What was the role of Timothy in the infant church?

Timothy, in Greek is Timotheus, which means “honored of God.” His father was Greek but his mother was Jewish. He was a native of Lystra in Lycaonia (Anatolia). Paul wrote that Timothy had a “genuine faith,” similar to his mother  and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:1-5). These women – Eunice and Lois – taught Timothy the Scriptures “from infancy” (2 Timothy 3:15).

Timothy’s conversion and early ministry

Timothy was most likely converted by Paul during his visit to Lystra and Derbe in the First Missionary Journey (Acts 14:6). And for this reason, Paul called him “my beloved son” (1 Cor. 4:17) and “my own son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2). He was young (1 Tim. 4:12), probably not more than 18 or 20, since his youth is still spoken of about a dozen years later in 1 Tim. 4:12. Timothy had not been circumcised. So, Paul made sure that he would be (Acts 16:1–3) so that the Jews would listen to his preaching.

But in the almost two years that had passed since Paul’s departure from Lystra, Timothy had become well known of for his love for God and “unfeigned faith” (2 Tim. 1:5). The fact that he was well thought of by the brethren at Iconium as well as Lystra (Acts 16:2) suggests that he worked in the two churches.

Paul’s companion and co-worker

Timothy is spoken of as a fellow worker with Paul (Rom. 16:21), and was the companion of his labors in the Second and Third Missionary Journeys at least as far as Troas (Acts 20:4, 5). Paul appreciated Timothy’s ministry and wrote to the Philippians about Timothy, “I have no one like him” (Philippians 2:19–23).

Timothy, is the recipient of the two New Testament letters bearing his name. Paul writes to him as though he was physically weak maybe due to his missionary work (1 Tim. 5:23). Timothy was tried with difficulties that caused him pain (2 Tim. 1:4), but Paul asked the churches to support him as he worked for the Lord (1 Cor. 16:10).

Also, he was Paul’s messenger to Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17), and in 2 Cor. 1:1 he is joined with Paul in the greeting to that church. He was also a messenger between Paul and the church in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:2, 6), and must have been at Rome with Paul during his first imprisonment there, for Paul mentioned him in Philippians (chs. 1:1; 2:19), Colossians (ch. 1:1), and Philemon (v. 1). Paul also refers to his being in prison (Heb. 13:23).

The historian Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History iii. 4. 5) records that Timothy was the first bishop of Ephesus. He is said to have died as a martyr by the Ephesian people around the year AD 97.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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