The Life of Timothy

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Timothy and his Grandmother by Rembrandt
Timothy and Grandmother by Rembrandt

Timothy was a native of Lystra. In the KJV New Testament, he is referenced a total of twenty-eight times (nine times using his well-known name and nineteen times as Timotheus). One church tradition suggests he was born around 17 A.D.

The mother of Timothy was a Jewess named Eunice. She later, however, became a Jewish Christian (Acts 16:1, 2Timothy 1:5). His father was a Greek (Gentile). The grandmother of Timothy, on his mother's side, was named Lois and she, too, became a Christian. Both women were likely converted during Paul's first evangelistic journey to the city in 46 A.D., when he healed a cripple man but soon after was stoned to death and resurrected (see Acts 14).


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According to Paul, Timothy was taught about the Scriptures when he was a child (2Timothy 3:14 - 15). Note that the Old Testament, which many people disregard, was the foundation on which salvation could be achieved! The first time Paul meets an unmarried Timothy is in Lystra, around early 50 A.D., soon after he began his second missionary journey

At the time Paul met Timothy they were roughly 48 and 33 years old, respectively. Based on the recommendation of several church members both in the city and in Iconium, Paul decides to take the young man with him as he travels preaching the gospel (Acts 16:2 - 3). Before this can happen, however, the apostle pays to have him circumcised (verse 3).

His unique character and service

The Bible records, after Timothy was ordained to serve by Paul and church brethren (1Timothy 4:14, 2Timothy 1:6), he ministered in at least five New Testament churches (1Thessalonians 3:1 - 2, 1Corinthians 4:17, Philippians 2:19 - 22, Acts 17:14 and 1Timothy 1:3).

Timothy accompanied Paul on most of his second journey travels after he left Lystra. Scripture then informs us he was with the apostle in Ephesus during his third missionary journey. While in the city he and a man named Erastus are sent by Paul to minister to brethren in Macedonia (Acts 19:22). Later on, he meets with others at Troas to accompany the apostle through Asia on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4 - 5).

Paul is imprisoned in Rome, beginning in 61 A.D., at the end of his fourth missionary journey (Acts 28:16 - 31). While he is in prison, he writes four epistles, three of which mention Timothy being with him (Philippians 1:1, 2:19, Colossians 1:1, Philemon 1:1). At the end of his fifth and final journey, while in Rome a second time just before his death, he requests his closest friend visit him and bring his personal copies of his writings (2Timothy 4:9, 13, 21).

Paul testified to those in Philippi regarding the unique Christian character of Timothy and his dedication to spreading the gospel. He said, "For I have no one who is likeminded, who has genuine concern for you . . . But you know the proof of him, that as a child with a father, he served with me in the gospel (Philippians 2:20, 22).

Death as a Martyr

Catholic tradition states Timothy died in Ephesus when he was over 80 years old (1913 Catholic Encyclopedia). According to the first chapter of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, he died in 97 A.D. upholding the truth of the Bible. Foxe's states he was the bishop of Ephesus and was murdered when he told a crowd of pagans that their idolatrous celebrations were ridiculous.

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