Character Study

The Life of Timothy

His Salvation

The first mention of the man is in Acts chapter 16. verse 1. Paul had come to Derbe and Lystra and there was a certain disciple called Timothy. He was Paul’s true child through faith, 1 Tim. 1. 2 – it seems that he was saved when the apostle first visited the area. Indications are that his father, a Greek, was an unbeliever but his mother, a Jewess, believed. From childhood he had known the holy scriptures, 2 Tim. 3. 15. Personal and genuine faith had dwelt first in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice and it was now in Timothy, 2 Tim. 1. 5.

His Start

As we’ve already noticed, at the beginning of Acts chapter 16 he’s described as a disciple. He was a follower of Christ and so had made a fine start which is what God wants of course. The next verse tells us that he was ‘well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium’. A good reputation was a requirement for the work of the Lord that he would carry out.

His Service

Paul wanted Timothy to be with him; that happened, but in this article we’re not going to trace his movements or consider the nature of the work he undertook, although there’s profit to be found in that. Let’s look at the following so far as his service was concerned.

How Paul described him

  • his fellow worker, Rom.16. 21. It’s good when a young man can serve with an older man.
  • his beloved and faithful child in the Lord, 1 Cor. 4. 17 and one who, like him, does the work of the Lord, 1 Cor. 16. 10 Like the people in Nehemiah’s day, he ‘had a mind to work’, and he was marked by faithfulness to God.
  • a bondservant of Jesus Christ, Phil. 1. 1 He served willingly and loyally because he loved his Lord.
  • our brother and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, 1 Thess. 3. 2 He had a deep concern for the lost around him and worked to win them.
  • a ‘man of God’, 1 Tim. 6. 11 Despite being young (1 Tim. 4. 12) Timothy was the only person in the New Testament to be described in this way. He did more than start well - he continued well.

How Paul commended him

  • Note the verses in the above section.
  • Take a look at Philipians chapter 2 verses 20 - 22. Paul knew that he would care for them ‘with genuine feeling’ (J N Darby’s New Translation). He had a shepherd heart. And while others sought their own things, he sought ‘the things which are of Christ Jesus’. Timothy had a spiritual outlook and went in for the best things.

How Paul encouraged him

  • He referred to ‘the words of faith and of the good doctrine’, which he had ‘carefully followed’, 1 Tim. 4. 6.
  • Timothy had ‘confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses’, 1 Tim. 6. 12.
  • He told him ‘you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions’, 2 Tim. 3. 10 - 11.

How Paul exhorted him

This could be a long list! Go through Paul’s two letters to Timothy. Carefully consider the exhortations, and ask God to help you to apply them to your own life.

Here are some things to note:

  • Be an example to your fellow christians, 1 Tim. 4. 12
  • Don’t neglect your gift, use it, 1 Tim. 4. 14
  • Keep your gift burning brightly like a fire 2 Tim. 1. 6
  • Protect the truth, 1 Tim. 6. 20
  • Work hard to gain God’s approval, 2 Tim. 2. 15
  • Go on well, 2 Tim. 3. 14
  • Fully perform the service God has called you to, 2 Tim. 4. 5

Some final comments

  • Don’t squander your youth. The years are precious and quickly go - give them to God, the experiences you’ll have will really help you in the future if the Lord has not come.
  • Don’t make excuses for not serving. Although Timothy had ‘frequent illnesses’, 1 Tim. 5. 23, he was still able to serve the Lord - he didn’t make them an excuse for not carrying out His work.
  • Don’t leave the work to the few. See all your responsibilities and live them out.