Summary: Profile of Timothy, co-worker with Paul, based on his family background and ministry.
Series on Paul’s Partners
Bible passages Acts 15:39-16:5, Phil 2:19-24, Tim 1:3-8
Tim – one of the most important and most interesting characters in the NT – story hard to piece together. Acts… in Paul’s letters, writer with Paul of 6 of them… 2 books letters written to him in Ephesus… even crops up in Hebrews.
Get a full picture have to put all this bits together.
Try to do that, then ask what we can learn from this young man turned church leader.
Name means “honouring God.”
A native of Lystra – those days was in the region of Lycaonia in the Roman province of Galatia – modern day Turkey.
Son of a mixed marriage. Father Greek, Mother Jewish. When Timothy was a child, his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois taught him the Scriptures (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). Brought him up in their faith.
He may have been converted on Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 14:6-23). Paul referred to Timothy as his child in the faith (1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2). This probably means that Paul was instrumental in Timothy’s conversion.
Grew quickly in the faith, when Paul came to Lystra on his second journey, Timothy was a disciple who was well respected by the believers (Acts 16:1-2).
Paul must have seen something special in this young believer and decided to take him under his wing – a kind of mentoring relationship. Paul asked Timothy to go with him. Says a lot about Timothy that he said yes, was willing to leave behind family, plans and ambitions to go with Paul.
Mixed family, brought up as a Jew but had not been circumcised. Caught between two stools – to the Gentiles Tim would have been considered a Jew, but to the Jew he would have been seen as worse than a Gentile – looked on as an apostate Jew – unfaithful to his people by not being circumcised. To Paul the outward sign of circumcision didn’t matter but he knew that they would be ministering to Jews and it would cause offence and difficulties if Tim wasn’t circumcised so he had to be circumcised before they could work together.
Timothy travelled with Paul and Silas through Asia Minor to Troas where Luke joined them. They sailed to Macedonia in Greece and went to Philippi and Thessalonica. Paul was forced to leave Thessalonica in a hurry and Tim and Silas had to be separated from him until they got to Athens. Paul then sent Tim on a responsible mission of his own back to Thessalonica to encourage the church. When Timothy reported encouraging news of the church in Thessalonica back to Paul that prompted Paul to write to the church – 1 Thess.
Tim stayed with Paul through most of his time in Corinth and Ephesus. Sent from Eph to Cor. At the time Paul wrote 1 Cor. – suggests Tim may not have been a very forceful person – tells the Corinthian church not to despise Tim but to put him at his ease (1 Cor 16:10-11).
Suggested also in 2 Tim 1:6-8 (read) – was he naturally timid? If so, good to remember God doesn’t only use people who are extrovert and confident.
Later when Paul was in prison, he sent Timothy to Philippi (Phil. 2:19). Paul said that no one had any more compassion and commitment than Timothy (read Phil. 2:20-22).
Paul and Timothy were so close that both names are listed as the authors of six of Paul’s letters (2 Cor, Phil; Col; 1 Thess; 2 Thess; Philem). In addition, Paul wrote two letters to Timothy.
Paul gave Tim responsible tasks to do - 1 Tim 1:3 gave him the task of being leader of the church at Ephesus – a church that was very special to Paul – a responsible commission. Central part of Timothy’s work was upholding truth and keeping the church from false teachings.
Late in Paul’s life he trusted Timothy to tidy up some of his affairs – called him to his condemned cell in Rome and to collect on his way a cloak and books and parchments he had left at Troas. We can’t be sure whether Timothy ever reached Rome in time to see Paul alive – it wasn’t just the things he wanted, it was Tim himself.
At some point in his life, Timothy was put in prison for his faith – didn’t always have it easy. Heb. 13:23 “Our brother Timothy has been released”. Last we hear of Timothy still involved in active and hazardous gospel ministry.
What can we learn?
1. Useful to God when he was young and when he was older
1 Tim 4:12 “don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young”
God doesn’t measure us by our age – young or old. God can make our lives special whether we are young or old or in between. Wrong to judge people by their age – live in society where people can’t get a job if they’re over 50 – or even over 35 in some cases, and yet people are living longer. Also society is saying can’t really be useful until you’re about 21 finished long education.