a compliment. He urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus to oversee the congregation there. That duty included insisting that others not deviate from God’s truth in any way.

Paul also charged Timothy with instructing others not to listen to lies or myths about God and His truth, not to waste time in unproductive, distracting issues. Paul wanted Timothy to teach others the matters of faith that would build the congregations of God and encourage them to avoid endless debates that would detract from their spiritual growth.

Paul moved on to Macedonia, leaving Timothy to care for the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3 1 Timothy 1:3As I sought you to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that you might charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
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). He instructed his protégé on how to care for the congregation and proper worship (1 Timothy 1:1-20 1 Timothy 1:1-20 1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; 2 To Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3 As I sought you to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that you might charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. 5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside to vain jangling; 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for murderers, 10 For fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for enslavers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. 12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on you, that you by them might war a good warfare; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
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and 1 Timothy 2:1-15 1 Timothy 2:1-15 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with modesty and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 But (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works. 11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
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), qualifications of elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-16 1 Timothy 3:1-16 1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14 These things write I to you, hoping to come to you shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
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), teaching sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1-16 1 Timothy 4:1-16 1 Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 6 If you put the brothers in remembrance of these things, you shall be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto you have attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. 10 For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe. 11 These things command and teach. 12 Let no man despise your youth; but be you an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you.
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) and dealing with people (1 Timothy 5:1-25 1 Timothy 5:1-25 1 Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brothers; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. 3 Honor widows that are widows indeed. 4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusts in God, and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under three score years old, having been the wife of one man. 10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; 12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. 13 And with they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. 14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15 For some are already turned aside after Satan. 16 If any man or woman that believes have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. 17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture said, You shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward. 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 21 I charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. 22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep yourself pure. 23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your often infirmities. 24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. 25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
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and 1 Timothy 6:1-21 1 Timothy 6:1-21 1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. 2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brothers; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw yourself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses. 13 I give you charge in the sight of God, who vivifies all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14 That you keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15 Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen. 17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.
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). Paul urged Timothy: “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed … Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity … Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:6-16 1 Timothy 4:6-16 6 If you put the brothers in remembrance of these things, you shall be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto you have attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. 10 For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe. 11 These things command and teach. 12 Let no man despise your youth; but be you an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you.
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).

These are but vignettes from the remarkable life of a young evangelist. Space doesn’t allow for more in this article about Timothy’s early years. Finally, let’s turn our attention to his later years.

Timothy late in life

Timothy apparently visited Paul in Rome when Paul was incarcerated. In two of Paul’s epistles from prison, to the Philippians and Colossians, he sent greetings from himself and Timothy (Philippians 1:1 Philippians 1:1Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
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; Colossians 1:1 Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
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).

It appears that Timothy was also imprisoned at one point, since Hebrews 13:23 Hebrews 13:23Know you that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.
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refers to his being released. As He led Paul, God was seasoning Timothy in the ways of a persecuted saint and minister of Christ. We see no suggestion that he deviated from what Paul had taught him. The Bible’s silence speaks eloquently. Legend has it that Timothy continued to minister to the congregation in Ephesus and was martyred under the Roman emperor Domitian (81-96) or Nerva (96-98) ( Unger’s Bible Dictionary , 1964, p. 1100). If this is true it would not be out of character for Timothy to continue to work with the church in Ephesus as a servant for another 20 or 30 years. Perhaps he also served as an overseer for other congregations in Asia Minor and Greece.

A positive conclusion

Paul chose young Timothy to serve with him based on the recommendations of members of several congregations. Timothy traveled with Paul, along with Luke, Silvanus and others. As an evangelist, Timothy helped bring God’s truth to gentiles and Jews in a galvanizing way.

Let’s end where we started, in the book of 2 Timothy. Paul wrote this second letter from prison in Rome shortly before he died. As he drew his letter to a close, Paul wrote: “… The time has come for my departure.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8 2 Timothy 4:6-8 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing.
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, NIV).

These words make Paul’s opening comments that much more poignant. He had begun by writing to his “beloved son”: “I thank God … as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:3-5 2 Timothy 1:3-5 3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of you in my prayers night and day; 4 Greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelled first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in you also.
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).

Paul encouraged Timothy to hold fast, to remain faithful, to keep his calling in sight and to inspire others to do the same. Paul “greatly desired” to see his beloved friend and longtime companion one last time. “Do your best to come to me quickly,” he urged (2 Timothy 4:9 2 Timothy 4:9Do your diligence to come shortly to me:
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, NIV). Other long-standing companions had deserted him (verses 10, 16). Time was running out for Paul and he knew it.

We don’t know whether Paul and Timothy saw each other again, but we do know that Paul and his son in the faith will be reunited under the most positive circumstances. “I can tell you this directly from the Lord: that we who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves,” wrote Paul (1 Thessalonians 4:15 1 Thessalonians 4:15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
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, Living Bible). When Christ returns He will set up the Kingdom of God at Jerusalem. “And in that day His [the Messiah’s] feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east” (Zechariah 14:4 Zechariah 14:4And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
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). Timothy, along with Paul, will be with the returning Christ, as will all God’s faithful servants through the ages. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven … And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
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).

One of the great lessons we learn from Timothy is to practice genuine faith. In this he followed the example of our Savior. You can find Jesus’ faith in His example and apply it by following His advice: “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Matthew 22:37-40 Matthew 22:37-40 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
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).

The young evangelist Timothy will always be remembered for his genuine faith. May you be remembered likewise.

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