TIMOTHY, PAULS SPIRITUAL SON (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ)

We know a lot about Timothy from the Acts of the Apostles and from several letters of St. Paul including Pauls two letters addressed to Timothy.

Paul calls Timothy my true son is faith in the first letter and my dear son in the second letter. Though very much younger than himself Paul also called Timothy his brother and his fellow-worker.

Timothys mother was Christian and his father was Greek. This is how Luke introduces Timothy first time in Acts, Paul travelled on to Derbe and Lystra, where a Christian named Timothy lived. His mother, who was also a Christian, was Jewish, but his father was a Greek. All the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy. Paul wanted to take Timothy along with him, so he circumcised him. He did so because all the Jews who lived in those places knew that Timothys father was Greek (Acts 16, 1-3).

Paul has given Timothy the same status as himself. So he tells the Corinthians, If Timothy comes your way, be sure to make him feel welcome among you, because he is working for the Lord, just as I am. No one should look down on him, but you must help him to continue his journey in peace, so that he will come back to me; for I am expecting him back with his brothers (1 Cor. 16, 10-11).

Timothy is a trusted ambassador of Paul to preach Christ and strengthen the faithful even in adverse circumstances. So sending Timothy to the persecuted Church at Thessalonica Paul writes, We send Timothy, our brother who works with us for God in preaching the Good News about Christ. We sent him to strengthen you and help your faith, so that none of you should turn back because of these persecutions (1 Thes. 3, 2-3).

Timothys worth is specially acknowledged by Paul saying that I HAVE NO ONE LIKE HIM. In his letter to Philippians Paul writes: I hope that I will be able to send Timothy to your soon, so that I may be encouraged by news about you. He is the only one who shares my feelings and who really cares about you. Everyone else is concerned only with his own affairs, not with the cause of Jesus Christ. And you yourselves know how he has proved his worth, how he and I, like a son and his father, have worked together for the sake of the gospel (Phil. 2, 19-22).

Timothy lived in Lystra. Paul and Barnabas visited the town Lystra twice on their first missionary journey. Timothy was a Christian and so were his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois. On the first occasion Paul was stoned and was left for death. But the Christian disciples saved Paul and helped him to escape from the town.

Timothy must have known the persecution endured by Paul and knew what it means to join Paul and preach the Gospel.

To the benefit of Timothy, Paul has recalled his traumatic experiences in his 2nd letter to Timothy. But you have followed my teaching, my conduct, and my purpose in life; you have observed my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, my persecutions, and my sufferings. You know all that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the terrible persecutions I endured ( 2 Tim. 3, 10-11).

Yet Timothy willingly joined Paul and even submitted himself to circumcision to be accepted among the Jewish Christians who knew that Timothys father was Greek.

Ronald Brownrigg writes in Whos Who, the New Testament: Paul and Silas took Timothy along with them on their journey over to Macedonia. Somehow Timothy escaped the very rough treatment suffered by Paul and Silas at Philippi.

Timothy was ordained a minister at a young age to preach the Word of God. This is clear from the instructions Paul gives him in the first letter to Timothy. Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity. Until I come, give your time and effort to the public reading of the Scriptures and to preaching and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift that is in you, which was given to you when the prophets spoke and the elders laid their hands on you. Practise these things and devote yourself to them, in order that your progress may be seen by all (1 Tim. 4, 12-15).

Paul tells Timothy from his our experiences that suffering and persecution will be part and parcel of the ministry of proclaiming in Word of God. According to Herbert Lockyer in All the Men of the Bible Timothy was a co-sufferer with Paul in afflictions of the Gospel.

Paul writes in his 2nd letter to Timothy, Do not be ashamed, then, of witnessing for our Lord; nor be ashamed of me, a prisoner for Christs sake. Instead, take your part in suffering for the Good News, as God gives you the strength to do it (2 Tim 1, 8).

Timothy must have been in prison in Rome. The letter to the Hebrews says in chapter 13 which bible scholars believe is written by Paul, I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been let out of prison (Heb 13, 23).

According to Ronald Brownrigg in Whos Who the New Testament, the 4th century church historian and Bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius has recorded that Timothy became the first Bishop of Ephesus. An apocryphal Acts of Timothy has recorded his martyrdom on 22 January in the year 97, when protesting at the licentious festivities in honour of Diana of the Ephesians. The Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Timothy on January 26 ever year.

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