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Timothy

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(Τιμόθεος , i.e. Timotheus [q.v.], as the name is given in the A. V. Acts 16:1; Acts 17:14-15; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:22; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Philippians 1:1; Philippians 2:19; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:1), one of the most interesting of Paul's converts of whom we have an account in the New Test. Fortunately we have tolerably copious details of his history and relations in the frequent references to him in that apostle's letters to the various churches, as well as in those addressed to him personally.

1. His Early Life. The disciple thus named was the son of one of those mixed marriages which, though condemned by stricter Jewish opinion, and placing their offspring on all but the lowest step in the Jewish scale of precedence, were yet not uncommon in the later periods of Jewish history. The children of these marriages were known as manmerim ("bastards"), and stood just above the Nethinim. This was, however, caeteris paribus. A bastard who was a wise student of the law was, in theory, above an ignorant high-priest (Gem. Hieros. Horayoth, fol. 84, in Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. in Matthew 23:14); and the education of Timothy (2 Timothy 3:15) may therefore have helped to overcome the prejudice, which the Jews would naturally have against: him on this ground. The mother was a Jewess, but the father's name is unknown; he was a Greek, i.e. a. Gentile, by descent (Acts 16:1; Acts 16:3). If in any sense a. proselyte, the fact that the issue of the marriage did not receive the sign of the covenant would render it. probable that he belonged to the class of half-converts, the so-called Proselytes of the Gate, not those of Righteousness, if such a class as the former existed. (See PROSELYTE).

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, who are both mentioned as sincere believers (2 Timothy 1:5). Under their training his education was emphatically Jewish. "From a child" he learned (probably in the Sept. version) to "know the Holy Scriptures" daily. The language of the Acts leaves it uncertain whether Lystra or Derbe was the residence of the devout family. The latter has been inferred, but without much likelihood, from a possible construction of Acts 20:4, the former from Acts 16:1-2 (see Neander, Pflanz. und Leit. 1, 288; Alford and Huther, ad loc.). In either case the absence of any indication of the existence of a synagogue makes this devout consistency more noticeable. We may think here, as at Philippi, of the few devout women going forth to their daily worship at some river-side; oratory (Conybeare, and Howson, 1, 211). The reading παρὰ τίνων in 2 Timothy 3:14, adopted by Lachmann and Tischendorf, indicates that it was from them as well as from the apostle that the young disciple received his first impression of Christian truth. It would be, natural that a character thus fashioned should retain throughout something of a feminine piety. A constitution far from robust (1 Timothy 5:23), a morbid shrinking from opposition and responsibility (1 Timothy 4:12-16; 1 Timothy 5:20-21; 1 Timothy 6:11-14; 2 Timothy 2:1-7), a sensitiveness even to tears (2 Timothy 1:4), a tendency to an ascetic rigor which he had not strength to bear (1 Timothy 5:23), united, as it often is, with a temperament exposed to some risk (see the elaborate dissertation De Νεωτερικαῖς Ε᾿πιθυμίαις , by Bosius, in Hase, Thesaurus, vol. 2) from "youthful lusts" (2 Timothy 2:22) and the softer emotions (1 Timothy 5:2) these we may well think of as characterizing the youth as they afterwards characterized the man.

2. His Conversion and Ordination. The arrival of Paul and Barnabas in Lycaonia (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). A.D. 44. If at Lystra, as seems probable from 2 Timothy 3:11, he may have witnessed the half-completed sacrifice, the half-finished martyrdom of Paul (Acts 14:19). The preaching of the apostle on his return from his short circuit prepared him for a life of suffering (Acts 14:22). From that time his life and education must have been under the direct superintendence of the body of elders (Acts 14:23). During the interval of three years between the apostle's first and second journeys, the youth had greatly matured. His zeal, probably his asceticism, became known both at Lystra and Iconium. The mention of the two churches as united in testifying to his character (Acts 16:2) leads us to believe that the early work was prophetic, of the later, that he had already been employed in what was afterwards to be the great labor-of his life, as "the messenger of the churches," and that it was his tried fitness for that office which determined Paul's choice. 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 Paul to the same conclusion (16, 3), and he was solemnly set apart (the whole assembly of the elders laying their hands on him, as did the apostle himself) to do the work, and possibly to bear the title, of evangelist (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; 2 Timothy 4:5). Iconium has been suggested by Conybeare and Howson (1, 289) as the probable scene of the ordination.

A great obstacle, however, presented itself. Timothy, though inheriting, as it were, from the nobler side (Wettstein, ad loc.), and therefore reckoned as one jf the seed of Abraham, had been allowed to grow up to the age of manhood without the sign of circumcision, and in this point he might seem to be disclaiming the Jewish blood that was in him and choosing to take up his position as a heathen. Had that been his real position, it would have been utterly inconsistent with Paul's principle of action to urge on him the necessity of circumcision (1 Corinthians 7:18; Galatians 2:3; Galatians 5:2). As it was, his condition was that of a negligent, almost of an apostate, Israelite; and, though circumcision was nothing, and uncircumcision was nothing, it was a serious question whether the scandal of such a position should be allowed to frustrate all his efforts as an evangelist. The fact that no offence seems to have been felt hitherto is explained by the predominance of the Gentile element in the churches of Lycaonia (Acts 14:27). But his wider work would bring him into contact with the Jews, who had already shown themselves so ready to attack, and then the scandal would come out. They might tolerate a heathen, as such, in the synagogue or the church, but an uncircumcised Israelite would be to them a horror and a portent. With a special view to their feelings, making no sacrifice of principle, the apostle, who had refused to permit the circumcision of Titus, "took and circumcised" Timothy (16:3); and then, as conscious of no inconsistency, went on his was distributing the decrees of the council of Jerusalem, the great charter of the freedom of the Gentiles (Acts 14:4),

Henceforth Timothy was one of his most constant: companions. Not since he parted from Barnabas had he found one whose heart so answered to his own. If Barnabas had been as the brother and friend of early days, he had now found one whom he could claim as his own by a spiritual parentage (2 Timothy 1:2). He calls him "son Timothy" (1 Timothy 1:18); "my own son in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2); "my beloved son" (1 Corinthians 4:17); "my workfellow" (Romans 16:21); "my brother" (which is probably the sense of Τιμόθεος ἀδελφός in 2 Corinthians 1:1).

3. His Evangelistic Labors and Journeys. Continuing his second missionary tour, Paul now took Timothy with him, and, accompanied by Silvanus, and probably Luke also, journeyed at length to Philippi (Acts 16:12), where the young evangelist became conspicuous at once for his filial devotion and his zeal (Philippians 2:22). His name does not appear in the account of Paul's work at Thessalonica, and it is possible that he remained some time at Philippi, and then acted as the messenger by whom the members of that Church sent what they were able to give for the apostle's wants (Acts 4:15). He appears, however, at Beroea, and remains there when Paul and Silas are obliged to leave (Acts 17:14), going on afterwards to join his master in Greece (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Meanwhile he is sent back to Thessalonica (ibid.) an having special gifts for comforting and teaching. He returns from Thessalonica, not to Athens, but to Corinth, and his name appears united with 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). Dr. Wordsworth infers from 2 Corinthians 9:11 and Acts 18:5 that; Timothy brought contributions to the support of the-apostle from the Macedonian churches, and thus released him from his continuous labor as a tent-maker. Here, also, he was apparently active as an evangelist (2 Corinthians 1:19), and on him, probably, with some exceptions, devolved the duty of baptizing the new converts. (1 Corinthians 1:14).

Of the next four or five years of his life we have no record, and can infer nothing beyond a continuance of his active service as Paul's companion. When we again meet with him, it is as being sent on in. advance while the apostle was contemplating the long journey which was to include Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, and Rome (Acts 19:22). A.D. 54. He was sent to "bring" the churches "into remembrance of the ways" of the apostle (1 Corinthians 4:17). We trace in the words of the "father" an anxious desire to guard the son from the perils which, to his eager but sensitive temperament, would be most trying (1 Corinthians 16:10). His route would take him through the churches which he had been instrumental in founding, and this would give him scope for exercising the gifts which were afterwards to be displayed in a still more responsible office. It is probable, from the, passages already referred to, that, after accomplishing the special work assigned to him, he returned by the same route and met 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 Paul to Philippi and then sail by themselves, waiting for his arrival by a different ship (Acts 20:3-6). Whether he continued his journey to, Jerusalem, and what became of him during Paul's imprisonment at Caesarea, are points on which we must remain uncertain. The language of Paul's address to the elders of Ephesus (Acts 20:17-35) renders it unlikely that he was then left there with authority. The absence of his name from ch. 27 in like manner leads to the conclusion that he did not share in the perilous voyage to Italy. He must have joined him, however, apparently, soon after his arrival in 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. As before, so now, he is to precede the personal coming of the apostle, inspecting, advising, reporting (Philippians 2:19-23), caring especially for the Macedonian churches as no one else could care. The special messages of greeting sent to him at a later date (2 Timothy 4:21) show that at Rome also, as elsewhere, he had gained the warm affection of those among whom he ministered. Among those most eager to be thus remembered to him we find, according to a fairly supported hypothesis, the names of a Roman noble, Pudens (q.v.), of a future bishop of Rome, Linus (q.v.), and of the daughter of a British king, Claudia (Williams, Claudia and Pudens; Conybeare and Howson, 2, 501; Alford, Excursus" in Greek Test. 3, 104). It is interesting to think of the young evangelist as having been the instrument by which one who was surrounded by the fathomless impurity of the Roman world was called to a higher life, and the names which would otherwise have appeared only in the foul epigrams of Martial (1, 32; 4:13; 5, 48; 11:53)-raised to a perpetual honor in the salutations of an apostolic epistle. An article (They of Caesar's Household) in Journ. of Class. and Sacred Philology, No. 10 questions this hypothesis, on the ground that the epigrams are later than the epistles, and that they connect the name of Pudens with heathen customs and vices. On the other hand, it may be urged that-the bantering tone of the epigrams forbids us to take them as evidences of character. Pudens tells Martial that he does not "like his poems." "Oh, that is because you read too many at a time" (29). He begs him to correct their blemishes. "You want an autograph copy, then, do you?" (7, 11). The slave En or Eucolpos (the name is possibly a willful distortion of Eubulus) does what might be the fulfillment of a Christian vow (Acts 18:18), and this is the occasion of the suggestion which seems most damnatory (Martial, 5, 48). With this there mingles, however, as in 4:13; 6:58, the language of a more real esteem than is common in Martial (comp. some good remarks in Galloway, A Clergyman's Holidays, p. 35-49).

To the close of this period of Timothy's life we may probably refer the imprisonment of Hebrews 13:23, and the trial at which he "witnessed the good confession" not unworthy to be likened to that of the Great Confessor before Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13). Assuming the genuineness and the later date of the two epistles addressed to him (see below), we are able to put together a few notices as to his later life. It follows from 1 Timothy 1:3 that he and his master, after the release of the latter from his imprisonment, revisited the 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 time during which he was thus to exercise authority as the delegate of an apostle a vicar apostolic rather than a bishop was of uncertain duration (1 Timothy 3:14). The position in which he found himself might well make him anxious. He had to rule presbyters, most of whom were older than himself (1 Timothy 4:12), to assign to each a stipend in proportion to his work (1 Timothy 5:17), to receive and decide on charges that might be brought against them (1 Timothy 1:19-20), to regulate the almsgiving and the sisterhoods of, the Church (1 Timothy 1:3-10), to ordain presbyters and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13). There was the risk of being entangled in the disputes, prejudices, covetousness, sensuality, of a great city. There was the risk of injuring health and strength by an overstrained asceticism (1 Timothy 4:4; 1 Timothy 5:23). Leaders of rival sects were there Hymenaeus, Philetus, Alexander-to oppose and thwart him (1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:14-15). The name of his beloved teacher was no longer honored as it had been; the strong affection of former days had vanished and "Paul the aged" had become unpopular, the object of suspicion and dislike (comp. Acts 20:37; 2 Timothy 1:15). Only in the narrowed circle of the faithful few-Aquila, Priscilla, Mark, and others-who were still with him was he likely to find sympathy or support (1 Timothy 4:19). We cannot wonder that the apostle, knowing these trials, and, with his marvelous power of bearing another's burdens, making them his own, should be full of anxiety and fear for his disciple's steadfastness; that admonitions, appeals, warnings, should follow each other in rapid and vehement succession (1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 5:21; 1 Timothy 6:11). In the second epistle to him this deep personal feeling utters itself yet more fully. The friendship of twenty years was drawing to a close, and all memories connected with it throng upon the mind of the old man, now ready to be offered: the blameless youth (2 Timothy 3:15), the holy household (2 Timothy 1:5), the solemn ordination (2 Timothy 1:6), the tears at parting (2 Timothy 1:4). The last recorded words of the apostle express the earnest hope, repeated yet more earnestly, that he might see him once again (1 Timothy 4:9). Timothy is to come before winter, to bring with him the cloak for which in that winter there would be need (1 Timothy 4:13). 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 even seen in Hebrews 13:23 an indication that he shared Paul's imprisonment, and was released from it by the death of Nero (Conybeare and Howson, 2, 502; Neander, Pfanz. und Leit. 1, 552). Beyond this all is apocryphal and uncertain.

4. Legendary Notices. Timothy continued, according to the old traditions, to act as bishop of Ephesus (Euseb. Hist. Ecclesiastes 3, 4, 2; Const. Apost. 7:46; see Lange, De Timothy Episcopo Ephes. [Lips. 1755]), and died a martyr's death under Domitian or Nerva (Niceph. Hist. Ecclesiastes 3, 11; Photius, Cod. 254). The great festival of Artemis (the καταγώγιον of that goddess) led him to protest against the license and frenzy which accompanied it. The mob were roused to fury, and put him to deathwith clubs (comp. Polycrates and Simeon Metaphr. in Henschen's Acta Sanctorum, Jan. 24). Some later critics-Schleiermacher, Mayerhoff-have seen in him the author of the whole or part of the Acts (Olshausen, Commentary 2, 612).

A somewhat startling theory as to the intervening period of his life has found favor with Calmet (s.v. "Timothee"), Tillemont (2, 147), and others. If he continued, according to the received tradition, to be bishop of Ephesus, then he, and no other, must have been the "angel" of that Church to whom the message of Revelation 2:1-7 was addressed. It may be urged, as in some degree confirming this view, that both the praise and the blame of that message are such as harmonize with the impressions as to the character of Timothy derived from the Acts and the Epistles. The refusal to acknowledge the self-styled apostles, the abhorrence of the deeds of the Nicolaitans, the unwearied labor, all this belongs to "the man of God" of the Pastoral Epistles. Nor is the fault less characteristic. The strong language of Paul's entreaty would lead us to expect that the temptation of such a man would be to fall away from the glow of his "first love," the zeal of his first faith. The promise of the Lord of the churches is in substance the same as that implied in the language of the apostle (2 Timothy 2, 4-6). This conjecture, it should be added, has been passed over unnoticed by most of the recent commentators on the Apocalypse (comp. Alford and Wordsworth, ad loc.). Trench (Seven Churches of Asia, p. 64) contrasts the "angel" of Revelation 2 with Timothy as an "earlier angel" who, with the generation to which he be longed, had passed away when the Apocalypse was written. It must be remembered, however, that, at the time of Paul's death, Timothy was still" young," probably not more than thirty-five; that he might, therefore, well be living, even on the assumption of the later date of the Apocalypse, and that the traditions (valeant quantum) place his death after that date. Bengel admits this, but urges the objection that he was not the bishop of any single diocese, but the superintendent of many churches. This, however, may in its turn be traversed by the answer that the death of Paul may have made a great difference in the work of one who had hitherto been employed in traveling as his representative. The special charge committed to him in the Pastoral Epistles might not unnaturally give fixity to a life which had previously been wandering.

An additional fact connected with the name of Timothy is that two of the treatises of the Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite are addressed to him (De Hierarch. Cael. 1, 1; comp. Le Norry, Dissert. c. 9 and Halloix, Quaest. 4 in Migne's edition).

5. Literature. In addition to the works above cited, see Klaufing, De Timothy Μαρτυρ. (Vitemb. 1713); Seelen, De Tint. Confessore (Lubec. 1733); Hausdorf, De Ordinatione Timothy (Vitemb. 1754); Witsius, Miscell. Sacr. 2, 438; also his Exercit. Acad. p. 316 sq.; Mosheim, Einleit. in den 1. Br. an Tims. (Hamb. 1754), p. 4 sq.; Bertholdt, Einleit. 6:349 sq.; Heydenreich, Lebenl d. Timotheus, in Tzschirner's Memorab. VIII, 2, 19-76; Evans, Script. Biog. vol. 1; Lewin, St. Paul (see Index); Plumptre, Bible Educator (see Index); and especially Howson, Companions of St. Paul (Lond. 1871), ch. 12. (See PAUL).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Timothy'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/t/timothy.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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