(Timʹo·thy) [One Who Honors God].
Son of a Jewess, Eunice, and a Greek father (not named in the Scriptures). While very young, Timothy was taught “the holy writings” by his mother and probably also by his grandmother Lois. (Ac 16:1; 2Ti 1:5; 3:15) It is not known precisely when Timothy embraced Christianity. However, perhaps late in 49 or early in 50 C.E., when the apostle Paul arrived at Lystra (apparently Timothy’s home) in the course of his second missionary journey, the disciple Timothy (perhaps in his late teens or early twenties) “was well reported on by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium.”—Ac 16:2.
It may have been at this time that, as a result of the operation of God’s spirit, certain prophecies or predictions were voiced concerning Timothy. After the holy spirit had in this way indicated the future of Timothy, the older men of the congregation joined the apostle Paul in laying their hands upon Timothy, thereby setting him apart for a particular service in connection with the Christian congregation. (1Ti 1:18; 4:14; 2Ti 1:6; compare Ac 13:3.) Paul chose Timothy as a traveling companion and, to avoid giving Jews an occasion for stumbling, circumcised him.—Ac 16:3.
Travels With Paul. With Paul, Timothy shared in Christian activities in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Beroea. (Ac 16:11–17:10) When opposition that was stirred up by fanatical Jews made it necessary for Paul to depart from Beroea, the apostle left Silas and Timothy behind to care for the new group of believers there. (Ac 17:13-15) It appears that Paul thereafter sent word to Beroea, advising Timothy to visit the brothers at Thessalonica, encouraging them to remain faithful despite tribulation. (1Th 3:1-3; see ATHENS [Paul’s Activity in Athens].) Apparently rejoining Paul at Corinth, Timothy brought good news about the faithfulness and love of the Thessalonian Christians. (Ac 18:5; 1Th 3:6) In the letter Paul then sent to the Thessalonians, he included the names of Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy in the salutation, as he also did in his second letter to them.—1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1.
During Paul’s third missionary journey (c. 52-56 C.E.), Timothy again traveled with the apostle. (Compare Ac 20:4.) While at Ephesus (1Co 16:8), Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, wrote: “I am sending Timothy to you, as he is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord; and he will put you in mind of my methods in connection with Christ Jesus, just as I am teaching everywhere in every congregation.” (1Co 4:17) Toward the close of this letter, though, Paul implied that Timothy might not get to Corinth: “If Timothy arrives, see that he becomes free of fear among you, for he is performing the work of Jehovah, even as I am.” (1Co 16:10) If Timothy did indeed visit Corinth, this must have been before he and Erastus left Ephesus for Macedonia, since Timothy and Paul were together in Macedonia when the second letter to the Corinthians (based on the report of Titus, not of Timothy) was written. (Ac 19:22; 2Co 1:1; 2:13; 7:5-7) Perhaps Timothy’s intended visit did not materialize. This is suggested by the fact that, in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul makes no mention of Timothy’s being there other than in association with himself. (2Co 1:19) Later, at the time Paul wrote to the Romans, apparently from Corinth (the home of Gaius), Timothy was with him.—Compare Ro 16:21, 23; 1Co 1:14.
Timothy’s name is included in the salutation of letters written by Paul to the Philippians (1:1), Colossians (1:1), and Philemon (vs 1) during the apostle’s first imprisonment at Rome. It appears that Timothy personally endured imprisonment at Rome sometime within the period between the writing of the letter to the Philippians and the one to the Hebrews.—Php 2:19; Heb 13:23.
Responsibilities and Qualifications. After Paul’s release from prison, Timothy again shared with the apostle in the ministry, remaining in Ephesus at his direction. (1Ti 1:1-3) At this time (c. 61-64 C.E.) Timothy may have been in his 30’s and had authority in the appointment of overseers and ministerial servants in the congregation. (1Ti 5:22) He was fully capable of handling these weighty responsibilities, having proved himself by laboring in close association with the apostle Paul for 11 years or more. Regarding him, Paul could say: “I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you. . . . You know the proof he gave of himself, that like a child with a father he slaved with me in furtherance of the good news.” (Php 2:20-22) And to Timothy he wrote: “I never leave off remembering you in my supplications, night and day longing to see you, as I remember your tears, that I may get filled with joy. For I recollect the faith which is in you without any hypocrisy.”—2Ti 1:3-5.
Although having to contend with frequent illness because of stomach trouble (1Ti 5:23), Timothy willingly expended himself in behalf of others. His fine qualities endeared him to the apostle Paul, who very much desired Timothy’s association when facing imminent death. (2Ti 4:6-9) Being relatively young, Timothy may have been diffident and hesitant about asserting his authority. (Compare 1Ti 4:11-14; 2Ti 1:6, 7; 2:1.) This shows that Timothy was not a proud man but appreciated his limitations.