EUNICE & LOIS – MOTHER & GRANDMOTHER (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ)

The New Testament of the Bible does not say much about the two women Eunice and Lois, the mother and grandmother of Timothy. And yet I want to highlight the two women for their role as mother and grandmother of Timothy, a companion of Paul and later the Bishop of Ephesus.

The names Eunice means ‘conquering well’ and Lois means ‘agreeable’ or ‘desirable’. Eunice was a Jewish Christian married to a Greek. The Acts says, “Paul travelled on to Derbe and Lystra, where a Christian named Timothy lived. His mother (Eunice), who was also a Christian, was Jewish, but his father was a Greek” (Acts 16, 1).

Perhaps Eunice and family must have become Christians during the first visit of Paul and Barnabas and their preaching at Lystra in AD 46. Certainly Paul’s healing a lame man from birth and his preaching must have made tremendous impression on Eunice, her mother Lois and her son Timothy. (see Acts 14, 8-20).

The Acts and Paul’s two letters to Timothy do not mention anything about Eunice’s husband except that he was a Greek, that is, not a Jew like Eunice but a Gentile. So biblical scholars like Herbert Lockyer says that, “It can be assumed that he was dead by the time Paul contacted the family” (All the Women of the Bible, p. 54).

But we know that Eunice had a great influence on the upbringing of Timothy as a Christian. Paul in his 2nd Letter to Timothy giving last instructions has recalled Timothy’s childhood. Paul writes, “But as for you, continue in the faith that you were taught and firmly believe, you know who your teachers were, and you remember that ever since you were a child, you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3, 14-15).

Certainly Eunice, Timothy’s Jewish Christian mother and his grandmother Lois must have been Timothy’s significant teachers of Christian faith and of the Scriptures. As Jewish women Eunice and her mother Lois certainly knew well the Jewish Scriptures, that is, the Old Testament and taught Timothy the same and their Christian faith. But Paul must have been the principal teacher of their Christian faith. Paul calls Timothy his spiritual son, “son in faith”, “beloved son”.

Many grandmothers appear in the Bible; but only one grandmother is mentioned as grandmother. That grandmother is Lois, the grandmother of Timothy, Paul’s spiritual son and later Bishop of Ephesus. Lois must have been a devout Jewess before she became a Christian. So she must have instructed her daughter Eunice and her grandson Timothy in Old Testament Scriptures.

On his two visits to Lystra, Paul must have come very close to the family of Lois, her daughter Eunice and the grandson Timothy. Perhaps it was Paul who led the family of three generations to Christian faith. Paul knew how deeply religious the family has become in Christian faith in spite of the fact that Eunice’s husband was a Gentile Greek. But the influence and the spiritual instruction of grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice were such on Timothy, his beloved disciple that Paul could appreciate and point to Lois and Eunice as models of faith for Timothy. (contact the author : यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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ફાધર વર્ગીસ પોલ, એસ.જે.
(ડિરેક્ટર, સી.આઈ.એસ.એસ.)


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