O Timothy


O TIMOTHY … (1 Timothy 6:20)


The Apostle Paul addressed two of his New Testament letters To Timothy, my true child in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2). The Timothy in question was a young, Christian Pastor The New Testament letters to Timothy and Titus are known as ‘The Pastoral Epistles.’ They deal primarily with matters pertaining to the ‘nitty gritties’ of local church life  – I am writing these instructions to you so that … you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth (1 Timothy 3:14,15).

The differences in age and Christian maturity notwithstanding, Paul obviously valued young Timothy’s friendship a great deal. 2 Timothy is the last letter Paul ever wrote. At the time of writing, he was incarcerated in a Roman prison, aware that his death – his promotion to glory – was imminent. For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:6,7). But Paul’s love for Timothy was such that he was adamant that he see Timothy again before he died – I long day and night to see you, that I may be filled with joy (2 Timothy 1:4). And so he pleaded Do your best to come to me soon … Do your best to come before winter … (2 Timothy 4:9,21).


  1. Timothy’s Faith : His Conversion


We first encounter Timothy during Paul’s second missionary journey. He was from Lystra (Acts 16:1) in the province of Galatia – modern day Turkey. He was the product of a ‘mixed marriage’, as Luke relates A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek (Acts 16:1).

It is difficult to ascertain the exact moment when Timothy came to conscious, saving faith in Christ. That he belonged to Jesus there is no doubt, but it is possible that even he himself did not know the precise time of his conversion:-

In the providence of God, Timothy was blessed with a Christian mother and grandmother who surrounded him with their prayers and Christian example. In 2 Timothy 1:5 Paul wrote I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you. It would seem that Timothy’s mother and grandmother nurtured Timothy in the Christian Faith, and taught him the Scriptures from his earliest days, for in 2 Timothy 3:15 Paul wrote how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).

In 1 Timothy 1:2 however, Paul refers to Timothy as my true child in the faith This suggests that, under God, it was Paul’s own influence which was instrumental in bringing Timothy to the new birth. Timothy’s conversion then was perhaps similar to many who have been brought up in a Christian family: Acquainted with Christian matters since early childhood, perhaps sometime in our teens, ‘the penny drops’ and we trust in Christ as our own personal Saviour. It is as though we have gone over in ink what has already been written in pencil.

Timothy then was a true Christian convert. He belonged to Jesus. He had entrusted his eternal welfare to the crucified, risen and reigning Saviour. His conversion though is a reminder that whilst Christ is the only Saviour, there is more than one road which leads to the Saviour. Timothy’s conversion was different from Paul’s, but no less authentic. That we are ‘in Christ’ now is more important than being able to give a dramatic Christian testimony of how we came to Christ in the first place.


  1. Timothy’s Fidelity : His Commitment


When Paul first encountered Timothy, he immediately perceived in him enormous Christian potential as regards the service of God and the spread of the Gospel. Luke relates that Timothy was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium and Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him on his missionary travels (Acts 16:1,2). The great apostle thus chose Timothy to help and accompany him on his missionary endeavours. He saw him as both useable and useful material for Christ in relation to God’s eternal purposes of grace. And his assessment proved to be absolutely right. A little later on , when Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he praised Timothy to the hilt saying how I have no one like him, who will be genuinely anxious for your welfare. They all look after their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ But Timothy’s worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the Gospel (Philippians 2:20-22).

The overriding and overarching concern of Timothy’s life then was the interests … of Jesus Christ. If he had had a motto, it surely would have been:-


Only one life, ‘twill soon be past

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


Timothy’s chief concern was not his own personal glory or career, but that the Lord Jesus Christ should be glorified in the salvation of souls and the building of His church. When it came to actual practice, the welfare of Christians and the glory of Christ were somewhat blurred in his thinking and action. Serving Christ and serving His people were one and the same for him. He loved above all else to see sinners saved, and Christians better grounded, founded and established in Christian truth. Whilst initially, we could perhaps think of Timothy as Paul’s apprentice in mission, it was not long before Timothy graduated, and Paul had full confidence that he could undertake Christian work on his own. Hence Paul sent Timothy from Athens to the persecuted church at Thessalonica – we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s servant in the gospel of Christ, to establish you in your faith and to exhort you (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Hence Paul sent Timothy from Ephesus to the church at Corinth – I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church (1 Corinthians 4:17).

Eventually, Timothy settled down as a permanent Pastor in Ephesus. Paul’s letters to him are an exhortation and encouragement to press on in the work of being a pastor and preacher there – attend to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching to teaching … Practise these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress (1 Timothy 4:13,15) and Preach the Word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching … As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry (2 Timothy 4:2,5).


iii. Timothy’s Frailty : His Condition


Timothy was a walking sermon illustration on the text of 2 Corinthians 4:7: But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.

                We tend to look up to our Christian leaders. We tend to think of them as being in a higher league from ourselves. It is as though they are made of ‘stronger stuff’ than we are. Timothy was a Christian leader and was ordained by God to be such. Yet the Bible reveals that Timothy was made out of the same frail flesh and spirit of which we are made. Scripture reveals that Timothy was no ‘muscular Christian.’ Yet Scripture also reveals that God used Timothy for His glory and the building of Christ’s church.

Paul addressed Timothy with the high compliment But as for you, man of God … (1 Timothy 6:11). Timothy was a man of God! Yet although this was true, Timothy was also, like Elijah – another man of God – a man of like nature with ourselves (James 5:17). Scripture reveals that Timothy battled against both physical and mental handicaps. Until he reached glory, he had to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12) against enemies both without and within.


Timothy’s Physical Constitution


Timothy was not endowed with a robust physical constitution. In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul advises him concerning your stomach and your frequent ailments. This is a reminder that every Christian is not yet fully saved! The final Christian hope is the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). This will occur when Christ comes again in glory – we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will change our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power which enables Him even to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20,21). Until that day, every Christian, no matter how godly, will be subject to sickness and pain to a greater or lesser degree, and will eventually suffer physical death. Timothy then was physically handicapped. Yet he still worked for the kingdom of heaven within the physical limitations imposed on Him by God – and the blessing of God was upon his labours in spite of his physical limitations.


Timothy’s Psychological Condition


It would seem that young Timothy was less than robust psychologically as well as physically Paul’s letters to him betray the fact that he sometimes lacked confidence and was prone to discouragement. Timothy by name and timid by nature! Paul’s letters to Timothy were letters of needed encouragement exhorting him to ‘keep on keeping on’ in the Christian ministry – looking to God Who is greater than all the opposition without and discouragement within, and can accomplish His will and purpose through us in spite of our physical and psychological handicaps Hence the many exhortations in the ‘Pastoral epistles’ which were applicable to Timothy personally and relevant to Christians and Christian leaders in all ages:-

Do not neglect the gift you have … (1 Timothy 4:14).

Rekindle the gift of God that is within you … for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control (2 Timothy 1:6,7).

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1).

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:3).

As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry (2 Timothy 4:5).

Paul thus urged Timothy simply to be faithful to God in his particular and peculiar circumstances. We are to be the same. We are to do what we can, where we are, with what we have, and to leave the results to God. God calls us to be faithful, not necessarily successful.


O Timothy!



No doubt, if you saw Timothy, and were aware of his physical ailments and nervous disposition, he would not strike you immediately as a great Christian leader. It goes to show that God’s ways are not always our ways and that the laws of the kingdom of heaven can differ from the laws of this world (see Isaiah 55:8,9). God often sees fit to use frail, redeemed sinners to accomplish His almighty purposes. In this way, His work cannot be explained rationally, or explained away with a human explanation. In this way, He Himself gets all the glory. And the goal of the universe is, after all, the overriding and overarching, unsurpassed and unsurpassable glory of the one true God – To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen (1 Timothy 1:17).

A medical missionary of many years experience once wrote:-


God delights in using weak people, because it shows how big He is … the Lord gave me wisdom far beyond my own resource to help people medically Whatever aspect of the Lord’s service it be, I have found that my weakness is but an opportunity for the Lord to display His power. ‘Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9b).


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