Parent Category: Bible
Category: Biblical People
Timothy, KJV frequently Timotheus. [Gr. Timotheos, "one who reverences God," "one who worships God," "one who honours God." The name occurs frequently in Greek inscriptions.]
A convert of, travelling companion of, and assistant to, the apostle Paul. Timothy is mentioned first in connection with Paul's visit to Lystra on his 2nd Missionary Journey, about a.d. 49, when Timothy was already a Christian believer (Acts 16:1). Apparently, he and members of the family had been converted by Paul upon the occasion of Paul's 1st visit to that city (Acts 14:8-18; cf. 1 Ti 1:2; 2 Ti 1:1, 5). Timothy was half Jewish, for his mother was a Jewess, but his father a "Greek" (Acts 16:1), that is, a non-Jew. He had been well trained in religious matters by his godly mother, Eunice, and his pious grandmother, Lois (Acts 16:1; 2 Ti 1:5), who had taught him the OT Scriptures (2 Ti 3:15), but his father seems to have objected to his being circumcised (see Acts 16:3). As a Christian young man, Timothy had already earned an excellent reputation among the believers at Lystra and nearby Iconium (v 2), and seeing in him a promising worker for God, Paul decided to associate Timothy with himself as an apprentice missionary. "Because of the Jews which were in those quarters," Paul circumcised the half-Jew Timothy (vs. 1, 3), in order to forestall unnecessary controversy on this point (v 3). Timothy accompanied Paul as he revisited the churches of that area (vs. 4, 5), as he penetrated into "Phrygia and the region of Galatia" (v 6), as he went to Troas (vs. 8, 9), and as he carried the gospel to the great Macedonian cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Beroea (chs 16:9 to 17:14). When Paul was unexpectedly forced to flee from Beroea for Athens, he left Timothy and Silas there (ch 17:14), but no sooner had he arrived in Athens than he sent for them to join him again (vs. 15, 16). Paul immediately sent Timothy back to Thessalonica with the purpose to strengthen the new believers in that city (1 Th 3:1, 2), and Silas and Timothy did not actually rejoin Paul in his labours until later at Corinth (Acts 18:5; see 1 Th 1:1; 3:6; 2 Th 1:1). Timothy may have remained in Greece when Paul returned to Jerusalem the following year.
We next hear of Timothy 4 or 5 years later, during the course of Paul's 3 years of ministry in Ephesus, whence Paul sent him across the Aegean Sea to settle problems that had arisen in the church at Corinth (1 Cor 4:17), a mission that seems not to have been altogether successful, as may be concluded from the severe tone of the latter part of 2 Cor (see Corinthians, Epistles to; cf. 1 Cor 16:10). Luke mentions the fact that Timothy and Erastus were sent to Macedonia (Acts 19:21, 22). Paul followed a little later (2 Cor 1:1), and they were together in Corinth (see Rom 16:21), probably during the winter of a.d. 57-58. In the following spring Paul, Timothy, and others began the return journey to Jerusalem, thus bringing Paul's 3rd Missionary Journey to a close (Acts 20:4). It is not known whether Timothy was with Paul during the apostle's imprisonment at Jerusalem and Caesarea and on his journey to Rome. We next hear of Timothy during the 1st imprisonment at Rome (about a.d. 61-63), probably toward its close when Paul mentions him, among other companions, in his epistles written during that imprisonment (Php 1:1; 2:19-23; Col 1:1; Phm 1). During the interval between Paul's 1st and 2nd imprisonments (about a.d. 63-66), Paul addressed his 1st Epistle to Timothy, possibly about a.d. 64. When Paul went into Macedonia (1 Ti 1:3), he asked Timothy to stay at Ephesus, apparently as pastor of the Ephesian church; the epistle contains instructions addressed to him in that capacity. But about a.d. 66, Paul was again arrested and taken to Rome, and toward the close of his 2nd imprisonment there he wrote Timothy a 2nd time, urgently appealing to him to come to him soon (2 Ti 4:9) since his other companions had been dispatched on missions to one place or another and one, at least, had forsaken him (vs. 10-13). At his first hearing, Paul had stood alone (v 16), and now, surmising that he would soon be executed (vs. 6-8), he longed for the fellowship of his "dearly beloved son" Timothy (ch 1:2). Timothy is mentioned in Heb 13:23 as having been set at liberty, but nothing is otherwise known of the imprisonment here alluded to -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.