For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:17
Paul was the most influential figure in the establishment of the early church. However, he didn’t work alone. He had several key partners who gave him very necessary support. We’ve been taking a closer look at some of these guys and learning how we can follow their examples even today. So far we’ve studied Barnabas and Silas.
This week, let’s talk about Timothy.
Timothy was from Lystra, a city in Asia Minor. Paul had stopped there on his first missionary trip and then again early in his second trip. Timothy’s mother and grandmother were devout Jews who had taught him the Hebrew scriptures from the time he was old enough to understand them. As a result, he was fully prepared for the gospel message that Paul brought. It is reasonable to suppose that he became a believer in Christ as a teenager, perhaps during Paul’s first visit.
We meet him in Acts 16:1 at the beginning of Paul’s second trip. He was called a disciple and we learn his mother was a Jewish believer and his father was Greek. This gave Timothy unique, insider familiarity with both cultures which would prove invaluable in his soon coming ministry.
What cultural background or experiences do we have that can open kingdom doors for us?
Your job, your hobbies, your education, where you go on vacation, your hometown, your life experiences … every single one can connect us with someone around us. Those relationships we build are foundational to sharing the gospel.
In the very next verse, we find out Timothy was highly regarded by the believers in Lystra and Iconium (a nearby town). This wouldn’t be possible unless Timothy was active and vocal about his faith.
Do we have a good reputation among other believers?
Are we known for our strong testimony? Can others count on us to participate in the work of our church? Are we generous? Does our character reflect positively on the gospel and on Christ?
In Acts 16:3, we learn that because of Timothy’s reputation and character, Paul wanted the young man to accompany him on the rest of the trip. This was not a casual invitation. No doubt they all remembered what happened the last time Paul was in Lystra when he was stoned and left for dead. (Acts 14:19). This would be gritty, hard work. Timothy took the opportunity.
Do we pass on ministry opportunities because they are difficult, or even dangerous?
Do we prefer the comfortable and the familiar to the unknown and living by faith? I admit I’m pretty fond of the comfortable and the familiar. But what are we missing when we shy away from taking a step of faith?
Acts 16:4 tells us Timothy hit the ground running. Paul immediately put him to work teaching. (After having him circumcised to give him the proper credibility with the Jews they would encounter.) And the following verse says the churches were strengthened and grew.
Do we eagerly take on new ministries God moves us into?
This was undoubtedly a challenging, faith-stretching opportunity for Timothy, but reading between the lines of Scripture, he seems to have taken right to it. Do we have that same enthusiasm and confidence?
Paul sent Timothy to Philippi as his proxy since he was in prison. In Philippians 2:20-22, Paul explains that no one else cares for their welfare like Timothy. Paul further said Timothy was a man singularly devoted to the things of Christ.
Are we known first and foremost for our compassion and for our unswerving commitment to Christ?
Paul also said Timothy was a man of proven worth. Have we proven ourselves as valuable team members when it comes to spreading the gospel?
In his deeply personal letters to Timothy, now a young pastor of the church at Ephesus, Paul calls him beloved and his true son in the faith.
Are we being mentored in the faith? Are we mentoring someone?
Jesus modeled that mentoring relationship first with his disciples. Paul followed that example with his young associates. We thrive when we learn from Scripture, then from others, then from practice and experience.
Paul loved Timothy like a son, and from his faithful loyalty to Paul, we know Timothy felt the same way. In chasing the references about Timothy, his character kept coming up as his distinguishing characteristic. When Paul charged him to be an example of the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12) Timothy took that charge seriously. What kind of example are we? Hopefully one like Timothy.
Next week: Titus