Meet Timothy: Protege of the Apostle Paul

Young Evangelist and Paul's Protege in the Gospel

Paul Meets Timothy
Paul Meets Timothy.

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Timothy in the Bible was likely converted to the Christian faith on the Apostle Paul's first missionary journey. Many great leaders act as mentors to someone younger, and such was the case with Paul and his "true son in the faith," Timothy.

Question for Reflection

Paul’s affection for Timothy was unquestionable. In 1 Corinthians 4:17, Paul refers to Timothy as “my beloved and faithful child in the Lord.” Paul saw Timothy’s potential as a great spiritual leader and subsequently invested his whole heart in helping Timothy develop into the fullness of his calling. Has God placed a young believer in your life to encourage and guide as Paul mentored Timothy? 

As Paul planted churches around the Mediterranean and converted thousands to Christianity, he realized he needed a trustworthy person to carry on after he died. He chose the zealous young disciple Timothy. Timothy means "honoring God."

Timothy was the product of a mixed marriage. His Greek (Gentile) father is not mentioned by name. Eunice, his Jewish mother, and his grandmother Lois taught him the Scriptures from the time he was a young boy.

When Paul picked Timothy as his successor, he realized this young man would be trying to convert Jews, so Paul circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3). Paul also taught Timothy about church leadership, including the role of a deacon, the requirements of an elder, as well as many other important lessons about running a church. These were formally recorded in Paul's letters, 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy.

Church tradition holds that after Paul's death, Timothy served as bishop of the church at Ephesus, a seaport on the west coast of Asia Minor, until A.D. 97. At that time a pagan group was celebrating the feast of Catagogion, a festival in which they carried images of their gods about the streets. Timothy met and scolded them for their idolatry. They beat him with clubs, and he died two days later.

Accomplishments of Timothy in the Bible

Timothy acted as Paul's scribe and co-author of the books of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. He accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys, and when Paul was in prison, Timothy represented Paul at Corinth and Philippi.

For a time, Timothy was also imprisoned for the faith. He converted untold people to the Christian faith.

Strengths

Despite his young age, Timothy was respected by fellow believers. Well-grounded in Paul's teachings, Timothy was a reliable evangelist skilled at presenting the gospel.

Weaknesses

Timothy appeared to have been intimidated by his youthfulness. Paul urged him in 1 Timothy 4:12: "Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." (NLT)

He also struggled to overcome fear and timidity. Again, Paul encouraged him in 2 Timothy 1:6-7: "This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (NLT)

Life Lessons

We can overcome our age or other obstacles through spiritual maturity. Having a solid knowledge of the Bible is more important than titles, fame, or degrees. When your first priority is Jesus Christ, true wisdom follows.

Hometown

Timothy was from the town of Lystra.

References to Timothy in the Bible

Acts 16:1, 17:14-15, 18:5, 19:22, 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinithians 4:17, 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1, 1:19, Philemon 1:1, 2:19, 22; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 3:2, 6; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy; 2 Timothy; Hebrews 13:23.

Occupation

Traveling evangelist.

Family Tree

Mother - Eunice
Grandmother - Lois

Key Verses

1 Corinthians 4:17
For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (NIV)

Philemon 2:22
But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. (NIV)

1 Timothy 6:20
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. (NIV)