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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Timothy

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First mentioned (Acts 16:1) as dwelling in Lystra (not Derbe, Acts 20:4; compare 2 Timothy 3:11). His mother was Eunice, a Jewess (2 Timothy 1:5); his father a Greek, i.e. a Gentile; he died probably in Timothy's early years, as he is not mentioned later. Timothy is called "a disciple," so that his conversion must have been before the time of Acts 16:1, through Paul (1 Timothy 1:2, "my own son in the faith") probably at the apostle's former visit to Lystra (Acts 14:6), when also we may conjecture his Scripture-loving mother Eunice and grandmother Lois were converted from Judaism to Christianity (2 Timothy 3:14-15; 2 Timothy 1:5): "faith made its "dwelling" (enookesen ; John 14:23) first in Lois and Eunice," then in Timothy also through their influence.

The elders ordained in Lystra and Iconium (Acts 14:21-23; Acts 16:2) thenceforth superintended him (1 Timothy 4:14); their good report and that of the brethren, as also his origin, partly Jewish partly Gentile, marked him out as especially suited to assist Paul in missionary work, labouring as the apostle did in each place, firstly among the Jews then among the Gentiles. The joint testimony to his character of the brethren of Lystra and Iconium implies that already he was employed as "messenger of the churches," an office which constituted his subsequent life work (2 Corinthians 8:23). To obviate Jewish prejudices (1 Corinthians 9:20) in regard to one of half Israelite parentage, Paul first circumcised him, "for they knew all that his father was a Greek." This was not inconsistent with the Jerusalem decree which was the Gentiles' charter of liberty in Christ (Acts 15); contrast the case of Titus, a Gentile on both sides, and therefore not circumcised (Galatians 2:3).

Timothy accompanied Paul in his Macedonian tour; but he and Silas stayed behind in Berea, when the apostle went forward to Athens. Afterward, he went on to Athens and was immediately sent back (Acts 17:15; 1 Thessalonians 3:1) by Paul to visit the Thessalonian church; he brought his report to Paul at Corinth (1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; Acts 18:1; Acts 18:5). (See THESSALONIANS, FIRST EPISTLE.) Hence both the epistles to the Thessalonians written at Corinth contain his name with that of Paul in the address. During Paul's long stay at Ephesus Timothy "ministered to him" (Acts 19:22), and was sent before him to Macedonia and to Corinth "to bring the Corinthians into remembrance of the apostle's ways in Christ" (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10).

His name accompanies Paul's in the heading of 2 Corinthians 1:1, showing that he was with the apostle when he wrote it from Macedonia (compare 1 Corinthians 16:11); he was also with Paul the following winter at Corinth, when Paul wrote from thence his epistle to the Romans, and sends greetings with the apostle's to them (1 Corinthians 16:21). On Paul's return to Asia through Macedonia he went forward and waited for the apostle at Troas (Acts 20:3-5). At Rome Timothy was with Paul during his imprisonment, when the apostle wrote his epistles to the Colossians (Colossians 1:1), Philemon (Philemon 1:1), and Philippians (Philippians 1:1). He was imprisoned with Paul (as was Aristarchus: Colossians 4:10) and set free, probably soon after Paul's liberation (Hebrews 13:23). Paul was then still in Italy (Hebrews 13:24) waiting for Timothy to join him so as to start for Jerusalem. They were together at Ephesus, after his departing eastward from Italy (1 Timothy 1:3).

Paul left Timothy there to superintend the church temporarily as the apostle's locum tenens or vicar apostolic (1 Timothy 1:3), while he himself went to Macedonia and Philippi, instead of sending Timothy as he had intended (Philippians 2:19; Philippians 2:23-24). The office at Ephesus and Crete (Titus 1:5) became permanent on the removal of the apostles by death; "angel" (Revelation 1:20) was the transition stage between "apostle" and our "bishop." The last notice of Timothy is Paul's request (2 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:21) that he should "do his diligence to come before winter" and should "bring the cloak" left with Carpus at Troas, which in the winter Paul would so much need in his dungeon: about A.D. 67 (Alford). Eusebius (Ecclesiastes Hist. iii. 43) makes him first bishop of Ephesus, if so John's residence and death must have been later. Nicephorus (Ecclesiastes Hist. iii. 11) reports that he was clubbed to death at Diana's feast, for having denounced its licentiousness.

Possibly (Calmet) Timothy was "the angel of the church at Ephesus" (Revelation 2). The praise and the censure agree with Timothy's character, as it appears in Acts and the epistles. The temptation of such an ardent yet soft temperament would be to "leave his first love." Christ's promise of the tree of life to him that overcometh (Revelation 2:5; Revelation 2:7) accords with 2 Timothy 2:4-6. Paul, influenced by his own inclination (Acts 16:3) and the prophets' intimations respecting him (1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; compare Paul's own ease, Acts 13:1), with his own hands, accompanied with the presbytery's laying on of hands, ordained him "evangelist" (2 Timothy 4:5). His self-denying character is shown by his leaving home at once to accompany Paul, and his submitting to circumcision for the gospel's sake; also by his abstemiousness (1 Timothy 5:23) notwithstanding bodily "infirmities," so that Paul had to urge him to "use a little wine for his stomach's sake."

Timothy betrayed undue diffidence and want of boldness in his delicate position as a "youth" having to deal with seniors (1 Timothy 4:12), with transgressors (1 Timothy 5:20-21) of whom some were persons to whom he might be tempted to show "partiality." Therefore he needed Paul's monition that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). His timidity is glanced at in Paul's charge to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:10-11), "if I come, see that he may be with you without fear, let no man, despise him." His training under females, his constitutional infirmity, susceptible soft temperament, amativeness, and sensitiveness even to "tears" (2 Timothy 1:4, probably at parting from Paul at Ephesus, where Paul had to "beseech" him to stay: 1 Timothy 1:3), required such charges as "endure hardness (hardship) as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3-18; 2 Timothy 2:22), "flee youthful lusts," (1 Timothy 5:2) "the younger entreat as sisters, with all purity."

Paul bears testimony to his disinterested and sympathizing affection for both his spiritual father, the apostle, and those to whom he was sent to minister; with him Christian love was become "natural," not forced, nor "with dissimulation" (Philippians 2:19-23): "I trust to send Timothy shortly ... for I have no man like-minded who will naturally care for your state, for all seek their own not the things which are Jesus Christ's; but ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father he hath served with me in the gospel." Among his friends who send greetings to him were the Roman noble, Pudens, the British princess Claudia, and the bishop of Rome, Linus. (See PUDENS; CLAUDIA; LINUS.) Timothy "professed a good profession before many witnesses" at his baptism and his ordination, whether generally or as overseer at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 1:6).

Less probably, Smith's Bible Dictionary states that it was at the time of his Roman imprisonment with Paul, just before Paul's liberation (Hebrews 13:23), on the ground that Timothy's "profession" is put into juxtaposition with Christ Jesus' "good confession before Pilate." But the argument is "fight the good fight of faith." seeing that "thou art called" to it, "and hast professed a good profession" (the same Greek, "confession." (homologia ) at thy baptism and ordination; carry out thy profession, as in the sight of Christ who attested the truth at the cost of His life "before or under" (epi ) Pilate. Christ's part was with His vicarious sacrifice to attest the good confession, i.e. Christianity; Timothy's to "confess" it and "fight the good fight of faith," and "keep the (gospel) commandment" (John 13:34; 1 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:12; 2 Peter 2:21; 2 Peter 3:2).


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Timothy'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/t/timothy.html. 1949.

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