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Letter to First Timothy

Timothy is thought to have been a native of Lystra in Lycaonia (Acts 16:1). His mother, Eunice, was a Jewess, and his father a Greek. They gave Timothy his name, indicating by this means, that their great desire was that their son should fear and honor God, and be put in mind of his duty by his name. They raised him in the knowledge of the Scriptures from a child. 2 Timothy 3:15  And 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. (KJV)

When he first became a disciple to Paul is not known; but it seems from 2 Tim.3:11, that he was with Paul at Antioch and Iconium, which was before he came to Lystra (Acts 16:1),  where Paul circumcised him. Acts 16:3  Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. (KJV)

After this Paul made him his companion, and sent him upon several places with messages. He was not a healthy person (1 Tim.5:23), but he was well-known in gifts and graces (2 Tim.1:5; 3:15; 1 Cor. 4:17). After this he was ordained a minister by Paul and the elders (2 Tim.1:6). He became very dear to Paul for his faithfulness (Phil.2:19-21); so as he calls him his beloved son, and faithful, (1 Cor.4:17), his son in the faith (1 Tim.1:2),  his dearly beloved son, his fellow worker, fellow labourer. Paul left him for a time at Thessalonica and Berea Acts 17:13-14); then sent for him to Athens (Acts 17:15). He came to him at Corinth (Acts 18:5). There Paul sent him into Macedonia (Acts 19:22). From there he came to Corinth, and went with Paul into Asia (Acts 20:4), where Paul begs him to stay some time at Ephesus, as an evangelist, to settle the churches there (2 Tim.4:5). From there Paul sends him to Rome (2 Tim.4:9), and sends Tychicus in his place to Ephesus (2 Tim.4:12).

Paul having left Timothy, a young man, in this great trust, being himself absent, he writes this Letter to him, to warn him of all the dangers, and to guide him in the management of his office. The plan of the Letter is to direct Timothy, and all ministers of the Gospel, how to behave in the ministerial work, such as preaching, praying, government and opposing false teachers (heretics).

This is the most perfect guidance we have in all Scripture for the discharge of the ministerial office. The time when Paul wrote this Letter is uncertain. Some guess it to be 21 years after Jesus’ death, and about the 19th year after Paul's conversion (Acts 9). It was when he was in Macedonia, and before he returned to Ephesus (Acts 19:1). Some think this Letter is to have been written about AD 55.


  • Timothy: His name means: “honoring God.” He was Paul's spiritual son in the faith. (1 Cor. 4:17, 1 Tim. 1:2, 2 Tim. 1:2) He was Paul's traveling companion and fellow missionary during some of his journeys.
  • Timothy was to some degree timid, shy, yet he was a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus, (1 Cor. 16:10, 2 Tim. 1:7). He had health problems (1 Tim. 5:23).
  • Paul loved him deeply (Phil. 2:19-22) and it was a long-lasting relationship. (2 Tim. 4:9,21)
  • He was younger that Paul. (1 Tim. 4:12). He was different from Titus, Paul's other spiritual son in the faith. Titus was a leader, a man of inventiveness, and aggressive as was Paul.
  • Timothy a follower and was shy and reserved. But he was obedient, cooperative and even did things which opposed his natural shyness, proving that a person can overcome their natural weaknesses.
  • Timothy is first mentioned in Acts. 16:1. It is said that he was from Lystra (Acts 20:4).

Timothy was from a mixed marriage, a Greek father and his mother a devout Jewess named Eunice. His grandmother Lois also devout and they both taught Timothy the faith. (2 Tim. 3:15; 2 Tim. 1:5). He was away from influence of other Jews, yet was brought up devoutly as a Jew by his mother. Paul had taught this devout Jewish family of Christ and they became Christians.

On Paul’s second missionary journey:
As a child Timothy was taught the Scriptures. Timothy was probably living at Lystra when Paul made his first missionary journey there and was saved. There is no mention of Timothy until Paul’s second trip there, and it is believed he was under the care of the church at Lystra, until Paul returned.
Timothy was well aware of the sufferings of Paul and Silas. (2 Tim. 3:11)

On Paul’s second missionary journey. Timothy joined the Group.
Paul had Timothy circumcised, because his mother was Jewish. Although brought up as a Jew, his father being a Gentile, probably was the cause of Timothy not being circumcised.

In contrast: Titus was a Gentile and was not circumcised.
Timothy was ordained but we do not know in what church. It could have been at Lystra or the church in Ephesus. In Acts 13:2 Paul and Barnabas were also said to be ordained by the laying of hands with prayer . . . but prayer is not mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:15. The act of laying on of hands, was an act of appointment, but it conferred no spiritual power. It showed the church doing the ordaining had formally approved their appointment. (1 Tim. 4:14 and 2 Tim. 1:6)

Acts 17:10-15. Timothy, on Paul's second missionary journey left at Bera, they later joined Paul at Athens.

  • He was sent back now to Thessalonica for the purpose of strengthening the infant church there. (1 Thes. 3:1,2)
  • In Acts 18:1-5. Timothy and Silas joined Paul at Corinth.

On the third missionary journey Timothy was again with Paul and during his lengthy stay a Ephesus.

  • Timothy was sent to Macedonia and Corinth. (Rom.16:21)
  • He then returned to Macedonia. (Acts 20:3-4)
  • He was waiting for Paul at Troas. (Acts 20:5)
  • Was probably with Paul in Jerusalem. (1 Cor.16:3)
  • During Paul's prison stay in Rome, Timothy was a constant companion and contact. (Phil. 1:1, Col 1:1, Philemon 1:1)
  • In Philippians 2:19, Paul expected to be released and sent Timothy to them.

Next at Ephesus Timothy is asked by Paul to remain there and minister. 1 Tim. 1:3.

  • 2 Tim. 1:4 indicates that he remained at Ephesus reluctantly, even weeping at the possible not being able to continue to minister with Paul.
  • There was false teaching in the church at Ephesus that would lead to possible heresy and licentiousness (morally unrestrained, not living by God's standards).

Timothy as a young preacher had a difficult task before him.

  • He had to exercise rule over the leaders and men of the church and not allow them to compromise the Word of God and God's truth. Some of them were older than he was (2 Tim. 1:4).
  • He had to render judgments, in disputes and in church discipline. (1 Tim. 5:19-21)
  • He had to teach and regulate giving in the church to the widows. 1 Tim. 5:3-10
  • He had to ordain pastors and deacons in the church. 1 Tim. 3:1-13
  • Timothy as a pastor and preacher of the Gospel, because of his calling and duties, ran the risk of beginning caught up in the disputes of rival groups in the church.

1 Timothy 5:19-21 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.  (KJV) . . . Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. Timothy had a hard job!

Paul stated his concern over Timothy remaining steadfast under these pressures.

While at Ephesus, Timothy received a letter from Paul, and the letter is 1 Timothy. Later from prison Paul sent a second letter which is 2 Timothy.

The Bible does not say they ever saw each other again. Some believe Hebrew 13:23, indicates that Timothy did see Paul again before Paul's death and shared his imprisonment. I do not know if Hebrews was written by Paul.

Tradition says that Timothy returned to Ephesus and remained the pastor there until he was martyred under the persecution of the Roman Emperor Domitian or Nerva.

The theme of the Book is found in 1 Timothy 3:15.
1 Timothy 3:15  But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (KJV)

  • The book is addressed to pastors, yet has great importance and worth to every child of God in a church.
  • It goes without saying that if God instructs Pastors as to their duties and responsibilities, the members of the church should assist and do all they can to aid the pastor in following the Lord and leading the church.
  • It points out that disputes cause trouble and disrupt the church. It is clear Timothy was under great pressure because of disputes and dissension, and because of people questioning his abilities and authority.

Four purposes that God had in inspiring Paul to write these letters.

  • To encourage Timothy to oppose false teaching. (1 Tim.1:3-7,18-20, 6:3-5, 20-21).
  • To furnish Timothy with written credentials authorized by Paul, and thus God Himself. (1 Timothy 1:3-4)
  • To give instruction in church affairs and how to conduct the affairs of the church. (1 Timothy 3:14-15)
  • To urge Timothy to diligence (persistence) in the performance of his pastoral duties.

Conclusion: Every one of us can be a cause of conflict and disunity, which so distracts from the work of winning lost souls to Christ . . . OR . . . we can be a part of the solution. We can be one who is a peace maker, an exhorter, a comforter. We can be an example of faithfulness OR be a stumbling block to those God has called us to reach.

As we consider the instructions to Timothy, we get a real understanding of the work of building a church that will bring glory to our Saviour and God, and help us in winning lost souls to Christ.

1 Timothy

ch.1 . . ch.2 . . ch.3 . . ch.4 . . ch.5 . . ch.6 . . Special Comments

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