Summary: Many believing spouses are “unequally yoked” and fear their kids will follow their lost spouse. Acts 16 describes a young man who grew up in an unequally yoked home, yet was of great value to the early church. A hopeful sermon for the unequally yoked.

Hope for the Unequally Yoked

Series: Acts

Chuck Sligh

October 2, 2016

BLURB: Many believing spouses “unequally yoked” to an unsaved spouse. They naturally fear their children will follow in the steps of the unbelieving partner. Yet in Acts 16, we read of a young man who grew up in an unequally yoked home, yet was of inestimable value to the early church. What was it in his upbringing or his character that caused him to defy the odds? Join us Sunday as Pastor Sligh preaches on “Timothy: A Young Man.”

(NOTE: A PowerPoint and/or ProPresenter slide presentation is available upon request at

TEXT: Acts 16:1-5 – “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 brethren 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.”

NOTE: We’ll also be in and out of 1 and 2 Timothy, so you may want to put a marker there.


Timothy is one of the most pleasant people to study in the Bible. I don’t know of one thing bad or negative that was ever said in the Bible about him, something that cannot even be said about the Apostle Paul.

Acts 16 introduces us to this young man who became like a son to Paul – Note Philippians 2:19-23 – “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. 22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath 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.”

Paul had complete confidence in Timothy; and saw him as a spiritual son in the faith. And he also saw him as a valuable co-laborer.

Later Timothy became the pastor of one of the churches that Paul had started. The books of 1 and 2 Timothy were written by Paul in a loving tone to his “son in the faith” on how to successfully pastor his church.

Yet as we’ll see, his mother was married to a non-believer. Often, Christians married to nonbelievers fear that their children will follow the steps of their unsaved spouse What was it in Timothy’s upbringing and in his character that made him defy the odds? Let’s look at Acts 16:1-5 a little more closely to find out…

I. NOTE FIRST OF ALL TIMOTHY’E DISCIPLESHIP – Acts 16:1 – “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.”

This verse says that Timothy was a “disciple.” Remember that being a disciple is more than merely being a believer. One becomes a BELIEVER by simply trusting in Christ. One becomes a DISCIPLE through strictly following the teachings of Christ.

Now Luke, the author of Acts, tells us that Timothy’s mother was a Jew who had become a believer in Jesus Christ, but his father was an unsaved Greek. That Timothy was a disciple gives hope to those of you who are married to unbelieving spouses.

The first key to Timothy’s rising above the influences of his unsaved dad is found in Timothy’s upbringing, which we’ll see in 2 Timothy 1 and 3:

In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul write to Timothy: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

In chapter 3, verses 14-15, Paul says this to Timothy: “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Timothy was discipled by his mother and grandmother! If you’re married to a nonbeliever, let me encourage you to not give up and to keep teaching your kids the Bible and keep them in church and encourage them to follow God—and most of all, to be an example to them of what it looks like to follow God.

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