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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

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TIMOTHY . A young disciple, a native of Lystra, chosen as companion and assistant by Paul when, during his second missionary journey, he visited that city for the second time. He was the child of a mixed marriage, his father (probably dead at the time of his selection by Paul) being a Greek and his mother a Jewess ( Acts 16:1 ). From earliest childhood (‘babe’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) he had received religious training, being taught the Jewish Scriptures by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois ( 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15 ). Probably both he and his mother were converted during Paul’s first sojourn at Lystra, for on the Apostle’s second visit he was already ‘a disciple’ of some standing, ‘well reported of by the brethren’ ( Acts 16:1-2 ). Indeed, Paul seems to claim him as a personal convert in 1 Corinthians 4:17 , describing him as his ‘beloved and faithful child in the Lord.’

The selection of Timothy was due not only to the wish of Paul (Acts 16:3 ), but also to the opinion of the Church at Lystra. In his case, as in the case of Paul and Barnabas ( Acts 13:2 ), the local prophets ‘led the way’ ( 1 Timothy 1:18 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ) to him; and he was then set apart by imposition of hands by Paul ( 2 Timothy 1:6 ) in conjunction with the local presbyters ( 1 Timothy 4:14 ). Possibly it was on this occasion that he ‘confessed the good confession’ ( 1 Timothy 6:12 ). Paul caused him to be circumcised ( Acts 16:3 ), judging that, as his mother was a Jewess, his not having submitted to the rite would prove an obstacle to his ministry among Jews, and, further, that from his semi-Jewish parentage, he did not come within the scope of the Church’s decree which released Gentiles from circumcision.

Timothy at once accompanied Paul through Asia to Troas, and thence into Macedonia. He was left behind at BerÅ“a when the Apostle moved on to Athens, but was summoned to rejoin him (Acts 17:14-15 ). He was thence despatched back again to Macedonia to confirm the Church at Thessalonica, and to bring news of its state to Paul. He rejoined the Apostle in Corinth and cheered him by a favourable report ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3 , Acts 18:5 ). While in Corinth, Paul wrote his Epistles to the Thessalonians, and included Timothy in the greetings ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1 , 2 Thessalonians 1:1 ). He is next mentioned at Ephesus with Paul on his third missionary journey, and thence is sent with Erastus to Macedonia in advance of the Apostle ( Acts 19:22 ). Shortly after Timothy’s departure, Paul despatched by direct sea route his First Epistle to the Corinthians. In this he mentions that Timothy (travelling via Macedonia) would shortly reach them ( 1 Corinthians 4:17 ); he bespeaks a kindly welcome for him, and adds that he wishes him to return with ‘the brethren’ ( i.e. probably those who had borne the Epistle) to Ephesus ( 1 Corinthians 16:10-11; 1 Corinthians 16:8 ). Timothy may not have reached Corinth on this occasion, being detained in Macedonia; and the absence in the Second Epistle of all mention of his being there points in this direction. But in any case he is found with Paul again when 2 Cor. was written, in Macedonia ( 2 Corinthians 1:1 ). Paul in due course reached Corinth, and Timothy with him, for his name occurs among the greetings in the Epistle to the Romans which was then written (1 Romans 16:21; cf. Acts 20:2 ). Paul and he, after a three months’ sojourn, returned by land to Troas ( Acts 20:4-5 ). Timothy is not again mentioned in the Acts. It is clear from the Epistles of the Captivity that he was a companion of Paul during his imprisonment ( Colossians 1:1 , Philippians 1:1 , Philippians 1:1 ), and that the Apostle meditated sending him on a special mission to Philippi ( Philippians 2:19 ). From the Pastoral Epistles we learn that when Paul, after his release, came into Asia, he left Timothy as his delegate in Ephesus, giving him full instructions as to how he was to rule the Church during his absence, which he realized might be longer than he anticipated ( 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 3:14-15 ). When Paul was a second time imprisoned, and felt his death to be imminent, he summoned Timothy to his side ( 2 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 4:21 ). If Timothy ever reached the Apostle, he may have been then himself imprisoned, for we read ( Hebrews 13:23 ) of his being ‘set at liberty.’ Of his subsequent history nothing is known with certainty.

Charles T. P. Grierson.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Timothy'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​t/timothy.html. 1909.
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