Timothy was the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother (Acts 16). His mother was Eunice which means “good victory.” His father may have been a heathen gentile or a gentile “that feared God” (Acts 10:2). However, he was not a full proselyte because he had not been circumcised. Apparently, Lois (grandmother) and Eunice (mother) were devout Christians (2 Timothy 1:5). And they had been faithful in instructing Timothy with the Christian education that is built on the scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15).
Timothy was probably converted by Paul during his visit to Lystra and Derbe in the First Missionary Journey (Acts 14:6). Paul called him “my beloved son” (1 Corinthians 4:17) and “my own son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2) because he was young (1 Timothy 4:12). At that time he was probably not more than 18 or 20 year of age.
But in the almost two years that had passed since Paul’s departure from Lystra, Timothy had grown in his devotion and “unfeigned faith” (2 Timothy 1:5) which was recognized by the church. Timothy was well known by the brethren at Iconium as well as Lystra (Acts 16:2).
The scriptures tell us that the disciple was a fellow worker with Paul (Romans 16:21). He was the companion of his labors in the Second and Third Missionary Journeys at least as far as Troas (Acts 20:4, 5). 1 Corinthians 4:17 reveals that he was Paul’s messenger to Corinth. And in 2 Corinthians 1:1 he is joined with Paul in the greeting to that church.
Timothy was also a messenger between Paul and the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:2, 6) and must have been at Rome with Paul during his first imprisonment there because he is mentioned in the epistle to the Philippians (chs. 1:1; 2:19), to the Colossians (ch. 1:1), and to Philemon (v. 1). In dealing with the churches, Paul advised him not give heed to unnecessary subjects that do not edify (2 Tim. 1:4).
Paul writes to him, and of him, as though he was not physically well (1 Timothy 5:23). But although his body was not strong, his faith was strong and he was willing to face hardships and responsibilities in the strength of Christ (1 Corinthians 16:10).
Hebrews 13:23 refers to the fact that this disciple went to prison but there is no indication to the duration of that period or its location. Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History iii. 4. 5) writes of him as the first bishop of Ephesus. It is believed that he suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Ephesian populace around the year AD 97.
Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.
In His service,