Timothy - Companion of the Apostle Paul

Profile of Timothy, Young Evangelist and Paul's Protege

Timothy and Paul
The Apostle Paul mentors Timothy, his son in the faith, 2 Timothy 4:7. Public Domain

Many great leaders act as mentors to someone younger, and such was the case with the Apostle Paul and his "true son in the faith," 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 group of pagans were 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.

Timothy's 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.

Timothy's 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:

Lystra

Referenced 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)

(Sources: Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, Editor; Illustrated Bible Dictionary by M.G. Easton; and Smith's Bible Dictionary by William Smith.)

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.