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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, October 26 2023

Timothy: Paul's son in the faith

Timothy was quite young when he first met Paul, and was personally trained by him. He subsequently accompanied the Apostle on many of his journeys, was a faithful courier on his behalf, pastored the church at Ephesus, and may even have shared time in prison with him.

Timothy: Paul's son in the faith
Paul was able to travel to Macedonia. He visited Ephesus where he left Timothy with the instruction, ‘Stay here and command those teaching false things to stop’. [Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org]

Timothy's father was Greek, and His mother was Jewish. He was very influenced by the faithful example of his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, as Paul infers in 2 Timothy 1:3-5: "I thank God... as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you...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'.

When Luke introduces Timothy in the book of Acts, we read of Paul journeying to Derbe and Lystra, two cities in Asia Minor. The members of the Church there spoke highly of Timothy's faith as evidenced by his conduct and, as a result, Paul determined to take Timothy with him on his missionary journeys. Since Timothy's father was a gentile and his mother Jewish, and Paul was aware that many Jews lived in the areas Paul and Timothy would visit, he circumcised young Timothy (Acts 16:1-5). This helped Timothy function within the multicultural world of that day (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). To the gentiles Timothy could identify as a gentile because of his Greek father. To the Jews he could identify as a circumcised Jew.

Timothy soon began to serve not only as a companion to Paul in his travels, but as a pastor, and was to suffer along with Paul in many of the Apostle's trials. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippian Christians, he offered encouragement by informing them of his intention to send Timothy to see them, and spoke very highly of him. "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 2:20-23).

Some see a possible contradiction in 2 Timothy 1:5-8 where Timothy is described as a little timid, yet was heralded as strong in the faith. These two views can be reconciled when we consider other Bible personalities. Moses, for example, didn't want to be God's spokesman and even begged God to choose someone else (Exodus 4:1and10), yet God powerfully used him. The prophet Jonah ran from God's calling to warn ancient Nineveh (Jonah 1:3). Even Jeremiah tried to explain to God why he was not the man for the job (Jeremiah 1:6). It should be no surprise that Timothy might hesitate at times, as he was expected to be strong in the face of persecution and death.

God tells us, 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: "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." (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

God typically uses the unimpressive to accomplish His purpose,"so that no one may boast before him" (1 Corinthians 1:29) .When a person recognizes their human weakness, God can teach and lead that person to serve Him and mankind, because he or she knows the credit belongs to God. Such was the case with Timothy. His faith in God made him strong, although he might, at times, have seemed timid.

When the Apostle Paul speaks of Timothy’s service with him in Ephesus he calls Timothy a true son in the faith, urging him to remain in Ephesus to oversee the congregation there and ensure they did not deviate from God's truth. He instructed him on how to care for the congregation and proper worship (1 Timothy 1:1-20 and 2:1-15), qualifications of elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-16), teaching sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1-16) and dealing with people (1 Timothy 5:1-25 and 6:1-21). (See the recommended sermon, Paul’s Message To Timothy)

Timothy also apparently visited Paul in Rome when he 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; Colossians 1:1). Timothy may also have been imprisoned at one point, since Hebrews 13:23 refers to his being released. 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).

Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy) 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).

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. 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).

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    Good News Magazine