(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. (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15) It is not known precisely when Timothy embraced Christianity. However, about 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.”—Acts 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. (1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; compare Acts 13:3.) Paul chose Timothy as a traveling companion and, to avoid giving Jews an occasion for stumbling, circumcised him.—Acts 16:3.
TRAVELS WITH PAUL
With Paul, Timothy shared in Christian activities in Philippi, Thessalonica and Beroea. (Acts 16:11–17:10) When opposition 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. (Acts 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. (1 Thess. 3:1-3; see ATHENS.) Apparently rejoining Paul at Corinth, Timothy brought good news about the faithfulness and love of the Thessalonian Christians. (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess. 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.—1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1.
During Paul’s third missionary journey (c. 52-56 C.E.) Timothy again traveled with the apostle. (Compare Acts 20:4.) While at Ephesus (1 Cor. 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.” (1 Cor. 4:17) Toward the close of this letter, though, Paul inferred that there was a possibility 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.” (1 Cor. 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. (Acts 19:22; 2 Cor. 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. (2 Cor. 1:19) Later, at the time Paul wrote to the Romans, apparently from Corinth (the home of Gaius), Timothy was with him.—Compare Romans 16:21, 23; 1 Corinthians 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 (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.—Phil. 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. (1 Tim. 1:1-3) At this time (c. 61-64) Timothy may have been in his thirties and had authority in the appointment of overseers and ministerial servants in the congregation. (1 Tim. 5:22) He was fully capable of handling these weighty responsibilities, having proved himself by laboring in close association with the apostle Paul for eleven 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.” (Phil. 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.”—2 Tim. 1:3-5.
Although having to contend with frequent illness because of stomach trouble (1 Tim. 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 facingimminent death. (2 Tim. 4:6-9) Being relatively young, Timothy may have been diffident and hesitant about asserting his authority. (Compare 1 Timothy 4:11-14; 2 Timothy 1:6, 7; 2:1.) This shows that Timothy was not a proud man but appreciated his limitations.
TIMOTHY, LETTERS TO
Two inspired letters of the Christian Greek Scriptures composed by the apostle Paul, who identifies himself as the writer in the opening words of each letter. (1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1) The first letter was evidently written from Macedonia. A basis for assigning an approximate date for the composition of this letter is found in the first chapter, verse 3, which reads: “Just as I encouraged you to stay in Ephesus when I was about to go my way into Macedonia, so I do now.” There is no mention of this in the book of Acts, which covers a period from the time of Jesus’ ascension to heaven in 33 C.E. until the second year of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, about 61 C.E. Accordingly, it seems that it was sometime after his being released that Paul encouraged Timothy to stay in Ephesus, and then he apparently departed for Macedonia. This would place the time for the writing of First Timothy between the date of the apostle’s release from his first imprisonment at Rome and his final imprisonment there, or sometime between about 61 and 64 C.E. The second letter was composed at Rome during Paul’s final imprisonment (likely about 65 C.E.) and not long before his death.—2 Tim. 1:8, 17; 4:6-9.
The authenticity of First and Second Timothy is well established. All outstanding ancient catalogs, starting with the Muratorian Fragment of the second century C.E., list both letters as canonical. Most importantly, these letters are in complete agreement with the rest of the Scriptures and quote from them. They contain quotations from or allusions to Numbers (16:5; 2 Tim. 2:19), Deuteronomy (19:15; 25:4; 1 Tim. 5:18, 19), Isaiah (26:13; 2 Tim. 2:19) and the words of Jesus Christ. (Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:18) Noteworthy are the frequent mention of faith (1 Tim. 1:2, 4, 5, 14, 19; 2:7, 15; 3:9, 13; 4:1, 6, 12; 5:8, 12; 6:10, 11, 12, 21; 2 Tim. 1:5, 13; 2:18, 22; 3:8, 10, 15; 4:7), the emphasis on right doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3, 4; 4:1-3, 6, 7; 6:3, 4, 20, 21; 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:14, 15; 4:3, 5), conduct (1 Tim. 2:8-11, 15; 3:2-13; 4:12; 5:1-21; 6:1, 2, 11-14; 2 Tim. 2:22), prayer (1 Tim. 2:1, 2, 8; 4:5; 5:5; 2 Tim. 1:3), and