We are going to take a look over the next few weeks at Timothy and the contents of Paul’s letters to him. Although this will still be partially devotional in character, it is also intended to help people to have a deeper understanding of the teaching of God’s Word.
We first read about Timothy during Paul’s second missionary journey [see Acts 16:1-4]. Timothy came from a town called Lystra, in what is modern-day Turkey, and had a godly heritage. His grandmother, Lois, and his mother Eunice were women of genuine faith [2 Timothy 1:5] and Timothy himself was already following Jesus and spoken well of by the leaders of the church in Lystra when Paul first met him.
Paul wanted Timothy to travel together with him and Silas but because Timothy’s father was Greek he was uncircumcised and this would have caused offence to the Jews among whom Paul was ministering in that area. For this reason Paul circumcised Timothy.
Paul became like a father to Timothy and several times called him his “son in the Lord” [1 Timothy 1:2,18; 2 Timothy 1:2:1]. There was a special bond between them, and Paul trusted him to go on important missions. Paul wrote to the Colossians whilst a prisoner in Rome and Timothy was with him at that difficult time [Colossians 1:1]. Writing to the Philippians about Timothy Paul said of him:
“ I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News” [Phil. 3:20-22].
We also know that Timothy was himself imprisoned for his faith at some point, but it is unclear exactly when that was [see Hebrews 13:23].
Paul had sent Timothy to Ephesus to represent him and to oversee some difficult issues in the church there, and wrote his letters to Timothy to encourage him in this task and to give him fatherly advice.
Why was it important that Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy? Is it relevant to us today that people need to be fathered spiritually?
What was it about Timothy’s spiritual character that attracted Paul to him? Could the same things be said about you?
Do you think that it was necessary for Paul to circumcise Timothy, and if so why? Can you think of similar situations today where it might be necessary to take unusual steps in order to identify with people from a different culture to our own in order to win them for Christ?