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Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

“I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 4: 17

The above words were penned by the Apostle Paul to the brethren at Corinth. They show the love, confidence, and high esteem that he had for Timothy. Of all the special helpers that the Apostle had, Timothy was his closest companion and chief associate. None of Paul’s companions are mentioned as often, and with him, as constantly as Timothy.

The name Timothy (Timotheus) means “honoring God.” He was from Lystra, a city which was located in modern Turkey. Timothy’s father was a Greek Gentile, but his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, were Jewish. From childhood Timothy was instructed in the Old Testament and nurtured by his mother and grandmother. During Paul’s first missionary journey he taught Jesus Christ to Timothy’s family. His grandmother first accepted Christ, then his mother, and finally Timothy, who was 16 years old at the time.

Timothy Joins Paul in the Ministry

When Paul and Silas arrived in Lystra on their second missionary journey, Timothy was already a well-respected disciple (Acts 16: 1, 2). Paul invited Timothy to join them in the ministry, and though only 21 years old at that time, Timothy was willing to leave home and accompany Paul on dangerous journeys and difficult errands. Because Timothy’s father was a Greek, Timothy had not been circumcised. Knowing that they would be ministering to many Jews and because Timothy’s mother was Jewish, Paul had Timothy circumcised (Acts 16: 3). Paul laid his hands on Timothy and he received a gift of the holy spirit, as is referenced in the following Scriptures: (1 Timothy 4: 14) (2 Timothy 1: 6).

For the next 16 years Timothy was closely associated with Paul, on his second and third missionary journeys and beyond, until Timothy was left at Ephesus where he became the pastor of the church there. Paul also sent Timothy on many important missions, for he knew that he could always count on him (Philippians 2: 19-22). Paul and Timothy were so close that both of their names are listed as the authors of six of Paul’s epistles: (2 Corinthians 1: 1) (Philippians 1: 1) (Colossians 1: 1) (1 Thessalonians 1: 1) (2 Thessalonians 1: 1) (Philemon 1). At one point, Timothy was imprisoned, but was later released (Hebrews 13: 23).

Timothy apparently suffered from several physical ailments (1 Timothy 5: 23). He is portrayed as amiable, timid, and faithful. By comparing Titus and Timothy, we see a contrast between the two. Titus was a natural leader, whereas Timothy was a follower by nature. Titus was  resourceful and aggressive, whereas Timothy was shy and reserved, yet obedient and cooperative. Titus was much like the Apostle Peter, whereas Timothy was more like the Apostle John.

Paul’s Letters to Timothy

Paul wrote two letters to Timothy, which we know as 1 and 2 Timothy. The first letter was written in 63 A.D. Paul’s purpose in this letter is threefold: (1) because there were many false teachers spreading false doctrines, Paul sought to give guidance to Timothy as to how to deal with these false teachers and their errors; (2.) the brethren attending worship services had become spiritually unprepared, so Paul wished to stress to Timothy the need for proper preparation and conduct in public worship; and (3) knowing that Timothy had a timid nature and could be prone to discouragement, Paul sought to encourage and bolster Timothy’s spirit.

The Apostle’s second letter to Timothy, the last of Paul’s writings, was written in 66 A.D., at which time Timothy would have been 40 years old. Paul had confidence in Timothy, that he would be somewhat of a successor to Paul, not as an Apostle, but as one who would exercise a general “care of all the churches.” Paul gave special warnings, commendations, and prophecies of Christ’s Second Advent to prepare Timothy for Paul’s death and the added responsibility that he would have to assume. Paul knew that his death was imminent, so he asked Timothy to come and be with him (2 Timothy 4: 9).          

Tradition holds that Timothy proved faithful unto death, and that he suffered martyrdom in 96 A.D. at the age of 70. He undoubtedly followed the Apostle Paul’s wise counsel and good example for the duration of his life and will receive a glorious position in the spiritual phase of God’s coming Kingdom.