Scripture Biography: Timothy

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The most trusted and the most endeared to his heart among all the Apostle Paul's yoke-fellows was Timothy. "I have no man like minded" with Timothy. A Jew by his mother's side, both she and his grandmother Lois were of that faithful remnant who were waiting, amid the general apostasy of the nation, for the hope of Israel. Had they been resident at Jerusalem they would have been found, like Simeon and Anna in the temple, to await and welcome the infant Savior. They had " unfeigned faith," and accordingly the youthful Timothy was trained up in the knowledge of the Scriptures. " From a child thou has known the holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:1515And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)). If this were more perseveringly done by parents, how much oftener would the conversion of their offspring be the reward of their assiduity. It is likely that he received the truth at the first visit of Paul with Barnabas to Lystra and Derbe (Acts 14:6,20,21). A youth so trained, would imbibe the truth of a crucified Messiah by the mouth of such an one as Paul with great fervor and delight. There was time between Acts 14 and 16 for the word to have taken root, so that the depth and solidity of his character could be witnessed to and well reported of by "the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium " (16: 2). The Apostle warned Timothy afterward that a bishop was not to be " a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:66Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:6)). "Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded" (Titus 2:66Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. (Titus 2:6)). Before they go out towards others, they need to be deepened and exercised in their own souls. Whilst in prison at Rome one of Paul's sorrows arose from those who preached " Christ even of envy and strife" (Phil. 1:1515Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: (Philippians 1:15)).
Disappointed as to Barnabas, his heart found a solace in Timothy. The Lord here gave him a young man whom he could train after his own thoughts, and send forth as his accredited, agent upon any mission which required judgment. It may be that his "often infirmities" ballasted the precocity of his mind, and produced in him a depth of reflection, a quietness of manner, and a discrimination of character-qualities so often found where there is weakness of body. The personal affection of the Apostle for him breaks out continually. It is really like that of a father for a most loved child who reciprocates that attachment. More especially does it appear in the 2d Epistle, after a long course of fellowship in service had proved his worth (2 Tim. 1:3,43I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; (2 Timothy 1:3‑4)). He seems completely to identify himself with him (2 Tim. 1:6,7,8;2. 1, 2), and to suppose that he alone was capable of carrying on the work after his own death (2 Tim. 4:3-83For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:3‑8)). So also he introduces him to the Churches without fear, as an example, and as one in whom they could confide. Not only in the Epistles does his name often appear with Paul's in the address, but he was frequently commending him as having the same single-eyed purpose with himself. Thus, " I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state, for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's; but ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me' in the gospel" (Phil. 2:19-2319But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. 22But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. 23Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. (Philippians 2:19‑23)). This love, then, was not only a liking for the qualities in the man. No. He loved in this way, but he loved also in Christ, and he loved, too, because their views were thoroughly, in accord on the service and faith of Christ. And here it may be well to allude to a guard which he had in the choice of such an instrument as Timothy. There are always two sides in Scripture-the human and • the divine. " The Lord knoweth them that are his," is the divine side; and " Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity," is the human. When Paul went up with Barnabas to the council, " they (that is, the brethren) determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question." This was the human side. But Paul had another resource; he "went up by revelation and communicated unto them that gospel (said he) which I preach among the Gentiles." (Gal. 2:22And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. (Galatians 2:2).) This was the divine side. And so with Timothy-much as he liked him, and preferred him, perhaps, to Titus, Silas, or Luke, yet he was divinely bound to employ him. "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies • which went before on thee" (1 Tim. 1:1818This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; (1 Timothy 1:18)); and thus it became known in a public way, as it were, that he was not only the beloved and trusted friend of the Apostle, but had a kind of public service committed to him by the voice of prophecy. Thus there could have been no jealousy of his position. Meeting with him at Lystra, he makes him the companion of all his purposes and thoughts. " Thou hest fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith." He is with him in all the journey through Phrygia and Galatia, until' the vision of Paul at Treas. (Acts 16:99And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. (Acts 16:9).) Here Timothy appears for the first time to have quitted him-the narrative being taken up by Luke (as we may suppose) in the first person plural, " we.' Some think that he was despatched to Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:33As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, (1 Timothy 1:3)), but it is not likely. We do not find his name mentioned during Paul's stay at Philippi, where it is possible Luke was left on the departure of Paul, as Acts 17 takes the narrative up again in the third person. At Thessalonica Timothy is again his companion (Acts 17:1414And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. (Acts 17:14)), and at Corinth (Acts 18:55And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. (Acts 18:5)), and also at Ephesus (Acts 14:2222Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)), whence he was sent into Macedonia. In Acts 20:44And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. (Acts 20:4), we find his name among those who accompanied our apostle into Asia, and the narrative is resumed by Luke. We have several notices of him during the Apostle's detention at Rome, as he is conjoined in the address to the Philippians with the hope, too, of sending him speedily to them 19). His name also appears in the Epistle to the Colossians and to Philemon, and he is mentioned to the Hebrews (13:23) as having been lately loosed from prison, but not at that time with the Apostle.
Many interesting questions arise in connection with these two epistles. The date of the first may be put (although on all such points we must speak hesitatingly) soon after Acts xx. 1. (Comp. 1 Tim. 1:33As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, (1 Timothy 1:3)). It appears to be a filling-up or expansion of that to Titus-there being a greater breadth in the details, but also a new feature in the shape of a warning as to an impending apostasy. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith." It all looks very like Romanism. There is an injunction to put "the brethren in remembrance of these, things." Otherwise there might still be correction, amendment, and growth-the house of God is still recognized as "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.' In the 2nd Epistle-the last he ever wrote-there had been a present departure as far as the Church went, for he says, "All they which are in Asia (as we understand all the recognized teachers) be turned away from me" (2 Tim. 1:1515This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (2 Timothy 1:15)), whilst the impending apostasy was more fearful in his apprehension. " This know that in the last days perilous times shall come," and then follows a catalog of vices identical with those of Rom. 1, with the addition of " a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." The house of 1 Tim. 3 is likened to " a great house," with vessels " of wood and of earth " (2 Tim. 20). Meanwhile the Scriptures are given their true and immense value (2 Tim. 3:15,1715And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)
17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:17)
), as at all times where there is a failure in living men. (Comp. Ezra and Nehemiah.) In both Epistles it is certain that the Apostle puts a just value upon his own position as "set for the defense and confirmation of the gospel," but more especially in the second, where his only hope seems to be in the steadfastness of Timothy, "Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season,... for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine " (2 Tim. 4:2,32Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (2 Timothy 4:2‑3)). He sees that everything had, or was to fail. But, as before -hinted, part of this seeming egotism is connected with a reciprocity of interests and the most intense affection. He is relating his testimony, his treatment, and his prospects to a beloved friend.
Two things are very remarkable as to Timothy's position. 1st, Prophecies going before on him (1 Tim. 1:1818This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; (1 Timothy 1:18)); 2ndly, Neglect not the gift that is in thee (χάρισμα) which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" (1 Tim. 4:1414Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14)); 3rdly, " I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God (χάρισμα) which is in thee by the putting on of my hands " (2 Tim. 1:66Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6)). Passing over any question of progress in the Apostolic powers of Paul, do these notices indicate progress in Timothy's life? Was it in principle? " They that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus " 1 Tim. 3:1313For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:13)? Whatever be the suffrages on such points, one fact is palpable, that gifts (χαρίσματα) are to be waited upon, and may be strengthened by use. They are solemn responsibilities. " Say to Archippus, take heed to the ministry which thou halt received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it" (Col. 4, Rom. 12:6,76Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; (Romans 12:6‑7)). The Epistles to Timothy and Titus are surely intended to balance the truths in 1 Cor. 12 xiv. Divines, since the Reformation, and indeed long before, ignored or forgot these two chapters, and formed their systems upon Timothy and Titus. Still, let us beware how we make light of this aide of the question. Far be it from any to disparage the place which the Holy Ghost authoratively holds in the Church, but impulse is not the commanding thought of ministry. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." (1 Tim. 4:15,1615Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:15‑16).) "Study to skew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:1515Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15).) Nothing is to binder the freest development of life in the body, but also "God hath set some in the church: first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers ... are all teachers?" (1 Cor. 12:28-2928And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? (1 Corinthians 12:28‑29)), and the instructions for such permanent gifts (persons δόματα, Eph. 4:8-118Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Ephesians 4:8‑11)) as to their general conduct, behavior, and manner of life are largely found in these pastoral epistles.-W.