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Timothy And Paul

INTRODUCTION: As a young man, Timothy joined the Apostle Paul and accompanied him in his travels for a number of years. Sometimes Paul sent Timothy as his messenger to churches in various cities. There is some narrative about Timothy in the book of Acts, and some other details in a few of Paul's letters. Eventually Paul wrote two letters directly to Timothy to give him encouragement and instruction to use as the leader of a church. The same Greek word is translated as either Timotheus or Timothy, and the name means "honoring God." Use this Timothy at Ephesis if you want to transfer to the Bible study for chapter one of 1Timothy.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the World English Bible.


Acts 16 "1 He came to Derbe and Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewess who believed; but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers who were at Lystra and Iconium gave a good testimony about him. 3 Paul wanted to have him go out with him, and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered the decrees to them to keep which had been ordained by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. 5 So the assemblies were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily. 6 When they had gone through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 When they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit didn't allow them. 8 Passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night. There was a man of Macedonia standing, begging him, and saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us." 10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go out to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the Good News to them. 11 Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a straight course to Samothrace, and the day following to Neapolis; 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the foremost of the district, a Roman colony. We were staying some days in this city."

COMMENTS: As background to the above passage, it should be noted that some years earlier Paul and Barnabas had preached the gospel at Derbe and Lystra on the first missionary journey after they left Iconium under threats to their lives. Acts 14 "5 When some of both the Gentiles and the Jews, with their rulers, made a violent attempt to mistreat and stone them, 6 they became aware of it, and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra, Derbe, and the surrounding region. 7 There they preached the Good News." Paul and Barnabas were followed by some zealous enemies. Acts 14 "19 But some Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there, and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But as the disciples stood around him, he rose up, and entered into the city. On the next day he went out with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the Good News to that city, and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through many afflictions we must enter into the Kingdom of God." This passage holds the possibility that Timothy was among those who became disciples during that first journey, but there is no absolute confirmation of that being the case, though some may consider it so since Paul later referred to Timothy as his son in the faith.

Acts chapter 16 records part of the second missionary journey for Paul, but this time Silas was his main companion while Barnabas made a separate journey with John Mark. Timothy's mother was a Jew described as one who believed, and Timothy was called a disciple. Paul wanted Timothy to join them, so he circumcised him because the Jews which were in the surrounding towns knew that his father was a Greek. It is interesting that Paul did this with one who had a Gentile father and a Jewish mother, which may have been especially important to avoid that becoming a stumbling block for Jews who might become Christians through their preaching. Since the early church was composed of both Jews and Gentiles, Paul later wrote to the Galatians to confirm that Gentiles were not required to be circumcised. Galatians 2 "3 But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 This was because of the false brothers secretly brought in, who stole in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; 5 to whom we gave no place in the way of subjection, not for an hour, that the truth of the Good News might continue with you." As Paul, Silas, and the now circumcised Timothy went through the cities, they delivered the decrees to be kept as had been ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

The aforementioned decrees of the apostles provided recognized authority to settle that dispute on circumcision of Gentiles that had arisen at Antioch sometime after Paul and Barnabas had returned from the first missionary journey. Acts 15 "23 They wrote these things by their hand: "The apostles, the elders, and the brothers, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: greetings. 24 Because we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law,' to whom we gave no commandment; 25 it seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose out men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves will also tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality, from which if you keep yourselves, it will be well with you. Farewell."" Then, the passage from Acts chapter 16 states that as the decrees from Jerusalem were delivered, the assemblies were established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Afterward, Paul and Silas, and those traveling with them, which included Timothy, began a new journey into Macedonia.


Acts 16 "35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, "Let those men go." 36 The jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go; now therefore come out, and go in peace." 37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, without a trial, men who are Romans, and have cast us into prison! Do they now release us secretly? No, most certainly, but let them come themselves and bring us out!" 38 The sergeants reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, 39 and they came and begged them. When they had brought them out, they asked them to depart from the city. 40 They went out of the prison, and entered into Lydia's house. When they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them, and departed."

Acts 17 "1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ." 4 Some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas, of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and not a few of the chief women. 5 But the unpersuaded Jews took along some wicked men from the marketplace, and gathering a crowd, set the city in an uproar. Assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them out to the people."

COMMENTS: The above passages show the transition of Paul and his companions from Philippi to Thessalonica, but even the complete passages describing all of the events at those two cities have no mention of Timothy. Paul and Silas had been beaten and placed into prison at Philippi without a trial because of hostile actions by Gentiles. After the miraculous event leading to their release from the prison, Paul and his companions left Philippi and traveled on to Thessalonica. The next section will show that Timothy was still among Paul's companions when Paul left Thessalonica.


Acts 17 "5 But the unpersuaded Jews took along some wicked men from the marketplace, and gathering a crowd, set the city in an uproar. Assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them out to the people. 6 When they didn't find them, they dragged Jason and certain brothers before the rulers of the city, crying, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 whom Jason has received. These all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus!" 8 The multitude and the rulers of the city were troubled when they heard these things. 9 When they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. 10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea. When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed; also of the prominent Greek women, and not a few men. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Beroea also, they came there likewise, agitating the multitudes. 14 Then the brothers immediately sent out Paul to go as far as to the sea, and Silas and Timothy still stayed there. 15 But those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens. Receiving a commandment to Silas and Timothy that they should come to him very quickly, they departed."

COMMENTS: Though the text says the brothers (referring to the believers at Thessalonica) sent Paul and Silas by night to Berea, their other traveling companions also left. When Paul is again threatened by some Jews who pursued him from Thessalonica to Berea, both Silas and Timothy remained at Berea while Paul was escorted to Athens. When Paul reached Athens, he sent those who had conducted him there, back to Berea to tell Silas and Timothy to join him quickly. In the next section, a passage from the first letter to the Thessalonians indicates that Paul had such a strong concern for the Thessalonian believers while he was in Athens, that he sent Timothy back to them as his representative.


1 Thessalonians 1 "1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the assembly of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father."

1 Thessalonians 3 "1 Therefore, when we couldn't stand it any longer, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and God's servant in the Good News of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith; 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you know that we are appointed to this task. 4 For most certainly, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction, even as it happened, and you know. 5 For this cause I also, when I couldn't stand it any longer, sent that I might know your faith, for fear that by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labour would have been in vain. 6 But when Timothy came just now to us from you, and brought us glad news of your faith and love, and that you have good memories of us always, longing to see us, even as we also long to see you; for this cause, brothers, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith."

COMMENTS: The opening of the first letter to the Thessalonians has greetings from Paul, Silas (also called Silvanus), and Timothy without indicating who delivered the letter. In Chapter three, Paul reveals that after Timothy had joined him, he sent Timothy from Athens back to Thessalonica because of his concerns for the believers there. Paul was very encouraged by the report Timothy brought back to him, and he stated that in the letter. Perhaps Timothy and Silas were the ones who delivered the letter to the Thessalonians for Paul, as in the next section the text describes those two men coming down from Macedonia, not Athens, to join Paul at Corinth, which was his next stop after he left Athens. Timothy continued to have a close relationship with Paul and Titus, as indicated by the opening greeting from all three men again in the second letter written to the Thessalonians. 2 Thessalonians 1 "1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the assembly of the Thessalonians in God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."


Acts 18 "1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth. 2 He found a certain Jew named Aquila, a man of Pontus by race, who had recently come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. He came to them, 3 and because he practiced the same trade, he lived with them and worked, for by trade they were tent makers. 4 He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks. 5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 When they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook out his clothing and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles!" 7 He departed there, and went into the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshipped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his house. Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized. 9 The Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Don't be afraid, but speak and don't be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many people in this city." 11 He lived there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them."

COMMENTS: When Paul arrived at Corinth after his time in Athens, he became friends with Aquila and his wife Priscilla who were Jews from Italy. Paul lived and worked with them as they shared in the same trade of tent making. Paul reasoned in the synagogue for an unspecified series of Sabbaths before Silas and Timothy joined him from Macedonia. Then Paul became more assertive in declaring that Jesus is the Messiah, and many Jews opposed him. He left the synagogue and preached from a neighboring house, staying in Corinth for about eighteen months. there is no other detail in Acts about the activities of Timothy or Silas during this period, and there is no mention that they accompanied Paul when he left Corinth. However, the two letters written later to the Corinthians give some clues about these things.

1 Corinthians 1 "1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 to the assembly of God which is at Corinth; those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." this opening of the first letter includes Sosthenes in Paul's greeting, and that man had been briefly mentioned as the victim of some violence after Gallio, the deputy of Achaia, refused to rule on disputes over religion. Acts 18 "17 Then all the Greeks laid hold on Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. Gallio didn't care about any of these things." The next passage indicates that Paul had sent Timothy as his messenger to Corinth, but it is not specific as to whether that included visiting multiple cities. 1 Corinthians 4 "17 Because of this I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every assembly." The passage from chapter 16 makes it unclear whether Timothy was to arrive with the letter, or whether he was to arrive at Corinth at some point following. 1 Corinthians 16 "10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without fear, for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do." The second letter to Corinth includes Timothy in the greeting, but this time Silas is not named, perhaps indicating he was not with them at that time. 2 Corinthians 1 "1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the assembly of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." then, Paul states in verse 19, that all three of the men had previously preached Jesus Christ as the Son of god to the Corinthians, which gives indication that Timothy and Silas had probably stayed with Paul for his eighteen months in Corinth before Paul left for Syria. 2 Corinthians 1 "19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not "Yes and no," but in him is "Yes.""


Acts 18 "17 Then all the Greeks laid hold on Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. Gallio didn't care about any of these things. 18 Paul, having stayed after this many more days, took his leave of the brothers, and sailed from there for Syria, together with Priscilla and Aquila. He shaved his head in Cenchreae, for he had a vow. 19 He came to Ephesus, and he left them there; but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay with them a longer time, he declined; 21 but taking his leave of them, and saying, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem, but I will return again to you if God wills," he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the assembly, and went down to Antioch. 23 Having spent some time there, he departed, and went through the region of Galatia, and Phrygia, in order, establishing all the disciples."

COMMENTS: Violence again erupted because of Paul's preaching of Christ, but Paul escaped harm while a synagogue ruler named Sosthenes was beaten. Some time after that Paul left for Syria, but the only persons named to accompany him were Aquila and Priscilla, though it is very likely there were others in his party. Sosthenes is only mentioned one more time in scripture, and that is with Paul in the opening greeting of the first letter to the Corinthians. Paul did not remain in Ephesus, but traveled on to Caesarea and Antioch, and then through the provinces of Galatia and Phrygia where he had previously ministered with Silas and Timothy.


Acts 19 "1 It happened that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples. 2 He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They said to him, "No, we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3 He said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." 4 Paul said, "John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with other languages and prophesied. 7 They were about twelve men in all. 8 He entered into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for a period of three months, reasoning and persuading about the things concerning the Kingdom of God. 9 But when some were hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all those who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."

COMMENTS: Though only Paul's name is used in stating that he returned to Ephesus, it is common in scripture not to enumerate others in a group identified by the leader's name. The narrative about Apollos before he left for Corinth was omitted in the above scripture reference since it has no direct relationship to the story of Timothy. Paul began his time at Ephesus with Jews in the synagogue, but when the word of the Lord was rejected, he relocated his teaching to another venue and remained there for two years. There is no description of Timothy's activities while Paul was teaching, but the next section indicates that Timothy was in Ephesus and available for Paul to send through Macedonia.


Acts 19 "18 Many also of those who had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds. 19 Many of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. They counted their price, and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord was growing and becoming mighty. 21 Now after these things had ended, Paul determined in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 22 Having sent into Macedonia two of those who served him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while."

COMMENTS: Paul was planning another circuit through Macedonia and Achaia, and then on to Jerusalem. He also wanted to make a visit to Rome. There is no description about Timothy being at Ephesus, whether he had been with Paul the entire time, or whether he rejoined Paul from somewhere else. It is very clear that Paul had at some point sent Timothy and Erastus ahead to Macedonia while he remained in Asia for a time.


Acts 19 "24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen, 25 whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, "Sirs, you know that by this business we have our wealth. 26 You see and hear, that not at Ephesus alone, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands. 27 Not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be counted as nothing, and her majesty destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worships.""

Acts 20 "1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, took leave of them, and departed to go into Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those parts, and had encouraged them with many words, he came into Greece. 3 When he had spent three months there, and a plot was made against him by Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia. 4 These accompanied him as far as Asia: Sopater of Beroea; Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians; Gaius of Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5 But these had gone ahead, and were waiting for us at Troas. 6 We sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas in five days, where we stayed seven days."

COMMENTS: While Timothy and Erastus were in Macedonia, Demetrius the silversmith started a large uproar in Ephesus against Paul. When the commotion was calmed down, Paul left Ephesus to join Timothy and Erastus in Macedonia. After they had been there a number of months visiting various assemblies, a threat developed to Paul's life in the south so he changed his plans to sail from Greece, and instead went north through Macedonia and toward Syria. Acts chapter 20 indicates that Timothy and others accompanied Paul as far as Asia, and actually that they preceded him until he arrived at Troas. there is no more mention of Timothy in the book of Acts.


Philippians 1 "1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ; To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and servants: 2 Grace to you, and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Philippians 2 "19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered up when I know how you are doing."

Colossians 1 "1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Philemon 1 "1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon, our beloved fellow worker, 2 to the beloved Apphia, to Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the assembly in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

COMMENTS: the above Passages from letters to three separate churches include Timothy in the opening greeting with Paul. In chapter 2 of the Philippians letter, Paul states that he had hoped to send Timothy to Philippi and then hear news from them when Timothy returned. These are three more examples of letters showing timothy in very close relationship with the Apostle Paul. These three letters are generally accepted as having been written while Paul was at Rome. He was taken there from Caesarea where he had already been held by the Romans for two years. Acts 28 "16 When we entered into Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard, but Paul was allowed to stay by himself with the soldier who guarded him." Paul had some freedom to have visitors while he waited for his hearing, after he had used his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar before he was transferred from Caesarea. Paul remained in Rome for at least two years. Acts 28 "30 Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who were coming to him, 31 preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, without hindrance." This would have given Timothy a good length of time to be with Paul, and to serve as his messenger.


Lord, as I consider the string of the details of Timothy's life, I begin to think on events in my own life when you were providing opportunities for me to learn and grow in your word. Timothy also serves as an example to me of the way you passed leadership from one generation to another, as the Apostle Paul had great affection for Timothy, and confidence in his faith in Christ. Timothy started as a young man traveling with Paul, and he was with Paul during some very tumultuous times in cities of Macedonia. Timothy was not shaken by these events to cause him to leave the work, and later Paul confidently sent Timothy out as his representative to assemblies of believers. In that early stage of the development of your church, that relationship between them became part of the record of scripture to benefit many future generations. Timothy also was part of the beginning of transition from leadership by those distinctly of the Jewish community, to the blend of Jew and Gentile together in the church of God under the New Covenant. I pray that by your Spirit I will be better able to apply these principles to my own life, and that I will endeavor to spread your message of hope of eternal life through faith in Christ. Amen.

Published 8 April 2013