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Smith's Bible Dictionary

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Timothy The Epistles of Paul to
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Tim'othy. The disciple thus named was the son of one of those mixed marriages which, though condemned by stricter Jewish opinion, were yet not uncommon, in the later periods, of Jewish history. The father's name is unknown; he was a Greek, that is, a Gentile, by descent. Acts 16:1; Acts 16:3. The absence of any personal allusion to the father in the Acts or Epistles suggests the inference that, he must have died, or disappeared, during his son's infancy. The care of the boy, thus, devolved upon his mother, Eunice , and her mother, Lois. 2 Timothy 1:5. Under their training, his education was emphatically Jewish. "From a child," he learned to "know the Holy Scriptures" daily. The language of the Acts leaves it uncertain whether Lystra or Derbe was the residence of this devout family.

The arrival of Paul and Barnabas in Lycaonia, A.D. 44, Acts 14:6, brought the message of glad tidings to Timothy and his mother, and they received it with "unfeigned faith." 2 Timothy 1:5. During the interval of seven years between the apostle's first and second journeys, the boy grew up to manhood. Those who had the deepest insight into character, and spoke with a prophetic utterance, pointed to him, 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 4:14, as others had pointed, before, to Paul and Barnabas, Acts 13:2, as specially fit for the missionary work, in which the apostle was engaged.

Personal feeling led St. Paul to the same conclusion, Acts 16:3, and he was solemnly set apart to do the work, and possibly, to bear the title of evangelist. 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; 2 Timothy 4:5. A great obstacle, however, presented itself. Timothy, though reckoned as one of the seed of Abraham, had been allowed to grow up to the age of manhood, without the sign of circumcision. With a special view to the feelings of the Jews, making no sacrifice of principle, the apostle, who had refused to permit the circumcision of Titus, "took and circumcised" Timothy. Acts 16:3.

Henceforth, Timothy was one of his most constant companions. They, and Silvanus, and probably Luke also, journeyed to Philippi, Acts 16:12, and there, the young evangelist was conspicuous, at once, for his filial devotion and his zeal. Philippians 2:22. His name does not appear in the account of St. Paul's work at Thessalonica, and it is possible that he remained some time at Philippi.

He appears, however, at Berea, and remains there when Paul and Silas are obliged to leave, Acts 17:14, going afterward, to join his master at Athens. 1 Thessalonians 3:2. From Athens, he is sent back to Thessalonica, as having special gifts for comforting and teaching. He returns from Thessalonica, not to Athens, but to Corinth, and his name appears united with St. Paul's in the opening words of both the letters written from that city to the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1.

Of the next five years of his life, we have no record. When we next meet with him, it is as being sent on, in advance, when the apostle was contemplating the long journey, which was to include Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem and Rome. Acts 19:22. It is probable that he returned by the same route, and met St. Paul according to a previous arrangement, 1 Corinthians 16:11, and was thus with him when the Second Epistle was written to the church of Corinth. 2 Corinthians 1:1.

He returns with the apostle to that city, and joins in messages of greeting to the disciples whom he had known personally at Corinth, and who had since found their way to Rome. Romans 16:21. He forms one of the company of friends, who go with St. Paul to Philippi, and then sail by themselves, waiting for his arrival by a different ship. Acts 20:3-6. The absence of his name from Acts 27:1, leads to the conclusion tha, t he did not share in the perilous voyage to Italy.

He must have joined the apostle, however, apparently soon after his arrival at Rome, and was with him when the Epistles to the Philippians, to the Colossians and to Philemon were written. Philippians 1:1; Philippians 2:19; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1. All the indications of this period, point to incessant missionary activity. From the two Epistles addressed to Timothy, we are able to put together a few notices as to his later from 1 Timothy 1:3, that he and his master, after the release of the latter, from his imprisonment, A.D. 63, revisited proconsular Asia; that the apostle , then continued his Journey to Macedonia, while the disciple remained, half reluctantly, even weeping at the separation, 2 Timothy 1:4, at Ephesus, to check, if possible, the outgrowth of heresy and licentiousness which had sprung up there.

The position in which he found himself might well make him anxious. He used to rule presbyters, most of whom were older than himself 1 Timothy 4:12. Leaders of rival sects were there. The name of his beloved teacher was no longer honored as it had been. We cannot wonder that the apostle, knowing these trials should be full of anxiety and fear for his disciple's steadfastness. In the Second Epistle to him, A.D. 67 or 68, this deep personal feeling utters itself yet more fully.

The last recorded words of the apostle express the earnest hope, repented yet more earnestly, that he might see him once again. 2 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 4:21. We may hazard the conjecture that, he reached him in time, and that the last hours of the teacher were soothed, by the presence of the disciple, whom he loved so truly. Some writers have seen in Hebrews 13:23, an indication that he even shared St. Paul's imprisonment, and was released from i, t by the death of Nero.

Beyond this, all is apocryphal and uncertain. He continued, according to the old traditions, to act as bishop of Ephesus, and died a martyr's death, under Domitian or Nerva. A somewhat startling theory as to the intervening period of his life has found favor with some. If he continued, according to the received tradition, to be bishop of Ephesus, then he, and no other, must have been the "angel" of the church of Ephesus, to whom the message of Revelation 2:1-7 was addressed.

Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'Timothy'. Smith's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​sbd/​t/timothy.html. 1901.
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