A disciple of Paul. He was of Derbe or Lystra, both cities of Lycaonia, Ac 16:1; 14:6. His father was a Greek, but his mother a Jewess, 2Ti 1:5; 3:15. The instructions and prayers of his pious mother and grandmother, and the preaching of Paul during his first visit to Lystra, A. D. 48, resulted in the conversion of Timothy and his introduction to the ministry which he so adorned. He had witnessed the sufferings of Paul, and loved him as his father in Christ, 1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 3:10-11. When the apostle returned to Lystra, about A. D. 51, the brethren spoke highly of the merit and good disposition of Timothy; and the apostle determined to take him along with him, for which purpose he circumcised him at Lystra, Ac 16:3. Timothy applied himself to labor in the gospel, and did Paul very important services through the whole course of his preaching. Paul calls him not only his dearly beloved son, but also his brother, the companion of his labors, and a man of God; observing that none was more united with him in heart and mind than Timothy, Ro 16:21; 1Co 4:17; 2:1; Col 1:1; 1Ti 1:2,18. Indeed, he was selected by Paul as his chosen companion in his journeys, shared for a time his imprisonment at Rome, Heb 13:23, and was afterwards left by him at Ephesus, to continue and perfect the work which Paul had begun in that city, 1Ti 1:3; 3:14. He appears to have possessed in a very high degree the confidence and affection of Paul, and is therefore often mentioned by him in terms of warm commendation, Ac 16:1; 17:14-15; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4; 2Ti 3:10; 4:5.
EPISTLES TO TIMOTHY. The first of these Paul seems to have written subsequently to his first imprisonment at Rome, and while he was in Macedonia, having left Timothy at Ephesus, 1Ti 1:2, A. D. 64. The second appears to have been addressed to Timothy in northwestern Asia Minor, during Paul's second imprisonment and in anticipation of martyrdom, A. D. 67. This dying charge of the faithful apostle to his beloved son in the gospel, the latest fruit of his love for him and for the church, we study with deep emotions. Both epistles are most valuable and instructive documents for the direction and admonition of every Christian, and more especially of ministers of the gospel. With the epistle to Titus, they form the three "pastoral epistles," as they are called.
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honouring God, a young disciple who was Paul's companion in many of his journeyings. His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are mentioned as eminent for their piety (2Ti 1:5). We know nothing of his father but that he was a Greek (Ac 16:1). He is first brought into notice at the time of Paul's second visit to Lystra (Ac 16:2), where he probably resided, and where it seems he was converted during Paul's first visit to that place (1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 3:11). The apostle having formed a high opinion of his "own son in the faith," arranged that he should become his companion (Ac 16:3), and took and circumcised him, so that he might conciliate the Jews. He was designated to the office of an evangelist (1Ti 4:14), and went with Paul in his journey through Phrygia, Galatia, and Mysia; also to Troas and Philippi and Berea (Ac 17:14). Thence he followed Paul to Athens, and was sent by him with Silas on a mission to Thessalonica (Ac 17:15; 1Th 3:2). We next find him at Corinth (1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1) with Paul. He passes now out of sight for a few years, and is again noticed as with the apostle at Ephesus (Ac 19:22), whence he is sent on a mission into Macedonia. He accompanied Paul afterwards into Asia (Ac 20:4), where he was with him for some time. When the apostle was a prisoner at Rome, Timothy joined him (Php 1:1), where it appears he also suffered imprisonment (Heb 13:23). During the apostle's second imprisonment he wrote to Timothy, asking him to rejoin him as soon as possible, and to bring with him certain things which he had left at Troas, his cloak and parchments (2Ti 4:13). According to tradition, after the apostle's death he settled in Ephesus as his sphere of labour, and there found a martyr's grave.
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First mentioned (Ac 16:1) as dwelling in Lystra (not Derbe, Ac 20:4; compare 2Ti 3:11). His mother was Eunice, a Jewess (2Ti 1:5); his father a Greek, i.e. a Gentile; he died probably in Timothy's early years, as he is not mentioned later. Timothy is called "a disciple," so that his conversion must have been before the time of Ac 16:1, through Paul (1Ti 1:2, "my own son in the faith") probably at the apostle's former visit to Lystra (Ac 14:6), when also we may conjecture his Scripture-loving mother Eunice and grandmother Lois were converted from Judaism to Christianity (2Ti 3:14-15; 1:5): "faith made its "dwelling" (enookesen; Joh 14:23) first in Lois and Eunice," then in Timothy also through their influence.
The elders ordained in Lystra and Iconium (Ac 14:21-23; 16:2) thenceforth superintended him (1Ti 4:14); their good report and that of the brethren, as also his origin, partly Jewish partly Gentile, marked him out as especially suited to assist Paul in missionary work, labouring as the apostle did in each place, firstly among the Jews then among the Gentiles. The joint testimony to his character of the brethren of Lystra and Iconium implies that already he was employed as "messenger of the churches," an office which constituted his subsequent life work (2Co 8:23). To obviate Jewish prejudices (1Co 9:20) in regard to one of half Israelite parentage, Paul first circumcised him, "for they knew all that his father was a Greek." This was not inconsistent with the Jerusalem decree which was the Gentiles' charter of liberty in Christ (Acts 15); contrast the case of Titus, a Gentile on both sides, and therefore not circumcised (Ga 2:3).
Timothy accompanied Paul in his Macedonian tour; but he and Silas stayed behind in Berea, when the apostle went forward to Athens. Afterward, he went on to Athens and was immediately sent back (Ac 17:15; 1Th 3:1) by Paul to visit the Thessalonian church; he brought his report to Paul at Corinth (1Th 3:2,6; Ac 18:1,5). (See THESSALONIANS, FIRST EPISTLE.) Hence both the epistles to the Thessalonians written at Corinth contain his name with that of Paul in the address. During Paul's long stay at Ephesus Timothy "ministered to him" (Ac 19:22), and was sent before him to Macedonia and to Corinth "to bring the Corinthians into remembrance of the apostle's ways in Christ" (1Co 4:17; 16:10).
His name accompanies Paul's in the heading of 2Co 1:1, showing that he was with the apostle when he wrote it from Macedonia (compare 1Co 16:11); he was also with Paul the following winter at Corinth, when Paul wrote from thence his epistle to the Romans, and sends greetings with the apostle's to them (1Co 16:21). On Paul's return to Asia through Macedonia he went forward and waited for the apostle at Troas (Ac 20:3-5). At Rome Timothy was with Paul during his imprisonment, when the apostle wrote his epistles to the Colossians (Col 1:1), Philemon (Phm 1:1), and Philippians (Php 1:1). He was imprisoned with Paul (as was Aristarchus: Col 4:10) and set free, probably soon after Paul's liberation (Heb 13:23). Paul was then still in Italy (Heb 13:24) waiting for Timothy to join him so as to start for Jerusalem. They were together at Ephesus, after his departing eastward from Italy (1Ti 1:3).
Paul left Timothy there to superintend the church temporarily as the apostle's locum tenens or vicar apostolic (1Ti 1:3), while he himself went to Macedonia and Philippi, instead of sending Timothy as he had intended (Php 2:19,23-24). The office at Ephesus and Crete (Tit 1:5) became permanent on the removal of the apostles by death; "angel" (Re 1:20) was the transition stage between "apostle" and our "bishop." The last notice of Timothy is Paul's request (2Ti 4:13,21) that he should "do his diligence to come before winter" and should "bring the cloak" left with Carpus at Troas, which in the winter Paul would so much need in his dungeon: about A.D. 67 (Alford). Eusebius (Ecclesiastes Hist. iii. 43) makes him first bishop of Ephesus, if so John's residence and death must have been later. Nicephorus (Ecclesiastes Hist. iii. 11) reports that he was clubbed to death at Diana's feast, for having denounced its licentiousness.
Possibly (Calmet) Timothy was "the angel of the church at Ephesus" (Revelation 2). The praise and the censure agree with Timothy's character, as it appears in Acts and the epistles. The temptation of such an ardent yet soft temperament would be to "leave his first love." Christ's promise of the tree of life to him that overcometh (Re 2:5,7) accords with 2Ti 2:4-6. Paul, influenced by his own inclination (Ac 16:3) and the prophets' intimations respecting him (1Ti 1:18; 4:14; 2Ti 1:6; compare Paul's own ease, Ac 13:1), with his own hands, accompanied with the presbytery's laying on of hands, ordained him "evangelist" (2Ti 4:5). His self-denying character is shown by his leaving home at once to accompany Paul, and his submitting to circumcision for the gospel's sake; also by his abstemiousness (1Ti 5:23) notwithstanding bodily "infirmities," so that Paul had to urge him to "use a little wine for his stomach's sake."
Timothy betrayed undue diffidence and want of boldness in his delicate position as a "youth" having to deal with seniors (1Ti 4:12), with transgressors (1Ti 5:20-21) of whom some were persons to whom he might be tempted to show "partiality." Therefore he needed Paul's monition that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2Ti 1:7). His timidity is glanced at in Paul's charge to the Corinthians (1Co 16:10-11), "if I come, see that he may be with you without fear, let no man, despise him." His training under females, his constitutional infirmity, susceptible soft temperament, amativeness, and sensitiveness even to "tears" (2Ti 1:4, probably at parting from Paul at Ephesus, where Paul had to "beseech" him to stay: 1Ti 1:3), required such charges as "endure hardness (hardship) as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2Ti 2:3-18,22), "flee youthful lusts," (1Ti 5:2) "the younger entreat as sisters, with all purity."
Paul bears testimony to his disinterested and sympathizing affection for both his spiritual father, the apostle, and those to whom he was sent to minister; with him Christian love was become "natural," not forced, nor "with dissimulation" (Php 2:19-23): "I trust to send Timothy shortly ... for I have no man like-minded who will naturally care for your state, for all seek their own not the things which are Jesus Christ's; but ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father he hath served with me in the gospel." Among his friends who send greetings to him were the Roman noble, Pudens, the British princess Claudia, and the bishop of Rome, Linus. (See PUDENS; CLAUDIA; LINUS.) Timothy "professed a good profession before many witnesses" at his baptism and his ordination, whether generally or as overseer at Ephesus (1Ti 1:18; 4:14; 6:12; 2Ti 1:6).
Less probably, Smith's Bible Dictionary states that it was at the time of his Roman imprisonment with Paul, just before Paul's liberation (Heb 13:23), on the ground that Timothy's "profession" is put into juxtaposition with Christ Jesus' "good confession before Pilate." But the argument is "fight the good fight of faith." seeing that "thou art called" to it, "and hast professed a good profession" (the same Greek, "confession." (homologia) at thy baptism and ordination; carry out thy profession, as in the sight of Christ who attested the truth at the cost of His life "before or under" (epi) Pilate. Christ's part was with His vicarious sacrifice to attest the good confession, i.e. Christianity; Timothy's to "confess" it and "fight the good fight of faith," and "keep the (gospel) commandment" (Joh 13:34; 1Ti 1:5; Tit 2:12; 2Pe 2:21; 3:2).
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A young disciple, a native of Lystra, chosen as companion and assistant by Paul when, during his second missionary journey, he visited that city for the second time. He was the child of a mixed marriage, his father (probably dead at the time of his selection by Paul) being a Greek and his mother a Jewess (Ac 16:1). From earliest childhood ('babe' RV) he had received religious training, being taught the Jewish Scriptures by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois (2Ti 1:5; 3:15). Probably both he and his mother were converted during Paul's first sojourn at Lystra, for on the Apostle's second visit he was already 'a disciple' of some standing, 'well reported of by the brethren' (Ac 16:1-2). Indeed, Paul seems to claim him as a personal convert in 1Co 4:17, describing him as his 'beloved and faithful child in the Lord.'
The selection of Timothy was due not only to the wish of Paul (Ac 16:3), but also to the opinion of the Church at Lystra. In his case, as in the case of Paul and Barnabas (Ac 13:2), the local prophets 'led the way' (1Ti 1:18 Revised Version margin) to him; and he was then set apart by imposition of hands by Paul (2Ti 1:6) in conjunction with the local presbyters (1Ti 4:14). Possibly it was on this occasion that he 'confessed the good confession' (1Ti 6:12). Paul caused him to be circumcised (Ac 16:3), judging that, as his mother was a Jewess, his not having submitted to the rite would prove an obstacle to his ministry among Jews, and, further, that from his semi-Jewish parentage, he did not come within the scope of the Church's decree which released Gentiles from circumcision.
Timothy at once accompanied Paul through Asia to Troas, and thence into Macedonia. He was left behind at Ber
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The disciple thus named was the son of one of those mixed marriages which, though condemned by stricter Jewish opinion were yet not uncommon in the later periods of Jewish history. The father's name is unknown; he was a Greek, i.e. a Gentile, by descent.
The absence of any personal allusion to the father in the Acts or Epistles suggests the inference that he must have died or disappeared during his son's infancy. The care of the boy thus devolved upon his mother Eunice and her mother Lois.
Under their training his education was emphatically Jewish. "From a child" he learned to "know the Holy Scriptures" daily. The language of the Acts leaves it uncertain whether Lystra or Derbe was the residence of the devout family. The arrival of Paul and Barnabas in Lycaonia, A.D. 44,
brought the message of glad tidings to Timothy and his mother, and they received it with "unfeigned faith."
During the interval of seven years between the apostle's first and second journeys the boy grew up to manhood. Those who had the deepest insight into character, and spoke with a prophetic utterance, pointed to him,
as others had pointed before to Paul and Barnabas,
as specially fit for the missionary work in which the apostle was engaged. Personal feeling led St. Paul to the same conclusion,
and he was solemnly set apart to do the work and possibly to bear the title of evangelist.
A great obstacle, however, presented itself. Timothy, though reckoned as one of the seed of Abraham, had been allowed to grow up to the age of manhood without the sign of circumcision. With a special view to the feelings of the Jews making no sacrifice of principle, the apostle, who had refused to permit the circumcision of Titus, "took and circumcised" Timothy.
Henceforth Timothy was one of his most constant companions. They and Silvanus, and probably Luke also, journeyed to Philippi,
and there the young evangelist was conspicuous at once for his filial devotion and his zeal.
His name does not appear in the account of St. Paul's work at Thessalonica, and it is possible that he remained some time at Philippi. He appears, however, at Berea, and remains there when Paul and Silas are obliged to leave,
going afterward to join his master at Athens.
From Athens he is sent back to Thessalonica, ibid., as having special gifts for comforting and teaching. He returns from Thessalonica, not to Athens, but to Corinth, and his name appears united with St. Paul's in the opening words of both the letters written from that city to the Thessalonians,
Of the next five years of his life we have no record. When we next meet with him, it is as being sent on in advance when the apostle was contemplating the long journey which was to include Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem and Rome.
It is probable that he returned by the same route and met St. Paul according to a previous arrangement,
and was thus with him when the Second Epistle was written to the church of Corinth.
He returns with the apostle to that city, and joins in messages of greeting to the disciples whom he had known personally at Corinth, and who had since found their way to Rome.
He forms one of the company of friends who go with St. Paul to Philippi, and then sail by themselves, waiting for his arrival by a different ship.
The absence of his name from
... leads to the conclusion that he did not share in the perilous voyage to Italy. He must have joined the apostle, however, apparently soon after his arrival at Rome, and was with him when the Epistles to the Philippians, to the Colossians and to Philemon were written.
Phil. ver. 1. All the indications of this period point to incessant missionary activity. From the two Epistles addressed to Timothy we are able to put together a few notices as to his later from
that he and his master after the release of the latter from his imprisonment, A.D. 63, revisited proconsular Asia; that the apostle then continued his Journey to Macedonia, while the disciple remained, half reluctantly, even weeping at the separation,
at Ephesus, to check, if possible, the outgrowth of heresy and licentiousness which had sprung up there. The position in which he found himself might well make him anxious. He used to rule presbyters most of whom were older than himself
Leaders of rival sects were there. The name of his beloved teacher was no longer honored as it had been. We cannot wonder that the apostle, knowing these trials should be full of anxiety and fear for his disciple's steadfastness. In the Second Epistle to him, A.D. 67 or 68, this deep personal feeling utters itself yet more fully. The last recorded words of the apostle express the earnest hope, repented yet more earnestly, that he might see him once again.
We may hazard the conjecture that he reached him in time, and that the last hours of the teacher were soothed by the presence of the disciple whom he loved so truly. Some writers have seen in
an indication that he even shared St. Paul's imprisonment, and was released from it by the death of Nero. Beyond this all is apocryphal and uncertain. He continued, according to the old traditions, to act as bishop of Ephesus, and died a martyr's death under Domitian or Nerva. A somewhat startling theory as to the intervening period of his life has found favor with some. If he continued, according to the received tradition, to be bishop of Ephesus, then he, and no other, must have been the "angel" of the church of Ephesus to whom the message of